Salzwelten is a salt mine in Hallstatt, Austria. It is one of the oldest salt mines in the world (over 7,000 years), with evidence of mining activities dating back to the Bronze Age. The mine is situated on a mountain above Hallstatt and is an UNESCO World Heritage site. We also got to ride another funicular to the top!
We took a guided tour of the mine, which included a descent into the tunnels and chambers where the salt is extracted. The mine is active. The tour covers the history of the mine and the techniques used in salt mining throughout the centuries.
At the Salzwelten Entrance
When you purchase a ticket, you’re given a time for entering. You have a 15 minute window to get on the funicular. It’s similar to the ticketing at Neuschwanstein Castle.
There is a waiting area with charging stations and places to sit. There are restrooms available, but you have to pay to use them. If you can wait, there are restrooms available at the top of the mountain. There are also some at the end of the mine tour as you exit through the gift shop.
Riding the Funicular
Our tour includes a 360 meter ride up the mine on the Salzbergbahn funicular. The funicular is a cable car that provides access to the salt mine. It was built in the 1950s when the salt mine was reopened as a tourist attraction, and it is the primary means of transportation up the mountain.
After we scanned our tickets, we entered to the waiting area. The doors to the funicular opened and we, along with others in our grouping, loaded onto the funicular. Then the doors closed and off we went! This ride was around three minutes and a distance of around 400 meters. It is included in the admission fee for the salt mine tour, but you can purchase a ticket for only the funicular if you wanted to go to the top (and not take the tour).
What I found most interesting is that they have this automated. There are no attendants, but there is a person behind a closed booth operating the funicular. The funicular to the salt mine is located right in the village Hallstatt. We got off the bus and walked right over to the mine.
We also got to ride the funicular when we were in Salzburg, but that one was only 90 seconds long!
Views of Hallstatt and Hallstätter See
The views of Hallstatt, Hallstätter See and the Dachstein Mountains are stunning from the top of the mountain. You have to pay to ride the funicular, but there are options to walk up the hill.
Welterbeblick Viewing Platform
Once you get to the top of the mountain, a panoramic bridge will lead you to the Rudolf’s Tower and a 12-meters-long lookout platform, the Hallstatt Skywalk, extending out over Hallstätter See.
The Welterbeblick viewing platform is located near the entrance to the salt mine. It’s a short walk from the entrance and designed to blend in with the natural surroundings. The platform is made of wood and steel and is shaped like a giant salt crystal. It stands at a height of over 350 meters above sea level and offers a 360-degree panoramic views of Hallstatt, Hallstätter See and the Dachstein Mountains.
There is also a restaurant and a souvenir shop for you to visit. They have a variety of locally made products, including salt, jewelry, and handcrafted items.
Salzwelten dates back to the Bronze Age, around 4000 years ago, when salt mining began in the region. The salt from the mines was highly prized and was used for trading and preserving food.
In the 16th century, the mines were nationalized by the Habsburgs in Vienna, and salt production became a monopoly. The mines continued to operate until the 20th century, when they were closed due to falling demand and the discovery of cheaper sources of salt.
The Wooden Staircase
At 400 meters below ground, you will also be able to see the oldest wooden staircase in Europe! A wooden staircase was discovered inside the mine in 2002. It was determined that it was constructed roughly 1344 BCE – which means that it is the oldest staircase in Europe.
An animation projected onto the prehistoric exhibit brings the working life of Bronze Age salt miners vividly to life. This is part of the tour – closer to the end – and they also have a display case with some found artifacts.
The Types of Salts
- Table Salt: This is the most common type of salt that is used for cooking and seasoning food. It is made by evaporating saltwater and removing impurities, leaving behind pure sodium chloride crystals.
- Bath Salt: This type of salt is added to bathwater to promote relaxation and soothe sore muscles. It is made by adding essential oils and other natural ingredients to pure sodium chloride crystals.
- Himalayan Salt: This is a pink-colored salt that is believed to have health benefits due to its high mineral content. It is mined from the foothills of the Himalayas and is often used for cooking and as a decorative element.
- Rock Salt: This is a coarse, unrefined salt that is used for de-icing roads and sidewalks during the winter months. It is mined from underground salt deposits and is less expensive than other types of salt.
- Sea Salt: This type of salt is made by evaporating seawater and is known for its distinctive flavor and texture. It is often used as a finishing salt on top of dishes to add a burst of flavor.
In the 1950s, the mines were reopened as a tourist attraction, and visitors could take guided tours of the mines to learn about the history and techniques of salt mining. Today, Salzwelten Hallstatt is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Austria, and it is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On the tour you will learn about the history and production of salt. Salt is available for purchase in the gift shops.
The guided tour in the salt mine begins and you’ll be met with 2 long miners’ slides, a subterranean salt lake and, finally, a ride on the mine train.
Zack and I were given these sweet outfits to wear. It’s required and is designed to help your clothes remain clean. It also helps you slide down the two slides.
We walked to the entrance of the mine, then walked right through to begin the tour. They had several videos to watch during the tour at various points while we walked through the mine.
There is a set of two wooden slides that you can ride down to reach a lower level of the mine. It is part of the tour and they capture your speeds and take photos of you. You can purchase the photos at the end of the tour.
The first slide is a shorter, slower slide and the second slide is longer, faster, and steeper, and more thrilling!
Exiting the Tour
We hopped on this little mine train to exit the mine. We had to sit horse-style because the height of the tunnel is pretty low, and the width is really tight, too.
- Children are allowed to visit the salt mines from the age of 4 years
- Audio guides are available at the ticket window for a small fee or download the Salzwelten App for free
- Address: Salzbergstraße 21 4830 Hallstatt
- Duration of the mine tour: around 90 minutes
- Salzwelten Hallstatt website