Based on Rick's comments about Hallstatt and how he loves it there,we took a trip to Hallstatt from Vienna. We splurged and used a private taxi service to take us door to door.

We were there earlier this month (October).We've travelled many times to Europe at this time since the crowds are less. I don't know when the last time Rick was actually in Hallstatt but we were shocked beyond words to find busloads of tourists being dropped off at the entrance to the town. So much so that you couldn't even move on the street that goes along the lake.Apparently, the crowds of buses are like that all year around now.

Good thing we chose a place to stay that wasn't built on the side of the hills. There didn't seem to be any way to get up there other than to climb. Our guesthouse was a lovely 20 minute walk into town.

From there we used CK Shuttle (based on reviews here) to get to Chesky Krumlov and then again used them to get to Prague.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
24211 posts


Your experience in Hallstatt isn't surprising as that trend seems to be happening at a lot of popular tourist sites now. Hallstatt in particular is so popular in China that they've built a replica of it. Another popular area is the Cinque Terre in Italy, which is a popular side trip with not only cruise ship groups but also groups from other European countries.

It's a bit surprising that the tourist crowd was so high in October, but I doubt this is going to get any better.

Posted by Paul
NYC area
2052 posts

Wow. That's interesting. Our only visit to Hallstatt was in mid October 2007. Sunny, mild day and it was dead. Hardly a person, besides us. Hallstatt just isn't big enough to absorb that many people. Not to worry, Austria has plenty of other cute villages with outstanding scenery that RS doesn't write about.

Posted by eschroeck
Bloomfield, MI
12 posts

Does anyone have recommendations for alternative Salzkammergut Lake area places to visit instead of Hallstatt? My husband and I are booked at a Hallstatt hotel in town for one night on December 28, but we'd love any alternative ideas.

Posted by Anita
Long Beach, California, USA
1816 posts

We were there recently and had the same experience...shockingly crowded and crammed with tourist shops. We were able to walk along some of the higher footpaths in town and get out of it but it's really bad down in the main part of town. Too bad.

Posted by Perry
Pearland, Texas, USA
415 posts

Should some reader be presently considering a trip to Hallstatt, we suggest they consider this alternative:

- take a hotel room in nearby Bad Ischl and make Hallstatt one of your day trips. - But first, we recommend you research the healthy waters available in Bad Ischl as well as other of Ischl's magnificent attractions such as the Kaiser Villa and the Zauner confiture shop. Happy trails!

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
6611 posts

Go figure. I was in Hallstatt this year on June 10 (midweek) on an RS tour. While there were lots of other tourists, nothing was crowded - not the sights, the funicular, the shops, or the restaurants. The only things that "spoiled" it for me were the construction cranes somewhat marring the picturesqueness of the town and the overcast skies

Posted by Diane
74 posts

We were in Hallstatt in Sept. 2014, and didn't have any problems with it being crowded. Unfortunately, it rained all of the time that we were there, so we made good use of our rain coats.

Posted by whiskers3
Longmont, Colorado
20 posts

Hmmm, my husband and I were just there a few weeks ago (October 5 - 8, 2015). Yes, there were many Chinese and Korean tourists but we had no problems with overcrowding on the lakeside street or anywhere else. We took the guided city walk from the TI, and we were the only ones on the tour. Our guide explained about the duplicate town in China, and also that there's a Korean TV show that uses Hallstatt as a set. So that's why it is now so popular with Asians. The Chinese were mostly very young couples who apparently just finished school and were on their "grand tour" before returning home to start careers and families. We found them to be enthusiastic and delightful. A different perspective.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
5084 posts


I second seeing Bad Ischl's grand attraction the Kaiservilla, the Habsburgs' summer escape from the oppressive summer heat of Vienna. You can only see the insides of that yellow "house" by taking a tour, where no audio phones are provided, if you need one. If you're into operetta, there is the museum/house of Franz Lehar, composer of "the Merry Widow" (Die lustige Witwe)

Posted by hughrenier
16 posts

I also have to question when Rick Steves was last in Hallstatt. We were in Hallstatt in late September of this year and it was over-run with tourists. I was not impressed with the town. I would consider it to be "been there, done that, not doin' it again" location. We stayed there for two nights and found that that was two nights too many. If you go, I would recommend doing it as a day trip from somewhere else. We didn't visit Bad Ischl so I can't comment, but we met several people who day tripped from Salzburg and found that easy to do.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
14175 posts

Wow! I was in Hallstatt in August of 2009. It was certainly not then as you describe it. I guess I should be grateful to have seen it before tourism ruined it.

