Hallstatt Salt Mine Tour:

Oldest In The World: The salt mining here date back to 5,000 B.C.
Time Required: 2.5-3 hours for the funicular and salt mine tour.  (+30-60 minutes for Rudolph’s Tower & Skywalk; +1 hour for Brine Trail hike)
Fun Scale: 9 out of 10

Salt Mine Overview:

Salt Mining in Hallstatt has been going on for 7,000 years, so having the chance to tour the mine while in town is a real treat.  Salt was so vital to life before modern refrigeration, we often take it for granted today, but it is what put Hallstatt on the map.  While the tiny village may be quite sleepy today, Hallstatt’s Celtic influence on early Europe thanks to white gold (salt) led to an entire period of the Iron Age (800-400BC) being known as the Hallstatt Era.

If you are in Hallstatt for at least two days you need to make sure to tour the Salt Mine!  If you are only in Hallstatt for one day, however, you’re going to have to make a tough choice between visiting the Ice Cave or the Salt Mine before strolling the village as both of them are about a half-day experience.  In our suggested itineraries for Hallstatt, we have tips on how can see both.

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Closed During The Winter:

Please note that the Hallstatt Salt Mine tours, funicular lift, and adjoining sights are closed for different periods of time each Winter.  Below are the important dates to know about to plan your visit along with the Winter closing dates of other nearby salt mines.

  • Hallstatt Salt Mine Tours: Closed for one month early-January until early-February.
  • Hallstatt Funicular Lift & Skywalk: Open Daily all year.
  • Berchtesgaden Salt Mine: Open all year.
  • Altausee Salt Mine: Closed Thursday-Tuesday January until April, but open Wednesday evenings.
  • Hallien/Salzburg Salt Mine: Closed for 3 weeks each January.

With the local mine closed for a few weeks in winter, the salt mine in Altaussee, Austria is a popular choice to visit near Hallstatt as is where the real-life Monuments Men happened in WW2 as Hitler hid precious artwork in the mine.  The journey from Hallstatt to Altaussee is only 20 minutes to the northeast by car or 90 minutes away by bus with transfers, however, in the Winter the special REX Bus 3412 cuts the journey from Hallstatt down to 40 minutes.

Especially if you are staying in Salzburg, the year-round salt mine in Berchtesgaden, Germany may be an even better option to visit than Altausee for the weeks that Hallstatt closes in winter.  The village is only 13 miles south of Salzburg, directly connected by Bus 840, and has other winter activities like the King’s Lake Ferry Tour.  Also near Salzburg, the Hallien Salt Mine is only closed for 3 weeks each January for maintenance and is unique in that you cross the Austrian/Germany border underground.

Salt Mine Area Attractions:

1. Salt Mine Visitor Center:

Free Hallstatt Walking Tour Old Town - Salt Mine Visitor Center
Free Hallstatt Walking Tour Old Town - Salt Mine Visitor Center

About The Salt Mine Visitor Center: Opened in 2016, the Visitor Center at the base of Salt Mountain (Salzberg) is a great place to get a sneak peek at the Hallstatt Salt Mine tours.  They have great exhibits on the history of the world’s oldest active salt mine as well as interactive areas to get hands-on with huge blocks of raw salt.  They also have an on-site gift shop full of excellent salt-themed souvenirs.

There are two extremely helpful features at the Visitor Center even if you don’t plan on taking the Hallstatt Salt Mine Tour.  In front of the Visitor Center is the main parking lot for visiting Hallstatt by car and it is also very close to the Hallstatt Lahn bus stop if you are arriving by bus.  The Visitor Center also has bag lockers and is only two places in Hallstatt where you can store your luggage while visiting the town.  For more info see our page on where to store your bags and luggage in Hallstatt.

Center Hours: The Visitor Center stays open until 1 hour after the funicular lift.  Lift Hours: Open daily early February-March 9am-4:30pm; April-September 9am-6pm; October-early February 9am-4:30pm.

2. Panorama Funicular (Salzbergbahn):

Hallsttatt Salt Mine Tour Funicular Salzbergbahn
Hallsttatt Salt Mine Tour Funicular Salzbergbahn

About The Panorama Funicular: The glass-walled funicular turns what would be a 1-hour steep hike up the 1181 foot mountainside into a 3-minute relaxing experience.  As you can imagine, the panoramic views from this high above the lakeside village surrounded by the Alps are truly amazing.  Many visitors who have no intention of visiting the Salt Mine still make the quick trip up the funicular simply for the unbelievable panoramas.

