Visiting the magical town of Hallstatt from Salzburg

About 4 years ago, I saw a gorgeous picture of Hallstatt on Instagram and I fell in love instantly. Never had I seen such magical pictures of a place and I couldn't wait to travel there and see it with my own eyes. I wanted to see it in the winter, covered with crisp white snow and when I planned my trip to Austria for Christmas, I prayed to have the perfect day in this fairytale town. I visited Hallstatt from Salzburg as a day trip, and it was one memorable day! The entire journey was phenomenal and not only did Hallstatt live up to every little expectation I had from this romantic town, it made it to the top of my 'most charming cities I've ever been to' list.

How to get to Hallstatt from Salzburg

The best way to get to Hallstatt is by driving there and it takes less than 1.5 hours. However, if driving is not an option, there is an equally convenient way to get to Hallstatt from Salzburg by using the public transportation, although it takes slightly longer. You can get a bus from right outside Salzburg Hauptbahnhof (main train station) to Bad Ischl (there's one almost every hour) and the journey takes 1.5 hours, dropping you right in front of the train station at Bad Ischl. Within 5-7 minutes, you will board from here the train to Hallstatt which takes about 30 minutes.

The train drops you off at the ferry station right across Hallstatt. From here, you can board a ferry (€4 return ticket) which takes just about 5 minutes to cross the lake and drop you off at Hallstatt town. If you're planning to only visit Hallstatt from Salzburg as a day trip, then it is best to leave early morning to be able to make the most of your day in Hallstatt.

What to do in Hallstatt

Hallstatt is a very small town, also known as the Pearl of the Salzkammergut. It is a sleepy little lakeside town, nestled between mountains and hardly commercialised. Although there are several hotels here, there are fewer cafes and restaurants and not really much to do except just enjoy the lovely views of the lake and the mountains. The most distinct building here is the cathedral, with its slender tower rising tall amidst the smaller pastel-coloured houses. The town is home to less than a 1,00 people but has become one of the most popular tourist destinations. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Visit the Market Square

This is where you will find the most cafes, restaurants and little shops selling souvenirs. I was lucky to land here on a day when it was snowing, the atmosphere was extraordinary and the views exceptional! The place was not as crowded as it probably is in the summer, which added to the romanticism of the experience. Within the town itself, the best way to explore the area is to simply walk around. Although there was no Christmas Market here, it wasn't difficult to find restaurants serving gluhwein and regular Austrian winter food.

Stroll around the lake

Hallstatt from Salzburg

Hallstatt from Salzburg

As you walk around the lake, you will see the houses of the town stacked one on top of the other, with their roofs covered in snow and the mountains in the backdrop. The calm waters of the lake and the ducks swimming in them peacefully is such a great sight! Unfortunately, in the winter months, very few cafes are open on the lakeside. However, some hotels have restaurants on the lake such as Seehotel Grüner Baum and enjoying a meal there is a superb experience.

Walk to the most photographed spot

Hallstatt from Salzburg

There are ample pictures of Hallstatt from one particular spot and I had to find this spot. Although most of the lively action happens on the left side of the town as you get off the boat at the pier, this photograph spot is to the right side of the pier, where there are no cafes and restaurants, only houses. The road begins to ascend and as you gain some height, the trees clear out to provide one of the best views of the town. Hardly a 5-minute walk from the pier, you'll know you're at the right place when you see all the crowds gathering here for the perfect picture.

Visit the Museum

Hallstatt was a famous salt mining town and the museum is an interesting one that tells you about the history and the archaeological finds discovered over the last few years, dating as far back as the stone age. Exhibits from the local salt mines and from the burial grounds as well as cemeteries in the area adorn the museum.

Take the funicular to World Heritage Skywalk

You can take the salt mine funicular from the middle of the town to this pointy glass observation deck that provides sweeping views of the lake and town. Some people choose to hike up to this point (it takes about 1.5 hours), however, the funicular is the easiest and fastest way to get to this observation point. There is also a cafe at the top. Do not forget to check the timings of the funicular (it usually doesn't go after 4 pm).

