You can reach Hallstatt by bus 150 from Salzburg to Bad Ischl, where you change to a train to Obertraun. In Obertraun you have to take a boat to cross the lake.
The whole trip by train is possible, but not recommended.
A car, on the other hand, would be very practical, as it allows you to visit other places in the Salzkammergut along the way. Keep reading for a detailed explanation of how to go to Hallstatt.
In this article, I will tell you how to go to Hallstatt, but first I would like you to know what to expect from a visit to Hallstatt.
What to expect from a visit to Hallstatt?
In the past years, Hallstatt became the most popular day-trip destination from Salzburg. I want to mention right away that the lake district consists of many similar, beautiful places and that Hallstatt became crowded by the hype in recent years.
Hallstatt is home to 750 people, while it receives an estimated 900,000 people every year. In winter it stands empty, so in summer thousands of people make a pilgrimage to Hallstatt every day and the place is actually just a street.
If you are not up for the crowd, have a look at alternative day trip destinations from Salzburg. I am not trying to keep you from going. If Hallstatt is on your list, go for it! But I want you to know what to expect from your visit.
If it has to be Hallstatt, you will have a great experience nevertheless. Let me tell you how to get there and how to make the most out of your visit to Hallstatt.
How to go to Hallstatt by bus and train?
The most common way to reach Hallstatt from Salzburg is to take bus number 150 from the main station. You could also take this bus from Mirabell Square, but in the high season the bus often gets full at the station, and should this happen you would have to stand for 1.5 hours on the way. The bus driver will give you the ticket for the return journey, including the train ride from Bad Ischl. Just ask for a ticket to Hallstatt.
In Bad Ischl, the final destination of the bus, you get off at the train station and take the train to Obertraun, where Hallstatt station is located. It is easy to find the way. The bus stops in front of Bad Ischl station and you follow the crowd.
The train takes you to Hallstatt Bahnhof, which is in Obertraun. From Obertraun, you need to take a boat to the other side of the lake to Hallstatt.
It sounds complicated, but it’s very straight forward. It takes long, but on the bus, to Bad Ischl, you cross the lake district. The lake district is fairytale land, and you will enjoy the ride. The scenery you will be passing is beautiful all along.
The total cost is around €30,- for a return trip. Another option of taking bus 542 and 543 exists, but I never understood how that works, and the bus and train connection always worked, so I recommend that.
How to go to Hallstatt by Train? For Eurail pass Holders or Groups
If you are traveling with a Eurail pass, you go by train as you don’t have to pay. If you are a group of travelers, the “Einfach Raus Ticket” group ticket is the cheapest way to go to Hallstatt.
That said, I would always prefer the bus route if it’s not about saving money. On the bus, you cross the whole lake district, and the scenery alone is worth the ride.
With the “Einfach Raus-Ticket” you can travel with all trains in Austria for 2 – 5 persons for one day. The more people are in your group, the cheaper the trip will be. For two persons you pay €34,-, for each additional person more up to a maximum of five persons for €46,-. This means that if there are five of you, you can travel to Hallstatt for less than €10,- instead of €30,- per person.
Now, what’s the downside? The downside is that these tickets during the week are only valid from 9 am and only for the slow trains. This results in taking the train at 10:38 am and arriving in Hallstatt at 1:24 pm. You can stay in Hallstatt until 6:32 pm and return to Salzburg at 9:22 pm. You will have enough time, but you get back late.
If you want to take the train with an Einfach Raus Ticket and check the schedule, visit the train company’s website! Change the language to English, and in the search, you change the filter options and tick the Einfach Raus checkbox only to get trains included in the ticket as a result.
As I said before, the bus route of the 150 bus is beautiful, and the connection is convenient. So the train would only be an option if you want to save money as a group or if you go free because of the Eurail pass. Otherwise, always take the 150 bus and the train from Bad Ischl.
How to get to Hallstatt by rental car? The most convenient way
By far, the best option for small groups would be a rental car. It’s not only faster, Hallstatt is only 80 kilometers away, but you can make more out of your day trip. Hallstatt is on the other side of the lake district, and the lake district is full of places almost as beautiful as Hallstatt. Furthermore, you can take a different route back to the city. Let me explain this to you.
Where to stop on the way to Hallstatt, if you travel by car?
Fuschlsee is the first lake you get to after a 20-kilometer drive. Fuschl am See, the town is not a sightseeing place and stopping there is not a must. The lake would be nice for a 3-hour walk around but not if you are on the way to Hallstatt. Before Fuschl, however, is the Red Bull Headquarter. Nothing to do there either, but the headquarters is worth noticing, and you are flexible with a car so you might stop, take a picture and inspect.
Sankt Gilgen at the Wolfgangsee lake is your next stop. Park the car and take a 15-minute walk down to the lake. On the way is the Mozart house, where Mozart’s grandfather and later also his sister lived. In Sankt Gilgen would be the harbor to cross the lake to Sankt Wolfgang by boat but you will go there by car. Sankt Wolfgang on the other side of the lake is only a short detour on your way to Hallstatt. Here is an article, in case you want to know what Sankt Gilgen is about.
Sankt Wolfgang is a must if you are around and flexible. Again park your car at the entrance of the village, at the ample parking space on the right, and walk into town. My favorite thing about Sankt Wolfgang is the church, but the town is also charming and worth exploring. In Sankt Wolfgang, you find authentic Austrian souvenirs. The Schafbergbahn, the steepest steam train in the world, also starts in Sankt Wolfgang.
Bad Ischl is where the nobility, the artists, and even the Emporer of Austria-Hungary spent their summers. Bad Ischl is different from other places in the lake district because there is no lake. Bad Ischl has several museums like the Emporer mansion for example. What I would recommend in Bad Ischl is going for a walk before getting lunch and then coffee and cake at the famous Coffee House “Konditorei Zauner”.
Where to park in Hallstatt
The next stop after Bad Ischl will be your final destination, Hallstatt. When you arrive in Hallstatt, signs will point you to the parking, and displays show how many spots are left. The prices for parking are reasonable, and the system is the same as everywhere else. When you enter, you get a parking ticket and before you leave you to have to pay at the machine by card or cash.
Gosautal on the way back to Salzburg
When going back to Salzburg by car, I would recommend taking the alternative route through Gosau valley. Gosau valley is located south of the popular part of Salzkammergut that you crossed at the beginning of your journey. Gosau valley is secluded and surrounded by wild nature. Gosau is famous for hiking, skiing, and mountain related sports, but its heart and authenticity remain unaffected from the visitors.
If it is not yet too late in the day, you can stop along the drive to take in some magnificent nature. You can take a detour to Gosausee lake, stop in Abtenau or visit the fortress in Golling and even Bluntautal valley or stop in Hallein and take a stroll through its unique old town. Otherwise, enjoy the beautiful views on the way back. Your journey was already long if you visited all the places I recommended.
Staying in Hallstatt over Night
If you are willing to pay, it is worth staying. If you stay in Hallstatt overnight in summer when the sunrises at 5 am and sets at 10 pm you will have a unique experience. Maybe you know from my photography articles that I am a fan of getting up early. Get up at 4 am to explore Hallstatt. The place will be yours. The empty streets of Hallstatt in high season. The sunset when all the daytime visitors are already gone and the sunrise when no one arrived yet. Go for it!
If Hallstatt is on your bucket list, go for it! By Bus and Train is the most common way to go to Hallstatt. The Train only option is for Eurail pass holders or if you want to save money with the Einfach Raus group ticket. The most convenient way is a car because it gives you the flexibility to visit places on the way and take an alternative route back to Salzburg.