We like to take the funicular up the hillside to take the Hallstatt Salt Mine tour and afterward follow the Salt Trail to hike (30-45 minutes) back down to the city center.  Because the hike down takes 30-45 minutes, you’ll want to take the funicular round trip if you are pressed for time or if it is raining.

Funicular Hours: Open daily early February-March 9am-4:30pm; April-September 9am-6pm; October-early February 9am-4:30pm..  (Current Schedule).  Cost: Funicular costs 18€ round trip for Adults or 10€ one way; children 50% off; family passes available.  Combo rates available if attending the salt mines.

Very Important: You must get on the funicular at least 30 minutes prior to the last Salt Mine tour departure in order to make it up in time including the hike and getting changed into your provided “miner” clothes.  If you miss the last funicular on the way back, it is a steep 30-45 minute hike down to Hallstatt on the steep, but very enjoyable wooded Brine Trail (see info below #6) or Panorama Trail.  Since the Hallstatt Salt Mine tours take 2 hours, having to hike is common toward the end of the day.

3. Salt Mine Trail (Salzweg):

About The Salt Mine Trail: It can be tempting to walk across the stunning elevated bridge at the top of the funicular toward Rudolph’s Tower, but you really need to focus on reaching the Salt Mine entrance first if you plan on doing the tour.  The 12-minute long walk on the Salt Mine Trail from the upper funicular station to the entrance of mine is quite enjoyable.  Along the gradual incline, you will get immersed with nature and get a taste of how good the views will be at the Skywalk Lookout after your salt mine tour.

One of the best things along the short Salt Mine Trail are the stations where you can learn about the archeological finds from the Neolithic and Bronze Ages on the top of the hill.  The best station is a small hut with fragments of pottery and a human skeleton called The Man In Salt displayed with ancient clothing.  This pre-historic miner was discovered in 1734 and although he died in the 1st millennium BC, you can still make out pieces of skin and hair.

At the end of the trail, you will reach the Salt Mine entrance along with the Memory of Mankind Museum where your circle tour will end.  Inside this museum, you can leave messages to be preserved in a time capsule for thousands of years.

4a. Hallstatt Salt Mine History (Salzwelten):

Hallstatt Salt Mine Tours - Salzwelten
Hallstatt Salt Mine Tours - Salzwelten

About The Hallstatt Salt Mine History: If visiting the lakeside village of Hallstatt wasn’t amazing enough, just above the village is the oldest salt mine in the world dating back to 5,000 BC!  Evidence has shown that the Neolithic mine in Hallstatt was very well organized by 1,500 BC but then stopped for unknown reasons just 200 years later.

In the Bronze Age, the Hallstatt mine came back strong and was painstakingly dug down by early handtools over 650 feet (200 meters) below ground over centuries.  Because salt was so important before refrigeration, this white gold helped a Hallstatt become very influential in early European culture and an entire period of the Bronze Age from 800-400BC has become known as the Hallstatt Era.  During this period, the Celtic influence of Hallstatt was the predominant Western and Central European culture spreading from France to the Black Sea.

Eventually, the center of regional salt mining shifted toward Hallein near Salzburg and a huge landslide stalled mining in Hallstatt.  By Medieval times, local mining was strong again thanks to raised lake water levels from a dam and easier transportation of the brine.

While the current section of tunnels of the Hallstatt Salt Mine you get to tour today was established in 1791, it was a series of discoveries that gave insight into how old mining here really is.  In 1734 our favorite discovery happened when they found when the body of a former miner known as the Man In Salt.  Perfectly preserved in salt with skin and hair, the flattened body from the 1000s BC has some features worn away by stone but has his unusual clothing and tools completely intact.

In 1838, the most astonishing discovery happened at the mine when workers found a pick (adze) presumably used for mining made of staghorn from the Neolithic Age dating back to 5,000 BC.  The next big round of discoveries followed in 1846 when mining director Johann Georg Ramsauer found the Hallstatt miners’ burial ground.  That find had led to the discovery of nearly 2000 graves and countless artifacts from 1200 BC to 500 BC.  These artifacts included concrete, daggers, swords, a leather backpack, textiles, decorative bronze bowls.  The finds keep happening included in 2002 with the oldest preserved wooden staircase in Europe being unearthed from 1344 BC.  Many of these items you will see next during your tour of the Hallstatt Salt Mine and a lot of finds are also on display in a large section of the Natural History Museum in Vienna, Austria.

