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A short trip itinerary to Salzburg

Updated: Jun 10

Destination: Salzburg, Austria

Time of Year: Spring (April-May)

Mode of Transportation: Train ~6 hrs from Frankfurt by train

Last month the German rail company (Deutsche bahn) was running a promo on cheap tickets to travel to different parts of Europe. Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart, had always been on our lists of places to visit - so I took this opportunity to grab this deal. While booking tickets within Europe, you can also check out different options with Trainline.

Our journey started from Frankfurt railway station on a Thursday morning - the train reminded me of the old European movies. The Eurocity connection is an old train with only private coaches you have to share with others, what an exciting way to travel. The journey from Frankfurt to Salzburg took almost 6 hours, stopping at various stations in Germany including Munich. After Munich as the train turned to traverse the sprawling Alpine territory, snow capped mountains stole our heart.

Where to stay?

Salzburg can be quite expensive to stay in - we were lucky to find a great deal on Old town Salzburg is very easily walkable, and if you are staying away from the old town then it's just as easy to get on one of the buses to reach your destination. We were staying about 15 mins away from the old city, in an an area called Gnigl - I would totally recommend booking Hotel Turnerwirt. We had a room with balcony and woke up everyday to a view of the Alps in our backyard.

How travel within Salzburg?

If you have to take buses frequently, we recommend that you take the day pass online in the Salzburg Verkehrsbund app . You can also buy bus tickets from Tobacco shops or the bus drivers, but it gets slightly more expensive. The day pass costs 4.5 eur and will break even if you make at least 3 trips.

View of Alps from the hotel balcony

After dropping our bags and a quick lunch, we took out our cameras to explore the city. Salzburg (Salt Castle in German) is divided by the Salzach river, with medieval and baroque buildings of the pedestrian Altstadt (Old City) on the left bank, and the more modern 19th century Neustadt (New city) on the right. The fortress of Hohensalzburg, one of the largest medieval fortresses in Europe dating back to the 11th century grabs your eye from every corner of the city. Our first destination is the Hohensalzburg fortress, situated atop a hill. The walk upto the hill can be very steep and tiring, so we recommend taking the city funicular to go there. However if you do decide to walk, like we did (and don't forget to put on sturdy and comfortable shoes) - you will be gifted with mesmerizing views over the city and the mountains. The steep staircase from Felsenreitschule took us to the top of the city, from where we started climbing. Since it was already late afternoon, there were less people. A steep climb of about 30 mins took us to the viewing platform of the castle - through the inner walls of the castle you can walk to different viewing points to have panoramic views of the city and the valley below. We recommend visiting the castle either at sunrise or before sunset to get the best views of the city.

View of Salzburg from Hohensalzburg Fortress

After coming down to the city, we visited the famous Getreidgasse - a busy shopping street in the old city. The hidden alleyways through the city and the view of the mountains on one side and the castle on the other makes this street a must visit. The architecture is characterized by beautiful doorways and narrow windows with old houses decorated with important dates and names of famous owners. No. 9 Getreidgasse (today a museum) is the birthplace of the famous music composer and the immortal wunderkind, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart back in 1756. At every corner of the city visitors bump into Mozart - rendering the city its rightful name as the City of Mozart.

The through-alleys of Getreidgasse are a special attraction - if you watch closely you'll see people disappearing behind thick walls and appearing on the other side. This was one of our most fun activities, finding hidden passages and alleys through the buildings. These corridors were created to create connections between the Getreidegasse and the Griesgasse, the Salzach and Universitätsplatz, and the Kollegienkirche. Some of the passageways became shopping arcades and to this day offer glimpses into inner courtyards with historical remains from earlier times, e.g. coats of arms, writings, columns, arches, reliefs.

Our next attraction is the beautiful Mirabell garden and the Mirabell castle. Located in the heart of the city, the palace and its gardens is a listed cultural heritage monument. The garden as well as the Angel staircase (photo below) are free to enter, and are open from 6am to dusk. The palace has a very rich history, and today it houses the city's administration and the mayor's offices. Several important scenes in the world famous movie, 'The Sound of Music' were shot here, for eg. the Pegasus fountain where Maria and the seven children danced and sang 'Do Re Mi'. Visitors can also do the Original sound of music tour to visit the many sites around Salzburg where the movie was shot.

Salzburg is also home to famous restaurants serving sumptuous Austria food and beer, if you are a beer fanatic like I am - then you should definitely visit the many local breweries of Salzburg.

