Hallstatt at the Hallstatt Lake
Hallstatt is one of the most visited places in Austria. The small town at Lake Hallstatt has up to 900,000 visitors – even though only 760 people live here and there are only 700 guest beds. At the same time, the area of the settlement is not large. So many visitors are concentrated in a very small space. They all want only one thing: to admire and take photos of the beautiful historic houses on the lake. In this post I’ll show you my blunt impressions, where you can take the famous photo and what else you should know about one of the most famous places in Austria.
Hallstatt arrival – who to get there?
The special location of Hallstatt requires good planning of the journey. Until the end of the 19th century, you could only get to Hallstatt on foot or across the water by boat. If you want to travel by public transport, taking the train is still an adventure: Hallstatt train station is not in the village, but on the other side of Lake Hallstatt. You can take the train up to here, from the railway station you have to take the ship to Hallstatt. Amid great protests by the population, the place was opened up in 1875 with the Gosaumühlenweg – access by car. Elaborate blasting work was necessary to get the rocks out of the way. This path still exists today, but it is closed to traffic. Coming from Bad Goisern, a tunnel leads past the historic town center. Via the tunnel you come to the parking spaces on the outskirts.
Where to park your car in Hallstatt? – it´s not easy and Hallstatt parking is expensive. This is a difficult thing by arriving in the late morning or afternoon during the summer months. In that tine, the few parking spaces are crowded, even though they are expensive to pay. Free parking spaces are not available. Follow the public signs to the parking lots and come either as early as possible or later in the afternoon. Here is the link to the official parking spaces: Parking in Hallstatt
Overtourism – or how do I behave?
Please experience your Hallstatt visit without a drone! Overtourism seems to be a real problem in Hallstatt. During my tour of the town, I saw so many prohibition signs in a very small space like nowhere else! The main problem seems to be flying with drones, and I spotted several signs of it. But otherwise, too, many visitors do not know what is proper. Is that due to the large number of visitors from distant countries? Or generally about the many coaches that “spit out” their bus groups for a short tour of the town? The fact is that Hallstatt has been popular in the Far East at least since the television series were broadcast. The backdrop of the narrow and at the same time rustic houses hits the heart of Asians. And so they come in droves … And not only from there, but also increasingly from Europe itself. This should be curbed a bit by autumn 2020. Instead of the previous 20,000 coaches per year, significantly fewer buses are to be allowed to come to Hallstatt in the future. The tourist office issues bus tickets: between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., only 54 buses are allowed to come per day. A payment of 80 euros per bus has to be made and the guests have to stay in the place for at least 2.5 hours. At the same time, it is surprising that completely new parking spaces for buses were built in summer 2020 – in the first row by the lake, right at the entrance to the old town. I don’t quite understand that: Why is it easier to travel for bus groups than for individual tourists in a car? Many tourists have to park their car far away and then walk 2 kilometers to the old town …
Another special feature – just like the Golden Roof in Innsbruck, Hallstatt was also recreated in China: the Chinese have found the romanticism of the Alps so much that they have copied the place in China. Everything was photographed in detail in the Salzkammergut and then erected quietly and secretly in China. The South Chinese China Mine Metal Group built a Hallstatt-style district in the district town of Boluo in Guangdong Province. 900 million US dollars were invested in this. Well-heeled Chinese can buy an apartment in China that is similar to the place in Upper Austria. You can find out more about this in the article specially created on Wikipedia. Curiosity on the side: the beautiful market square was reconstructed in mirror image …
Do you want to walk through Hallstatt yourself and see the highlights? The promenade through the town is a must for all Hallstatt visitors. You can’t miss this promenade … All the signs lead you to the street through Hallstatt. It leads along Lake Hallstatt. On the right the water, on the left the mountain with the densely packed houses. Most visitors do not see that there is another promenade above. It leads along the historic houses with a view of the lake from above. To reach this path, you simply take one of the paths that leads up from the lower promenade. You will then come straight there.
Hallstatt and the best Hallstatt sights are closely linked to Lake Hallstatt. Up until around 150 years ago, the beautiful houses could only be reached from the historic site by boat or on foot! There was still no road here … The lake and the boat connection were all the more important. Sometimes the small houses on the lake still have no direct route. People go to their house through the neighbour’s attic. Not imaginable, but still reality here. These and several stories make the area worth seeing and experiencing. I’ll show you my Hallstatt sights and how you can discover them yourself. There are beautiful places right in the village and on the lake, but also from above. Lake Hallstatt is a wonderful idyll, regardless of whether you can enjoy it from below or whether you see it from above!
