The beautiful hamlet of Hallstatt - Austria
Thought to be one of the oldest inhabited settlements in Europe
Situated on the western shore of Lake Hallstatt between Hallstätter See and the Austrian Dachstein mountain range. This picturesque 16th century hamlet is a UNESCO heritage site and has one million visitors a year (pre-covid)
I had never heard of Hallstatt but a Chinese tycoon has spent £700m building an exact replica of the village in the south-eastern province of Guangdong. Also with rumours that it inspiration the village of Arendelle in the Disney film Frozen. tourists travel from Asia (China, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea) to visit.
To get there fly into Saltzburg and take a bus (2hrs and 15mins) or train but will need to catch the ferry across to Hallstatt. Takes 3 and half hours to travel by bus to Vienna.
I watched a film about what happens after Covid and how currently they have European tourists and smaller numbers. The mayor states they want the tourists back to sustain the local economy but wants more sustainable tourism so visitors stay more than a day. First steps is the coaches will be required to register before they arrive and stay longer - will be interesting to see if this makes any difference.
Halstatt is very small (only has 778 residents) and can be walked in 15 minutes, however, with beautiful alpine houses and tiny lanes filled with cafes and shops and the lake there is a lot to see. A funicular railway from the village connects to Salzwelten, the worlds first salt mine that has a subterranean salt lake. Also from here a trail leads to the Echern Valley with its glacier garden of potholes and Waldbachstrub Waterfall.
Other activities in the region:
Datchstein Krippenstein is located a few minutes from Hallstatt and there are many things to do and see.
At the top from the 5 fingers viewing platform (one of the fingers is made entirely from glass) has specutacular views over the village and and beyond. . Take a ride on the gondola to visit the giant ice cave and/or Koppenbrüller Cave. If you are adrenaline junkie then take part in the Via ferrata Dachstein Krippenstein which has different rope courses that offer views as far as the Dachstein Glacier.
Two hidden travel gems that can be found in this region. First the Hallstatt Ossuary (bone house ) which has over 2,100 skulls stacked and painted with wreaths, roses and crosses. The reason it is here is when the small burial ground got full they had to remove them for the most recently deceased.
The second is Eisriesenwelt (1hr and 30 minutes from Hallstatt) the largest ice cave in the world . It is beautiful to see the ice sculptures and how large the cave actually is - worth a visit.
To leanr more about Halstatt: https://www.hallstatt.net/service-eng/tourist-office/