4b. Hallstatt Salt Mine Tours:

About The Hallstatt Salt Mine Tours: Touring this pre-historic salt mine today thrilling as you learn about the 7,000 years of history while exploring many underground levels including some reached by wooden miners’ slides.  The sections of the mine that you can tour part of today were established in 1791 and has 12 underground levels (called horizons) numbered in reverse order with 1 being the deepest.  There is a wide range of family-friendly activities during your guided tour which starts with everyone getting suited up in miners’ clothes before a covered walkway takes you into the mine.

As you explore the Hallstatt Salt Mine with your guide you will learn about how this area of the Salzkammergut district was once a primordial sea which led to the salt deposits in the bedrock.  You even get to interact with large blocks of raw salt rock and see them lit up with decorative lights to show off their variations in color.   The more iron present in the unprocessed salt rocks makes them glow more orange because of rust.  You will also see an underground lake with a projected light show illustrations activities in the Neolithic days of the mine.

The undoubted highlight of the Hallstatt Salt Mine tour is a thrilling ride down the two sets of double-lane miners’ slides.  Through Medieval times the salt miners really used the slides to quickly get between levels although the mine eventually modernized to adding elevators.  The first slide station is 278 feet (85 meters) below ground and whizzes you down from the 7th to 6th floor of the mine.  A traffic light tells you when it is your turn and sliding down is tons of fun, you can even go down two at a time or race each other.  For those not wanting to do the slide there are also stairs you can descend on at your own pace.  The second slide is the longest at 210 feet (64 meters), tracks your speed, and takes a commemorative photo for you to purchase afterward.

As you leave the Hallstatt Salt Mine you get to see the stunning 3000-year-old Bronze Age wooden staircase on display.  A wonderful light show display shows you how the early miners built and used the ancient staircase.  After taking in this final station you exit in style with a ride on the single-file miners’ train!  The ride on the open-air scooter train is a delightful way to end the tour and they even have a special gift for you as you leave.  Overall, visiting the Hallstatt Salt Mine is fun for the entire family and is by far the best rainy day activity in town.

Time Required: The tour lasts 70-minutes but with getting on your miners’ gear and downtime your total visit will be around two hours.  With the funicular ride and walk required to reach the mine entrance the average time required in all is 2.5-3 hours.

Salt Mine Tour Hours: Two hour-long tours run Daily the first week of February through late-September departing from 9:30am-4:30pm; mid-September through October from 9:30am-3pm; November through early-January from 9:30am-2pm; and are CLOSED for one month from early-January until early-February; (Current Schedule).  Salt Mine Tour Cost: Tour by itself is 24€ for Adults or 34€ for a tour with round-trip funicular ride; children 50% off; family passes available.  For the funicular only, the cost is 18€ round trip or 10€ one way.  Online Tickets: Buy your tickets online to avoid waiting in line or having a tour group take all the spots HERE.  This is very important if you are taking a late tour.

Very Important: You must get on the funicular at least 30-45 minutes prior to the last Salt Mine tour departure in order to make it up in time including the hike and getting changed into your provided miner clothes.  On the way back, if you miss the last funicular it is a steep 30-45 minute hike down to Hallstatt on the steep, but enjoyable Brine Trail (see info below #6) through the woods.  Since the Hallstatt Salt Mine tours take 2 hours, having to hike is common toward the end of the day.

Alternative Tour In Winter: Remember that the Hallstatt Salt Mine tours are closed in the Winter for one month from early-January until early-February.  In our information at the top of this page we have suggestions on our best alternative Salt Mines to visit during the winter, but keep in mind that the Funicular and Sky Walk in Hallstatt are every day of the year.

5. Rudolph’s Tower Restaurant (Rudolfsturm):

Hallstatt Salt Mine Tours - Rudolph's Tower Restaurant
Hallstatt Salt Mine Tours - Rudolph's Tower Restaurant

About Rudolph’s Tower: Rudolf’s Tower Restaurant greets all Salt Mine visitors directly at the top of the funicular route, 1181 feet above Lake Hallstatt.  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.

