48 hours in Salzburg

The birthplace of Mozart and the setting for 'The Sound Of Music', this Austrian city caters for all musical tastes
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The Independent Travel

WHY GO NOW?

To enjoy the mellow, rhythmic sounds of the eighth Salzburg jazz festival, when the hills come alive to the sound of tenor sax solos and trombone slides. Some of the 80 concerts take place in the streets, squares, restaurants and hotels of this sparkling Alpine city, as well as in the main concert halls during the 10-day event (31 October-9 November). On All Saints' Day, 1 November, the classical soprano Grace Bumbry will sing negro spirituals to mark the festival's "Great Voices" theme. All events are free. Contact 00 43 1 504 8500 or see the website www.viennaentertainment.com for details.

BEAM DOWN

Ryanair (0871 246 0000, www.ryanair.com) flies twice-daily from Stansted to Salzburg; FlyBE (08708 89 09 08, www.flybe.com) flies from Birmingham and Southampton. WA Mozart airport is three miles west of the city centre, linked by trolleybus 77 to the main station , for a fare of €1.70 (£1.30). From other UK airports, the fastest approach is likely to be via Munich - from Birmingham, Heathrow and Manchester on Lufthansa (08457 737 747, www.lufthansa.co.uk); from Bristol, Gatwick, Glasgow and Heathrow on British Airways (0870 850 9 850, www.ba.com); or from Cardiff and East Midlands on Bmibaby (0870 264 2229, www.bmibaby.com). An eight-times-a-day direct bus link (book in advance on 00 43 662 81610) takes two hours and costs €60 (£42) return. It drops you at the Radisson Hotel .

GET YOUR BEARINGS

Set among some of the most spectacular peaks and foothills in the north Austrian Alps, Salzburg is really two cities in one. The older part, the Altstadt, is the left bank of the Salzach river, where the cathedral and Mozartplatz crouch beneath the bulk of the Hohensalzburg fortress . The newer right bank is much more practical, with most of the machinery of a large city, from trains to the bulk of hotel rooms. But it also has its moments - in particular the Mirabell Gardens . There is a tourist desk at the airport, a small office at the railway station and the main bureau (00 43 662 889 870, www.salzburg.info) on the north side of Mozartplatz - open 9am-7pm daily. The Salzburg card (€19/£14, €27/£20 and €33/£24 for one, two and three days respectively) gives you free access to main attractions and unlimited public transport - but note that the city's excellent network is probably unnecessary except for getting to the airport and back.

CHECK IN

To be more Tyrolean than tourist, opt for the traditional Austrian decor of the Crowne Plaza Hotel at Rainerstrasse 6-8 (00 43 662 889 780, www.salzburg.crowneplaza.com). The 187-room hotel is pleasingly central and has spacious bars, garden, multi-gym, and two restaurants serving Austrian dishes. Prices vary depending on demand, but are typically €215 (£160) excluding breakfast. Around the corner is the Flair Hotel , Markus-Sittikus-Strasse 20 (00 43 662 871 121, www.markus-sittikus.at), a cosy 37-roomer noted for its sumptuous buffet breakfasts - included in the room rate of €102 (£72) to €130 (£92). Another alternative is the Pension Bergland , Rupertgasse 15 (00 43 662 872 318). Its rooms are lined with pictures painted by the owner. This friendly, family-run hotel hires out bikes for €5 (£3.50) a day. Singles cost €53 (£37), doubles €83 (£59) including breakfast. The best budget option is the YO-HO hostel , a large house on the corner of Lasserstrasse and Paracelsusstrasse (00 43 662 879 649). A bed costs €15 (£11). The Sound of Music is shown, free, each day at 10.30am.

TAKE A VIEW

Catch the funicular from the base station at Kapitelplatz to the Hohensalzburg fortress . It runs 9am-5pm daily. The return fare is €6.80 (£5) or €8.90 (£6.80) including admission to the state rooms. From the top, gaze down on the city in all its pastel glory. The 11th-century fortress was partly rebuilt by Leonhard von Keutschach, Archbishop of Salzburg, at the start of the 16th century. Visit his state rooms after you've walked the courtyards, battlements and watchtower. The views of the mountain peaks and valleys to the south are unmissable.

TAKE A HIKE

Salzburg is bliss for pedestrians, with both sides of the river having plenty of car-free lanes. A circular tour of the Altstadt will acquaint you with many of the highlights. Start at the tourist office on Mozartplatz , and admire the sculpture in honour of the composer. If you time your visit right (7am, 11am or 6pm), the carillon should ring out from the nearby archbishop's palace. Slip away from the crowds by aiming south-east towards Kajetanerplatz , then bear right to the foot of the Nonnberg steps ; if you can summon the energy, a diversion to the lovely priory at the top is worthwhile. Kaigasse leads to Kapitelgasse and Kapitelplatz ; here, take snaps of the majestic 18th-century fountain and its statues of Neptune and his rearing horses. It was once used as a trough by the archbishops' horses. Make your way into Domplatz and along Franziskanergasse, past the church of the Franciscans . Admire the beautiful structures along Hofstallgasse, beneath the escarpment, then swing around into Universitätsplatz , location for an outdoor market. Head north along Sigmund-Haffner-Gasse then right along Judengasse and across Waagplatz to your starting place .

