Magical Hallstatt

From the Celts and Romans to the masses of modern tourists, Hallstatt continues to be a resilient and beautiful Alpine gem.
By Julian Mattocks
Photographs Courtesy Julian Mattocks

There is no better way to approach the fairy tale Austrian village of Hallstatt for the first time than from the water. From onboard the Stefanie—the ferry boat timed to meet each incoming train at the opposite side of the resort’s eponymous lake—day trippers dreamily take in the town’s impossibly idyllic setting edging closer towards them. Nestled between Lake Hallstatt (Hallstättersee) and the foot of the Dachstein Mountains, Hallstatt looks hypnotically enchanting from the boat. Until 1890 when the first road link was built, this was the only mode of transport available to reach the town and it is still by far the most rewarding.

As the boat glides gracefully towards the shoreline, there is a buzz of excitement as everybody onboard clamors to snap the iconic shot of its Lutheran Church steeple, which is one of many buildings reflected in the lake’s tranquil waters. Traditional wooden houses with hanging flowerpots cling precariously to the steep mountainside, brightly painted buildings line its pristine shore and majestic mountain peaks serve as an imposing backdrop to the town. With a first impression as magical as this, it’s not difficult to see why Hallstatt was once dubbed “The Most Instagrammable Town in the World”.

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