On our last day in Salzburg, we decided to take a day trip to Hallstatt, Austria.
Getting to Hallstatt
While it is possible to visit Hallstatt via public transportation, driving takes a little over an hour and is quite pleasant. When you compare that to two or more hours on a bus or train, if you have a rental car, the choice is easy.
We were still experiencing very overcast weather, but the forecast was for a slight chance of light rain, so we put on our waterproof jackets, grabbed a couple of umbrellas to throw in the day pack, and hopped in our rental car.
The town has fewer than 1,000 people, but it gets 800,000 tourists a year so on a crowded day the town might be mobbed. Fortunately, our visit was 8 years ago, when the crowds weren’t so high, and was in early June, when European kids are still in school. The result was quite pleasant and had the fairy-tale feeling that I envisioned. Just don’t expect this on a clear summer afternoon in August.
Wandering the Town
Our main goal for this town was simply to walk across town and enjoy the atmosphere. If we saw something interesting, we might pop in, but there were no real plans.
The houses and hotels on the hill were attractive. I love cute towns and spent the morning envisioning myself living here.
Given the size of the town, the Evangelical (Lutheran) Church of Hallstatt is quite grand. That is one interesting thing about many places in Europe, almost every town has at least one really nice church that is worth at least a quick visit. This tiny town has several.
As one might expect, the main industry in this town is tourism, but this is a more recent thing. Its history dates back thousands of years ago to prehistoric times, and is most notable for the salt mountain that it sits on. Salt was quite precious, so this town was quite rich. If you are interested in the salt history, consider either visiting the salt mine or walking on the brine pipeline trail.
Archeologists have found quite a lot of information about the people who lived in this town from their graves that date back to prehistoric times. Apparently, it is a huge find and the quality was so good that they named an entire culture after the town. If you are into archeology type museums, make sure you stop at the Museum Hallstatt.
The grave space is so tight that every 10 years the town exhumes the graves and move the bones to an ossuary, or final resting box, then reuses the space for fresh bodies. We didn’t actually see this, but if you are into looking at skulls, you can find some “decorative” ones at the Hallstatt Ossuary, A.K.A. the Charnel House. The pictures are actually quite interesting. Given how much the boys liked the Capuchin Crypt during our 2019 trip to Rome, I’m sure they would have liked this, although preschool might be a bit young.
All in all, it was a great day trip that we thoroughly enjoyed – definitely recommended if you’re in the Salzburg.