Just over a 2 hour train ride away from Vienna or Munich makes Salzburg a picturesque and easily accessible city to pair up with these destinations. Birthplace of the great Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the setting for the musical of all musicals, the iconic Sound of Music and the inspiration behind the song, ‘Silent Night’, we just had to squeeze time into our Christmas market break to see what is so special about this place. The first thing that hit me about Salzburg after coming from Vienna was just how cold it was. The city is high up in the mountains so you feel an instant chill when stepping off the train and even my tights-under-leggings-under-jeans display failed in sheltering me from the chill.
The Size of Salzburg
The pace of life is slower here. If Vienna is a brisk walk, then Salzburg is most certainly an amble. The demographic seems to include a higher proportion of elderly people and it’s a really small city in comparison to the capital, making it quite easy to do all the touristy things on foot. Even if you’re not staying right in the heart of the old town, you’ll most probably only be a 10-15 minute walk away so consider this before paying premiums for more “central” hotels.
The Sounds of Salzburg – Mozart Recitals and Sound of Music Tours
The presence of Mozart and Maria are everywhere. There are countless companies advertising Mozart recitals and Sound of Music Tours, where you are taken to many of the locations shown in the film, given opportunities for singing and participating with costume-clad guides and the like. I’ve loved the Sound of Music ever since I was a child and my Mum first showed it to me so I’ll admit I was tempted. Pumpkin, however, is a dis-liker of musicals in any form (can’t sing, won’t sing?) so trying to persuade him to Edelweiss his way around the Salzburg hills would have been a near impossible task. So we compromised (you learn to pick your battles) and walked around the Mirabelle gardens ourselves but not without my rendition of ‘These are a few of my favourite things’ providing the soundtrack for the afternoon.
If classical music is more your passion, then try and watch a concert in one of the grand music halls here in Salzburg. There is a venue at the top of the Festung fortress, which is a stunning location to see some live music. For either the Sound of Music Tours or the Mozart recitals, you’re looking at ticket prices of approximately 40-50 Euros per person.
The Sights of Salzburg
If you only have a day in Salzburg, don’t miss out on the Mirabelle Gardens and the funicular ride to the top of the Festung Fortress, where bizarrely, you get excellent free wi-fi if you want to sacrifice the tips of your digits to de-glove and get online. I speak from experience – mine went purple and I’m not sure it was worth it just to try and get in that real-time tweet.
The ride itself takes just about 2 minutes and there are no seats but once you reach the top, you are afforded beautiful views of the Salzburg architecture. Try to go up about an hour or so before anticipated dusk to see the peachy sunset glazing the whitewash buildings.Ticket price includes an audio tour with individual audio guides in different languages. The tour takes about half an hour and provides a bitesize chunk of history to take home upon your descent. The funicular ride, if you are going at Christmas time, boards right by the site of the main Salzburg Christmas Market.
The Senses of Salzburg – cake, coffee and lovelocks
In the vicinity here, you will also find one of Salzburg’s most famous and frequented cafes, Cafe Tomaselli. We shied away from this after one glimpse at the crowds and instead headed across the bridge towards to see if Cafe Sacher or Cafe Bazaar were looking any roomier.
With the buzz of the small Christmas market and the elegant horse-drawn carriages, you feel as if you have been transported back in time but for me, the most picturesque moment was not the panoramic viewpoint or the Sound of Music locations; it wasn’t even the view of the perfectly formed and seriously chocolatey Sachertorte. For me, the most beautiful moment in Salzburg was the view of the Marketstag lovelock bridge in Salzburg at sunset, with the mountains in the background, padlocks showering the Danube with ripples of emotion and the night lights casting their colours onto the water.If you are pushed for time, you could get away with just spending a day or two in Salzburg to see its main attractions but it has a quiet charm that you may find difficult to resist.
37 thoughts on “Scenic Salzburg – From Mozart to Maria”
We visited Salzburg back in 2006 for a day trip from Vienna! It was a long day but we had fun 🙂 This took us a bit down memory lane – so thank you 🙂
Glad it took you down memory lane 🙂 I like that it’s small and cosy enough to be able to see the key sights in a day if that’s all you have – it’s such a pretty city! Thanks so much for commenting!
My sister, mom and I did the Sound of Music tour and it was amazing!! We sang do re mi at the top of our lungs, and the scenery was gorgeous.
Hearing that really makes me wish I had just done the tour now – with or without my husband!! 😀
As cheesy as it sounds, I really want to do a Sound of Music tour one day! 🙂
I know exactly what you mean Andrew – sounds super cheesy but so much fun! Shame I couldn’t persuade my husband into thinking the same way!! 🙂
Shikha, I agree that Salzburg is a gorgeous city. The fortress, the main square, the cathedral, the restaurants, and I love walking down the street where Mozart’s house it. It’s so pretty. Christmastime is a great time to visit!
Definitely agree Corinne! It was absolutely freezing but totally worth it to see it all lit up at such a magical time of year! Thanks so much for reading 🙂
It’s a beautiful city with some lovely hidden spots. I love that picture of the river at night. Stunning!
