What do you do when you’ve got a few spare days in Germany? Jump on a train for seven hours and head to Salzburg of course… It probably wasn’t the most practical option for us, but who cares. Salzburg is awesome.
We had just two days, which wasn’t really enough to do the city justice. I think you could easily spend a week exploring Salzburg and its pretty surrounds.
- Fraulien Maria’s Bicycle Tour
- Climb up to the castle (Hohensalzburg Fortress)
- Wander around Old Town
- Mirabell Palace Gardens
- Die Weisse
- Bärenwirt (traditional restaurant that’s been open since 1663)
- Die Weisse (great beer garden)
- Stiegl Keller (on your way down from the castle)
Fraulien Maria’s Bicycle Tour
Cue the Sound of Music soundtrack, it’s time to channel my inner fan girl.
I grew up watching this movie, so to say I was excited about this tour is putting it lightly. I started the day, keeping my cool – I didn’t want to be ‘that’ girl. By the end I didn’t care.
We started the 3.5 hour cycle tour, at Mirabell Palace, and cycled around the old town first – stopping at all the key movie spots along the way. We visited Rolph’s gate, the cemetary that inspired the hiding scene in the film (which was shot in a Hollywood studio), and one of the many fountains. After making our way up to Nonnberg Abbey, we rode out to the countryside. This is when the soundtrack was played (cue extreme happiness cycling amongst farmhouses, singing along).
We saw both the houses used for the Von Trapp home in the movie – one for the back of the house with the lake and the pink lemonade scene (which is now a hotel), and one for the ‘Confidence in me’ scene and entrance way (which is now used as a uni hall). We took turns doing our heel kicks.
The pergola has been moved to a park, as the owners of the first home got sick of people breaking in to visit. Unfortunately, it’s now locked as an old lady broke her hip while re-enacting 16-going-on-17 (more like 69-going-on-70), so we had to make do with a photo from outside.
It was time to head back, and I took care of the music on the way back.
Best. Morning. Ever.
We took the route not far from old town. Warning: it’s a hike, and fairly steep in parts, the 36 degree heat probably didn’t help either… You can take the funicular from the old town too if you’d like a more leisurely experience! We got up there at 6pm, so it wasn’t too busy, and we only had to pay four euro for an exterior only pass, rather than the usual 11.
I don’t have a hell of a lot of castles to compare it to – but I thought it was pretty cool. There were little rabbit warren laneways, and spectacular views galore. The castle, which started as a getaway for the Arch Bishop, grew and grew over the years – and it’s interesting to see the expansions depicted in a video in the chapel.
We wandered around for about an hour, before heading back down again, via Steigl Keller for a well-deserved drink with an awesome view.
Salzburg gained its wealth through the salt in its river, and you can tell it is and always has been a very wealthy city. The streets are well maintained, and the little baroque features on store fronts boast of how good life was here.
Salzburg’s Old Town is packed with shops, from the typical tourist gift shops, to Gucci, to traditional clothing shops. The shops themselves are small, and all are set on narrow laneways with alleys in between.
The downside, is this attracts a bucket load of tourists – it’s clearly a shopping destination.
Mirabell Palace Gardens
The story goes, the Arch Bishop, who was not allowed to marry, built the palace for his mistress, and the gardens for their 17 children… I don’t know if a palace is a fair trade for birthing 17 children, but there you go.
The gardens feature in the Sound of Music film, so I did my inner fan girl thing again and walked along the edge of the fountain, and skipped through the green archway.
We went a few times, once during the day, once at night, and once on our final morning. It was very peaceful in the evening, and made a great spot for a late night wander. Early morning was great too – but go before 9.30am as that’s when the tourist buses pull up. It was almost comical – there we were wandering around, and we turned around the next minute and the gardens were swarming – seriously! It was a crazy sight to see so many people flooding through all at once.
Again, with only two days – we barely scratched the surface of Salzburg. It’s such a vibrant, beautiful place. We both want to go back in winter time, one day!