Think of Austria and visions of quaint homes, cozy cafes, mountainous surroundings, and the quiet power of the Alps will fill your mind’s eye. And none of that is wrong––in fact, head to Hallstatt and you can see all of the quintessential Austrian sites that consume your daydreams.
We’d go as far as saying Hallstatt is the most beautiful town in Austria. Hear us out. It’s the oldest village in the country, so you’re sure to get that historic feeling during your visit to the Salzkammergut Lake Region. It’s known around the world as a great Instagram shot, but there’s much more to this Alpine town.
Hallstatt is also home to one of the world’s oldest salt mines. Aside from the local salt museum, which breaks down how the resource has and continues to supplement the local community, you can take a tour that will bring you to a subterranean salt lake… and a mummified salt miner, preserved in the very mineral he worked with.
If you walk from the center square of the city toward the water, you’ll be rewarded with a pristine view of the ancient homes that have been built into the mountainside. Taking a walk down the Echerntal trail is a must if you’re looking for a bit of a walking meditation or some quality time in Alpine nature.
If you want a birds-eye look at the mountain homes, head to the “World Heritage View” on the Salzberg. Head underground at the Charnel House for a slightly more macabre activity: a tour of a 12th-century chapel that’s also the site of more than 600 painted skulls. Take to the water for a ride on one of the ancient wooden Zille boats that used to ferry locals across the lake.
Wintertime in Hallstatt is a haven for those interested in skiing or snowshoeing. This is mind, there really is no bad time to visit the village.
No matter how much time you spend in Hallstatt, leaving is going to be hard—blame it on the all-encompassing calm that comes with seaside destinations or the charming accommodations. But whatever you do, don’t miss this Alpine village the next time you’re in Austria.