7 Things To Do Near Hallstatt in Winter

Check out what's waiting for you in the Winter Wonderland of the Salzkammergut Region, including the famous Hallstatt and so much more!

Dreaming of a winter wonderland this year? You have to check out Hallstatt in Winter, a place where you will feel like you’re walking through a snow globe! 

The best part is there is so much beauty to discover outside of this famous town. Snow-covered mountains, icy lakes with white swans, idyllic towns with a rum-spiked punch, and Christmas markets. There is so much to see in Austria in the winter!

Not to mention the skiing, hiking, and cultural events that make this area feel like home. Check out everything that is waiting for you in the beautiful region around Hallstatt in winter.

Town of Hallstatt, Austria with a lake in the foreground,and snow-covered mountains in the background.
View of Hallstatt, Austria

Table of Contents

The Salzkammergut Region

The Salzkammergut is a beautiful region filled with lakes, mountains, and cultural towns. It spans east of Salzburg mostly in Upper Austria, encompassing over 70 lakes and 58 municipalities, and is home to 14 UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage events! The word Salzkammergut translates to ‘salt domain’, which provides a glimpse of the history that has sparked prosperity in the region for the many cultures that have existed here, nestled among the mountains. 

The Salzkammergut is not an administrative region and has no distinct boundaries, but rather a loosely defined region that encompasses the history of the salt mines and the beautiful landscape that lies within. This region is a perfect destination at any time of year. 

You can dive into the glassy alpine lakes, hike in old-growth forests with panoramic views, and get a taste of authentic Austrian cuisine and culture! Check out this interactive map of the region.

Winter Guest Card

While visiting the Salzkammergut, be sure to get a Winter Guest Card to get discounts on many of the attractions around. This card is free with at least a 3-night stay in the region and will be provided by your host, or one can be purchased for only 4.50 EUR from a local Tourist Office. Children under 15 do not need a card to receive these rewards!

The winter card gets users up to 25% off the top attractions there are to do in the Salzkammergut, including:

  • Many museums
  • Katrin Cable Car (Bad Ischl)
  • Ice Skating (Gmunden)
  • Saltzwelten Tour (Hallstatt)

For a full list of discounts included in the Salzkammergut Winter Card, check it out: HereYou can find other informational brochures and up-to-date offerings on the Salzkammergut website

Cultural Events

The Salzkammergut is a cultural hub of Austria with many events and traditions around to see. It’s no surprise that it has over 14 UNESCO intangible World Heritage Events and traditions of which you can be a part. 

Check out the Salzkammergut Tourist website to see what’s happening during the time of your stay! You may get to witness any of these local events:

  • Krampus Parade
  • Christmas Markets
  • Gosau Balloon Festival
  • Ebensee Glöcklerlauf
  • Lake Wolfgang Ice Festival

The Salzkammergut is hosting the 2024 European Capital of Culture, with the main location in Bad Ischl. Consider this when planning your trip to this stunning region, and learn about the traditional clothing, music, dance, and cuisine that is cherished by the locals. 

Three hot air balloons lit up at night while tethered to the ground
Gosau Balloon Festival

Skiing in the Salzkammergut

Although there is evidence of people using skis over 4,000 years ago, the downhill alpine ski style that we all know and love was started by Austrian native Mathias Zdarksy in the late 19th century. Mountain skiing originated here in Austria, and today there are over 700 places to hit the slopes in Austria alone! 

While in the Salzkammergut, the best place to ski is definitely within the Dachstein West Ski Region. This isn’t just any resort; it includes 8 separate locations around the region, and if you get at least a 1.5-day pass, you can access ALL of them with the same ticket! 

Dachstein West has over 160 km of on-piste runs, with over 70 lifts and cable cars so you can ski around this panoramic scenery. Their website has updated weather conditions, webcams, and currently open runs and lifts so you can plan your days of skiing! 

Dachstein West ski region map to highlight the best places in the Salzkammergut
Image from Dachstein West Ski Region

Towns of the Salzkammergut


The most well-known place in the Salzkammergut is the picturesque town of Hallstatt. It is nestled in between a lake and the base of a 1,030-meter mountain, where salt deposits have made this town a central mining location for thousands of years. 

Evidence of people living and mining in Hallstatt dates back to 5,000 BC. You can tour the Salzwelten Hallstatt, the world’s oldest salt mine, which was first created 7,000 years ago! If you don’t want to pay the cost to tour the mine, be sure to hike to the top of Salzberg mountain and check out the views from the Hallstatt Skywalkfree in the off-season!

