Hallstatt, Austria: Europe’s Very Own Real-Life Fairytale Village

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Growing up on fairytales, visiting a real-life fairytale village has always been top of my list, so when I saw pictures of Hallstatt, I knew I just had to see it with my own eyes! It’s that iconic image you see when you Google Austria. It’s dubbed “the most beautiful lake town in the world”, and is the most photographed village in Austria. I was lucky enough to finally get the chance to visit Hallstatt last November, and walking through the village, I kept picturing Gaston and Belle walking through the streets. Any Beauty and the Beast fans here?! Visiting Hallstatt is a perfect day trip from Salzburg, or alternatively you can stay overnight in one of the quaint B&B’s in the area. Either way, I’ll show you how to get there and how to have the best time! If you’re still not convinced, scroll along and take a look at the photos and maybe you’ll want to have your own little Belle moment too 😉

How to get to Hallstatt from Salzburg

Salzburg is the perfect base to do a day trip from, as it is only about 44 miles (71km) to Hallstatt!

Read more: 10 Things You Absolutely Need To See in Salzburg

By car

If you’re lucky enough to be traveling by car, it’ll take you an easy 1.5 hour drive from Salzburg. The drive via Wolfgangsee and Bad Ischl is so absolutely scenic, you’re gonna wanna take a stop of two. Trust me. Once you get to Hallstatt, the only thing you’ll have to worry about is parking. With three public parking areas within walking distance of Hallstatt’s old town, you should be able to get a parking lot if you arrive early.

By train

Taking the train to Hallstatt from Salzburg may not be the quickest way, but is the easiest as there are fewer changes to make.

The best connection is to take the train from Salzburg connection to Attnang-Puchheim station, and then change trains here to Hallstatt station. The total journey time should be 2-2.5 hours and cost about €28,70.

However, timings may change, so be sure to refer to the website for the most updated connections.The best way to find connections that suit your timing, visit ÖBB (Austrian Railway)’s website.

By bus and train

This is the cheaper option and can be a little quicker than taking the train!

To do this route, take Bus 150 from bus stop F in front of the Salzburg train station, and arrive at Bad Ischl train station. It’s a pretty long bus ride, but a really scenic one to boot! You’ll be passing along the idyllic Wolfgangsee, the same route cars will take, and I was so sad I couldn’t stop by! Once at Bad Ischl station, hop on the train to Hallstatt station. The total journey time is a little over 2 hours, and costs only €14,50.

Taking the ferry from Hallstatt train station to Hallstatt village

Whether you decide to take the train or bus, you will still need to take a ferry across to the other side of the lake where the village is. However, this is the perfect way to reach the village as that’s how you get those postcard views of Hallstatt!

The ferry departs Hallstatt train station once every half hour and is usually timed to coincide with to the train arrival times. Once you arrive at the train station, just head straight for the ferry and try to be first in line to get an optimal viewing point on the ferry. It costs €2,50 one way or €5 return.

By tour with a guide

If all these connections sound too complicated for you, can book a half-day tour which will take you directly to Hallstatt from Salzburg. You’ll also get to see the famous Salt Mines, plus you’ll have a tour guide who can show you the ins and outs of this fairytale village! Book your tour here. 

What to do in Hallstatt

Hallstatt is the perfect little village to put your maps (digital and paper) away and just get lost. The little village is only about a 15-minute walk from end to end, but take your time to admire the views and pop in to the dainty little shops! Don’t just stick to the main road, head up the narrow pathways and find yourself away from the crowd.

Walk around the old town

The main thing to do in Hallstatt is to just wander along the streets and take in the atmosphere. I’m sure you’ll be stopping every few minutes to take pictures! The old town square is also a great way to people-watch while soaking in the atmosphere.

Take your time to admire these cute little facades like this one!

Get lost in the little alleys

Some of the alleys are really narrow, but is a great way to get away from the crowds. And you will definitely want to, as the main street gets seriously crowded. So getting away from all that business was my number one mission. Trust me, put away your maps for this one and just follow your intuition! You might just find some hidden gems!

Ride a swan

Well of course, not a real-life swan but a boat shaped as a swan! It’s a nice way to see the village from the lake at your own pace. You can rent a paddle boat from the waterfront.

Visit the Catholic Church of Hallstatt

Head up to the Catholic Church of Hallstatt and you’ll be greeted by magnificent postcard views of this little fairytale village.

There’s a chapel here where you’ll find some interestingly painted skulls… if that’s your cup of tea. The ‘bone house’ dates back to the 12th century and houses an unusual collection of over 600 artistically painted skulls. There’s also a cemetery right beside it that you can walk through. Amidst all that grimness, you’ll find some pretty amazing views!

