What comes to mind when you think of Salzburg? The Sound of Music? Grand operas? Mozart?
It may not be the most modern city in Europe, but within lies its charm. Salzburg is often overlooked by European tourists but that is what makes it a hidden gem. While everyone else is getting their fix of Austrian culture in Vienna, the smart traveller is quietly sloping off for a weekend in Salzburg and here’s why.
Yes, this was the birthplace of Mozart and his memory is honoured in music halls all across the city. Salzburg describes itself as the “Stage of the World” and there is no escaping the cultural buzz of the city. Make time to catch a performance at one of the city’s festival halls or the Felsenreitschule.
The ease of access
Salzburg is situated right in the heart of Europe, a few hours by car, train or bus from many European cities. From the UK, airlines such as Flybe offer cheap direct flights on a regular basis, making Salzburg one of the most accessible cities on the continent.
Which are apparently alive with the sound of music, did you know? Visitors can do the popular tour of the film’s most iconic locations, but why not explore these Alpine surroundings for yourself with a hike through the hills. If you want the views without the effort, take the Cable-Car Untersberg for the most stunning views you have ever seen.
Food lovers know that there is no substitute for Austrian pastries. Try all the favourites while you are in Salzburg – apple strudel with cream, Esterhazy cake and the chocolate and marzipan Mozartkugel, which is native to Salzburg. Coffee house culture is huge in the city, so behave like a local and take time out whenever you can to enjoy a strong cup of frothing coffee with a homemade pastry as you watch the people dash across the cobbled streets.
Austrians take their beer very seriously and Salzburg is no exception. Visit one of the many breweries around the city to get a feel for the beer making process, then find a shady beer garden and relax with a nice cold pint of Steigl, Trumer, Die Weisse, or any other local beer.
In 1997, the entire city centre of Salzburg was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is not hard to see why. The architecture is stunning and beautifully preserved – you will feel like you have stepped onto the pages of an old fairytale. Visit the iconic Salzburg Cathedral, St Peter’s Abbey and Nonnberg Abbey for examples of gothic and baroque architecture, and don’t miss the extraordinary Hohensalzburg Castle; one of the biggest castles in Europe.
Aside from its cultural prowess, Salzburg has seen more than its fair share of contemporary history. A focal point during the first and second world wars, it is a must-visit for anyone with more than a passing interest in European history. For more information on what the city went through, visit the Salzburg Museum in the centre of the city.