Free Hallstatt Walking Tour:
Location: Old Town Hallstatt, Austria
Cost: Free, Self-Guided (Salt Mine, Boat, & Bone Chapel costs below)
Style: Do-It-Yourself Walking Tour (Self Guided)
Start: City View Point Near Hallstatt’s Bus Stop
End: City View Point Past Stefanie Boat Dock
Distance: 1 mile of walking
Time: 2 hour walk (+3 hours for Salt Mine tour & +1 for a boat ride)
Fun Scale: 10 out of 10
There was a Hallstatt before there was a Rome, and you’ll love every minute you spend strolling through this quaint 7,000 year old Alpine village! This self-guided Hallstatt walking tour can easily be completed in half a day giving you plenty of time to check out the Ice Caves or take a paddle boat on the lake. If you arrive in Hallstatt by train and ferry/boat instead of bus, consider doing this tourist walking tour in reverse order. We hope you enjoy our free Hallstatt walking tour map!
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Free Hallstatt Walking Tour Sights:
1. Hallstatt Lahn Viewpoint:
About The Hallstatt Lahn Viewpoint: The main Hallstatt bus stop (Hallstatt Lahn) is the perfect place to start our free walking tour. You’ll immediately be struck with amazing panoramic views of Hallstatt clinging to the lake with a glorious Alpine backdrop. Make sure to take a while to relax by the water and appreciate the scenery. On most days this is also a great spot to get up close and personal with the swan’s of Hallstatt. The swans were imported here during the 1860’s when Austrian Emperor Franz Josef and Empress Sisi started to visit on annual retreats. Sisi, like her cousin Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria, had a borderline obsession with swans. Ludwig even named his most famous castle Neuschwanstein (New Stone Swan Castle), which is our favorite castle in Europe, after his beloved birds. The Hallstatt Lahn bus stop is also a very important location to know if you plan on taking the bus to any of the surrounding towns or the Dachstein Ice Caves.
2. Hallstatt Tourism Office:
About The Tourism Office: The Tourism Office in Hallstatt is a great place to pick up free brochures and to find info on upcoming town events. Outside of general information, the Tourism Office can answer your questions, store your bags, and they even have a limited number of guided tours available. Guided Tours: 4 Euro guided city tours are available in English on Saturdays in the Summer. Luggage Storage: They also have a bag storage room that can hold up to 20 bags, cost is 3 euros per bag and must be picked up before close. Visitor Center Hours: January-April Monday-Friday 8:30am-5pm, Saturday 9am-1pm, Sundays Closed. May & June Monday-Friday 8:30am-5pm, Saturday & Sunday 9am-2:30pm. July-October Monday-Friday 8:30am-6pm, Saturday & Sunday 9am-4pm. November & Decmeber Monday-Friday 8:30am-5pm, Saturday & Sunday Closed.
3. Salt Mine Visitor Center:
About The Salt Mine Visitor Center: Opened in 2016, the visitor center at the base of Salt Mountain is a great place to get a peak at the tours of the Salt Mine. The bag lockers at the visitor center are also one of the only two places in Hallstatt where you can store your luggage while visiting town.Read More: Salt Mine Tour Attractions
4. Panorama Funicular (Salzbergbahn):
About The Panorama Funicular: If you want an amazing view of Hallstatt, the lake, and the surrounding Alps, the glass walled Salt Mine Funicular is definitely for you. It only takes 3 minutes to climb 1181 feet up the mountain side and the views just keep getting better and better on the way up. Even if you don’t have time for a 2 hour tour of the salt mines (stop #6), the funicular is more than worth the ride! Alternative you can hike up the hike hill in a bout a hour from the center of Hallstatt on either the Salt Brine of Panorama trails, but the funicular works best for most visitors schedule wise. Hours: April through late-September 9am-6pm; late-September through early-November 9am-4:30pm; the rest of November 9am-4pm; CLOSED late-November until early-April. (Current Schedule). Cost: Round trip funicular costs 16€ for Adults or 9€ one way; children 50% off; family passes available. Combo rates available if attending the salt mines.
