Salzburg is divided into East and West Salzburg by the blue-green river Salzach. On the west side lies most of the Old Town, a maze of plazas and alleyways and, yes, Catholic cathedrals. The dominant feature of this side of town is the looming Festung Hohensalzburg, the large white fortress that spits out a small train car every 10min. to bring weary sightseers back to ground level after carrying them up to enjoy the view. The fun extends to the north of the area with Mönchsberg, the long, narrow mountain upon which the fortress sits. Four bridges connect the older part of the city to East Salzburg, which has a more open, boulevard city layout. More than likely, you’ll be entering this part of the city through the Hauptbahnhof.
Eagle's Nest (Kehlstein)
When der Führer reached his 50th birthday, you can imagine there was a bit of a scramble to pick a present for his special day. The answer? A super-high lookout point in the Bavarian mountains. The lookout point now hosts a restaurant that tries not to dwell upon what happened here 70 years ago. However, tourists still shoot up in a 40-story elevator to view the Octagonal Room (where Hitler entertained dignitaries) and the Pine Room (Eva Braun’s favorite) as well as for the tremendous views of the mountains themselves. Be advised that visiting the Eagle’s Nest involves crossing the border into Germany; there are rarely border controls, but bring your passport just in case.
* Salzburg Hauptbahnhof to Berchtesgaden Hauptbahnhof. Take bus #838 and get off at the Dokumentation stop. You’ll have to pay to take the special shuttles up to the top; otherwise you can take the 2-3hr. hike on the clearly marked path for free. Bus and lift return trip €15.50, children under 14 €9. Fun Fact: At the end of The Sound of the Music, when the von Trapp family climbs over the mountains, they are actually crossing over into Germany and would have been in the line of sight of Kehlstein. Open May 17-Oct 8:20am-5pm..
Are those drag queens? Yes. A man playing “Kalinka” on the accordion? Yes. Is that a string quartet playing Mozart? Of course. Is there any reason why you should not visit the Mirabell Gardens? No. The Pegasus statue and rainbow explosion of flower formations define Austrian aesthetics in one fell swoop: a love of mythology and outrageous beauty. The drag queens are a bit outside of this purview, but you might still find them dressed up in traditional Austrian garb and willing to take pictures with confused tourists.
*Bus #1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 25, or 32 to Mirabellpl. (Schloss). Gardens free. Palace open M 8am- 4pm, Tu 1-4pm, W-Th 8am-4pm, F 1-4pm. Gardens open daily 6am-dusk.
If we were to time travel, the number one commodity we would take with us to fifth-century Salzburg would be salt itself (a pound of which in die gute alte Zeit costs as much as a pound of gold). The Reichenbach mines are now in Germany after the principality of Salzburg was cut down to size in the 19th century, and they’re still churning out good ol’ NaCl to this day. The tour is a bit like a mining amusement park tour, with a train that brings you to the center, a series of slides from one part of the cave to the other, and a boat ride across a lake complete with technicolor lighting effects. Be advised that visiting the Salt Mines involves crossing the border into Germany; there are rarely border controls, but it is advised that you bring your passport.
*Take the ÖBB rail to Berchtesgaden Hauptbahnhof. Take bus #840 from the Bahnhof Bercht- esgaden. Get off at the Salzbergwerk. €15, with Salzburg card €12. Open daily May-Oct 9am-5pm; Nov-Apr 11am-3pm.
If you want The Passion of the Christ without all of the crazy Mel Gibson Aramaic, then the Capuchin monks have something for you. The monastery is a place of pilgrimage due to its stunning, 17th-century Baroque Stations of the Cross running up the side of the hill that overlooks all of East Salzburg. An expansive parking garage now lies under the mountain, but ignore that and use your own two feet for a mini-climb up the city’s most accessible mountain.
*Bus #4 to Hofwirt. Walk along Linzergasse and turn left onto Kapuzinberg. Climb the mountain. Free. h Open M-Sa 6am-6pm, Su 8am-6pm.
