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The Stunning City Of Salzburg
Member Name: MollyWH
Advantages: beautiful scenery, superb transport system, lots of things to see
Disadvantages: restaurants close quite early, not much veggie food
I stayed in Salzburg for a week in January 2007.
I booked my flights with Ryanair through the website which I found fairly easy to use. Baring in mind I actually booked the tickets in July 2006 so that prices may have changed since then, but I paid £87.02 for both of us for return flight which I thought was very reasonable. We flew from London Stansted and the flight took an hour and forty minutes.
We stayed at Hotel Plainbrucke which is located about 15 minute drive from the airport and a ten minute bus journey from the main town. When I was looking to book a hotel online there were lots to choose from so I can't see anyone having a problem trying to locate somewhere to stay. I chose Hotel Plainbrucke as it looked to be fairly near to the town and also the photos on the website looked nice. When we arrived at the hotel, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, as to be honest, from the outside, it looked like a tacky B&B as the building was bright orange and looked quite small. However, this proved that you should never judge a book by its cover as once inside, the hotel was lovely. Nice spacious reception, lovely rooms and extremely helpful staff.
I searched for a hotel through Google and I was bombarded with hundreds of hotels to choose from so if you are planning a trip, I would advise you to do the same thing.
Salzburg in Austria is only 1 hour ahead of GMT so jet lag was not a problem.
The currency in Austria is the Euro.
Getting Around Salzburg
I have travelled to quite a few places and I have never come across a better transport system than the one in Austria. Although taxis are available I would not recommend this method of transport to people although we did get a taxi from the airport to our hotel when we arrived and encountered no problems. I would advise everyone to use the local 'tram' system. We were advised of the various routes by the receptionist at out hotel so basically we had to get one bus into town and another bus back to the hotel. Every tram on every route around town runs every 10 minutes and not once in the five days we were there was a tram late. The system is extremely easy to work out as there are timetables behind glass screens at every bus stop which are very easy to decipher, even though they were not in English.
On a couple of the trips we did, we had to go further out of town, on about a 30 minute tram journey. The trams that ran the longer routes for the out of town journeys ran every 30 minutes but again, any tram you wanted to use could be found on the timetable and you can locate what times they run very easily.
Our hotel (which was classed as a 3 star but seemed much better) cost us 316 euros for 5 nights.
The Salzburg Card
This is an excellent invention. When we checked into out hotel, the reception informed us of something called a 'Salzburg Card'. These cards can be bought for a 24 hour period, 48 hours and 72 hours but unfortunately not any longer. The Salzburg Card allows you to use any of the trams free of charge. An added bonus to these cards is that they also give you free entry into many of Salzburg's main attractions. Most of the attractions are free to get into with this card, a few are not but the Salzburg card gives you a discount on the entry fee. The charges for the Salzburg Card are as follows:
24 hours - 21 euros
48 hours - 29 euros
72 hours - 34 euros
We made more than our money's worth back with these cards as we visited roughly five tourist attractions which on average cost around 8 euros for entry. So to sum it up, for 34 euros (we got the 72 hour card) we got free travel for three days as well as free entry into most of the main attractions and discounted entry into the more expensive attractions.
My only disappointment with Salzburg was eating out. I found there wasn't a very wide selection of restaurants and that they tended to close fairly early. For example, one night we went out for dinner around 9pm, only to find that hardly any restaurants were open and we eventually had to grab something to eat at McDonalds which didn't make us feel like we were taking in much of the culture.
Being vegetarian I found there was a great lack of veggie dishes which was disappointing.
The restaurants we did find had fairly reasonably priced menus. On average a starter ranged from 2 euros - 5 euros, a main meal costing between 10 euros - 25 euros and a dessert costing between 5 euros - 10 euros.
Only eating out for a main meal in the evening was a problem, during the day there was a lot more variety of food to choose from.
There were many cafes which obviously served tea, coffee etc along with pastries such as croissants, Danish pastries, strudel and other cakes like doughnuts and big home cooked sponge cakes. Most of the cafes also served snack items such as toasted sandwiches, chips, omelettes and cheese dumplings. The Austrians must be fans of cheese dumplings as they were literally on every menu we saw.
