We are going to Munich, Fussen, Salzburg and Vienna, and wonder if it's worth going to Hallstatt in August. I know Rick loves this place, but I am trying to get other opinions as well. I think we would have to choose between Hallstatt or Hall. Thanks.
I spent a whole day (2 nights) in Hallstatt last August, and I enjoyed it very much (even though it rained a lot. Then I went to Hall, and I wasn't that impressed.
Hallstatt is impressive, really very picturesque, perched on the edge of a lake in a steep gorge.
Thanks, Lee. I have read a lot of your posts, and you certainly seem to know the area really well. We have a lot of the bigger cities on our trip and I was looking for a relaxing mid-point so our three children could relax before touring again!
I'm not sure I would say I know it "well". I only spent one day and part of two others there, but I did research is some before I went.
I would definitely call Hallstatt "relaxing". Other than basking in the fantastic scenery, there isn't really a lot to do. The town is incredibly small. It won't take a day to become really familiar with it. There is a salt mine you can tour on the hillside above it, and some archeological digs up there too. You get there by riding the funicular from Lahn, which is at the south end of the town, near where the bypass tunnel comes out. I rode up the funicular that afternoon, but spent my time just walking around taking pictures of the lake and surrounding area. Just around the end of the lake from Hallstatt is Obertraun. Somewhere, just outside of Obertraun, I'm not exactly sure where, is a system of cable cars that go up the Dachstein.
The one thing I remember most is that I was probably the only native English speaker there. I heard a lot of English, but never from anyone I thought knew it as a first language. There were a lot of Italian and Asian tourist, all speaking in English to the Austrian waiters and shop keepers.
I'd definitely recommend a visit to Hallstatt, although August will likely be busy. I found the tour of the Salt Mine very interesting, and the wooden slides were fun (although a short ride). A previous post mentioned some of the other activities.
Before returning to Hallstatt via the Funicular, stop for lunch and a "cool one" at Rudolfsturm, which is a large Castle overlooking the lake. The view from the Patio is incredible!
I'd suggest trying to book something ASAP, as the available rooms will probably already be booking up.
Were you planning to reach Hallstatt via train or rental car? If you're using the train, you'll need to take the short trip on Stefanie, as the station is across the lake from the town. Be sure to purchase a return ticket, as the Hallstatt station doesn't appear to be staffed too often (if at all).
Wow - I thought I did a lot of research, but clearly not enough. Thanks again. We will skip the Zugspietze and a little side trip to Mittenwald and go directly to Hallstatt. I think my three girls, 14, 12 and 8 will enjoy this much better. Thank you again so much.
We were there in August a few years ago. I don't remember that many crowds in town, but we did have to park a good ways out of town and take a bus in. I'm surprised no one's mentioned the ice caves. We took the cable car up there and did the tour, they're really something to see. We got there the same time a large Chinese tour group did, which added to the novelty. :)
I´ve never been to Hallstatt... but I´m betting it´s more interesting than Hall in Tyrol. Nothing wrong with Hall as such, other than the fact that it´s pretty similar to thousands of other towns throughout Europe (except for the daily Ricknik invasion). Don´t go too far out of your way to visit Hall.
Thank you all! Now one last question - would you recommend Hallstatt over Garmisch? I don't think we need to do both the Zugspitze in Garmisch and the Dachstein near Hallstatt. I've read about the ice caves and I am glad someone brought them up, as I wasn't sure I should make a special trip to Hallstatt. I have been to ice caves in Switzerland before and loved them, and I think the kids will like them as well.
You're taking kids? That's a whole new twist. The Salzkammergut area (including Hallstatt) is a great place for kids. If you go on their tourism website, they'll send you lots of information. Lots of hiking, lakes, swimming (if it's warm enough), animals, and playgrounds. Lots of German and Austrian families go there for their vacations, so there's kids everywhere.
