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whereisliz Hallstatt - A travel report by Liz
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Hallstatt,  Austria - flag Austria -  Oberösterreich
17186 readers

whereisliz's travel reports

Hallstatt: Ancient History & Timeless Beauty

  28 votes
Arriving by train, you will first see Hallstatt from the water, as each train is met by a small boat that ferries you across the mirrored surface.

As you take in the stunning beauty of the mountains, and the unspoiled loveliness of the little town lining the lake's edge, it is your first indication that you have come to a very special place.

Hallstatt travelogue picture
This little lakeside village has been an area of civilization since the Neolithic Stone Age, a result of the precious salt discovered in its hills. Because of archeological discoveries in the Hallstatt burial grounds, the Early Iron Age (800BC - 400BC) is called The Hallstatt Period.

But today people are just as likely to visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site for the clean crisp lake, which provides stunning views and cool refreshment for bathers and boaters, and the peaceful and picturesque village, so remote and almost without traffic, that supports carefree, relaxed enjoyment.

As travel guru Rick Steves says, “It's a toy town. You can tour it on foot in about ten minutes. A waterfall slam bams through the town center with a roar reminding you that mountains loom overhead. But below, swans and paddle boats calm things down, forming a blockade keeping out the stress of the modern world. Somehow that ten-minute tour becomes an entire day.”

Favourite spots:
Hallstatt travelogue picture
No, there aren't any child labor laws being broken here, just youthful tourists enjoying the thrills and mysteries of Hallstatt's ancient salt mine. There is evidence that Neolithic man was mining salt here at least 7000 years ago.

Today, one can visit the salt mine from mid-April to mid-September, assisted by a modern tram that whisks you up the side of the mountain. The tour includes donning miner's clothes, hurtling down two long wooden slides, hiking through rocky tunnels, and even riding a little train. In-between these thrills, they throw in enough history to leave you marveling at this extraordinary place.

What's really great:
Hallstatt travelogue picture
The phenominal lake, surrounded by magnificent mountains, dominates every Hallstatt view. There's a sweet little park with play equipment near the shore, and lush, cushiony green lawns to lie out and enjoy the sun in-between refreshingly chilly dips.

Below the water's surface, fish are plentiful, while above majestic white swans (originally imported in the 19th century for the pleasure of the Hapsburg Empress Elisabeth, known as Sissy) glide silently by.

Hallstatt travelogue picture
The town's Catholic Cemetery and adjacent Beinhaus (Charnel-House) are fascinating. The Hallstatt graveyard is so small, that after 12 years they would dig up the bones, decorate them, and put them in the chapel. Some of the bones date back to the 1600s; the most recent are from the 1960s (when the Catholic church began to allow cremation and the space issues were not so problematic).

Many of the skulls are painted with wreaths of ivy, garlands of roses, black crosses, and the owners' names, professions, and death dates.

In the center of town there is also the very interesting Museum Hallstatt, with exhibits of local history, archeology and geology (closed Mondays).

Hallstatt travelogue picture
Pension Seethaler is family-run with lots of character, but the beds are cozy, the views unbeatable (every room has a balcony with a lake view), the breakfast substantial, and the staff warm and welcoming.

Pension Seethaler
Dr. Morton Weg 22 (near Seestrasse 116)
Phone +43 / 6134 / 8421
Fax +43 / 6134 / 8221-4

For other accommodation options (including hotels, private rooms, apartments, youth hostels and campsites), see the web site:

Hallstatt travelogue picture
For centuries, writers and artists have been attracted to the quirky charms of Hallstatt.

Let us climb on the cliffs above the rooftops of Hallstatt. I say above the roofs, because the houses are built so close to the cliffs, that when you climb from the narrow bank of the lake below, you climb on to what would be the first floor of the houses, behind which is a level path that looks down over the lake. In some places there is no other path in Hallstatt as this one, like a sort of bridge spanned over the roofs of the houses. You must come with me, then, over the rooftops.
(The travel writer Josef August Schultes, 1794)

The place gives the impression of being vigorously shaken by a giant hand and thrown and stuck on to the perpendicular cliffs rising from the black lake. Where the roofs finish, the roads begin; in no other town on earth must it be so dangerous as here to get drunk.
(The poet, Wilhelm Raabe, 1884)

Hallstatt travelogue picture
Everywhere you look, you notice interesting and amusing details, from the artistry with which the firewood is cut and stacked in preparation for the snowy winter, to the cherry trees, carefully trained flat against sunny walls of houses. They are all reminders that this gentle, storybook place is actually home to some 1200 hearty, resourceful and creative Austrians.

