In addition to its castles and cake, Austria endeared itself to me still more when I discovered the tiny lakeside village of Hallstatt. Set in Austria’s lake district (Salzkammergut), Hallstatt is one of the tamer UNESCO World Heritage sites I’ve visited, offering stunning views of the Alps and a general sense of serenity.
When planning out the trip’s itinerary, it took me a while to decide what order to visit all these places (Fly into Vienna, or leave it as a grand finale?). But by the end, I was relieved to have visited the grandeur of Vienna first, and left the last few days of my trip for soaking up these more natural wonders.
Owing to its millennia of salt mining, Hallstatt is an archaeologist’s dream–people have lived here for 7,000+ years, and it serves as namesake for the Celtic Hallstatt culture (approx. 800-400 BC). Hefty cultural significance aside, it’s still just a fun place to walk around. (Taking a Bob’s Tour, which I’d highly recommend, my fellow tourists and I had a couple hours to take in the town and its lake.)
Believe it or not, there’s a full recreation of Hallstatt in China, built by the Chinese company Minmetals for $960 million. Something makes me doubt the Sachertorte and Apfelstrudel can quite be replicated, though.