Hallstatt is an easy day trip from Salzburg & your kids will love the salt mine & a boat ride on the lake. The scenery there is spectacular.
Garmisch is better as a base for Alpine activities than a destination in itself. It´s not really a place that people go to see (although pretty enough), but a place to go for skiing, hiking or mountain biking.
If you are coming from Vienna by train, the best route is probably to change at Attnang-Puchheim and go south to Bad Ischl.
Most people take the train south from Bad Ischl to the Hallstatt Bahnhof, which is across the lake from town, then come across the lake by boat right into town.
When I was there in August, I ended up, not in the town of Hallstatt itself, but in Lahn, which is ~1 km south of town, by the funicular. The boat from the Bahnhof comes into the main part of town. I think there was another boat from Hallstatt to Lahn, but the bus station is in Lahn. It worked out much better for me to take the bus from Bad Ischl instead of the train, boat, and another boat (or walk).
When coming from Salzburg, it is shorter, usually little faster, and less expensive to take the bus (#150) from in front of the Salzburg Hbf than to take the train the roundabout northern route via Achnang-Puchheim.
Marie, I just did the trip from Salzburg to Hallstatt, via Mondsee, last August, and, yes, I do do a lot of research.
You can find the various routes (all rail via Attnang-Puchheim, bus to Bad Ischl) on the Austrian Rail website. It will show schedules including legs by bus, but not bus fares. For bus fares from Salzburg to Bad Ischl, see Salzburger Verkehrsverbund. I didn't find bus fares from Bad Ischl to Hallstatt online, but I know I paid €4,10, vs €3,60 for the train (without the boat across the lake from the Bhf to Hallstatt).
Thanks to all you experts out there. I think I have this down - let me know if you think this is do-able. I am one to go all day and all night, but not my kids...
Day 1 SFO-Munich nonstop and we land around 5:30 PM the NEXT day since our flight leaves at night. Spend night in Munich after a quick dinner and maybe nighttime walk.
Day 2 - Munich all day and sleep in Munich
Day 3 - Munich all day and sleep in Munich
Day 4 - Munich 3/4 day and train down to Fussen area to get ready for early start at castles. Sleep in Fussen area.
Day 5 - Neushwanstein and Hogwenstein and sleep in Fussen area
Day 6 - possibly rent a car and do a quick tour for the day of Ehrenberg Castle, Linderhof,Weiskirche, and maybe Mitennwald/Oberammergau (although w/ Passion Play it might be best to avoid. I'd like to avoid renting a car if possible. Train to Salzburg and sleep in Salzburg
Day 7 - Salzburg and sleep in Salzburg
Day 8 - Salzburg and maybe Berchtesgaden, train to Hallstatt to spend night there
Day 9 Hallstatt, salt mines, ice caves, funicular, spend night in Hallstatt
Day 10 - train to Vienna sleep in Vienna
Day 11 - Vienna
Day 12 Vienna
Day 13 - Vienna - leave by plane in afternoon
Now that I type it all down it seems like a lot. I personally have been to Salburg and Fussen/castles before about 25 years ago, but I think my kids and husband will enjoy. I would love to throw a Melk/Danube cruise in there, so what, if anything to cut out? The round trip from Salzburg to Hallstatt is do-able at 5 hours travel time, but that seems like a lot for people with kids. I like the Pinswang idea I have seen through other postings, but need to check it out if we need a car for there or not.
I think I am going to skip the 2nd day touring in the Fussen area and just go straight to Salzburg in the evening - OR just make Fussen a day trip. I can't imagine going to 2 more castles and another church right away when we can spend more time relaxing and wandering around in Salzburg and Hallstatt. I almost wish I could skip Fussen all together since it is a bit out of the way, but that's not going to happen. I am all for the Bayern ticket no matter where we go - five people travelling is going to be expensive enough - especially when I think we will need two rooms no matter where we stay. An extra 1/2 on the train won't kill us. Thanks!
Some further comments....
