Remember the movie The Sound of Music? Well, you’ll find a lot of the scenes from the movie here in Salzburg. And it is as beautiful as the movie makes it out to be with stunning lakes, mountains and villages to explore. Salzburg is also known for its salt mining (explains the name), being Mozart’s birthplace and the 11 Archbishops that governed the town before times changed.
How to get there
British Airways was our choice of airline with the cheapest flights for the date and times we wanted to fly. But instead of booking directly, we booked via Expedia because it was cheaper. Cost £101 plus £55 taxes and fees each for the 1.5 hour flight from London.
Because we arrived at Salzburg airport around 8pm we decided to speed up the journey and caught a taxi from outside the airport. It took about 15 to 20 minutes to get to our accommodation and cost €14.50 which was cheaper than the MyTaxi option offered by Google.
Where to stay
We chose to stay at the Stone Lodge Apartments on Steingasse. Our silver apartment is one of five apartments built into the mountains, equipped with a coffee machine and artwork for sale. There’s a roof terrace if you’re interested in relaxing in the chairs and admiring the view of the castle. There’s no face to face interaction with the hosts as there is no reception and you are given a code instead of keys. We used Booking.com to find and book our accommodation at Stone Lodge Apartments.
Things to see and do
The top five things to do in Salzburg in our opinion are:
- Try a bosna sausage from Sailer’s near Mirabell Platz, Gerhard Sailer has owned the business for 22 years and it’s his own recipe, low fat and he loves a chat!
- Walk through UNESCO Mirabell Gardens for its colourful flowers and palace backdrop
- Take a boat to villages like St Wolfgang and St Gilgen in the mountains for their beautiful views, architecture and history
- Eat goulash in local pub Andreas Hofer on the Steingasse away from the main tourist area (we went there twice it was so good!)
- Ride the funicular up to Hohensalzburg Castle and make your way to the top of the castle for great views of the city
- Check flight prices with Expedia or similar before booking directly with airlines in case you can get a better price but watch out for websites like GoToGate, we’ve had bad experiences with them!
- Save money by buying your breakfast and lunch from local supermarkets Billa or Spar
- Leave your umbrella at home, they’re often provided as part of your accommodation
- Travel to Salzburg outside peak times particularly the busy summer period (June to August)
- Book restaurants in advance to avoid disappointment
The rest of Day 1
On the walk to our accommodation from the taxi drop off point, we noticed a few restaurant choices for dinner. Andreas Hofer Weinstube was the most popular so we returned there after dropping off our bags. I ordered goulash as you do in Austria. It costs €10 and it was SO good! Slow cooked beef with a delicious sauce and bread dumpling. Yum. Aside from good food our first impressions of Salzburg were how clean it was, the bright stars in the clear night sky and the fresh air.
Day 2 – Meeting Gerhard and exploring the city, lakes and mountains
Having travelled quite a lot, you’d think we would remember to pack the world travel adaptor. Nope! So after a visit to Spar for breakfast (rolls, ham, cheese and bananas) we caught the bus (€2.60 each) out of town to Media Market. After a quick round trip we returned to our accommodation and charged up our phones before making our way to a city tour we booked online the previous night. Special note: we saw a red squirrel with some kind of nut/fruit in his or her mouth as it scurried up the mountain near our accommodation.
The meeting point for the tour was Mirabell Platz and after checking in with Grayline they directed us to the Panorama company umbrella stand. We were early so after confirming our arrival we crossed the road for a coffee which Austria is also known for. And it WAS good.
The city tour started at 12 midday and our guide invited us to sit in the front of the minibus with him. He thought we were honeymooners and we went along with it for a while before fessing up, getting a playful punch in the shoulder in return. There were eight people in total, less than what I expected. This is one of the benefits of travelling outside the summer season and the perfect sized tour to ask questions. Highlights included seeing where Mozart lived and wrote 125 compositions, the house (more like mansion) that featured in the Sound of Music movie where they now have concerts spreading out onto the water and the view of the Old Town from the bridge, specifically the churches and their varying styles of architecture. The city tour lasts one hour.
With a one hour break before the lakes and mountains tour (total €55 per person including the city tour) we went on the search for lunch and found Gerhard. I mean Sailers. Gerhard Sailer is the owner and has been for 22 years. He serves the traditional bosna which is two thin sausages in a bun with mustard, onion and spices but he offers something different. His own low fat recipe. And local Steigl beers in bottles that once you’ve finished, he collects because they’re reused and refilled by the beer company. Verdict on the bosna? Well I don’t normally like mustard but it was good and I’d buy it again. For two bosnas and a large Steigl beer it will set you back about €11. Cheap lunch for two people if you ask me.
