Salzburg

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The joke 'if it's baroque, don't fix it' is a perfect maxim for Salzburg; the tranquil Old Town burrowed in below steep hills looks as much as it did when Mozart lived here 250 years ago. Its cobbled streets are overshadowed by ornate 17th-century buildings, which are in turn dominated by the medieval Hohensalzburg fortress from high above.  cross the fast-flowing Salzach River rests the baroque Schloss Mirabell, surrounded by gorgeous manicured gardens.

Orientation

The pedestrianised Old Town, with most attractions, is south of the Salzach River. On the north bank is the new town plus Mozart’s Wohnhaus and Schloss Mirabell.

Salzburg Internet Café (Gstättengasse 3; per hr €2; h10am-10pm) Cheap internet access and calls.

Main Tourist Office (Tel information 88-987 330, hotel reservations 88-987 314; http://www.salzburg.info/de/; Mozartplatz 5; h9am-6pm Mon-Sat Jan-Apr & mid-Oct–Nov, 9am-7pm May–mid-Oct & Dec) Sells the Salzburg Card (€21/29/34 for 24/48/72 hours), which provides free museum entry and public transport, and offers various reductions. Also has a counter at the train station.

A Unesco World Heritage site, Salzburg’s Old Town is entrancing both at ground level and from the hills above.

Residenzplatz is an excellent starting point for exploration. The Dom (cathedral; Domplatz; admission free; h6.30am-5pm Mon-Sat, 8am-5pm Sun), just to the south, has bronze doors symbolising faith, hope and charity, and excavations of a medieval cathedral and Roman remains (adult/student €2.50/1.50; open 9am to 5pm). When you come out of the cathedral, head west along Franziskanergasse and turn left into a courtyard for St Peterskirche (St Peter Bezirk 1/2; admission free; h8am-noon & 2.30-6.30pm). Among the lovingly tended graves in this abbey’s grounds is the entrance to the Katakomben (Catacombs; adult/student €1/0.60; h10.30am-5pm May-Sep, 10.30am-3.30pm Wed & Thu, 10.30am-4pm Fri-Sun Oct-Apr). The Stift Nonnberg (Nonnberg Abbey) is back east of the Festung Hohensalzburg and where The Sound of Music first finds Maria.

Festung Hohensalzburg

Castle-fortress Festung Hohensalzburg (Tel 842 430-11; http://www.salzburg-burgen.at/de/; Mönchsberg 34; adult/ student €10/9.10; h9am-7pm May-Sep, to 5pm Oct- Apr), built in 1077, was home to many archbishop- princes (who ruled Salzburg from AD 798). Inside are the impressively ornate staterooms, torture chambers and two museums.

It takes 15 minutes to walk up the hill to the fortress, or you can catch the funicular Festungsbahn (Festungsgasse 4; included in castle ticket, otherwise 1 way/return €2.10/3.40; h9am-10pm May- Aug, to 9pm Sep, to 5pm Oct-Apr).

Schloss Mirabell

The formal gardens, with their tulips, crocuses and Greek statues, are the main drawcard at this palace, built by the princearchbishop Wolf Dietrich for his mistress in 1606. Standing at the western end and looking east towards the fortress gives you an iconic Salzburg view. Having featured in The Sound of Music, the gardens are now popular for weddings and open-air concerts (normally at 10.30am and 8.30pm May to August).

Museums

Although Mozart is a major Salzburg attraction, the man himself couldn’t wait to leave. Consequently, Mozart’s Geburtshaus (birthplace; Tel 844 313; http://www.mozarteum.at/; Getreidegasse 9; adult/student €6.50/5.50; h9am-6pm Sep-Jun, to 7pm Jul & Aug, last entry 30min before closing) and his Wohnhaus (residence; Tel 874 227; Makartplatz 8; adult/student €6.50/5.50; h9am-6pm Sep-Jun, to 7pm Jul & Aug, last entry 30min before closing) cover only his early years before he left town in 1780 at 24 years of age. A combined ticket to both houses is €10 (students and seniors €8). The more extensive Wohnhaus houses the Mozart Sound and Film Museum (admission free; h9am-1pm Mon, Tue & Fri, 1-5pm Wed & Thu).

