Wait! Don’t start yet! Put some –appropriate- music on first!
Hallstatt has been in my travel dreams for over five years, ever since I discovered the existence of this picturesque village in Austria through some photos by professional photographer Elia Locardi. I love the picturesque villages of this world, especially when they have triangular roofs, snowy peaks and exude the warmth of wood.
This village of 800 residents, considered as the most photographed in the Alps and the “pearl of Austria”, lies between Salzburg and Graz, in the Salzkammergut region of Austria. It is built on the steep bank of the beautiful Lake Hallstättersee, at an altitude of 508 meters, surrounded by the high mountains of the Alps. It is one of the oldest inhabited settlements in Europe (although it has become famous in recent years mainly because of Instagram) and has justly been recognized as a UNESCO Heritage Site. I was looking forward to get there and see with my own eyes this postcard village!
We left the car in the parking lot at the end of Hallstatt and started our walk in this fabulous village, with picturesque streets and lake views with swans. It was a day in mid-February, low season for Hallstatt. That’s exactly how I like to see this kind of places, in snow and fog, not in sunshine. The good thing was that there weren’t many tourists – so we took our photos without being disturbed or photobombed – the negative was that some shops were closed. But personally, I prefer to have beautifull pictures, without the crowds.
We walked along the lake, observing the wooden houses side by side with the small windows and the cute curtains that looked as if they had sprung from a fairy tale page until we reached the Market Square. Cars are banned on the streets of the old town so swans sometimes go out and walk on the street. We took many steps to catch the view, climbed a few steps above to get lost in the alleys which seemed to lead only to the entrances of the above houses, and we photographed from every angle the neo-Gothic style Christ’s Evangelical Church, built in 1861 and starring in almost every photo of Hallstatt.
The local “treasure” is the salt, which has been a source of wealth for Hallstatt for centuries. It is worth visiting the oldest salt mines in the world in the area and admiring one of the most beautiful underground caves in the world. If you enjoy the panoramic views then you should not miss the climb to the highest point of the village by cable car. Follow the most beautiful route in nature, known as Skywalk. You will also find a spectacular waterfall somewhere downhill. Hallstatt even has a Museum, where you can find out everything about its history.
We made a stop to warm up at the Café Derbl in the square, sipping hot chocolate with whipped cream and searching the spot where most of the photos come from. It was 3 minutes further than we were, so the next stop (and last one) was this postcard spot. We left Hallstatt with a generous dose of fairy tale in our hearts and certainly in our memories.
All photos by me
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