Enjoy gorgeous vistas from Parish of the Assumption

A short climb within the town will bring you to the Parish of the Assumption. Staircase covered by a thatched wooden roof will bring you to a vantage point which offers stunning views of the Hallstatt church, the gorgeous houses and the lake. The Parish itself is interesting, housing a bones chamber or 'ossuary' and the gothic architecture is particularly interesting.

Note: The Salt Mine and the Ice Caves are closed in the winter. However, if you're travelling in the summer, these two attractions might interest you as things to do in Hallstatt in the summer.

If time allows, you must spend a night in the town to be able to make the most of your visit here. However, if you're planning to spend only the day here and return to Salzburg/ Vienna by night, then make sure you catch the last ferry out. Visiting Hallstatt from Salzburg is the most convenient as the journey is shorter and extremely scenic. If you're in Austria, I would highly recommend a visit to Hallstatt.

Also visiting Vienna? Read here on What to do in Vienna in winter.

134 thoughts on “Visiting the magical town of Hallstatt from Salzburg”

  1. I went to Salzburg this year, but didn’t have time for a visit to Hallstatt. It looks like such a cute town. I really wanted to take the funicular to World Heritage Skywalk!

    1. Hallstatt was the highlight of my trip to Austria. Maybe also because it was the most magical day to be there, with light snowfall and Christmas mood.

  2. Hallstatt looks like such a dreamland in winters (and I am sure it’s equally charming in summers too)…I would love to make a trip there 🙂

    Any recommendations on where to stay there? Do they have hostels as well?

    1. I did not stay in Hallstatt (I took a day trip from Salzburg) but they had some really beautiful hotels and BnBs there. Not sure about hostels, they might!

  3. Hallstatt looks simply stunning in the winter! I can see why you were so captivated by the city when you saw photos of it, because now I’m captivated! For such a small town it seems to offer a diverse number of attractions. Are there any restaurants or cafes that you recommend?

    1. There’s a restaurant which is right on the lake, a part of the Hallstatt Heritage Hotel (can’t remember the name of the restaurant itself), it’s really nice because they have a glass-enclosed seating during the winter and is over the lake, so the views are incredible! I am sure a lot more al fresco cafes would be open in the summer, there weren’t any in the winter.

  4. It does look beautiful in the winter with the covering of snow. We have been to Salzburg and Austria a few times in the summer but not in the winter but as you mention, it is not as busy. The views from the World Heritage Skywalk are stunning.

    1. Winter was great because it wasn’t busy as well as the snow just added to the charm of the town!

  5. Hallstatt looks so pretty – I can see why you wanted to go so badly! I’ve never traveled to a place during winter on purpose. But I can imagine how it would be the most charming covered in snow. Thanks for the detailed guide on how to get there – perhaps I’ll go check it out one day!

  6. Hallstatt is on my list of places I’m dying to visit. I’ve not seen many posts showing the city in the snow, but it’s absolutely stunning in the winter! I love that it’s only 1.5 hours away from Salzburg. That makes it an easy day trip from there!

    1. It’s highly recommended to visit Halltstatt, whether in summer or winter. It’s so charming!

  7. Wow! What a pretty little town. I don’t even like snow and I want to visit in the winter. I’m glad you went to the right and found the view. Now I know where to find it too, should I visit. I wonder how the residents feel about being overrun in the summer time.

    1. Considering how small it is, I am sure it could be a bit painful to have so many tourists in this little place, in the summer.

  8. It looks quintessential Austrian. We will be in Austria this October. The salt mines and ice caves would also be interesting to visit.

  9. Hallstatt looks so beautiful – straight out of a fairy tale. I visited Salzburg years ago but did not know about Hallstatt or I would have definitely made the day trip there. It is on my list for next time!