At 2pm we departed on a large tourist bus to see the lakes and mountains. The demographic was let’s say, slightly (a lot) older than us including the tour guide but we still managed to have a good time. Highlights were seeing the RedBull headquarters, St Wolfgang and St Gilgen villages and the boat ride on water that at its deepest point is around 100 metres. This tour lasted 4 hours. If you’re a Sound of Music fan, book the Sound of Music tour instead and get your vocals ready.
Our city tour guide had pointed out Mirabell Gardens earlier so we decided to walk through them before dinner. They are stunning with their red, pink and yellow flowers among the lush green grass and Mirabell Palace in the background. There’s also some interesting statues nearby. We attempted to copy their stance but have no clue about their story or why they’re there. This is what happens away from knowledgeable tour guides.
For dinner we chose Bärenwirt from a quick Google search for the best schnitzel and were able to walk there from Mirabell Gardens. Lucky for us there was one table available, the rest were booked! See earlier tips. Despite the schnitzel drawcard, Harry ordered fried chicken and salad and I ordered a cheese dish which was essentially macaroni cheese. Prepare to eat loads of carbs in Austria. Harry’s dish came with a side of potato salad and we both tried another local 0.5l beer. For something new drizzle pumpkin seed oil over your potato salad. Pretty delicious! Total cost €33 plus tips. Speaking of food, we stopped in at the Billa supermarket on the walk home to pick up breakfast for the morning.
Day 3 – Old Town, Hohensalzburg Castle and live music
Ahhh it’s nice to be on holidays and have a sleep in. It’s also nice not to have plans for the day. First we climbed onto the roof terrace of the Stone Lodge Apartments for a better view of the castle and agreed we’d make it there sometime today. The sun was shining so next we took the opportunity to explore the streets of the Old Town and discovered a market offering mostly food. Harry tried a Salzburger which was similar to a standard beef burger and I tried a salad sandwich and cheese pretzel from different stands. Each cost between €3 and €4.
Mozart Kugeln is everywhere in Salzburg and is a type of chocolate. Our friend Gerhard had recommended a place near Mirabell Platz but instead we tried some in the Old Town. There are so many different kinds to choose from! We tried the one in the blue and silver wrapping. It’s different and I would say an acquired taste. You never know, you might have the tastebuds for them! Expect to pay around €1 each or more for the single chocolates from the glass cabinets.
As we continued our stroll around the area including the cathedral, we stopped to watch a man drawing a caricature. Harry and I had wanted to get one done for ages so agreed that because we’d saved money on breakfasts and lunches, we’d go ahead and do it. Cost €35 for two people or €20 if you’re solo. What do you think, did he do a good job? And just for the record I was not wearing love heart earrings or necklace.
Next the castle. Cost is €15 each and includes an audio guide and return ride on the funicular alongside the mountain. It’s quick! Highlights of the castle include the ballroom still used for events today, views of Salzburg from the (windy!) top and the kissing grotto where in exchange for €1 you can kiss your partner to guarantee everlasting love. Silly but romantic. While at the castle we learned in the magical theatre that with the introduction of print and the discovery of America, people became more confident in themselves and less in the church. Therefore eventually Salzburg was no longer ruled by the church.
To start the evening and celebrate the last of the sun we had a drink outside at the Afro Cafe. The furnishings are brightly coloured and there are flowers everywhere for the bees to enjoy. Next we tried the Republic Cafe which was good but lacked atmosphere during our visit. Check out what’s on as they had a DJ brunch earlier and seemed to be getting ready for a busy night.
After a quick stop at our accommodation to change for the cool night air, we went to Andreas Hofer for dinner. Again. And instead of trying something new I ordered the goulash. Again. The golden retriever at the table next to us was keen on it too and kept making his or her presence known by giving my chair a bump every now and then.
If you’re into live music, get yourself to Plan B before 8pm for free entry and a seat to watch some talented musicians. We saw Dos and Dust, an acoustic folk band which is my favourite genre. How lucky! It’s a truly local experience as people who recognise each other give each other a hug and kiss before making themselves comfortable with a drink in hand. At the end of the performance a hat is passed around for the musicians and everyone is quite generous.
Day 4 – Off to Vienna!
Time to say bye to Salzburg and board the 10:52am train to Vienna. It departs from Hauptbahnhof station and instead of walking we caught the bus there from the stop nearest our accommodation. I wonder what Vienna will be like compared to Salzburg?
You can read about our 3 days in Vienna including how to get there, where to stay, things to see and do, general tips and our travel itinerary and daily diary.