There are very few places I have visited and thought ‘I’m finished with this place now, I never need to come back.’ Pretty much every country, city and even town I explore leaves me wanting more. However, there are only a few places I have been to that I could say I absolutely fell in love with. Salzburg was always in my top 5. I spent two days in the small Austrian city in July 2005, while on a three-week Interrail trip around Switzerland, Austria and Germany. I enjoyed every moment of it, from the Mozart immersion to the Sound of Music bus tour (yes, the latter was without doubt the highlight!).
It didn’t take much convincing to persuade my husband to take a day out of our time in Munich to hop across the border. Since I had previously visited Austria pre-geocaching, a return visit would mean an opportunity to earn another country souvenir!
Getting There from Munich
It takes just 1 hour and 45 minutes to get from Munich to Salzburg (even less on the high speed train). The best value is the Bayern Ticket, which allows up to 5 adults to travel anywhere in Bavaria on a regional train. We travelled on a Sunday and the ticket cost €31: that was just €15.50 return per adult.
Ticket machines at the station will give you all options – in English – for trains and ticket prices, but if in doubt, there are Deutsche Bahn staff on hand to help. I was unsure that the Bavaria Ticket would be valid to cross the border in to Austria, but a helpful station employee assured me if the machine offered it as an option, it was valid!
The most memorable part of my trip to Salzburg 12 years ago was the Sound of Music tour I did. I love The Sound of Music. I mean, I’m obsessed. So obviously, I met the various filming locations around the city with delight and (mostly) internal renditions of the various songs (The Lonely Goatherd being my absolute favourite!).
On this visit, we didn’t do the bus tour (although they still run twice daily with Panorama Tours), but we did visit some of the well-known locations. Our first stop, a 15 minute walk from the main train station, was Mirabell Gardens.
The gardens are attached to Schloss Mirabell, which was built in 1606 at the instruction of Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich Raitenau, who decided he wanted a palace for him and his mistress. Nowadays, the gardens are probably better known as an iconic filming location for the Julie Andrews musical. Fans of the film will easily recognise the fountain, where Maria and the von Trapp family danced around the pond edge singing Do Re Mi.
The gardens, and specifically the hedge tunnel, is where I found my first geocache in Austria. The muggle made a quick find and after getting my name in the logbook, I skipped down the tunnel, belting out a rendition of Do Re Mi à la Maria. There is no video footage, so you’ll just have to trust me.
Just a few minutes walk from Mirabell Gardens, at 8 Makartplatz, is the house where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lived from 1773 to 1781. Since 1996, the building has housed a museum documenting the world-famous composer’s life in Salzburg.
It costs €11 per adult to enter the museum and about an hour to fully take in all the exhibitions on show. Although two thirds of the building was destroyed in World War II, it has been reconstructed as close to the original layout as possible.
Outside the museum, is a contender for the best geocache I’ve found this year. The cache owner, LSOEVE, has turned clever urban caches in to an art form! I don’t like spoiling great caches like that for future finders, so I won’t post details but it definitely deserves the over 1,400 favourite points it has to date – a must-find for geocachers in Salzburg!
Mozarts Wohnhaus, GC459BJ
Love Lock bridge
Most European cities now have a love lock location – most frequently a bridge – and Salzburg is no different. The pedestrian bridge, Makartsteg, is lined on both sides with thousands of locks. It’s a bustling thoroughfare of tourists going back and forth to the Old Town. It’s also the best place to get a great view of the Old Town with Hohensalzburg Fortress towering high above.
Per sempre, GC39MHC
Unlike the Mozart Residence at Makartplatz, 9 Getreidegasse, where Mozart was born, boasts the original rooms. The family lived in the third floor apartment for 26 years. Stepping inside the museum feels like stepping back to the 18th century. Admission costs €11 per adult and a visit will last about an hour.
Mozarts Geburtshaus, GC3MN49
My last visit to Salzburg was in the middle of summer, and while I fell in love with the city then, the dusting of snow and twinkling lights of Christmas made this visit even more magical. Situated at the foot of the Hohensalzburg Fortress and nestled around the Cathedral of Salzburg, the festive market could not be in a more picturesque location.
We ambled past stalls of handmade ornaments, beautiful glassware, tasty treats and stopped for a much-needed mug of Glühwein when we couldn’t feel our fingers from the chilly Alpine clime.
I pointed out some Krampus cookies to my husband and enjoyed watching his reaction. Depicted as a sort of devil who had captured a terrified looking child, Krampus is supposed to keep naughty kids in line at Christmas time. The worst threat we ever heard was that we’d get a lump of coal instead of gifts from Santa Claus. I can’t imagine there are any disobedient children in Austria when Krampus is the one in charge of punishment!
It’s hard to miss the Hohensalzburg Fortress. It commands your attention sitting atop Festungsberg, looking down on to the Old Town. A short but steep funicular ride will take you up to the largest medieval castle in Europe.
The so-called ‘Basic Ticket’ costs €12 per adult and includes entrance to the museum inside the castle, as well as an audio guide. The best part of the experience, however, is the view. The castle’s commanding position provides unequalled vistas across the city.
The fortress is a great place to enjoy the sunset and we were lucky enough to catch a great one during our visit. The sky was such a vivid pink and orange that I almost missed Untersberg mountain looming in the distance.
I remembered Salzburg as this magical place that I visited 12 years ago. My second visit did not disappoint. In fact, it just compounded my love for the city. I have no doubt I will visit again, and I hope not to leave it so long the next time.
© 2017 | Sarah McLarkey | All Rights Reserved