SU SIGHTS AND HIKING SALZBURG
Back when Rome was still a village, the white gold from the salt mines made Hallstatt a world-famous settlement; the 2500-year- old Salzbergwerk is the oldest salt mine in the world. Take the guided tour (lhr. in English and German), and zip down a wooden mining slide on a burlap sack to an eerie lake deep inside the mountain, (a 200 2400. Open daily May-Sept. 9:30am- 4:30pm; Oct. 9:30am-3pm. ‚14.50; students ‚8.70.) In the 19th century, Hallstatt was also the site of an immense and well-preserved Iron Age archaeological find. The charnel house next to St. Michael’s Chapel is a bizarre repository filled with the remains of over 610 villagers dating from the 16th century on; the latest were added in 1995. The dead were previously buried in the mountains, but villagers soon ran out of space and transferred older bones to the charnel house to make room for more corpses. From the ferry dock, follow the signs marked Katholische Kirche. (Open daily June-Sept. 10arn-6pm; May and Oct. 10am-4pm. ‚ 1.)
Hallstatt offers some of the most spectacular day hikes in the Salzkammergut. The tourist office offers an excellent Dachstein hiking guide in English (‚6), which details 38 hikes in the area, as well as bike trail maps (‚7). The Salzbergwerk hike is a simple lhr. gravel hike leading to the salt-mine tour; walk to the Salzbergbahn and take the road to the right upward, turning at the black and yellow Salzwelten sign. The Waldbachstrub Waterfall hike is a light l3ihr. walk along a tumbling stream and up to a spellbinding waterfall. From the bus station, follow the brown Malerweg signs near the supermarket and continue to follow them until the Waldbach- strub sign appears (about 40min.). The waterfall is in the Echental, a valley carved out millennia ago by glaciers and now blazed with trails leading deep into the val ley. The Gangsteig, a slippery, primitive stairway, carved into the side of a cliff, requires sturdy hiking shoes and a strong will to climb.
DAYTRIPS FROM HALLSTATT: DACHSTEIN ICE CAVES
Above Obertraun, opposite the lake from Hallstatt, the famed Riesenhohle (Giant Ice Cave) is part of the largest system of ice caves in the world. Slide by its frozen waterfalls and pal aces on a sheet of green ice. The Riesenhohle and the Mammuthohie (Mammoth Cave) are up on the mountain, while the Koppenbrullerhohle, a giant spring, is in the valley. Mandatory tours are offered in English and German; you’ll be assigned to a group at the Schonbergalm station. The cave temperatures are near freezing, so wear good footwear and something warm. ( (06131) 84 00. Open May to mid-Oct. daily 9am-5pm. Admission to each cave ‚8, children ‚4.80.)
From Hallstatt, walk to the Lahn station by heading down Seestr. with the lake to your left, and catch the bus to Obertraun (lOmin. every hr. 9am-5pm, ‚1.40). Stop at Dachstein, then ride the cable car up to Schonbergalm to reach the ice and mammoth caves. (Every 15min. 8:40am-5:30pm, round-trip ‚13.) The Koppen- briiller cave is a 15min. walk from the Dachstein bus stop in Obertraun.