The Salzburg Museum (Tel 620 808-700; http://www.salzburgmuseum.at/, in German; Mozartplatz 1; Tue-Sat adult/student €7/6, Sun €5.50/4.50; h9am-5pm Tue- Sun, 9am-8pm Thu, also 9am-5pm Mon Jul, Aug & Dec) covers the city and its favourite citizens in an interactive way, while the Museum der Moderne (Tel 842 220-403; http://www.museumdermoderne.at/; Mönchsberg; adult/student €8/6; h10am-6pm Tue- Sun, to 9pm Wed) adds a further contemporary touch to historic Salzburg with rotating modern art shows.

Boat Tours

In summer, Salzburg Schiffahrt (Tel 825 769-12; http://www.salzburgschifffahrt.at/) operates 40-minute round-trip river cruises (€13) and trips to Schloss Hellbrunn (€16; h12.45pm Apr-Sep, 10.45am & 12.45pm Jul & Aug). Boats leave from the city side of the Makart Bridge at the Salzach Insel boat landing.

Festivals & Events

The famous Salzburg Festival (http://www.salzburgerfestspiele.at/) of classical music is held from late July to late August. Book online well in advance if you want cheap tickets.

Mensa Toscana (Sigmund-Haffner-Gasse 11; meals €4.10-4.80; h8.30am-5pm Mon-Thu, to 3pm Fri) University Mensa in the heart of the Old Town.

SKS Spices (Wolf-Dietrich-Strasse 1; mains €6) If you’re into healthy eating, don’t pass over this tiny eatery that specialises in vegan and vegetarian food from the Indian subcontinent.

Wilder Mann (Tel 841 787; Getreidegasse 20; mains €8-11; hMon-Sat) Traditional Austrian food in a friendly, bustling environment, located in the passageway off Getreidegasse. Tables, both inside and out, are often so packed it’s almost impossible not to get chatting with fellow diners.

Il Sole (Gstättengasse 15; mains €6-15) Fill up on tasty pasta dishes and wood-fired pizzas at Il Sole, a small trattoria with a lively buzz and superfriendly staff.

Afro Cafe (Tel 844 888; Bürgerspitalplatz 5; mains €10-20; hMon-Sat) This vibrant, multicoloured restaurant-cafe-bar is bedecked with retro furniture, palm trees and junk art, and its full menu features the likes of Pemba Island prawns and ostrich kebabs. A delightful, unpretentious eatery.

There are market stalls and fast-food stands on Universitätsplatz and Kapitelplatz. A Eurospar supermarket (hMon-Sat) is opposite the train station.

On weekend evenings, the crowds stream along Rudolfskai, Salzburg’s most famous stretch of bars, clubs, Irish pubs and discos. However, most punters are barely out of, or still in, their teens.

Augustiner Bräustübl (Tel 431 246; Augustinergasse 4-6; h3-11pm Mon-Fri, 2.30-11pm Sat & Sun) Known locally as Müllnerbräu (after its neighbourhood), this hillside complex of beer halls and gardens is not to be missed. The local monks’ brew keeps the huge crowd of up to 2800 humming.

Humboldt Stub’n (Tel 843 171; Gstättengasse 4-6) Perennial favourite with students – particularly on Wednesday nights when beers are €2.50. The decor is particularly wacky, featuring cartoons and purple antelope horns.

Republic (Tel 841 613; Anton Neumayr Platz 2) A hip, American bar-brasserie which features regular club nights.

Bus drivers sell singles for €1.70. Other tickets, including day passes (€4.20), must be bought from the automatic machines at major stops or Tabak (tobacco) shops.

Top Bike (Tel 0676-476 72 59; http://www.topbike.at/; 2hr/4hr/day €6/10/15, 20% discount with all train tickets) rents bikes from just outside the train station.