  10. Halstatt looks like a beautiful place – even though I hate the snow it adds more of a fairytale feel to the place! The view from Parish of the Assumption is gorgeous, and a walk around the lake sounds lovely but very cold!

  11. I must have seen thousands of picture perfect postcard of Hallsatt in both winter and summer seasons. I am so intrigued that it is top of my list. I love the tiny towns and their fascinating tales. I am completely mesmerized by the beauty of the place. Blanketed in snow, it looks magical. can’t wait to land there someday.

  12. I so wanted to go to Halsatt this January, when I did my Euro Trip, but unfortunately wasn’t able to fit it in. Definitely visiting this quaint little picturesque town on my next Euro Trip for sure. The most photographed place is definitely on my list, apart from enjoying a panoramic view from the skywalk.

  13. The lake looks so mysterious and magical, like a there is a icy queen of Narnia. I bet celebrating the holidays here and many christmas would be beautiful. Gratitude for photo opp tips!

  14. I visited Hallstatt right before winter started and it was absolutely gorgeous. Looking at your post I want to visit again during winters. It is pure heaven, the snow covered village has a whole new charm! Lovely pictures Medha!

  15. This is an absolutely new place for me and it is heavenly beautiful. You photographs truly make it look one of the most charming cities of our time. It is a fairy town that we used to imagine in childhood. Would love to be there some day and spend time taking a stroll along lake. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Your post brought back several memories. My kids had enjoyed the visit to salt mines there a lot. They had given tiny containers with salt as souvenirs! 🙂 Great pics.

  17. Hallstatt looks like a piece of paradise. Although I’m not a winter person, words fall short of its beauty!! I’m sure it must be better in real life. Cheers!!

    1. I am not too fond of winter either but it does look extremely pretty, especially when there’s snow 🙂

  18. The similar thing has happened with me right away. I saw your pictures of Hallstatt and I am in love with it. It is absolutely a dreamy place and I loved that snow layering everywhere. Everything looks so magical in your pictures. I wonder how beautiful it will be in summers too. Adding it to my list. Thanks for sharing

  19. Hallstatt is one of those dreamy towns that you read in books and imagine about. It looks so beautiful and serene. This is definitely our kind of place where we can walk around and just take in the scenery. It does remind me of many of the smaller towns and villages of Switzerland who retain their pristine character and are absolute slices of paradise.

  20. We are going to Austria in May and planned to stay in Salzburg. I had not heard of Hallstatt before reading your post. Even though we will not be here when the snow is on the ground, I am sure it is a lovely town. I am good with just enjoying a day looking at the views of the mountains and lake. We will definitely take the funicular to the observation deck. Thank you for this great idea for a day trip from Salzburg!

    1. You must absolutely get to Hallstatt even in the summer. You will not regret it! Have fun 🙂

  21. I can totally understand why you’d want to visit Hallstatt after seeing a photo because now I want to do the same thing! I’d also love to visit in winter. There is something so special about seeing a town like this with a fresh layer of snow on it.

  22. My god! Talk about the perfect vairy tale village. How could I not want to spend a night there? …unless it costs a fortune. I just recently read a post on Salzburg, and now I have to destinations in Austria at the top of my bucket list. I’m sure it’s also great in summer, but your photos with all the snow make me want to get there right now before it’s all gone. Great place for your Christmas holiday.

    1. Austria was the perfect place to spend my Christmas Holiday, no doubt. Such lovely Christmas markets, beautiful lakeside towns and fairytale villages, snow (something I really wish for every Christmas) and an amazing vibe. Oh, yeah, not to forget, Gluhwein <3

  23. Like you, I have seen Hallstatt in Insta pics and thought it looked like a fairytale! I can only imagine how wonderful it was to actually visit there. You are so lucky to have had a snowy day, as it makes it so much more picturesque. The view from the top of the Salt Mine funicular is incredible. All your photos have made me want to visit even more!

