Though I have been to Austria several times, this was my very first time out of Vienna, and into Salzburg. Salzburg is about a 2.5 hour train ride from Vienna, and a 5 hour ride from Zürich, and very close to Munich.
Famous for the sights from the classic film, The Sound of Music, Salzburg is a drastic change from the busy, urban Vienna. Salzburg is situated in the Alps offering beautiful natural scenery. The city is small, and walk-able. We stayed in a hotel right between the center of town, and the main bus/train station. Navigating the city is pretty easy, and several locals approached us to help while trying to figure out the bus system and how to get around.
Like many German-speaking cities, restaurants in Salzburg offered many vegetarian, and some vegan options. I was only in Salzburg for two days, and was able to easily find choices at the few places I checked out, so I am sure there are many more.
After taking the train from Vienna, I arrived in Salzburg with my family and walked to the main part of town to get a feel for the city and have some dinner. The old city has many restaurants, cute shops, and quaint narrow passageways. As you walk through, the streets open up to a few main squares, with some churches and interesting sculptures. There are horses pulling carriages and old ladies selling paintings. Looking up, we saw the Hohensalzburg fortress, and decided to check it out the next day.
The next day, our only full day in Salzburg, my family and I decided to check out Hohensalzburg, the fortress at the top of the city, go on a touristy “Sound of Music” tour, and finally, walk through the gorgeous Mirabell Gardens. In the morning, we took a funicular up to the top of Hohensalzburg. You can also take about an hour and a half hike up the mountain to the fortress, which provides lovey views Salzburg and its surroundings. Short on time we opted for the funicular, and purchasing the ticket also provided free entrance to the fortress museum. There is also a reasonably priced restaurant offering breathtaking mountain views, and some interesting, tasty vegetarian food! I had a lovely Greek salad, minus the cheese, and my sister had some corn Laibchen. Laibchen are fried patties, often made vegetarian. I had this a few times while in Austria, sometimes translated as a veggie burger. After having a few beers and enjoying the view, we headed back to our hotel for the Panorama Tours, Sound of Music tour.
The tour operators picked us up from the hotel, and brought us to the Mirabell station where most of the guided tours of Salzburg originate. The bus was full of (mostly) Americans, and we headed off into the town to begin the tour. The tour was 2 hours long, and gave us a nice overview of the alps and the Austrian countryside. We saw many of the familiar sights from the movie. At one point, we stopped in a quaint little town, Mondsee. As I was walking around this little town with a lake, “see” means lake in German, I made friends with a friendly old Austrian man sitting on a bench as my sister climbed down into a creek to get some fresh glacier drinking water. We continued over to the lake, and it was just lovely. I would have really loved more time at this part of the tour, but sadly we were limited to 30 minutes. After snapping some photos we jetted back to the bus.
Overall the tour was nice, and allowed visitors to see a very different part of Salzburg, and Austria, but I felt that there was not enough time at each location. Several of the stops we just got off, and back on the bus. I am sure that to someone more interested in all of the Sound of Music sights, this type of tour would have been ideal.
After the tour we walked through the Mirabell Gardens. This garden, attached to the Mirabell Palace, features a series of garden areas to walk through, a few interesting fountains, and beautiful flowers. Sadly, the flowers were not in full bloom while we were there, I think they bloom fully around late July/early August, but there were beautiful roses, hanging plants, and patterned row gardens. The gardens extend from the Mirabell station, towards the main part of town, so you can easily walk through the gardens on an afternoon around town.
Food-wise, I found a fair amount of vegan and vegetarian choices in the main part of town, however you may be a little limited to the classic pasta with red sauce. At one point we ate at a lovely patio restaurant in the center of town, and I had pasta arrabbiata, very boring, but whatever. They also had some salads and cheesey dishes, but I settled for the mediocre food as it was a lovely day out, and the patio was great for beer drinking and people watching.
After the Mirabell gardens, we ate at the restaurant attached to the hotel. This place was a little pricier, but worth the Euro. They offered a few interesting vegetarian dishes, and their vegetarian goulash with knoedel, a traditional German style dumpling, gave my Hungarian goulash recipe a run for it’s money! I had a grilled veggie platter served with an herbed yogurt sauce, and it was quite delicious. After dinner, my dad ordered the classic Salzburg dessert, a Salzburger Nockerl. The menu stated that it served two, and it was described as a sweet souffle. When it arrive 15 minutes later, two servers carried it out, and it was literally a foot long. It tasted like slightly sweetened gooey egg, topped with some sweet jam. My parents like it, but it was not really my cup of tea. But hey, when in Salzburg have a nockerl right?
The next day, we headed out on a train to Zürich. Salzburg was short and sweet, but I don’t think you need more than 2-3 days there. And I do recommend taking the train to Zürich if you are headed that way. Even though it was a five hour ride, I was memorized the whole time taking photos of the Alps and the countryside, making it a quick and enjoyable ride.
Have you been to Salzburg? What is your favorite memory of this little town?