This is a city where kitsch and class walk hand in hand. If Maria is just itching to get out, take her on a warble-as-you-pedal tour of the sights; if Wolfgang is more your cup of tea, join the well-heeled crowd at Schloss Mirabell to hear the maestro’s symphonies. Whether it’s to be a shopping spree on Getreidegasse to find lederhosen that fit, or a horse-drawn carriage ride through the cobbled centre, in Salzburg embracing the clichés is positively encouraged. And why not? It’s fun.
Salzburg is storybook Austria. Standing beside the fast-flowing Salzach River, your gaze is raised inch by inch to the Altstadt’s mosaic of graceful domes and spires, the formidable clifftop fortress and the mountains beyond. It’s a view that never palls. It’s a backdrop that once did the lordly prince-archbishops and home-grown genius Mozart proud.
As tempting as it is to spend every minute in the Unesco-listed Altstadt, drifting from one baroque church and monumental square to the next in a daze of grandeur, Salzburg rewards those who venture further. Give Getreidegasse’s throngs the slip, meander side streets where classical music wafts from open windows, linger decadently over coffee and cake, and let Salzburg slowly, slowly work its magic.
Beyond Salzburg’s two biggest money-spinners – Mozart and The Sound of Music – hides a city with a burgeoning arts scene, wonderful food, manicured parks and concert halls that uphold musical tradition 365 days a year. Everywhere you go, the scenery, the skyline, the music and the history send your spirits soaring higher than Julie Andrews’ octave-leaping vocals.
A shrine to Mozart’s melodies? A Sound of Music stage? A Disneyfied city with scrumptious cakes, sugar-coated mountains and one helluva fortress? Yep, Salzburg is undeniably touristy and theatrical, yet still it’s a composition that takes some beating: from Festung Hohensalzburg atop Mönchsberg to the baroque splendour of Residenzplatz and the slender spires that crowd the skyline.
When the overload of Mozart and Miss Andrews gets too much to handle, Salzburg’s lesser-known corners offer blissful respite. The contemporary contours of Museum der Moderne, the chilled bars lining the right bank and the solitude of Kapuzinerberg are the perfect remedy for an overkill of the obvious. Sitting on the banks of the fast-flowing Salzach as the sun sinks over the city, it becomes clear that this place still rocks. Even without Amadeus.
Show in Lonely Planet