Words cannot explain how much we loved this place! We have come to the conclusion that Barcelona is our favourite city, the Greek islands are our favourite summer destination and Hallstatt is DEFINITELY our favourite off the beaten path town (in Europe!). The peace and quite of exploring an untouched town gets me every time! We actually found this place on a popular travel Instagram page, researched it and added it to the list! I cannot recommend this place enough. In 2012 China actually created an exact full-scale replica of the town itself! So enjoy the real thing while you can!
Hallstatt is 3.5 hours (by car) from Vienna and 1.5 hours from Salzburg and is accessible by train or small shuttle buses. Arriving from Cesky Krumlov (Czech Republic) we took the shuttle which was about 30 euro each and leaving we took the train (you have to get a taxi boat from Hallstatt main land, around 5 euro each I think) to the station and travelled onto Switzerland from there. We found both services were great, it just depends on how much you want to pay and where you are coming from to choose what option suits you. This breathtaking town has a population of only 788 people and is a UNESCO World Heritage Region. The town is situated on a beautifully blue lake and when seen from a distance, the cute brown cottage homes and green mountains look like something I can’t even describe! Just picture perfect!
We stayed in an awesome Bed and Breakfast called Pension Sarstein costing us around 35 euro each a night for a private room, with gorgeous views of the lake. They have a diving board (which I presume you can swim in the lake in summer?), deck chairs on the grass, sauna and library, laundry, ski storage room and some other facilities too.
The only negative was that there wasn’t a kitchen for us to cook in, they only had a jug. So we ate 2-minute noodles the whole time, as well as takeaway cheap fries and bread rolls from the supermarket, because most restaurants were closed for the season or only other option was to eat at expensive hotel restaurants (which was a definite no go). It probably would have been better for us to find a place with a kitchen, but with limited accommodation available and time (we always book short notice haha) we dealt with it! We also made sandwiches for lunch to keep within the budget and Ty kept his milk for his morning cereal in nature’s fridge outside on the balcony while I had fruit for breakfast. But it was an absolutely lovely stay and the owners were very helpful with information of things to do, maps, buses etc.
The first afternoon we spent hiking to Waldbachstrub waterfalls, which turned out to be more difficult to find than expected, as there aren’t too many signs, but we finally made it about an hour later. We were walking quickly as the sun was setting and we didn’t want to find our way back in the pitch dark. But it was definitely worth it! From here there were heaps of other trails to follow, I would of loved to have spent a whole day following all of the random ones with a packed lunch stopping for a picnic. Wish we had more time!
The next day we decided to take the bus to Gosau Lake which was about 30 minutes. We wished we could of done some of the hikes here but we unfortunately didn’t allow enough time before having to get the last bus back. I would recommend waking up early, taking a backpack with lunch and snacks and explore here for the whole day! There is a restaurant and a couple of souvenir shops here (closed when we went, in autumn) if you want to treat yourself for a very traditional Austrian meal. You get beautiful views of snow topped mountains and glaciers all around this area. I’m pretty sure we saw people with rock climbing gear, scuba diving equipment and few families and people walking their dogs, there is also skiing in the area.
Tip –Be careful when deciding to visit here as the bus timetable to get back to Hallstatt is only every hour (varies from summer to winter) and you can easily get stuck here!
Our host from our accommodation also said between the months of April and October there is a 1-hour hike from the top to the top of the mountain and salt mine with an amazing sky walk view which you can do too (wish we had time to have done this!). There is also a salt cave tour, charnel house, lake cruises, a museum, churches and a few other things to see and do too.
We spent most of our time just walking around the town, finding cool viewing points and photographing all of the beautiful houses. There aren’t as many things to do as other town’s boast, but that’s why I like it! You can just walk and see where it takes you, walk to other towns, find a track and hike up the mountain, hire a boat and drive to other sides of the lake, it is whatever you make of it! Let the photos speak for them selves!
P.S – I’m also convinced I will buy a house here on the lake when I win the lotto, so I will be back one day! 🙂
TIPS – Although winter is beautiful, I would recommend visiting in summer if not just out of season to be able to enjoy all of the attractions the town has to offer. Lots of restaurants were also closed for the season, so visiting in summer would have been ideal. You can ski near by but, same goes with hikes and the above mentioned attractions too some will be closed.
FOOD – There is one decently sized supermarket in town, very responsibly priced too which I would recommend stocking up on as much food as you can to save some money. Restaurants aren’t very cheap, we struggled at this time of year to find a restaurant even opened let alone decent price. Accommodation with a kitchen is a must here, if you are wanting to save a bit of money!!!
LOCALS – The locals here are amazingly, lovely friendly people. Even if they couldn’t speak English they would try their best to convey their message. The wonderful owners of our bed and breakfast were so informative of things to do in the area, they were extremely welcoming and helpful. People would smile and say hello to you while walking the streets, which is something I actually really miss about home.
MONEY – currency is EUROS. There aren’t too many ATM’S/BANKS/EXCHANGE places in this small town so make sure you organise your money before arriving.
NEXT UP – WHY I WON’T EVER BE VISITING ZURICH AGAIN, SWITZERLAND