Who hasn’t heard of the city of Salzburg? It is the city of Mozart and the world-famous Sound of Music; visit to see everybody running around in Dirndl and Lederhosen (we aren’t) singing the Austrian national anthem “Edelweiß” (it isn’t). Yeah, hmmm… not exactly.
There are two sides to Salzburg.
If you haven’t been to Austria before, I highly recommend a “Sound of Music Tour” – it might be a bit cliche, but you will see the rolling hills which “are alive with the sound of music”. While also getting to explore beautiful lakes and picturesque sites like Mirabell Palace, Nonnberg Abbey, Castle Leopoldskron, and the famous Trapp Villa. Just buy yourself a Dirndl, grab a camera and re-enact your favourite scene from this iconic movie. Twirl around green meadows in the beauty of the Alps, singing “the hills fill my heart with the sound of music, my heart wants to sing every song it hears” at the top of your lungs. But be prepared to meet lots of like minded tourists…
As somebody who lives in Salzburg, I know the daily struggle in the old town. You see lots of tourists bustling through the city and moving along through the narrow, winding alleyways. You can catch glimpses of them buying Mozart sweets (Mozartkugeln) and paying “tourist rates” in restaurants around the centre city. There are many knock-off versions of this delicious sweet, but if you want the handmade original, go for the ones produced by
Cafe Fürst – you won’t regret it.
In my opinion, the best way of exploring the beautiful city of Salzburg is to stroll around like a local. So, here are some insider tips to explore Salzburg like a real Salzburger!
When it’s sunny relaxing on the grassy banks of the river Salzach is a definite must do. You’ll see groups of friends, couples and families sitting right at the water’s edge, relishing in the sunshine, eating ice cream or enjoying a picnic.
The right place to find food for these picnics are the many markets all over the city. There are weekly farmer’s markets at the Schranne & Kajetanerplatz, and a daily one at Grünmarkt. You can find all kinds of fresh, local and organic products at a number of different vendors – cheese from Gastein, bacon from Hallein, bread from Flachgau, fish from crystal clear lakes, vegetables from small farms, you name it and you’ll probably find it in one of these markets. The only downside is that they start quite early in the morning and close around about noon, however you can get a bargain if you go in just before they close. Don’t forget to eat at the markets too, some of the vendors sell fresh hot meals like fried chicken, sausages or cakes!
Speaking of food: forget the ‘famous Austrian cuisine’ for a moment; there is a unique and delicious alternative. When in Salzburg, go for Balkan food – this sounds strange, but there is a large community of different Balkan countries in Salzburg and lucky for us they brought their delicious food with them. You absolutely have to try Bosna, the Balkan way of preparing a hotdog. They are beef sausages served in a long bun with mustard, chopped raw onions (avoid on first dates!) and parsley, topped with curry powder. There are a number of small Bosna Grills in the small alleys of the old town, and like in Vienna, you will find a perfect cross-section of Salzburg society there. If you are looking for a rich and tasty breakfast without the frills and thrills of a triple-choco-cinnamon-latte or a cream cheese and salmon bagel, look no further than the ‘Balkanbäckerei’. They are open everyday from six in the morning and serve authentic food like burek (flaky pastry with all kinds of savory fillings).
For those of you who are more active during your travels, I highly recommend the Müllnerschanze, this is a part of the Mönchsberg mountain in the middle of the city. Here you find about 15 different climbing routes, ranging from easy to difficult, meaning there is something to suit every level of fitness. If you are not into climbing, don’t despair! There is a nice picnic area right next to the routes where you have a fantastic view over the old town and the river Salzach. This is also the starting place for a walk to the Salzburg fortress on top of Mönchsberg mountain, from which you will have a beautiful view over the whole city and can gaze to the picturesque mountains in the distance.Finally, my last tip is for all you culture vultures… When in Salzburg, make sure to buy the Salzburg-Card, it is a card that grants you access to all museums, historic sights and all forms of public transport. Depending on the duration of your visit, you can choose between a 24, 48 or 72 hour-ticket. So,if it’s raining, which happens a lot in Salzburg, you can seek shelter in one of the 32 different exhibitions. During the summertime look for billboards along the river Salzach – they promote free concerts in the parks of Salzburg.