Widely recognized as the setting for The Sound of Music and the birth of Mozart, Salzburg is a gorgeous Austrian city that offers plenty more than a few overpriced tours of Mozart’s first appartment and Fraulein Maria’s stomping grounds. Found at the northern boundary of the Alps, the city’s tall mountains, picturesque river and busy Old Town are ideal for a taste of Austria in all its splendour. Okay, I’ll admit…exploring the hilltop where The Von Trap’s escaped Austria at the end of the movie, and seeing the “I am Sixteen Going on Seventeen” gazebo was also thrilling.
We never planned (I use ‘planned’ loosely considering nothing on this trip was planned) on heading to Salzburg, until a brochure of the mountains jumped out at us in Vienna, and we couldn’t resist a short visit. I then insisted that our three hour train ride be complete with a screening of the Sound of Music, which consequently made us hum (and outright sing) Do, Re, Mi and The Hills are Alive the entire duration of our stay.
One great thing about Salzburg is its extensive bike paths; following the river, intersecting farm houses and small towns, as well as guiding visitors to its main attractions. Each of those guided tours that cost 30 euros or more by bus can so easily be duplicated by way of bike, in a much more interesting way. We camped just 5km outside the city, so a 3-day bike rental was a necessity and definitely made our stay in Salzburg that much more fun.
We happened to arrive at the time of St-Rupert’s Day, a celebration which lasts a week and from what we could imagine, was similar to a mini Oktoberfest (we soon found out that it was a very TINY version). Nevertheless, beer tents, rides, crowds and performances kept us entertained for some time.
Roaming the streets of Old Town, climbing to Hohensalzburg Fortress, getting lost in the city’s bike paths and reaching the top of a nearby mountain are all musts when visiting Salzburg, and if you ever find yourself in Vienna, you’re just a three hour train ride away from this gem of a city. Because Mozart was born and wrote most of his symphonies in Salzburg, the city shuts down for four weeks in the summer for one of the largest classical concert festivals in the world. This, and so much more, brings 8 to 10 million tourists to the city each year.
If you’ve visited Salzburg before, I’d love to hear of your experiences in the comments. Auf Wiedersehen!