Once again the pull of an instagram image made me want to visit a beautiful place that I knew very little about. This time it was Austria. But could Hallstatt live up to the beauty of the photos I kept seeing?
For sure it did, and then some.
I flew into Salzburg and drove down to Hallstatt via Berchtesgaden in Germany to see the stunning Maria Gern Church, then directly to Hallstatt, stopping only a few times to take photos.
Hallstatt is an absolutely stunning alpine village in Austria, on the edge of the tranquil Hallstätter Sea and in the shadows of the dominating Dachstein mountains.
Hallstatt could be one of the most photgrapghed places in Austria, or even Europe and its easy to see why with the romantic feel of the wooden buildings creeping up the side of the mountains that perfectly reflect in the water below. Hallstatt is now a UNESCO world heritage site, and for very good reason.
The only surprise I had was the amount of visitors. Just like me hundreds of others wanted to see this beautiful village, many stopping for just an hour, dropped off by coach on the outskirts of the traffic free village to get their perfect photo and selfie. If you visit - be prepared.
As often on my travels, my favourite time of the day is sunrise and sunset, and at these times the place was a lot quieter. I headed to the iconic view point each morning for sunrise and watched as the sun slowly lit the top of the mountains and eventually a few hours later the village was also illuminated by the fresh morning sun.
Sunrise at the viewpoint will be busy, but once the sun is up you will have Hallstatt almost to yourself for a few precious hours and I really recommend getting up early to enjoy this time.
After enjoying sunrise I found myself slowly hiking higher and higher and before I knew it I was at the Sky Walk viewpoint, which is really worth a visit, although maybe get the cable car up and hike down, not the other way around as I did!
Once I was back in Hallstatt I hired a motor boat for an hour to see it from afar and would recommend this as it was a unique way to see this incredible place without the crowds, but even with all the people I loved Hallstatt and for sure will return again in the snow.
My top recommendation - stay in Hallstatt itself so you can enjoy the early morning and evening without so many tourists, you won't regret it....