48 hours in Salzburg

Mozart's city is a city of chocolate, beer and coffee served with a mountain of cream. But music is the local delicacy.



...crowds flocking into the city for the various festivals: Mozart week in late January; Easter; and the main summer festival which lasts from late July to the end of August. At these times, hotels get booked up months in advance.


Although Salzburg is a great year-round destination, early summer is, to my mind, the perfect time to visit: the climate is pleasantly warm, and the crowds who congregate for the summer festival have not yet started to arrive. Music-lovers need never feel deprived: whatever the time of year there is always a concert on somewhere in the city.


The Mirabell Gardens, on the right bank of the river, is the place where Maria von Trapp and all those children ran around singing "Doh, a deer..." - at least in the Hollywood version of their story. In spite of all that, it's still a very pleasant place for a stroll.


No one flies direct to Salzburg from the UK, so, given that you will have to change somewhere, the cheapest option is to fly with Go (08456 054321) from Stansted to Munich; there are three flights a day, and fares start at £80. A train goes from Munich airport to the main railway station, and from there, the direct train to Salzburg takes just under two hours.


Culture in Salzburg can be summed up in one word: Mozart. He was born in a house on Getreidegasse, christened in the Cathedral, where he was later a chorister, and moved with his family to a bigger place on Makart Square. There is a monument to him in the square which now bears his name, and he wrote the music which is played at most of the many concerts taking place every night in various city venues. Of all this, the family home - the Mozart Wohnhaus - is the most interesting to visit. You are given an individual Walkman, and you walk around listening to music composed for some of the instruments which are on display.


The elegant cathedral, with its greyish-white interior, was built in the 17th century, and rebuilt after its dome was bombed during the war. The only colour comes from the paintings inside the dome, and on the barrel- vaulted ceiling. The sung Mass at 10am every Sunday is worth hearing even if you are normally a non-churchgoer.


Musical purists might scoff, but try not to miss the opportunity of seeing the Salzburg Marionettes performing one of the operas of Mozart, or other selected composers, in their own elegant little theatre on Schwarzstrasse. Although the music is all recorded, and most of the time you can see the strings, the puppets are so lifelike that there are moments when you could believe you were looking at real people up on the stage.


Head for Rudolfskai, on the left bank of the river. The Altstadtkeller is a lively place, and the Wiener Schnitzel here is as good as any: the accompanying live music isn't too distracting, and the service is pleasant. If you prefer something more discreet, though, go up the road to Zum Mohren, where the food is consistently good.


The old - and frankly rather twee - part of Salzburg is sandwiched between the Monchsberg mountain and the river Salzach. Most of this part of town is pedestrianised, which makes visiting much more enjoyable, but adds to the feeling of unreality which pervades the Altstadt. Across the river, the Kapuzinerberg mountain towers over a more modern city. The tourist information office in Mozartplatz is the place to buy a Salzburg Card, which for about £10 will give you free entrance to the city sights for 24 hours.


Once you get to the top, Hohensalzburg and its grounds are worth exploring. It is the largest fortress in central Europe, and is an exceptionally solid structure. Built in the 11th century, it survived a peasants' revolt and was only slightly damaged by Napoleon. On the way to the Prince-Archbishop's private apartments, you pass the Salzburg Bull, an ancient organ which once played every day at four in the morning as a sort of civic alarm call. Walk back down towards the city by the Nonnberg Priory, where once the nuns wondered how they could solve a problem like Maria - von Trapp that is - Salzburg's other musical legend.


If you are not energetic enough for mountain-climbing, take the cable- car which whisks you the short distance up to the Hohensalzburg Fortress. The journey only takes a couple of minutes, and is worth it for the view over the city alone. The cable-car station is at the side of St Peter's cemetery, and the cost of the ticket includes the entrance to the grounds of the fortress.


Although white wine is a popular drink in Austria these days, the real favourite is beer. Stiegl is the local brew, and you should find a glass of it in any of the old city cafes.


On the principle of "when in Rome", it would be unfortunate to miss out on that excellent Austrian custom of coffee and cakes. The cakes come in many varieties - Sachertorte and Black Forest gateau are only the beginning - and the coffee comes with a mountain of whipped cream. Try the Cafe Tomasselli on the Alte Markt.


Mozart is the theme here too, unless you are looking for jewellery or Austrian fashion. The local speciality is the Mozartkugel, a chocolate- covered ball of chocolate truffle with a marzipan centre. There are playing- cards, notecards and ties covered with musical motifs, and fruit liqueur in violin-shaped bottles. If you want a more lasting souvenir, the shop at the Festschpielhaus has an excellent selection of live recordings from past Mozart festivals.


The hotels in the Altstadt are the most convenient, since most of the places you will want to visit are within a short walk. Try the Hotel Elefant, in Sigmund-Haffner-Gasse (00 43 662 843397); until the end of June, a single room is Sch950 (about £47.50), and a double Sch1,480 (£70); from July to October a single will cost you Sch1,150 (£55), and doubles start at Sch1,700 (£80). If you have a car, you are better off on the other side of the river, where parking is easier. Try the Hotel Auersperg, in Auersperg-Strasse (00 43 662 889440), where single rooms start at Sch1,290 (£60) and doubles at Sch1,740 (£83); during the festival (23 July until the end of August) singles are Sch1,490 (£70) and doubles are Sch2,140 (£102).


There are plenty of city-centre places which serve lunch - light is not a word to apply to Austrian food. Cafe Streif, at Getreidegasse 50, is a pleasant choice, with a selection of frankfurters, sauerkraut and other typical dishes.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Day In a Page

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum