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Top 10 Things to do in Salzburg

What was supposed to be an Eastern Eurotrip turned a bit towards the central at the end of it, thus concluding in the wonderful city Salzburg, Austria, a city where Mozart has his home. This city got me with its charm right away from the minute we arrived in Salzburg and I dare say that anyone who ever immersed into this magical city will feel the same. With pastel-coloured buildings, narrow alleys and ivy-coloured walls it is no wonder that this charming city captivates the great majority of its visitors. We arrived at the time of the annual ‘Salzburg Festival’. This is the world’s most important festival for music, opera and drama and fills the city with well-dressed people and a festive atmosphere. It was established in 1920 which means that the festival was celebrating its 100th anniversary last summer!

High above Salzburg stands the magnificent, major landmark of the city - the Hohensalzburg Fortress

1. Hohensalzburg Fortress

High above Salzburg stands the magnificent, major landmark of the city, the Hohensalzburg Fortress. From up there you’ll have a striking view of the city with the panoramic Alps in the background. Not only is this castle physically dominating the city’s skyline, it is equally the biggest and best-preserved medieval castle in Europe. The building of the fortress already began back in the year 1077 initiated by the archbishop Gebhard which was intended to protect the principality from attacks. The original structure was a simple building within an enclosed courtyard and a wooden wall. Over time the successors of the castle developed the fortress architecture until in year 1519 when the castle eventually had acquired the appearance we see today. Over the course of its more than 900 years history no enemy has ever accomplished to attack or conquer the castle.

The most visited street in Salzburg - Getreidegasse

2. Getreidegasse

There is this famous street in Salzburg which you should definitely have on your top 10 things to do in Salzurg-list when you are exploring the Old Town. The street is the most visited street in the city and you will therefore find its name everywhere when you research Salzburg – the street is called ‘Getreidegasse’ and is the bustling heart of the Old Town. The street is characterized by beautiful, high town houses standing side by side with its wrought iron guild signs. It has an unmistakable charm, a beautiful architecture and unique shop signs pending outside making it an irresistible destination to check out. The street is a busy shopping street which houses an array of international fashion chains, but also accommodates traditional inns and unique businesses. Since you’re already here don’t miss the opportunity to check out Mozart’s birthplace who used to life in no. 9 until he turned 17.

DomQuartier is a huge architectural complex

3. Domquartier Salzburg

Somewhat over 400 years ago the prince-archbishops began to transform Salzburg into an Italian Baroque gem resulting in this huge architectural complex we know today as the DomQuartier which comprises the Cathedral, the Residenz and the Benedictine St. Peter’s Abbey. The DomQuartier really is an outstanding masterpiece which is today listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The complex is so huge that you can easily spend half a day or maybe even an entire day exploring the historical rooms, the former official residence of the prince-archbishops, the Residenzgalerie, the terrace on the Cathedral and so much more. For 200 years each part comprised of a closed unity which changed with the establishment of the DomQuartier that created a combined unity constituting a very uniquemuseum project. This place hides so many baroque treasures that it’s simply hard to capture it all.

In the middle of the historic center of Salzburg lies the Residenzplatz

4. Residenzplatz

In the middle of the historic center of Salzburg, adjacent to the Salzburg Cathedral, lies the Residenzplatz, named after the Residenz building of the prince-archbishops and together with the DomQuartier complex one of the city’s most popular places to visit. The square lies enclosed by the Cathedral in the south, the ‘AlteResidenz’ in the west and the ‘NeueResidenz’ in the east. The new residence building isn’t that new actually; it was built from 1588 and onward in a Renaissance style and concludes the prominent bell tower. A continuous row of townhouses frame the square to the north. The square was established from 1587 and onwards at the behest of the prince-archbishop Wolf Dietrich. Before the establishment of the square the cemetery of the former monastery had occupied this space. So it happens that just recently remnants of the medieval cemetery were discovered underneath the square. In order to establish the square, besides the cemetery, another total of 55 medieval buildings were torn down to make room for it.

Salzburg is the city where Mozart has his home

5. Mozart's Birthplace

Salzburg is the city where Mozart has his home. Visiting his birthplace therefore is an obvious and one of the biggest must-do in Salzburg. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in 1756 in the equally famous ‘Getreidegasse’. In 1880 Mozart’s birthplace has turned into a museum introducing you to the early life of the composer and is now one of the most visited museums in Austria; it’s an absolute highlight if you are even the tiniest bit fan of Mozart, and even if you’re not. His family lived here for entire 26 years until they moved to the house we know today as the ‘Mozart Residence’ in 1773 after living in the apartment for 26 years. The museum will take you back to the days of Mozart with the original rooms and an apartment as authenticable as possible. The exhibited items reflect their everyday life whereas the real highlight includes some of Mozart’s historical instruments like his own violin and clavichord, documents and early editions of his music.

