In addition to its ancient history, Hallstatt is spectacularly picturesque, due to its location on a narrow rocky west bank of the Hallstätter See with the sheer rising mountains behind it. Considered by some to be one of the most beautiful places on earth, Hallstatt is sometimes called “the pearl of Austria”.
During the “off season”, few shops and restaurants are open, and in some periods it might even be difficult to find a place to stay. Advance reservations would help ensure acceptable accommodations and avoid a worrisome search for an open hotel.
To get there by train is most scenic indeed. From the main line between Salzburg and Vienna (2 or 3 trains per hour), get off at Attnang-Puchheim (map). Take a connecting train from here towards Bad Ischl and Obertraun (trains are sometimes labelled “Stainach-Irdning”). Get off at the Hallstatt station, which looks more like a halt in the woods, and find yourself on the other side of the lake with a gorgeous view on the town. A regular ferry service will meet each arriving train and take you to the town across the lake.
One of the best views of Hallstatt is from this ferry ride across the lake, especially in the morning when the sun is turning the town orange and yellow. Beware the weather: in winter the lake may freeze, hence no boat. In this case, ask at the station or the train conductor.
Hallstatt Museum (map). A small but interesting museum displaying 7000 years of Hallstatt history.
Ossuary (Beinhaus, map). “Bone House” in English. Due to the extremely limited space in the cemetery, burials are only temporary. After 10-15 years the grave is opened and the bones are removed and bleached in the sun. Then they are stacked in the Beinhaus. It’s not as gruesome as it sounds. Skulls are often decorated with painted flowers and the family name.
Salt caves. Hallstatt Salt Worlds will take you into the more than 250-year-old salt mines to explore its underground beauty.