Travel Why is this Bronze Age town so popular today?
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Set foot in the village of Hallstatt and it seems a musical number might erupt at any moment.
Bright reds and yellows paint thetown’s 16th-century architecture; in spring and summer, flower boxes drape windows in geraniums and ivy; and cobblestone streets connect charming cafés, ornate churches, and Alpine inns. Natural wonders await around every corner—from the neighboring Salzkammergut mountains to Lake Hallstatt to the village’s very own waterfall.
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Despite being accessible only on foot, the tiny town saw, reports the Washington Post—a staggering 347 times more tourists per capita than Hong Kong, one of the world’s .
Explore one of the world’s oldest salt mines
, Hallstatt’s , date to prehistoric times, possibly even to 4000 B.C. Formed by the evaporation of sea water more than 250 million years ago, the mountain’s plentiful salt deposits led to the wealth that initially put this tiny town on the map. Visitors can take a guided tour of the mine, accessible by cable car. Once you arrive, you’ll explore the way a traditional miner would—donning a jumpsuit and using wooden slides to access different levels.
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While you’re there, perched a thousand feet above Hallstatt, it may be tempting to pay extra to take in the scenery from Hallstatt Skywalk. But if you’re going to spend money on a view, save it for the nearby, where you can access panoramic vistas of the entire region.
Feast on local Austrian cuisine
Start your morning off with breakfast pastries at one of Hallstatt’s many traditional cafes, such as lakefront. For lunch on the go, puts everything from schnitzel to sausage inside a bun for easy portability. For a more leisurely lunch, sit outside at and treat yourself to a variety of Austrian beers and lagers. Need a coffee break? Try centrally located , which offers a variety of homemade pastries.
The dinner menu atwill make a seafood lover’s heart flutter, featuring fish caught fresh from Lake Hallstatt. If wine is your thing, , located in the Seehotel Grüner Baum, pairs some of Austria’s finest sips with a lakeside view.
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Tour Lake Hallstatt by boat
There are no bad views of this idyllic mountain town—but some of the best views are from the water.include pedal boats, row boats, and electric options, though motorboats are prohibited to preserve the lake’s serenity. Take a trip out on one of Hallstatt’s signature swan-shaped pedal boats, and you’re sure to make some new friends from shore.
Visit a tiny bone house
Stepping into an enclosure filled with more than 600 painted skulls is a dramatic departure from the town’s fairytale charm—but thehas an intriguing story of its own. Lack of space in the town’s small, overcrowded graveyard posed an issue for early-17th-century residents wanting to pay proper respect to the dead. Villagers began to dig up loved ones’ bones to clean, sun-bleach, and paint them.
The skulls’ floral motifs each have their own meaning: Oak leaves symbolize glory, laurels victory, ivy life, roses love, and so on. Though cremation has since solved the burial space issue, Hallstatt townspeople can choose to send their remains to the charnel house. The last resident to do so was added in 1995 and can be identified by her gold tooth.
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Pay homage to historic churches
Religious beliefs shaped the town of Hallstatt. It’s hard to imagine the townscape without thetower, but this Evangelical church wasn’t established until the 18th century, when freedom to exercise religion was granted to Protestant residents. Take in the sight both from afar and up close.
At the top of the town sits the. This ornate Gothic altar was designed by famed Austrian artist Lienhart Astl in the early 1500s. The church’s artwork is so valuable that a tourist couple once smuggled a painting home in the late 1980s. After decades of investigation, the artwork was finally retrieved and reinstated in the summer of 2018.
Take a hike
The town itself is a thing to marvel at, but you’d be remiss not to explore its surrounding natural beauty. Whether you’re an avid hiker or just seeking easy access to incredible views, you’re sure to find the trail to suit your taste among the town’s 93 options.
For a moderate hike with many rewards, set out on the 4.5-milethrough Echerntal Valley, which weaves through scenic spots once popular with Austrian painters working en plein air. Waterfalls and Gletscheröfen (natural pools created by glaciers) are also found along this route.
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Shop for traditional wares
For excellent souvenirs, visit the artisan shops situated along the town’s market square. Watch woodworkers craft traditional toys and keepsakes. Sip expertly distilled schnapps in a variety of regional flavors. Bring back the distinct taste of Austrian salt, sourced from Hallstatt’s own salt mines. Whatever you choose to take home with you, Hallstatt’s shop owners will treat you with sincere enthusiasm.
Reach Hallstatt with a two-hour drive from Graz or an hour-and-fifteen-minute drive from Salzburg. Though driving affords you the freedom to pull off to explore neighboring towns, mountains, and waterfalls, the village of Hallstatt is accessible only via foot, so you’ll need to use one of the nearby parking facilities. Train and bus options from both cities will also get you there, though direct routes are limited.
Where to stay
Everything in Hallstatt has authentic, old-world charm and the accommodations are no exception. Standout stays include a night at, located in the village market square. In operation since 1882, the building still maintains much of its original infrastructure, and a traditional Austrian breakfast is included.
For those seeking more privacy, the secluded suites atoffer private beach access and incredible lake views. If your travel budget affords it, the lavish lakeside accommodations at will make you feel like Austrian royalty.
Writer Danielle Page covers travel and women’s health. Follow her on.
One strange theory as to why bagels have holes .
There are quite a few explanations out there for the hole in the middle of a bagel, one of those foods that you absolutely need to try when in New York City. Some of them are more viable than others, and a couple theories are downright wild. The 101 Most Iconic Restaurant Dishes in America One less-wild theory is that the hole is there in order to make transporting and selling them easier. In the past, vendors threaded the circular breads onto dowels to hawk them on street corners. In fact, according to The New York Times, even up until the ’70s, most bagels were still distributed to American delis and supermarkets on rope or string.
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