Brouwerij 't IJ
*Tram #10 to Hoogte Kadijk or #14 to Pontanusstraat. Head toward the windmill. $ Beer €2. Pub open daily 3-8pm. Free brewery tours F and Su 4pm.
The only thing that has ever invaded this millennium-old fortress are tourists streaming from either the funicular that runs up the mountain or the perilous footpath (by which you literally have to pass through die Höllenpforte—“The Gates of Hell”). Overlooking the rest of the city, the castle provides the requisite beautiful view along with a series of eccentric attractions, such as a torture chamber and a marionette museum. (We know that, somewhere, Chuckie is proud). The best way to attack the castle is by avoiding the pricey souvenir gambits; instead, work your way down the castle from the top parapet that the on-site maps recommend as the second stop.
*Bus #3, 5, 6, 8, 20, 25, or 28 to Rathaus. Enter the Old Town by walking south along the river and head toward the Dom (with the green domes). Go toward the mountain behind it until you get to Festungsgasse. The sign for the funicular is large. If you want to walk up the footpath, turn right and continue along the road uphill until you reach the entrance. Fortress via Festungbahn €11, via footpath €7.80. Ticket includes admission to all museums in the fortress as well as an audio guide. h Open daily Jan-Apr 9:30am-5pm; May-Sept 9am-7pm; Oct-Dec 9:30am-5pm.
If the Salzburg Dom represents anything, it’s the utter absurdity of war and religious feuds. In 1167, the whole shebang was burned down because pyro- maniac Frederich Barbarossa refused to acknowledge the “anti-Pope” Paschal. Like seemingly everything in Western Europe, the church was also destroyed in 1944 when an American bomb collapsed the cathedral completely. Despite all the trials and tribulations, the organ is still in good condition, and frequent concerts emphasize the visual delight with auditory stimuli.
*Bus #3, 5, 6, 8, 20, 25, or 28 to Rathaus. From the stop, go into the Old Town and turn left onto Getreidegasse until you come out onto the huge Residenepl. The cathedral is on the opposite side of the plaza. Donations encouraged. h Open Jan-Feb M-Sa 8am-5pm, Su 1-5pm; Mar-Apr M-Sa 9am-6pm, Su 1-6pm; May-Sept M-Sa 8am-7pm, Su 1-7pm; Oct M-Sa 8am-6pm, Su 1-6pm, Nov M-Sa 8am-5pm, Su 1-5pm; Dec M-Sa 8am-6pm, Su 1-6pm.
While Vienna tries to emphasize that it’s the city Mozart actually wanted to live in, Salzburg is indeed where the prodigious story began. This museum provides a startlingly cumulative portrait of what it was like to dwell among the 16,000 Salzburg residents of Mozart’s time and also houses the master’s own tiny violin and dozens upon dozens of original works. The museum is a study in romanticizing Mozart’s life, and as a particularly apt plaque for the boy-turned-man- wonder states: “In the Romantic era, Mozart’s allegedly tragic life circumstances corresponded to the romantic image of the unappreciated genius who had do die at such an early age.”
*Bus #3, 5, 6, 8, 20, 25, or 28 to Rathaus. Walk away from the river into the Old Town and turn right onto Getreidegasse. The museum is on the left in a bright yellow building. €7. h Open daily 9am-5:30pm.
St. Peter's Abbey
If you happen to be the sibling of a famous German-speaking musician, you’re probably buried in St. Peter’s Friedhof along with Mozart’s sister, Haydn’s brother, and a litany of other notables-by-connection. The monastery and church date back to the eighth century, making the complex the oldest monastery in the German-speaking world. The cool and somewhat creepy icing on the abbey’s cake are the catacombs, which you can experience in a Hunchback of Notre Dame fashion for a small fee.
