Salzburgerland is the Austria of your childhood imagination. It’s Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Maria Von Trapp; crisp apple strudel and yodelling on mountains; castles on high and Baroque masterpieces. It may be Austria’s smallest province, but what it lacks in size it well and truly makes up in culture.
People are drawn to Salzburg city for good reason – we don’t think we’ve ever met a town so quaint, so cobblestoned, so picture bloody perfect. And yet what people don’t realise is the surrounding region of Salzburgerland has a magic of it’s own.
So this is what we reckon might be the greatest Salzburgerland weekend itinerary going around, from glittering glaciers to traditional coffee houses and everything in between. Wunderbar!
DAY 1 – Salzburg City
9am: Coffee with the ghost of Mozart
If Austrians are anything, they’re serious about their daily caffeine intake. It’s said that the European art of coffee and lounge chairs actually originated in Vienna, but perhaps no cafe in Austria is longer standing than Salzburg’s 300-year-old Cafe Tomaselli.
Sitting smack bang in the middle of Old Town at Alter Markt, Tomaselli’s is a double-storey local legend with the best balcony view in the Baroque city. Take your morning elixir alongside the ghost of Mozart and watch as the city wakes up, and don’t forget to wave down the “cake maid” for a little dessert breakfast. Because everyone deserves dessert breakfast, obviously.
11am: Pedal to the sound of music
After old mate Wolfgang, the next in line for Salzburg’s favourite things celebrity is undoubtedly Maria Von Trapp. So much so the city practically hums with do, re, mi’s. If you’re a Julie Andrews fan, chuck on your dirndl and grab a bicycle because the best Sound of Music tour in town is definitely on two wheels. Make sure you pull up by the Mirabell Gardens to wander its blooming parterres and leafy arbours – not only are they easy on the eye but they’re also an unmistakeable Von Trapp location.
1pm: Schnitzel and Stein’s
Legend has it that when Mozart wasn’t busy revolutionising the music world or playing the organ at the city cathedral, he was drinking his way across Salzburgerland. He was an equally prolific pianist and party boy. The Stieglkeller was his favourite haunt, with a beer brewing history that dates back over 500 years. Grab a seat, pour a pint and listen to those Magic Flute melodies sing out over a schnitzel bigger than your head.
3pm: Settle in for a symphony
You can’t spend a weekend at one of the world’s classical music legends and not stop to savour the sweet symphony sounds. Whether it’s Schubert, Haydn or Strauss, an afternoon at one of the cities decadent music houses is an afternoon well spent. Don your backpacking finest, follow the throngs of classical enthusiasts and pull up a chair beneath a gilded chandelier for a sonata or two.
6pm: Dinner with a Baroque city view
You’ve had coffee, beer and schnitzel already today so it’s high time for a gruner veltliner spritzer before dinner. While we love a good dose of history, the restaurant at M32 deals in first class modernity and the menu is a gastronomic delight.
Packed with local flavours, it’s a bridge between the traditional and the modern. Sitting high up on a mountain overlooking the city and situated inside the Museum of Modern Art, this is a super unique sunset experience. Oh, and the salmon’s not half bad either.
Day 2 – Hit the road
8am: Grab a handful of Mozart’s and hit the road
Rise and shine, sleepy travellers, don’t pretend you haven’t heard the church bells chiming for the last half an hour. You’ve got a short road trip ahead of you, so we recommend stocking up on Mozartkugel’s for the ride. A Mozartgukel is a chocolatey ball of pistachio and nougat deliciousness created back in 1890, and we reckon it’s a road trip staple. So line your pockets, because you’ve got an easy hour’s cruise down the A10 to Werfen this morning.
9am: Wander medieval Castle Werfen
Hohenwerfen Fortress is like something out of a fairytale – a 900-year-old bastion sitting atop a mountain, surrounded by thick forest. It’s dark and it’s looming and it’s magical. It’s an otherworldly experience wandering the medieval turrets and touring the deep dungeons. If you’re feeling strong, put your hand up to get decked out in a real suit of armour and learn to be a swordsman.
10am: Take a flight of fancy
The Werfen falconry show is the highlight of every day here at the castle. Join the crowd of eager punters in the castle courtyard and watch as the incredible birds of prey take to the skies. Falconry is a centuries-old tradition, one previously practiced by kings and queens as it was considered a sign of power.
The dance between falconer and bird is complex and exhilarating. These creatures are super intelligent and will only respond to one trainer, whom they choose based on instinct. The conversation between the two of them is entirely reliant on body language, each reading the most minute movements of the other.
12pm: Picnic at Do Re Mi Meadow
We’re harking back to Sound of Music land again, this time paying a visit to Do Re Mi meadow. Which is, as you might’ve guessed from the name, the meadow in which Maria Von Trapp taught the kids to sing. Pack yourself an Austrian picnic, we’re talking frankfurters, dark bread, local cheese and a dozen packs of Mannerschnitten, those delicious, delicious wafers. Even if you’re not a musical fan, the view of Castle Werfen from this meadow is worth the trip alone.
2pm: Hohe Tauern National Park
Hohe Tauern is the biggest national park in central Europe. Everything is big here: the mountains, the glaciers, the 400m cascading waterfalls. If you’re after a little perspective, this is the place to go. In the warmer months, it’s all dappled light and soft greenery, meadows blooming with wildflowers, and the echoing squeak of cheeky marmots.
The trails are well mapped out and perfectly fine for solo hiking, but if you’re wanting a little local wisdom to accompany your walk then hiring a guide for the day is a good idea. Our guide Armin taught us all about natural medicines (lady’s coat for cramps and swiss stone pine for heart rate FYI), pointed out camouflaged chamois, and was just generally a bloody legend.
Spend a good few hours here, there’s nothing better than ending your Salzburgerland weekend with a Hohe sunset.