  24. I have also wanted to visit Halstatt for years since seeing a photo of it on Instagram (or maybe it was Pinterest?)! The town looks so photogenic. I’ve always assumed I would visit in the summer, but the beautiful photos with the rooftops covered in snow may convince me otherwise! So good to know that it’s easy and simple to get to from Salzburg.

    1. You can get to it from Vienna as well, although it is much closer to Salzburg. The town surely is photogenic, in summer as well as in winter 🙂

  25. What a pretty little place, is Halstatt. You know we were in Salzburg for 4 days, last summer but somehow never heard of this place. Not that we had too much time. I guess a visit should be on my schedule the next time to visit this picturesque village.

    1. Although I love Salzburg, I felt there was a lot more to explore around the place rather than in it. Hallstatt was on my list for the last 4 years, even before I planned a trip to Austria, thanks to Instagram!

  26. Usually when I travel, I tend to avoid museums that aren’t unique. But the salt mining museum intrigued me for some reason. I would definitely check out the museum and just stare at the picturesque town for hours. Maybe grab some hot cocoa to warm up. Now that sounds like a beautiful day! Hope you stayed warm!

    1. It was snowing lightly and I absolutely loved it. I did stay warm but not on hot chocolate, I had lots of Gluhwein 😉

  27. Wow! You are right! Hallstatt is magical, indeed. The photo with a white swan on the lake is simply ethereal. The town colourful buildings stand out against the white and mountainous backdrop. This place is simply breathtaking. ?

  28. Hallstatt looks like the quintessential European winter wonderland. It’s nice that there’s a concentration of World Heritage sites in the area. Can you recommend any novels/fiction set in the area?

    1. Hi Suzanne, although I know a lot of novels were set in the picturesque town, I don’t really know specifically of any novel-themed trails.

  29. It really feels good to read travel blogs like this. I felt that I was traveling with you. Those pictures are awesome! It’s winter wonderland!

  30. I can really see why you fell in love with Hallstatt. It looks beautiful with its snow-capped mountains and charming structures! I’d love to check out the World Heritage Skywalk (but maybe skip the hike and just take the funicular. LOL). The view from up there is gorgeous..

  31. Although it looks really cold there, it seems like a beautiful place to visit. The perfect picture spot for sure, the mountain is a lovely backdrop. Even though some of the attractions and cafes are closed in the winter, it looks like a great time to visit without the crowds. I have never heard of Hallstatt, but now I want to visit there!

    1. Hallstatt is pretty amazing in summer too but if you’re looking for snow scenery and less crowds, winter is the best time to go 🙂

  32. Halstatt town looks like a fairy land. You have taken stunning pictures of snow clad trees and wooden houses. I missed Hallstatt, during my visit to Salzburg as I went for Innnsbruck, but hopefully will go there next time. Market place, cathedral and most photographic point all are worth visiting.

    1. It’s always hard to pick the right itinerary for a short trip. But I recommend to make it to Hallstatt, even if it’s just on a day-trip.

  33. I been to Austria a few times for road trips and rail trips and still somehow managed to bypass Hallstatt. Next time I am in Austria, I am making this a priority to visit. I love your photos, look so magicstic.

  34. That World Heritage Skywalk looks just amazing. I also think you chose a great time of the year to visit Hallstatt. This town is a real winter wonderland, with all the pretty houses and the snow. I did not know you had to get there by ferry nor that it is a World Heritage site. It is also good to know that it is pretty easy to get there by public transport and you don’t necessarily need your own transport.

  35. World Heritage Skywalk – that looks like a perfect thing to walk on in this snowy winter. I love the cities that have skywalks. Thank you for introducing me to a new city – Hallstatt.

  36. I know exactly what you mean about seeing pictures on Instagram and suddenly wanting to visit and see it with your own eyes – I am constantly inspired by Instagram! I haven’t been to Hallstatt or Salzburg, but I have to say, I can see why you fell in love with it, it looks beautiful x

  37. I missed going to Hallstatt and Salzburg when I was in Vienna. It looks so picturesque even in winter. I didn’t know you had to take a ferry to the town. I would have gone looking for that spot as well. Love all your pictures.

