2 years ago around this time, I was in Austria with my sisters and I can’t gush about it enough, especially if you go during the holidays. The Christmas markets are such a joy – with hot drinks, incredible food, and a plethora of arts and crafts – and everything covered in twinkle lights gives the country an even more magical feeling than it already has. While all the cities we visited were incredible (Innsbruck, Hallstatt, Salzburg, Vienna), I am going to focus on Hallstatt – an absolute fairytale land.

One key tip: if you want to enjoy this charming town, avoid going in the summer! The crowds will ruin the experience.

Top 5 Things to Do in Hallstatt

Old Town: Whether you go for a day trip or stay for a few nights, there are plenty of things to see and do but what I recommend most is just to wander through the village taking in the views and charming architecture. The walk along the lake is stunning but don’t miss out on the colorful gingerbread-like houses lining the squares and internal streets. If you have the time, I would walk from one end to the other along the water and then take an alternate route back through the middle of the old town.

Welterbeblick Skywalk: This platform extends 40 feet from the mountainside and nearly 1200 feet above Hallstatt, offering incredible panoramic views. Take the funicular to the top (an experience in itself) and enjoy Gluhwein or hot chocolate from the cafe while savoring the stunning vistas.

Central Square Marktplatz: This tiny market place is full of bright colors and charming buildings. If you are there during the holidays, visit the Seewirt Zauner hotel to check out their slightly terrifying but very cool Krampus display. You’ll be glad that all we are teased with in the US is a bag of coal! The hotel’s restaurant is also famous for its local fish dishes. If you’re there on December 5th, don’t miss the Krampus run!

Aussichtspunkt Hallstatt: This viewpoint on the north side of town will give you the iconic Hallstatt photo op.

Salzwelten: After you view Hallstatt from the skywalk, you can take a tour of the Salt Mine. The guided tour lasts 70 minutes traveling through about 1.25 miles of tunnels first dug by hand more than 3000 years ago. If you plan to do this, definitely buy your funicular and tour tickets together for a discount. We spent most of our time wandering the village so didn’t do this but I have heard great things about the tour.