Salzburg is well known as the birthplace and home for many years of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the place where much of The Sound of Music was filmed, but what else does it have to offer and can the herds of tourists be avoided?
My first visit to Salzburg was in the middle of July 2012 and while most of the UK was suffering from unusually cold weather and rain, Salzburg was a pleasant, sunny 26-28 degrees – which probably biases my post.
Overlooking the city is the Festung Hohensalzburg (Salzburg Fortress). This gives great views over the Old Town to the south of the Salzach River and the relatively newer part of the city to the north of the river. Its worth visiting first so as to get your bearings and, if early, maybe avoiding groups of tourists. However I visited at midday and it was relatively quiet with the numbers of people entering the fortress tour being strictly limited.
The river is crossed near the centre by three footbridges, but take care as these are also used by cyclists, as are many of the pedestrian streets and some parts of the promenades on either side of the river.
How to get there? Well I dropped in for a short break as part of a touring holiday by car in central Europe, but you can fly to Salzburg from London Stansted by Ryanair or, during the winter months, from Luton by Easyjet. The return fare varies from about £70 to £140; if you are a retired Senior then you can probably choose the low fare days.
There are many fine hotels in Salzburg, but on my most recent visit in July 2012 I opted for the Holiday Inn (IHG hotels) situated about 10 minutes walk from the city centre – a very friendly hotel. I was given a large balcony room on the second floor and of course received a Senior discount rate. There is also a Crowne Plaza and two Radisson Blu hotels near the centre, all of which offer Senior discounts – see Hotel Deals to find out how to get these discounts.
Although surrounded by hills, the centre of Salzburg is relatively flat and compact and so accessible to even less nimble Senior Travellers, hence my top 5 places to visit in Salzburg are all within this part of the city:
- Salzburg Fortress. Although you can walk up, there is fortunately the alternative of the Festungsbahn (Funicular). The ticket price of 11 Euros return includes entry to the fortress interior (with audio guide), the State Rooms, the Fortress Museum, Rainier Regiment Museum and the Marionette Museum.
- The Old Town with its baroque architecture. Don’t miss the Franciscan Church and the catacombs behind St Peter’s Abbey – a peaceful part of the city.
- There are two Mozart Houses; the one where he was born in the Old Town and the one where he worked to the north of the river. If you visit just one, and that’s probably enough, then I think the second is the more interesting. Don’t forget to claim your Senior discount (about 15%) on the admission ticket.
- Mirabell Palace and Gardens on the north bank. Although the Gardens are well set out with interesting monuments, they are not up to my Top Ten Gardens – maybe my Top Fifty!
- A pavement restaurant in Linzergasse, to the north of the river. After strolling around the city and along the banks of the Salzach, I enjoyed an excellent meal as I watched Salzburg evening life pass me by.
Don’t be put off by the tourist hype. I found Salzburg to be an attractive, welcoming city and relatively tranquil just a street or two away from the main tourist areas – but watch out for the cyclists!