Back in 2014, we helped Ma Lee celebrate entering her sixties by taking her to her dream destination, the Austrian city of Salzburg. It’s time to revisit that trip with A Brummie Home and Abroad Guide to 24 hours in Salzburg. We actually spent 72 hours in Salzburg, getting out and about to Hellbrunn and to the lakes, but Salzburg itself is small and the main sights can be seen in a day.
Breakfast in Salzburg
If you’ve only got one day to spend exploring you probably want to be up and out early. For us this time around this means a quick hotel breakfast, pilfering pastries to eat on the go, however Yelp recommends Carpe Diem south of the River Salzach; there are more breakfast and brunch recommendations in this Culture Trip article
One of the best ways to get a perspective on a new city is to view it from above, and Salzburg has a couple of notable viewpoints. We start our day in Salzburg by ascending the elevator (€3.70 roundtrip and €2.40 one-way) for the modern art museum. From the terrace up here there are views over the rooftops of the Aldstadt in one direction, and over to the Alpine peaks in the other. The majestic Hohensalzburg Fortress dominates the skyline. There is a walk along the ridge all the way to the fortress, which takes about 30 minutes, but we’ll be back to the fortress later on to end our day in Salzburg. So it’s back down the elevator for a bit of window shopping along…
Getreidegasse is a narrow pedestrianised shopping street with beautiful architecture, a mix of prestigious international chains and small traditional boutiques selling lederhosen and dirndl, and intricate wrought iron building signs – even the McDonalds sign is beautiful! Also notable on this street, the yellow facade of No 9 Getridegasse is the birthplace of a certain Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. There are daily tours available (€11) but you’ll find plenty of sights celebrating the famous composer all around Salzburg, and you can pick up all manner of Mozart-related souvenirs along Getreidegasse and beyond. If you fancy a quick coffee and cake break, you’re only a short walk away from Alter Markt, where you can stop at Cafe Tomaselli or Cafe Konditorei Fürst, two of Salzburg’s most notable cafes. Fuelled up on caffeine and cake, it’s time to cross over the River Salzach at the love-locklined Makartsteg and head to…
Oh, I dare you to not hum at least one bar of “Do-Re-Mi” whilst strolling through the elegantly designed Mirabellgarten with its statues of Roman gods, Pegasus Fountain, perfectly manicured flower beds, a hedge theatre, an ivy-covered tunnel to skip through and a garden of dwarfs. Yes, there is a dwarf garden. The 17th century Mirabell Palace is now used for municipal offices and as a place to conduct weddings, and there can be no finer backdrop for your wedding photos, especially as the central axis of the garden perfectly lines up with with Hohensalzburg Fortress on the other side of the river Salzach. If you’ve still got plenty of energy, you could climb up to the plateau of the 640m-high Kapuzinerberg for yet more panoramic vistas, or you could simply take a stroll along the pretty riverside, crossing back over to Altstadt at the Mozartsteg to…
It doesn’t take a genius to work out who the chap on a plinth in the centre of this square is. Pretty pastel-coloured buildings line the square and it’s a great place to just sit and take in your surroundings. If you’re ready for lunch, the traditional Gasthaus Zwettler’s is just around the corner on Kaigasse; Zirkelwirt on Pfeifergasse and Steigl-Keller on Festungsgasse are also highly recommended. The neighbouring square to Mozartplatz is Residenceplatz, where an impressive Italian Baroque fountain by di Garone is the centrepiece. From Residenceplatz, you are well placed for your next stop…
Dom zu Salzburg
Salzburg Cathedral is located in the heart of Altstadt. The original church on this site was built in the 8th century; it has since been rebuilt on two occasions, most recently in the 17th century in its present Baroque style, like much of the architecture in Salzburg. It is airy and bright inside with brightly painted frescoes complementing the white walls, and you can see the bronze font in which Mozart was baptised. If you want to get your culture on, both the Salzburg Museum and the Panorama Museum are located in this area. It’s time to move on through Kapitelplatz to…
