For the very best views of Hallstatt, the Lake and the Mountains, take the Cable Car (or walk if you are up to it) that goes to the Salzwelten Salt Mine on the Salzberg Mountain. The cable car will stop at Rudolfsturm on the way and you can alight there and walk a very short distance to the Rudolf Tower (Rudolfsturm). The tower was built in the 13th century by the Duke Albrecht of Austria and named after his father Rudolf I, who was the first leader of the Habsbergs. It was built to protect the Salt Mine.
For 600 years or more, the Tower was traditionally home to the Mine Managers but in 1960 it was remodelled into the restaurant that is operating there still.
Some of Europe's smaller towns will have one main square which doubles as a "little square" as well. One that springs to mind is the litte town square in Hallstatt. It is surrounded by lovely little restaurants and shops and is very pretty indeed. My hotel room overooked this square, so I was doubly fortunate. It's very easy to find, just about 50 meters from the ferry terminal.
The first "Thing to Do" in Hallstatt is to travel across the lake from the Train Station to the town. If you go to Hallstatt by car you will come into the township from a different direction, but there is nothing to stop you travelling across the lake on the ferry and coming back again. It is a lovely way to see this very special World Heritage Town and at only 2,20Euro each way, it will hardly break the bank.
This is one of the more beautiful ice caves in Austria and it isn't as difficult to visit as the one at Werfen, south of Salzburg.
The effort involved
The cable car up to the cave is situated right next to the parking lot. After leaving the cable car, you have about a 15-minute walk uphill on a good path to the cave entrance. This should pose no problem to anyone who can walk. Even if you are in terrible shape, you just walk it at your own pace. Once inside the cave, you have to walk uphill and up steps a bit, and, although an effort, it shouldn't pose any major problems.
What to wear
It is -1 Celsius inside (30 F). Everyone has their own tolerance of cold. Decide according to your tolerance of that temperature. I would recommend at least a good windbreaker with long-sleeved shirt or sweater - and good, closed walking shoes are a must. An important tip: Wear gloves! Even if you personally don't need gloves at that temperature, you will find them very useful as the railing you must hold on to when climbing the steps in the cave is quite cold, albeit they are made of wood and not of metal. Your hands will be quite cold by the end of the tour if you don't wear gloves.
Entering the church we saw this small altar to the right.
I don't think I know the exact name for it.
There is another altar to the left of it.
I could not exactly understand why there should be two altars.
I think it's one of the habits there.
The Protestant Church is easily accessible as it is located in pride of place down by the lake. It is a neo-Gothic building and earliest records date it back to the 14th century. The spire was not completed however, till 1862.
You can take the funicular up to the Salt Mines or just as far as Rudolfsterm for lunch, or you can take a cruise on the lake or visit the churches and the place with the skulls up near the Catholic church, but if you can't make up your mind what it is you want to do or see with the time you have, just walk. Soon all your questions will be answered when you see what's on offer. Even if you just walk to the Tourist Info Office, you will see so many lovely things on the way, that your walk will not be in vain. There are lovely shops selling all manner and means of local craft and the like. Hand painted glass which is to die for (if you can afford it) is in plentiful supply. Or if you're not feeling overly energetic, you can always sit at one of the little cafes along the lake road and have an ice cream.
Just walk in any direction and there will be plenty to see and enjoy.
I guess our visit wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t visit the salt mine! We had to pay 22 Euros each for a ticket (66 Euros for 3 tickets) that includes to and from cable car rides, complete tour of the mines with a guide, and a complimentary iPod for you to use while making your way to the mine tours. But, You got to return the iPod after the tours done!
Look at that image. There are actually people living in such a wonderful location. The lake must be always still, as it is literally inches from the grass and from the table and chairs in the garden of that house. Check out the second picture for a closeup.
Central square of Halstatt has pretty little houses all around, benches, lovely. Nevertheless you should not be hungry right here as food options are limited to a couple of restaurants with German menus I couldn't understand.
A boat ride on Halstattersee is a must. You can take a shorter ride to Obertraun or a longer one (over one hour) to the north part of the lake.
The boats have dinner table inside and you can sit comfortably regardless of the weather (cold or hot), enjoy a coffee or a snack.
In Hallstatt`s neighbour community Obertraun you`ll find 3 caves to visit - one of them is the Rieseneishöhle. It is part of the Unesco world heritage site Hallstatt/Dachstein/Salzkammergut.
To visit the cave, you first have to go up by cablecar to "Schönbergalm" - the first stop on Dachstein mountain. From there it is an about 15 minutes hike up to the cave. The guided tour through the cave takes about 45-50 minutes. The ticket costs around EUR 25 - cable car included. The tour starts in a stalactite cave and after some walking you`ll reach the ice part of the cave. Water is coming in through gaps in the mountain - and since temperatures in the cave are partly below 0 degrees celsius, beautiful ice formations are the result. They are also beautifully illuminated thanks to the work of some Styrian students.
The ice cave was also film setting of a german children`s movie (Bibi Blocksberg :)) - so there are special guided tours for children.
The "ice chapel" is currently closed though, it is too dangerous to go down there since some ice broke down some time ago. All in all it is a very magical place and for sure worth a visit! From the mountains you can also enjoy a beautiful view over Hallstatt.
^The museum is on the main street and in the front courtyard are shown the wooden steps, reputedly said to be the oldest in europe, which were unearthed from the local salt mine.
Please check on the website for real indepth information about the museum, artefacts, history etc. and about the salt mine.
Alright, everyone comes to this town to see the salt cave.
My husband went to see it and saw zero salt. The pics you see on postcards are false too, there is no lake to see or any stalagmites or anything like that.
It's mostly a history lesson about salt making and how the people lived when they were mining it years and years ago. There are 4 movies.
You have to wear a special suit too.
It is also very very physical. With alot of hiking and climbing and riding down a chute.
He did find it interesting but was disappointed in the above mentioned facts.
It costs 22 euro per person also.
The bone house dates back to twelve century AC. There are over 1200 skulls in the charnel, of them 610 have been painted in flowery designs, they are neatly stacked in rows along with next of kin and have the date of death written on them.
This tradition began in 1720 AD.
The graves were opened after 10 - 15 years and the skulls were removed along sometimes with other bones. The skull was cleaned and exposed to the sun for weeks until they were bleached ivory white. As one would decorate a grave with flowers the skulls were painted symbolically with a crown of flowers.
The last skull to go into the Beinhaus (Bone house) was in 1995. It is directly beside the cross. The woman died 1983, it was her last request to be stored in the bone house.