Ah, Hallstatt. Ever since I saw it on a Rick Steves episode I’ve loved it. It checks off all the Quaint Mountain Lake Village boxes on the checklist:
- It’s quaint
- It has mountains
- It has a lake
- It’s a village
Ok, so it’s not the most comprehensive checklist ever, but the point is the same: Hallstatt is great.
Read on past the jump for another random tale from Slovenia and more pictures!
After I was done taking pictures of Lake Bled, I left the town of Bled and drove to a really small town nearby called Vrba. One of our close family friends’ last names are Vrba, so I wanted to stop and get some pictures around the town. I stopped, parked, and saw this church:
I’m a Christian and enjoy seeing churches abroad, as I think it’s always good to realize the unity of faith across countries, so I wanted to go take a look. There was a big sign that pointed towards the church, so I walked where it was pointing, down a dirt road. Then a Slovenian farmer stormed out a door and blocked my way, yelling at me. Just like the cops in Bled, I don’t think he was yelling “HEY WELCOME TO VRBA LET ME SHOW YOU THE CHURCH”. Again, it’s my fault for not learning Slovene before I left, but I actually didn’t feel like I was doing anything wrong this time. I pointed at the church and gestured with my camera. The farmer was yelling “private! private!”. He then (and I’m not kidding) walked over to a random spot in the middle of this dirt road and pointed down to a dot in the road that couldn’t have been more than 10cm across. He pointed at it and repeated “private!”. I pointed at the MUCH LARGER sign about 5 meters away that said “Church” (in Slovene) and was pointing to this road. The guy kept yelling, so I didn’t worry about it. I almost snapped a picture of him just to spite him (very un-Christian of me I know), but refrained. At that point, I just chuckled and walked away. The farmer actually followed me about 100 meters up the road, almost to my car, talking about I have absolutely no idea what.
On to Hallstatt
Anyway, from Vrba I hopped on the nearest autobahn and made my way north into Austria. Once I crossed the border, everything felt less hilarious, but that was ok. I made it into Hallstatt around lunchtime, and the views were great.
Hallstatt is very walkable. The town square is nice and there are plenty of restaurants in the town center. Bear in mind they’re all overpriced, but that’s kinda what you get coming to a popular tourist place like this.
I’ve been here a few other times, but never in the fall/winter, so everything had a bit of a sparse look to it, but, like Bled, the clouds made it seem more medieval.
Everywhere I went there were families walking the town and taking in the scenery, which always makes me happy, so I just found a bench and people watched for a while.
As I made my way back to my epic rental car, I saw a swan scowling at me, but scowling at me majestically.
Then there was this guy who also kind of glared at me.
As I bade farewell to Hallstatt, I pulled over at a nice overlook of the lake and grabbed a picture of my EPIC rental car for this journey: the Citroen DS3.
It felt a bit like a clown car, but it had great GPS and great connectivity with my iPhone, so no complaints here. I wish it would’ve gone faster, the autobahn would’ve been more fun.
Anyway, go to Hallstatt! It’s very worth the visit, any time of year. It’s been continually inhabited since before the Romans so there’s plenty of history to experience (especially the salt mines above the town). Combine history with successful completion of the Quaint Mountain Lake Village Checklist and you have yourself a winner of a town.
Have you been to Hallstatt? What did you think?
Thanks for posting pictures about Lake Hallstatt. I’ve been there, it’s really a step back in time with it’s architecture. Did you check out the cemetery there? How about the salt mine tour?
I had seen the cemetery on a previous visit, along with the bonehouse, both ate great. Havent done the salt mine yet, saving that one for when I go back next time.
We love Lake Bled, have been there several times. We always walk around the lake and always stay at a nice pension which has excellent food, Alp Penzion. It’s a 10 minute walk to the lake.
I went to a finishing school in Grundlsee, near Hallstatt, and have been back to that area several times. Most of those lakes are way too touristy, but we’ve found the MOST charming is Altaussee, where you only see Austrians and everyone seems to play folk music. I’ve often seen someone in folk costume, even the men. Check it out!
Rick Steves is excellent at big cities, but his rural places are quickly overrun with Americans.