The Hallstätter See itself is approx. 8.5 km² in size and has a width of 2.3 km and a length of 5.9 km. It is fed by various tributaries. The main tributary is the Traun, which flows out again at the northern end. The lake does not get very warm in summer either, on average it only reaches 16 ° degrees in the summer months. The flow of the Traun also ensures that the lake does not normally freeze over in winter, despite the cold water. The boat trip on Lake Hallstatt is also interesting. Hallstatt train station is on the other side of the lake and after the train journey you can take the ferry to Hallstatt. Otherwise, some passenger ships operate. The ride on a traditional platform is also nice. A rather flat and long wooden boat.
The best viewpoint at the Lake in Austria
ALL visitors would like the well-known photo of Hallstatt! What is meant is the picture with the lake on the left in the picture and on the right the historical houses nestled close to the slope around the pointed tower of the church. I’ll show you this lookout point on the Google map so that you can easily find it. Please remember that people live and live in the houses all around! So do not be unnecessarily loud, do not enter any of the properties and please do not use drones. But of course it is also nice to stroll through the alleys and streets of Hallstatt. Seestrasse is the main street through the town and at the same time the promenade on the lake. Here you will find many small shops and souvenir shops.
As you can imagine, this is where most of the visitors stay. The first large groups usually arrive in Hallstatt from ten o’clock in the morning and the last ones leave the place at around four o’clock in the afternoon. If you can organize it, come early or later in the afternoon, then it is less busy. If you follow Seestrasse you will finally come to the Upper Market Square. The World Heritage Museum is also located here. There you will learn something about the long history of the city and about salt mining. Continue straight on over Wolfengasse, the market square and the landing area, and you will come to the Evangelical Church. That’s the big church in the photo. To the right of it you can see the parish church of the Assumption of Mary in the photo above. Behind it is the ossuary, a rather curious sight. Lots of old bones and skulls can be seen here (for a fee). From here it is only a few meters to the photo point. Attention: There is a ban on drones at the Hallstatt sights!
MY TIP: The place is in the sun in the morning! So you have better light conditions in the morning or generally in the first half of the day. Then it looks like the picture above. During the day the houses are in the shade, while the mountains behind are illuminated by the sun. Alternatively, you can come in the evening and capture this mood when the light is still falling through the Echerntal.
THE beautiful viewpoint from above is around 350 meters above the village. Hiking trails lead up from the historic town center or you can take the Salzbergbahn – that’s the mountain railway of the Salt Mine. It takes you directly to the lookout point, which opened in 2013. This is the „Skywalk Hallstatt“ viewing platform. The dates: 12 meter long, pointed triangle floats freely over the mountain and gives you a dream view. It is also sold as a World Heritage View after the region was ennobled as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017. The view from this viewpoint is quite good. You can see the lake in its full size and also parts of the old town, which is directly below you. As almost always with such viewpoints, you have to wait a little before you can take YOUR picture. Here, too, come early in the morning or late in the afternoon, then it is quieter and the light is usually more beautiful than at noon.
Unique market square
I briefly mentioned the market square in Hallstatt above. The Protestant church with the pointed tower is not far and on the market square itself the pretty houses are lined up facade to facade. During the day, thousands of tourists squeeze through the alleys here. Here, too, it is more pleasant to stroll in the morning or in the evening. On the market square you can see impressively how close the houses were built to the rock walls behind them. If you go a little closer over the alleys to the rocks, you will see that some houses have the rock as a back wall. By the way: Exactly this backdrop was recreated in China – but mirrored …
If you look carefully up near the market square, you can see a waterfall between the houses. It is one of the cascades from the Mühlbach waterfall. The water comes from the salt mountain and falls in several stages below the torrent control built in 2018. You can see the Mühlbach waterfall most beautifully from the specially built bridge. You can reach them via the hiking trail from Hallstatt to the Skywalk. In the second serpentine on the wide hiking trail through the forest, a short cul-de-sac goes directly to the Mühlbach waterfall. A bridge leads over the brook and ends directly on the other side – a pure „show bridge“. So far this is still an insider tip because the waterfall is not signposted extra large!
Oldest Salt Mine of the world
Of course, the oldest salt mine in the world, the Salt Mine in Hallstatt, should not be missing. Salt has been mined on the Salzberg for 7000 years. The place is based on salt mining. You can see it in different places in Hallstatt – for example at the „core bank“. It is reminiscent of the Hallstatt core bearer women. At that time, many women had to carry the core salt in Kraxen from the salt mine to the valley to finance their livelihood. The mine still produces salt today and there is also a guided tour for visitors. You can only visit the mine as part of a guided tour. During your tour you will experience how salt has been mined here for thousands of years and you will learn interesting facts about the extraction of salt then and now. The mine slides and the artificially illuminated, underground salt lake are exciting. Definitely worth a visit!
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