I am not sure if I have ever mentioned this before, but I love Rick Steves. When planning this trip I watched Rick Steves on Hulu, I read the Rick Steves website, and I checked out Rick Steves guidebooks from the library. Last Halloween, I was Rick Steves (Logan was Anthony Bourdain, we were travel host themed). Our itinerary includes many places that we only heard about because of Rick (yes, I refer to him by his first name). Hallstatt, Austria was one such place.
Hallstatt is in the lake district of Austria, about two hours by bus and/or train from Salzburg. Getting to the town also requires a short ferry ride, which is the perfect introduction to this tiny, lakeside town.
We got to town just in time for dinner, so after checking into our adorable B&B we headed to a restaurant on the lake for some much needed food (we tend to forget to eat on travel days). It was lovely sitting by the water, sipping on a wine spritzer, eating delicious honey spare ribs. We then went to a bar in the main square and had another drink outside (in the rain) to avoid the smoky interior, while chatting with another American couple.
The next day we wanted to take it easy and soak in the atmosphere. We walked through the town (four or five times), admiring the adorable homes (mostly guest houses along the main street), visiting a waterfall, and going to a church on the hill. At the church there is an old cemetery, where there is a crypt filled with painted skulls. Because of the limited space in Hallstatt, bodies had to be dug up after ten or so years to make space for other bodies. The skulls were then painted to honor the dead.
There are salt mines in town, but we decided to skip them as we had already been to salt mines on this trip and the ones in Hallstatt were pretty pricy. You can also rent a boat and paddle around the lake, but it was raining off and on all day, so instead we took time between our walks around town to write and read. For dinner we ate fish from the lake and drank a few local beers.
Our time in Hallstatt was short and so, so sweet. The town is like something out of a movie and is the perfect place to relax and simply enjoy. So thank you Rick, we really loved Hallstatt and it was the perfect way to end our time in Austria.