Salzburg immediately evokes the lyrics “the hills are alive with the sound of music” in me. The film was based on the real von Trapp family, whose family home Villa Trapp is a hotel now. However, the villa was not used in the movie. Interestingly, the front of the villa in the movie was filmed at Schloss Frohnburg and the back was filmed at Schloss Leopoldskron (Schloss = castle). Schloss Leopoldskron is a gorgeous hotel and not ridiculously expensive either.
Naturally, there are plenty of Sound of Music tours available through hotels and the tourist office. However, Salzburg is so much more than the Sound of Music. Winter is a fabulous time to visit, especially in December. If you plan to go then, be sure to check out my Magical European Christmas Markets.
Austrian food is delicious so be sure to make time for lunch and/or dinner and have some local specialties. Most importantly, stop at the Hotel Sacher for coffee and a slice of Sachertorte in the afternoon. Sachertorte a layered chocolate cake with jam filling made famous by the Hotel Sacher in Vienna, chocoholics like me will LOVE this cake.
The Salzburg Fortress, called Festung Hohensalzburg, stands high above the city and is reportedly Europe’s largest fortress. The Fortress was originally built in 1077 and was enlarged throughout the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Visit the museum with lots of medieval weaponry and the Prince’s apartments. The panoramic views of the city are amazing and well worth the trip up the hill. To get there, take the funicular from downtown which runs every 10 minutes. Or, if you are up for a hike take the 30 minute walk up the hill…plus you won’t feel too guilty eating all those Austrian carbs and sweets!
Old Town and Getreidegasse
Old town Salzburg is one of the most adorable parts of the town and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Beautiful Medieval and Baroque style buildings line the cobblestone pedestrian streets and alleyways. Getreidegasse is the main walking street running from one end of Old Town to the other. Lined with adorable shops, restaurants and cafés, this street is perfect to stroll along for a day. My favorite shop sells hollowed out egg shells beautifully painted and decorated for Christmas, Easter and all other holidays, and they even ship to the US! One of the alleys in Old Town is Goldgasse, selling you guessed it…gold. You’ll find tons of jewelry stores lining this alley with the most beautiful eye candy.
No trip to Salzburg would be complete without paying homage to Salzburg’s most famous composer. Mozart’s birthplace is located in Old Town and is well worth a visit. It houses a museum with instruments that Mozart owned and used to compose his famous symphonies. There is a great restaurant but you’ll have to access it from a courtyard behind the house. Be sure to try some famous Austrian dishes like Wiener Schnitzel!
Mirabell Palace and Gardens
Garden lovers will love taking a stroll through the beautiful manicured gardens at Mirabell Palace. The palace itself is a popular venue for concerts and houses a Marble Hall worth seeing. The gardens offer fabulous views towards the Cathedral and the Fortress.
Although not technically in Salzburg, Eagle’s Nest (Kehlsteinhaus in German) is an amazing place to visit. Built by the Nazis as a retreat for Hitler on the Kehlstein mountain above Berchtesgaden in Germany, it offers the most amazing views of the alps, lakes and valleys below. Hitler’s home and second headquarters called Berghof, were actually located at the foot of the same mountain. The Salzburg tourist office has daily tours from the city to Eagle’s Nest. From Salzburg it is about an hour drive to Eagle’s Nest.
Open from May to October, tours are offered daily. Buses park close to the entrance, from which you walk through a long tunnel to a gold lined elevator to the top. Just don’t ask or even think about where all that gold came from, you don’t want to know!
If you go, I hope you visit my favorite places in Salzburg and eat the delicious food. Feel free to email me with any questions, or comment below. Keep traveling my friends!