Watch the towns on the shores of Lake Hallstatt shrink as you ride the glass-sided funicular up the side of Salzburg mountain, headed to the Neolithic-era salt mines. There, you’ll gain insight to an important part of Hallstatt’s history as a mining town.
Donned in protective gear, you’ll explore the mines — either riding down wooden slides from one level to the next or using the stairs. Take in the salt-filled walls glinting in the glow of the dim lighting and learn the impact that the salt mines have had on the area.
When you emerge from the mines on a wooden train, you can further explore the top of the mountain. Head to Rudolph’s Tower restaurant, looming 360 m (1,181 ft) over Lake Hallstatt, for a bite to eat. For unmatched open-air Alpine views, walk out onto the skywalk, a ‘V’-shaped patio that hangs 12 m (40 ft) over the cliffside.
Make your own way to the funicular from your hotel, which is just a couple of minutes’ walk from town. It will bring you up the side of the mountain to the peaks above — the ride to the top takes fewer than five minutes. From here, stroll up a gentle incline to the mine’s entrance, a walk of about 15 minutes — you’ll be treated with panoramic views of the lake and town below.
When you arrive at the salt mines, you’ll have to don protective clothing. A guide will give you a safety briefing, and then you’ll head inside with your group, where you’ll navigate the labyrinth of arched tunnels, covered in glimmering salt. There are numerous rooms inside filled with relics, videos and other visual aids to tell the story of the mines and their place in Hallstatt’s history.
To get to further rooms, there are long wooden slides to glide down (though there are stairs too, if you prefer). One of the slides finishes at an underground lake, where you’ll see a light-and-music show on the water. To exit the mines, hop on a wooden mine train back into the fresh air. You’ll be able to collect any belongings you left at the lockers at the entrance, before either heading back down to town or exploring more of the mountain top.
Rudolph’s Tower restaurant was originally a medieval tower built for protection of the miners. It was then used as the residence of the mine manager for more than 640 years, until it was converted to a restaurant greeting visitors of the salt mine since 1960. Enjoy traditional Austrian cuisine, and then head over to the restaurant’s patio, which hangs over a cliff and provides open-air Alpine views.
Worth noting, the grounds in the salt mines are uneven and have stairs, making it unsuitable for those with walking difficulties or wheelchairs. The air is also cold inside the mountain, so we recommend dressing in layers.