Salzkammergut literally translates to “Domaine of Salt,” a name given to the region thanks to thick veins of rock salt that run below its idyllic mountains. This “white gold” brought prosperity and a wealth of ancient culture to the area that you can still experience today! Find out below how to make the most of two days in Hallstatt and beyond.
Bad Goisern is a sleepy hamlet near Lake Hallstatt, surrounded by forested mountain backs and rivers that carry melt water to the Danube. You start your journey in the plush dining room of Maislinger, a patisserie and local institution that serves a classic Austrian breakfast with fresh bread and pastries.
Let the sugar and caffeine boost carry you to Hand.Werk.Haus, a museum of local handcraft that’s housed inside a modest country palace. Hand.Werk.Haus illustrates the region’s love of wood-working, carpentry, hat-making, upholstery, and even shoe-making on two interactive exhibition and shop floors. A centerpiece is the Salzkammergut’s “Tracht”, the traditional garb worn by locals until today. Look at original Dirndl and Lederhosen that were hand-made in or around Bad Goisern!
For lunch, head to restaurant Steegwirt, directly on Lake Hallstatt. Unsurprisingly, the house specialty is freshwater fish, which Steegwirt’s team prepares with expert care since 1571.
There are several options for arriving in the spectacular Alpine village of Hallstatt, but the best is with a ferry ride across the lake. As the tiny village tucked between mountains comes into view across the water, you might wonder about the secret to Hallstatt’s wealth. For centuries villagers traded salt, a then sought-after commodity, that lies deep inside the mountains. Take a short walk from market square to take your very own snapshot of one of the most photographed points in the world. Capture the delightful houses built into the mountain, the glass-like lake, and the gentle mountains in the background!
Next, it’s off to quirky Beinhaus, where skulls and bones from the last 8 centuries find an enigmatic home. Some skulls are painted in bright colors according to the local custom, which gives the historic crypt an artistic touch.
Bräugasthof is a staple restaurant with pretty views over the lake! Enjoy classic Hallstatt views from the bustling terrace over a cold pint of Austrian beer.
Fresh croissants, fruit, bacon, and coffee wait for you at Breakfast “At Kainz” inside the Heritage Hotel. After filling up on the buffet spread, take the elevator up to the Hallstatt salt mine. It’s one of the oldest salt mines in the world, and welcomes visitors into a cool maze of tunnels.
A wooden slide takes you deep into Salzberg (salt mountain) which has been used for mining since around 5000 BCE. This history endows Hallstatt and its surroundings with considerable wealth and an affinity for all things salt. Visitors get to wander the tunnels in guided groups and see Europe’s oldest staircase. A special multi-hour tour is available to brave explorers who want to dive even deeper into the Salzberg’s caverns, and go where other visitors aren’t allowed.
Worked up an appetite? Head to the village of Obertraun at the bottom of Lake Hallstatt and take the funicular up Krippenstein mountain: lunch is served above ground!
The Dachstein Lodge sits at 6,768 feet (2,063 m) at the top of the Dachstein Krippenstein cable car and overlooks one of Europe’s most impressive glaciers. Grab a table on the terrace and dig into the hearty Alpine fare! The region’s mountains are dotted with these cozy huts that sometimes even take overnight guests.
Krippenstein mountain is full of beautiful surprises: There are mystical caves, hidden hiking paths, and eclectic viewing platforms. Look for the World Heritage Spiral (a huge metal spiral you can climb), or the 5 Fingers panoramic platform (five walkways that extend out over a 1,312 feet (400 m) drop). There, you’ll be rewarded with panoramas over Dachstein glacier and Lake Hallstatt.
Hikers might want to wear comfortable shoes and set off to explore on their own! Krippenstein mountain provides perfect conditions for novice outdoorsmen as well as ambitious mountaineers. Find out more about hiking on Krippenstein here.
Back down in Obertraun, Restaurant Höllwirt serves classic delicacies like venison ragout with knödel, local fresh-caught fish, and milk strudel. The perfect end to your earthy stay in Hallstatt!