One who once saw an advertisement of “Milka” chocolate will effortlessly imagine the beauty of the Alps and its nature.
Snowy-white mountain peaks, blue glass surfaces of the lakes and perfectly green meadows are not made up by marketers, it is pure truth. Dubious we remain about existence of violet cows, which we never encountered while travelling 🙂
Right at the beginning I’ll say that Hallstatt and adjacent towns won’t offer vast entertaining infrastructure, but what they will offer is a possibility to enjoy exceptionally Austrian life atmosphere and unrepeatable beauty of Alpine nature. And if you’re a resident of a big and noisy megalopolis, you’ll for sure experience the feeling of time-travelling. The pace of life will slow down and its appearance will remind you of fairy-tale world of the brothers Grimm.
Hallstatt is a town of an ancient history, being the UNESCO world heritage site. It’s situated in hard-to-get Alpine country, tightly pressed to Lake Hallstatt by the mountains. Population is about 700 people. But despite that, the site is very popular, attracting lots of tourists from around the globe. So, the annual number of visitors of Hallstatt exceeds its population 100 times.
We stopped for the night in the neighboring (5 km away) village Obertraun – equally beautiful, but considerably cheaper. The hotels in Hallstatt are more expensive. There are three public parking (see map).
Parking prices in Hallstatt :
- 15 minutes free
- 15 minutes to 1 hour 3,00 Euro
- 1 hour to 2 hours 5,00 Euro
- 2 hours to 3 hours 7,00 Euro
- 3 hours to 12 hours 8,00 Euro
- 12 hours to 24 hours 0,50 Euro / per hour
We chose to spend the night at a cozy guest house “Obertrauner Hof” . We had our reservations made on Booking.com (here you can read our detail feedback). It’s said to have 2 stars there, but allow us to heartily recommend the aforementioned facility. It’s cozy, quiet, comfortable and very-very clean (this fact never ceased to amaze us in Austria)! The hotel’s owner is British, shows 100% of attention and understanding. Classic continental breakfast included in the price.
You can get to the lake from Obertraun by feet (during summer you can sunbathe and go for a dip here) and feed the swans.
If you wanna visit Hallstatt, there’s bus driving back and forth. You simply must walk down the narrow streets of the old town. A passion for beauty in Austrians infinitely surprises – the way they equip their dwellings and use every tiny patch of earth.
There’s nice playground near the lake. If you’re travelling with children, they can blow off steam here. A neat green lawn and benches are for parents wanting to relax and watch their kids playing. You can take a seat and, looking at the calm azure of water and mountains, completely forget about the constant necessity to be in a hurry. Grab a bun or a bagel on the way to feed the ducks and swans.
There’s the oldest elaboration of rock salt in Hallstatt. It’s over 3000 years old. “Hall” in town’s name stands for “salt”. And if you’re staying here longer than us, visit the oldest in Europe salt mines. By the way, they extract “white gold” here to this day.
What else can you see in Hallstatt and its surroundings?
If you like spooky stuff, feel free to visit a chapel, where you’d be able to see the remains of deceased town’s residents. Because of territory shortage every ten years exhumation is being undertaken, bones are whitened and painted (the name and profession of a man is written on them) and then being exhibited to the public display in the chapel. They bury other people on the locations freed. We didn’t get to go there, twilight was coming, and it was
Without doubt, we’d return to those places once again. Because we didn’t see
the painted bones Ice and Mammoth caves, viewing platform Dachstein (or “Five Fingers”), which promises breakneck views on Lake Hallstatt from the altitude of 400 meters (1200 feet). There are also lots of touristic and cycle routs for people to enjoy the beauties of wild and unconquered Alpine nature. For the winter holidays, you can come here to ski. But in the evening, having got enough impressions and breathed crystal-clear Alpine air, it’s great to indulge yourself in drinking excellent Austrian beer, eating some delicious sausages and traditional Austrian strudel with a cup of steaming coffee!
We left a fairy-tale Hallstatt (with hope return again once time). Our journey is continued. Italy waiting for us!