Known for its beautiful landscapes being the setting of The Sound of Music and for being the birthplace of musical composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Salzburg described in one word can only be: ‘breathtaking’.
Salzburg is embedded in my memory as being the first place in Europe that I went to on my own and I will always have that memory and special place in my heart. How I got to Salzburg (aside from on a place!) is that I was at work on a Wednesday and felt like I needed a city break over the coming weekend. I went on Ryanair to see where I could go and bam! Salzburg, return trip £30. Next thing I knew, I got an email confirmation saying I was leaving for Salzburg at 8:00am on Saturday, returning 13:00 on Sunday.
I remember feeling anxious, nervous and really excited all at the same time. I had always wanted to go to Salzburg but the thought of going to a country where English was not the first language on my own terrified me but you’ve got to start somewhere right?
Salzburg borders Germany and faces the Eastern Alps and is Austria’s fourth-largest city. Fun fact: Salzburg means “Salt Castle” and derives from the barges carrying salt along the River Salzach.
As the plane was descending into Salzburg airport, I remember looking out the window and getting this profound feeling of excitement. It was nice to see the scenic Alpine in all its glory and it reminded me of the hills and mountaintops at home in New Zealand.
I stayed in an all-female, six bed dorm at the Meininger Hostel. Quick review: the hostel was fine, it has a lift and a rooftop terrace, which was lovely and the location was great! It was close to all the tourist attractions and meant that I could walk everywhere. I even made a couple of friends while I was there!
When I arrived, I headed straight to the old town center where I did a quick wander around and saw the Mozart statue and the Salzburg Cathedral.
I then made my way to Hohensalzburg Fortress, which sits on top of Festungsberg and is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe. To get to the top, you can either walk or pay to ride in the funicular. Because I’m lazy, I paid to use the funicular but to be fair, my admission to the castle was free because I had a Salzburg Card which I highly recommend by the way! You can get a card for 24, 48 or 72 hours and price is dependent on which one you opt for. As I was only there for 24 hours, I paid a one-off fee of €29.
I also visited the Marionettenmuseum (Marionette Museum), which is inside the castle. It’s a room filled with puppets, including the von Trapp family. It was kind of creepy if I’m being honest but hey, each to their own ay.
After visiting the castle, I made my way down to the Salzburg Museum, which is housed within the magnificently restored Neue Residenz. There’s plenty of artifacts and valuable art objects to see in the museum and there were a few art installations as well.
After that, I wandered through the old town and picked up a Starbucks coffee (cultured, I know!). It started becoming a thing for me to do that on my travels – much like Amelie and her gnomes – I collect Starbucks coffee. I also find it fascinating to see how my name gets spelt in different countries.
As Salzburg is quite small, it’s easy to get around. I went across the bridge to get to the hostel to check-in and it was lovely wandering around. As with most cities these days, there was a lock bridge.
Later that afternoon, I visited the Mirabell Palace and its wonderful gardens (best known for being the setting for when Maria and the von Trapp children sang ‘Do-Re-Mi’ in The Sound of Music). I explored the palace and the entire gardens before finding a patch of grass to lie in.
The Palace was built in 1606 at the request of Prince Archbishop Wolf Dietrich Raitenau as a ‘pleasure palace’ for himself and his mistress Salome Alt. It was allegedly built within six months and named Altenau Castle. It’s current name ‘Mirabell’ means ‘amazing’ and ‘beautiful’ in Italian and was given by Raitenau’s successor, Mark Sittich. Aptly named I think.
After deciding I was actually quite hungry, I found a supermarket and spent about an hour there looking at all the interesting things I had never seen before (well, it was all mainly different types of cured meats, cheeses and sauerkraut) before finally deciding on what I was going to eat.
Then I got lost.
But getting lost in a strange city isn’t such a bad thing – especially when it’s a small city like Salzburg.
I got lost because my phone died so I didn’t have access to maps. I had to rely on the power of memory to backtrack to the hostel and to be honest, I wouldn’t trust my own memory so I knew this was going to be an adventure and a half. It wasn’t going too badly until it started raining and I had neither an umbrella nor a raincoat to shield me. Again, all part of the adventure right?
After trekking for about half an hour, I finally made my way back to the hostel where I devoured my food and had an early night because I had an early flight to catch the next day.
Salzburg is undeniably beautiful and I’d definitely recommend it as a place to visit, particularly if you’re looking for somewhere to go on a city break. Price-wise, it wasn’t too bad. I think I spent a total of £100 including taxis to the town centre and from the hostel to the airport. It helped that I had a Salzburg card. I think I would’ve easily spent more if I had gone out for meals as well.
I feel like there’s so much more to see in Salzburg but I think I did enough to satisfy my city break for a one-night trip. I’d definitely go back – I’d love to see more of the alps and the Folklore Museum. I think Salzburg would be the perfect city to go to for Christmas – apparently they’ve got an amazing Christmas market!
Have you been to Salzburg or are you planning a trip there? I’d love to know about your trip or your plans!