When we booked our skiing trip to Bad Hofgastein we realised that we would be able to take a day trip by train to Salzburg, we’d looked up train times but got no further than that so we went with no plans or expectations. We had a really chilled but fun day, partly helped by the gorgeous sunshine and quiet streets but also because Salzburg is a beautiful city with lots to see.
Salzburg is in the west of Austria close to the German border, it’s historic centre has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1996 and is the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It’s a small city so lends itself to a day trip although if you wanted to stay for longer there are lots of things to do in the surrounding area.
We visited in February 2022 and Pip was 9.
What we got up to:
The night before we went I googled free walking tours and booked us on this one. It was a brilliant decision as it gave us a great over view of the city in a couple of hours. Our Guide Leo met us at the ‘Spirit of Mozart’ statue along with about 8 others and then spent 2 hours showing us the main sights of Salzburg and giving us a whistle stop tour of the history of the city. We visited Mozart’s birthplace and home, streets in the old town, some of the modern art trail, other famous landmarks and the memorial of the 1939 book burning.
Everything on the tour was suitable for Pip and she was able to ask lots of questions as we were walking around. Leo asked her to look out for a couple of things during the tour which kept her engaged.
Free walking tours are free to book and you then tip your guide what you feel at the end. We’d highly recommend Leo, a German living in Austria with excellent English. They also do a Nuns and Nazis tour which focuses more on the Sound of Music.
Hohensalzburg Castle is the fortress that sits above the old town of Salzburg. There has been a fortress here since 1077 and the current day fortress was built on the wealth of the regions salt mines.
You can walk up to the fortress or take the funicular railway. The basic ticket option includes a round trip on the funicular, access to the castle grounds, courtyards, bastions and chapel, the observation tower, fortress museum and arsenal (€13,30 adults, €7,60 children). There is also an all inclusive option which also includes the Regency rooms and magical theatre (€16,60 adults, €9,50 children).
The fortress, like most castles has seen a lot of history over the years and this is reflected in stories and artifacts on display.
The viewing tower – this is one of the highest points in the fortress and you can walk right up to the top of the tower and see for miles over Salzburg to the Alps.
Coming down from the tower and along a walkway there are lots of interactive stations for children to learn more about life in the fortress. There is also a booklet to work through. Our favourite part was the horns at the end near the ‘Bull of Salzburg’.
The fortress museum takes you through various conflicts with suits of armor and weaponry. We skipped through this part as we were short on time but it was interesting and well presented.
The fortress also houses a marionette museum which is small but fun with lots to look at and even includes the Sound of Music.
There are several places to get food at the fortress although some of the outdoor cafes were closed when we were there. We did try Salzburger Nockerl in the restaurant next to the funicular station and picked a window seat so that we could look out across Salzburg as we ate.
This street in the old town is a really fascinating place to hang out. There is a selection of highstreet shops such as Zara, Macdonalds and Starbucks but it doesn’t feel like a normal highstreet. Everything is in keeping with the old town and the beautiful metal shop signs hanging above each shops are like works of art.
Here you will find the birth place of Mozart. Also many souvenir shops and places to buy the traditional Mozart chocolates that Salzburg is famous for. We really enjoyed browsing the egg shops, decorated eggs are not just for Easter, in Salzburg you can buy them for every occasion and also just because you want decorated eggs (we now have Halloween and Christmas eggs).
Cafe Mozart is also located here if you would like to try the famous Salzburger Nockerl.
Mirabell Palace Gardens
Built in 1606 by an Arch Bishop for his mistress, Mirabell Palace is over the river from Hohensalzburg. Today it is a city building but you can get married in the beautiful marble hall and they occassionally hold concerts here. . The gardens in the summer are beautiful to wander through and you can visit the gnome garden that was seen in the film Sound of Music. In the winter most of the garden is closed but it’s still worth a detour to walk through on your way to the Old Town.
Salzburg is easily accessible by train from Vienna and Munich as well as from the ski area around Bad Hofgastein. When we were there, trains went every 2 hours from Bad Hofgastein throughout the day and took approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Nearby places to visit.
If we had been staying in Salzburg and had more time we would have also loved to visit Hallstatt, another town that was built on the Salt mines. This town was said to be the inspiration for the fictional town of Arendelle in the film Frozen.
Salt Mines – An opportunity to visit an actual salt mines, take a slide underground and even cross in to Germany briefly while underground!
2 thoughts on “A day trip to Salzburg”
looks like an amazing place to wander around
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