A few weeks ago, I made a day trip to beautiful Hallstatt with some friends! If you do a Google image search for Austria, I guarantee that you will come up with pictures of this gorgeous village, nestled in the Alps on the smooth clear Hallstättersee (Lake Hallstatt).
This area has been a center of salt mining since Neolithic times, and the main tourist attraction is the salt mine. You get to dress up in protective clothing, go down long steep slides to get between levels in the mine, and learn lots of about the long history of “white gold”–salt.
It’s really awesome, although quite expensive. Still, there was an animatronic miner (who speaks in dialect, of course, ie. “Häustatt”), a light/laser show over an underground lake, and you even get a sample of salt when you leave. We had a blast.
The other attraction in Hallstatt, besides the beautiful town itself, is the Bone House. Over the centuries, as people needed to be buried in the church’s small graveyard, the old graves were dug up, the skulls of the dead cleaned and painted, and those skulls stored in a small chapel adjoining the church.
Weird but true! It’s tiny, but a must see. The most recent skull was interred in 1996, although that was only by special request. It’s definitely an eerie place, but it doesn’t feel disrespectful, there’s something lovely about all the flowered skulls, all the memories of people.
I’ve seen so many beautiful places in Austria, but Hallstatt is definitely one of my favorites. A perfect day trip, with great friends–who could ask for more?