If you have watched the Sound of Music, you may aready be familiar with some of the landscapes of Salzburg. The movie is indeed set in the city of Salzburg and I would be lying if i told you there was no correlation whatsoever between the fact that i really enjoyed the movie and that I am currently an Au Pair in Salzburg. But beside fanticising about the movie, i honestly did not know much about Salzburg before moving here, and there is way more to Salzburg than those hills that are alive. Here are ten reasons that make Salzburg a pretty awesome city you will want to visit :
1. The Fortress Hohensalzburg
The Festnung Hohensalzburg is Salzburg’s landmark, it dominates the city and is actually located right in the city center. Wheather you chose to reach it by foot (which takes around 15 minutes n a very steep hill) or with the funicular Festnung-bahn, you do want not to miss Salzburg’s top attraction for two reasons : it is Europe’s largest standing medieval castle (and you will find out about its history in the museum inside it) and it offers a spectacular panorama of the city.
2. The Old Town or Altstadt
Inscribed in the Unesco World Heritage list, the Old Town of Sazburg is very unique and presents a combination both medieval and baroque elements. The river Salzach separates the historic city centre, with the south bank of the river being the oldest aerea while the nothern bank and its Linzergasse are more recent. The south side is particularly charming with breathtaking monuments like the Dom (the cathedral), the entire Dom quartier and the very unique feel of the Getreidgasse, Salzburg’s oldest and main shopping street. And for a postcard-like picture of the city with the fortress in the background, walk on the Makarsteg, the bridge over the Salzach where romantic souls put their love locks !
3. The Mountains
I particularly love Salzbourg because of its proximity to nature. Not only do you have incredible hikes offered by the moutains surrounding the city, but you also have hills within the city centre itself. These are called “Stadtberge” and enable you to look at the city from above. They include :
- the Mönchsberg which is where the modern art museum is located and which offer nice paths that come accross old city walls and castle parts
- the Kapuzinerberg with walks just as nice
- the Festnungberg where the Fortress is located.
And if you are feeling more adventurous, the moutains right outside Salzburg, namely the Gaisberg, the Nockstein and the Untersberg will be calling you!
4. Mirabell Castle and Gardens
Mirabell Schloss is located on the nothern bank of the Salzach and it is definitely an attraction not to be missed. The castle is a masterpiece of baroque art that is now used for various ceremonies as well as the city’s administrative offices. You can check the musical venues in the castle and maybe enjoy some Mozart in an exceptional decor. A stroll in the gardens will plunge you in a extraordinary scenary among statues, fountains and flowers (if season appropriate) and with a particularly impressive view on the fortress. You can also enter the Mozarteum, the renowned music school located beside the castle) and enjoy the view on the gardens from the rooftop.
5. Mozart and classical music
If you like classical music, Salzburg will be like heaven for you! It would be hard to miss out that Salzburg is the city of one of the word’s famous composer, as he – Mozart – is everywhere in the city : from the city’s famous chocolate/marzipan delicacies named after him (Mozartkugel), to his statue errected in the middle of Mozartplatz, not to forget of course the world-renowned music school called the Mozarteum. Top-quality Mozart or classical music concerts in general are an integral part of Salzburg cutural life. Moreover, you can also visit the house he was born in (Mozartgeburtshaus) and the house he grew up in (Mozartswohnhaus) which were both turned into museums.
6. Austrian Cuisine
My love of food is immense and Austria never fails to satisfy my apetite with its local cuisine influenced by German and Hungarian cuisine. Among my favourite dishes, you will find:
- the Kasnocken/Käsespätzele : cheese dumplings
- the Knödels : you have different types of knödels, they can potato dumplings filled with different ingredients or can also be bread dumplings as a side dish
- the Schweinsbraten : roast pork
- and of course, the popular Wiener Schnitzel.
And if you are a food lover and happen to be in Salzburg on a thrusday morning, do not miss the farmer’s market Schranne on Mirabellplatz, where you will find delicious local specialities and homemade treats.
7. The “Kaffeehaus” Culture
Austrian coffee culture is such an institution that the Viennese coffee houses are actually listed as UNESCO intangible cultural heritage. But the capital is not the ony place to offer typical Austrian cafés as several location in Salzburg offer that specific authentic atmosphere, where you can come and read your newspaper for hours in lofty ornamented buildings. Among the popular typical cafés in Salzburg, we find Café Tomaselli, Café Sacher, Café Bazar and Café Fürst. There you can chose the type of coffee you want from a pretty extensive list of café-specialities and of course, you should try one of their usually home-made cakes and pastries to complete the experience. The must-have pastries are:
- the Apfelstrüdel (pastry filled with apples and cinnamon), or any kind of Strüdel (the dough can be filled with different things)
- or if you love chocolate, the Mohr-in-Hemd could be the Austrian dessert you want to try!
8. The Breweries and Beergardens
The monastery of Mülln has been brewing beer in Augustiner Bräu since the 17th century and there is a certain authentic atmosphere in this brewery. The beer is poured into stone jugs (very commonly a maß, which is a liter) directly from the wooden barrels and you can enjoy it in one of of their large bierhalls or in the biergarten. Don’t be surprised to see people in Tracht, the traditional Austrian clothes, many men like to come to Augustiner wearing lederhose and woman wearing a dirndl !
The other important brewery in Salzburg is the private-owned Stiegl brewery, and Stiegl-Bräauwelt offers a nice alternative to Augustiner for the beer enthousiasts.
9. Hellbrunn Palace
Located in South Salzburg but accessible by bus, Schoss Hellbrunn is an early 17th early Baroque Italian-inspired castle, worth the détour especially for its large marvelous gardens, famous for the Wasserspiele (trick fountains) in the summer. In the winter, an enchanting Christmas market is held at Schloss Hellbrunn.
10. Leopoldskron Castle
Last but not least is Schloss Leopoldskron, a rococo jewelry from the 18th century alongside a lake which is only a short walk away from the city center of Salzburg. Although the castle is not open to visitors, its incredible setting can be enjoyed on a walk around the lake. The Sound of Music took the outside of the castle as one of the main outdoor filming location, the outside of the castle being the outside of the villa Von Trapp in the movie.