Hallstatt, Austria  |  November 21, 2017

I've been to many charming and picture-perfect towns in Europe, but Hallstatt—the UNESCO World Heritage Site—takes the cake. This fairy-tale village sits on Lake Hallstatt (Hallstätter See) in the mountainous Salzkammergut region. It's also well-known for its production of salt and has ties to Celtic people of the Early Iron Age between the beginning and middle of the first millennium BCE.

A TripAdvisor user informed us that when driving to Hallstatt we had to park outside of town because cars aren't allowed. So we parked, walked down the stairs into the town, and we were mesmerized. Hallstatt is everything that is promised from every world traveler, blog, and travel book. Even though there was a thick layer of fog surrounding the lake, town, and mountains, it almost added a certain mystique.

Now it's not just the views that are great, the interior of this small town is beautiful as well. Every building and every church is bright and colorful and makes up the postcard-worthy village that is Hallstatt.

After roaming around this town for a bit, I noticed there were nothing but Chinese tourists. Nowadays, there's a lot of Chinese tourists throughout Europe due to China's rapidly expanding middle class, but I have never been in a city where we were the only non-Chinese tourists. What I learned was that China built a replica town of Hallstatt in Luoyang, China. Clearly, nothing beats the original, but it made more sense why they were visiting in such high numbers.

Now that I learned this nugget of information, I could get back to my search for the perfect scene for a perfect picture. Then I found it. It's the same shot you see when you Google "Hallstatt," but this time it was my shot, and I was thrilled to capture it.

One of the things we didn't get to see but is very popular is the salt mines surrounding Hallstatt. Mainly, this several hour long trip was just to soak up the sights and see the town. However, I wish we had more time to look at these places. One thing you can't help but notice—because it's in every picture—is the town's church (Evangelisches Pfarramt). It's just another reason why this place is so impressive.

After sitting down and having a tasty espresso macchiato at this great little coffee shop and bakery—Cafe Bäckerei Konditorei Maislinger—I wanted to do a little shipping and spend money at the town which provided me with such lovely sights. Luckily, the streets are filled with charming pensions and Christmas stores.

Lastly, I just wanted to point out the memorial that sits on the river-side street. It is a memorial that honors the Hallstatt residents who fought and died during World War I and II. It wasn't clear whether these were people who fought alongside the German Empire and the Nazis, but it was, I thought, an impressive memorial.

Quick Tips:

  • The best parking lot in Hallstatt is the parking lot directly above—and west—of Gasthaus Mühle. You will be able to park for free there for 90 minutes.
  • If you use a UAV (aka a drone) to take photos, do not fly it in Hallstatt. The town has banned all UAV's and you can be heavily fined if you ignore those regulations.

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