A 2 Day Trip to Hallstatt & Krippenstein
Updated: Aug 28, 2020
This blog consists of 4 parts, focused on Prague, Vienna & Bratislava, Hallstatt & Krippenstein and Budapest respectively. Feel free to jump to the section of your choice. The capital cities of Prague, Vienna & Budapest are often referred to as the Golden Triangle. And while little Bratislava often passes under the radar, it deserves attention during any visit to this area - for the welcoming people, if nothing else. In 11 days, we covered all these cities, AND a fascinating Austrian gem a.k.a must-visit, even though it took us beyond the triangle. Here is how to do it all right. Part 2 - Hallstatt & Krippenstein: For us, a trip to Austria comprised of two parts: city and the mountains. To begin our Austrian adventure we decided to explore the mountains first with these two gems. If possible, we’d advise you to take a train straight to Hallstatt, past Linz. This will allow you to stop by to see the city if you’d like. It depends on the time of the year because your trip really should revolve around the opening times for Krippenstein cable cars from Obertraun. What’s all this, you ask? Hallstatt, is considered one of the prettiest little towns in existence. A picture-perfect lake town, it’s a hidden gem that a lucky few had been able to visit until it exploded on the Instagram scene (which means over tourism). Like us, there is a good chance that you too might see yourself retiring here. Luckily, the train station is on the other side of the lake, which means not only do you get a jaw dropping view of rivers, lush greenery and snow-capped mountains to train-ride by, you also get to ride a boat on the pristine lake to the gates of the town.
How to guide your walk in this town? You really can go in either direction, climb up stairs, cross over to different levels or circle around. Hallstatt is really about soaking in the town vibe, the shades of existence that make you feel fortunate and draw your attention to fresh air and calming sights. Visit the church, visit that cafe by the dock, visit the quaint square and its shops, try a pie in one of the cafe-restaurants there, dine by waterfront and order whatever, walk up to the bus stand and walk back again, or hike up the levels.
Take your time here, but make sure you’re back across the lake to catch the train to the very next stop (literally 2 minutes away) at Obertraun. There’s so much said about Hallstatt but thankfully, little is known of the other gem in the area - Krippenstein. Timing is key to catch one of the last cable cars going uphill from Obertraun after you’ve soaking in Hallstatt to satisfaction. Two rides up the cable car will leave you top of the Austrian Alps, at Krippenstein. The day we arrived was the first open day of the season (hence, the need to time our entire trip around this). If a lucky few get to Hallstatt, the luckier still get to Krippenstein. This station is the second of three stations on this route, with the final station leading to the Dachstein glacier. There is a lodge here for you to spend the night, which we absolutely recommend. The chance to hike in the area up till the 5-Fingers, observing the majesty of Alpian peaks on the way (and the occasional, scarily ominous approach of dark clouds as if they’ll hit you right in the face) is worth every step. As is the chance to sit in the restaurant balcony, also the highest outlet of Pilsner beer in the world, and to sip and soak it all in. As is the chance to look at the glacier, even if you haven’t visited the 3rd cable car station. As is the idea of waving goodbye to the silence of a starry sky and waking up to a sunrise high in the solace of mountains. A stay in Lodge Am Krippenstein is made amazing not only by the incredible hospitality of the staff there (so behave!) but also the option to go paragliding and cave hiking the next morning. First, the staff. The days we stayed, the area was still laden with snow despite the beginning of its summer season. The staff not only lent us snowshoes to help us hike up the mountain to 5 Fingers (a lookout point over Hallstatt) but also gave us a bike ski ride from the hotel to the cable car station in the morning. As Mr Fly never misses to point out, when in the mountains, do take a moment to pay your respects to the grandeur of nature. Mountains can be a tricky place after all.
As we descended down the mountain the next morning, we stopped at the cable car station 1 to head to the Dachstein Giant Ice Cave. There are several caves in the other area, including the Mammut Cave, all reachable by short steep hikes. You can time yourself based on the ticket you purchase for the guided tours. The ice cave is awe-inspiring in the magnitude of ice buildup from mere trickles of water from the surface of the mountain. And on these slippery ice slopes, curving into the dark unknown, we learnt that the region holds periodic performances every year! Can’t imagine how, but it should be one to experience. Also part of the experience are light-and-sound shows as well as a tete-a-tete with Ben & Boris - cave bears from the local folklore!
The journey down the last cable car is almost instantly nostalgia inducing to what you have experienced. And as one section of the mountain ends to reveal the lower mountains with a view of the ground, you almost want to cling on and no let go. For us, however, much of our trip remained - with Vienna & Bratislava and Budapest coming up next. And if you want to read about our Prague part of the trip click here.