  38. This is definitely another winter trip we can add to our bucket list: lovely pictures! Just like you, I always try to have a magical Christmas in a fairytale town, but it’s not easy to find them! Thanks for the suggestion!

  39. Nothing I love more than a winter wonderland. I have to admit Hallstatt from Salzburg looks absolutely stunning! I imagine it’s just as beautiful during the summer. Adding to my bucket list:-)

  40. I have fallen in love with Hallstatt through different photos on Instagram but I didn’t get the chance yet to visit it. It looks so pretty thought, with all those traditional houses climbing up the hill. I can imagine how beautiful and magical must it be to stroll around the streets and simply enjoy the moment.

  41. I think I have fallen in love with Hallstatt! A cute little town nestled in the snowy mountains. I’ve also seen the pretty pictures on Instagram and might have too plan a trip to the town later this year. The views from the sky walk are so pretty! Did you hike or take the funicular? Taking a stroll around the town and the lake, then nip into one of the cafes for a warm hot chocolate sounds perfect.

    1. I took the funicular because I wasn’t staying in Hallstatt for a night and had to take the ferry back, to get to Salzburg. Needed to save time!

  42. Wow! Hallstatt looks like some fairyland – magical and surreal! The breathtaking views, the fascinating architecture and the sparkling snow – all add up to the magnificence of the place. I would so love to stay here for days forgetting all worldly affairs.

  43. Wow Hallstatt looks just like a winter wonderland! I have seen so many pictures from this town, but mostly in summer… you totally convinced me to visit also during the winter. Did you do some hiking as well?

    1. Not in Hallstatt, Paulina. I took a day trip only, and it just didn’t allow me anytime to go hiking 🙂

    1. It’s gorgeous both in the summer and in the winter, Agness. I’d say it deserves to be visited at least twice, once in each season 😉

  44. wow..this looks just like a fairyland…summer v/s winter is always a tough choice… If not ur gorgeous pictures i would never think of visiting it in winter…
    picture postcard place…loved it….and added to my bucket list

  45. Magical is right!! It looks like you’re walking through a fairytale. That view from the skywalk is stunning; I’d absolutely love to hangout at the little cafe at the top—just take in the views all day!

  46. This place looks like Santa is coming in town! (I love Xmas)
    This place is beautiful but i have to admit I need to wear 10 layers of clothing, am too weak for cold places. Lovely photographs 🙂

  47. Hallstatt definitely makes my list of most-charming towns too! It is just so quaint, beautiful, and relaxing! I’ve never been in the wintertime, though. It looks absolutely magical! I LOVE your pictures! Now I must return when there’s snow on the ground! By the way, train is another transportation option. You can get from Salzburg to Hallstatt by train in two to two-and-a-half hours with just one change in Attnang-Puchheim. Thanks for sharing your tips as well as these gorgeous pictures!

    1. Yes Stefanie, that’s also true. It’s either bus + train or train + train from Salzburg 🙂

  48. Wow, the entire snowy scene is so beautiful! Having town, water, and mountains all in one view. Although the winter season looks wonderful I think summer may offer more things to do as you mentioned. All the more reason to visit two times!

  49. Looks like a dreamy place Medha and your pictures are so pretty, you’re making me want to visit Austria soon…although maybe in spring time!
    Great tip that of the most photographed spot, it’s always useful to know 😉

  50. I skipped Hallstat in favor of spending more time in Salzburg during my visit to Austria a couple of years back. Now I see what I missed. Your photos do impart a true winter wonderland feel to the place.

    1. Salzburg is also nice because it is a big town, it has a lot of things to see and do. Hallstatt is a small village, a lot more picturesque but not much to do. It was really charming and romantic, with the snow flakes falling and the houses blanketed with snow.