Hallstatt is a part of the Hallstatt-Dachstein UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and since its official title in 1997, tourism has exploded! The town has a population of only 780 residents but in the peak season experiences up to 30,000 tourists per day

This town is so iconic that there is even a replication in the southeast of China. But be aware, that this Austrian location is not a museum, these are people’s homes! Do not fly drones, be destructive, or enter any of the private residences (unfortunately this is overlooked by too many people). 

This town is idyllic, but wow is it touristy. Even during the off-peak times of the year, it was madness! If you’re in the region, it is 100% worth the trip to walk around the town of Hallstatt in winter, but don’t overlook the neighboring towns that carry the same beauty!

Woman standing looking out over a snow covered Halstatt

Hallstatt is a victim of over-tourism, where far too many people visit the destination for quick photos and then move on, disrespecting the people and land that exist here. This is why it is great to travel in the off-season, and check out the less-touristy places near by these hot-spot locations!

Bad Ischl

Bad Ischl is a historic town involving the long-reigning Emporer/King of the Austro-Hungarian Empire from 1848-1916, Franz Joseph I. He and his political affiliates would escape Vienna’s summer heat to enjoy the tranquility of Bad Ischl, where they made decisions that would impact the world… such as the start of WWI

There are numerous museums highlighting the history and life of Franz Joseph and his wife Elisabeth (“Sisi”), and of the salt industry that dominated the region’s economy for centuries.

Bad Ischl was historically a healing town where people around Europe would go to soak in the salty water to recover from their ailments. Today, you can have a similar healing experience at the Eurotherm Spa in Bad Ischl. The adults-only sauna section has numerous different sauna styles including salt-inhalation, wet-saunas, infrared, and a cold plunge. 

The spa is located right in the quaint village, where you’ll hear horse-drawn carriages strolling the streets during the winter season. 

Once you cross over the Traun River, head to Casino Keller – a historic beer cellar with phenomenal authentic Austrian brews. Here you can meet the owner, Bernhard who will walk you through the history that lies beneath the building. 

While in Bad Ischl, you cannot miss a ride up the Katrin Cable Car, where you will see an incredible 360-degree view, tons of hiking trails to explore, and a perfect way to finish the day with a cappuccino and some Kaiserschmarrn at Katrin Berggasthof. 

A horse drawn carriage walking down the streets of Bad Ischl during Christmas


Along the free bus route (discussed below), you can get to the town of Gosau, where winter sports enthusiasts and hikers come together to take in the beauty that surrounds Gosau. 

One of the largest ski resorts in the Salzkammergut, Dachstein West is located in this town, but just past the resort, you will find yourself immersed in the remote natural setting surrounding Lake Gosausee. 

The photo on the left is what you see when you get to the lake, which has a hiking trail that circulates the water that can be done in about an hour. But, if you’re a bit more adventurous, you can take a 9-mile hike back to Hintersee, a lake at the base of Hoher Dachstein – the king of mountains in the region. 

Hiking from Gosausee to Hintersee is a perfect destination in the Salzkammergut
Base of Hoher Dachstein

Bad Goisern

On your way to Hallstatt from Bad Ischl, you’ll pass through a beautiful town called Bad Goisern. This town is often missed since everyone is hustling to get to Hallstatt in winter, but you’ll miss so much beauty if you don’t take a moment to stop! 

This town has a rich history tied with the salt mine of Hallstatt and of traditional craftsmanship.While visiting Bad Goisern, take some time to walk the historical streets and get a feel for what life would have been like over the past few centuries. 

Make sure to stop into the Carina Saponetta Soap shop to meet the wonderful owner and get a taste of the history that fills these cobblestone streets!

Intricate Austrian home, brown with yellow trim that looks like a gingerbread house

St Wolfgang

St Wolfgang is a town on the lake of Wolfgansee, where the sun strikes the south-facing town for most of the day (a treat especially in the winter months). This town is a gem to stroll around to see the impressive detailing of the Austrian architecture or see the views from high above the town! 

Here, you can take a 35-minute ride on the SchafbergBahn cog railway to the summit of Schafberg mountain. This is the steepest railway in Austria, but the views are incredible. In the summer, this town turns into a summer-resort mecca with boating, kite-surfing, and fishing. 

St Wolfgang funicular view of a red cable car ascending a steep Austrian mountain
Image from 5 Treasures

Other Towns in the Salzkammergut

The world is so big, and we just can’t see it all! However, there are over 50 towns within the Salzkammergut, and some of them are worth noting if you can fit them into your plans! 

