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It is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Hallstatt, Austria, is surrounded by nature and situated on the banks of the Hallstaetter See or Lake Hallstatt. It’s a haven of peace among the Austrian Alps.
Located 79 kilometers from Salzburg, it has a population of about 800 people. This beautiful village is perhaps one of the best kept secrets of Austria, reachable via a winding road surrounded by lakes and mountains.
This city was declared a World Heritage for Humanity site by UNESCO, in 1997, thanks to its state of preservation and its thousands of years of history: Celtic, Illyrian, Roman and medieval archaeological remains speak about those who were part of an important human settlement in the Iron Age.
This town, the smallest in Austria, had a flourishing civilization during the Middle Ages thanks to its salt mines, at a time when salt was valued at record-high prices.
In December of every year, Hallstatt adorns its narrow, cobbled streets with precious decorations for a fairy tale Christmas starring its market of Advent, the Christkindlmarkt, located in the central Market Square. Here the traditions of a town come to life.
In addition, although at one point vehicle traffic was allowed, the use of cars on the streets has been banned recently to preserve its heritage. Entry is made on foot from a park on the outskirts. That’s the best way to explore this jewel.
One of the things that draws attention when entering the town is its two Christian churches. One is Lutheran and the other one Catholic, and they coexist in harmony. It is a delight to walk down the main street of the town, the Seestrasse, which culminates in the historic center, a mosaic of historic houses painted in bright colors that stand out in the snow during winter.
There are two museums in Hallstatt, Austria: the Archaeological Museum, where you can take a prehistoric tour and which displays artifacts and utensils of the people who lived in the town, and the Folk Museum, which bears witness to the life and customs of its inhabitants through the centuries.
In addition, winter sports lovers will enjoy skiing at the nearby slopes of Dachstein West in Gosau. Another option is the ski and Freeride Arena in the neighboring Obertraun. It is also great to enjoy long walks in the mountains along many signposted routes.
You can also indulge in one of the hot thermal baths located in the vicinity. The most recommended is in the nearby town of Bad Mitterndorf, famous for its fantastic Alpine landscape.
In 2011, the Chinese state mining company, Minmetals Land, built a replica of this village in the province of Canton.
Beyond its history, its age and its museums, Hallstatt, Austria, is a gift from mother nature. Hallstatt is a space of unparalleled beauty in which the silence, the breathtaking scenery and the soft and comforting crunch of snow under your boots reign supreme. ■
According to the travel site Little Holidays these are their recommendations:
Eat and Drink
Don’t forget to eat fish, as this is the town’s specialty. Seewirt Zauner – try their grilled whitefish, which is freshly caught from the Lake Hallstatt.
For Austrian desserts like apple strudels and other pastries, you must go to Cafe Bäckerei Konditorei Maislinger. For ice cream, Gelateria Giovanni.
Where to stay
The best hotel lakeside is Seehotel Grüner Baum. It offers panoramic views of Lake Hallstatt, a historic ambience, as well as spacious accommodations and wonderful staff. Rooms from EUR 175.
For small groups (3-4 adults), check out W & S Executive Apartments (suites for 4 start at EUR 380).