Hallstatt, Austria

Photo: Ncsakany at English Wikipedia [Public domain]
Love at first sight. It’s a concept in which you never believed. You certainly didn’t think it would happen to you. Then you started planning a trip to Hallstatt. The pictures were gorgeous. Even romantic. But they didn’t prepare you for the feeling that would overwhelm you when you reached Lake Hallstatt.

Hallstatt is a small village in a stunning location. It sits on the southwest shore of Lake Hallstatt. The inky lake is completely surrounded by the steep Dachstein Mountains. For years, the Pearl of Austria was difficult, sometimes treacherous, to reach. Narrow trails and boats were the only ways in. The first road wasn’t built until the end of the 19th century. It’s still easier to go by train.

So that’s what you did. You boarded the train in Salzburg near the German border. It headed northeast toward Vienna. You transferred in Attnang-Puchheim to switch directions. Hallstatt Bahnhof, on the eastern shore of Lake Hallstatt, was due south from there. The Stefanie, a passenger ferry that runs between the train station and Hallstatt’s Market Square, was waiting for passengers when you disembarked. The ride only took 15 minutes. The time didn’t matter, though. You were already enchanted by the picture-perfect village ahead.

Photo: Hallstatt Hideaway

Depending on whom you ask, Hallstatt ranges from Europe’s prettiest lakeside village to one of the most beautiful places in the whole world. Cobblestone streets closed to cars. Pastel houses covered in ivy. A church with a soaring steeple. A small museum detailing the history of local salt mines. A Bone House, exactly what its name suggests, where human skulls are moved when they no longer fit in the tiny cemetery. Plus Mühlbach, a waterfall, crashes just above the village. Hallstatt looks like it’s straight out of a fairy tale.

Given the magical setting, your expectations are higher than usual for your hotel. Hallstatt Hideaway doesn’t disappoint. The lakeside lodge is a quick, six-minute walk from the ferry. The Baroque building, built in 1740, has a panoramic view of the lake and mountains. Stone paths connect decks, the dock, and double rocking chairs in its garden along the edge of the water.

There are only six suites inside the lodge. Bright pops of color, salvaged wood, and lake views are standard. Otherwise, each suite is uniquely designed. Some have small kitchens and huge terraces. Others have rocking chairs and hot tubs. You choose the rustic Deluxe Suite Holz for its wood-beamed ceiling and restored, original doors. It has a four-poster bed and a wood-burning fireplace, as well. It feels like an alpine warming hut. Just add a glass of Zweigelt—the bright, Upper Austrian wine tastes like a Pinot Noir—and you’ll be ready to cozy up with your new love.

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