Hallstatt | The Most Beautiful Lakeside Town in the World

Fun Fact: Hallstatt has only a population of 750 but accommodates 600,000 visitors per year. 
Averaging 800 visitors to every 1 resident. 

Getting to Hallstatt

By Car: From Salzburg, it is less than a 1.5hr drive to Hallstatt through beautiful roads of the Austrian country side. On the way you pass by forests, several lakes, and the change of altitude brings you to high up view points and low into the valleys. If you are staying overnight, coming from Salzburg means you'll arrive from North of Hallstatt and must go through the tunnels to the south side where parking lots P1 and P2 are located. No cars that are non-resident are allowed inside this small historic town as it is already crowded. You can take a shuttle bus easily from the parking lot. If you have to walk, it should be 10-15 minutes. From Vienna, it is a 3.5hr drive. 

↠ By Train + Ferry: You can take the national train service (OBB) from Salzburg and Vienna, the total journey will be around 3-4 hrs depending on where you depart from. 1 transfer stop at Attnang-Puchheim is required. After getting to Hallstatt, you'll have to take the ferry across the lake into town. 

↠ By Bus: From Salzburg, this is a 2.5hr bus ride (Bus no 150 or 542/543) and this takes you right into Hallstatt, not requiring the ferry. 

For more information on getting to Hallstatt, you can check out this site here

When I visited, we rented a car from Salzburg airport as we were also visiting Admont Abbey, which is a further drive east from Hallstatt. It is much quicker and more convenient to have a car on hand so your schedule doesn't have to be dependent on public transportation.

Below is Lake Wolfgang, it is on the way to Hallstatt if you drive from Salzburg.


When to Go?
↠ Spring & Autumn: Shoulder months with variable weather as it is rainy season. Temperatures around 5C/40F ~ 15C/60F
↠ Summer: Ideal for hikes and a swim in the lake, August is the best month with least rain and comfortable temperatures of 10C/50F ~ 22C/72F
↠ Winter: Between December to March, snowfall allows good skiing experiences on the Dachstein mountains. While winter temperatures drop down to -5C/23F ~ 2C/35F, the lake rarely freezes. 

You can find out where this swan can be spotted if you scroll down to "Looking for a Scenic View?" section under "Lakeside views"

Hallstatt in Winter

Store Opening Hours During Christmas
There are very few shops opened during Christmas. The supermarket was closed from Dec 24 - 26, so there was no way to get food, and be mindful that most "hotels" are small two story cabin houses with no room service. A restaurant that will always be opened is the Grüner Baum, but dinner reservations are highly recommended, especially for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. On Christmas Day, everything is closed except for one cafe for breakfast in the market square, Grüner Baum restaurant, and the food stall beside the ferry station. 

Since supermarkets aren't opened, the most important thing is getting drinking water. You can purchase them at the ferry station food stall, but it is only opened if the food hasn't been sold out, which is variable. You can also buy coke, beer, and mulled wine at this stall. Another way to get drinking water is to buy it from the restaurant, but they require you to return the glass bottle that it comes in.

World Heritage Skywalk
The entire region of Hallstatt Dachstein Salzkammergut is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage. And to get a good panorama view of the breathtaking Alpine along with the Hallstatt Lake below, take the funicular up to the skywalk. 

↠ Get there from the south end of town, you can find signs near the tourist information center. 


The Market Square

At the north side of town is the ferry station where people who came by train are dropped off. This is also near the Heritage hotel and Hotel Grüner Baum, which is at the center of the Market Square. This is one of the busiest part of town with shops (food/souvenirs) and restaurants. In the middle of the square is where the big Christmas tree is located. At night it's surprisingly quiet and very beautiful. You can smell a hint of firewood burning from the various houses as you walk around. 



Eat here

Hotel Grüner Baum's "Kaiserstüberl"
This restaurant is located in the largest hotel in Hallstatt, which means it is always opened, and they are also crowded. It is recommended to book in advance, at least one day prior. For Christmas Eve dinner, I booked 2 months in advance, and their Lake Front restaurant was full already. They also opened their A La Cate restaurant "Kaiserstüberl" for a special set course Christmas eve dinner. You can request for a set menu by e-mailing them, and they will just request a credit card for booking (they will not charge the card). 

I actually prefer the Kaiserstüberl section of the hotel. It offers a more cozy and private dining experience than the lake front restaurant & bar. They also have an excellent wine selection to choose from. The waiters are very knowledgeable in wine, and will be able to recommend something great to go with the dish you are having.


Below is an official photo of Kaiserstüberl

Seewirt - Zauner Hotel Restaurant
This is another cozy spot for lunch or dinner and is opened during holidays. I did not book prior to lunch, but it fills up quickly, so arrive before noon to get a spot. Facing the middle of the market square, go straight into the hotel and walk towards the top left corner, and you'll soon see the hotel.

They have delicious and authentic cuisine from the region, as well as fresh catches (fish) from the lake. The price is reasonable and the portions are pretty large.

Below are official photos 

Stay here

Hallstatt Hideaway
I have travelled to over 30 countries and stayed at many hotels, but this is hands down my favorite so far. The Hallstatt Hideaway offers private suites and are adults only. They only have 6 suites in total, so booking at least 4-5 months in advance is more ideal. We booked the Deluxe Suite HOLZ which is on the ground floor. But since the Hideaway is already on an elevated side, we get a breathtaking direct view of the lake and surrounding mountains.

All of the amazing things you get in the Deluxe Suite Holz:
Private outdoor seating area with lake view
Four Post Bed with lake view
Fireplace seen from bed
Kitchen (Nespresso, Kettle, Toaster, Stove Oven, Dishwasher, Tableware)
Bathroom (Shower, heated towel rack, no bath)
Wooden picnic table and bench plus bookshelf with books and boardgames
High speed wifi and speakers provided

Fireplace in room (left) and Window view of mountains (right)


Below are official photos from their official website

Looking for a Scenic view? (With Maps)

From The Catholic Parish Church & Cemetery
Near the north of town is a cemetery behind the Catholic Parish church, from there you can get a top down view of the market square, and the Evangelical Church (with the very pointy roof, one of the icon buildings of Hallstatt)

If you are heading from the north, there are some stairs leading up to the cemetery. Please be quiet and respectful while walking through. 


The Lakeside Views
I have two favorite points on the lakefront to get photos, you can also get close to the swans from here. The map is included, go to the spot with the pink stars on the map for these two views. Lakeside view 1 will allow you to see the buildings and mountain range on the south side. Lakeside view 2 is great for a portrait shot with the mountain range across the lake as the backdrop.

Lakeside view 1


Lakeside view 2

Past the Market Square - The Iconic/Bucket list/Instagram shot
This photo does not require any words, location map included below:

Past the market square, cemetery, up the hill in the north is the "Aussichtspunkt" or view point in German.

Most people come to Hallstatt via train or bus, and hastily leave on the same day. This is such a shame because the best experience of Hallstatt is quietly enjoying the lake and mountains as the sun rises and sets. I guess it's good that most tourists don't stay over as the amount of visitors already overwhelm this small town during the daytime. This is the best Christmas holiday I've had, and one of the most relaxing trips. If you love a cozy Christmas with snow, nature, and wrapping up warm indoors with a fireplace, then Hallstatt will be the ideal trip for you.

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