I will warn you at the outset. If you are not a big fan of the classic ‘The Sound of Music’, Salzburg may not be tops on your Austria travel itinerary. But if you are a die-hard fan like I am, Salzburg promises to be a sweet childhood nostalgia trip! Plan your Salzburg travel for about two days, and you can easily visit all Salzburg attractions.
I arrived at Salzburg Hauptbahnhof – the main railway station after boarding a train from Munich. At the information office, I picked up the Salzburg card – that guarantees free public transport as well as a one-time admission fee to the Salzburg attractions. “Don’t you want to book the Sound of Music tour?” the lady at the desk asked me, a little surprised that I had not even inquired about it. “Nah! Think I’ ll figure out the itinerary myself”, I grinned back at her, confident about all the prep I had done for this trip. With an evening train back to Munich, I had chalked out the following Salzburg itinerary.
1) Salzburg Hauptbahnhof to Nonnberg Abbey
Maria Kutschera, on whose life the movie “Sound of Music” was based, was a novice nun at the Nonnberg Abbey, the Benedictine monastery founded in 714 A.D. by Saint Rupert of Salzburg. It is the oldest female convent north of the Alps. From Nonnberg, walk over to Fortress Hohensalzburg (or Salzburg Castle), a large medieval castle built on the hill Festenburg.
The best part is the aerial views of Salzburg that you can catch from the Salzburg castle. Great spot to take Insta-worthy photos of the town. You can see the brilliantly blue Salzach river snaking its way through the picture postcard town.
(c) Gitika Saksena
Where to eat
As you walk downhill after visiting the Fortress Hohensalzburg, you can stop by at the Stieglkeller restaurant for some chilled beer on tap and Austrian dishes. Sample the Schnitzel, Schweinsbraten, and Nockerl!
2) Salzburg Castle to Petersfriedhof
Petersfriedhof or St. Peter’s Cemetery was definitely the highlight of my trip. The cemetery is beautiful, and it is worthwhile to spend a few moments of solitude here. The chapel – the Margarethenkapelle – at the centre of the cemetery is surrounded by with old ornate tombstones and wild, colourful flowers. I was particularly moved after spotting the grave of a fallen Austrian soldier from World War II.
Carved out of the Monchsberg rock, the catacombs found here date back to the early Christian era. These served as burial sites as well as shelter for the hermits
Cemetary: Daily, 6:30 am-7 pm (Summer) | Daily, 6:30 am-5:30 pm (Winter)
May-September: Daily, 10 am-12:30 pm and 1 pm-6 pm
October-April: Daily, 10 am-12:30 pm and 1 pm-5 pm
Closed: Jan. 1, Dec. 24-26, Dec. 31
3) Petersfriedhof to Salzburg Dom
The Salzburg Dom is a Baroque Cathedral built in the 17th century. Stepping inside, I was awed by its grand interiors, the sculpted motifs running across the walls, the frescoes (with scenes from the Old Testament) on the circular domes – If this is not breathtaking, what is?! An interesting piece of trivia – the famous musician, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was baptised at the impressive bronze baptismal font here. The three cathedral gates representing Faith, Love and Hope and the Seven Bells (each with its own name) are other noteworthy Salzburg attractions at the Dom. I headed to the first floor to take a few landscape mode photos – an attempt to capture this grandeur!
There is an impressive modern art installation at Kapitelplatz, a sprawling square near the Dom. Called the “Sphaera”, the nine-meter high sculpture has a male figure standing on a huge shiny golden globe.
4) Salzburg Dom to Getreidegasse
After all the uphill and downhill walking excursions, I was ready to dig into a hearty Austrian meal. After checking a few recommendations, I chose Cafe Mozart – a traditional Viennese coffee house. Known to be popular with artists, it has a relaxed vibe, and the food here is delectable! There is a different lunch menu each day – with a combination of soup, dumplings, pancakes et al. Do not forget to order the desserts from the Patisserie here – the Wiener Apfelstrudel (or the Apple Strudel) is legendary!
Weiner Apfelstrudel.CC BY-SA 4.0 / Burkhard Mücke
With that terrific-calorific indulgence, I decided to clock a few steps walking down Getreidegasse. This is Salzburg shopping central, with charming old houses, traditional inns as well as international retail stores. The most famous address here, undoubtedly, is No. 9 Getreidegasse. Mozart, a child prodigy who grew up to be among world’s greatest musicians – was born here is 1756. The house is now open to visitors, with a Museum showcasing various family mementoes, memorabilia, and portraits. I was excited to see two musical instruments that once belonged to Mozart – the violin and the clavichord.
5) Getreidegasse to Mirabell Gardens
This was the last pit stop on my list of things to do in Salzburg. And it was a fitting end! “Do – Re – Mi” is among my favourite childhood songs. All I wanted to do was to dance to the foot tapping tune around the Pegasus Statue Fountain, down the leafy avenues lined with golden autumny trees, through the landscaped gardens, and along the gladiator statues. (I never did – blame the crowds!). Built in 1606, these Gardens were a gift from the Prince – Archbishop, Wolf Dietrich, to his lady love – Salome Alt.
And with that, it was time for me to head back to Munich after an idyllic day at Salzburg!
Where to Stay in Salzburg
Getting to Salzburg
Sound of Music Tours
You can book the “Original Sound of Music” tour online.