A visit to Salzburg is like stepping into a storybook. Founded near to picturesque snowy mountains and complete with a fairytale castle, Salzburg can feel like make-believe made real. The hills here really are alive with the sound of music. The scenic setting of the beloved film The Sound of Music, fans have flocked to follow in the footsteps of Maria and the von Trapp family since the film’s release in 1965.
However, Salzburg has always been musical. The birthplace of Mozart, his legacy still inspires today, with plenty of concerts and orchestras performing the year round. During the summer months, the Salzburg Festival becomes the centrepiece of the city. This festival celebrates with opera performances and classical concerts, and is traditionally opened with the choral music of the famed Everyman morality play, performed on the steps of the cathedral.
These historic Salzburg traditions provide a living link to the past in a city admired for its medieval buildings and remarkable history. However, Salzburg isn’t frozen in time, as this University city proves with its vibrant nightlife. Visit the Rudolfskai area for the city’s best pub crawls, with exotic themed cocktail bars lined up alongside Irish pubs and more traditional taverns.
For a popular shopping destination, try the Linzer Gasse. Once when you strolled down the street you may have found gunsmiths or apothecaries. Today, you are more likely to find restaurants, cafés and gift shops more suited to modern tastes.
The Old Town
Being located so close to the Alps means that Salzburg has shared culture with both Germany and Italy. This influence can be seen across the city as many of the Old Town’s most striking buildings were designed by Italian architects. The highly decorative style, known as Baroque, was fashionable throughout Salzburg and the grandest of example of this is the Salzburg Cathedral. A presence in the city for over 1,300 years, the cathedral remains at the heart of Salzburg culture, with the front of the building made from marble carved from a nearby mountain. After viewing the Cathedral, cross the River Salzach to visit the Mirabell Palace and Gardens. The prince-archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau first built this palace as a symbol of dedication for his lover Salome Alt, but visitors still fall in love with the palace’s romantic beauty today. In one of Mirabell’s pristinely landscaped gardens, keep an eye out for the cheeky dwarf statues playing in amongst the trees.
The villages of Schafberg
One of the most beautiful mountains in the Salzburg area, Schafberg is surrounded by lakes and charming traditional Austrian villages. Around an hour’s drive from Salzburg is the market town of St. Wolfgang. When the skies are clear during the summer, you can take a steam train on the cog railway from St. Wolfgang up the Schafberg mountainside. Once you reach the top, grab a hot chocolate and admire the unparalleled views of the surrounding landscape. In good weather, you can take a cruise across the lake Wolfgangsee and stop by the local villages of St. Gilgen and Strobl.
Fans of winter sports should make the journey out to Untersberg Mountain to take the cable-car and be refreshed by skiing, mountain climbing and paragliding. For those looking for a slower pace of life, there are always deckchairs available to rent so you can kick back and enjoy the view. On the other side of the mountain is the Schellenberger ice cave. A wonder of nature, this frozen spectacle is best visited in spring, when it is at its frostiest. History buffs will also be fascinated by the Eagle’s Nest, once presented to Hitler for his 50th birthday, although he rarely visited. Now a restaurant, the incredibly steep road leading up to the summit was blasted out of the mountain rock in an unbelievable feat of engineering.
One of the largest medieval castles in Europe, Hohensalzburg, is the place to embrace your inner royalty. Since the times of the Holy Roman Empire, this impressive structure has watched over Salzburg. Alongside the spectacular views of the city, the castle is home to historical military displays of armour, as well as a curious coat of arms, featuring a lion holding a turnip.
Salzburg Marionette Museum
Even more unusual is the Salzburg Marionette Museum, with finely carved puppets shown imitating events such as the peasant uprising in 1525.
Sound of Music Filming Locations
Sound of Music fans will be delighted taking a tour of the filming locations and the homes of the real life von Trapp family. Even those not yet wanting to be adopted into the von Trapp clan are sure to enjoy the Austrian sights and might be converted by a glimpse of edelweiss, the beautiful snow white flower that only grows in the Alps.
Salzburg is renowned in Austria for its foodie culture, with many acclaimed restaurants to choose from, including those honoured with Michelin stars. Austria made be landlocked, but in a land of crystal clear lakes and rivers, fish is regularly on the menu.
Those seeking local specialities will be delighted by Tafelspitz, beef served in rich broth with a delicious array of vegetables, traditionally garnished with minced apples and horseradish. Sounds weird. Tastes great. We would recommend rounding off the meal with Salzburger Nockerl, a sweet soufflé dessert shaped to look like the mountains. The bakers of Salzburg engage in a friendly rivalry with their Viennese counterparts, as both cities claim that their cakes are the most mouth-watering. Try them for yourself and join the debate!
Whether visiting with your very own von Trapp family or singing solo, Salzburg offers a unique mix of history, culture and sports bound to please anyone from the youngest to the oldest. A fantastic destination in all seasons, with the summer festival and winter skiing as well as much more, the hardest choice is choosing when to go. For those who can’t wait to sing Do-Re-Mi, Salzburg’s snow topped mountains are closer than you may think. With easyJet holidays, you can book your flights and hotel together, for a holiday that provides priceless memories at great value.
For those not sold on snow, our destination guide to Vienna may tempt you with an Austrian experience by the River Danube.