Some may know it as the home of The Sound of Music, the Julie Andrews favourite which is celebrated in some hostels in the city by being played on a continuous loop in the lounge areas.
For those who aren’t Andrews fans, don’t despair – this is also the home of Mozart, whose composed works have resounded through the beautiful Salzburg Cathedral in the centre of town.
Salzburg is also a town which houses history in the form of many castles and palaces, including the Hohensalzburg Fortress overlooking the town. The Fortress was built in 1077 by Prince-Archbishop Gebhard von Helfenstein and remains unconquered to this day.
Beneath the Fortress is St Peter’s Cemetery and Catacombs, the former of which contains the remains of Mozart’s sister and fellow composer Haydn’s brother. The Catacombs are built into the cliff and for a small fee, visitors can climb up steps to see rooms carved from the rock and view the graveyard.
The city is also surrounded by alpine walks that lead up the encircling hills to look out over the rolling valleys and snow-capped mountains around Salzburg.
In short, it’s a tranquil town filled with music, beauty and fantastic views, which even welcomes endless repetitions of ‘How do you solve a problem like Maria?’
Places to Visit in Salzburg
- Hohensalzburg Fortress
- Sound of Music sights including Leopoldskron Palace and Mirabell Gardens
- The Altstadt or the Old Town
- Hellbrunn Palace
Unique Things to See and Do in Salzburg
- Attend mass in the beautiful Salzburg Cathedral, which, at Christmas, includes renditions of Mozart’s work
- Hike one of the many alpine walks surrounding the city to see breathtaking views
- Take part in a Sound of Music tour
- Wander around the St Peter’s Cemetery and climb the Catacombs
- Check out Mozart’s birthplace and residence
Salzburg’s Sound of Music
The hills are alive with the sound of music – or at least they are around Salzburg, the setting for the film, The Sound of Music.
Based on the real story of the von Trapp family, and the bane of the existence of people named Maria everywhere, the film apparently saw several details of the original story, written by Maria von Trapp, changed. While the family did live in Salzburg and sing together, Maria came as a governess for just one of the children. She was a novice in an Abbey, but she married Georg some 11 years before the family left Austria just prior to the Nazi occupation. She married not out of love for him, but for the 10 (not 7) children he had, Prologue Magazine reports.
The family also apparently left Austria via train, having announced their intention to travel to America to sing, rather than dramatically escaping through the Alps to Switzerland.
But Salzburg, and its tourism industry, still celebrate the movie. If you’d like to sing ‘Do Re Mi’ where the scene was actually shot, or serenade your potential Hitler Youth boyfriend in the same pavilion where Rolfe courted Liesl, there are several tours available which will take you to locations from the film, in and outside of Salzburg. These include several of Salzburg’s beautiful palaces, as well as the Nonnberg Abbey, where Maria was a novice, in the film and in real life, and some tours even offer travellers a dirndl to rent and wear while touring.
Getting Around Salzburg
There are regular international flights into Salzburg Airport from around Europe, including London and Germany.
Buses in town are reliable, comfortable and affordable. Travellers can catch trains direct to and from Munich (about two hours), Vienna (about two and a half hours) and Budapest (about five and a half hours). Domestic rail connections include to Innsbruck, Graz and Villach.
Roads in and around Salzburg appear to be in good condition, however, Tourism Salzburg warns that all motorists using motorways in Austria must have a vignette, or toll sticker, which can be purchased at most petrol stations.
Best Time of Year to Travel to Salzburg
As a European city, winter falls during the months of December to February, so travellers looking to see snow and Christmas markets may want to visit during these times when temperatures reportedly average around 3 to 5 degrees Celsius. Summer falls from June to August, with average temperatures of 21 to 23 degrees Celsius.
Did you know…?
The Salzburg Cathedral reportedly still contains the baptismal font in which Mozart was baptised.
Did you ALSO know…?
An online controversy about whether the youngest von Trapp child in The Sound of Music, Gretl, was born two years after her mother died, implying some scandalous actions on the Baron’s part, is apparently due to people mishearing the Mother Superior saying the mother died “several years ago” as “seven years ago”.
Ready to plan your visit to Salzburg? Check out these popular guides and trips.