Coffee, and People
Gruss Gott literally means "God's
Blessings," but it's also used as a greeting in everything from casual encounters
to business meetings. You'll hear it most often walking into a shop
or restaurant. For more engaging (and useful) terms, a German phrase
book will come in handy, though you'll find that English is widely
spoken. If you're trying German, pay attention to pronunciation differences
between the language of western Austria and Bavaria and that of the
northern parts of Germany and even Vienna.
Your stay in Salzburg will be a study of life's
pleasures. Nestled in the majestic Alps, the city is comfortable with
surrounding superlatives: some of the world's deepest lakes and most
inspiring peaks. The pace of things is slower than in cosmopolitan
Vienna or Munich—you'll want to make time to enjoy the riches of this magnificent city.
Like most fairy tales, the city of Salzburg is home to fantasy; but the twist is that it's all real.
First Things First
The center of the last great Empire of Europe, Austria
is a veritable jewel box of some of Europe's most beautiful treasures. Salzburg,
it has been said, is a fairy tale, and the Salzach River the city's lullaby.
Austria is a member of the Eurozone, the group of countries
that uses the Euro currency (€). Prices below are expressed in
U.S. dollars for convenience; check the rate of exchange prior to arrival
in Europe. German is the native tongue of most Austrians, though English
is widely spoken, especially in Salzburg, Vienna, Innsbruck, and Graz.
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Where to Stay
Salzburg is easy to tackle on foot, and public transportation
is reliable and inexpensive. If you are traveling by rail to more cities
than Salzburg, you'll find it very convenient to stay near the main rail
station, with access to local public transportation, a tourist office,
ATMs, and other services.
You may wish to stay at the Hotel StieglBrau, a comfortable,
4-star property near the bahnhof (train station). While you're there,
enjoy a Stiegl, the excellent local beer from which the hotel gets its
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Getting to Your Hotel
...From Salzburg Maxglan Airport
If you arrive at Salzburg's small airport, you will find buses and taxis
available to transport you downtown. Taxis cost about $12-$20 a ride;
buses run every 15-30 minutes and cost between $3 and $4 each way.
Sharing taxis with other travelers is common.
...From Salzburg Hauptbahnhof
There are several hotels right by the train station. This makes life very easy. Otherwise, there are many
buses that depart for various parts of the city. Check with the information
desk or tourist office in the station.
Taxis are available in a long line outside of
the train station. A ride for one or two persons and baggage will cost
about $12. Some drivers charge more for additional riders. Don't worry,
they're not scamming you. They are supposed to charge you more.
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At Your Hotel
Pick up a free city map and other helpful information.
City information can usually be obtained in hotel lobbies or from the
Check in, freshen up, and, with your bags unpacked,
your room key in your pocket, and some euros to spare, you're ready to
take on Salzburg!
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The two parts of the city, Altstadt and Neustadt, lie
on opposite sides of the Salzach River. We have compiled a list of the
ten things you just can't miss, a few more you should do if you have
time, and finally a warning again one tourist attraction that more of an urban legend
-it doesn't really exist.
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Sound of Music Tour: A guide
who sings along to "My Favorite Things" is just one part of this admittedly
hokey tour. The 4-hour escapade includes a brief city tour, a ride into
the Salzkammergut (the mountains around the city), and stops not only
at some on-location spots from the movie but also at a few really cute
villages. They'll come and pick you up at most hotels, and the tour costs
Mirabel Gardens: There's a
small Sound of Music connection (the end of the Do-Re-Mi song on the
steps to the south), but more importantly, the gardens and palace are
two of the most romantic spots in this idyllic city. Admission is free
most of the time, but you'll have to buy a ticket to get in if there's
a concert taking place.
Festung Hohensalzburg: That
giant, imposing fortress on top of the hill is the former headquarters
of the city's defense. Today, it offers fantastic views of the city,
as well as tours. There are a few places to eat, and a nifty funicular as well.
If you choose to skip the funicular ride, then you're in for an invigorating hike to
reach the top of the hill. Admission is about $4.
Mozart Geburtshaus (birthplace):
Even if it's a little pricey, the tour is enjoyable. The collection
includes many original instruments, as well as Lange's (unfinished) painting,
Mozart and the Piano. Admission is about $7. (You may combine tickets
to this home and the Mozart Wohnhaus (residence) and save a few euros.)
Residenz and Residenzplatz: The state palace
is just north of the Domplatz and was once the home of the prince-archbishops
of Salzburg. The collection is phenomenal and includes many
European masterpieces dating from the 16th to 19th centuries. Admission to the staterooms
is about $6 and another $6 for the gallery. Leave yourself half an afternoon
for this tour.
Music: Somewhere in Salzburg,
there is a concert or other musical performance almost every evening.
Check with your hotel concierge or the tourist office to find the venue.
If you're hoping for a concert at the fortress or one of the larger churches,
or even (gasp!) tickets to an event during the summer music festival,
inquire and reserve well in advance. At the end of the year, don't
miss one of the churches holiday concerts.
Glockenspiel: This means two
things: 1. The Glockenspiel restaurant on the Residenzplatz is a little
expensive, but is perfect for an afternoon break. 2. listen
carefully several times during the day and you'll hear the ringing of
the 35-bell, 18th-century glockenspiel all around Residenzplatz.
Gulaschsuppe: Hot, spicy,
palatably exotic, and served with a little bun, it's the perfect snack
for cold nights. If you're enjoying it during the summer, wash it down
with a Stiegl, Salzburg's excellent local beer. (Really, this brew is
one of Europe's best.) You can find it in most cafés and restaurants.
Streetside Snacks: Hundreds
of kiosks are set up all over Salzburg, especially around Mirabelplatz
and along the Salzach. Sausages come with or without cheese, some wrapped
in a bun, and all spicy and filling. Most kiosks also offer sundry (fattening,
yes, but vegetarian) potato goodies, along with hot and cold drinks and
Shops: Take a morning or an
afternoon to head to a shopping area just beyond the well-visited city
center. On the streets between the rail station and the Neustadt, for
instance are fantastic, if not charming shops with great selections
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If You Have Time:
are several cathedrals and churches all around Salzburg. Try dropping by at
randrom and you might catch a lovely little concert.
Kapuzinerberg: Off the quaint
Linzergasse is a passageway to the Kapuzinerberg trail, which leads up
to the monastery and beyond. Take this on if you have the energy (it's
a bit of a challenge) and time to stop and stare at the panoramic view of
Spring, Summer, and Fall Boat Trips: Board the infamous Amadeus ship for a cruise along the magical emerald waters of one
of the most romantic rivers in Europe for about $11, or add a Hellbrunn
Palace tour for only a little more.
Hostel, Paracellsusstrasse: Come and watch the classic Sound of Music film.
You can have a beer and a gulaschsuppe while you watch, gathered in
a small dining room/theatre with Mariaholics from the world over. Also,
head downstairs to a veritable graffiti museum "collected" by countless
travelers over the decades.
can't do it all, so save yourself some time by forgetting about the convent cemetery from the Sound of Music where the pistol-shy Rolf blew
the whistle on the Von Trapps. The cemetery shown in the film was constructed in
a soundstage in Hollywood for the movie. The cemetery it's based on is
not as thrilling and is very small.