Hallstatt was a place that we have swooned over and over while researching for the trip. It was this extremely unreal looking alpine town, tucked away amongst the mountains. And having the thought to take a ferry across the lake to get access to it - that in itself was enough to make us fall head over heels for this magical little township.
Imagining it to be unreal and finally being there felt surreal. We took a bus from Salzburg to Bad Ischl and then a train from Bad Ischl to Hallstatt.
Tip: The train ride is very scenic so remember to sit on your right side!
What was facing us while on the ferry was an amazing view of houses (those kind that we draw as kids!), a tall clock tower of sorts, very clear blue waters, with the Dachstein in the background. The Dachstein was even snow capped!
The water was extremely still when there were no ferries on it, and the reflection of what's on land was almost exactly the same image in the water.
We decided to spend a night in Hallstatt as it was on the way to our next stop the following day, Graz. Instead of rushing, we took it slow and stayed a night. The day was spent exploring the 'city center', but really it was not a city because of how small it was! There are only 700 odd people living there, and its 'center' consists of many hotels and probably 1 expensive restaurants and 2 middle range ones. It was extremely surprising that alot of shops and restaurants/ eateries were not open. I had a daunting moment thinking we might have to starve! Even the supermarkets opens at 9am-12pm, and closes from 12pm, and only reopens back from 3pm-6pm! Perhaps the traffic is really very low and there is just no point to be open for business for a full day.
Things to do
By the time we arrived in Hallstatt it was already mid-day, so we decided to soak in whatever Hallstatt had for us, walking along the lake. There were many little lookout points and pontoons as opportunity for some scenic photographs.
There are obviously other things like the Bone House, or Catholic Parish Church to visit, but even if you don't, its really ok! I thought it was quite enjoyable just getting lost in the beauty of the town, walking through different lanes and admiring the houses, the colours, and the stillness.
We did however took up the challenge to hike up to the salt mine early the next day. The hike took about 1 hour, with our pace being quite slow and leisure. On other days a furnicular runs from the foot to the top however it was closed when we were there. The hike was good in a way because it was extremely informative on what kind of ancient and medieval methods were use to retrieve salt from the mine. It was also accompanied by the ever changing view of the lake from above, as the fog moved in and out, and the lake and mountains seemingly playing hide and seek with us.
The view on the observation deck was V-shaped, and perched over the mountain, sticking out and hovering above the town Hallstatt. There are just no other words. I just have to re-iterate again, it's breathtaking and beautiful and truly stellar.