When I was there, there were a lot of Italian and Asian tourists. I didn't hear anyone who sounded like a native English speaker, but I heard a lot of English - Asians and Italians communicating with German speakers in English.

I stayed in a farmhouse in Lahn, at the south end of the lakeside road into town. No matter how congested the town was, where I stayed it was quiet and serene.

Or maybe try staying in Obertrauen, a short bus trip around the end of the lake to Lahn, or one stop on the rail line from the station across the lake from Hallstatt.

Posted by mike
shingle springs, CA, USA
305 posts

I visited and stayed in Hallstatt in May 2010 and enjoyed it ,it was not overrun with other tourists like me,spent two nights.We have since stayed in St Wolfgang on Lake Wolfgang in a great hotel on the lake,we day trip to places like Bad Ischl which has the Kaiser Villa and a nice place to stroll as well as Obertraun with Five Fingers and the Ice Caves.St Wolfgang also has the Cog Wheel train that goes up the mountain which gives views of several lakes and the mountains.There is the boat on the lake that takes you to Strobl and St Gilgen.

Posted by Betty
Missouri City
241 posts

We have been to Hallstatt at least a half dozen times since 1999. Like Rothenburg ob der Tober, it has become very popular because of RS and others. BUT, if you spend the night in Hallstatt, you will see a different town after the day trippers leave. It is still one of the most beautiful places in Austria.

An alternative to Hallstatt that we also love is St. Gilgen. It is small and some people may not like that aspect but it is what we really enjoy about it. There are a number of nice restaurants and hotels along with some shops. For something a little larger, I would recommend St. Wolfgang.

In St. Gilgen, we always stay at the Hotel Schernthaner and highly recommend it.


Posted by Tom_MN
422 posts

I appreciate this notification, Hallstadt is stricken from the to do list.

So much of Europe is now so overrun that much strategizing is required, more than the simple "go early" or "go off season" slogans that worked in the 90s. Now more and more it's "just skip it."

Posted by Jean
926 posts

I hate to recommend it too much - don't want it to turn into another crowded Hallstatt, but we love St. Wolfgang.

Posted by Betty
Missouri City
241 posts

To dismiss Hallstatt, a UNESCO world heritage site, because so many people visit there is to miss one of the most beautiful places in Austria, if not Europe IMO.

Posted by Ilja
2732 posts

Well, if something is pretty and people learn about it then expect crowds. That's the fate of Prague, Cesky Krumlov, Hallstatt, Rome, Venice, Mt.St.Michel, Cinque Terre, etc. Or you have to book your visit well ahead, like for example Punkva caves up to two months ahead in season.

Posted by Gerry
73 posts

Cafe Zauner in Bad Ischl is an awesome Konditorei, as mentioned by Perry above. Also Bad Ischl is close to St. Wolfgang and Hallstatt.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
24211 posts

I found Hallstatt to be very pleasant on my last visit there (although that was a few years ago), and not crowded at all. If that's changed, I imagine it's become like some other popular places in Europe, crowded during the day time but somewhat more tranquil in the evenings. I'm about due for a repeat visit there, so I'll have to add to it my list for next year, as I'd be interested to see the changes.

Posted by Barb
Andover, MN, USA
219 posts

I was in Hallstatt in July this year. It was not overly crowded. We took the funicular and the salt mine tour. There were some lines at the salt mine but not horrible. The town itself was fine. We came in by train/boat and there were no lines for the boat. In past trips there were fewer people but if you spend the night, it is still charming. We stayed at Gasthof Simony which is right on the lake. My 18-20 year old grandkids enjoyed swimming off their dock. The hotel is located about a block to the left of the boat dock. It has changed since my first visit in 1994 but so has everywhere else - unfortunately.

Posted by Nick
Oak Park
144 posts

We were in Hallstatt about 7 or 8 years ago. It was such a great experience. Sure there were other tourists there during the day, but it should be expected at UNESCO heritage site. We stayed right in town and kayaked on the lake. We shared the lake with a few swans and views from the water were great. Just like RS says in the evenings and morning, the bus loads of day trippers are gone and it really was magical. I would not miss this town, but don't expect to be the only only tourist and stay overnight.

Posted by Barbara
Erin, WI, USA
14 posts

I was in Hallstatt in mid October to two night in 2013. There was very little tourism, no buses. I love this little town and the Lenz family that we stayed with. Planning a trip again in 2016!