I have so much to share with you from our recent trip to Europe and I’m going to start with Salzburg, Austria! We stayed at the Goldener Hirsch, a charming property nestled in the historic district that was the ideal home base for exploring the city. Below, you’ll find a list of my travel recommendations, restaurants and bars we enjoyed, travel tips, and photos from our adventure.
See & Do
- Getreidegasse – This is the shopping street in the historic district with beautiful wrought-iron signs.
- Fortress Hohensalzburg – The fortress sits atop the highest point in the city and it’s the biggest fully preserved castle in Central Europe. You can enjoy a 360-degree view of Salzburg from the top and visit the on-site museums. I’d recommend taking the funicular up to the fortress. We tried to walk to it, but the steep streets and staircases dissuaded me halfway there and we retreated. Google Maps wasn’t helpful in locating the funicular stop, so use this link to see where it is and add that location to your saved map.
- DomQuartier Salzburg – This UNESCO World Heritage site is an example of Baroque design. You can view the state rooms, the prince archbishop’s palace, and the cathedral. Plus, there’s a viewing terrace where you can enjoy views of the Cathedral Square and Residence Square.
- Hellbrunn Palace & Trick Fountains – For Sound of Music fans, the “16 Going on 17” gazebo is here. The best part of this stop, though, are the trick fountains! Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg Markus Sittikus had a series of trick fountains constructed in 1750 to delight and surprise his guests. There are water-powered figures at various installations, grottos, and cascades of water jets from unexpected locations. Keep an eye on the calendar, though, as the fountains are turned off in the winter for maintenance. You can get there by bus No. 25 (the same bus that will take you to the Untersbergbahn cable car to head up to the Alps).
- Salzburg Museum – I enjoyed learning more about the history of Salzburg here. For instance, I hadn’t realized that the city was promoted as a tourist destination as early as the late 1800s. The museum also has a variety of child-friendly activities.
- Museum of Modern Art – Skip the museum if you don’t like modern art, but you have to go here for the views. The two sunset photos in the post are from the museums terrace. There are elevators to the top.
- Mirabell Palace – Grab coffee and a pastry and head to the garden to enjoy the atmosphere. The palace is a working government building, but you can duck in to see the Marble Hall which is fine for a quick snapshot, but that’s about it.
- Untersberg Cable Car – Taking the cable car up to the Alps was the highlight of my time in Salzburg! It was absolutely stunning! There are two options for a hike; one much easier than the other. I was wearing sneakers and that wasn’t enough for an inexperienced mountain hiker to do the more difficult of the two routes. Don’t let that discourage you, though, because just being on top of the mountain was incredible. There’s a restaurant where you can grab a bite to eat and a beer, too. Take bus No. 25 which terminates at the cable car stop.
- St. Peter’s Abbey – Sound of Music fans will also recognize this stop from the film. You can explore the catacombs and walk through the cemetery to admire the intricate ironwork of the grave markers.
- Mozart’s Birthplace – If it weren’t for the Salzburg Card, I wouldn’t have stopped here since it’s not something I’m terribly interested in. That said, I had a much better time than I thought I would! Go when it opens to avoid crowds as it’s one of Austria’s most visited museums.
Eat & Drink
- Augustiner Bräu – This beer hall and garden has been operating since 1621. When you arrive, you’ll grab a ceramic stein from the shelves near the entrance, rinse it with water from the tap nearby, pay the cashier who will hand you a receipt, then give your receipt to the person actually pouring the beer. It’s an efficient process! There are food stalls on site where you can get everything from cheese to sweets to schnitzel sandwiches.
- Alchimiste Belge – If you’re growing tired of Bavarian beer, this cozy bar has an impressive beer menu.
- Balkan Grill Walter – Tucked away in one of the pedestrian passages is Balkan Grill Walter, a window-service location that serves bosna, an Austrian street food made of two grilled sausages tucked in a bun and topped with onions, parsley, and curry powder. They’re cheap and amazing.
- Restaurant Stiegl-Keller – Look no further for traditional Austrian cuisine. I had the best schnitzel. There’s also an outdoor terrace where you can overlook the city.
- Stiftsbäckerei St Peter – The oldest bakery in Salzburg dates back to the 12th century and is still still powered by a water wheel and uses a wood-fired oven. We shared an impossibly soft roll with raisins that was delicious.
- Salzburger Grill Imbiss – This is another sausage stand that’s known for its bosna, but it also serves a variety of wursts including currywurst and has beer available. Take your food around the corner to University Square and enjoy your meal on the steps to Kollegienkirche to people watch.
- Mozart Balls – The city’s most famous candy is made from pistachio, marzipan and nougat then covered in chocolate. You’ll find these just about everywhere in town. From what I understand, go to chocolate shops if you plan to enjoy them in the city, but ones from tourist shops or grocery stores and preferred if you’re going to bring them home as gifts as they’re more likely to have a longer shelf life.
- Additional recommendations that were on our list, but we didn’t make it to: Die Weisse, Café Tomaselli, S’Kloane Brauhaus, and 220 GRAD.
- Get the Salzburg Card! For €45 per person, we had 72 hours’ access to every tourist site and the city’s public transportation — including transportation to Untersberg and a roundtrip ticket for the cable car. It’s a steal and also makes it a no-brainer to pop into attractions you might not otherwise be interested in. This guide has a comprehensive overview of the card benefits and suggested itineraries. I’d recommend getting the Salzburg Card right away when you arrive in the city. You can find it just about everywhere (we purchased ours at a bookstore in Salzburg’s main train station), and then use it for transportation to your hotel. We walked from the main station to our hotel in the historic district and it wasn’t a pleasant stroll. There were plenty of buses at the station that would have brought us there.
- Public Transportation – The majority of the buses will take you to the same destinations in and around the historic district. They’re not particularly punctual, but they’ll come eventually. To go to the airport, we had our hotel call a taxi for us. It was a fairly quick drive that cost around €20. Worth it.
- You’ll need cash. Many of the main tourist destinations and restaurants took credit, but we needed cash for smaller locations like the bosna stands and the Belgian beer bar.
Hotel Goldener Hirsch
Getreidegasse 37, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
I’ll be honest, this is the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed in. It’s located in the city’s historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is brimming with Austrian charm — not surprising given its 600-year-old hunting lodge heritage, which is reflected throughout the property with mounted antlers and a leaping deer motif. We were upgraded to a king suite (see a video walkthrough here) that was well-appointed with all of the amenities you’d expect at a luxury hotel. The evening turn-down service and the accompanying chocolates didn’t disappoint either! I really can’t say enough good things about the property and its staff, and wholeheartedly recommend staying here if you’re planning a visit to Salzburg.
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