It would be difficult to get bad photos in Hallstatt. This Austrian town, perched in the Alps, is so incredibly pretty that even a 5-year-old with a toy camera could get stunning photos here.
Hallstatt wraps itself around the edge of a scenic lake and climbs up the hillside beside it. Giant mountains tower over the small buildings, making them look almost like a miniature model in comparison, and deep valleys lead mysteriously into the landscape beyond the town’s borders.
I visited Hallstatt on a winter day trip a few years ago, and I wished I had stayed there longer to take full advantage of all the amazing photography locations. The scenery in this spot really does look as though it’s been pulled from the pages of a fairytale.
If you’re planning a photography trip to this adorable European destination, here’s where to find all the best photo spots in Hallstatt!
Planning a Hallstatt Photography Trip:
- Hallstatt is accessible by bus, train, or car from the city of Salzburg. The Austrian town looks great in summer when the forests are a lush green, and in winter when the mountains are sprinkled with snow, though keep in mind that some attractions may be closed in winter.
- You’d have to be fairly game to attempt driving through Hallstatt. The streets are very narrow and are crowded with tourists during the daytime. If you’re driving to Hallstatt, it would be wise to leave your car in one of the parking lots outside of the town centre then walk the rest of the way into town.
- Hallstatt’s popularity has exploded in recent years as it continually features in write-ups on the prettiest destinations in Europe. As a result, it can be fairly busy with people especially over the summer months. It’s worth staying overnight so that you have access to all the Hallstatt photography spots once the day trippers have vacated town.
Photo Spots in Hallstatt:
- Village Viewpoint
- Central Square
- Parish of the Assumption Church
- Lake Street
- Salt Mountain Railway
- Small Island
- 5 Fingers Observation Deck
Let’s start with the most popular Hallstatt Instagram spot–the village viewpoint. Just a short walk north along the lakefront from the town centre, this location provides that famous postcard view that you’ve no doubt seen on social media and on advertisements featuring Austria.
The village viewpoint looks out over Hallstatt with the spire of the Lutheran Church (Evangelische Pfarrkirche) standing prominent in the skyline and the ferry terminal in the foreground. The mountains towering behind the town look absolutely majestic. Take a polarizing filter to suppress glare from the lake and enhance the saturation in your photos.
Central Square (Marktplatz) is one of the prettiest photo spots in Hallstatt. Surrounded by heritage guest houses with pastel facades, the cobblestone plaza holds the Statue of the Holy Trinity and a handful of cafes with al fresco seating where you’ll spot friends meeting over an espresso or red wine.
The greenery covering the hill behind the square makes it one of the few places in Hallstatt which looks nicer if you’re facing away from the lake. A wide angle lens may be useful for capturing the full width of the square and the people socialising within it.
Parish of the Assumption Church
Parish of the Assumption (Pfarrkirche Mariä Himmelfahrt) is a Catholic Church in Hallstatt. From its balcony, you’ll get one of the best views in town overlooking the Lutheran Church clock tower with the lake and mountains behind it.
Another interesting Hallstatt photography spot at this location is the Friedhof Hallstatt Cemetery. This tiny graveyard has spectacular views (probably the best graveyard views in Europe!), and the ossuary at the back holds an interesting collection of creepy painted skulls.
Lake Street (Seestraße) takes visitors between the north and south ends of town along the waterfront. There are plenty of photo opportunities along this street as can spot wooden boat houses, a small jetty, swan-shaped paddle boats, and real swans out on the lake.
Salt Mountain Railway
The Salt Mountain Railway (Salzbergbahn) is a funicular that takes passengers up the steep hill behind Hallstatt. The elevated triangular observation platform at the top is a great spot for landscape photos, but I would argue that the ride up provides the best photography opportunity.
When you enter the funicular, stand beside the lower window and set up your camera in shutter priority mode as you’ll need to use a fast shutter speed to account for the movement. As the car moves uphill through the trees, you can capture the tracks with the town of Hallstatt in the distance.
At the south end of town is a small island, accessible via a wooden boardwalk from the shore. The island features a grassy area with wooden seating and lovely vistas out over the lake or back towards town.
It might be worth experimenting with a telephoto lens here as you can capture ducks and swans as they glide along the surface of the water, or you can zoom in to the distant buildings that can be spotted on the other side of the lake.
Because of its mountainous location, Hallstatt has a handful of pretty waterfalls nearby. About an hour’s walk (or about 20 minutes drive) upriver from the town centre you’ll find a collection of waterfalls to choose from. The Waldbachstrub, Lauterbach, and Hallstatt waterfalls are all in close proximity.
Long exposures are essential for softening the flowing water in waterfall photography, so take a tripod along with you for this trip into nature. You may also find it useful to wear waterproof hiking boots for exploring the rocky creeks to find the best photo spots.
5 Fingers Observation Deck
The 5 Fingers viewing platform gets its name from being roughly shaped like a giant hand sticking out of the mountainside. It provides amazing views over the Alps with the town of Hallstatt and the lake both clearly visible below.
The observation deck is accessible from the Dachstein Krippenstein cable car station in nearby Obertraun. From here, you’ll be taken up the mountain to the ski resort, then it’s a 20 minute easy return hike to the observation deck which is open year-round (though snowshoes must be used to travel to this spot in winter).