St Peter’s Cemetery is the oldest cemetery in Salzburg, and while it may seem a bit macabre to visit a graveyard on your city break, it was one of the most serene and beautiful spots I visited. Members of some of Salzburg’s wealthiest families are buried here, although we were fascinated to learn that bodies can quite literally be “turfed out” if the monthly rent isn’t paid. There are catacombs carved into the Mönchsberg rock face dating back to 15AD, and elaborate family crypts protected by wrought-iron gates; it is these which inspired the scene in The Sound of Music where the Von Trapps hid before their escape from Austria. Like the Von Trapps, let us flee this place and head for our final stop…
Wherever you are in Salzburg, the castle of Hohensalzburg dominates the skyline. You can walk up to the castle from the old town (unless this seems like an arduous task at the end of a long day of sightseeing), you can catch the Mönchsberg lift and walk along the ridge of the cliff – right where we started the day – or you can ride the Festungsbahn railway right up to the fortress. There are stunning views of the Salzburg rooftops, the river, lush countryside and snow-capped mountains. You can also get a tour of the castle; admission is €15.50 if bought on the day, or £€11.90 if purchased online in advance. Both include a return journey on the funicular. The fortress is open until 7pm in the summer months, and 5pm the rest of the year.
Time for Dinner
We dined at our own hotel on the final night, in the Restaurant S’nockerl, located in the Elefant Hotel. It’s a cosy atmosphere, and they offer a menu of traditional Austrian fare. We also ate at Zipfer Bierhaus which was local to our hotel. Of course if you really fancy a night to remember, you can attend a Mozart Dinner Concert held in the Baroque Hall of St Peter’s Monastery. A three course meal (excluding drinks) accompanied by arias and duets from “The Magic Flute”, “Don Giovanni”, “The Marriage of Figaro” and “A Little Night Music” costs € 63,00 per person. You can find out more about this wonderful experience at http://www.mozart-dinner-concert-salzburg.com/
Flights: We flew direct from Gatwick to Salzburg’s Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Airport with British Airways. We found that flights from London were significantly cheaper than Birmingham flights, even factoring in an overnight hotel stay and parking. Current flights are around £145 per person including all surcharges but excluding checked luggagge.
Accommodation: We stayed at the 4-star Hotel Elefant on Sigmund-Haffner-Gasse, in the heart of the Aldstadt and right next to Getreidesgasse. Three nights in September (Friday to Monday) currently costs around £480 via Booking.com.
Travelling around Salzburg: Salzburg is a relatively small city, and very walkable. If you want to get out and about to Schloss Helbrunn or Schloss Leopoldskron, there is a reliable bus network – we chose to walk to Helbrunn which was a slightly longer walk than anticipated but is certainly doable. If you want to get out of the city, there are a number of tours available which can take you to the Sound of Music sights, or to the beautiful Alpine lakes and mountains – we chose Panorama Tours and had a fantastic half-day trip to the charming lakeside town of St Wolfgang.
How to get from Salzburg airport into the city: On this occasion, as there were four of us, we decided to get a taxi; it’s only a four mile drive and is a short and relatively cheap transfer. There are a number of buses which run from the airport (Numbers 2, 10 and 27); tickets cost €2.50 and can be bought from the driver, at the machine by the bus stop, or at Newscorner inside the terminal.
When to visit Salzburg: We visited in September and had one horribly wet day and then two lovely sunny days! Like most countries in this part of Europe, the summers are slighter warmer than the UK, and slightly colder in the winter. Salzburg has it’s fair share of Christmas markets so it would be a magical festive choice, but in the summertime the surrounding mountains are lush and green, the gardens are in full bloom and all those al fresco biergarterns are open…I’m going to hedge my bets and say that Salzburg is pretty much a year-round destination.
Have you ever visited Salzburg? What are your top tips and recommendations – let me know in the comments belowe and hopefully we can help others plan a fantastic trip!
All photos (except for the Mirabell Gardens shot) are by CPF Photography