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Central Europe is home some of the most stunning natural landscapes anywhere on Earth, and you're sure to encounter many of the best examples of this during a tour of Austria. Few countries can compete with the pristine lakes, towering mountains and rolling green hills that pepper the Austrian countryside, and though virtually no destination will disappoint, the small town of Hallstatt stands above the rest.
Although it's home to fewer than 800 residents, Hallstatt is undoubtedly one of the gems of Austria. Situated on the banks of Lake Hallstatt, the town is nestled into the surrounding mountainside, which helps create one of the most stunning views in the region. Hallstatt is also characterized by a quaint atmosphere that is evident around every corner, with centuries old streets and small, pastel-colored houses dotting the landscape.
There are many different ways to experience the beautiful scenery in Hallstatt, which is often referred to as the "pearl of Austria," but one of the best options is by foot. There are many hiking trails through the mountains behind the town, and aside from getting an up-close look at the picturesque natural setting, hiking offers up views of the lake below. Speaking of the lake, you can also hire boats and kayaks to take in the sights from the water.
Along with the appeal of Hallstatt's natural beauty, visitors are often drawn to the small town because of its compelling history. There are many sites throughout the town the speak to its storied past, including the unusual Beinhaus - or bone house. As its name suggests, this unique 12th century church has become a tourist draw due in large part to the fact that it contains upwards of 1,200 skulls, more than half of which have been decorated.
Look down in wonder at Buckingham Palace, the Palace of Westminster and St Paul’s Cathedral from your glass-walled pod on the London Eye, then gaze out over the Louvre and the Champs-Elysees from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
The scent of rich pine forests lingers in the breeze as the 13th-century ruins of Turaida Castle are revealed before your eyes in the lush Gauja River valley in a medieval sanctuary untouched by the march of time.
The aroma of dark roasted Viennese coffee hangs thick in the air as you tread the cobblestone laneways and bask in the elegant architecture, atmospheric cafes and refined restaurants in one of the most beautiful cities in Eastern Europe.
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