In this article, I will tell you what to do in Hallstatt, Austria, in winter. Read on and make an enchanting itinerary for an unforgettable trip.
Hallstatt is a village on the western shore of Lake Hallstatt in the mountainous Salzkammergut region of Austria and is about 70 km from Salzburg, the land of Mozart.
In 1997 it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the ensemble called Hallstatt-Dachstein Cultural Landscape, Salzkammergut. It is a major tourist attraction in Austria for its natural and built landscape.
It is a village of less than a thousand inhabitants located in the Austrian Alps and that reserves unforgettable moments for you to live with your partner, family, and friends.
The town is full of things to do and see. Hallstatt is one even in the European winter. The 16th-century alpine houses and alleyways include cafes and stores. The funicular connects to Salzwelten, a former salt mine with an underground salt lake, and an observation platform over the lake. To the west, a trail leads to the Echern valley with its glacial hollows and the Waldbachstrub waterfall.
How do I get to Hallstatt?
The best way to get to Hallstatt in winter is by car from Salzburg. There are other options by bus or train from Salzburg which is 71km away and Vienna which is 289km away.
Although the distance is short, the trip is relatively long. One particular stretch of road has many curves, which slows down the trip. Not to mention that the road is beautiful, which forces you to stop all the time to admire it. There are many little houses, with the Austrian Alps in the background, and endless green fields. It looks like something out of a movie.
You also have the option to get to Hallstatt by bus, train, and ferry. The train will drop you off on the other side of the lake, at the Bahnhof station, and from there you have to take a ferry across the lake to the village. The crossing will already reward you with beautiful photos.
There is also the possibility to take a tour with an agency, either from Salzburg or Vienna. But as in these cases you will only have a few hours to enjoy the city, it is worth considering whether it is really worth it.
How long do you stay in the city?
Since Hallstatt is very small, you can see the whole town in one day! But even so, I recommend a one-day overnight stay there. It would be ungrateful with all the charisma they receive the tourists and visitors, to leave at the end of the day.
Where to stay in Hallstatt?
Staying in Hallstatt is not cheap, but the hotels are very cozy. And, the best thing about booking your stay there is that in addition to waking up and gazing out your window at the lake, you’ll be close to the city’s amazing sights and various attractions.
To find a hotel with a better price, you should book your hotel as far in advance as possible. Even more in these areas that lead the list of where to stay in Hallstatt, the demand is very high and as time goes by the best hotels with the best price are sold out and everything becomes more expensive.
What to do in Hallstatt, Austria, in winter?
Some attractions are closed during this season, such as the visit to the Dachstein Ice Caves and the boat tours. However, there is still plenty to do there.
So let’s see what to do in Hallstatt in winter.
Explore the Village
Hallstatt is a charming village with snow-covered streets that exude a magical atmosphere in winter.
Take a leisurely stroll and immerse yourself in the enchanting surroundings. The traditional wooden houses, adorned with snow, create a picturesque scene. As you wander through the village, you’ll encounter charming shops, cafes, and restaurants where you can warm up with a hot drink or a delicious meal.
The tranquil lake, Hallstätter See, adds to the beauty of the village, reflecting the snow-capped mountains and providing a serene backdrop.
Enjoy Winter Sports
Hallstatt and its surroundings provide ample opportunities for winter sports enthusiasts. Nearby ski resorts, such as Dachstein West and Krippenstein, offer excellent slopes for skiing and snowboarding.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced skier, these resorts cater to various skill levels. Additionally, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are popular activities in the area. Delve into the snow-covered landscapes, following well-marked trails and taking in the breathtaking winter scenery.
Take a Boat Ride on Lake Hallstatt
Despite the chilly temperatures, a boat ride on Lake Hallstatt offers unforgettable views of the surrounding mountains and the village itself. The calm waters create a reflective surface, enhancing the beauty of the winter landscape. Enjoy the tranquility as you glide across the lake and marvel at the snow-capped peaks that frame the horizon. Remember to bundle up warmly and bring a camera to capture the stunning vistas from the boat.
Walk Along the Shore of Lake Hallstatt
If you are arriving by train or bus, you will need to take a boat to reach the village. Once you arrive, one of the main local attractions, open year-round, awaits you right at the start: Lake Hallstatt (Hallstätter See).
While swimming in the lake is not possible during winter, it’s worth noting that the waters remain cold throughout the year. Even in the summer months, when some dare to take a dip, the lake’s temperatures remain chilly.
Visit the Hallstatt Museum
For those interested in delving into the history and culture of Hallstatt, a visit to the Hallstatt Museum is highly recommended. The museum provides insights into the village’s past through archaeological finds, artifacts, and exhibits.
Discover ancient objects that shed light on the early inhabitants of Hallstatt, explore the development of salt mining, and learn about the traditions and customs of the local community.
The museum offers a comprehensive overview of Hallstatt’s heritage and is a fascinating educational experience.
Relax in Thermal Spas
After a day of exploring the winter wonders of Hallstatt, indulge in some relaxation and rejuvenation at one of the nearby thermal spas. These wellness retreats offer a range of amenities, including thermal pools, saunas, steam rooms, and various spa treatments. Immerse yourself in the warm thermal waters and let the soothing properties ease any fatigue or tension. The thermal spas provide a perfect opportunity to unwind and recharge amidst the tranquil winter surroundings.
Hike or Take a Cable Car
If you’re up for some outdoor adventure, consider taking a winter hike in the surrounding mountains or taking a cable car ride to enjoy panoramic views of the snowy landscape.
