In our visit to Hallstatt Austria, we will visit Salzwelten Salt Mines, Skywalk, Hallstatt Museum and of course the village itself. Let’s begin!
The visit to Hallstatt was part of the Austria trip (to see the full journey check out 11 Days in Austria). And more specifically, we drove to Hallstatt from Salzburg. We decided to visit Hallstatt, a small village in the Salzkammergut region since during my Austria research, this name kept popping. Hallstatt appeared almost in all top ten attraction/things to do in Austria lists.
Map of the area:
But besides being very picturesque, the main reason ancient people were drawn to this area is salt.
Salzwelten Salt Mines
Visiting Salt Mines in Austria is a popular tourist attraction. And Salzwelten Salt Mines is one of the popular ones. Thus, to skip long lines, I pre-ordered tickets online. But, as it turned out, there was no need. The groups were full, but there were no queues. Maybe because it still was not the peak season (our visit was in mid-April).
We had tickets for 11 am (the plan was to leave Salzburg by 9 am). We reached Hallstatt only at 10:50, but the salt mines are located high in the mountains. First, we took the 11 am funicular. AFAIR it runs every 30 min, but maybe it is 15.
Then when you get up, you have another 10-15 min walk to the Salzwelten Salt Mines (without stopping at the POI on the way).
Here is the map of the area with all POI:
As you can see funicular station is #1 (at the bottom of the plan), and the tour starts at #9.
The panoramic elevator (#2) and the restaurant (#10).
On our way to the tour.
Tour At Salzwelten Salt Mines
Salzwelten tour starts inside this building (#9).
In the end, we joined the 11:30 group (instead of 11:00). But nobody told us anything.
First, the whole group (probably around 40 people) entered the changing room. We were asked to deposit our bags, and then each got clothes. The clothes were a pair of big pants and a big shirt. We put these clothes on top of our clothes. I guess that the primary purpose is to keep your clothes clean.
And since I mentioned clothing, the temperature in the caves is around 10 C all year round. Thus, come in suitable clothing.
After adding a clothing layer, we passed through several showrooms and then climbed the stairs towards the cave.
Entrance to Christina Cave that is active from 1719 until this day.
On the photo above you can also see our protective clothes (each color means a different size).
Inside The Cave
Entering inside the cave:
Our tour was both in English and in German. Inside we got various explanations, starting with how salt got into mountains.
Many years ago this was a sea. But as mountains formed, this area rose up. So today you got sea salt trapped high in the mountains.
And this is our first slide:
That is how miners used to go down.
You can slide by yourself or in pairs (especially useful with children).
The second slide was a little longer, and in the middle, there was a camera. It took photos, and you can purchase your photo on exit for 5 euro. There was also a TV showing the pictures and sliding speed. Most people slid down at 20-25 km/h.
Then we saw a short show about ancient people.
Mining Methods and Salt Usages
And here our guide tells us about mining methods. There are two methods. Dry mining includes breaking stones and extracting salt blubs. Dry drilling is a tedious method, and it is no longer used.
Instead, today they use wet mining. Wet mining reminds oil extraction. People dig a bore, insert a pipe and pump water. On the other side, they receive brine (solution of salt and water). And then they filter the salt.
Several years ago a ladder was found in the salt mines. It is believed to be Europe’s oldest wooden staircase.
Low humidity and salt helped preserved this ladder for centuries.
And this is another presentation we saw about modern usages of salt.
In the end, we hopped on this train. Kept our heads down and it took us outside.
At the end of the tour, we returned to the changing room. Took off the protective clothes, got our bags back and bought the photo of us sliding. Also, each of us received a 10g salt jar.
The tour was quite lovely and lasted for about two hours.
After the tour, we started walking back to the funicular.
Since we were in a hurry when going up, we skipped this mirrored building on the left. It tells the story of an ancient graveyard found on this site. It is believed that ancient people who worked in the mines were buried here. And since there is a lot of salt, it helped to preserve both the bodies and the relics.
Skywalk Of Hallstatt
This area, the panoramic elevator (#2), the restaurant (#10) and lookout platform (#11), is called Skywalk of Hallstatt. Skywalk present beautiful views of this area. Here is a picture of the restaurant.
