24 Hours in Salzburg
My journey to Salzburg started in Prague; it was the main train station of Hlavni Nadrazi that issued me a ticket to the fairytale country of Austria, and my first trip ever to the land of my father’s family. After touring the Golden City, I boarded an early morning train, and watched as the rolling Czech countryside gave way to the cool blue, and steaming peaks of the Austrian Alps.
Having grown up watching a lot of Sound of Music, and knowing that somewhere far deep in the past lied a connection to Salzburg, it was always on my bucket list to visit the small town nestled along a river that led straight out of the mountains. I mean, even one look at the place brought visions of fairytale princesses and daring knights, maybe a little sorcery, and plenty of dark legends to fill the castles and the cobblestone streets that still stood there.
It was only a 4 hour train ride from where I was into the city, and it was a magical way to travel; visiting the countryside and following the train tracks past the summer trees blooming and all the tiny little villages in the great wide open. I stepped off the train, into the station, and immediately fell in love with the picturesque city that awaited me.
I arrived in the afternoon on Saturday, and once I’d made it out of the station, I was bound for Gasthaus Hinterbrühl for my one twenty-four hour romp in the city. Nestled on a small street corner next to a cafe and a very picturesque stone square out front, my room was on the second floor with a charming balcony, a large king sized bed, and a bathroom with a beautiful back garden facing window across the hall. I unpacked, refreshed, and got ready for a night out on the town.
I started by grabbing some dinner at St. Paul Stube; usually full of students and locals, this place is a little bit off the map for tourists, but certainly wasn’t hard for me to find and definitely fulfilled my desire to taste traditional Austrian cuisine. It’s got a second floor entrance so don’t let that fool you, but this beer garden restaurant is the perfect place for schnitzel and a pint, which is exactly how I started my first night in the city.
After dinner I took a walk down the Salzach River on my way back to my room and stumbled into O’Malley’s; an Irish pub with a penchant for making the locals feel rather more Irish than Austrian. After one of their signature O’Malley’s coffee—I’m not revealing it’s ingredient list, you’ll just have to check it out for yourself—I walked back to the guesthouse for a good night’s sleep and an early alarm.
For breakfast I grabbed a pastry and a coffee at Niemetz; it’s easily considered one of the best in Salzburg, and it allowed me to get a head start on wandering through the Salzburg stone streets. I headed for the Mirabell Palace and Gardens to take unforgettable photographs of the beautiful landscaping and architecture that I found there, and as a bonus, it’s also where I picked up the Sound of Music bus tour, which I hate to say, was one of my favorite parts of my trip to the city. Taking us along the many shooting locations of the 1965 film, it was like walking on set of my childhood dream world.
The other great thing about the Sound of Music tour was that it took us by Mozart’s birthplace, which is where I hopped off the bus and ventured out on my own. Just down the street from the home where Mozart was born is Mozartplatz; a bustling city square featuring a memorial statue of the brilliant composer, which also always features locals and tourists alike going about their days. I grabbed a quick coffee here and took my time visiting in this stone square while everyone walked by; it was a contrast in white immovable stone and hurrying, colorfully clothed people.
Next on my list was to wander down the Getreidegasse; full of shops featuring delicate dolls, handmade lederhosen, and Austrian traditional trinkets. While I definitely got my fill of the trinket sort, getting a genuine dirndl definitely was one of the highlights of my trip. Stassny is one of the chicest places to buy traditional Austrian clothing, and it certainly comes at a pretty penny, but it was worth every cent to me. Unlike many places throughout Europe, the traditional dress is only worn on special occasions or for festivals and the like. But it’s very different in Austria; they were lederhosen and dirndls out for dinner, or to church, or even to work! And while it may seem strange to visitors, I think it’s a great way of keeping their culture alive, and it’s exactly why I need to take my own home with me.
At this point my next destination was calling to me (a 6pm train to Vienna meant I still had to head back to the guesthouse to pick up my luggage) so I grabbed a bite to eat at the Greek restaurant around the corner, Restaurant Irodion. With a really great chicken kebab and to-die for grilled veggies, I can’t say it was my favorite meal in Salzburg without offending anyone so I won’t, but I definitely think if you’re in the area, it’s a great place to nosh!
As I boarded the train for Vienna and my Salzburg trip came to a close, I looked back up at the castle overlooking the city and knew I’d be back; it’s just one of those places that gets into your heart while you aren’t even looking, so if you have suggestions on what I should visit next, send them my way!