Read More: Salt Mine Tour Attractions
5. Rudolph’s Tower & Skywalk:
About Rudolph’s Tower & Skywalk: Rudolf’s Tower and Restaurant greets all Salt Mine visitors directly at the top of the funicular route. Walking to the tower is tons of fun as you get to cross the Lookout Bridge spanning a small gorge sitting hundreds of feet below you. From Rudolf’s large patio hanging 1181 feet above Hallstatt, you’ll experience unmatched open air views of the the lake, village, and surrounding mountains. The tower, built in 1282, was constructed by Duke Albrecht I of Austria as a defense for the mine workers on the Salzberg (Salt Mountain). He named the tower after his father Afder Rudolf I, the first leader of the Hapsburg empire. In 1313 the tower became the residence of the mine manager and remained so for more than 640 years. During this time many famous people of the day visited the tower such as Emperor Maximilian. Johann Georg Ramsauer, discoverer of the Hallstatt cemetery in 1833, renovated the tower and expanded the grounds after a fire claimed much of the area in the 1800’s. The current restaurant wasn’t opened until 1960.
Getting To Rudolf’s Tower: You can either do a strenuous hiking up 1 hour from the enter of Hallstatt itself or the least strenuous option, of course, is to take the funicular. Hours: Daily, roughly 9am-6pm. Cost: Funicular costs 12€ for Adults, children 50% off, family passes available. Combo rates available if attending the salt mines.
Read More: Salt Mine Tour Attractions
6. Hallstatt Salt Mine (Salzwelten):
About The Hallstatt Salt Mine: You would think that the discovery of concrete in the mine from 1,500 BC would make this an old salt mine, but it’s actually much older. In 1838, workers found a pick made of stag horn from the Neolithic Age dating back to 5,000 BC, making the mine 7,000 years old!! This make Salzwelten the oldest salt mine in the world! During the 1800’s there were even more big time for discoveries at the mine, like in 1833 when the mining director found the Hallstatt miners burial ground. These discoveries, along with other comprehensive finds from the early Iron Age, have led historians to call the period between 800-400BC the Hallstatt Era. Today visitors to the mine are given a very wide range of activities from a ride on a barge over the mine’s salt lake, a slide down the old wooden miners’ shoot, interaction with large salt blocks, and the Man in Salt which is our favorite thing. The Man in Salt was discovered in 1734 when the body of a former miner was found, perfectly preserved in salt. Records describe the corpse as being pressed flat as a board and features worn away by stone. Clothing and tools quite unusual, but completely intact.Tours: 2 hour long tours run Daily the last week of April through late-September departing from 9:30am-4:30pm; mid-September through October from 9:30am-3pm; November from 9:30am-2pm; and are CLOSED late-November until April. Start ascending the funicular lift at least 30 minutes before your tour. Cost: Tour by itself is 22€ for Adults or 30€ for tour with round trip funicular ride; children 50% off; family passes available.
Read More: Salt Mine Tour Attractions
7. Lake Hallstatt Stroll:
About The Lake Hallstatt Stroll: After descending the Funicular, you’re quickly given your first taste of Hallstatt’s true beauty, the tightly stacked timber homes! As you walk along the water’s edge, notice how Hallstatt’s houses were built close to the cliffs on the mountains perched above the lake. The houses were built like this not only because of a lack of land but also so the residents could have direct lake access. The second floor today was actually the first floor and today’s first floors were mainly the ‘garages’ or boat access. Until the late 1800’s, the only way to reach the houses was either by boat or through the narrow pathways like the still visible just over the roofs of the houses along the stroll. In 1890, the road you are walking on was built, making the village greatly more accessible although part of the local bank needed to be blasted away to make the road’s path.A good way to visually determine how old each house maybe is to see how much of it is built completely out of timber verses stone. Ones with more stone features have either been rebuilt after fires or renovated over the years while the ones that are almost completely timber are more likely to be untouched over the centuries.
