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Blissfully blessed paradise
A pristine place in the midst of mountains with a lake that escorts you to the serene world is HALLSTATT!
I just cannot help but to rave about this tiny place which is stunning and an absolute delight to see, feel and of course stay. This is a very small town in Salzkammergut, Austria. It’s also listed in UNESCO World Heritage. The houses are nested to the mountain and its sufficient in its own skin. This place has so much to offer (details below) and at the end of the trip you don't feel its small and definitely would not want to head back. I am usually excited to see the next place and explore more but this one is an exception; I left with a heavy heart and promised myself that I will be coming back! I have travelled to lot of different places but this one captured me.
How to get here
You might be in and around Vienna or Salzburg, take the train and get off at Attnang-Puchheim stop. From here, take a train towards Bad Ischl and Obertraun and get down at Hallstatt station. One thing about taking the train to Hallstatt is that it actually drops you off across the lake from town which requires a short ferry ride (2.50€). Usually the ferry’s schedule matches with the train timings.
(I travelled to Hallstatt from Salzburg and it took about 3.5hrs. The view from Attnang-Puchheim to Hallstatt itself is picturesque. I prefer train as its hassle-free. Driving also is an great option).
- Best way to see this place is to walk the entire town and it has a single main road.
- If you are staying 3 nights or more, head to the tourism department and they will give you the card which helps in getting discount at museums and taking cable-car rides at Dachstein etc. (Note: You need to produce a bill from the place where you staying as a proof for number of days and then you get the card).
- I would recommend at least 4 nights stay. Having said that you can choose to stay at Hallstatt or at Obertraun. If you are staying at Obertraun, you need get down the next stop of Hallstatt. These two towns are opposite to each other; Obertraun on the railway station side and Hallstatt on the other side. Definitely would recommend Hallstatt. We stayed at Haus-Lenz house; a couple manage it and the breakfast was delicious. View from our room was so beautiful as this house is at higher altitude of the town.
- There is an super-market and there is a provision to wash your clothes.
- We went in July month and the weather was perfect and it rained in the night. Slight chill from later evening 20:00 till morning 9:00.
Places to visit/ Things to do
- Hire the boat and ride around. According to me its the best thing to do in here and we did it almost everyday.
- Visit the salt museum no matter what! It is a very well-structured program explaining everything and there is a fun part to it as well. You go via cable car to the museum and again there is a beautiful top view of the town. They give you a pair of shirt-pant to wear on top of your dress so that your dress doesn't get spoilt. After this they take you through the salt caves and explain. As said earlier, the fun part… there is a wooden slide in the cave and it’s so much fun as they allow you to slide solo or as a duo. Obviously, my husband and I went together on a slide and the childishness in us just emerged. Everyone enjoyed it and there were giggles. I saw an old-couple slide and it was a cute sight. BTW, you get to do it twice! Yaayyyy!!! You can get a photo of you sliding and also with the speed of decent (5€); its on my refrigerator and feels nice whenever I see it. At the end, you come out of the caves via train in a small tunnel. Its a proper combination of information and fun. Not to be missed.
- Go to Dachstein to have a top view of the Valley. You can easily spend 5-6 hours. It is just amazing and wonderful. You have 3 cable cars way. First and second allows you to view the different parts of the Salzkammergut region. You can see the view-points like 5-fingers, Salzkammergut See. Personally, the third cable car way was not that scenic and I guess its mainly for hiking purpose. Also, there is Dachstein Ice-caves and did not go as we had been to the world’s largest ice-cave about 40kms to Salzburg (details in another blog). If you haven't been to an ice-cave, its a must.
- There is a Heritage museum showcasing 7000 years of Hallstatt history.
- Beinhaus (Bone House); Due to extremely limited space in the cemetery, burials are only temporary. After 10-15 years the grave is opened and the bones are removed and bleached in the sun. Then they are stacked in here.
- If you can afford some more days, do plan for a hiking.
- There is an home-made soap shop and it has lot of interesting things like salt soap, fragrant soaps, salt bubble bath and so on. We also got the candle holder made of salt.
- There is another souvenir shop of Hallstatt and there are lot of little cute things to buy. I got a toothpick holder; its in the shape of a boot and written Hallstatt on it.
- My favourite: pizza, cold coffee @Cafe Zum Mühlbach and for lunch and dinner restaurant by the lakeside Hotel Grüner Baum (best pasta and dessert) and Braugasthof am Hallstattersee (best soup).
- Just sit by the lake with your favourite view and enjoy the stillness.
I can definitely vouch that when you leave Hallstatt, you will know what is F5 (refresh) button and rewinding yourself; actually means!! :).