The tower, built in 1282, was constructed by Duke Albrecht I of Austria as a defense for the mineworkers on 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, the discoverer of the Hallstatt cemetery in 1833, renovated the tower and expanded the grounds after a fire claimed much of the area in the 1800s.  The current restaurant was opened in 1960 and it is a great place to grab food with a view either before or after your Hallstatt salt mine tour.

Getting To The Tower: You can either do a strenuous hike up 1 hour from the center of Hallstatt or the easy option is to take the funicular in just 3 minutes.  Rudolf Hours: Open depending on the weather February & March; daily April through July 15th from 9am-6pm; July 16th through November from 9am-4:30pm; and CLOSED most days Early-December until February. Rudolf’s Tower Website: Here.

6. Hallstatt Skywalk Lookout (Welterbeblick):

Hallstatt Salt Mine Tours - Skywalk Lookout Platform
Hallstatt Salt Mine Tours - Skywalk Lookout Platform

About The Hallstatt Skywalk: One of the most impressive lookout points in Hallstatt is the patio section of Rudolph’s Tower that hangs over the cliffside called the “World Heritage View” Skywalk.  The V-shaped walkway hangs 40 feet (12 meters) over the cliffside and literally juts out 1,148 feet (350 meters) directly above the roofs of Hallstatt’s village.

Since the Skywalk opened in 2013 it has been a smashing success with view rivaling the 5 Fingers Lookout 5000 feet up nearby Dachstein Mountain.  If you are brave enough to walk the Skywalk, you’ll experience unmatched open-air Alpine views of Lake Hallstatt, the village below you, and the surrounding mountains.  Even if you don’t have time to do the full Hallstatt Salt Mine tour, a ride up the funicular is worth it for most people to see the views from the Skywalk.

Cost: Free.  Hours: While Salt Mine tours are closed for one month of winter, you can visit the Sky Walk lookout point any day of the year via the lift from 9am-4:30pm (6pm in Summer).  You can also hike up from town any day of the year from dawn to dusk as long as there isn’t snow on the ground.  Keep in mind that if you are hiking it is a 1-hour long steep path up (30-45 minutes down) so you need proper shoes and enough time to get back down before dark (see Brine Trail info below).

7. Salt Brine Trail Hike (Soleweg):

Hallstatt Salt Mine Tours - Salt Brine Trail Hiking
Hallstatt Salt Mine Tours - Salt Brine Trail Hiking

About The Salt Brine Trail: If you are looking to get some hiking in while in Hallstatt, then the Salt Brine Trail is a wonderful alternative to the funicular for heading back down the hilltop to town.  The trail follows the world’s oldest brine pipeline (built 1595-1604) which sent salt brine down to Hallstatt and to a processing station in Ebensee to be turned into pure salt.

In total the original pipeline to Ebensee was 25 miles long (40km) and made out of 13,000 hollowed out trees (now metal).  This flow made transportation of the soupy mix of salt and water extracted from the rocks in Hallstatt’s mine much more efficient.  While Lake Hallstatt had been deepened by a dam to allow easier boat access in 1511 the transportation options into or out of the village were very limited.  The train line across the lake didn’t come until 1877 with Hallstatt Station and the ferry opening in 1881, but wasn’t a real road into town until the 1890s so you can see why the 400-year-old pipeline was so important.

Hiking the trail today is stunning.  In addition to gorgeous wooded paths and stunning views, you’ll also pass by the Franz Joseph Tunnel and the impressive Mühlbach (mill brook) Waterfall which cuts through the heart of town.  The large mansions near the waterfall were once the grain mills that produced Hallstatt’s flour.  While the full trail heads North of Hallstatt for another 40km, the local section ends at the parking lot near the Catholic Church and Bone House.

Time Required: The Brine Trail takes 30-45 minutes to hike down (1 hour up) to Hallstatt.  If you want a longer hike the trail continues on North along the West side of Lake Hallstatt to the towns of Bad Goisern, Bad Ischl, and all the way to Ebensee.

Shortcut: You can knock off 5-20 minutes getting down to Hallstatt (25-35 minutes total) by taking the steeper Panorama Trail from of the base of the Skywalk.  With a series of switchbacks through the woods, you will descend right over the rooftops of Hallstatt with panoramic views most of the way, and come out at the upper parking lot below the waterfall not far from the Bone Chapel (see map above).

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