8. Bräugasthof Restaurant & Guesthouse:
About Bräugasthof: Bräugasthof’s guesthouse, first documented in 1472, originally served as a salt manufacturing center where salt brine from the mine up the hill was turned into pure salt. The building has an excellent lake level cellar which provided storage and easy water access to the local boats who could transport the finished product to other cities. The upper levels of the building served as a guesthouse which it still does today. In 1504, Emperor Maximilian gave the property owners the right to brew and serve beer. The family’s beer business quickly grew well known as the Market Brewery with excellent, strong brews that was served in large mugs. Market Brewery stuck as the name for over 400 years before it was changed to Bräugasthof. Today the restaurant has a great patio right on the lake and a spectacular breakfast buffet. The 8 room hotel attached to the beer hall is open all year around and has charming, romantic rooms with traditional Austrian furniture and balconies with a view to the Lake. Website: Here.
9. Archaeological Excavations:
About Hallstatt’s Archaeological Excavations: There was a Hallstatt before there was a Rome, and the best place to get a peak at how old Hallstatt really is are the impressive archaeological excavations below Juno Sports Shop. Discovered in 1990, excavations have uncovered structures and artifacts from the Middle Ages all the way back to the Stone Age. There are excellent paving stones from early Hallstatt, Roman building foundation sections, and the outer walls of the Habsburg residence from early Medieval Times. We love the 3 salt mine forges which have numerous metal tools and a hammer mill. There are also a wide range of ceramics from the Stone Age, pre-historic era, Roman times, and the Middle Ages. Cost: Free Hours: Daily in summer 9am-6pm; closed on Sundays in Winter. Website: Here.
10. Hallstatt City Museum:
About Hallstatt’s City Museum: Although there have been people mining salt and living in the Hallstatt area since 5,000 BC, the village didn’t really start gaining power until between 800-400 BC (The Hallstatt Era) when they started exporting their. This museum, founded in 2002, covers the entire 7,000 year period but mainly focuses on the Hallstatt Era. The Museum has been completely restored and refurbished recently with very modern facilities for visitors. The newly contemporary museum provides wonderful insight into the unique history of Hallstatt and the surrounding area.
Hours: November–March: Wednesday to Sunday 11am-3pm, July & August it stays open later until 8pm. Cost: Adults €7.50, family passes available. Guided Walking Tour: Each Saturday July-October the Museum offers guided walking, check at the office for times. Candlelit Boat Rides: Starting late each July through late August, candlelit boat rides leave the boat pier at 8:30pm on Thursday evenings €13.50 or €16 combo-ticket with the Hallstatt Museum. Website: Here.
11. Dirndl-To-Go Rentals:
About Dirndl-To-Go: Dirndl-To-Go will enhance your photos and help you feel like a local with a “Dirndl“ rental in the in World Heritage village of Hallstatt. As they often get busy, we recommend reserving your Dirndl even during the normal opening times. Hours: May-October they accept walkins Wednesday-Sunday 11am-5pm, plus by appointment in the mornings and Monday-Tuesday. The rest of the year they are by appointment only. Reservations: [email protected] Cost: 1st hour €22; Each extra hour €6; Half-Day €35; Full-Day €50 (Group discounts available). Address: Wolfengasse 105 (connected to Gasthof Simony). Website: Here.
12. Gasthof Simony:
About Gasthof Simony: The narrow alleyway leading past Gasthof to Market Square is one of our favorite places to take photos on this Hallstatt walking tou. You’ll notice how the alley’s buildings are mainly bright multicolored stone instead of the dark timber framed buildings you’ve seen so far. This is largely because of the big fire of 1750 that at partially burned half of Hallstatt. The more stone a building in this area of town is, the further it was damaged by the 1750 fire. It’s amazing how taxis and vans are able to wiz through the tightness of the alley. The narrowness leads to perfect contrasting of light on the surfaces of the multicolored buildings.
The first of the tightly packed buildings you’ll come to is the mustard colored Post Office, followed by a bright pink buildings, and finally the peach colored Gasthof Simony. First mentioned in a document in the 15th century, the house was used as a theater for the salt-producing family Wolfen. The alleyway along the home is still named Wolfengasse after the family. When they Wolfens left the salt trading business their house became a restaurant. The first and the second floor of the Simony house were badly hurt by the fire of 1750, however, the vaults of the ground floor were fortunately not damaged. In 1882, the Klackl family bought the building and renovated the house into a hotel. Famous explorer of the Dachstein region Friedrich Simony was a regular guest in the hotel and the name was later changed into Gasthof Simony after him. Hotelers who stay at Gasthof Simony are happy to know that the guest house offers the use of their lake canoes free of charge. Website: Here.
