Things to Do in
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Salzburg straddles Salzach River, sits across the border from Germany, and is flanked by the eastern Alps. By the name of the town and river, you can tell salt has been of major import here for over 1,000 years. Salzburg is dominated by the Christian faith with religious art, crosses, and monasteries in abundance. The Sound of Music certainly has put its mark on the town as well.
Visit Mirabell Gardens. Fantastic gardens and green space just across the river and the site of much of the filming of the do re mi song from the Sound of Music. Was fun to follow in the footsteps of the Von Trapps!
Stop at a few more landmarks on a self guided Sound of Music Tour: Residenzplatz Square: where Maria crossed singing “I Have Confidence in Me”, the Horse Fountain where Maria dipped her hand as she passed by, Mozartplatz - where the Von Trapp kids rode through in a carriage singing the popular “Do-Re-Mi” song, and the Nonnberg Abbey from the outside for free (to enter costs money). Not only is it the abbey that Maria from the Sound of Music was a postulant at starting in 1924, it is also the oldest continually running nunnery in the German speaking world.
Hike at Kapuzinerberg. A small mountain/large hill just across the river with paved and gravel hiking trails throughout. Heavily forested and a good reprieve from the sun. It has intermittent views of the fortress and you walk past several monasteries along the way.
See Mozart's residence while strolling through town. It is home to a museum dedicated to the brilliant composer. Seeing the outside is free.
Worth the Money
Hohensalzburg Fortress. This one is worth the cost of admission. It is a 900+ year old castle and salt sotrage fortification sitting atop a prominent hill in old town. It boasts incredible views from the top of the tallest tower in the castle.
Salzburg Marionette Theatre. Do this!. We saw a marvelous production of the Sound of Music there. We were slightly underdressed as the theatre and show were a bit more upscale than we had anticipated. It was absolutely fantastic and all of us loved it.
Try the Alpine Coaster Keltenblitz in Bad Durrnberg. It is a 2.2km track with great views of the Alps and surrounding countryside. The kids hooted and hollered all the way down.To get there, take train to Hallein and bus 41 to Bad Durrnberg. Check the bus schedule, it comes once hourly.
Take a day trip to Fuschl am See. Gorgeous lake with pure glacier fed waters. They have free spots to get in the water but we stopped at a Spa and health club” called Fuschlseebad. For <20 euros (because our youngest looks 6), we had access to a pool, a water slide, lakefront with floating diving dock, bathrooms and a restaurant. The beach is all rocks so we wore our Keen sandals.
Tips for Visiting
Keltenblitz Alpine Coaster - we had read about crowds so we came up with a plan to beat the crowds and it involved some down time.
We took the 7:51am train to Hallein, which got us there at 8:15, early enough to buy bus tickets and find the bus stop. This was earlier then we needed, you could take the next later train and be fine, the bus stop is right outside the train station. The bus tickets were easy to buy at a kiosk or the ticket office (both took credit card) for about $18 round trip for the family.
The stop for the coaster is the next one after the Salt Mine. From there you cross the street and hike up a few steps and take a path to the coaster.
We got there at 9:20, it opened at 10:00. We found a spot in the shade and enjoyed the view. At 10:00 we bought our family tickets for two rounds each which was adequate. We rode down and were able to get back on the chair lift while the people who got off the bus at 10:20 lined up for tickets.
We saw several people either bumping into the person in front of them or having to go slower than they preferred because of the person in front of them. Give the person in front of each of you plenty of time - just get in your car, ride forward to the green light and wait, and wait, and then a few seconds longer and you will be fine with a full stretch of rail in front of you. The attendant did not mind when we did this.
The return bus comes ONCE HOURLY. Double check your time tables but it came at 12 after the hour for us.
Hohensalzburg Fortress - Your ticket will come with a one way ride on the cable car - we thought hiking down was as hard as hiking up due to loose gravel and a steep drive. We bought the full pass but the basic pass would have been just fine.
Mirabell Gardens - watch a few clips from the movie first, particularly the full Do Re Mi sequence. Notice them posing like the statues when they enter the gardens and when the pat the head of the dwarf from the dwarf garden.
Fuschl Am See - we took the bus from the train station and it filled up before we left, everyone getting on in town had to stand. We got off one stop before the downtown Fuschl stop. There is a yellow street sign pointing down toward the lake across the street from the stop. This will take you to a small free lake access point. We did not stay there to swim and I wouldn’t call it a beach, but there was shade and water. We walked along the path toward town and stopped at Fuschlseebad.
Salzburg Marionette Theatre - it is worth paying a little extra for front theater seating. We were in row 2 and the kids had a great view. Booking through expedia would not let us choose rows but booking directly on their site did, and gave discounts for the kids.
Don’t go looking for Winkler Terrace mentioned in several posts as a great view of town.It has been replaced by the Museum of Modern Art and a restaurant. Both have great views of town.
Hiking around town - I’m not sure whether it was the language barrier, my lack of a sense of direction or truly poor signage, but it was hard to figure out where we were walking or what sights we might see.