14 Unique & Fun Things to Do in Hallstatt, Austria

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The idyllic village of Hallstatt, Austria may well be one of the most iconic places in all of Europe.

Chocolate box houses perched strikingly along a still glossy lake, framed by mountains in the distance and (if you’re lucky) a swan or two gliding elegantly past… 

Ah. It’s stunning. And famous. And so beloved in fact that there’s a full-on replica of it in China... plus they can get away with selling their air as a souvenir. Now that’s power.

I visited Hallstatt knowing full well I’d pine over the views for years to come. What I wasn’t expecting however were the many hidden gems so frequently missed by most tourists who come just in search of photos!

If you’re wondering what to do in Hallstatt, I’ve got you. From hidden Roman ruins to artfully painted skulls (and yes, plenty of nice views too), here are the top fun things to do in Hallstatt, Austria.

Save this list of Things to Do in Hallstatt for Later!

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My Free Map of Things to Do in Hallstatt

For a free map that includes all the activities below (plus recommendations for food, drink, etc.), head to my VIP Zone!

1. Admire the postcard view of Hallstatt

Okay, let’s start with what is possibly THE most important Hallstatt must-do, as far as Instagram is concerned…

THE view. You know the one.

It’s a view so famous that everyone and their uncle’s podiatrist have seen it somewhere, yet weirdly it lacks an official name. Fret not – you will find it at the spot marked “THE #1 Hallstatt View” on this map I made.

Sneaking a peek at this idyllic view is the best way to start your Hallstatt trip, ideally early in the morning before the day trip crowds roll in and make it a certifiable mosh pit of selfie sticks and shamelessness.

PS: Feeling especially shameless? You can even book a walking tour like this one with a photographer for the best photos.

A view of the Hallstatt, Austria skyline from a famous panoramic viewpoint.

2. And photograph many other amazing Hallstatt views

Of course, apart from the most famous one mentioned above, there’s many wonderful vantage points to enjoy in Hallstatt.

There’s for instance this beauty, marked on Google Maps as “Classic Village Viewpoint / Houses Panorama”:

This gives you an alternative perspective over town, and is yet another stunner that will give you as many goosebumps as Instagram likes.

You can also hop on the funicular and admire Hallstatt from much higher up:

Photo by gokcentunc/Shutterstock.com

While up here, the pointy Hallstatt Skywalk is of course another highlight:

Photo by Alex Cimbal/Shutterstock.com

3. Hop on a boat tour

Another lovely thing to do in Hallstatt? Hopping on a boat to explore Lake Hallstatt in all its pristine glory.

Hallstatt Schiffahrt offers a variety of rides for different interests/price points, whether you want an affordable lift between Hallstatt train station and the actual town, or a more scenic route that takes you to other points on the lake.

Either way, if your goal is to dreamily gaze upon Hallstatt as you glide elegantly on the water, this activity is a must-do.

Beware though – this business is proudly cash only!

4. Admire Roman ruins in a sporting goods shop

Alright, enough of the scenic views, let’s get weird.

One of the more bizarre and unexpected things to do in Hallstatt is taking a peek at Roman ruins… hidden under a a sporting goods shop, of all places.

Indeed, head to Dachsteinsport Janu to find this curiosity. Simply look for the simple wooden staircase leading downstairs and you’ll soon discover a 300m² collection of Roman ruins dating back 7000 years.

These mysterious ruins were discovered one day in the middle of a simple renovation, when the shop owner’s quest for a new boiler room instead became the accidental discovery of historical artifacts spanning centuries.

A few excavations later, the artifact collection today includes Roman pottery, medieval tools, Latin-age ceramics, and many other hidden treasures.

Luckily for nosy folks like you and me, they’re all free for visitors to peruse! So don’t miss this unique hidden gem of Hallstatt as many visitors do.

5. Stop by Marktplatz

Another one of the top things to do in Hallstatt is a quick stop in the central square, AKA Marktplatz.

Lined with wooden buildings in pastel shades and picturesque balconies spilling with greenery and overflowing flower boxes, this is one of the prettiest places in town, with a series of fun activities year-round from concerts in the summer to a Christmas market in the Yuletide season.

The centrepiece of the square is the Holy Trinity Column, gifted by a wealthy merchant (as many things were back then) in 1744.

During business hours, buzzing terraces pop up to serve hungry hungry patrons, alongside some souvenir shops selling coveted goodies like the infamous Hallstatt canned air. A quick browse here is a must, even to just confirm said souvenir does, in fact, exist.

PS: One of the town’s top reviewed hotels offers rooms overlooking the square here.

Gorgeous houses in Hallstatt, Austria in the central square Marktplatz.

6. Tour the world’s oldest salt mine

With a history spanning over 7 millennia, Salzwelten Hallstatt is (as it claims) the oldest salt mine in the world, making a visit here one of the more unique things you can do in Hallstatt… and an especially exciting one if you’re particularly into salt, mines, or obscure bragging rights.

Visitors who book a guided tour get to explore these historic tunnels themselves, enjoying highlights like the 64 meters-long miners’ slide and the “Bronze Age Cinema”. 