13. Market Square (Marktplatz):
About Market Square: While the Hallstatt Museum focuses on the early days and ancient Hallstatt Era, the Market Square is a testament to Hallstatt’s true glory days in the Middle Ages. Instead of only exporting salt, the village became a true trading hub when it was granted market rights in 1311. This new status led to a to a wealthy building boom centered on the newly formed Market Square. In 1750 this part of town was leveled by fire so most the buildings were rebuilt using stone instead of wood. It’s a great contrast in building materials to the rest of the village which is mainly old timber. The decorative statue in the center of the romantic square resprents the Holy Trinity. Near the fountain is an awesome place to grab a seat with a coffee in hand and people watch among the colorful buildings of Market Square. Christmas Market: Runs during the Advent start the first week of December through Christmas Daily 11am onwards.
14. Gasthof Zauner:
About Gasthof Zauner: The original inn at the back of Old Town Square added Restaurant Seewirt more than a hundred years ago and has a strong tradition of hospitality. They have also been masters of cultivating the delicious fish from lake Hallstatt, which has contributed to Zauner Inn becoming the meeting-place of gourmets in the Salzkammergut. While it may not be right on the water, Zauner’s rustic rooms are ideal for the celebration of weddings, baptisms and other family or company parties.
The Salzfürstenplatte (Salt-Prince-Plate) is the showpiece of their kitchen: Eat like the salt princesses of Hallstatt did about 4500 years ago. The plate consists of delicacies which already our ancestors, the Illyrs, Celts, Romans and ancient Germans all grilled on an open fire: grilled wild boars, beef, pork and smoked fish from the lake of Hallstatt, garnished with fruit and nuts in a way which is typical for the region. It is bound to be one of the culinary highlight of your trip to the region.
Staying in the Zauner is is awesome as they have breakfast on the wooden carved balcony in the morning sun, hospitality in the ivy-covered stone dining room, and modern comfort in a house which is deeply rooted in the life and tradition of Hallstatt. The marvelous view from the balconies over the roof tops of Hallstatt, one of of the most romantic lakeside village in the world, is like a glimpse into a small paradise even is only for a day or two. Website: Here.
15. Ruth’s Market Pub:
About Ruth’s Market Pub: Some of the best places in Europe aren’t the busy tourist traps, but instead are hole in the wall local joints like Ruth Zimmerman’s Pub & Cafe. There tends to always be some light music and a handful of outdoor tables facing historic Market Square if you are craving a fresh breeze while you drink. Given the fact that there isn’t much for night life in the relaxing and sleepy village, chances are you’ll end up at Ruth Zimmerman’s Pub at the end of most evenings. Make sure to try a local Hallstatt Beer (website) while visiting. Hours: Summer 10am-2am, Winter 11am-2am. Website: Here.
16. Gasthof Grüner Baum:
About Gasthof Grüner Baum: As the former “Imperial and royal accommodation of salt manufacturers of Wagendorf”, Gruner Baum was first documented in 1700. The transport of salt and the salt trade through Hallstatt were exclusively controlled by these salt manufacturers, who consequently formed part of the rich bourgeoisie, a fact which was also reflected in their residences.
In 1849, Franz Heuschober, who was the last judge of Hallstatt and elected mayor, bought the property and opened a restaurant in it. While the property has changed hands numerous times over the years and has seen the addition of 22 hotel rooms, we’re really glad that all the way back in 1849 Franz Heuschober had the sense to add the restaurant at its location is perfect.
Today, Gruner Baun’s setting is a not only historic, but also boasts an excellent lakefront terrace restaurant and lounge that will wash all your cares away. We love getting a drink and relaxing during the mid-day or evening on the comfy indoor/outdoor couches that grace the terrace’s lounge. Gasthof Grüner Baum by far has the best furniture out of all the lake side restaurants in Hallstatt. The food here is a little pricey for some people but it’s better than average and we recommend at least a drink on the terrace. Restaurant Hours: Daily Noon-10pm; only until 9pm in Winter. Website: Here.
