I took a 19-day trip through 5 European countries and 8 beautiful cities, but it was only when I found myself in the fairy-tale village of Hallstatt that I was truly flabbergasted. It is a delightful village, peaceful and elegant yet magnificent and grand.
My 19-day trip to Europe this time was not enough for me to really explore and indulge in the ancient European charm. I departed from the magnificent capital of Paris, France and then travelled across Switzerland soaking up its alluring landscapes. Afterwards, I visited Italy and the striking white and blue rooftops of Santorini, Greece. Amongst these wonderful cities, I fell head over heels for the ancient Austrian village of Hallstatt.
RUMOURS ABOUT THIS “SURREAL” VILLAGE
After waving goodbye to Switzerland, I continued travelling to the ancient lakeside village of Hallstatt in Austria. I had heard that the village was stunningly beautiful and something of a “dreamlike” land. One morning in November, I tried to get up early to enjoy the chill in the air and the peaceful environment. I say I got up early, but in fact, it was nearly 10 am because the winter in Austria is extremely cold and locals tend to wake later than in other seasons.
Every visitor to Hallstatt is seduced by its splendid beauty and many have revealed that: “You travel to Austria without visiting Hallstatt then you are really missing out”. My curiosity got the better of me, so I decided to visit the beautiful land. After further research and questioning some of the locals, I hopped on tram 4 to the transfer station, where the journey to the village of Hallstatt is just over an hour by bus.
Hallstatt is entirely picturesque and genuinely left me speechless. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the fairy-tale village is even more beautiful than people say. I was truly captivated and overwhelmed by the abundance of beautiful roadside vistas. Roads winding through the lush green grass stretching as far as the eye can see, pastures with rich greenery and the pleasant atmosphere generated by the changing of the seasons. My heart skipped a beat as I walked quickly towards the village of Hallstatt where I had my first glimpse of the legendary scenery.
I opted to travel around Hallstatt by public transport, which I soon realised was one of the best decisions of my trip. After the bus had stopped at the bus station, I jumped on the train. The 30-minute train journey allowed me to admire the surrounding scenery through the window. The morning sunlight danced through the stunning landscapes, bouncing through the lush forests and undulating mountains. I got a flutter of excitement and my heart melted while marvelling at this magnificent scenery.
CHARMING AND MESMERISING
The train suddenly stopped in front of Hallstätter See (Lake Hallstatter) as a signal that the next destination would be the fairy-tale village of Hallstatt itself. I hopped on the train, bought a ticket on the spot and then found myself a seat where I could make the most of the surrounding scenery. At this time, the lake was so still and peaceful, surrounded by towering mountains and pine forests. The surroundings resembled a colourful natural masterpiece.
As I reached the port, I caught sight of an array of signature wooden Holzhaus-styled houses leaning against the mountains and the sloping roofs overlooking the spectacular lake. Located between Salzburg and Graz in the north of Austria, Hallstatt is a small village on the Lake Hallstatt, sandwiched between an array of majestic mountains, the temperature is often lower than that in the city. The chill in the air intertwined with the wintry ambience made the surrounding landscape a bit gloomy and quiet. A wave of nostalgia quickly filled my mind and soul.
I crossed a small stone-paved path and stopped in front of Hallstatt Museum on Seetrasse Street. The museum is a conservation venue of ancient artefacts found in Salt Mines. Interestingly, the village of Hallstatt is home to the world’s oldest salt mine dating back more than 7,000 years. After strolling a few hundred metres further, I reached the central square of Old Town, Hallstatt which was surrounded by numerous colourful houses, oozing with quintessential charm.
Further along the road, I saw one of the traditional handicraft stalls. Souvenir shops shimmered with the warm yellow light whilst the smoky bakeries fascinated visitors with a variety of delicious cakes and fragrant pastries. Additionally, there are a few cafes and restaurants with lovely balconies and entryways adorned with colourful climbers on the well-painted walls. The blooming flowers form a captivating picture for people toing and froing.
After a leisurely meander around the town centre, I headed in the opposite direction, climbed the stairs, followed the mossy wooden staircase railings and entered a small alley, where the houses nestled against the cliff. From here, I could easily observe the splendid town below. Dachstein Mountain is exceptionally striking from a distance, blanketed in the snow all year round. The Lake Hallstatter is located peacefully in the beautiful valley. Sometimes, a gentle breeze stirred the fluffy white clouds in the sky.
The village of Hallstatt looked magical shrouded in mist and silhouetted against the mystifying lake. The striking mountains surrounding the lake made me feel as if I was lost in a fairy tale. Whilst wandering around the town, I got lost in St. Michael’s Catholic Church located in the middle of Hallstatt. From the outside, it looked like a garden, but if you enter and take a closer look, it is actually a cemetery. The location is home to the Bone House – Beinhaus which preserves about 1,200 skulls decorated with patterns and engraved with the deceased’s name. Perhaps it is a hallmark of Hallstatt, where the living or the dead, the past or the present, still exist naturally and familiarly.
MY ENDLESS LOVE FOR HALLSTATT
Only when visiting Hallstatt, did I really understand how peaceful it is. It was just perfect to indulge at the moment, sipping a cup of hot coffee on a small balcony whilst observing the bustle of the streets with people toing and froing. Strolling along the lake, inhaling the fresh air and watching the swans frolicking as happily as couples in love. I can clearly remember walking along the riverside road to enjoy a breathtaking panorama of Hallstatt. I felt as if I had been transported back in time, this fairy-tale village nestled in a modern world. Despite many ups and downs throughout history, Hallstatt has always kept its inherent beauty and has been dubbed the precious pearl of Austria.
Having fallen in love with this delightfully charming village, I begin to wonder whether I will feel the same if one day I return. I won’t know whether my love for the village is stronger or not. However, I can definitely say that the ancient village of Hallstatt in particular and Austria, in general, has brought me a sense of peace. The beautiful village filled me with nostalgia. It is so picture-perfect and poetic and left me with a strong realisation of how beautiful and delicate life truly is.
WEATHER IN HALLSTATT
Hallstatt boasts a unique beauty in every season. I visited the village in late November, it was cold and the sun sank early, so I was a little bit hasty in strolling around.
ACCOMMODATION IN HALLSTATT
When travelling to Hallstatt, you should rent a private apartment as they are well-appointed with a kitchen, living room, bedroom and toilet. You have the opportunity to experience a comfortable living space at a very reasonable price. For an adaptable person like me, I find that self-cooking is ideal to ensure health and taste as well as saving costs significantly.
TRANSPORTATION TO HALLSTATT
From Salzburg in Austria, there is a variety of transportation whatever your preference. However, I recommend you use public transport. From Salzburg, you can take the 150 bus to Bad Ischl, then travel from Bad Ischl to Hallstatt station by train and take a ferry to Hallstatt. Alternatively, you could also take a train from Salzburg to Attnang Puchheim, then take the next train to Hallstatt and take a ferry to enter the village.
Seafood is a must-try culinary experience for those travelling to Hallstatt. The fresh white fish caught from the lake and cooked in a traditional Austrian style is truly unforgettable. Additionally, please note that Austrian cuisine can be a little bit salty, so if your taste is quite the opposite, you could prepare your own food, better suited to your preference.
Ha Autumn | Wanderlust Tips