Get postcard views of Hallstatt

To get that iconic photo of Hallstatt, head to the viewpoint labeled Aussichtpunkt Hallstatt on Google Maps. Just head all the way to the right once you get off the ferry and you’ll find yourself here.

Visit the World Heritage Skywalk

Sitting over 350 meters above Hallstatt, the Skywalk offers breathtaking panoramic views of the little village and the region. I didn’t actually get to visit due to time constraints, but it’s definitely on my list if I’m ever back there! You can get up there by foot (roughly 1 hour) or take a ride on the funicular which costs €18.

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Visit the Salt Mine

Hallstatt is known for its salt, which is why you’ll find stores selling all types of salt. So a great activity while in Hallstatt is to see how this salt is mined.

You have to join a tour to visit the salt mines, and the tour lasts 70 minutes. It’s close to the Skywalk so you can combine both experiences.

Should I stay in Hallstatt overnight?

Hallstatt being such a beautiful town will no doubt attract its fair share of visitors, so the tiny town gets really packed with tourists during the day. As most visitors only visit for the day, the best way to really enjoy Hallstatt is to stay overnight, so you can enjoy the town all to yourself once the day trippers have left on the last ferry out, and early in the morning before the first ferry arrives.

However, since accommodation is quite scarce in the actual town of Hallstatt, prices can be pretty steep. A good option is to stay in one of the towns close to Hallstatt like Obertraun or Bad Goisen, which are only about a 5-10 minute bus or train ride away.

Accommodation in Hallstatt

Heritage Hotel Hallstatt – Located right in the heart of Hallstatt, this hotel’s location can’t be beat. Heritage Hotel Hallstatt features a bar and a sunny lakeside terrace, and a café with a winter garden right next to Hallstatt’s boat landing. All rooms and suites at Heritage Hotel offer views of the town and Lake Hallstatt. Parking is possible for a charge in the P1 parking area outside the town. From there, free shuttle bus to the hotel is available.

Seehotel Grüner Baum – A great 4-star hotel located right in the city centre, the Seehotel Grüner Baum offers spacious rooms with panoramic views of Lake Hallstatt. Seehotel Grüner Baum faces the historic market square on one side, while the other side of the building opens up towards the lake and features a terrace.

Cafe Restaurant zum Mühlbach – If you want to stay in Hallstatt but don’t want to fork out a fortune, this B&B will be perfect for you.

Accommodation in Obertraun

Hotel Haus Am See – The only hotel in Obertraun located directly at Lake Hallstatt. It offers a private bathing jetty as well as panoramic views of the lake, the town of Hallstatt and the impressive Dachstein Mountains. Hallstatt can be reached in a 5-minute drive or by a ferry leaving next to the hotel. In fine weather, breakfast is served on the terrace overlooking the lake.

Seehotel am Hallstättersee – This hotel offers panoramic views of the scenic lake and the Dachstein Massif. There is free public parking on site.

Accommodation in Bad Goisern

Pension Leprich – The perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, this guest house is located just 3 km from the centre of Bad Goisern and 2 km from Lake Hallstatt. Free onsite parking available.

Hotel Moserwirt –  Spacious and beautiful rooms set in the beautiful Trauntal Valley, the 3-star superior Hotel Moserwirt enjoys a quiet location surrounded by the Austrian Alps. Free onsite parking available.

Does this make you want to visit this real-life fairytale village now? If you are planning a trip to Hallstatt and have any questions, let me know in the comments below! Or if you’ve been and would like to share you experience, I’d love to hear about it!

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  1. This looks like a magical place! Even though I am not planning a trip to the area, I just have to bookmark this for the future. The atmosphere here seems so relaxed and easygoing it would be the perfect place to recharge. Great tip for staying one of the towns nearby. Lovely pictures!

  2. You took me down memory lane! I really loved my visit to Hallstatt from Salzburg and we were lucky enough to drive 🙂 Your photos are lovely!

  3. Thanks for sharing your experience and I really like that you encourage visitors to stay overnight. Hallstatt has been struggling with the amount of day tourists and it would be great if more people contributed to the town by staying there. I also recommend exploring the whole Salzkammergut area with its beautiful lakes.

    1. Hey Elisabeth, indeed I don’t think there is a better way to experience Hallstatt than by staying overnight as it gets terribly overcrowded in the day. And I agree how beautiful the surrounding lakes are! I wish I had more time there!

  4. We LOVED Hallstatt. We stayed there 2 nights in June a few years ago but the weather wasn’t so great. It was still so charming but I’d love to go back again someday!

    1. You’re welcome! And you should visit soon as it already gets pretty crowded in the day! My advice would be to spend a night here so you can have the town all to yourself 🙂

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