Salzburg is perhaps most well-known for being the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the filming location of The Sound of Music. Located near the Austria-Germany border at the edge of the Alps, this Austrian city is the fourth-largest in the country and a popular tourist destination. The Salzach River runs through the city, roughly dividing its downtown area into Altstadt and Neustadt, the Old Town and New Town, respectively. While visiting my older brother Alexander in Vienna last weekend, the two of us agreed to take a day trip to the city of Salzburg. We arrived by train on Sunday morning and Visit Salzburg kindly provided us with two Salzburg Cards for our sightseeing adventures.
Salzburg is a compact city and many of its attractions are easily accessible by foot. From the railway station, my brother and I walked in the direction of downtown, taking in the new sights and smells all around us. We passed the Mirabell Palace and Gardens, the site of the Pegasus Fountain and where the Do-Re-Mi scene from The Sound of Music was filmed. I used to do theater when I was younger and The Sound of Music was one of my favorite performances to be a part of, so it was fun to see one of the movie’s original filming locations. Humming the tune to Do-Re-Mi, we continued across the bridge to Salzburg’s historic district and Mozart’s Birthplace. In an effort to protect and preserve Salzburg’s rich history, Altstadt earned a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997. Getreidegasse is the bustling pedestrian street at the heart of this Old Town, with a number of cafes and restaurants, shops and hotels, and of course, Mozarts Geburtshaus. At the address No. 9 Getreidegasse, we stumbled upon Mozart’s Birthplace which has been converted into a museum. We entered the yellow apartment building to read about Mozart’s thirty-five years from a child prodigy to a world-famous composer, before proceeding to the Festungsgasse.
There are two ways to get from the Festungsgasse to the Hohensalzburg Fortress – follow the footpath or ride the cable railway. The FestungsBahn has been bringing people to the top of the hill since it first opened in 1892 and is the preferred method of transportation in the wintertime. We rode the funicular from the base of Festungsberg to the top of the 542-meter-high mountain, where we admired the breathtaking views from the largest preserved castle in Central Europe. We identified the baroque architectural monuments down below and took in the scenic snow-covered mountain peaks that cast a beautiful city backdrop. It’s hard to believe that the Hohensalzburg Fortress was built in 1077, long before technology and other advancements. Inside the Fortress Museum, we learned about the city’s medieval history and got an idea for what life in the castle was like hundreds of years ago. Once we were ready, we rode the funicular back down to the city center and continued our sightseeing adventures.
From the base of Festungsberg, we turned the corner to discover another important landmark, the Salzburg Cathedral. A number of fires have destroyed the cathedral over the years, lending the structure to multiple reconstructions and expansions, each of which carry historical significance. With its large dome and two towers, this sacred cathedral displays Baroque architecture at its finest, with an unmistakable presence in the city center. After a full day of sightseeing, there was only one way to wrap up our time in Salzburg – the Christmas markets. Under the lights at Residenzplatz, we enjoyed kaiserschmarrn and punsch while listening to the voices of the choir and the laughter from the ice skating rink. We had a wonderful trip to Salzburg and both Alexander and I agreed that we would love to come back. One day in Salzburg just isn’t enough to see all that the city has to offer and I hope to return in the summertime to visit Schloss Leopoldskron and Hellbrunn Palace. If your itinerary allows, consider spending a night or two in the city, I sure wish I had!
A special thank you to Visit Salzburg for hosting us in this beautiful Austrian city. As always, all opinions are my own.