Hallstatt from above:
Lookout platform with the valley:
The restaurant and the lookout platform:
When we reached the funicular, I realized I made a mistake. At the end of the tour I threw away the tickets, but we needed them to go down. Luckily I had the file on my phone. And after several attempts at attaching my phone’s screen to the scanner it worked. So do not repeat my mistake and keep the tickets till you get down.
I have not mentioned before, but when we rushed to Salzwelten Salt Mines, we left our car at a paid parking lot at the southern end of Hallstatt. Its address is Salinenpl. 4. Also, Hallstatt itself is a small village with narrow roads, thus I would not recommend driving inside. Moreover, since the car parking, funicular station and the village itself are all within a 10-minute walking radius, there is no need to look for another place.
Thus, when we got down, we did not return to the car and went towards the center of the town.
Getting a little ahead, but as long as we on the topic of parking, I should mention that the cost of the parking was about 8 euro for the almost full day.
Walking In Hallstatt
Hallstatt is a touristic place, and many stores and services are aimed at tourists. But the likable thing is that you can also find handmade souvenirs as well.
An interesting thing we saw several times in the village is trees that are attached to houses.
Hallstatt Lutheran Church:
After some climbing we reached the graveyard next to the Catholic parish church (in the background):
Interior of the Catholic parish church:
And here is a panorama of the church:
Another tree attached to a house and this time there is a tree log that serves as a ladder for a cat (with a small door in the window).
Closeup of an Alpine house:
Several more home attached trees:
And this is probably the classical view of Hallstatt:
Boat Ride in Hallstatt
By this point, we were quite tired but still wanted to see more of this village. Thus we saw boat rides we decided to go for it.
There are several stations with small boats for rent. But since it was getting late, they were closed. What we saw was a boat bus. It goes to the train station on the other side of the lake and back. The roundtrip ride costs 5 euro per person, and it is about 10 min of sailing each way (with about 10 min break next to the train station).
Since it is a beautiful village, some couples decide to come there to take pre-wedding photos. And there was one couple on our boat:
On our way back to the town.
Catholic parish church:
As I mentioned, it was getting late, and we started walking towards car parking. On our way we passed the main square (Marktplatz):
And then we saw this woman as she was returning home after work. The unusual thing that she did not need to cross to the other side of the lake, but still preferred using the boat.
We returned to the parking lot. The tariff was about 8 euro for almost the whole day (11 – 19). And we headed to our Bed and Breakfast in Gosau.
Night Stay At Gosau
The B&B was in Gosau, which is about 10 min drive.
When we drove in the morning to Hallstatt, we used the same road (#166). And I saw a stream with three small bridges. Since our way back was during the golden hour, we decided to stop. And the following two photos are the result.
The next morning, when the first rays of sun started hitting the land we saw this:
We left Gosau and returned to Hallstatt since there was one more place we wanted to visit there.
The building of Hallstatt Museum:
Ammonites are clear evidence for an ancient sea (see Ammonite Wall in Ramon Crater for more info).
And this is the salt from the ancient sea:
Ancient people (mostly women) used to carry salt out of the caves using this type of “bags.”
This museum is not only about salt, but also about the life of people in this area.
And this diagram shows the graveyard (each marking is a burial place), the remains of which we saw yesterday in the mountains.
The museum is not big but quite charming. Our visit took about two hours.
One thing I noticed throughout our visit to Austria is that explanations in museums and tours are shorter in English. If you have 100% of the examples in German, then there is only 80% in English. The same was for this museum. But, if there were no English explanations, our museum tour would have been much shorter.
Where? You will find out in the next post 😉
To find out more check out Cinemagraphs – Photos with Motion from Austria.
Hallstatt is a picturesque destination. And if you are in the area it is a must stop. The shortest visit would consist of a several-hours walk through the village. A longer visit (1 – 1.5 days), can also include the salt mines and the museum. Moreover, you can make Hallstatt your trip base and visit surrounding attractions. Like Dachstein Giant Ice Cave and 5 Fingers viewing platform. In any case, Hallstatt will be probably among the highlights of your trip.
Have you ever been to Hallstatt? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!