I am in love with Austria and Salzburg is my favourite city. I consider it is one of the most beautiful towns in Europe. With a privileged location, surrounded by mountains and lakes, Salzburg is a beautiful and cosy town full of charm.
What does this city have that makes it so special?
Salzburg is located on the banks of the Salzach River, at the boundary of the Alps, making its scene unique. It is also near the German Bavarian border -only 150km from Munich in an hour and a half by train- so really convenient for tourists to access and combine with other cities.
UNESCO Heritage old Town and highlights
Salzburg Old Town is pretty famous for its baroque architecture and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. It is truly one of the nicest old towns I have ever seen.
Strolling through the lovely narrow streets is a perfect plan in Salzburg. Streets as Getreidegasse, the Judengasse and the Linzer Gasse are a must to discover, with a great variety of nice shops, all surrounded by an impressive view of the lake and the mountains.
You should definitely visit the Hohensalzburg Castle or at least go up to see the amazing views of the city. You can get there by taking an elevator from the foot of the hill or you even can walk up there if you are a bit more adventurous.
The Mirabell Palace is also a beautiful palace in Baroque style to view. The main attractions of the palace are the geometrically arranged gardens and mythology themed statues which date from 1730.
Lakes, mountains, and energy drinks…
185 lakes adorn the landscape across the Salzkammergut region. You may not have time to see all of them so I would recommend you a few:
The Salzkammergut is a resort region near Salzburg where people from around the world enjoy the landscape and the spectacular lakes. One of the best is known as the Wolfgangsee.
There are many tours you can take to explore the region. Definitely, take Austrian Lakes and Mountains Salzburg Sightseeing Tour An alternative is to get a Hop-on and hop-off bus that will take you through the best sceneries without the need of a car.
The best tour operator in Salzburg is Panorama Tours and they offer a great variety of tours to explore the region on top of those mentioned above.
Red Bull has its headquarters in Austria in a lovely village Fuschl Am See, it is worth to pass by to see its fabulous architecture between the mountains.
Red Bull’s director, is also the owner of the world recognised Hangar 7, a quite unique multifunctional building with a collection of 25 historical airplanes, helicopters and Formula One racing cars. The Hangar also hosts art exhibitions and a Michelin Restaurant, 2 bars, an outdoor lounge and one café.
It is worth to visit the Hangar on your way to the Airport. Just bear in mind having dinner at their restaurant could cost you more than 300 EUR per person.
Music is everywhere in Salzburg.
Salzburg was the birthplace of 18th-century composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. You can have an audio tour at the reconstructed Mozart’s Residence (bombarded in the II World War). Conservative classical music fans can also visit the apartment of Mozart’s Birthplace in the old town.
As expected, it is easy to find a top-notch concert in the city. However, there is no need to pay to delight your ears. There are many street musicians playing classical music and you will find churches or small concert halls where choirs or small orchestras play every day.
If you are up for a real concert in idyllic locations, then enjoy a Schloss Mirabell Classical Music Concert or a Mozart Concert at the Salzburg Fortress. If you also want to have dinner with your concert, I believe a good choice would be the Mozart Dinner Concert
Besides Mozart, in the mid‑20th century, the city was the setting for the famous musical play and film The Sound of Music. This movie was really famous in the Americas. Curiously, for Germans and Austrians, it was not really popular. Many tours depart every day to visit the movie filming locations, making it another reason for tourists to visit Salzburg.
The tour that is definitely a must to see the film’s iconic sights, learn and see Salzburg’s top attractions and enjoy the stunning nature of the lake district is The Original Sound of Music Tour in Salzburg. A plus: it passes by the Red Bull headquarters I mentioned above. I strongly recommend it, you will have great fun while you admire the landscape!
The longest topic, due to the great Austrian cuisine Salzburg offers. Some typical dishes to try are:
If you leave Salzburg without having a Schnitzel, it is a serious thing, unless you are vegetarian. It’s a big, battered, flattened, breaded and fried slab of tender veal. It is usually served very simply with a lemon wedge and parsley potatoes.