Visit the Hallstatt Viewpoint
Are you familiar with the iconic photos of Hallstatt? Those breathtaking images that grace the village’s advertisements are typically captured from the famous Hallstatt Viewpoint, located just north of the town center.
Upon arrival by ferry, simply disembark at the station, and follow the path along the lakeshore. Within a short stroll, you’ll find yourself at the Hallstatt Viewpoint, ready to witness the picturesque beauty that has made this spot so renowned.
Visit the Marktplatz (Town’s Central Square)
Make sure to visit the Marktplatz, Hallstatt’s vibrant central square. This bustling hub is home to a variety of cafes and restaurants that remain open even during the winter months, offering a cozy and inviting atmosphere to warm up and indulge in delicious meals or hot beverages.
While exploring the Marktplatz, you’ll also encounter the statue of the Holy Trinity. This significant landmark adds a touch of historical and cultural significance to the square, serving as a reminder of the village’s heritage. Take a moment to appreciate the statue and the stories it represents as you soak in the lively ambiance of the Marktplatz.
Visit the Catholic Parish Church
A visit to the Catholic Parish Church is a must when exploring Hallstatt. Located in the heart of the village, this famous local church showcases stunning architecture that is truly worth admiring.
The church holds a significant place in the history of Hallstatt. Built in 1811 and renovated in 2002, it stands as one of the oldest structures in the area. Interestingly, it is said that workers from the local salt mine used to attend services at this church, adding to its historical importance and connection to the community.
The Catholic Parish Church has also been the center of an intriguing crime case that captivated investigators. In 1987, an Italian couple stole four Gothic paintings from Mary’s altar. While two of the paintings were believed to have been refurbished, the fate of the other two remained uncertain for several decades. However, in 2018, these remarkable works of art were once again displayed in the church, adding to its allure and cementing its status as one of the most beautiful churches in the Salzkammergut region.
Take your time to appreciate the architectural beauty and the rich history surrounding the Catholic Parish Church as you explore Hallstatt. It serves as both a spiritual center and a testament to the village’s heritage, making it a significant landmark not to be missed.
Visit the Altaussee Salt Mine
Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the Altaussee Salt Mine, the largest operating salt mine in Austria. Prepare to be amazed as you venture into a world of tunnels made entirely of pure salt, encountering unique features such as the salt lake, the mystical Chapel of St. Barbara, and the awe-inspiring Mineral Chamber.
The history of the mine is equally captivating. It was established when two brave miners from Ausee defied the oppressive regime of Nazism, showcasing the resilience and courage of the local community.
To fully appreciate the intriguing history and significance of the Altaussee Salt Mine, make sure to pay close attention to the audio guide provided during the tour. This informative resource will enhance your understanding of the mine’s fascinating past and shed light on the historical context surrounding its operation.
As you explore the mine, you’ll witness the remarkable formations of salt and gain insight into the process of salt extraction. The salt lake, an extraordinary feature within the mine, adds an enchanting element to your journey underground. Furthermore, the Chapel of St. Barbara, a mystical underground sanctuary, offers a unique and spiritual atmosphere.
Immerse yourself in the rich heritage and geological wonders of the Altaussee Salt Mine, where history, natural beauty, and human resilience converge. It is an unforgettable experience that provides a deeper appreciation for the significance of salt mining in the region’s history and culture.
Visit the Charnel House (Bone House)
A visit to the Charnel House, also known as the Bone House, is a must when exploring Hallstatt. This unique and intriguing site is one of the village’s most popular attractions, drawing visitors from near and far. It is located in the basement of the Church of Saint Michael, adding to its historical and cultural significance.
The Charnel House came into existence due to the limited space available in the cemeteries of Hallstatt. To make room for new burials, the authorities made the decision to exhume the remains of the deceased after approximately 10 to 12 years. The skulls, cleaned and painted, were then respectfully displayed in the Charnel House.
When you enter the Charnel House, you’ll be confronted with a haunting yet fascinating sight—rows upon rows of exposed skulls. The bones are meticulously arranged and preserved, creating a unique atmosphere within the underground chamber. It is a thought-provoking experience that offers insight into the cultural practices and traditions of the village.
As you explore the Charnel House, take a moment to reflect on the history and significance behind this peculiar display. The skulls serve as a reminder of the finite nature of life and the inevitable passage of time. They also symbolize the deep connection between Hallstatt’s past and present, allowing visitors to contemplate the cycle of life and the traditions that have shaped the village.
A visit to the Charnel House provides a memorable and thought-provoking experience, allowing you to witness an intriguing aspect of Hallstatt’s cultural heritage. It is a testament to the village’s unique traditions and offers a glimpse into the lives and beliefs of its past inhabitants.
Go to the small Bathing Island
Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Small Bathing Island, located to the south of the city. To reach this enchanting island, follow the wooden walkway that extends along the coastline.
When you arrive at the Small Bathing Island, the picturesque park will greet you, providing a serene escape from the bustling village. Take a leisurely stroll through the park, where you can enjoy the tranquility and natural beauty that surrounds you. Additionally, from the island, you will have the privilege of experiencing a breathtaking view of Hallstatt and the majestic mountains that frame the village.
The Small Bathing Island provides a perfect vantage point to appreciate the stunning landscape that has made Hallstatt famous. Capture the panoramic views with your camera, or simply sit back and revel in the serene ambiance of this hidden gem.
Whether you’re seeking a peaceful retreat, a place to admire the scenery, or a tranquil spot for a picnic, the Small Bathing Island offers a delightful experience. Take the time to explore this idyllic island and soak in the beauty of Hallstatt from a different perspective.