The Most Scenic Place in Austria: The Guide to 12 Things to See and Do in Hallstatt
The Most Scenic Place in Austria (IMO)
Hallstatt, Austria (‘place of salt’). It’s honestly one of the most beautiful places I’ve been and really is a ‘postcard perfect’ place. In my opinion, it’s the most scenic place in Austria. The cover photo was taken on my Nikon and you can see how absolutely stunning it is! (I like the view so much that I’m actually thinking about getting it printed on a mini canvas to put on my wall).
It was my first time in Austria as a whole last year and I just had to go back. This year I decided to seek out and visit the smaller and more picturesque places in Austria. I’d actually never heard about Hallstatt before, but I’m sure I’d seen pictures of it before. After going there, visiting and then coming home, I was certain I’d seen it before as pictures of it are literally everywhere! Travel blogs, Instagram (literally always), travel sites, student trips, Pinterest, any kind of photo sharing site. You can see why – the place is absolutely breathtaking.
There is plenty to see and do in Hallstatt, so I recommend you spend the day exploring these 12 amazing sites.
Note: Summer is a very busy time in Hallstatt. This small place is literally rammed with tourists and is really popular for coach trips.
1. Walk All Around the Village
This may seem pretty obvious, but I’m only saying it because it really is worth it. Every corner and every street in Hallstatt is just beautiful and I made the point of walking down everywhere I could find. It’s a really small place, so it’s completely possible to explore the whole area. Take a stroll, get your camera out and see how lovely every corner of it is. Getting out of the very heart of Hallstatt is nice too and it’s quieter so you can really take it all in. Then you can see why I think it’s the most scenic place in Austria.
2. Go the Market Square
If you thought the photo taking was over, you’re mistaken. This beautiful market square is found at the heart of Hallstatt. It’s always packed full of people walking around the local shops. This is even more prominent at certain times of the year when events take place, such as the Christmas market and other concerts throughout the year.
In the very centre of the market square, there is a statue of the Holy Trinity and surrounding it are typically beautiful Hallstatt shops and cafes. In most of these shops are local gifts and/or Austrian produce. I bought an amazing gingerbread liquor in one of them, but I could have actually bought half of the items up for sale in the village if I had the time and money.
3. Visit Museum Hallstatt
Hallstatt is known for its extensive archaeological artefacts that have been discovered over the years. These artefacts can be seen in a variety of different places around the area. One of the main places in the Museum Hallstatt. Apart from being able to view some of these artefacts that have been excavated from the nearby cemeteries and salt mines, you will learn about the history of the area, all the way until the modern day. It’s definitely worth a visit.
4. Walk Across Hallstatt Skywalk
This is one of the most beautiful sites you could possibly see on your trip to Hallstatt. The Hallstatt skywalk is a viewing platform 360 metres above ground. The platform extends 12 metres out from the mountainside, so you get an incredible view. The view is so good in fact, that it’s a ‘world heritage view.’ Now if that doesn’t make it the most scenic place in Austria, then I don’t know what will.
So, how do you get the top? By cable car, which runs along train tracks. I’m not going to lie to you, if you’re afraid of heights, you may not be able to get past the cable car. It’s almost completely made out of glass, the tracks are almost vertical and sadly I chickened out going up it for that reason. BUT I do regret it because it looks so worth it! You’ll find the salt mine up there too, which I’ll talk about next.
5. Go Inside the Salt Mine
Visiting the salt mines is one of the most popular things to do in Hallstatt. It is actually the oldest salt mine in the world and it was dug by hand over 7,000 years ago. It’s now it is a huge tourist attraction. The salt mine consists of many underground tunnels where you will learn all about the history behind the salt mines. It even has a cinema 400 metres down. You are taken through the mine on a mine train, on foot and also down two slides which were actually used by the miners.
You’ll find it near where the skywalk is, so you can kill two birds with one stone here.