Our recommendations of restaurants and breweries:

  • Strenbräu: For lunch try out the famous pork roast in beer sauce with a local Stern beer in the quaint beer garden of this brewery.

  • Lindy's Wein & Aperobar: You will surely have a great time in this bar in the old city - the owner is very warm and always makes conversations. Try out the dry weins which are local to the area at a very reasonable price.

  • Burschenschaft Germania Salzburg is another amazing brewery you should try. Their food and beer are delicious and the crew are very welcoming and warm.

  • The Heart of Joy : This restaurant is great for a hearty breakfast or lunch and is especially well-suited for vegetarians and people keeping a gluten-free diet. The omelette was excellent and they offer a gluten-free bread choice for all the sandwich options. If you stop by, don't forget to try one of their delicious desserts - we suggest the brownie!

  • Alchimiste Belge: A cosy bar in a calm side street in the old city with several great belgian beers on tap.

  • Die Weisse: Another excellent local brewery with typical Austrian indoor/outdoor sitting serving their exceptional beers. And if you are gluten-free like Carly, thex offer a great gluten-free beer.

The next day we took a short day trip to Berchtesgaden and Schönau am Königssee in Germany for some amazing views of the alps. We took the bus, which was the fastest and cheapest (11€ day ticket) option, although you can also take a train or rent a car. Check out the bus schedule in the OBB website since the schedule changes for weekdays and weekends, and between summer and winter.

To go by bus, catch the 840 at the Salzburg Hauptbahnhof-Österreich station (in front of Akakiko Sushi on Karl-Wurmb-Straß), we suggest getting there early as the bus fills up quickly and you'll want a forward facing seat to take in all the views and avoid getting carsick as the bus weaves through the winding mountain roads. The 840 bus ends in Berchtesgaden where you can transfer to the 841 to Schönau am Königssee. Berchtesgaden is a small village surrounded by impressive views of the Alps, but the main attraction is the Kehlsteinhaus (Eagle's Nest), a Nazi-era building atop the mountain with stunning panoramic views that was built as a gift for Adolf Hitler to mark his 50th birthday. The single road to access the Kehlsteinhaus leaves from Berchtesgaden where you can travel by bus and lift (or foot, if you are feeling really fit and adventurous!) to access the now-mountain restaurant. Because of the altitude, snowy conditions prevented us from being able to visit the historic Kehlsteinhaus, so if this is an attraction you'd like to visit, we suggest going after May but before October.

Even though we missed out on the Eagle's Nest, we loved spending extra time at Schönau am Königssee. The lake is beautiful set among the picturesque backdrop of the towering alps. We did a quick circular hike to the Malerwinkel viewpoint which is well-worth the incredible views. We had plans to visit the Königsbach Wasserfall and take a boat tour on Königssee, but the weather had different plans and decided to rain heavily on-and-off for most of the afternoon - not great hiking or boating conditions! So instead we settled down at Gaststätte Echostüberl for a great lunch and an incredible view as rain pummeled the lake and misty clouds lingered in the valley. We would recommend trying out this place, since this is a on the opposite side of the lake with incredible views of the Alps, and also less touristy. All in all, still a great day trip, even in less-desirable weather! Make sure you arrange to get back to Berchtesgaden before the last bus back to Salzburg at 6:15pm (while we were there, the bus was not running very frequently), otherwise you will have to travel back by train and pay for an additional ticket. We arrived back in Salzburg in time for dinner, highly suggest you make a reservation for in advance and we learned the hard (and hangry!) way that most restaurants were completely booked on Saturday evening.

We did this trip over 3 days, and recommend two days to explore Salzburg and one day for a day trip to the many attractions around the region. We loved our time in Salzburg, and if we did this trip again, here's some things we'd do again, and few things we'd do differently:

Things we'd do again:

  • City hike to Hohensalzburg, incredible city views that are worth the tired legs!

  • Day-trip to Berchtesgaden and Schönau am Königssee, the views of the Alps were just incredible!

Things we'd do differently:

  • We would plan for only 1-2 days in Salzburg and instead travel to more of the surrounding areas.

  • We would rent a car – you don't need one if you stay in the city, but we really wanted to explore areas that were in driving distance but not easily accessible by transit like some of the nearby hiking trails, schlosses, and cities (like Hallstatt).

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Hey there! If we are meeting for the first time, we are Carly & Arya, a binational couple living in Germany and traveling the world. Arya is from India, and Carly is from the US and we have been married since 2021. We hold steady 9-5 jobs while traveling the world. We are excited to share our story and unique perspectives with you. Take a look around, and don't forget to subscribe to our updates and follow us on Instagram

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