Salzburg often gets lost in the shadows of Vienna, despite the fact that the festival city has plenty to offer besides Mozart. For example, Salzburg is home to Baroque palaces and gardens and a variety of museums. It also stages lovely evening concerts and boasts what is likely the best dessert in all of Austria – the Salzburger Nockerln sweet soufflé. Why not come along with me on my journey to Salzburg!
My companion and I embark upon our journey to Salzburg in the Railjet at daybreak. The countryside reveals itself in all of its facets during the journey, which takes a little more than five-and-a-half hours to complete. Flat stretches soon give way to majestic mountains and valleys lined with forests. The train ride is even more impressive than I imagined it would be.
I spend the last two hours of the journey visiting the Salzburg website in order to gain an initial impression of the Baroque city. I enjoy discovering a city in a spontaneous way with open eyes and an open mind. Nevertheless, I have noted a few must-sees and must-dos in my calendar. Now, we’ve finally arrived – our train rolls over a rail bridge towards the station, which itself offers a marvellous view of the city of Salzburg.
Full of anticipation, we drop off our luggage at the hotel and head over to Mirabell Palace. A horse-drawn carriage whooshes past us on the way. Austrians call this carriage a fiacre, and it was used in the past as the personal means of transportation for prince-bishops. It was these bishops who brought the Baroque style to Salzburg – and the most famous architects of the time to bring it to life.
We are greeted by lush flowers as we enter the Mirabell Palace Gardens. The flower arrangements nearly steal the show from the Hohensalzburg Castle fortress – the Salzburg landmark that looks down majestically from the hill above. Mirabell Palace is equally impressive, especially the Marble Hall where evening concerts are held.
After walking through small alleyways lined with typical shop signs, we arrive at Mozartplatz square, where we pick up our Salzburg Card at the tourist information office. The card is definitely worth it, since it allows us to use all public transport in the city and visit museums for free.
Mozart and the Domquartier.
From Mozartplatz we’re able to go directly to the Domquartier – Salzburg’s cathedral-museum complex. This is where the prince-bishops of Salzburg resided more than 350 years ago. You can get a pretty good idea of how they lived back then from the five museums at the complex. Our destination, however, is the fortress, which we’ve now got a lot closer to.
Still, we’re also hungry now, so we go to the Stieglkeller restaurant, whose great beer and secluded beer garden with a view of the Domquartier make it very popular among residents of Salzburg as well. My tip: Visit the restaurant in the autumn to enjoy the view in the golden light of the early evening.
On top of Salzburg.
Not too far from the Stieglkeller is the funicular that takes us up to the fortress quickly and comfortably. The view of the Baroque city gets more spectacular the higher we go. The fortress offers us the best view of the city and the surrounding countryside.
A great way to discover Salzburg.
In the afternoon, we stroll through Salzburg’s small streets and alleys and discover lovely little shops, cafés and interesting attractions. Here are just a few examples:
Mozart in your ear, a taste of Salzburg on your palate.
At the suggestion of some friends, we attend an evening performance of the Magic Flute at the Marionette Theatre. I have to admit that I can’t really imagine spending an evening with Mozart and puppets. However, as is often the case with preconceived notions, I find that I was wrong.
We’re given a look behind the scenes before the performance, and we discover that each marionette has been crafted with great devotion to detail. Every evening, ten puppeteers skilfully pull the strings to bring their puppets to life and enthral the audience.
As it turns out, I too am completely fascinated by the emotions that a talented puppeteer can elicit with his or her dexterous hands. It’s a true form of art, which is why I very much recommend a visit to the Marionette Theatre.
We round off the evening in the courtyard of the blaue Gans. At first we’re somewhat surprised by all the empty tables. However, after the evening’s Festival performance ends, the courtyard quickly fills up with guests dressed in flowing robes and evening gowns. Our meal of excellent seasonal dishes is superb – and it’s topped off by a dessert of Salzburger Nockerln sweet soufflé. The traditional recipe has been reinterpreted here: the soufflé is iced yet also velvety, creamy and fruity – an absolute dream! It’s now my new favourite dessert and the perfect end to a perfect day.
Water all around.
When we get up Sunday morning it’s raining, and it continues to rain the whole day. Saturday was just too good, I guess…
However, we take the bus out to Hellbrunn Palace. The lord of the palace, Markus Sittikus von Hohenems, was a bon vivant who had Hellbrunn built as a summer residence more than 400 years ago.
In order to “refresh” his guests, von Hohenems equipped his garden with special “watergames”, which are among the best preserved in the world today. One turn of a lever is all it takes to turn the long stone seating tablet in the garden into a fountain. I don’t think I need to explain which seat on the tablet always remained dry when the lord played his games.
Saying goodbye in style.
The clouds have grown darker and the rain is getting heavier, so we spend our last few hours in Salzburg in the Domquartier, where we visit the cathedral and its staterooms. Unfortunately, we’re not allowed to take any pictures in the museum. Still, the staterooms are definitely worth a visit.
We decide to go to St. Peter Stiftskeller for our final culinary experience in Salzburg: dining in the beautiful cellar vault is sensational – as is the Schnitzel the restaurant serves us.
We love Salzburg, even in the rain – and we’ll definitely be back!