Salzburg which is the birthplace of Mozart is enchanting from the minute you lay your eyes over it. Located between towering snow capped mountains, this cold region is a wonderful delight. I would highly recommend Pizzeria Toscana restaurant for some Italian food. It is by far the best Italian restaurant I have visited and to top it up it was quite reasonable with the rates as well.
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The next day (again out of the hotel later than planned), we were out to discover Salzburg by day light. And discover we did! While walking, we discovered the bridge that you see on Pinterest. Well, one of them anyways. Couples make their way to this bridge with a lock, write their names on it, secure the lock to the bridge and throw the key in the river. Awwww. (Some of these people went all out on their locks with engravings and stuff.)
By the time I reached Salzburg, it was almost 6 pm and it was starting to get dark. Also, I was quite tired after hiking for hours in the negative temperature zones. So I went straight to a 6-bed mixed dormitory in the A&O Salzburg Hauptbahnof hostel and simply crashed.Next morning, when I woke up with a sore throat, I just wanted to continue sleeping. But the dreamy painting of Salzburg that hung on the hostel wall opposite my bunk bed urged me to freshen up and explore the reality around me. And that's exactly what I did! After grabbing a quick breakfast at the food forum close to the hostel, I was all set for the hike to the Hohensalzburg fortress. It was a half an hour walk from the hostel, right through the heart of the city, crossing over the river Salzach, leading into alley ways that made up the market squares on the other side and finally ending at the bottom of the long, steep stairway that wound its way to the fort which sat on the Festungsberg hill. On reaching the hill top, I bought my ticket at the entrance. I bought the 9 euro-ticket instead of the 11.50 ticket and gave the museums a skip. My best memories of Salzburg are from the time I spent at the portico in the fortress. In my opinion, it is the best place to get a bird's eye view of most of the city's attractions. From my vantage point, I could admire the pointed minarets and massive domes at eye-level. Different spots in the portico gave me a most spectacular perspective of the many wonders in Salzburg. In the distance, I could see the river Salzach flowing through the old town. While the view points on one side of the portico offered exposure to the stunning Austrian architecture and its hilly backdrop, the other side opened up into the snow capped Austrian alps. It was blatantly evident how I was in a city, cradled in the lap of nature. I instantly felt tiny, yet content! :)I definitely needed some food to grow into a strong adult again. So I devoured some lip-smacking Austrian sweet treats at a street-side cafe near the fortress. On my way to the cafe, I never noticed the eccentric Eidelwiese winter flowers until a girl from Taiwan mistook me for a native and asked me about them. Even though she didnt get her answer, she seemed happy to have bumped into someone from her own continent. There's something immensely satisfying about meeting people along the way. They leave their mark and so do you :)
What made my heart sing was the cable car ride we took to the peak of the Untersberg Mountain. This is one of the largest in the area and extends into Germany, creating a natural border. The cable car travels at 7 miles per hour from the base station at 456 meters above sea level to the top station at 1,776 meters, making an altitude difference of 1,320 meters. The ride on a two cable system lasts for 9 minutes, but the viewing is spectacular from the cable car and once you arrive at the peak. There was some religious ceremony going on at the next to highest peak, with the highest there was a huge cross. Neither attraction prompted me to venture beyond the hiking that I did do over loose rocks, steep inclines and no guard rails along the way. If Julie Andrews or Jesus were appearing at the top peak, it would not have motivated me further. Spending over an hour here, we were first in line for the cable car down, which was luck as we shared it with many of the people involved in the celebratory mass. This was clearly evident in their soldier costumes that spanned many centuries. We never did find out what it was. Normally, the cable car ride would be 21 Euros per person. You are stuck with a round trip, as you cannot get down without the cable car unless you are a mountain goat.
See the sunrise from 1300m above sea levelThe train from Venice pulls into Salzburg HBF as early as 4am. Time to wash your face and store your bags in the lockers and hitch a ride to Gaisberg. Make your way to the mountain top (drive, bike or hike) and as a reward, take amazing photographs of the sunrise sipping hot coffee sporadically. The whole city of Salzburg lies in front of you. Every picture in natural light makes it postcard perfect.
Trick fountains Hellbrunn
The Hellbrunn palace also houses the Trick Fountain that one must visit ! It is a one of a kind garden that exhibits rudimentary yet very advanced for its time fountains, puppet theatres and trick elements that sneak up on you all powered by water alone ! This was used as a summer palace by Markus Sittikus, prince-archbishop of Salzburg to entertain this princely guests.We later pushed off to the Salzburg fortress. The view ! We had to take a short ride on a tiny lift with an astonishing vertical slant to reach the palace.