Rick Steves’ Europe: Hallstatt, Austria

When Austrians want to enjoy the great outdoors, they head for a region of forested slopes, beckoning trails—and great fishing

swan-hallstatt-steves.jpg
Pegaz / Alamy

Hallstatt, Austria

Swan Hallstatter See Austria
(Pegaz / Alamy)

The town of Hallstatt—one of Europe’s oldest, going back centuries before Christ—is Salzkammergut’s pride: an alpine Oz.

Lakeside in Hallstatt

Hallstatt Austria
(Jordi Puig / Alamy)

Situated on a lakeside ledge, Hallstatt seems even smaller than it is. You can tour it on foot in about ten minutes.

Floating Procession

Plaette boat Hallstaetter See Lake
(Imagebroker / Alamy)

On the feast day of Corpus Christi passengers ply Hallstatt's beautiful lake in a floating procession.

Marktplatz in Hallstatt

Marktplatz Hallstatt Austria
(Jean Brooks / Robert Harding Travel / Photolibrary)

The tourist office will recommend a hike—the 9,845-foot Mount Dachstein looms overhead—or a peaceful cruise in a rented canoe. Most people go to Hallstatt simply to eat, shop, stroll and feed the lake’s always-hungry swans.

Hallstatt, Austria

Hallstatt Austria map
(Guilbert Gates)

Just two hours by train from Salzburg, but far from the urban rat race, the Salzkammergut is a perfect place to commune with nature, Austrian-style. This lushly wooded playground is dotted with cottages.