Salzburg is a small town, with many attractions. But let not its small size fool you! There is enough and more to do in Salzburg to ensure that two days simply fly by; the city will make you want to stay on for another two days. There is music in the air and every little street in the Old Town seems to be singing a romantic song.
There are historical monuments that will let you admire architecture from the times gone by. There is a plethora of restaurants to let you charge your batteries while sight seeing. And let me not forget, there is plenty to shop – souvenirs, designer wear, jewellery and a lot more.
We were in Salzburg for one day and wished that we had budgeted some more time in this wonderful little town. We joined the Panorama Walking Tour to help us get a snapshot of the must see/do things at Salzburg. Our guide was a lovely Austrian lady who had a great sense of humour and a lot of knowledge about the city. She told about the history of the city, ranging from the archbishops to Mozart, highlighted the architectural wonders wonders like the churches and castles, gave us cultural insights and best of all, taught us to find our way around the city without having to use a map! We can’t thank her enough for ensuring that we never felt directionless in the city of Salzburg!
We highly recommend that the walking tour is the first activity that you do in Salzburg so that you are aware of the highlights and can customize you itinerary to suit your interests. As we walked behind our guide, giggling at her witty comments and funny jokes, we made a mental note of the sites that we wanted to explore at ease. Here are our top ten picks to see and do in Salzburg:
- Streets of the UNESCO World Heritage site: The city center of Salzburg is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Salzburg is the meeting point of the German and Italian cultures and is an apt example of European ecclesiastical city-state, which still has well preserved building. Don’t forget to notice the metallic signs in front of the shops, which pictorially tell you what the shops sell… no language skills required.
- Mirabell Gardens: The Mirabell Palace and Gardens were built by Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau in 1606 as a token of his love for Salome Alt in 1606. Possibly, the gesture made Salmoe really happy, as legend says that she gave the Prince-Archbishop 15 children. Sound of Music fans will surely recognise this location as one of the shooting locales!
- Marienstatue at Domplatz: The Marien statue or the statue of Mother Mary in the cathedral at Domplatz is truly a fine piece of art. Here is what you need to do to get wowed… when coming from Franziskanergasse, face the Marien statue and follow the golden line. Start walking and soon you will realise that Mother Mary is being crowned by two angels!
- Salzburg Cathedral: If you have seen pictures of Salzburg, you have probably seen the patina covered dome of the Salzburg Cathedral or Dom. There is much history to be explored here. The site was home to a Christian church since 774, which was replaced by a Romanesque structure in ~1200. This Romanesque cathedral burned down 1598.
The then archbishop Wolf Dietrich decided to bring down the remnants and get a grand new cathedral constructed, with elaborate murals and fine marble. However, Dietrich was overthrown and the cathedral, as we see it today, was commissioned by Archbishop Markus Sittikus Count Hohenems and designed by the Italian architect Santino Solari. It was consecrated in 1628 by Archbishop Paris Count Lodron.
- Mozart Haus: No discussion on Salzburg is complete without saluting the great Mozart and no trip to Salzburg is complete without visiting Mozart’s birth place (Geburtshaus) and residence (Wohnhaus), that are two distinct buildings. Mozart was born in what is known as the ‘Hagenauer House’ at no. 9 Getreidegasse on the 27th January 1756. The was bright yellow (as it is now) house was his home until 1773.
Mozart’s ‘Geburtshaus’, post which, the family moved to a house, across the river, on the square then known as Hannibalplatz. Both these ‘houses’ are now museums that show snippets of Mozart’s life.
- Hohensalzburg Fortress: If you are in the Old Town of Salzburg, and I am sure that you will be there, you cannot miss the Hohensalzburg Fortress. This impressive 900 year old castle stands atop the Festungsberg hill and provides stunning views of the cathedral, cobbled streets and mountains and plains at a distance.
- Shopping: Ten days in Austria, and I can easily say that Salzburg is my favourite shopping destination. The little streets of Old Town hide treasures that bring out the cultural heritage. You can pick up a drindl for your self or a bride’s bouquet that is made of spices and continues to hold its fragrance for as long as fourteen years!
The streets hide fashion treasures – classy scarves, elegant shoes and glittering jewellery. Salzburg sure is a shopper’s paradise!
- Food: If you are foodie, Salzburg is an ideal destination to introduce you to Austrian food. Little cafes in the cobbled streets offer are perfect to enjoy a glass of Austrian wine with some delicious grilled dishes.
As a small snack, I loved the pretzels that were being sold on little stands – the smell of fresh bread always spikes up my appetite.
If you enjoy fine dining, head to one of the oldest restaurants in Europe – St. Peter Stiftskeller.
- Makartsteg: Locking our love on Pont des Arts in Paris was on my bucket list. However, that isn’t allowed anymore as the authorities have removed the locks from Pont des Arts in Paris. Makartsteg gave us the perfect opportunity to tick this item off our bucket list! This foot bridge over the Salzach river attracts lovers to literally lock their love. If romance is in your soul, lock your love here and seal it with a kiss.
- Horse Carriage Ride: The archbishops in Salzburg loved their horses and the stables occupy a considerable area in the Old Town. Well, the stables are there, and so are the horses. If you want to see the city the way royalty did, hop on to a horse drawn carriage i.e. hackney coach, don your hat and soak in the architecture and culture of Salzburg.
Salzburg has so much more to do, that this list can be really long! Do you have favourite sites or activities in Salzburg? Shore your thoughts…and let the travellers’ tribe grow!