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.
Walk along the shore of Lake Hallstatt See
First, if you are coming by train or bus, you will have to take a boat to get to the village.
Then, right at the start, you will come across one of the main local attractions, which is open all year round: the Hallstätter See.
It is not possible to swim in the lake at this time of year, but you should know that its waters are always cold, even in summer, when some venture to dive into it.
Visit the Hallstatt Viewpoint
Do you know the most famous photos of Hallstatt? That’s where most of the village’s advertising photos are taken from, and it’s just north of the centre of Hallstatt.
When you arrive by ferry, just get off at the station, follow the lake shore, and you’re there.
Visit the Marktplatz
This is the town’s central square and there you will find cafes and restaurants that are open during the winter, as well as the statue of the Holy Trinity.
Visit the famous local catholic church – The Catholic parish church
The church is located right in the middle of the village, and its beautiful architecture is worth admiring.
It is one of the oldest. There are stories that the workers from the local salt mine used to go to this church, which was built in 1811 and was renovated in 2002.
In addition, it was the victim of a very interesting crime case that intrigued its investigators: in 1987 an Italian couple stole four Gothic paintings from Mary’s altar. Investigators specializing in art thefts believe that two of the paintings were refurbished and that the other two were probably left for a few decades in a storage room and not kept as well preserved as the others. Sometime later, in 2018, these works of art were displayed again in what is considered one of the most beautiful churches in the Salzkammergut region.
Visit the Altaussee Salt Mine
It is the largest salt mine still operating in Austria, where you will find tunnels formed of pure salt, a salt lake, the mystical Chapel of St. Barbara, and the Mineral Chamber.
The mine came into being when two miners from Ausee defied Nazism. Also, be sure to pay attention to the audio guide, as this is where you will understand its fascinating history.
Visit The World Heritage Museum
Through multimedia technology, such as holographic representations, 3D presentations, videos, and hyper-realistic dioramas, you will be taken back some 7,000 years and discover how the local people lived.
In addition, you can combine the tour with a visit to the sports store that is located in front of the museum, and also visit the archaeological excavations, which are located underneath the store.
Visit the Charnel House
This is one of the most visited places in the village, it is also known as the Bone House and is famous for its exposed skulls.
It is located in the basement of the Church of Saint Michael and came about because there was no more space in the cemeteries. So the authorities decided that after about 10 to 12 years, they would take the skulls back. Eventually, they would clean the skulls, paint them, and put them on display.
Go to the small Bathing Island
When you get to the south of the city, walk along the wooden walkway, and then you can go from the coast to a small island.
This island is called Bathing Hallstatt and there you will see a park, as well as a view of Hallstatt and the mountains.