Innsbruck vs Hallstatt: What is Better to Visit?

Heading to Austria and can’t decide between Innsbruck and Hallstatt? Both places are awesome but in totally different ways, and picking one can be a bit of a headache.

You might wish you could see both, but sometimes you’ve got to pick one, whether it’s because of time or money. So, what’s it going to be?

  • Which place has more exciting things to do?
  • Where can you learn more about history?
  • Which is better for someone who loves nature?
  • Which looks prettier, Innsbruck or Hallstatt?


This tiny village in Austria is pretty much a real-life fairy tale, tucked between the beautiful Dachstein mountains and the peaceful Hallstätter See lake.

People have lived here for thousands of years, all thanks to the rich salt mines that made this place popular way back when. They even call Hallstatt the “Pearl of the Salzkammergut” because it’s so pretty and full of history.

What makes Hallstatt special isn’t just its old salt mines, but also the cute old houses and narrow streets that make you feel like you’re stepping back in time. Plus, the place is so good-looking it’s been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It might not have a big famous composer or a movie like ‘The Sound of Music’ filmed here, but Hallstatt’s got its own charm with stunning views that’ll make your jaw drop. It’s a quiet little spot where you can take a boat out on the lake, check out some ancient history, or just grab a coffee with an amazing view.

Things to do in Hallstatt

Hallstatt is a small slice of heaven that packs a lot in its tiny size. One of the first things you’ll want to do is simply walk around and enjoy in the views of the lake and the mountains. The village itself is picture-perfect, with charming 16th-century buildings and narrow, winding streets.

A must-visit is the Hallstatt Salt Mine, the oldest in the world. Here, you can learn all about the town’s salt-mining history and even slide down an old miners’ slide. There’s also the Skywalk, a viewing platform sticking out from the mountainside, offering amazing views over Hallstatt and the lake.

For a bit of history, check out the Hallstatt Ossuary, known for its collection of painted skulls. It might sound a bit eerie, but it’s a unique part of local history. The Beinhaus (Bone House) is in the Catholic church’s small chapel, and it’s a respectful way the locals dealt with their limited burial space.

Take a boat out on the Hallstätter See (lake) to appreciate the beauty of this area. It’s peaceful, and the views from the water are just unbeatable.

If you’re up for a hike, the Echerntal trail is stunning, leading you past waterfalls and giving you some of the best views of the town and the surrounding scenery.

Don’t miss out on the Dachstein Ice Cave, a little way outside of town. It’s a massive cave system with giant ice formations and sculptures, and it’s something you won’t see just anywhere.

Hallstatt is small, but there are some cute little shops and eateries. Enjoy a leisurely meal with a view of the lake, or pick up some local handcrafted souvenirs to remember your trip by.


Known as the Capital of the Alps, it’s not just a popular winter sports destination but also a historical center, with roots stretching back to Roman times when it was a military outpost.

Innsbruck’s past is deeply intertwined with its status as a center for European politics and culture, particularly during the reign of Emperor Maximilian I in the 15th and 16th centuries. This period saw Innsbruck become a hub of European politics and art, leaving a legacy of stunning Gothic and Baroque architecture.

The city is famous for its iconic Golden Roof, the glittering centerpiece of the Old Town, built by Emperor Maximilian. But Innsbruck’s charm doesn’t stop there. It’s surrounded by towering peaks, offering a paradise for skiers, snowboarders, hikers, and mountain bikers.

Innsbruck also played host to the Winter Olympics not once, but twice, cementing its reputation as a top winter sports destination. Yet, it’s not all about outdoor adventures. The city has a rich cultural scene, with museums, galleries, and theaters, as well as a lively nightlife.

Things to do in Innsbruck

Innsbruck is an adventure lover’s paradise with a rich historical tapestry, with activities for every kind of traveler.

The city’s history is alive in its well-preserved medieval old town, with landmarks like the Golden Roof with its 2,738 gilded copper tiles. Stroll around the Old Town to enjoy the medieval architecture and atmosphere.

For those who love heights and history, a visit to the Ambras Castle is a must. Nestled in the hills above Innsbruck, it offers panoramic views and a peek into Renaissance art and curiosities. Another historical must-see is the Imperial Palace (Hofburg), which tells tales of Austria’s imperial past.

If you’re into sports, the Bergisel Ski Jump offers an iconic view of Innsbruck and has a museum dedicated to the Winter Olympics hosted here.

For an alpine adventure, take the Nordkette Cable Car right from the city center up into the heart of the mountains for skiing, hiking, or just enjoying the breathtaking scenery.

Nature enthusiasts will love the Alpenzoo, Europe’s highest zoo, focusing on alpine wildlife. And for a peaceful escape, the Hofgarten park is perfect for a leisurely walk or picnic.

Innsbruck is also known for its shopping scene. Maria-Theresien-Strasse is the main shopping street with a mix of high street and local stores, leading up to the Town Tower with its sweeping views of the city.

After a day of sightseeing or adventure, unwind in one of the many local restaurants or cafes. Try traditional Tyrolean dishes or international cuisine, and maybe end your day with a stroll along the Inn River for stunning views of the city against the backdrop of mountains.

For a unique experience, the Swarovski Crystal Worlds, just a short drive from Innsbruck, offers a dazzling world of crystal art and gardens.

Is there more to do in Innsbruck or Hallstatt?

Well, Innsbruck is a bigger city, so naturally, it’s got more stuff going on. It’s known for being a place where you can hit the ski slopes, go for a hike in the mountains, or enjoy some lively nightlife. It also has a lot of museums and historical spots if you’re into that kind of thing.

Hallstatt is smaller and more for enjoying the views. It’s super pretty, with its lake and cute buildings. It’s great for a chill day out on a boat or just wandering around taking in the old village feel.

If you’re looking for a bunch of activities and some city buzz, Innsbruck’s should be your pick. But if you’re in the mood for some quiet time in a beautiful place, you’ll probably love Hallstatt. It all depends on what you’re up for.

Innsbruck vs Hallstatt Conclusion

So, when it comes down to choosing between Innsbruck and Hallstatt, which one takes the crown? Honestly, they’re both winners in their own right, promising unforgettable experiences.

To decide, consider what you’re looking to get out of your vacation. Are you more interested in budget-friendly options, or are the activities and atmosphere more important?

If you’re after a city with plenty of activities, including skiing, shopping, and soaking in urban life against a backdrop of stunning alpine scenery, Innsbruck is your go-to.

On the other hand, if you’re interested in a step back into a slower pace of life with a heavy dose of natural beauty, Hallstatt won’t disappoint.