LUNCH ON THE RUN

The market at Universitätsplatz is a good place to grab one of several varieties of würst (Austrian sausage) with a hunk of bread and mustard from a street vendor; follow it with an apple strudel (apfelstrudel).

WINDOW SHOPPING

Start your Christmas shopping early and choose from the extraordinary array of decorations and toys at the "Christmas in Salzburg" shop at Judengasse 10. Cross the road and you'll see an Easter version complete with eggs, bunnies and giant Easter bonnets. The main shopping street is Getreidegasse, west of here, where wrought-iron-signed boutiques offer a wide variety of goods from Louis Vuitton to Tracht, the traditional Alpine dress: lederhosen for men, dirndl skirts for women available from Lanz (00 43 662 840 300) or Stassny (00 43 662 842 3570).

CULTURAL AFTERNOON

Visit Mozart's birthplace at Getreidegasse 9 (00 43 662 844 313, www.mozarteum.at, €5.50/£4, 9am-6pm daily). You can see three of the composer's violins including the "baby" made by his father Leopold, pianos and numerous letters and scores. Cross the river to the west bank and Mozart's second home at Makartplatz 8 (€4.75/£3.35, 9am-6pm daily). It's now restored, although only the composer's concert room survived the Second World War. Mozart composed more than 150 works in the seven years he spent here before moving to Vienna.

AN APERITIF

The Augustiner Bräu at Augustinergasse 4-6 (3-11pm Monday-Friday, 2.30-11pm Saturday, Sunday) brews its own beer and is run by a group of monks. You simply collect a ceramic mug, pay the cashier and the barman will do the rest (€4.40/£3.10 a litre). It's more Germanic than Austrian, and you can enjoy a snack in the foyer or mingle with the students and tourists in the large beer garden.

DINING WITH THE LOCALS

If you're a fish-eater, the K&K StieglBräu restaurant at Rainerstrasse 14 (00 43 662 877 694) has the tastiest perch in town. A three-course meal with wine costs under €30 (£21). The 13th-century Sternbräu at Griesgasse 23 (00 43 662 840 717) overlooks an equally ancient courtyard. Enjoy steak, veal or fish followed by soufflé in one of its historic dining-rooms. A two-course meal with wine costs around €15 (£11). Or you could mingle with jazz musicians at the Resch and Lieblich restaurant , Toscaninihof 1. It serves succulent fish and is an ideal place to meet before or after a performance at the Festpielhaus concert hall next door. Meals cost €20-30 (£14-£21).

SUNDAY MORNING: GO TO CHURCH

Meet at the three bronze doors of the 17th-century cathedral named after Rupert, Salzburg's patron saint, at Domplatz for Sunday mass at 10am. Afterwards you can look at the cathedral's dark-edged stucco, its cavernous dome and the romanesque font where Mozart was baptised.

OUT TO BRUNCH

The upper deck of the Cafe Tomaselli (00 43 662 844 4880) in Mozartplatz is the ideal place to while away a Sunday. The cafe opens bright and early at 8am, and gradually fills with people filling themselves with hearty quantities of ham, eggs and bread, washed down with the best coffee in town.

A WALK IN THE PARK

The Mirabell Gardens is a lovely, accessible and architecturally over-the-top open space, with baroque fountains and floral displays. It is also where Maria danced and sang "Do-Re-Mi" in The Sound Of Music.

TAKE A RIDE

The four-hour Sound Of Music coach tour (00 43 662 288 1616, www.panoramatours.com; €33/£23) takes you to some of the film's locations. It starts at 9.30am and 2pm from Mirabellplatz, next to Mirabell Gardens . Next stop is Leopoldskron Castle, home of the von Trapps, followed by Hellbrunn Palace, a 17th-century hunting-lodge. The coach moves on to Nonnberg Abbey, where Maria trained to be a nun, and the riding school where Baron Georg von Trapp sang "Edelweiss", finally ending at Mondsee cathedral where Maria married the baron.

THE ICING ON THE CAKE

The world's most-recorded song, "Stille Nacht" ("Silent Night"), was written by Joseph Mohr when his church organ broke down just before midnight on Christmas Eve. The intrepid priest and his organist Franz-Xaver Gruber, who wrote the music, improvised on a guitar and "Silent Night" was the result. You can follow the story of the carol at the Silent Night Museum and church in Obendorf, a 20-minute bus ride from Salzburg (00 43 662 878 374, www.silent-night-museum.org; €2.50/£1.75; open 11am-8pm, daily except Sundays).

WRITE A POSTCARD

Admire the scenes on the cards you send while you have a coffee and pastry at the Stadtalm restaurant at Mönchsberg 19 (00 43 662 841 729) which has a panoramic view of Salzburg.

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