As we only had a couple days to enjoy Austria, Hallstatt was the city I wanted to spend our time in while there.
The enchanting beauty of this small town that is nestled among the mountains while resting slightly above the lake, is one that is truly exquisite!
Even during winter months, the town and surrounding scenery left us feeling amazed and in awe.
The first glimpse we got of this lovely town in Austria and its surrounding lake was from our hotel room balcony at the Heritage Hotel Hallstatt.
Waking up to that view was absolutely inspiring and made for a great pinch me kinda moment.
The hotel itself was nothing fancy or luxurious but it was clean and it’s perfect location right next to the water was truly ideal.
The architectural details of the quaint homes, coupled with a gleaming frozen lake, surrounded by the ever impressive white alps – were all perfect components for a enchanting setting.
To top it off there were majestic white swans swimming all around the lake making this setting even more dreamy just when we thought it wasn’t possible.
Unexpectedly, the local cemetery perched high above also offered a unique surrounding including more impressive views.
Another must do in Hallstatt is walk through its lovely streets and explore the many shops at every corner.
Had there been a little more time and the weather not been so cold, we probably would have gone out on the lake.
If you travel there during a more favorable climate I would definitely recommend doing that, I bet the views back towards the town are quite impressive.
When you think of a winter wonderland storybook, this place certainly comes to mind.
There were so many beautiful spots that made Hallstatt incredibly memorable.
One of our favorite things to do was stand at the overlook and admire the view of the crystal lake bellow in contrast to the town.
At times we could even spot the local ferry boat peacefully navigating back and forth through the calm water.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when visiting Hallstatt:
Accommodation: There are not many places to stay within the actual center of Hallstatt, so make sure to book in advance. Also keep in mind that you will pay a premium price for being in the city. As mentioned before we stayed at the Heritage Hotel Hallstatt, not the most fancy hotel we have stayed at but its location right next to the lake coupled with a beautiful view of it, was definitely a plus.
Access to Town: If you do decide to stay in the old part of town, know that there are limited roads in and out. The locals have a special permit that allows them to drive into the center making it almost impossible for foreigners to drive in themselves. The option is to find a public parking location along the main road above, and walk down to your hotel. In our case, since we arrived in the middle of the night the gate was opened and my husband was able to drive straight to our hotel. I don’t image this would have happened if we would have arrived during the day and I honestly think we just got extremely lucky that night.
Parking: Even if you manage to enter the town by car, another huge challenge is finding a place to park. As mentioned before the town limits parking in the city center to locals only. Thankfully, our hotel allowed us to park in one of three parking spots they own that is reserved for staff. I cannot even express what an enourmous blessing this was, because after a painfully long day of travel including jetlag, if they had declined to allow us to park there, we would have had to venture to one of the parking areas above. I cannot even phantom the idea of having had to have walked to the hotel in a freezing snowy night, carrying our luggage through many icy stairs. That being said, please plan ahead and find out based upon your hotel what will be the best way to arrive and where to park.
Getting Around Town: The one advantage of having a smaller town with little vehicle traffic, is the ease of walking around and discovering the scenic spots on your own. The distances are not great, so walking is pretty enjoyable and not tiring.
Best Time to Travel: Visiting during the cold months of winter definitely had its pros and cons. A huge plus was the fact that there were absolutely no crowds around and the city appeared magical covered in a thin layer of snow making it oh so lovely. Accommodation prices were a bit more reasonable as well and parking structures outside of town where empty. (I imagine they fill up quickly during the summer months). The downside was that it was obviously freezing cold and the town lacked the beautiful pop colors from flowers and decorative greenery. The only thing we felt that we missed out from traveling in winter was the fact that we could not rent a boat and take it out on the lake. We personally felt like the pros outweighed the cons, so we were happy to visit during winter. However, I don’t think there is necessary a bad time to travel and I would not mind returning one day during warmer months to experience a whole new scenery.
The city and surrounding areas were beautiful nonetheless and if you would like to take in more of the local vibes, and ski resorts, you may want to stay a little longer than the few days we had. Even if time is short like ours, we still highly recommend this stop along your journey through this beautiful country.
Check out our Free Austria Travel Itinerary here.
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