Hallstatt travelogue picture
When in Hallstatt, be sure to dine at the historic Bräugasthof, which has been a part of Hallstatt history since at least 1472.

Here you may enjoy the perfect light meal for a hot summer day: a delicious salad composed of mixed greens, fresh herbs and steamed local trout: a mouth-watering medley.

For dessert you can choose from classic Austrian dishes such as Apple Strudel, Sachertorte, or Buchteln mit Vanillesauce (Yeast Buns with Vanilla Sauce): warm, soft and yeasty with a sweet apricot surprise in the center of each, soaking a pool of pudding-like sauce and dusted with powdered sugar.

The Bräugasthof has a large lakeside terrace open from May to October, and is a perfect place to enjoy hearty traditional Austrian fare -- unless of course, a sudden summer storm should arise...

Other recommendations:
Hallstatt travelogue picture
At first I didn't mind, because the break in the heat was so refreshingly welcome. I ate my meal under the dripping trees, watching the rising wind and falling water dance on the surface of the lake. Finishing just as the drops turned to downpour, I retreated to my room and enjoyed the show as a huge bright double rainbow stretched across the sky above the lake.

Worn out from a day of salt mining, swimming, sunning and soaking up history and culture, I soon fell asleep to the sound of rain.

At some point, the sky cleared, and I was wakened in the wee hours by the bright moon shining on the placid lake. I roused myself enough to take this photo from the balcony, then crawled under the lofty comforter and slipped back into watery dreams.

Published on Saturday May 8th, 2004

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Mon, Feb 12 2007 - 03:24 PM rating by travler

I enjoyed your report. The pictures of the sculls were very different.

Thu, Sep 28 2006 - 10:55 AM rating by mrscanada

I don't think I would like to look at the skulls!

Sat, Nov 19 2005 - 03:42 PM rating by jesusferro

this is very good, indeed, but still I prefer Assisi

Sat, Nov 19 2005 - 11:22 AM rating by isaacmolina

This report is wonderful, but the best is the third picture!

Sun, Feb 06 2005 - 03:06 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

hii liz
i was there at hallstatt for training at VAI and this place is excellent.
and nicely you have written abt it .

Mon, Dec 06 2004 - 05:41 AM rating by badenlac

I am deeply touched by this report.I just knew Hallstatt on last Saturday.I love small towns or villages with natural views and special character.Hallstatt is just what I want to visit. Christmas is coming.I just wish Hallstatt" Merry Christmas".

Thu, Nov 18 2004 - 07:21 PM rating by picasso

Dear Liz,what a fascinating and brilliantly written report about
This heavenly place on Earth.The images are exceptionally wonderful
Thanks for sharing with us your personal experience and feelings.

Best wishes to you


Sat, Sep 25 2004 - 08:22 PM rating by rangutan

Well deserved ***** for a well written report and beautiful pictures - an unusual target and nice as tip.

Mon, Aug 16 2004 - 01:39 PM rating by grubemed

Liz, my family and I really enjoyed meeting you in Hallstatt. Your article is excellent, it describes the experience better than anything else I have read! Thanks again for a great article with wonderful photos.

Mon, Aug 09 2004 - 12:34 PM rating by bear495

Great job, Liz. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this report.

Wed, Jun 02 2004 - 09:54 AM rating by voyager

Thanks for your outstanding report and some great photographs. I visited Hallstadt for the first time in 1993 and I share your opinions of this living postcard town.

Mon, May 10 2004 - 02:48 AM rating by melissa

WOW this place is like a dream, especially the lake, and the architecture it's like a fairy tale land. Beautiful pictures you have a great eye!

Sat, May 08 2004 - 03:34 PM rating by britman

Beautifully written report with professional quality photographs - deserves the highest rating.....thanks Liz

Sat, May 08 2004 - 03:03 AM rating by travelalain

Great report and beautiful pictures. Working in the mine, swimming in the lake and a nice relaxing meal, all in a days work -lol-

Sat, May 08 2004 - 02:56 AM rating by kathyv

This is a beautifully written report! I especially enjoyed the pics and quites! Thank you!

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