We saw on Instagram that some friends of ours were doing an Oktoberfest/Eastern Europe Trip right around the time we would be in that area. We got a hold of them and their itinerary and it worked out that we could meet them in Salzburg on our way to Budapest and on their way to Munich. Salzburg wasn’t originally on our list but I’m a big Mozart fan and we were excited to hang out with other couples after traveling solo for so long. Salzburg is the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, was prominently featured in The Sound of Music, and is well-known for its chocolates. Salzburg's "Old Town" (Altstadt) is internationally renowned for its baroque architecture and is one of the best-preserved city centers north of the Alps. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
We got into Salzburg around 3 PM and checked into our hotel. We got settled in and met our friends for dinner at Zum Zirkelwirt. I love my wife, but basically being together 24/7 this trip, we were both ready to catch up with friends and to converse with other people. Dinner was pretty good but wasn’t all that great. We had the goulash soup & beef goulash entrée. It was raining that night so we just walked through the city center and made our way back to our hotel. We stopped in at our friends’ hotel to have a drink before bed.
The next day we did our own walking tour of Salzburg. We made our way to the Mirabell Gardens. In the Sound of Music, Maria and the children sing 'Do-Re-Mi' while dancing around the horse fountain and using the steps as a musical scale. We then made our way across the Makartsteg pedestrian bridge that has a number of locks attached to it ala the Paris love bridge, the Seoul Tower love locks, the Prague love bridge, and I’m sure countless others. We made our way to the funicular through the Domplatz (Salzburg Cathedral) plaza to go up to see the Fortress Hohensalzburg. The plaza was filled with a number of stalls and rides that were being setup for Salzburg’s Oktoberfest which was starting the next day. Unfortunately, all the Oktoberfest decorations ruined some of the views of the major squares around Salzburg (Domplatz and Residence Square).
The Fortress Hohensalzburg stands high on a hill overlooking Salzburg and provides the city’s world famous silhouette. The entrance fee is 12 euro which includes the roundtrip funicular ride and an audioguide tour of the fortress. The tour took us through the salt room, torture chamber/dungeon, tower overlooking all of Salzburg with history of the evolvement of fortress. The view from the Fortress is really spectacular and it’s worth the entrance to see the views of the city. We had a cloudy, rainy day but the views were still good and I can imagine how spectacular they’d be on a clear day. The audiotour was just OK, it was about 40 minutes long and kind of dry, and the interior of the fortress wasn’t all that impressive. After the fortress, we also went by Residence Square and saw more Oktoberfest preparations. We actually ran into a couple of our tablemates from Oktoberfest and chatted with them for a bit. We then went to the opposite side of the river to get a nice view of Old Town. We walked up the Kapuzinerberg mountain and took some pictures.
We went back to the hotel to rest up a bit before dinner. After a little nap, we met my friends at their hotel and then walked to the Augustiner beer hall for “dinner.” The beer hall was pretty cool. It had a number of large halls with huge tables. We grabbed a spot in one of the halls and along the walls there were shelves full of steins. You had the option of picking up a 1 liter or .5 liter stein and you would then take your stein to water station to rinse it out. Then you move to a window counter where you buy tickets for either a 1 liter (6.20€) or .5 liter (3.10€) beer. You then take the ticket to a counter where a guy fills the beer from a tap. Naturally the floors were a bit sticky and the halls smelled a bit of stale beer. After Oktoberfest we were still a little gun-shy drinking beer but after having a couple of beers, we didn’t mind so much. There were a couple of vendors in the hallways selling some grilled meats and various other Austrian/German cuisine. Diem and I had some pork knuckle, bratwurst, and cole slaw and it hit the spot with the beer but I can’t say it was really that good. One of my friends’ friends studied abroad in Salzburg and recommended that we try a cheese filled sausage sold by street vendors at night. We found one on the way home and grabbed some there. They were pretty tasty and hit the spot. We had one more drink at a bar in the basement of our friends’ hotel and called it a night.
Our last day in Salzburg, I went for a run up to the Monchsberg hill to get some more great views of the city and the fortress but apparently it was a little cold for our iPhone because it died when I was up toward the top and I only got two pictures. It was actually a pretty clear morning so I was bummed that I couldn’t take more. Our friends went to the Ice Caves in Werfen which is outside Salzburg. They look pretty cool but we didn’t have time to go. We got packed and took a train to Budapest, which actually had WiFi, so the trip went quickly.
Salzburg is a nice little town and has some beautiful panoramic views. I wish I could have done some more Mozart sightseeing and that we either were there for Salzburg’s Oktoberfest or that the preparations weren’t in the main squares so that they didn’t block some of the views. It was great hanging out with our friends and it made me miss home a bit.
See the full gallery of our time in Salzburg here: Salzburg, Austria.