Salzburg is located in the center of Austria, close to Germany. It is the fourth biggest city in Austria with around 150 000 habitants. I visited Salzburg in September 2019 on trip my first real visit to Austria. I had only travelled through Austria with train once before, and that doesn’t count. But ever since (2009) I have wanted to visit Austria and take a closer look at the mountains.
For my September-trip I had a whole week to spend with whatever I wanted, and it was so hard to decide where to go. The planning went on forever and I finally landed on visiting Salzburg, Zell am See and Bratislava in Slovakia. I was flying in and out from Vienna, so Bratislava was almost on the way, and so a must stop as well.
When I finally got to Salzburg I was very tired after both the travel and a hectic couple of weeks, so my first day I relaxed and only strolled around for a bit. I also took a nice powernap in the warm sun just by the river. The sun was a bit warmer than back home in Sweden, so it was really nice. Turns out that nap was just what I needed, after that I was ready to explore!
There are actually tons of things to do in Salzburg. I was there for three days and got to see plenty, but not at all everything. I bought a Salzburg card valid for 48 hours for my visit. With it I got access to local transportations and entrance to many of the museums and sights in the city.
One of the museums I visited was The Sound of Music World. It is a small museum but well worth a visit if you like the movie. It has stories and memories from the filming of the movie. There’s also a part about the true Trapp family history and how they escaped from Austria to the United States in 1938.
The old town
Since 1996 the old town of Salzburg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you can find cute narrow alleys and lively squares with restaurants and small shops. Here are also plenty of churches and some museums. The old town is located both south and north of the river Salzach. The south part has most of the sights, like the Hohensalzburg and museums. I really liked the north part though that had a little more relaxed atmosphere and some really inviting restaurants. I must recommend you to reserve a table though, it was hard to get a table even for just one person in the evenings when I was there.
Salzburg is the city where the famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in 1756. In the city there are two museums about him, one in the house where he was born and one where the lived (the pink building on the photo below). I only visited the latter one and thought it was alright. And Mozart is spotted in one or another way in many places in the city. There’s a statue of him on Mozartplatz and of course there are Mozartkugeln in every other store.
I think the skyline of Salzburg is beautiful and quite impressive. The colours of the houses are really pretty and there are several churches sticking up above the roof tops. The Salzburg Cathedral with the green dome is a really big building in the middle of old town. It is one of the buildings that really characterize the city.
The cathedral is part of the DomQuartier that is a historical building complex right in the heart of old town. It is a very big museum with all kinds of exhibitions. You walk through the different houses and see art exhibitions, rooms in the former residence of the prince-archbishop, the cathedral and much much more. There are also balconies with views over the old town with the Salzburger bell tower.
In the middle of the city stands Schloss Mirabell. It is one of the places that became famous after some scenes in The Sound of Music was filmed here. The garden of the castle is colourful and pretty and really nice to visit. It has many beautiful flowers and some fountains. From here you also have a very nice view of Hohensalzburg that sits majestically on top of a hill protecting the city. The same view that can be seen in The Sound of Music.
The palace was built in 1606 by Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich Raitenau. Nowadays the palace houses the city council after being bought by the city of Salzburg in 1866. The Marble Hall is the crown jewel of the palace and is used as a concert hall. It is also a popular place for weddings. Both the public areas inside the palace and the garden of the castle are free to visit. And I must say it is a must to see when you’re here. I recommend seeing The Sound of Music before you go too!
And if you like views, Hohensalzburg is a must when you’re in Salzburg. From here you have a really amazing view over the city and the surrounding landscape. It is located on the hill Festungsberg at an altitude of 506 m. The construction of the fortress started in 1077 with a purpose of protecting the city. For centuries every new archbishop made it bigger and also put up walls and towers. It was only in the 17th century it reached the size it is today. It is one of the biggest medieval castles in Europe and in my opinion a really nice castle to visit and really well maintained.
Hohensalzburg is more than just the view though. It’s also nice to stroll around in the castle courtyard and take a tour in the castle. There are four museums in the castle, and the one about the history of the castle was interesting to visit. I liked that the tour was self guided and you got to walk around in your own pace looking at the torture chamber and other parts of the castle.
There are a few other spots to visit too if you like good views. On the north side of river there’s a hill with a monastery called Kapuzinerkloster. From here you have a very pretty view over the cathedral of the city and the rest of the old town. This was my favorite photography spot in the city.
View from Mönchsberg
In the western part of the old town there’s another good view-point from the hill Mönchsberg. Here’s also the Museum of Modern Art located. To get to the hill you can take a lift that is free with the Salzburg card. You can also visit the museum with the card.
From this place there’s a nature walk that leads all the way to Hohensalzburg castle. Along the way you pass some parts of the old wall and towers. Every once in a while you get a glimpse of the old town and a closer look at the churches. There’s also a restaurant with maybe the best view in town?
The last thing I did before leaving town was making my way to Untersberg that is located just a short bus ride south of town. It is very close to the German border and at the northern edge of Berchtesgarden alps. It is a popular day trip from Salzburg and also very easy to do. The bus from Salzburg stops just next to the mountain. All you have to do is take the Untersberg cable car to get to the top. After a short ride you reach the Geiereck mountain station 1776 m above sea level. From here you have a spectacular view of Salzburg and the Salzburg valley.
You can choose to stay here by the mountain station and just enjoy the view, or you can do some hiking. I walked around on the trails up here for a bit and enjoyed the view a lot. I really loved the feeling up here and could have stayed here all day!
The Salzburger Hochtron is the highest peak on the nearest mountain below. It is at an altitude of 1853 m above sea level and has a big cross on top of it. The hike is a bit uphill, but really awarding. The view just gets better and better. You are just on the border between Austria and Germany and has a spectacular view over Berchtesgarden and the second highest mountain of Germany. (How many times can you mention view in a post? :) )
The hills are alive, with the sound of music…