We also noticed quite a few Italian restaurants but again these closed fairly early, around 7pm. We had possibly the best pizza we have ever eaten in a little Italian we found in the main high street and it was only 7 euros for each 9 inch pizza which was extremely reasonable.
Another problem was that the menus were all in Austrian so obviously we were unable to tell what was in each dish but we found if we asked inside the restaurant then there were able to provide us with an English menu but then we felt rude walking back out if there was nothing on the menu we fancied.
The City Of Salzburg
There are many tourist attractions in Salzburg, certainly enough to keep you busy. The town is fairly large with lots of shops ranging from shoe shops to little traditional shops selling old style Austrian clothing. We found that many of the shops were designer shops so the goods were fairly expensive. For example, I was looking to buy a new bag and saw a one I liked, however, when I looked at the price tag, I was amazed to discover that it cost over £300! So obviously I didn't get my new bag! As mentioned the town is fairly large and spread over a wide area but as there are regular bus stops, you can choose where to get off so do not have to walk if you don't wish to. I must admit, we do quite a bit of walking but we literally went to bed every night shattered from all the walking during the day.
There is a large river running through the middle of Salzburg, on one side there is 'New Town' and the other side is called 'Old Town'. There are several bridges running from one side to the other so it is very easy to explore both sides.
I think the town is very quaint and pretty with little cobbled streets running between different roads.
Salzburg is fairly quiet at night time which personally I found quite nice, no drunks running round the streets making noise! There were a few bars in town as well as out of town that served coffee and tea etc as well as alcoholic drinks. We did not notice any nightclubs although in all honesty, we did not look for any either. The atmosphere in the pubs / bars in the evening was relaxed with people just sitting round and talking quiety over their drinks and soft background music which you could easily talk over the top of.
Things To Do In Salzburg
For those of you who don't know, Salzburg is the City in which Mozart was born so there are lots of Mozart attractions to be seen. We went to see the Mozart Residence which was where Mozart was born and where he and his family lived until he was 7. Mozarts Residence is in the middle of one of the main streets in town and could easily be found on a local map which were available everywhere. Personally we didn't particularly enjoy this trip; you are just left to walk around the house and given a sheet which detailed various objects in the room and paintings etc. It was interesting to see the house itself but really I found this trip quite boring and there was nothing very exciting to see. The most exciting this was a letter that Mozart's Dad had written to his Mum informing her of Mozart's success. Apart from that, it was basically just lots of paintings of Mozart painted by various artists. Personally, I am not Mozart's biggest fan but being interested in history I thought it would be worth a look but I can't imagine this trip pleasing even Mozart's greatest fan although there were a couple of items that were interesting. This attraction was free to get into with the Salzburg Card.
Museum Of Natural History
The Museum of Natural History is located about a 5 minute walk from the main town and was fairly easy to locate after reading the map. I really enjoyed this attraction. Inside, there was a fascinating Aquarium with tropical and marine fish in beautiful big tanks, a reptile zoo with animals such as snakes, lizards and a couple of big crocodiles, again all in lovely big tanks.
There was a dinosaur sections with the usual skeletons of dinosaurs and a life size T Rex which moves and roars! There was a Space Discovery section all about our solar system. There was a Rock Crystal section with lots of specimens on show. Finally there was a 'Journey through the human body' section.
On the top floor there were lots of stuffed animals from hundreds of years ago and also more popular animals such as the polar bear, lion, tiger etc as well as a large range of birds.
My only complaint was that all the signs were in Austrian so obviously we were unable to read any of the information which would have been useful in certain sections, but we felt we couldn't really complain as we were in Austria after all. This attraction was also free to get into with the Salzburg Card.
Being animal lovers, we had to visit to Zoo. The Zoo was about a 20 minute tram journey out of town which we could use our Salzburg card to travel on so we didn't have to pay any extra costs for the journey.
The Zoo consists of over 500 animals (140 species). A star attraction were the free flying griffon vultures. The Zoo was built with mountains behind it and the vultures are free to fly wherever they please which was quite nice (although I have no idea why they stay at the Zoo when they are free to fly wherever they like). Quite often while we were walking around the Zoo we saw the vultures fly overhead and land on the side of the mountain.