*Bus #3, 5, 6, 8, 20, 25, or 28 to Rathaus. From the stop, walk away from the river into the Old Town and turn left onto Getreidegasse until you come out onto the huge Residenepl. Go past the cathedral; the abbey is located up against the mountain. Catacombs €1.50, students €1. Church open daily 8am-noon and 2:30-6:30pm. Cemetery open daily 6:30am-dusk. Catacombs open May-Sept Tu-Su 10:30am-5pm; Oct-Apr W-Th 10:30am-3:30pm, F-Sa 10:30am-4pm.
Royal Palace Residences
In a world where IKEA holds a monopoly on our lives and our collective goal is a sofa unit with green stripes, these state rooms serve as a comforting reminder that the consumers of years past were 100 times worse than us. The Royal Palace Residences not only boast the requisite giant crystal chandeliers but are also home to the room that hosted a six-year-old Mozart sawing away on his tiny violin.
*Bus #3, 5, 6, 8, 20, 25, or 28 to Rathaus. Walk away from the river into the Old Town and walk toward the Dom. You’ll come out onto Residenzpl.; the residence is on the right. €9. Open daily 10am-5pm; check website as dates vary.
This would be the point where we start bursting into “Climb Every Mountain,” but alas, there’s only one mountain you need to climb (and sadly no streams to ford). Nestled under Festung Hohensalzburg, this abbey has hosted nuns for almost a millennium. In the olden days, the abbey was actually the site of some gender parity when an archbishop decreed the abbess of Nonnberg equal to the abbot of St. Peter’s in 1241. It has retained its quiet, royal beatitude with a darkened, romantic chapel and well-groomed graves outside.
*Bus #3, 5, 6, 8, 20, 25, or 28 to Rathaus. Enter the Old Town and walk toward the Dom (with the green domes). Go toward the mountain behind it until you get to Festungsgasse. Walk left along the mountain on this street and turn right when you get to the building with the onion dome. Free. Open daily 7am-dusk.
Museum of Natural History and Technology
With everything in Salzburg clocking in at hundreds upon hundreds of years old, this museum is perfect for those more excited about the Higgs boson than hellacious stories of power-driven priests. The aquarium is the highlight of the complex, with thousands of fish streaming in between carefully placed barnacles; the interactive part of the museum is worth checking out as well. The museum can’t completely escape its Salzburg location, though, and one of the coolest exhibits is the “walk-in violin.”
*Bus #20, 24, or 28 to Ferdinand Hanusch Platz (Franz-Josef-Kai). Walk with traffic along Franz Josef Kai and turn left onto Museumspl. €7.50, students €5. Open daily 9am-5pm.
It’s no wonder this place starts with “Hell,” as the devil surely lives in the trick fountains that dot this massive palatial complex. The Austrians are crazy about commissioning palaces for themselves, and Hellbrunn was the brainchild of Prince Archbishop in 1612 (talk about separation of church and state). The trick fountains are definitely the best part, as jets of water suddenly shoot out at random passersby to great giggles and some grimaces. The folklore museum will satisfy the less spontaneous with beautiful examples of traditional costume as well as a number of relics.
*Bus #25 to Fürstenweg. There are clear signs to the entrance. Guided tour of fountains, palace, and folklore museum €9.50; students €6.50. Park free. Open daily Apr 9am-4:30pm; May-Jun 9am-5:30pm; Jul-Aug 9am-6pm; Sept 9am-5:30pm; Oct 9am-4:30pm.
Tourists come from hundreds of miles around to taste the purest beer on earth. While we really don’t ask what’s in the beers of today, the brewery here still follows the Purity Law of 1516, which, despite what it sounds like, has nothing to do with virgins. It’s all about ingredients, and the beers here are guaranteed to contain only hops, water, malt, and yeast.
*Bus #7, 8, 20, 21, 27, or 28 to Bärenwirt. Walk north on Müllner Hauptstr and turn left onto Augustinergasse. Tokens for beer €3. Open M-F 3-11pm, Sa-Su 2:30-11pm.