Sadly, this was a Hallstatt attraction I didn’t have time for, so please go and tell me how it is! I’m especially sad because it quite literally is an attraction with my name on it:

Photo by Takashi Images/Shutterstock.com

7. Visit Hallstatt’s Evangelical Church

Oft photographed from afar, the Evangelical Church of Hallstatt is a village landmark that makes its way into pretty much every Hallstatt postcard… but far fewer visitors make their way inside, which I think is a shame.

While it’s far from the most extravagant church in Austria, its interesting history makes up for it.

Long story short: when Martin Luther started spreading the word about Protestantism in the 16th century, it didn’t take long for his words to spread and take hold in Hallstatt… that is, until Emperor Rudolf came in and tried to put an axe on it, destroying bridges, emptying salt pans and blocking crucial shipments in the process.

Protestant ringleaders were soon sentenced to death, and years later, most Protestants were even banished and forced to emigrate.

This all turned around when in the late 18th century, Emperor Franz Joseph I came in and granted Protestants just as many rights as Catholics.

This church was built a few decades later, and now is probably the most admired and photographed church in the entire town. Come on the right day and there are even concerts!

So, I see this church (simple as it may be in design) as a symbol of changing times and religious acceptance in Hallstatt. It’s also rather photogenic, which I guess helps too.

A beautiful walkway in Hallstatt, Austria leading to the Evangelical Church and Marktplatz.

8. Enjoy refreshments with a view

After all your relentless sightseeing, you might be looking for more relaxing things to do in Hallstatt. If that’s the case, I can recommend a visit to the famous Bräugasthof.

Here, you’ll find colourful lanterns dangling from a century-old chestnut tree along an idyllic waterside terrace, where charming little wooden tables invite you to come enjoy (somewhat pricey) refreshments

This historic building (today an 8-room guesthouse) dates back to 1472, with a unique history that includes the fact that Hallstatt’s first WCs (water closets, AKA toilets) were installed here.

If you’re looking for a beautiful place to enjoy a drink in Hallstatt, look no further.

Pretty seating area along the water in Hallstatt, Austria belonging to the Bräugasthof.

9. Stop by the Hallstatt World Heritage Museum (Welterbemuseum Hallstatt)

For history buffs, another Hallstatt thing to do is a visit to the Hallstatt World Heritage Museum (Welterbemuseum Hallstatt).

Since 1997, Hallstatt has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, meaning it offers such “outstanding universal value to humanity” that it must be conserved and protected.

Luckily, the Hallstatt World Heritage Museum offers a way to admire the 7000+ years of Hallstatt history all in one place, with a series of multimedia displays that chronicle the town’s most fascinating chapters.

10. Stop by Hallstatt’s Catholic Church

While Hallstatt’s Evangelical Church is an iconic part of the Hallstatt “skyline”, the village’s Catholic Church hides in an uncharacteristically stealthy manner among the mountains. Going to see it is another nice thing to do in Hallstatt.

Historians believe there was likely a small Romanesque church here in the 12th century, but it wasn’t until the 16th century that some daredevil builders decided to construct a church over some steep jagged rocks.

This is the church we see today, although a complete renovation in 2002 spiffed things up a little.

In any case, a visit up here is great because it brings us to our next Hallstatt must do, which is to…

11. Admire artfully painted skulls

If you’re looking for macabre things to do in Hallstatt, St Michael’s Chapel is a must-visit.

Tucked away at the back of Hallstatt’s cemetery, you’ll find the village’s famous Ossuary in this chapel, where over 600 painted skulls await.

Skull painting, as macabre as it might seem to an outsider, was actually a custom popular in the region even up until modern times.

Due to the lack of burial space, often existing graves would have to be re-used for new burials, and when this happened, the exhumed bones would then be transferred to charnel houses like these in a second funeral of sorts.

To preserve the identities of these skulls, family members would paint them with various inscriptions such as names, initials, and ornamental features like special leaves and crosses… the results of which you can see for yourself for a small fee.

12. Enjoy a moment of peace Hallstatt Cemetery

Of course, if you’re not into this spookier side of Hallstatt, you can simply enjoy a peaceful moment at Hallstatt cemetery, home to my personal favourite view because you’re above the village, yet still close enough to admire all its wondrous little details.

13. Pay your respects at the Hallstatt World War Memorial

Along Seestraße, you’ll find one of Hallstatt’s quieter landmarks – a small memorial dedicated to those from Hallstatt who were lost during both world wars.

This beautiful memorial overlooks the lake, and is a beautiful spot for some quiet contemplation.

Memorial to victims of World War I and World War II in Hallstatt, Austria.

14. Grab a can of fresh Hallstatt Air

Lastly, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but if you’re looking for a truly unique Hallstatt activity, go grab yourself a literal can of their air.

Yup – since 2017, they have been selling literal cans of their air to take home.

So as you browse for keychains, postcards, and knick knacks, you can also casually pick up a bottle of Hallstatt AIR in a nondescript vending machine.

In fact, go wild – why not lug home a whole sack of airs to show everyone how little money means to you?

Proof I’m not kidding:

Vending machine selling compressed air in Hallstatt, Austria.

Did I miss any of your favourite things to do in Hallstatt?

Let me know in the comments so I can add more of the best Hallstatt activities to the list. Happy and safe travels! 🙂

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