Each species had a large natural looking enclosure and they had animals such as wolves, big cats, rhinos, camels, giraffes, racoons etc - the list goes on!
One thing I particularly liked about this Zoo was how close you were allowed to get to some of the animals (obviously not the big cats!). In one section, we walked into a room and were greeted by lots of little monkeys (unfortunately I can not tell you what they were as again the signs were in Austrian). The monkeys had lots of branches that were hung around the room and there was a section where you could sit on a bench and the monkeys are literally a foot away from you and you can watch them interact with each other in a natural environment.
The Zoo is well advertised throughout the city on billboards etc but the Zoo itself was not the easiest place to find. We only managed to get off the bus in the correct place as my boyfriend noticed the small sign outside the zoo as we had previously looked on a map before jumping on the tram so we had a rough idea of where to get off. This attraction was free to get into with the Salzburg Card.
Salzburgwerk Berchtesgaden (Salt Mines)
The Salt Mines are located about a 30 minute bus journey out of town. We managed to get on the bus free of charge as we were never asked to pay but I am not sure this journey was included in the Salzburg Card deal. We managed to get there and back free of charge though.
The Salt Mines were a fairly educational trip where we discovered traditional and modern mining methods on a guided tour around the mines. We went into the Salt Mines on a train similar to a train that original miners would have used hundreds of years ago. We went 700 metres below ground, deep inside the mountain where we could see the salt glistening in the rock around us. Upon arrival, we were given traditional mining clothes to wear which was quite funny as I had to wear these huge baggy trousers and a large blue jacket, as well as a leather bum pouch thing! - Very fetching! We also got to ride an original miner's shoot which was basically a wooden slide which you sat on and rode down further into the mine! I assume this is why we were given the leather bum pouch otherwise you would have ended up with friction burns on your bum from the slide! We also got to ride on a raft across the salt lake which was deep inside the mountain, and even got to taste the salty water!! Unfortunately we were not allowed to take any photos while we were inside but I assume this is because you have you photo taken several times throughout the trip and can buy the photos afterwards for either 4 euros each or 3 photos for 10 euros. We had our photo taken on the train, on the slide and again on the train while it was moving.
The trip would be great fun for people of all ages, as well as being good fun, it was also very educational and interesting looking at the traditional methods of mining compared to the modern ways. This mine is still used today!
This trip cost us 11.90 euros each for entry but this was with the discount we got for having the Salzburg Card.
Cable Car Untersberg
Here, we were able to take a Cable Car up to the top of Untersburg Mountain. The cable cars ran every 30 minutes and took you up to heights on 1853 metres. Once you arrive at the top, you are left to your own devices and are free to catch whichever cable car you want to back down to the ground.
There is a small restaurant and viewing area once you step out from the cable car but for those of you who are more adventurous you are able to climb to the very highest point of the mountain using a 'path' that is marked out with large poles. I say 'path' because not many people seemed to do this so the path was not as safe as it could have been and in places we were falling up to our thighs in deep snow. Personally we found this great fun but it is definitely something to bear in mind for the elderly or people who may be afraid of falling over. We both fell over and into holes many times and came back with a few bruises!
The highest point of the mountain is marked with a cross so we chose what looked like the best path and eventually made it to the cross. The views were absolutely breath taking, you are surrounded my mountains (and clouds) on one side and can see the whole City of Salzburg on the other. Definitely need to take a camera if you do this trip as there are some real photo opportunities.
We were advised to wrap up warm for this trip as obviously it gets quite cold at the top of the mountain but to be honest, with all the trekking we did, we ended up carrying most of our layers and walking round in T shirts as we got very hot!
Out of all the trips we did, I would recommend this one the most as the views really were out of this world.
Although we went in winter, we were greeted by sunny, fair weather and only had one day of rain out of the 5 we were there. The city of Salzburg is beautiful and there are plenty of tourist hotspots for people to visit. As already mentioned, the transport system was the best I have ever come across so getting around was extremely easy and very cheap with the Salzburg Card. I should imagine that Salzburg would be even more beautiful in the summer.
Summary: The Stunning City Of Salzburg