Salzburg Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia

The Austrian city of Salzburg is situated
on the northern edge of the Alps, close to the border of Germany. Surrounded by lakes and mountains, and straddling the banks
of the Salzach River, few cities can match
Salzburg’s fairytale setting. Few places can match its musical heritage either. Salzburg is the hometown of one of the giants
of classical music, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Its stately homes, churches and hillsides provided the settings for one of cinema’s
most-adored musicals, The Sound Of Music. And today, its exquisite architecture provides a dramatic backdrop for operatic and classical
performances all year round. Just as a glissando provides the transition between two musical notes, the Salzach River glides
between Salzburg’s two parts, the old medieval and Baroque city on the left bank, and the new 19th century city on the right. For the most commanding views of this compact
city and the nearby Alps, take the funicular up to the battlements of
Hohensalzburg, one of Europe’s best-preserved
medieval fortresses. Despite Napoleon plundering the best furnishings
in 1800, the stately chambers still glitter with
gold leaf and the cold steel of ancient weaponry. While the fortress was built to protect
Salzburg’s ruling prince bishops, the rulers of the principality spent most
of their days down below, in the heart of the old city. For centuries these prince bishops conducted
the affairs of Salzburg from the lavish staterooms of the Residenz. Chandeliers of bohemian glass, venetian mirrors, and lavish ceilings were designed to project power
and prestige to those few deemed worthy of visiting, but today the Residenz is open to all. Take a short walk across the Residenzplaz, to the towering pink-marbled splendor
of Salzburg Cathedral. Rising from the ruins of the original Celtic
and Roman settlements, the cathedral’s dome has dominated the skyline
for over four centuries. It also shelters the very font in which Mozart
was baptized. Directly behind the cathedral, journey through the city’s 1,600 year history
at the Salzburg and Panorama Museums. While many of Salzburg’s antiquities are
kept safely behind glass, it’s in the streets of the old town where
the echoes of the past ring loudest. Wander along narrow Getreidegasse, one of the loveliest shopping streets in the world. Lose yourself in its many laneways and passages where centuries of craft and tradition are
kept alive, and the hands of time seem forever paused. You’ll find Salzburg’s most famous address
at number 9 Getreidegasse. Take the stairs to the third floor, where
on the 27th January, 1756, Mozart was born. The child prodigy spent seventeen years of
his life here, composing and performing on his first violin
from the age of five. Gaze from the window from which his music
spilled into the streets of Salzburg, and in time, around the entire world. Salzburg is a symphony for the taste buds too. Just off the Old Market Square, savor 300 years of coffee-making tradition
at Café Tomaselli, once a favorite haunt of Mozart and his wife,
Constanze. For classical Austrian fare served with a side of Opera, take the short walk to Stiftskeller St. Peter, which has been operating within the walls
and vaults of St. Peter’s Monastery for 1,200 years. According to legend, Columbus is said to have
enjoyed a beer here before sailing to America in 1492. Over the centuries, Salzburg’s monks and hermits
have practiced the art of brewing with religious zeal. At the Müllner Bräu Brewery at Augustiner Abby, rinse out a stone pitcher and enjoy a quarter
gallon of beer poured straight from the wooden barrel. Then, hang out in Austria’s largest beer
garden and enjoy local snacks with beer devotees from all over the world. After you’ve explored the finer points of
Salzburg hospitality, head across the river to enjoy another
of the city’s proudest traditions, puppetry, at the Salzburg Marionette Theater. The theater opened with Mozart’s opera Bastien und Bastienne over one hundred years ago, and today, the company tours internationally, transporting audiences to imaginary realms
far and wide. Salzburg has long been a city
where inspiration knows no bounds, especially when it comes to its palaces. Just a short stroll from the Marionette Theater, the grandeur of Mirabell Palace and Gardens
awaits. Commissioned in 1606 by Prince-Archbishop, Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau
to impress his beloved mistress, the palace was completed
within a staggering six months. The Italian inspired palace, rose gardens
and statue of Pegasus obviously worked their magic, as the pair went on to have 15 children. Years later, the Prince-Archbishop was deposed, spending the rest of his lonely days interned
in the dungeons of Hohensalzburg, overlooking his beloved palace. Wolf Dietrich’s successor,
Mark Sittich von Hohenems, was given more to practical jokes
than matters of the heart. The new Prince-Archbishop created
Hellbrunn Palace on Salzburg’s southern outskirts. This Renaissance-inspired palace was built
over a natural spring, which fed hidden water features designed to
soak his unsuspecting guests. The grounds are dotted with curiosities, grottos
and water-driven automations, as marvelous today as when the trickster prince
led his soaked guests across the grounds 400 years ago. Built as a summer daytime playhouse,
the palace contains not a single bedroom. While Salzburg abounds with fountains, some of the cities most impressive water features
are its surrounding lakes and waterfalls. Stretching east from the city is the
Salzkammergut resort region, home to stunning glacial lakes
and picturesque villages. A twenty-minute drive from Salzburg is
the lakeside town Mondsee. The town’s basilica starred in the wedding
scene in The Sound Of Music, and is one of the most photographed churches
in the world. Just to the south of Lake Mondsee,
are the clear waters of Lake Wolfgang. Stay a few nights in the sleepy village of
Strobl, and let yourself be serenaded by nature’s
ever-shifting rhythms and moods. A two-hour drive southwest from Salzburg, nature’s tempo intensifies, at Krimml Waterfalls. Here, the thundering glacial falls beat in
a continuous crescendo throughout the valley, while its drifting mists create the perfect
wonderland for mosses, ferns and lichens. For a waterfall with a difference visit the
spa town of Bad Gastein, whose falls roar straight through the heart of town, plunging past historic hotels
and into the valley floor below. After losing yourself in the mesmerizing spectacle
of Bad Gastein Falls, turn your attention skyward. From the town, take the cable car over dreamy alpine meadows
to the summit of Stubnerkogel Mountain, and hear the wind singing through the cables
of one of Europe’s highest suspension bridges. The Salzburg region is full of surprises, so before heading back to the city, head underground, into the Hallein Salt Mine. Take the 70-minute tour deep into this
7,000 year old mine, whose rich deposits of white gold once gave Salzburg
a starring role on the worlds trading stage. From its salt mines to its symphonies, from its fountains to its waterfalls, Salzburg plays out like a living opera, filled with drama, comedy, intrigue and passion. And it all awaits, in a setting perfectly
crafted by the human hand, and by the greatest composer of them all, Mother Nature. Salzburg is more than just a city, it is a triumph!


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