Even if you don’t know the words to the Sound of Music or Falco’s epic 80s classic hit ‘Rock Me Amadeus’, you need to explore Salzburg for at least a long weekend at least once in your life. Most people roll up to this city for a day or so, hit up the tourist highlights and then disappear into another European country.
The green waters of the Rhine shimmer through the centre of Salzburg, there is musical history practically drifting through the city walls and plenty of refreshing steins of beer to quench your thirst with.
Having fallen in love with Vienna a few years ago, we decided to stay for nearly a week in Salzburg, fitting in a relaxing few days in their beautiful Lake District as well, and are already thinking of revisiting we had such a lovely break.
It was beautiful, intriguing and very languid. Oh, and very hot too during that August summer heatwave – so make sure you stay in hotels with air conditioning (or a handy lake) and factor in several beverage breaks each day.
We honestly visited without any expectations and bar booking the hotels and transfers, we did very little pre-planning aside from reading the tourism board’s ‘Salzburg Card’ highlights the morning that we first started exploring. In our tourist opinion, the best things in Salzburg are the below:
(The tenuously linked 80s hits that make up the titles are all for my own amusement. Bonus points if you can name more than half of the below musicians.)
Explore the glorious cathedrals, castles and churches tucked away in lanes and along majestic squares. We just walked where out noses took us.
2. When Doves Cry
Salzburg’s lovely Schloss Mirabell is an excellent example of Baroque landscape design laid out in 1690 with numerous terraces, marble statues, and fountains. It is perfect for a post-lunch stroll, especially in the lovely afternoon heat.
3. Rock Me Amadeus
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a prolific and influential composer of the classical era. Born in Salzburg, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood, and his home city celebrates their proudest progeny with aplomb. Museums, concerts, statues, beer – you name it, they have it. And it’s thoroughly fascinating (did you know his sister Maria Anna – known as “Nannerl” – was almost as good if not better, but being a woman she wasn’t able to have the same kind of career or that Mozart used to carry his own piano down the road to gigs?)
4. These Boots are made for walking – and shopping
From Universitätsplatz, a number of wonderful passages known as Durchhäuser weave northward to Getreidegasse, a busy pedestrian area lined with old merchant homes dating from the 15th to 18th centuries. This shopping and restaurant district is fabulous to wander through – full of old world charm and modern boutiques.
The portions are generous to say the least.
5. Frankie Says…Relax
We loved the relaxed vibes of Salzburg – making it a perfect city break. Breaking away from the tourist crowds, we spent an entire afternoon relaxing on the riverside, fetching beer and snacks from a local place, languidly enjoying the sunshine, watching the world stroll past.
5. Get high…up in the clouds.
(That’ll never get old.) Hop on the bus out of Salzburg and half an hour later you’ll be boarding a cable car which will take you a breathtaking 1,320 m up the Untersberg Mountain – the northernmost massif of the Berchtesgaden Alps, a prominent spur straddling the border between Berchtesgaden, Germany and Salzburg. The ride in one of two roomy gondolas takes about ten minutes. When you step out at the top, an incredible view of Salzburg City, Berchtesgadener Land (in Germany) and the Rosittental deep below reveals itself before your eyes.
6. The Sweetest Taboo
Salzburg is definitely Vienna’s rambunctious little brother – and contains a few curios like the “ugly 18th-century dwarf statues living in a perfectly landscaped Austrian garden”. The Zwerglgarten, or “Dwarf Garden,” in Salzburg, Austria was created in 1715 by Prince Archbishop Franz Anton Harrach and immortalised real dwarf people who lived in the court.
7. When the Levee Breaks
Hellbrunn Palace is an early Baroque villa of palatial size, near Morzg, a southern district of the city of Salzburg, Austria. It was built in 1613–19 by Markus Sittikus von Hohenems, Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg, and named for the “clear spring” that supplied it. It is especially awesome on a hot summer’s day…
8. Beat it
Explore the surrounding countryside; we took this to more of an extreme and spent a few days on the lakes (a more fulsome post to follow) but it’s definitely possible to go on some lovely day trips from Salzburg, where..
9. The hills are alive with the sound of music
I mean, when in Sound of Music territory, right? It’s practically an obligation to go and experience the clean clean air of the Austrian Alps and lakes – those very same ones that spawn a cult favourite musical featuring the beautiful soprano of Julie Andrews.
Have you been to Salzburg yet?