This European Fairytale City is the Boyhood Home of Mozart — Can You Guess?
Along with the setting of The Sound of Music.
I arrived in Hallein, a city outside of Salzburg, late in the evening after a 13-hour train from Milan, Italy.
I was staying with a friend and got greeted by a hot, late-night home-cooked meal.
A little more about the city of Salzburg. . .
Salzburg is the fourth-largest city in the country of Austria. Around 150,000 citizens live within the city bordering Germany.
Salzburg is known worldwide for many things:
Its renowned “Old Town” is one of the best-preserved city centers of Europe. Centuries-old baroque architecture remains in wonderful condition.
Salzburg is home to one of the greatest composers of all time; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
If you have ever seen the musical/movie “The Sound of Music”, Salzburg is the setting of that film.
The city, although not huge, has three universities. Students flood the city day and night. It creates an electrifying atmosphere at almost any time you visit.
On the first day, we went to Afro Café for lunch. It had a stereotypical African feel to it. Perhaps, it was authentic.
It was a bit expensive, but the lunch special is around $9. It is in a good location in-between various attractions and is a convenient lunch spot. The café is consistently ranked among Salzburg’s best food stops.
For dinner, we stopped for some food at Burgerista. Burgerista felt very American-like. Big burger baskets for around $10. A juicy one for those looking for a filling meal.
Over the course of the week, I had several traditional Austrian meals including Essigwurst (a ham stew-type dish). Pizzabroetchen and Kasnocken which isn’t too traditional after all.
And of course the infamous Austrian wiener schnitzel. All of the meals were absolutely delicious and I’d go back and eat Austrian cooking any day!
After dinner, we headed out to O’Malley’s Irish pub. There was a nice Friday night crowd inside but the bar is caught between identities.
It had the look of a small joint where one would usually run into “regulars”. Instead, they were playing obnoxiously loud music with a make-shift dance floor. Those who were not dancing (most of the people) were sitting, trying to converse over the noise.
We decided to move to Flip; another overcrowded bar but with a good atmosphere. The bar district in Salzburg was pretty crazy and right in the middle of the city center. It’s a must-do when in Salzburg.
Sightseeing– Things to do in Salzburg
Here are a few of my favorite places in Salzburg:
Hallein Salt Mine
After, we went to the Hallein Salt Mine — only a 20-minute train ride from Salzburg city center. At first, I didn’t know what to expect. But after touring it, I was happy we decided to do it. I had never been in such a place. We crossed the border to Germany in deep underground tunnels. Eventually, we crossed back into Austria, but it was an unusual experience.
The next morning, we did an early morning hike up Barmstein mountain. Locals refer to it as a “small hill”. It was totally underplayed.
This is a huge rock formation jetting out into the sky around 800-meters tall. Two rock formations jet out, we chose to hike the smaller one. The taller is a more strenuous, dangerous climb.
Nevertheless, the smaller one wasn’t much smaller. It is still an exhilarating hike. It offered a beautiful city view on a gorgeous day in Hallein. Barmstein is no more than 10 miles from Salzburg city center.
The next day, we got out and did some real, genuine off-road mountain biking. The city is great for it.
There are numerous adventure sports stores available to rent a bike. All within walking distance of the city center. It was one of my favorite things we did in Salzburg.
We stopped near the top with a nice view. On the way down, it was a race to beat the rain in which we won.
In the evening, my friend wanted to take me to Gaisberg (Salzburg’s tallest peak in which you can drive all the way up). Unfortunately, when we got there, the storm had created a fog so strong that we couldn’t even see 15 feet in front of us.
It wasn’t much of a view, obviously. I’d like to return to Salzburg so I can try my luck atop Gaisberg again.
Museums, Museums, and Museums. . .
The next day, we spent time hitting up all the Salzburg museums we could take.
My favorite one was the Nature Museum. We also saw Mozart’s birth home and the house he grew up in. It was furnished with all his original pianos.
I even saw a man composing his own music where Mozart composed his hundreds of years ago. I can imagine that was something out of a dream for that man.
Museums aren’t my thing, but for those who enjoy museums, Salzburg is good for it.
You can purchase an all-inclusive Salzburg city attractions pass for under $50. That is good for up to 4 days. It ended up saving us a lot of money, but most attractions are museums. They wouldn’t otherwise attract me.
On my final day in Salzburg, we had a full day planned. First, we visited Hohensalzburg Castle.
No matter where you are in the city, you can look to the hilltop in the middle and see the giant white castle. I was excited to walk inside and it didn’t disappoint.
We couldn’t have asked for better weather that day for viewing. The viewing deck offers an excellent panoramic view of the entirety of Salzburg.
Everything about it was perfect. We went on the audio tour and I learned quite a bit about the castle’s changing history as well.
My friend grew up in Salzburg, yet, it was his first time in the castle. It was a new experience for both of us.
Afterward, we went to the Stiegl beer brewery and took a guided tour. It was well worth the trip outside of the city center. Plus, it’s included on the attraction pass I mentioned earlier.
Stiegl prides itself as being the only beer company in Salzburg not owned by a larger corporation. The tour was more personal than other brewery tours I’ve been on because of it.
When we finished the tour, we tried 6 different beers all included in the tour. Each had a distinct taste and none were distasteful.
Finally, we went on a walking tour through the heart of Salzburg.
It covered a lot of ground in a little amount of time. We saw Residenzplatz, the Salzburg Cathedral, Festungsberg, and St. Peter’s Abbey monastery.
Salzburg’s city center is very pedestrian-friendly. Not to mention quite beautiful around every corner. Brick-laid back alleys and the feel of a very sophisticated tight-knit community.
More attractions, bars, and restaurants in Salzburg. . .
- Mirabell Palace — 17th Century palace and botanical garden
- Hellbrunn Palace — Renaissance palace and parkland
- Hangar-7– owned by Redbull CEO full of racing planes and Formula 1 cars
- Christmas Markets — a must if you visit during the holiday season (runs from the third week of November until Dec. 26th)
- Stern Bräu– perfect for an authentic Austrian meal in the city center
- Café Fürst– the perfect place to take in Salzburg’s coffee culture and people-watching
It was an excellent trip visiting one of my best friends. I couldn’t have asked for a better time. I felt as if I got a complete taste of all Salzburg/Austria.
If you are visiting Salzburg, don’t be afraid to get in touch with me with questions. If I can’t answer them, I know my friend will.
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** This article was originally published at www.adamcheshier.com **