  51. Me to saw a photo of Hallstatt for the first time on Instagram and I see it more and more often as Hallstatt is truly beautiful! You are right, Hallstatt covered in snow make this tiny village looks so dreamy and feerique! How lucky you are to come on a perfect timing for the snowfall! We are making a road trip this summer around Europe and I have to see if Hallstatt can fit in somewhere in our itinenary!

  52. Beautiful pictures of Hallstatt. Didn’t know it is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. I would love to spend some quality time by the lake, also taking the funicular to the Skywalk would be damn interesting. Such a lovely blog!

  53. What a romantic, fairytale stop on your travels. I know I would use up my memory card just taking photos in Hallstatt. Even swans swimming in the lake. How beautiful! I saw a drone video done of it last year sometime that was spectacular. What a wonderful time for you!

    1. I think it was excellent decision to visit in the winter 🙂 The snow just makes everything so much more romantic!

  54. Sadly, I wasn’t able to visit Hallstatt when I was in the country. Your pictures seriously look like a fairytale and have caused me to put Hallstatt in Winter on my bucket list! I really like the idea that the town isn’t really commercialized. It keeps up the otherworldly-esque feel, I believe. And when I go, I need to also find that particular spot like you did to get my picture taken!

    1. It’s the spot from where that picture was taken, which I saw on Instagram years ago and it made me fall in love with Hallstatt.

  55. Medha, I hate the cold but your pictures are absolutely amazing and would make me want to deal with the chill to see Hallstatt, blanketed in white!
    Though we went to the lakes region from Salzburg, we never got a chance to visit Hallstatt. I think an overnight in that beautiful small city would be amazing. I love all the view points like the top of the Parish or riding up the funicular to World Heritage Skywalk. So many great views of the mountains surrounding the lake.

  56. Ooh Medha, I felt the chill through seeing your photos of Hallstatt! It reminds me of my time in the Dolomiti. I’ve seen so many pictures too of this lovely town, and it seems like a great place to visit. The views of the church are amazing, and I’d like to ride that funicular too. Good tip about the salt cave being closed in winter, I’ll remember that!

    1. I struggled with the idea of visiting Austria in winter vs summer. I love lush green mountains and countryside but I also love snow. Winter has Christmas markets but then several attractions are closed because they’re difficult to get to. Having travelled to Switzerland in the summer, I decided to do Austria in winter 🙂 Hallstatt, I am sure, is magical in summer as much as it is in the winter!

  57. I lived in Austria when I was a little girl for almost two years. I remember I went with my parents every holiday to Hallstatt and Salzburg because Tirol was considered a hidden gem by that time (now it’s more touristic, though). I have returned for skiing to Austria and discovered a different side of these majestic places. Enjoy this lovely trip because the places are fantastic.

    1. It is not that hidden anymore, I agree. Although, I was very lucky that it wasn’t as touristy during the winter as it probably gets during summer. Small flakes of snow, falling on me, while I walked around these charming streets, was such an amazing experience.

  58. I love this post! It reminds me of our trip to Hallstatt, Salzburg and the region
    a couple of years ago. It was during summer and a completely different experience. If I get to blogging it I’ll share it with you.

    1. I’d love to read about your experience in the summer Jyoti, I’m sure it would’ve been different but equally magical!

  59. I visited Salzburg from Vienna as a day trip when I went, so the next time I visit Austria, I’ll have to visit Hallstatt from Salzburg! I’ve seen a lot of incredible images of Hallstatt recently, and the winter scenery, in a place which is authentic and barely commercialized makes it look like a fairytale. The views from walking around the lake are just stunning and so pure, though I think my favorite view is from the skywalk. And thanks for the tip on the photo opp from the right side of the pier. Hallstatt is officially on my list!

    1. There isn’t much to do in Hallstatt, except just walk around and enjoy the beauty. And it is equally charming as town in summer, as it is in the winter. I am so glad to have been there during the winter though, the roofs covered with snow are so magical.

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