One of my best spur-of-the-moment decisions when I studied abroad became when I decided to take a day trip from Munich, where 2 friends and I had planned to visit for a weekend to celebrate the end of finals, to Salzburg. When discussing travel tips with my dad- who spent years in Germany- he suggested we take a train to Salzburg. I knew Salzburg was in Austria, but that was about it…I didn’t know anything about the city! It was a wonderful decision that gave my friend Brooke and I many memories and another country to check off the list!
1. Hohensalzburg Castle
The main attraction in Salzburg is the fortress castle that is perched up on top of the Festunsberg, the hill of the city. Visible from anywhere in Salzburg, the fortress casts an imposing view over the train station that we exited on that cold day. As we decided to be cheap and hike up the hill ourselves rather than take the Furnicular- also good for burning off bratwurst calories!- we saved a euro each in admission fees. Exact figures can be found here. The hike up to the fortress gave us gorgeous views of Salzburg!
When we made it to the top, we were able to explore the castle. You can walk around nearly all parts on your own, no tour guide required, so we took our time looking at the various rooms in the palace. One of my favorites was the State Room- richly decorated in gold and bright colors, really emphasizing that this had been a royal residence.
To view the most exquisite panorama of Salzburg and the Austrian Alps, you a had to climb up to the Observation Tower with a tour guide. We were able to pass through the dungeons and torture chamber- disgusting, so no pictures, to make it to the top. Wow! It was so amazing as to be indescribable without a picture, which as we all know tells 1000 words.
2. University Cathedral
Located on the way up to the fortress, the University of Salzburg cathedral is all white on the outside and stunning on the inside. A magnificent example of Baroque architecture, the Kollegienkirk (in German) is covered in intricately carved decorations along all the walls and the enormous ceiling. Absolutely worth a visit.
3. Explore outside
The streets of Salzburg have a charming, quaint vibe to them- large enough to be a city and occupy you but small enough to have peace and quiet. Once you walk or ride 5 minutes from the train station, its like you’ve stepped back in time. There are buses and cars, yes, but the streets are narrow and cobblestones will slow you down. We enjoyed our ‘explorer time’ to breath in the mountain air and slow down.
4. Salzburg Cathedral
What, another cathedral? Yep. The Christmas market of Salzburg was located directly in front of this gem, and she was worth the 1 euro entrance fee. Elaborately carved and white like the University Cathedral, the Cathedral of Salzburg interspersed all the white with warm pinks and reds, which combined with the light from stained glass window opened up the cathedral.
I hope you enjoy your trip to Salzburg and let me know your thoughts in the comments below!