It might be a good idea to purchase not only your rail tickets to Hallstatt and also your tickets from there to Vienna, prior to leaving Salzburg. As I mentioned, the station in Hallstatt doesn't seem to be staffed most of the time.
If travelling by train, you will almost certainly have to change trains at Attnang-Pucheim. In my experience, the timing of the trains isn't always "precise", so be prepared for slight delays. On one occasion, repairs were in progress on part of the lines to Hallstatt, so passengers had to be "bussed" around the work area. Unfortunately, all the PA messages were in German so I was hopelessly lost! Fortunately, a kind lady from Salzburg translated everything for me.
When you arrive at the Hallstatt station, be sure the Camera batteries are charged as the view of the town from across the lake is spectacular! The ride on Stefanie is relatively short, but I'm sure your children will enjoy that.
Do you have any idea where you'll be staying in Hallstatt? I found Gasthof Simony very comfortable (a true RS "creaky" classic) and Suzanna (the owner) is wonderful. Hotel Grüner Baum (next door) is somewhat more "upscale" (I believe Rick's tour groups stay there). It was under renovation when I was there in 2008. The restaurant at Grüner Baum is great (but not inexpensive)! Both properties have fantastic views over the lake.
There's a bit of a hike from the top of the Funicular to the entrance to the Salt Mine, but there are displays along the way to make this more interesting.
There are also lockers at the station in Füssen. You can leave your bags there and take the next bus to the village of Hohenschwangau, then come back on the bus after the castles, get you bags, and go on to your hotel. If you do go first to your hotel, note that there is a bus to Hohenschwangau about every hour, sometime more often.
You've mentioned "your kids" now a couple of time. Is it just you and the kids, or are there more adults (it might make a difference in the ticket deals I would recommend).
Hallstatt is really picturesque. You can also visit Dachstein ice caves. Pick up the bus from the other end of town (not where you arrive by boat). Rick's book used to have the information. We stayed in Gastoff Simony and loved Hallstatt. Enjoy.
Marie, the bus he is talking about (#2572) leaves from Lahn, south of Hallstatt about 1 km, at the end of the Seestraße, which goes south along the lake front, to the exit of the bypass tunnel and the parking lots, also the base of the funicular. It goes around the south end of the lake to Obertraun. I used it last August to get to the rail station in Obertraun. The fare was €1,30. According to Oebb.at, the last stop on that bus run, four stops, 8 minutes after the Bahnhof, is the Dachsteinseilbahn (Dachstein cable car).
The Google map of Obertraun shows a bus stop for 2572 at the Dachstein & Eishöhlen Gondelbahn.
Thanks again. It sounds as if Hallstatt is the place to go! One of my daughters is really into photography, so clearly this is a good place for her to practice. Lee - you asked how many of us there are - it will be my husband and myself and three usually reliable daughters who will most likely think I am going too fast.
Is two nights too many in Hallstatt and then cut out one day in Vienna so we can rest and take in more scenery? We would have 2 1/2 days in Vienna at that point, however I still want to go to Melk and do the cruise. Or maybe I just cut out Melk all together since we are just coming from Hallstatt and that should be pretty scenic. Normally I would want to spend more time in Vienna, but since it's at the end of the trip I wonder if we will all just be exhausted to see one more museum and castle. I think just walking around the city would be just as fun. Thoughts? I personally have never been to Vienna before. I have seen a lot of Germany myself, and that's why I want to take the family. I was an exchange student in Berlin about 25 years ago, although most of my German is now gone since I haven't used it for so long! I have such fond memories of Rotenburg, but I don't think I can sqeeze in a day trip from Munich without everyone kiiling me.
Part of the reason I asked about number and ages, is that your best bet for most of your travel in Bavaria is a Bayern-Ticket.
