CONTRIBUTED BY MERIL CHICKINI
Before starting your trip to Salzburg make sure you have your tourist passport and international drivers license. Although there are no border checks anymore, you still need tourist passport for travel outside your host country. Police can ask for your passport anytime and there can also be temporary border checks.
Another thing you will need to drive in Austria is a vignette (sticker that goes on the window). You can buy it from ADAC beforehand or from any gas station before and right after crossing the border. Currently the sticker, also called a toll sticker, is €8.30 for 10 days. You can check current driving regulations here.
As always, our family decided to pack us all in the car and drive to Salzburg. It’s only 3 hours from Grafenwoehr and the drive is beautiful with not only breathtaking views and nature, but also the small picturesque towns you drive through along the way. Many will be worth stopping and visiting.
We drove straight to the city center with a plan to park in the Mönchsbergarage (Altstadtgarage 1 and Altstadtgarage 2) that is built into the Mönchsberg Mountain. This “parking garage” is huge and very dark but supposedly safe and always has parking spots open. You will pay when you leave just like you would in any other shopping center. Don’t forget to take a quick look at the maps to make sure to leave the garage on the side that opens up to the old town.
Salzburg is the 4th biggest city in Austria and known as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s birthplace. It’s also the backdrop to “The Sound of Music” so be ready for one busy city and many tourists. Although the streets can get pretty narrow and there are many people out at all times, we used our double stroller with no problems. Most people are very nice and helpful and we never had any issues with language either.
Although I had done my research we were a bit disappointed how small the old town was. Despite the baroque architecture it didn’t have the old feeling we were expecting. I guess it’s true when they say it’s the best-preserved city center north of the Alps. Everything really feels and looks new!
As I already mentioned it’s Mozart’s birthplace and you will see it everywhere: no matter if it’s in the form of candy, chocolate, t-shirts or bags, you will notice it everywhere. Close to the town square you will find a small Café Tomaselli that opened 1705 and was one of the places were Mozart and his wife Constance used to go. You can also sit outside from late spring into the fall (as long as the weather cooperates) and enjoy the delicious cakes.
When you are in Austria you should definitely try the brazen (like pretzels but way bigger, softer and come in different flavors like pizza or apple-cinnamon). They are so good! There are many places to eat and just like in Germany you can always find food and drink stands. Another good restaurant is Café Mozart, located on one of the busiest shopping streets, Getreidegasse. Everything is more expensive in the old town so be ready for that, but nothing too crazy.
If you love to shop then Salzburg is great for that offering both low-end and high-end stores. You can find your usual Zara and Mac there, but also shop for Louis Vuitton and Swarovski. There are great options on the Goldgasse if you are interested in jewelry and antiques. I loved how all the store and restaurant signs are made in same style and fit in with the whole look of the city.
Sightseeing is very easy in the old town because everything is very close by and easy to find. Salzburg Cathedral still contains the baptismal font in which Mozart was baptized. Although the Dom was hit in the World War II, it was restored completely by 1959. In front of the Dom you can get on the horse carriage and tour the city. It’s very popular and there’s always people waiting to get on.
Hohensalzburg Castle (http://www.hohensalzburgcastle.com) on top the Festungsberg Mountain is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe with a magnificent view down to the city. I would make sure to visit this place first and as early in the morning as possible because the lines get really long for the funicular. You can look at all the opening times and prices here. It’s definitely worth the wait. Nearby it is a small cemetery that is also overflowed with tourists. This part of the city seems to be quite narrow and very touristy so try to visit early.
You can visit Mozart’s birth house that is in old town and also his residence that is outside the city. If you are planning a trip during summer then Hellbrunn Palace and Trick Fountains outside the city center are definitely must-sees. There are many different churches in the city and also the oldest nunnery and monastery. Not to mention the museums and the zoo.
There are also many Salzburg and Sound of music tours offered but I would honestly drive through them on my own instead of buying the tour. This option would work best for somebody that has some time before the trip to do some research and put together the plan for it.
Although we were kind of disappointed with how small the old town was and how new everything looked we still loved this trip and you can find a lot to do and see there. It’s good to plan it as a 4-day trip with maybe added bonus of Munich but it’s doable as a daytrip if all you want to do is walk around in old town and enjoy the sights and maybe a lunch there.
One of the best websites I found when I was planning our trip was Salzburg, Stage of the World.