This summer I got to take one of the most amazing trips of my life so far: a roadtrip in Austria and Germany. The vacation actually started in Venice, went through Salzburg, Hallstatt, and Königssee, and ended in Stuttgart. I’m just going to tell you guys about Austria and Germany and save Italy for another time.
My boyfriend and I got to Salzburg, Austria from a lengthy bus ride from Venice. Here, we rented a car and planned to do half a day in Hallstatt and a whole day in Königssee. The drive through the Alps was gorgeous. At no time was there somewhere we couldn’t see mountains or some sort of beautiful landscape. I’m going to share some highlights from Salzburg and then talk more about Hallstatt and Königssee.
I took this picture of the love locks on the Makartsteg Footbridge. It was really fascinating to think about how at some point thousands of people have been here to lock their love onto the bridge. I couldn’t help but wonder how many of these relationships are still working out! Hopefully the bridge gave them some extra luck 🙂
This is the house in which Mozart was born aka Mozarts Geburtshaus. We actually came across it accidentally when we were wandering around at night which was pretty lucky.
The first picture is of the Hohensalzburg fortress. The second picture is taken from the top! We took a cable car up and walked around this magnificent medieval fortress. We didn’t pay to enter the rooms of the fortress but still got included admission to this one part of the museum which in my opinion was very worthwhile. We got to see some medieval torture devices and learn about the evolution of this fortress which was first constructed around 1077. I couldn’t believe how old it was and how it had gone through so much expansion and renovation throughout time.
Mirabell Palace & Gardens
The classy Mirabell Palace was where we walked to after the fortress. This was probably one of my favorite parts of Salzburg because it was so elegant and well-maintained. All of the flower designs were trimmed perfectly and the deep red and pink colors made pretty weaving shapes over the carefully mowed grass. It looked flawless!
Last but not not least we visited the Augustiner Bräustübl which was a giant and popping biergarten in walking distance from the Mirabell Palace. This was another highlight from our trip because it was a very unique experience for me.
To order a beer, you first have to buy a ticket of whichever size beer you’d like. Then, you pick up a glass from a shelf of hundreds of other beers glasses and then wash it out in this huge sink. Next, you walk up to the men serving the beer, hand them your ticket, and they pour your beer. It’s really a cool experience because you are usually just given a beer in a glass, not having to wash and ask for it to be filled.
The food was also very affordable and tasty. There were many vendors on the upstairs hall of the brewery which offered hearty Austrian cuisine from Wiener schnitzel and spätzle (curly soft egg based noodles) to apple strudel. All was delicious! I ordered a pretzel, green beans, sauerkraut, and a quinoa salad to help offset all of the knödel (dumplings) I had been eating earlier that week. And not to mention, the beer was absolutely delicious and very drinkable, so naturally I had to go back for a second.
We arrived in the late-morning in Hallstatt and decided our best bet was to experience this cute little Austrian lakeside village by foot.
This was about a 10 minute walk from where we parked our rental car. As you can see, the village is very charming even from the start.
I just love this kind of architecture. It may be because you can’t really find homes like this in America.
Here is another part of Hallstatt which was a little bit in the center of the town and not on the waterfront. As you can see, this square has some colorful buildings and lots of cute flower boxes lining the windows.
Next, we visited a Beinhaus which was basically a room filled with bones. It was quite spooky and the reason for this room is because the cemetaries were filled at capacity. It was next to one of the main churches in town which is also a popular tourist spot. We only spent a few minutes in here but it was interesting to see this quite creepy side of Hallstatt away from the picturesque waterfront scene.
And last but not least, the most notable view of Hallstatt. This was probably the most stunning vantage point of the village where you can see a lot of the lake and stacked houses all at once.
In all honesty, I expected more from Hallstatt. Even though it did charm me, it wasn’t more spectacular than any other Austrian village in this area. I think the appeal of Hallstatt comes from that it is situated nicely on the lake. I encourage anyone coming to Austria to check out other towns as well and not to become to obsessed with the idea of Hallstatt just from seeing a few pictures. Just another note is that since it is a small place, the whole village can be easily seen in just 2-3 hours.
When we arrived at Königssee, there were massive lines to order tickets for the boat to get us across the lake. After waiting for about 45 minutes to an hour, it was finally our turn to get tickets (about 16 euro roundtrip pp) and hop on the boat. We took an electric boat to Obersee. It was interesting because the guide on the boat said that only e-boats are allowed to preserve the pristineness of the lake. Only emegency boats are permitted with motors.
During the 55 minute ride, we got to pass by other pretty parts like the architecturally-stunning St. Bartholomew’s Church which is pictured above. Our guide noted that the water was also freezing because the max depth of the lake is a crazy 190m.
When we reached the Oberssee destination, we hopped off and started walking towards the Röthbachfall which is the highest waterfall in all of Germany. It has a vertical drop of 470 metres! I couldn’t get a good picture since there were many trees and such, but it was very beautiful nonetheless. It was a little over an hour hike from where the boat dropped us off.
Another serene spot in Oberssee at the beginning of our journey.
I met a friend along the way to the waterfall 🙂 I couldn’t believe how many cows were just roaming around freely.
The water looked like glass. Everything was so still and quiet and free from the usual city atmosphere of pollution and loud noises. It was very peaceful and even the reflection of the mountains was so perfectly mirrored onto the lake.
It was very stunning to see the light cascade down from one side of the mountain onto the field. Everything I saw felt unreal because I didn’t even know such naturally beautiful places could exist.
This is one of my favorite views from Königssee. I really feel so grateful to have gone to such a breathtaking place and have such a nice experience. I would definitely encourage anyone looking for a nice hike or even a calm walk around a lake to come here.
Note: The Jennerbahn which is the cable car usually used to transport people to the top of the mountain was closed for renovation. I would advise anyone looking for a more strenous hike to wait until they are done renovating. I would also note that it was such a luxury to be able to rent a car to explore the Austrian and Southern-German countrysides at our own pace. If possible, I would recommend this option over taking a tourist bus as you can have a more authentic experience. You could potentially stop along the way to swim in the lake or visit St. Gilgen, another Austrian village between Salzburg and Hallstatt.
I hope what I had to say about these three places was interesting and helpful 🙂