We had been looking forward to the Hallstat Salt Mine tour since the time we read about its fascinating history — a salt mine not by the sea-shores, but deep inside the ranges of the Alps! How was that possible, we asked ourselves, for, Austria is a land-locked country. We had to find out ……
And so, after a lovely (and long) walk to the Hallstat Square post the Corpus Christi celebrations (Read: Sight-seeing in Hallstat), we decided to take a one-way panorama funicular to the landing area of the salt mine. Deepa decided to spend time walking in the hills while we, daughter and I, were bent on going to the belly of the hills and see its famous, age old salt mines.
What to expect at the Salt Mines
This was a tour that amazed us right from the very beginning. The mines, we were told, are as old as 7000 years. This, because, a pick, made of the horn of a stag, dated the Neolithic times in the 5000 BC, had been discovered. There are more proofs of mining in the Bronze age from 1500 BC, and then of course, ‘The Man in Salt’ from the 1000 BC tells a fine tale of how miners found and mined salt here….
The tour starts with everyone changing over to protective clothing. Everyone then walks in, in a straight line, passing through well lighted and very interesting walkways, sometimes over rail tracks. The first stop is a cave where they show the first of many amazing multi-media presentations and 4K videos, informing about how the mine was formed, history of Hallstatt and the Salt Mines. As you walk, you come across multiple display areas showcasing tools and other artefacts – most famous of which is the oldest wooden staircase in Europe discovered in 2002.
Frankly, I have never been to a tour where the videos and stories have been as spectacular and brilliant as they are in Salz Welten. The amazing 4K videos in actual locations, shows the way of life of the early miners, how the whole family (named Uldo and his family) worked, lived and died here. They are so informative and brilliant that I wished every child could see them too.
The fun part of the tour are the two slides, the 2nd one being 64m long where you get a photo snapped as well. It is fun certainly a lot of fun and, admit, a little scary too especially if you have a DSLR in one hand and an 8-yr old in the other! The tour ends with a fun train ride up – one which the Miners used to send rocks up and use for their own commute. Keep your hands close as the fast train rides through narrow caves – with the roof and sides almost hitting you at places. It’s so much fun.
At the end of the tour, they hand you a small pack of salt mined here. I would recommend this tour to everyone visiting Hallstatt – especially with kids. It is informative and fun and a great way to trek and spend half a day.
Things to know about the Hallstat Salt Mine tour:
- The Salt Mine is open between Apr till Nov every year, starting 9:30am. Closing time changes. It is open for children 4 yrs and above
- Tickets – for adults, it is Eur 22 and Eur 9/16 for Funicular (one way / return). Could never understand the logic but a special offer for Salt Mine + Funicular (return) is Eur 30 ! Family ticket works out to be even cheaper. https://www.salzwelten.at/en/hallstatt/tariffs/
- It’s important to know the timings of the mine as each group goes in for an hour & a half inside. The walk to the tour reception is almost as interesting as the tour. There are audio guides and multiple sights including themed trail of burial sites & an exhibition. It’s a 7000-year-old history and is fascinating. Miners who used to work here were buried along the main walkway and new graves are being discovered even today. Well preserved, fully clothed corpses have been a source of information and history of this place unlike others.
- We reached the Visitor Centre (and Shop) after reading and looking and some lovely displays and notice boards on the 1.5 km or so walk from the funicular station.
- Do wear warm clothes as it is freezing cold inside – some 400m underground.
P.S: For a complete Austria itinerary and tour details, read — A Perfect Summer Holiday in Austria