17. Protestant Church:
About Hallstatt’s Protestant Church: In the 1500’s, the teachings of Martin Luther became extremely popular in the region, especially among the miners in Hallstatt. As the new Reformation movement spread it created conflicts between the new age Protestants and Catholic. In 1601, the Catholic Church tried to crush the local Protestant movement when it ordered all local bridges be destroyed as punishment which only pushed Protestants further into rebellion. The Archbishop of Salzburg, and his supporters, tired to suppress the Protestant opposition by condemning them to death and setting their homes on fire.
Like other villages in the region, the conflict between Protestants and the Catholic Church in Hallstatt went on for decades. The climax of the tension came in 1734 when 300 Protestants in and around Hallstatt were removed from their homes during the night by soldiers and forced to re-locate. In 1781 things started to change up as Emperor Joseph II lightened the regional Catholic stance toward religious tolerance and allowed Protestants to practice with some restrictions. At the time there were over 500 Protestants in Hallstatt and in just 3 years they finally had their own official prayer house. In 1861, Emperor Franz Josef I took the tolerance a step further and officially declared that the Evangelical and Catholic faiths should be equally recognized. This enhanced step toward tolerance let the local Protestant population grow without fear and the current Church with it’s iconic stone steeple was built in 1863.
18. Stefanie Ferry Boat Dock (Schiffstation):
About The Stefanie Ferry: With the train station located across the lake from the village center, many visitors get out on the water with the Stefanie Ferry run by the Hallstatt Shipping Company (website). They run the round trip route about once an hour, 365 days a year, to meet incoming trains while offering amazing views of of Hallstatt. The Stefanie, which has been running since 1881, is also a super cheap way to get a taste of lake life as the journey is only 2.50€ each way. If you are looking for a longer tour, the company also has a full fleet of small ferries offering various daily 50-80 minute cruises around Lake Hallstatt during the Summer months.
The coolest tour boat company on Lake Hallstatt is Navia (website) which uses traditionally crafted wooden salt boats called Fuhre. The wide and flat salt boats are specially designed to carry heavy cargo in shallow waters and offer a great experience. They also offer daily tours in the Summer and Fall for just 15€ as well as romantic private meal tours on request. Our favorite tours of theirs are the nighttime tours which leave after dark the couple days around each Summertime full moon. If you want more freedom and flexibility, consider doing a private rental of one the electric, row, or paddle boats explained below.
Time Tables: The Stefanie only has one route which goes from the dock to the train station across the lake and Stefanie Ferry Website has a great up-to-date timetable. Candlelit Boat Rides: Starting late each July through late August, candlelit boat rides leave the boat pier at 8:30pm on Thursday evenings €13.50 or €16 combo-ticket with the Hallstatt Museum.
19. Boat Rental Office:
About Lake Hallstatt Boat Rentals: Even more fun than the ferry boat cruises is the option to rent your own private boat to get out on the water. You’ll be able to free style, explore, and be on your own schedule as you relax the time about gliding around Lake Hallstatt. The slow speed electric boats, paddle boats, and row boats are all excellent options, but we really love renting the giant swan boats, because why not? You can weave your way between the gentle waves while trying to recruit your own flock of majestic wild swans as you struck around in your awesome boat. The second a real swan start to follow you you’ll feel like the king of swans. Views of Hallstatt from the water are truly priceless and locals have told us that they believe an hour on the water can add a year onto your life. The verdict is still out on that claim, however, we’ve always felt like a million bucks after being on the water.
There are a few small boat rental locations around the lake but we prefer the one just North of the main ferry dock. They are open from April through September from 6am to 8pm which gives you a lot of flexibility. Expect to pay 15-18€ for 1 hour in the electric boat which does have a popup canopy shade, 11€ for a 1 hour row boat rental, or 15€ for a 1 hour rental of the giant swan paddle boats with 30 minute discount options available.
