Striking mountains, cools lakes, picturesque villages. That’s what you’ll see when driving around Austria. It’s tough not to stop at every lookout point because each location is so stunning but we were on a mission to reach the most stunning location of all, Hallstatt.
It was the Budget Traveller who convinced me to go to Hallstatt, insisting it was one of the most beautiful places he’s visited and I can totally understand why. A UNESCO World Heritage listed town located right on the water and surrounded by massive snow capped mountains, I too loved it as soon as I arrived.
Hallstatt has always been a wealthy city due to its situation at the base of a prosperous salt mine and it shows as you walk around the town. Perfect cobblestone streets, with perfect houses and perfect geraniums growing in window boxes. Unfortunately that perfection has lead to the biggest problem; many, many, many tourists. Bus loads of tourists and independent travellers descending upon a small town of less than 1000 inhabitants does not make for a nice visit. That’s not the fault of Hallstatt of course but nonetheless, it’s not my idea of fun.
Thankfully there is always a solution to a problem and the way to avoid the hoards of tourists in Hallstatt is to hire a boat and head out onto the peaceful lake. As soon as I got away from shore everything changed and I could admire the historic town and finally relax.
The lake is the best place to get photos of the town and I’d suggest going out for at least half an hour.
Later in the day many of the tourists moved on and the evening in the town was much quieter.
What to Eat
Your best option would be to eat the local specialty which is fish fresh from the lake. We weren’t too hungry so just had pumpkin soup from one of the restaurants in the main square. I was worried it was going to be poor quality and overpriced but it was actually quite good and affordable.
We weren’t very hungry because we had splurged on hot chocolate and cake that afternoon at the bakery just inside the main entrance to Hallstatt. This was a great little place; the cakes were delicious and the staff very friendly.
Where to Stay
Not realising Hallstatt is super touristy, I thought we could just rock up and organise accommodation when we arrived. Not so. Most places were already fully booked by the early afternoon and in the end the tourist office found us one of the last rooms in Hallstatt at Gasthof Simony. €100 for a double room with dirty bathroom in a 2 star B&B isn’t exactly good value but at least we had a room over our heads and the location and view of the main square was fantastic. I would suggest booking something at Booking.com before you arrive.
While I don’t enjoy having to push through tourists to visit a place, the fact is it’s touristy for a reason. Hallstatt is one of the most scenic locations in Europe so it’s definitely worth visiting if you are going to be in Austria or nearby.