Austrian pastry is considered one of the best of the world. Bakeries will tempt you all along the way in Salzburg and anything you try will be delicious.
Strudel is in the German speaking countries the most traditional dessert. A strudel is a filled layered pastry. Fillings can be of all types, but I would recommend you go for the conventional apple strudel if you choose sweet, or the cheese or spinach for the savoury lovers.
Music is everywhere, even in chocolates! Famous Mozartkugeln, or just simple Mozart Balls, are Salzburg’s signature sweets made up of layers of flavoured filling; pistachio marzipan in the middle, surrounded by nougat, and a round shell of quality chocolate on the outside. You will find many shops selling these balls, but the originals are from Konditorei Furst. You can find their little shop and café in Brodgasse square.
Pretzels are really traditional in Salzburg and in all the Bavarian area. I would definitely recommend you to try a cheese Pretzel from the University Square market. This market is well-known by the Salzburg locals since it is where you can get fresh cheese, pastries, vegetables and fruit.
In the dining section of this post, I suggest you some places where to try these specialities.
Eating and drinking
Whereas Salzburg was traditionally visited by mid-age adults, there is also a great new vibe that makes it a perfect weekend destination for a young crowd in their mid 30’s.
Restaurants in the old town often serve high-end meals but tend to be super-expensive. Try little side-alleys around Linzergasse or walk down Steingasse. These areas are still very central, but less touristy.
I have compiled some suggestions for you depending on what you are up to.
For a traditional and old-fashioned Atmosphere: Cafe Tomaselli
A Café for Funky Atmosphere: Afro Cafe
Brunch Hipster style: 220 grad
Lunch, dinner and drink time
Another really good option in the old town for traditional food is Herzl
Fuxn is also traditional but in a fancy and modern setting.
Fish lover? Istra does excellent fish, Croatian style. I have been there and I can ensure you it is a delight.
Somewhere with a nice view? Seat outside Weiherwirt for lovely food with a superb lake panorama.
Weiherwirt View (source: salzburg.info)
Fancy a hip local experience? Head to Panzerhalle for lunch. It is a cool hip and sophisticated market hall a bit away from the city centre, a restored warehouse that became a massive complex of art, food, and a spot for startups. Opened 9-6pm daily (be aware on Saturdays it closes at 2pm). Definitely a different ambience and far from the tourist spots.
In terms of drinks, there are many wine bars, for which I would suggest the intimate Koechelverzeichnis, simply the best! And they do have food as well.
However, beer gardens are predominant in Salzburg as you would expect from a Bavarian city. My favourite beer garden and probably my favourite place in Salzburg is Augustiner Bier. This is a unique place and a quirky experience, where you will find everyone drinking steins of their in-house brewed beer in an old convent. Join the crowd, sitting at shared tables and choose your food from a variety of vendors along the hallways. This place is a must for a real experience full of real locals. You can choose to stay in the convent or in their beautiful beer garden if weather permitted!
Another great beer garden and brewery is Stielglkeller.
If you want to visit a bigger brewery and book a tour, you should definitely head a bit out of Salzburg and visit the Heineken’s brand Stiegl.
These are only a few of the things you can do and visit in Salzburg. You will be gladly surprised if you escape for a weekend or even for a longer holiday, trust me and then let me know how it goes!
Where to Stay?
Salzburg isn’t that big and all the main attractions are within walking distance.
I suggest two accommodation options:
- NH Hotel is a really good 4-star choice. Perfectly located, plus a great breakfast and a gym for those feeling sporty even on holidays.
- Hotel Jedermann. What a lovely gem! I had the pleasure to stay in this family-owned 3-star hotel and, despite being a bit further from the city centre, this place is the best value for money you can get in Salzburg. Big rooms, lovely attention and service, and one of the best breakfast I have ever had (Prosecco included).
You will be gladly surprised if you escape for a weekend or even for a longer holiday, trust me and then let me know how it goes!
For more information about Salzburg click here