A Bayern-Ticket, for €28, is an all day pass for unlimited travel on regional train in Bavaria for up to 5 people. You can use it the entire day on weekend days, after 9 AM on work days. It is also valid for travel in the various Verkehrverbünde (metro districts) in Bavaria and on regional buses.
So, for instance, if you go out to Füssen late on day 4, you can buy the Bayern-Ticket that morning in Munich, use it for any travel on the MVV during the day, then for your travel out to Füssen, also by bus in Füssen if you need to that day. Had it just been you and the kids, I might have suggested, a full fare ticket for you from Munich to Füssen. Since your girls are all under 15, they can travel with you for free when you buy a full fare ticket.
If you go out to Füssen the night before, you can get up in the morning and get to the ticket kiosk in Hohenschwangau after it opens at 8 and to the first castle an hour later.
With a Bayern-Ticket, because of the time restriction, you couldn't get to Hohenschwangau before 11 AM with a Bayern-Ticket.
For your trip to Hallstatt, Austrian Rail has an offer similar to the Bayern-Ticket, called the Einfach-Raus-Ticket. It's also €28 and is an all day pass for regional trains all over Austria for 2-5 people. It is not valid, however, for buses.
If you search the Austrian Rail website, www.oebb.at, you will see that there are hourly, all-regional rail connections from Salzburg to Hallstatt via Achnang-Puchheim. These connections take about 3 hours and are valid with the Einfach-Raus-Ticket.
As for your day 6, if you want to go to Salzburg for the night, it's going to take from 4 hrs (express trains, $$) to 4½ hr (regional trains, Bayern-Ticket), so you might not have time to do everything.
There are three 45 minute buses in the morning from Füssen Bhf to Reutte in Tirol (Ehrenburg). However, I don't know how long a hike it is to the castle.
Linderhof is very close to Oberammergau (I don't know what that means in the way of crowds, but, with the castle tour, the Grotto tour, walking around the grounds, and lunch), I spent about 5 hours there at a quieter time.
There is a train directly (~1 hr) from Reutte to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Mittenwald is about 20 min from Garmisch by train. It's about 4½-5 hrs from Mittenwald to Salzburg via Innsbruck. Almost as long if you go back through Munich.
I was in Wieskirche (notice ie [pr long e], meadow church, not white church, although it is white). I didn't think it was that great, just one more gawdy Rococo church. I only spent 5 minutes in it, then had lunch next door.
"especially when I think we will need two rooms no matter where we stay"
Try to find what are called Ferienwohnungen (vacation apartments). You can usually find them under Unterkünfte or Übernachten on a town's own website, www.[town name].de. Sometimes these places only rent by the week, but sometimes they rent for shorter periods. They often cost little more than a double room. They normally consist of 1 or 2 bedrooms plus a sofa bed in the living room and have a small kitchen nook. You usually won't get breakfast, but you can sometimes get fresh rolls delivered in the morning. Just stock cold cuts, cheese, butter, and jelly in the fridge.
Thanks. I tried to find vacation apartments in Munich, Salzburg and Vienna a couple of months ago, but many were filled up or wanted a longer period of time. I was just going to concentrate on these three cities if I got an apartment and then do a lot of day trips. Since I could not get one, I changed plans drastically to do more out of the way sights. but I will look these up to see if I can find something else. Thanks for the suggestion. I've been able to find some nice, cost effective places in other cities, but I needed to finalize all of my dates before I could book anything. I am still trying to pin down one or two of the days and then I will start again with the sleeping arrangements.
"Is two nights too many in Hallstatt"
NO, I don't think so. Two nights should be perfect, and a great place to relax during a busy trip.
Many thanks to all of you. I really appreciate it. I always thought I would want to be a travel agent in my other life, but you all beat me to the punch!!
Two days in Hallstatt it is, followed by lots of travel on the Bayern ticket.
The Bayern-Ticket is valid only in Bavaria (Bayern, in German). I thought from Hallstatt on you would only be in Austria. The Einfach-Raus ticket is valid in Austria.