Note: the salt mines are only open from May – September time.
6. Take a Boat Trip Along Lake Hallstatt
Lake Hallstatt is a beautiful lake which is located along Hallstatt, Salzkammergut and Obertraun. You’ve probably seen it, it’s in basically everybody’s Hallstatt pictures. Well, you can take boat trips on the lake, with perfect views of the surrounding mountainous terrain. In order to get to Hallstatt from the train station, you’ll have to commute across the lake (365 days a year, come rain, shine or snow). In the summer you’ll likely find people swimming in the lake too.
7. See the Skulls in the Charnel House in Michael’s Chapel
You may have already heard about this, but Hallstatt has quite an extensive range of painted (and non-painted) skulls. The Charnel House, found in Michael’s Chapel houses 1,200 of these skulls. The place itself has been there since the 12th century. In 1720, the cemetery’s were becoming too full, so they decided to start a new tradition to still honour the dead. Between 10 and 15 years after the funerals, skulls and big bones were actually taken out of their graves to be cleaned and painted. The skulls were painted with pretty symbols, such as flowers, and also had their death date painted on them. The skulls are still here for you to see. Somewhat creepy, yet somewhat fascinating.
8. Visit the Evangelical Church of Hallstatt
You’ll know this beautiful church, as it’s the one that is constantly in the pictures of the iconic Hallstatt. Many protestant residents lived in Hallstatt and so in the 18th century, this was built as a place of worship for the residents. Originally it was just a prayer house with no church tower or bells, but 60 years prior to the build, it was added. Now it dominates the perfect Hallstatt pictures that we see everywhere. There’s a board with information all about the church at the church itself, so take a look.
It certainly looks like the most scenic place in Austria when it snows!
9. Have a Meal by the Lake
There are restaurants all along the front by the lake, most with terraces where you can sit and have a drink or food while overlooking the whole area. Some even have lanterns and fairy lights going around it, so it truly is the cosiest, yet most beautiful place to have a meal. Sadly in the winter when it’s snowing that won’t be an option, but it won’t stop you from being able to see it from the window! Take a walk along the front for yourselves and pick a restaurant. Where else to have a meal than the most scenic place in Austria?
10. Walk Across Five Finger Lookout
Yes, another beautiful view which is really going to put your fear of heights to the test. The Five Finger Lookout is basically 5 different platforms 400m high, which offer different views over Hallstatt and over the Alps. It looks like a weird hand, hence the name. One of these platforms is actually entirely made of glass, so you can literally see everything. So it’s pretty amazing, yet terrifying. It’s so worth it for the view!
That view! This must be the most scenic place in Austria
11. Go inside the Dachstein Ice Cave
Dachstein Ice Cave is one of 3 natural cave formations in Austria. Not only can you see it, but it has turned into an experience too. The cave is decorated with a rope bridge and lights and sound shows. While you walk around and see all of the crazy rock formations, you will be all able to witness all of this. There is also a guided tour which will talk you through the history about the cave and how the cave has been formed. It’s fascinating and so cool.
12. Take a Walk Around the Lake (And Surrounding Areas)
You can take a walk around the lake on a nice day and I’d definitely recommend it. This way you can see the whole area and from different angles. There won’t be a second that you’ll look down at your feet, as you’ll be staring up at the surrounding mountains. You can also take a hike up some of the mountains if you’re wanting to miss out on taking a cable car up. In short, if you’re looking for an active holiday, you can still find that here. You can even ski nearby.
So there you have it, 12 beautiful places to visit in the Hallstatt area. After seeing the pictures in this article, do you see why I think it’s the most scenic place in Austria? Don’t think that’s all though. There are a few surrounding villages and the region is very mountainous, so there is plenty to go and see, even if you stray just outside of Hallstatt itself. I’m taking the train to Hallstatt at the beginning of next year, so I’ll keep you updated on how good it is in the winter (snow, snow, snow eeek!)