Salzburg is a city of two halves. Firstly, because it is divided by a river. Secondly, because there are only two reasons why anyone would visit. Either you’re there for all things Mozart, he was born here after all, or all things Sound of Music.
In a single day, I made the trip from Vienna to Salzburg by train, explored the city, ventured into the countryside and made my way back to Vienna. Coffee was required. Thank goodness that Austria has a great coffee culture.
After such a successful weekend with the Vienna Pass, I was curious about what Salzburg had to offer in way of tourist cards. As well as a hop on hop off bus, there is also a ‘Salzburg card’. This grants entry into a handful of attractions. On the day I arrived I had already decided I could only afford one of the options. I made the decision to take the hop on hop off bus. Lucky for me, there was a bus leaving just 10 minutes after I purchased my ticket from the bustling train station.
Hop-on, hop-off bus
I enjoyed the journey around the town, and I felt like a learned a thing or two. I loved the Sound of Music commentary and the standard commentary too, but I couldn’t help but feel the tour was light in significant places to visit, but long in length. If I had my day again I would have changed my mind and picked up a ‘Salzburg card’ instead.
The one redeeming feature of the bus trip was that it kept me out of the rain! The weather was, well, wet.
First up, I headed about as far from the city as I would venture. I made a beeline to Hellbrunn Palace to see the trick fountains and the gorgeous manicured gardens.
Once back on the bus I took in all the beautiful sights on the outskirts of the city – the horse fountain, built to bathe horses entering the town, the Sigmund gate, a tunnel below the imposing fortress on the hill, and the Leopoldskron palace, where many of the lakeside scenes in The Sound of Music were filmed.
After completing the circuit on the bus, I went for a walk in the rain and explored the town! On both sides of the river, there are plenty of narrow lanes, charming alleys and market squares to wander through.
A hint of Munich
During my visit, Salzburg was hosting an Oktoberfest celebration to rival the one in Munich. It makes sense since Munich is closer to Salzburg than Vienna! So many of the squares were full of stalls selling beer, pretzels, locally made honey and gingerbread and all kinds of other things. I popped into the biggest beer garden tent to listen to some music and have a spot of lunch.
Back outside the tent and without any trace of a stein, I made my way around the local market and enjoyed the sights, sounds and smells.
The rest of the city
After wandering the streets I found myself in the monastery graveyard. A slightly eerie but really quite beautiful sight and well worth a visit for those checking out the city.
From the graveyard, there is a steep but do-able walk up the hill to the imposing Hohensalzburg fortress. In order to work off my lunch, I chose to walk but you can access the fortress by Funicular too. Access inside the fort is only given to those with tickets. You can combine a funicular ticket with an entry ticket too. While I didn’t pay to enter, and the best views are within the gates, even from the outside it was pretty impressive.
I carefully made my way back down the hill in order to not injure myself and took some time to wander the high street – the getreidgasse. The central shopping streets are beautiful, with small shop windows and lovely wee arcades between the streets. As well as normal high street brands, there are lots of small independent businesses. No matter who you are though if you have a shop in getreidgasse you have an ornate and beautiful sign above your door.
Finally, one the rain had all but stopped, I wandered quietly around Mozart Square. Then, on my way back to the railway station I couldn’t resist a walk through the beautiful Mirabell gardens. What a lovely way to end the day!
Worth a trip?
Absolutly! Salzburg is surrounded by beautiful mountains, has a long and interesting history, and is full of great places to eat. Spend at least a day if not a weekend here!