I’m going to skip the intro, and just cut to the chase. If you’re going to Salzburg, here are the best things that you want to do. In order:
1. Take a Rick Steves / Slick Rick Audio Tour
Might I suggest one of the best things to do once you get to any new city?! Take a Rick Steves, or Slick Rick, as I like to call him, audio tour. He has walking tours that you download for free through iTunes podcasts, and he tells you where to start, usually on a downloadable map. You just plug in, listen to the stories, and he guides you where to go.
In Salz, we went across bridges, through famous churches, different squares. It’s a great way to get acquainted with a new city, learn some of the history, and get some ideas of what you might want to explore later on in your visit.
For this tour, the audio guide was pretty cool. We heard about Mozart and his childhood, and went into these crazy catacombs built right into the mountain (sorry if that’s not cool to you).
2. Go See a Legit Puppet Show
Haha. For real, though.
Sidestory: We chugged a beer on our way over to the theater were we were going to as a quick pre-game for the show. End Sidestory.
When I got to the window at the theater to pay for our student tickets (yeah BuffOne card!), I was curious about the non-puppet theater, so I asked the woman working, “Do you know how much the Sound of Music costs at the real theater?” She gave me the most pissed-off reaction.
She replied, “This is the real theater!”
I tried to explain more. “No, the theater with real people.” Little did I know, I dug myself into a grave with that one.
She quickly handed us our tickets and shooed us away. Moments later, I realized how offensive my question was. Salz is like the puppet-capital of the world. I thought about going back and apologizing, but figured it’d be best if I didn’t. Antother beer later, we sat down at our seats in a surprisingly large theater. The puppets are larger than you’d expect too.
After we were scolded and asked to move back to our original seats in the back of the theater after we tried moving up to a few unoccupied seats in the front unsuccessfully, the show began …
AND it was dope! I don’t want to give too much of the show away, but puppetry world means business. I know it probably sounds funny to think about, but the 10 or so people controlling these puppets have serious skills. Each puppet has eight or so strings, and there are like ten of them on stage at a time, while all the puppets are singing and dancing and flying through the air. Coooooooool.
There is this certain kind of humor that puppeteers portray through the puppets that I can’t really explain, but they do it through the movement and motions of each puppet, and through the synchronization that they control, it’s absolutely hilarious. Something you just wouldn’t get at a regular play.
I have to say, the puppet show comes in a super close second. Just a hair not to be tied with first.
3. Walk Around The Fortress
It’s a “fortress” not a “castle”, we were politely told by a local one evening.
When asking the difference, we were told that a fortress is where people go to hide if there were to be a war. And with a castle, people actually live in it.
I’d say the best view of Salzburg is from The Fortress. It’s also very beautiful to look at from below, pretty much everywhere in in town.
We did an audio guide (my fav! ’cause I’m a nerd like that), that explained each of the different bishop’s additions to the fortress. Again, it’s crazy to think how much the church had power over all the European cities the last thousand or so years. Apparently, the power was often a game to win back and forth between royalty and the bishops.
But anyway, if you do decide to visit The Fortress, take the incline railway to get to the top. Because, it’s fast and fun.
I didn’t even know just how green and mountainous Salzburg was until seeing the whole other side of it from the top of The Fortress. Inside the fortress, on display is old furniture from the different eras, jewelry, and kitchenware.
Interesting fact about the fortress? Since it was built, it was never actually invaded, or used as it was intended (to offer protection). One of the only places that actually wasn’t during World War II.
It’s a good thing, but kind of odd because that was the whole reason this huge structure was built in the first place. (There was one time, though, where it was handed over to Napoleon, no war involved, just a peaceful hand over. In my mind, Napoleon must have been one sly guy.)
Also inside The Fortress is a small puppet museum, which was actually pretty cool, and how I found out about the puppet show in the first place.
4. Try to Make it for Octoberfest Weekend
Ironically, we were in Austria during Octoberfest weekend. Although this celebration started in Germany, they go big in Austria too. If you can make it there middle to end of September, I’d highly recommend checking this out.
During our visit, we stayed with Colton’s friend Rose, so she and her friends showed us an awesome time in their dirndl’s (don’t call it a costume!). I wanted one so bad!
We ate delicious pretzels and french fries, ordered huge beers, and socialized with some locals about the ins and outs of Salzburg.
5. St. Wolfgang/Schafberg Mountain
Like I always say, if you can get outside the city at all, do. I do a lot of research about the sites I want to see on Pinterest.
If you are like myself and also spend too much time researching on Pinterest, type “Austria” in to the search bar. You’re going to see a beautiful image of a few houses and buildings sitting perfectly next to a lake with tons of snow-capped mountains in the background. This is St. Wolfgang.
Schafberg (another beautiful image you’re sure to stumble upon), is a mere boat ride from the cute town of St. Wolfgang. If you go to Austria, and decide to do this, you’ll be so happy that you did.
To get there, you just grab a bus from Salzburg to St. Wolfgang, and then you can purchase a ferry ticket that you take from St. Wolfgang to get to Schafberg and back. It’s pretty easy.
Once you get to Schafberg Mountain, you can take a steam-engine train ride up to the top of the mountain and then another ferry ride back.
The ferry on the water is amazing. Literally, the water is a bright teal color — unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. The water is so clear you can see all the fish swimming in it, probably up to about five feet deep. Close to the shore, you can see all the rocks and sand and plants growing at the bottom.
Unfortunately for us, when we got to Schafberg Mountain, it was a super cloudy day. And although the ride to the top was super fun — and semi-scary because of old this wooden steam engine train in — it was nothing but a white cloud abyss at the time. Can’t win ’em all.
Photo of what view is supposed to look like on a sunny day:
Photo of our view (no joke):
Food and Beverages You Have to Try:
- Stiegel Radler Grapefruit
- Apple Strudel
- Fried Chicken
- Potato Salad
These were a few of my favorite things …
I’ll be posting what we did outside the city soon, so stay tuned for that. Have a awesome Austria story to share?! Please do, I’m always curious to hear how other people spend their valuable time while visiting a new country.