Salzburg is a fantastic city with many beautiful, historical buildings - like the Mirabell Palace

6. Mirabell Palace and Gardens

Salzburg is a fantastic city with many beautiful, historical buildings, like the Mirabell Palace and its accompanying gardens. The gardens of the palace, the fountain and the steps are one of the most important shooting locations for the famous Hollywood musical ‘Sound of Music’, if you’re a fan of the movie you might want to visit it. The Mirabell Palace was built in 1606 by prince-archbishop Wolf Dietrich, the same who also initiated the Residenzplatz in front the DomQuartier. Today, the palace serves as a place where many weddings are held since it makes for such a perfectly romantic backdrop. The Marble Hall inside the palace, a former banquet hall for the prince-archbishops, is generally regarded as one of the most beautiful wedding halls in the world. During the days of Mozart, he and his sister used to play music here. The Mirabell Gardens were completely redesigned in 1690 with a geometrical form, typical for the Baroque period. The gardens make for a wonderful place to take a stroll and admire the lovely flower beds, the statues, the Pegasus fountain and just everything that comes with it.

The Hellbrunn Palace - an early Baroque Villa

7. Hellbrunn Palace

Some 4,5 km outside the city center of Salzburg, in the southern district, lays the Hellbrunn Palace, an early Baroque Villa which intentions it was to serve merely as an oasis of enjoyment and leisure. In 1612, Salzburg’s prince-archbishop Markus Sittikus commissioned a country residence to be built at the foot of the Hellbrunn Mountain to have a place to which he could escape from his functions at the Residenz. This architectural masterpiece was created within a relatively short period of time from 1612-1615. Since it was only used as a day summer residence as the Archbishop would usually return to Salzburg in the evening there was no need for a bedroom. Being a place for leisure and enjoyment it hence became a beloved retreat for rulers of the state to eat, drink and loosen them. The palace holds a very special feature which has amazed and attracted its visitors for more than 400 years, the trick fountains. Markus Sittikus had quite a wicked humor so he had installed hidden fountains in the park to surprise and spray his guests while they would partake in the tour. The trick fountains are during the summer days the big draw for both kids and grown-ups.

This is one of the best museums I've ever been to

8. Museum of Natural History

One of the best places in Salzburg, where we spent an entire day and could have spent even more time as it is in fact far too much to do in only one day, is the Museum of Natural History, ‘Haus der Natur’ which was founded in 1924. This is one of the best museums and there are several dozens in the world I’ve been to. From prehistoric giant dinosaurs to the futuristic space travel, this museum is diverse and encounters everything. Besides exhibitions focusing on dinosaurs, geology, the natural world, the human boy and space travel, there’s also an aquarium and a reptile zoo. On your journey through the different exhibitions you will experience hands-on experiments and interact with the exhibitions which provide you with knowledge at the same time – this fantastic interactive museum draws every age group to it.

In Salzburg you will find Austria’s biggest and most successful brewery

9. Stiegl Brewery

In Salzburg you will find Austria’s biggest and most successful brewery which has existed since 1492. But not only is this a brewery where you can taste their beer and treat yourself with the typical Austrian gastronomy provided, the Stiegl Brewery is a whole world of multi-sensory experiences – seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and of course tasting. Since its establishment in 1492 the unique Stiegl-Märzen has been a popular beverage and an integral element of Salzburg’s culture. During the many centuries Stiegl has developed from being a small local brewey to change into Austria’s largest and most successful private brewery. Originally located in Salzburg’s downtown, the brewery relocated to the Maxglan district towards the end of the 19th century and has continued to be there since. In their interactive beer exhibition and the Stiegl Museum you can learn a lot about the history of brewing, how beer is produced and Stiegl’s development and seclude by tasting their beer of course.

Untersberg is one of the popular recreational destinations outside Salzburg

10. Untersberg

After you have finished exploring the city of Salzburg it’s time to discover its beautiful surroundings. Untersberg is one of the popular recreational destinations if you want to see something outside the city which is more of a natural character. The Untersberg is the highest peak near Salzburg and probably also the most accessible one. You can take the bus from the city center of Salzburg directly to the cable car station which will take you smoothly to the top of the mountain in a manner of short time. The cable car has been operating since 1961 and has been transporting hikers, nature lovers and fans of the great scenery up the mountain and back down to the valley again. When you arrive at the top you’ll have an incredible view of Salzburg city and on a clear day you can even be able to look as far as to Bavaria in Germany.


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