Hallstatt is exactly what you imagine from a small village in the mountains. A picturesque church and winding small streets just in between a lake and the mountain range. And you can actually find this in Austria.
Hallstatt is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Which means the town is protected for further development. But being on the UNESCO World Heritage list also has its disadvantages. The town has become famous, world-wide. Especially photographers love to roam the streets to make the most beautiful pictures of the town surrounded by the Alps with a picturesque church.
Besides its picturesque appearance, it has another unique drawcard: the ‘Beinhaus’ (Bone House) in the Michaels Kapelle. It’s home to 1.200 skulls of former residents of Hallstatt. Around 600 of them have been decorated with name, crucifixes, flowers and more. It’s an interesting collection.
Hallstatt: flooded by tourists
Through social media, more and more tourists have been introduced to Hallstatt. Which results in an increase in tourism. The town is very popular amongst the Chinese. You can actually find a replica of Hallstatt in an amusement park in Guangdong, China. However, more and more people want to see the real Hallstatt.
The town with less than 1,000 inhabitants gets flooded by tourists. On a daily basis. In order to keep some calm, numerous signs have been placed with Silent please and no drones.
Most tourists stay shortly. They take a short walk, visit the viewpoint for pictures and selfies, and then leave. Without buying souvenirs or enjoying lunch or a cup of coffee. Which does not really help the local economy. You can feel the tiredness of the local community emerging.
Limitations are being set in place. For instance a limit on the number of tourist buses that are allowed to stopover in Hallstatt. This should result in fewer tourists visiting per day. But the community is also looking into other measures. For instance a limit on the number of visitors per day. Or raising an entrance fee.
Best time to visit Hallstatt
The best time to visit is around sunrise. The light will be beautiful, the town will still be relatively quiet. So you can walk around easily.
Another good moment is around sunset. Most day tourists will be gone by then. And the local community can get back to their own lives.
How to get to Hallstatt?
Hallstatt is an hour’s drive away from Salzburg. The center of the city does not allow cars and parking can be tricky.
By public transport
By train, it is 2-2,5 hours’ travel. It does take longer by train but you get a nice scenic route through the mountains.
The ferry crosses the Halstättersee. On the other side, you will find the train station. Traveling by ferry gives you a great view of Hallstatt and its surroundings. And numerous opportunities to take pictures of the scenery. The best light is early morning or end of the afternoon, early evening.
From the city center you can hop on a boattrip and explore Halstättersee. From the boat you have a great view of Hallstatt and its surroundings. Great for photography.
It is very touristy, but also a nice way to see the town from up far. Surrounded by the magnificent Alps. But you will not be alone water biking the lake…