Ebensee is located on the south end of the Traunsee lake, north of Bad Ischl. Like much of the region, there is an ancient connection to the salt industry, with beautiful hikes on steep mountains and WWII history

Gmunden is located opposite Ebensee on the far side of Traunsee Lake. Here you can summit the ‘Guardian of the Salzkammergut’, Traunstein Mountain, or stroll around the town center and explore the castle in the lake! 

Obertraun is located opposite of Hallstatt on Hallstatter See, meaning you get a unique view of the iconic mountain town, best viewed from the ‘5 Fingers‘ observation deck. Obertraun is also home to Upper Austria’s longest on-piste run at Dachstein Krippenstein for the skiers. This resort is less touristy and crowded, and a dream for free-ride enthusiasts! Find it on the map below!

Bad Ausee is located in Styria, just east of Obertraun. It is the cultural and economic center for the Styrian region, where fresh water is connected in every direction. This town has serene botanical gardens and seems relaxed and peaceful if you’re looking for a retreat. 

Transport in the Salzkammergut

For anyone staying in the region for a few days, make sure to grab your Winter Guest Card discussed above! Not only does it have awesome discounts and access to local attractions, but it gets you free public transport within the main part of the region.

Anytime the cable cars are running, you can hop on bus 542 or 543, show the driver your guest card or photo, and skip the payment! Since this is a Free Ski Bus, it is only in the areas around the Dachstein West Ski region, but that’s where most of the fun is anyway so plan accordingly! There is an extensive rail system within the Salzkammergut, mostly operated by OBB rail company. Tickets can be purchased on their website for a cheaper price than booking at the station.

No matter where you’re looking to explore, the Salzburg Verkehr website will be your best tool to help plan the journey. Learn more about everything you need to know about transportation in Austria.

Forget about renting a car! Austria's public transport system is reliable, affordable, and way more sustainable than a personal vehicle!​

How To Get To Hallstatt in Winter

From Salzburg

If you’re coming in from Salzburg, you have a few great options to get to Hallstatt in winter. Don’t forget to see the historic sites before heading to Hallstatt with the perfect 1-day itinerary in Salzburg! Check the Salzburg Verkehr website for accurate time tables.

By Bus: The cheapest and most direct option is by bus, which only takes 2-2.5 hours and costs less than €15! Although this is less scenic than other routes, it’s a great option for a quick day trip or if you’ll be exploring the area later! 

By Train & Ferry: Although there isn’t a direct route to Hallstatt, this option includes a ferry ride allowing you to come into Hallstatt across Hallstattersee Lake with an iconic view. Train routes depend on the time of day and year, but will typically cost less than €20 to get to Hallstatt Lahn station. From there, only 10 minutes and €3 and you’ll be in Hallstatt!

From Vienna

If you’re coming in from the capital city of Vienna, you have a few easy options to get to Hallstatt in winter and see the countryside. Be sure to check out the perfect 12-hour itinerary in Vienna before you leave the historic city! Check the Salzburg Verkehr website for accurate timetables.

By Bus: Although public bus isn’t an option from Vienna to Hallstatt, you can use vendors like FlixBus to book a ride to Hallstatt. The direct route may change by season, so use their website to compare options. 

By Train & Ferry: Train is the easiest option from Vienna. For less than €40 you can take a 2 hour train ride to the Attnang-Puchheim station before finding a connecting train to the east side of Hallstattersee. Be ready for an insane view of Hallstatt as you coast along the pristine waters.

View of Hallstatt Austria at dusk across the water

Summary - Top Things To Do Near Hallstatt in Winter

Hallstatt is a dreamy Austrian town tucked in the Alps. Even better is seeing Hallstatt in winter, and the rest of the region as it gets blanketed in snow and filled with holiday spirit.

The Salzkammergut is a lesser-known place in the world. Filled with picturesque alpine lakes, and surrounded by impressive mountains, it’s the quaint and elegant towns that made me fall in love. The region has a long-standing history as a cultural hub in Central Europe, with influence from every direction. 

Whether you’re an extreme sports enthusiast, a family looking for a relaxing vacation, or a solo traveler looking for an enriching experience off the beaten path, the Salzkammergut in Austria has everything for every type of traveler. There is so much to explore in this area beyond the same phone that every tourist gets while in Hallstatt in winter. 

The Salzkammergut needs to be on your travel bucket list, perfect to visit any time of year!

Posted by Taylor Mallaber

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