Beyond Mozart and The Sound of Music
Travel is individual, for each experience varies according to a person’s interests, often going along with a theme that sets the tone for their journey. Brasov is the place to go for an epic Halloween celebration, and Dubrovnik is for the Game of Thrones fanatics. In Salzburg, Austria, your choices include deep diving into the birthplace of Mozart, frolicking around filming locations of the Sound of Music, or immersing yourself in Alpine serenity. If you are not a fan of any of the above, Salzburg still has a lot to offer to any type of traveler.
Nestled among three peaks, Salzburg, Austria sits on the border with Germany. Aside from Mozart, who takes the spotlight, the city is known for salt mining, hence the name “Salt Castle.” But it also goes by an endearing moniker, “The Stage of the World,” for its rich artistic and cultural heritage. Many composers and writers passed through Salzburg, and to this day, music, classical and modern, floods the streets via speakers or live performances. So beware: Salzburg may open your creative third eye. Now that you’ve been warned let us highlight the best things to do in Salzburg.
Travel Guide in Salzburg Beyond Music
Stroll Along the Old Town and Getreidegasse
Wandering around the Old Town, with a skip in your step from excitement, music playing in the background, pastel baroque buildings lining the path, and an alpine backdrop in the distance…If you ever wanted to feel like the main character in a musical, you’ll get your fix in Salzburg, Austria. Once you notice ostentatious shop signs, you’ve arrived at Getreidegasse. The pedestrian street is home to numerous boutiques, confectioneries, and restaurants. The entryway to each is adorned with a decorative shop sign. Every venue, old or new, has to follow in unison. We’ve never seen such a fancy McDonald’s sign.
Climb up to Hohensalzurg Fortress
The fortress, perched on the tall Felsenberg mountain, is unmissable in every sense, seen from almost anywhere in the city. You can take a short walk up or ride the funicular to the fortress that triples as a museum and a concert hall and offers spectacular panoramic views of the city and the milky turquoise river that runs through it. Views stretch all the way over to Germany.
Frolic Around Mirabell Palace and Gardens
There is an entire The Sound of Music tour fans can take, which will take you to all the locations where filming took place. One such place is the Mirabell Palace and its surrounding gardens. But this magical spot lures in visitors regardless of their interests. The luxurious Marble hall of the Palace, where Mozart once played music for the Salzburg archbishops, is considered one of the most beautiful concert halls in the world. Stunning flower arrangements and perfectly aligned views from all sides combine into an architectural and landscape marvel, and the quirky and spooky 12 dwarves’ statues are an entertaining sight.
Inject Nature into Your Life
The three peaks around Salzburg mean easily accessible endless hiking trails. Take a cable car passing the rolling green pastures and continue to conquer the summits on foot, some more challenging than others.
Skiing runs in the blood of every Salzburgian. If you are visiting in the winter, partake in this wildly popular activity. Don’t measure your skill against the locals, as they start learning as soon as they can walk.
Within the city limits, take a long stroll along the Salzach river. Have a picnic on the grassy banks with a good read and soak in some vitamin D.
Take a Day Trip to Hallstatt
This charming tiny town with dramatic views is located only an hour’s drive from Salzburg. We strongly recommend adding this day trip to your itinerary if you are visiting during the low season. Unfortunately, because the town is so small, it gets insanely overcrowded with tourists.
Each has their own motivations for visiting Hallstatt. Iconic views drive some, some by history and architecture. In fact, its beauty is so impressive that the Chinese built an exact copy of the town in Guangdong. They, too, frequent the Hallstatt to see the original version. Some tourists simply want to take in the immense color and nature that inspired so many creatives before.
Don’t rush the process and capture the iconic view of colorful gingerbread-like houses skirting the edge of the lake and snow-capped mountains in the background. Both Salzburg and Hallstatt are UNESCO World Heritage-listed towns, transporting you to the same streets and buildings where legendary personas like Mozart walked.
Try Traditional Salzburgian Dessert Nockerl
Salzburger Nockerl is a traditional dessert that represents the three snow-capped mountain peaks around Salzburg. It’s a sweet soufflé with jam filling resembling meringue and tastes like fluffy clouds melting in your mouth. You can find one at nearly any coffee house, but we recommend Fingerlos. Prepare to wait as they are made fresh upon order and take a while. Then, of course, there are other traditional must-tries, like the strudel, you can share with your travel partner or not!
Sample Mozart Chocolate Balls Mozartkugel
It is no secret that Salzburg is a little Mozart-obsessed. Many signs, statues, a square in his honor, and cafes plaster his name. His music can be heard throughout the town. Tourists can visit the house where he lived and even inspect Mozart’s Skull at the University Mozarteum upon request. So, it comes as no surprise that Salzburg also has a chocolate candy created and named after Mozart. And the chocolate has its own golden statue on the main Old Town Square.
The Salzburger Mozartkugel, the chocolate ball, can be found all over Austria. But the original comes in a silver and blue wrapper, not to be confused with red and gold wrapped Mozartkugels found elsewhere. To try the authentic chocolates, head to the source – the Furst confectionary, named after Paul Furst, the inventor of the treat. At his shop, the chocolate balls are still prepared by hand following the original recipe and can’t be missed during your visit to Salzburg. These decadent spheres of joy come with different fillings and make the perfect souvenir to bring back home…presuming they make it that far in one piece.
Eat at Die Weisse
One of our favorite travel experiences is taking a chance on a neighborhood restaurant that we know little about. This usually happens when we arrive at a city, tired and hungry. On our first night in Salzburg, we found a restaurant and beer garden, Die Weisse, around the corner from our hotel. We were pleasantly surprised by the great food, incredible service, and fun atmosphere. John loved the beer, and it kick-started our tour of the city. We are still talking about the pumpkin soup topped with pumpkin oil!
Dine at St. Peter’s Stiftskulinarium
Treat yourself to a one-of-a-kind dinner experience at St Peter, one of the oldest restaurants in Central Europe, dating back to the 1700s, located in St. Peter’s Abbey. Enjoy traditional dishes made with locally-sourced ingredients among candlelight and a live performance by Mozarteum University graduates.
Experience Local Beer Heritage
Sitting on the border with Bavaria, Germany’s beer capital, Salzburg has been brewing its own potions for over 600 years and has become the beer capital of Austria. So naturally, you can’t visit Salzburg without plonking your lips in the tradition-rich brew. Take a tour of one of the eleven breweries in and around Salzburg, take a beer-themed tour or simply grab a seat at the communal style tables at one of the pubs and have a jolly time with locals.
Visit the Grunmarkt
Located on the city’s university square, the ‘green market’ is a foodie paradise. Browse stall on a stall of the freshest cheeses, fruit, veg, and different types of bread, including the famous gigantic pretzels.
So, what do you think is it worth visiting Salzburg? And what would be the theme of your Salzburg adventure?
Are ready to continue your adventure of beautiful European cities? Check out our travel guide for Copenhagen, Denmark for another great destination.