20. Catholic Church & Cemetery (Pfarrkirche):
About The Catholic Church & Cemetery: As Christianity started to spread around the region as early as the 700s, it took until 1181 for a small Romanesque church to be built in Hallstatt. Although it was difficult to build into the vertical rock faces, the Salt Miners had great pride in the church and greatly enlarged in 1320, just 9 years after Hallstatt gained market rights. The current stone church was completed in 1505 and has stood the test of time. The altar was completed by the 1520 and has the Virgin Mary with a baby Jesus as well as Saint Catherine, patron saint of woodcutters, and Saint Barbara, patron saint of miners. During the harsh religious reformation of the 1500’s, the church was used alternately by both Catholics and Protestants. From 1601 through 1781 local Protestants were removed from town by the Archbishop against the locals wishes before both religions were eventually afforded equality. Since 1939, the upkeep has been the responsibility of this small, local parish who did a complete renovation in 2002.
The main draw to the church, however, is by far the cemetery! The tightly-packed cemetery has two levels with a total of just over 100 graves. Each grave has its own small flower garden and a simple grave marker made out of either timber or rod iron. It’s hard to describe how the old world feel of the cemetery overwhelms you on first impression. The graves are so crammed they almost seem to lay atop of one another. Because there is such a lack of cemetery space in town 1200 bodies have actually been cycled through the cemetery and into the nearby Bone House described below. Hours: Church is open Daily May-October 10am-6pm; Cemetery is open Daily year round. Cost: Free. Website: Here.
21. Bone House in Michael’s Chapel (Beinhaus):
About The Bone House: Since as early as 12AD, yes 12, exhumed human bones have been moved from the graves into small ossuary bone houses in Hallstatt. A permanent charnel home was made for the bones when the Gothic style Saint Michael’s Chapel was built here in the 1100s and by the 1600s the practice became more popular. Why exactly did they do move the bones from the graves? It was mainly because the lack of land in Hallstatt didn’t let the graveyard expand for new deaths and also because cremation was not allowed by the Catholic Church in Medieval times. The town’s solution was to dig up bodies 10 to 20 years after a burial and move the bones to the lower level of Saint Michael’s Chapel, therefore opening up a grave spot for the newly dead. After being dug up, the skulls were cleaned and then left outside for weeks until they were as smooth ivory then arranged inside into careful rows of interconnected kin.
In 1720AD, a new tradition started with the decorative painting of new skulls going into the Bone House. Of the 1200 people with bones in the chapel, over 600 of the skulls have been painted. The early paintings were limited to flowers meant to symbolize wreaths of flowers that are traditionally laid on graves, and were seen as a sign of love. The painting later expanded into their names, the dates they lived and more symbols such Oak Leaves (symbol of fame or importance), Laurel (symbol of victory), Ivy (the symbol of life), and Roses (symbol of love). The two predominantly place skulls under the Cross of Salvation have been painted with Snakes (symbol of death and the sins of Adam and Eve). The both the left on right of the cross are bibles, each with two skulls of former priests.
The practice of moving the exhumed bones started to die off in the early 1960 when the Catholic Church raised their prohibition on cremation. The most recent addition to the Bone House was placed here in 1995 from a woman who died in 1983 and had requested it in her will. Her skull sits to the right of the wooden cross and her gold tooth is still visible. Residents may still request in their will to be moved to the Bone House, however, with cremation more accepted now being buried in Hallstatt is a lot less common. Hours: Church is open May-October 10am-6pm, Cemetery is open daily year round. Hours: Daily, roughly 10am-6pm. Cost: Entrance to the Bone Chapel is 1.50€, Cemetery is free.
22. Classic Village Viewpoint:
About The Village Viewpoint: If you’ve ever seen a postcard of Hallstatt, the vantage point for it was most likely located here. While tired visitors sometimes skip this last stop, photographers will be very happy that they toughed out the extra 300 meters of light walking for the timeless shot of Hallstatt. It is also awesome to get a unique angle to see the village now that you know what many of the builds are and can recognize them. We love ending our Hallstatt walking tour here not just for the beautiful viewpoint, but also as a great place to quietly reflect on the wonderful day we just had.