Thanks so much Suzanne – I could have just stared at the bridge with the waterside view for hours as the sun was going down – it really was such a pretty city 🙂
I thought about visiting Salzburg (because I grew up on Sound of Music too!) when I was in Vienna, but I was just too tired to make another daytrip. I only had energy to do 1 daytrip and I did Bratislava. But Salzburg looks so pretty that maybe I should have gone there! ha! I would have loved to do the tour and sang all the songs. 😀 But D hates musicals too, heh.
hehe Anna, I think this sounds like a singing tour you and I should take together and leave the boys behind for! 😀 I didn’t even realise that Bratislava was a day trip away from Vienna as I’d love to visit there as well! Certainly one to keep in mind for another trip then! Thanks so much for reading 🙂
Yes!! That sounds like a great idea! 😀
I don’t know why I haven’t done this yet! I love the sound of music, and mozart. Vienna is high on my list so I think I’ll try to do them together now.
Oh Melissa, if you love Mozart and The Sound of Music, then you simply must visit Salzburg too if you head to Vienna! Of course, there is lots more to the city than just these features but for music lovers, I think it has an even more special magic. Thanks so much for commenting 🙂
I didn’t know Salzburg was so easy to explore on foot. I though it was a massive city which you can’t really experience without using metro or trams.
Hi Agness, oh yes it’s definitely really easy on foot, at least all the main sights anyway – that was partly why it was so easy to see a lot of the city in just a couple of days because there was very little time taken in travelling around. Thanks for stopping by and reading 🙂
I’m looking forward to the winter now, thank you!
Thanks so much for the comment! Glad you liked the post and I also think that seeing beautiful wintery cities like Salzburg help to make the coldness of winter a lot easier to deal with 🙂
Love this post Shikha 🙂 I visited Salzburg earlier this year around Easter and absolutely adored it! This brought back so many beautiful memories. But I visited as a day trip from Vienna and didn’t have the pleasure of seeing the city after sunset. That last picture of Salzburg all lit up at night, oh my! How lovely!
Aww thank you for the lovely comment Upasna – glad you liked the city as much as I did! It was so pretty – we too had wondered whether to just go for a day or stay overnight but it was lovely seeing it in the evening and seeing the Christmas markets at night time too. I’m sure it must have been a lot warmer when you went though – my fingers nearly fell off with frostbite! 🙂
Such a beautiful city, Austria is so underrated!
I agree – I think I was probably guilty of under-rating it too which is why it had never really occurred to me before heading there for a Christmas-time break last year but I loved it and would love to see some of the other towns and cities in the mountains 🙂
I didn’t know that Salzburg was so close to Munich. We spent two weeks in Munich last year and if we knew that Salzburg was only 2 hours away on the train, we would have gone for a day trip (or maybe two). Shame! Hopefully there will still be chances to visit it. 🙂
I think living in England, we too were really surprised at how quick and easy it is to travel between so many different countries in central Europe – it’s so tempting to visit one city after another – I would love to see more of both Austria and Germany! Hope you guys make it to Salzburg one of these days 🙂
I whizzed through Salzburg on the train this summer and really want to go back and see it – I love the Sound of Music so the tour is a must!
Oh then you’ll love these tours! I should have just done the tour alone in hindsight! The mountain towns and cities in Austria and Switzerland are so pretty 🙂
We went from Munich to Salzburg and I loved it! It is such a beautiful city.
It is one of the few cities I’ve done a hop on hop off tour just so I could listen to the sound of music part and my other half could listen to the history
Now THAT is a good idea Jenna!! I didn’t even think of that option but that’ll be the way forward next time I think! I agree that it’s such a pretty city – I love how close together so many of these European cities are 🙂
Now I regret that we weren’t able to make to Salzburg when I was in Austria, just a reason for another visit! Christmas (outside of the cold) sounds amazing there! I’ve always heard great things about the markets in Europe. I think Austria is an underrated country in general – it was one of my favorites in Europe, and also one of the least expensive!
I actually only really discovered the mainland European Christmas markets when I went last year and I absolutely fell in love with how magical they were! Salzburg is very pretty but yes, it was absolutely freezing! I’ve never really imagined Austria to be one of the cheaper countries but come to think of it, it was much less costly than visiting somewhere like Switzerland! Thanks so much for reading Katie 🙂
Austria has never really been high on my list of places to visit, but it actually looks lovely – pretty towns, mountain scenery, Christmas markets. And, of course, sachertorte…!
Haha, yes I must confess the prospect of the sachertorte may have swayed my travel plans a wee bit 😀 It’s funny actually because even for me, for so many years, I can’t say I’d ever considered a visit to Austria but when I got there, especially with all the Christmasy atmosphere, I completely fell in love with it – so scenic, magical and wintery – definitely recommend a festive break there if you’re ever looking for a December Europe break 🙂
Ace post and pics. Not ashamed to say I would love to do a Sound of Music tour 🙂
Hehe, that’s great! You shouldn’t be ashamed – who doesn’t love the sound of music and the tour sounds like such fun! Now the question is, would your lady be more agreeable than my man was?!