This time we want to share with you the experience of our traveling friend Lucy, touring this charming town located in the Austrian Alps. We were so delighted with Lucy's proposal to become our specialized Tourism correspondent, that we are already eager to see her next destination.
I love to travel and write about each of my trips, tell the experiences and my way of knowing the corners of the world, and perhaps be able to give you some tips and help you for your next trip.
I hope you like this first chapter of my travel stories called “Sharing experiences”, but above all that it serves you and you enjoy as much as I do Hallstatt, a wonderful lake town located just 73 kilometers from Salzburg, in the Salzkammergut district, Austria. , surrounded by the Dachstein Mountains. This ancient land of the Austrian Alps - which looks like something out of a Brothers Grimm tale - is the jewel of the region, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997.
How did I get to Hallstatt early one sunny morning?
The easiest way to get there is by train from Salzburg, located about an hour away and very close to the German border. The entire route is of imposing beauty, surrounded by medieval castles, palaces, natural parks and mansions of aristocrats who realize that we are in one of the most expensive regions of Austria.
Once there, everything was like being in a fairy tale village. A cluster of houses huddled next to each other on the edge of the mountains gives me magic and fantasy. And it's easy to understand why it was the source of inspiration for the fictional kingdom of Arendelle from the Frozen saga. This blockbuster Disney film put this town on the radar of world tourism and became a must-see destination, which receives about 10,000 tourists per day with the desire to experience this film adventure up close - as I do.
In summer especially, the town of no more than 778 inhabitants has been affected by the large number of tourists who flock to the place to take selfies and walk through its picturesque streets to the impressive mountainous landscape. That is why the mayor of the place is thinking of strategies to reduce the number of visits, and publicly asked that they let them live in peace. His plan is to reduce to 100 the number of annual tourist buses that arrive in the city, a figure that today is 10,000.
In the afternoon I decided to start another walk that had been highly recommended to me: the archaeological museum called Kulturerbe Hallstatt - with remains from the so-called “Hallstatt Era” (1300-400 BC), where I learned about geology, religion and the crafts of this beautiful place.
The town square deserves a separate chapter: called Markplatz, it has a unique fountain that serves as the main attraction. In one corner of the square is a pretty Lutheran church that was built around 1861, and is a popular attraction with visitors.
And of course a must is to visit the different historical buildings, a wide variety of restaurants that offer typical food of the city, and some shops where I bought souvenirs from my visit.
The daytime bustle of tourists was calming down and late at night I decided to find accommodation to sleep in this little town and enjoy it as if I were the only inhabitant. Walking Hallstatt at night is a unique experience: the swans sleeping by the lake shore, the cold, the flirtatious lights of its buildings, and an astonishing silence - at times interrupted by the murmur of the lake - made my second day end like a magical tale.
Other dazzling walks beyond downtown Hallstatt
On my second day in Hallstatt and after the traditional breakfast - coffee with wheat rolls or Schwarzbrot, with butter and jam, and slices of cold meats and cheese - I was able to submerge myself in nature at the Waldbachstrub waterfall, with its three waterfalls that reach a total of 90 meters. At the foot of the mighty waterfall, it is one of the most beautiful energetic places and a distinctive piece of nature in the region.
Later, it was time to visit Salzwelten, where the salt mine, which was exploited for 7,000 years, is located and is considered the oldest in the world. To get there you have to take the funicular to the top of the mountain, where the salt mines are located, a huge complex of tunnels and galleries.
Inside there is a “man of salt”, the corpse of a mine worker who was found in 1734, although it is believed that he lived in 1000 BC.The history of Hallstatt dates back to the Iron Age (7000 years ago), at that time salt was extracted from the adjacent mines, which led to the creation of a city as a commercial hub. Visiting its mine was like going back to the beginnings of mining and experiencing the history of the Bronze Age.
For photography lovers, the best shots of the village, the lake and the alps are taken from an observation deck - the Skywalk Lookout - located 350 meters above the ground and peeking out from the Salzberg Mountain. Next to the viewpoint is the Rudolf Tower which, since 1960, has a restaurant from which to contemplate the best views of the landscape. Its construction dates back to the 13th century and it was built as a defense for the miners. Later it became the residence of the manager of the salt mine.
Back in town, the next stop on my itinerary was the cemetery, one of the most beautiful in the world, very well decorated and with a curious ossuary within walking distance. This peculiar ossuary has more than 1000 skulls and other bones, with written names, which apparently were the names of said deceased.
And of course, on my last day, I tried their typical dish: grilled reinanke, a fish that lives in the lake and is prepared in an exquisite way. Before heading back, I treated myself to a unique moment: a delicious coffee accompanied by the inevitable apple strudel and the extraordinary Maislinger liqueur, at Uferwirt Seeraunzn, a restaurant with charming terraces on the lake where the scenery is truly spectacular.
I say goodbye with the certainty that Hallstatt's beauty seems out of a story, and visiting it gives me the illusion of closing my eyes in one of its corners and imagining that I might come across fairies, princes and villains in the 21st century.