When most people think of Salzburg they think either the birthplace of Mozart or The Sound of Music. The scene where Fraulein Maria and the von Trapp children are dancing around the Pegasus fountain in the Mirabell Gardens singing Do-Re-Mi and using the steps as a musical scale is the most common scene that comes to mind.
While these are both fantastic reasons to visit Salzburg and, to be honest why I originally wanted to visit, when you arrive you will discover so much more.
This historic city on the banks of the Salzach River looks as if its been lifted straight off the pages of a storybook with its hill-top medieval fortress, picturesque Altstadt (old town), graceful domes and spires shooting into the sky and breathtaking Alpine surroundings.
Allied bombing during World War II destroyed 46% of the city’s buildings, mostly around the train station. Although the city’s bridges and the dome of Salzburg Cathedral were destroyed, much of its famous Baroque architecture remained unscathed. This makes Salzburg one of the most well-preserved cities in Europe and it is because of this that the city was give UNESCO World Heritage status in 1997 and rightly so.
There are plenty of things to do in Salzburg, from culture to kitsch you’ll find something to interest everyone. It’s an enchanting city that should be included on every Central European itinerary.
These geometrically arranged and beautifully manicured gardens are simply stunning. They form part of the Mirabell Palace which these days is home to the offices of the Mayor and municipal council.
Some of the best features of the garden include the hedge running along one side of the garden which was created between 1704 and 1718 which makes it one of the oldest in the world; the constantly in bloom flower beds arranged in patterns of colours; the Pegasus fountain made famous by The Sounds of Music; and the four groups of statues around the fountain that represent the four elements, earth, air, wind and fire.
But the best part of visiting Mirabell Garden is the view looking up to Hohensalzburg Fortress and over the domes and spires of the city.
Address: Mirabellplatz, Salzburg
Hours: 06:00-dusk daily
Getreidegasse 9, in Salzburg’s Altstadt, was the home of the Mozart family for 26 years and it was here that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on January 27, 1756.
Today this address is home to the Mozart Museum that attracts hundreds of thousands of music lovers from around the world each year.
The exhibition includes historic instruments like his childhood violin, clavichord and harpsichord, documents and letters from the family, memorabilia and most of the portraits painted during his lifetime.
Address: Getreidegasse 9, Salzburg
Cost: Adult €11.00, Concession €9.00, 15-18 Years €4.00, Under 14 Years €3.50, Under 6 Years Free
Hours: July to August 08:30-19:00 | September to June 09:00-17:30
More Information: http://www.mozarteum.at/
The north-western part of Salzburg’s Altstadt is where you will find the city’s best shopping streets and arcades with the most famous of all being the Getreidegasse.
Even if you don’t want to do any actual shopping, Getreidegasse and the surrounding streets are a great place to take a stroll.
Its biggest charms include the high narrow houses tightly nestled together, the wrought iron guild signs with one for each store (including McDonalds) and the romantic passageways and courtyards leading off the main thoroughfares.
Address: Runs east to west in the Alstadt just over the river.
Cost: Free (unless you’re shopping of course.)
Hours: Stores are generally open 10:00-18:00 Monday to Saturday with later closing times on Friday evenings. Selected stores open on Sunday.
Admire the Baroque Architecture
During the 17th and 18th centuries, Prince Archbishops, inspired by the things they had seen in Rome, commissioned Baroque churches, facades, parks and fountains to be built all over Salzburg.
The crowning jewel and best example of Baroque architecture in the city is the Salzburg Cathedral. It sits in the centre of the three main squares of the Alstadt with its incredible façade best viewed from Domplatz. As well as seeing it from all angles outside, head inside for a view up into the dome.
Other great examples of Baroque architecture you can find around Salzburg include The Church of the Holy Trinity, Erzabtei St. Peter Friedhof and the cemetery, the New Residence and Mirabell Palace. Or head to squares like Residenzplatz, Mozartplatz, Domplatz and Kapitelplatz to be surrounded by it.
Address: Salzburg Cathedral, Domplatz, Salzburg
Cost: It is free to enter Salzburg Cathedral
Hours: The cathedral is open 08:00-18:00 Monday to Saturday | 13:00-18:00 Sunday
Hohensalzburg Fortress is the largest, fully preserved fortress in Central Europe. Originally built in 1077, the fortress has been expanded multiple times over the years to what you see today.
To access the fortress you can take a very short funicular ride to the top or walk the steep pathway in around 15 minutes.
Along with the magnificent views from the ramparts over Salzburg, its rooftops and the surrounding mountains, there’s lots to see and do and you could easily spend half a day up there.
Highlights include the Golden Hall where you can, at certain times of the year, take in a Mozart concert and where lavish banquets were once held; check out the Marionette Museum and watch the puppet show; and visit the Fortress Museum to see the 1612 model of Salzburg, gruesome torture devices and medieval instruments and armour.
Address: Monchsberg 34, Salzburg
Cost: Adult €15.50, Child 6-14 Years €8.80, Under 6 Free (These prices include a return journey on the funicular. Reduced prices available if you choose to walk up or when booking online in advance.)
Hours: October to April 09:30-17:00 | May to September 09:00-19:00
More Information: http://www.salzburg-burgen.at
The Sound of Music
A visit to Salzburg would’t be complete without visiting some of the scenes from the famous movie, The Sound of Music. I’ve mentioned above the Mirabell Gardens but a bunch more of the movies filming locations can be seen in and around the city.
Other than the sites within the city centre, most are difficult to get to without your own transport. That’s why I suggest taking a tour.
The Original Sound of Music Tour (use the link to pre-book your tour to avoid missing out, its a popular tour!) is a half day tour that leaves from the centre of town on a coach and takes you outside of the city to visit some of the places made famous by the movie.
As you travel on the coach the soundtrack from the movie is played, so be prepared for the very catchy tunes to be stuck in your head for days afterwards.
Stops along the way include:
- Leopoldskron Palace – where the boating scene on the lake was filmed. Here you also get a glimpse of the back of the von Trapp house.
- Hellbrunn Palace – where you will find a recreation of the gazebo used in the song “16 Going on 17”.
- The Lake District – just outside of Salzburg are some stunning lakes and mountain scenery that was used in lots of scenes during the film.
- The town of Mondsee – this is the location of the church where Maria and the Baron were married in the movie. It’s a really pretty little town and the church is worth a visit even if you’re not interest in the movie.
Even if you’re not a fan of the movie, I guarantee that you will still love this tour because of the beautiful places it visits. But really who doesn’t love The Sound of Music, right!
Where to Stay in Salzburg
Here are three accommodation options to suit all budgets that I recommend you check out. All are centrally located, highly rated and come with excellent facilities.
Pension am Eschenbach
This family-run pension is located in the centre of Salzburg, close to the Old Town. Rooms are basic but have private bathrooms, some with a seating area and city or mountain views.
Check availability, prices and book
Gastehaus im Priesterseminar Salzburg
This guesthouse, set in a Baroque building in the centre of Salzburg is an easy walk to everything. Rooms are simply furnished, have en-suite bathrooms, and free WiFi is available in the entire building.
Check availability, prices and book
Hotel Goldener Hirsch
Situated in the famous Getreidegasse in the Old Town and housed in a historic 15th century building. Rooms are furnished in a classic Austrian style and equipped with antiques and handmade furniture.
Check availability, prices and book
Or why not book an Airbnb stay. Use this link to get up to $45AUD off.
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Over to you!
What’s top of your list of things to do in Salzburg? Or have you been already, what did you love about it?
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