Hallstatt

Blaise Moten
6 min readMay 29, 2023

Hallstatt crops up on literally every list documenting the most beautiful destinations in Austria, so naturally I had to visit.

It actually took me an embarrassingly long time to get around to it, to be honest. I’d already been to a similarly quaint village on a lake (Sankt Wolfgang) which is in the same part of Austria, so maybe that’s why I took my time. I also knew how horrifically touristy it was thanks to the fact a few of my friends made it there before I did, but honestly, that didn’t put me off that much because the Innere Stadt of Vienna is like that constantly. Like genuinely every time I go to Vienna I spent my time dodging tourists who are walking like one mile per hour down Graben, it’s actually insane.

Anyway, getting back on topic, we finally made plans to go during the Easter break. Graz to Hallstatt isn’t the easiest journey, but it turns out it’s way less horrific than it sounds and the views are phenomenal. We decided to set off early, but not like… wanting to die early, more like 9am. This was genius because that meant we were appropriately prepared to deal with the news that because of building works between Graz and Leoben, the first leg of the trip would be made by bus.

Also, the level of care taken to arrange this? Top-level. Tons of people at both stations to help you find your way to your location and/or connection, buses leaving every few minutes so you don’t have to wait too long. It’s a far cry away from waiting for ages in the cold hoping that a replacement bus turns up in the UK. Usually, while it rains. Heavily.

We got to Leoben and hopped on our connecting train to Stainach which was already waiting for us. Amusingly this train was hauling it the whole way to Zurich eventually, and I say amusing because it looked shockingly like London Midland train and like it had no business going that distance. This leg of the trip is where the views got really, really cool. After a long few weeks of missing actual mountains, here I was again, nestled amongst them once again.

After one more quick transfer in Stainach, we were on the final leg of our trip. Here we discovered our new favourite thing about trains in Austria; sometimes you get on trains and the windows can be opened. Just like that. Like a house window, kind of. It is not advised that you stick your head out of the window, so we just opened it and stood there and admired the view. A bit like dogs going for a drive. Finally, the lake started pulling into view and we piled out of the train and wandered down to the bank.

The weather was surprisingly nice for a day in April, so after a few moments of discussion, we decided that we were going to be healthy and walk around the edge of the lake to Hallstatt (because the train station you arrive at is actually across the lake from the village itself) instead of catching the boat. Because a) we came to see the lake and b) we could be lazy and get the boat on the way back.

The walk started off with us very predictably FaceTiming family members to show them how pretty everything was and to make them a little jealous obviously. This is also about time we got distracted by a park at the edge of the lake that had a cool pier, so we hung around here for a while and had some snacks.

We eventually got moving again, slowly, as we kept getting distracted. First, it was by a bouldering wall we all had a go on, only to be absolutely shown up by our rock climber friend. I think it took us about two hours to get around one side of the lake to Hallstatt, and we started seeing the evidence of tourists a good twenty minutes before we even go to the village. Packed car parks full of cars from all corners of Europe, and tour buses filled with tourists from even further afar.

But it got worse. Because, of course, it did. We were forewarned after all. Hallstatt is just full of people with huge cameras and even bigger backpacks walking at a mile an hour through narrow streets. And mind you, Hallstatt is beautiful, the surroundings are even more spectacular too. But I’m not convinced it was beautiful enough to deal with all of that nonsense. There’s also only like… one supermarket there and the prices are very inflated. In the end, all we did was wander around the backstreets and then sit at the edge of the lake and sunbathed. Which was actually a really nice way to spend the day in all fairness.

Finally, it was time to start thinking about heading home, which first meant tackling the issue of the lake. Yeah, we walked the edge once and it was lovely, but we were tired now and the sun was setting so we opted to catch the boat back across the water. Three euro fifty for a single ticket is frankly robbery, especially when a return is seven euros, but again, the boat ride really is a must so I didn’t mind paying it this once. It’s also like a seven-minute boat ride so, yeah, not the greatest value for money but tourists will pay some daft fees so get that bag I guess.

The journey back went the same as the journey there, except with the added thrill of sunset painting the landscape. The only mild “upset” was the fact that there were about a million people waiting at Leoben for a bus back to Graz and we just assumed that we’d be waiting there forever. That actually wasn’t the case and not only did the buses arrive and fill quickly, but by the time it was our turn the fanciest coach pulled up instead of the usual bus. It had soft faux leather and TV screens in the seats and we were all 100% down to just live in this bus forever, but, alas, after just under an hour we were back in Graz and ready to head home. After stopping at the Spar at the Hauptbahnhof so we all didn’t starve to death when we go home of course.

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Blaise Moten
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German Language student at the University of Reading, former student in Graz and Aarhus.