The Top Things to See and Do in Hallstatt, Austria

Hallstatt, Austria
Hallstatt, Austria | © Pawel Kazmierczak / Shutterstock
Photo of Laura Hampson
13 July 2021

In the state of Upper Austria, Hallstatt is fast becoming a popular stopping-off point on the road between the cities of Salzburg and Graz. And with the ancient history of the nearby Salzwelten, along with high-altitude trails ready for exploring, it’s not surprising. Here are the best things to do in this beautiful town.

Until the 19th century, Hallstatt, overlooking Lake Hallstatt, was accessible only by boat or mountain trail. Today, it’s a popular tourist destination and a Unesco World Heritage site, as well as a functioning lakeside town with almost 800 residents. Keep this guide handy if you’re planning a trip to this charming destination.

Discover the skulls at Hallstatt Ossuary

Ruins, Historical Landmark, Museum
Map View
Skulls in ossuary, Karner St. Michael's Chapel, Lake Hallstatt, Salzkammergut, a UNESCO World Heritage Hallstatt-Dachstein
© imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo

Like the Catacombs of Paris but on a much smaller scale, Hallstatt Ossuary is home to human remains – but with an artistic twist. More than 1,200 skulls are neatly stacked in this subterranean charnel house. Of these, 610 have been delicately hand-painted, creating the largest collection of painted skulls in Europe.

Head underground at the Salzwelten

Historical Landmark
Map View
Geister_Salzsteinee_©bergauer_0805_4373
© bergauer / salzwelten.at

With its 7,000-year history, the Salzwelten is the oldest salt mine in the world. To continue its superlative streak, it’s home to the oldest wooden staircase in Europe, discovered among the mine’s prehistoric tunnels (it dates back 2,800 years). Today, you can head 400m (1,312ft) underground and make your way along the 64m (210ft) miners’ slide before jumping on the mine train, which brings you back to the entrance.

Go stand-up paddleboarding on Lake Hallstatt

Natural Feature
Map View
Caucasian boy on paddleboard on lake
© Matjaz Corel / Alamy Stock Photo

Don’t just marvel at the lake – explore it by paddleboard too. The lake’s calm nature means even stand-up paddleboarding novices will be able to grasp the technique quickly, and you’ll be hopping between bathing spots in no time. Be sure to rent a board close to sunset, as this is when the picturesque village is bathed in a glowing golden hue, allowing you to see Hallstatt in a completely new light.

Challenge yourself on the Krippenstein via ferrata

Natural Feature, Sports Center
Map View
Viewing platform 5 Fingers on the Krippenstein with view over lake Hallstatt, Salzkammergut, Upper Austria, Austria
© Image Professionals GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

For those who prefer a more active holiday, nothing will get your adrenaline pumping quite like the rope course on the Dachstein Krippenstein. Here, you’ll be able to traverse a steep rock face, following its wire cables, footholds, ladders and tightropes. It’s not for the faint of heart, but those who do take it on will be rewarded with glorious views.

Try a schaumrolle pastry at Taglich Frisch Gebacken

Bakery, Austrian
Map View
cream sweet-feeds pastry
© Panther Media GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

A schaumrolle pastry is an Austrian delight made up of a cone- or tube-shaped pastry filled with whipped cream or meringue – yes, it’s as delicious as it sounds. The best place to bag yourself one of these in Hallstatt is at Taglich Frisch Gebacken, a charming old-world bakery serving a version of the schaumrolle that is utter marshmallowy goodness.

Explore Kalvarienberg Church inside and out

Church
Map View
Kalvarienbergkirche - Calvary Church in Hallstatt, Austria
© Mihaila Cristian Ionut / Alamy Stock Photo
The Kalvarienberg Church is a baroque chapel on the edge of the village that you can judge by its facade. Inside, you’ll discover beautifully carved crucifixion figures credited to the baroque sculptor Meinrad Guggenbichler, who made them in the 17th or 18th century. There are also incredible murals; after exploring the interior, wander outside to see the rooftops and lake from the church’s mountainside vantage point.

Take a trip back in time at the Museum Hallstatt

Museum
Map View
Visit to Hallstatt village  in Austria
© Lev Tsimbler / Alamy Stock Photo
This World Heritage Museum in the very heart of Hallstatt allows you to discover how people here lived 7,000 years ago when the area was settled as a salt-mining town. You’ll also get a glimpse of some notable finds from the Hallstatt burial grounds and learn how the Great Fire of 1750 transformed the village into the postcard-perfect haven it is today.

Admire the view from Skywalk Hallstatt

Resort
Map View
Aerial view on Hallstatt, in upper Austria is a village in the Salzkammergut, a region in Austria.
© Henk Meijer / Alamy Stock Photo
Hovering 360m (1,181ft) above the rooftops of Hallstatt, this fenced walkway jutting out over the slopes offers spectacular views across Lake Hallstatt and the surrounding peaks. Once you’ve taken a few pictures, head to the Rudolfsturm, a former defence tower that sits directly above. It’s now a restaurant where you can dine on delicious local delicacies, including schnitzel and spinach dumplings, with that incredible view as your backdrop.
These recommendations were updated on July 13, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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