Written by Sari Schutrum-Boward
On arriving, one of the first things to catch your eye is the Festung Hohensalzburg and the Alps in the distance and to get into the musical spirit of the city as well as the scenic, I found a Sound of Music themed hostel that plays the film every night at eight. I had three short days to take in every little bit of this small paradise so I made sure I could take in the culture by walking around the Christmas Markets and do touristy things like book in on a Sound of Music tour.
Have you ever wanted to ride in a cable car and climb the Alps? While visiting Salzburg, try standing on top of the world and seeing spectacular views, by riding the Untersberg Cableway up to the top of Untersberg Mountain. Pack tons of batteries because I guarantee that you will take tons of pictures of the view and as you’re hiking the mountain. I woke up early and took advantage of the free breakfast and coffee, and then off I went to track down the bus to get to the Untersberg Cableway.
As the cable car carries you up the mountain, you get a better view of the Rositten Valley and the surrounding mountains. Once arriving on the mountain, there is an amazing view of the Salzburg Lake District and snow-capped Hohen Tauern Mountains and you can hike the Geiereck, and visit the mountain climber's memorial. After all that hiking my friends and I ate lunch at Hochalm restaurant and sat outside drinking hot chocolate, then headed straight for the Festung Hohensalzburg, the huge fortress built to protect the Gebhard Archbishop during a controversy with the king. When I went on the balcony and peered over the edge, I saw the whole city and was able to pick out my hostel. Inside the fortress, there is a museum and a room full of puppets. It is easy to lose track of time as you walk through this large Romanesque stone palace.
The hours of my first day went by quickly, and for the rest of the evening I walked around and got acquainted with the city, seeing the Salzburg Cathedral, Mozart’s House and being tempted to take a ride in a faiker an elegant horse drawn carriage.
While walking around Salzburg, there are lots of little reminders that this city is known for The Sound of Music. Since I am a fan of the film and love the music, I made sure to go on The Sound of Music tour which took me around the city pointing out all the film locations.
The bus picked me up in front of the St. Andra Church and the first stop was the Mirabell Gardens where Maria and the children were dancing and singing 'Do-Re-Mi' around the Pegasus statue. Your tour then puts you into many familiar film locations and scenes from the family home and the lake where the children's boat flipped over to the church where the wedding was filmed.
My tour guide surprised us with the chance to go tobogganing for a cheap price of £5. Near the end of the tour I had a chance to shop around and enjoy the little town where the wedding was filmed.
On the last full day of my trip, I set off to see the Bavarian Mountains and the Berghof near Berchtesgaden, where Hitler spent a lot of WW2. His actual residence was a residence for only a short time – it was understandably bombed by the allies in April 1945 then looted and burned down by retreating German troops in May. The tour took me right outside of Austria and into Germany where I got to experience the tranquility and beauty of the Bavarian Alps. The snow-capped mountains add a serene flavour to the village. As I walked through Berchtesgaden I felt a real sense of history of. It is important to have a chance to sit down on the bench near the Konigsee Lake and admire the incredible view.
After the tour, I walked around the city and checked out the well-known Salzburg Christmas Market. Walking through the market and looking at stalls selling everything from hot chocolate, to carved wooden animals, to knitted socks is an incredible experience. Make sure if you go to the market to be prepared to spend - I personally bought a lot of traditional decorations for gifts.
Make your music festival tickets into a proper break, by swapping the local locale and heading for one of Europe's Best Music Festivals instead.