What to do, where to stay, and where to eat in Salzburg
The off-peak winter season is a wonderful time to explore Austria's second most traveled city. Only a relative few of its 6.9 million annual visitors will be in town, and yet there will still be hundreds of cultural events around which to plan an itinerary. As repeat visitors know, Salzburg offers much more than The Sound of Music-though the movie tour does draw its share of visitors. Here we revisit some of our favorite haunts along with a brief refresher on Salzburg must-see attractions.
A first visit to Salzburg is not complete without stops at these historic sights:
- Dominating the city from on high is the Hohensalzburg, the largest, fully-preserved fortress in central Europe.
- The huge Dom (cathedral) is the first early Baroque church built north of the Alps. Completed in 1655, it succeeds two other cathedrals built on the site, the first in 774.
- Surrounding Mirabell Palace are the lovely Mirabell Gardens, originally designed in 1690, with statues depicting the four elements from Greek mythology: fire, air, earth, and water.
- St. Peter's Cemetery is one of the oldest and most beautiful in the world.
- Archbishop Wolf Dietrich's ostentatious tomb in the St. Sebastian Cemetery. (Mozart's wife and father are also here.)
- Mozart Geburtshaus: At 9 Getreidegasse, in the heart of Salzburg Altstadt, is the apartment where the great man was born and lived for several years. On display are family pictures, correspondence, and several of the instruments he used.
For more information about what to do in Salzburg, visit the Salzburg tourist office online.
There are more than 130 hotels to choose from when planning an overnight trip to Salzburg. Unfortunately, most of the ones nearest the action in the Altstadt are worn and overpriced to the extent that we no longer recommend them. We refer specifically to the Elefant, the Weisse Taube, and ArtHotel Blaue Gans. Here are few we do recommend, however:
Altstadt Radisson SAS
The best Old Town accommodations. Though corporately-owned, the Altstadt has created the intimate atmosphere of a small inner-city hotel. Its entrance from Judengasse is via a simple arched doorway over which hangs the traditional Salzburg decorative wrought iron sign. The reception area is small but elegant with a patterned granite tile floor, recessed lighting and a richly burnished dark wood check-in counter.
Guest rooms are individually decorated, with views to the Salzach River, the Kapuziner Monastery, the romantic lanes of the historical old town or the fortress.
Daily Rates: Doubles €198-346
Rating: Quality 17/20, Value 10/20
In the shadow of the Hohensalzburg Fortress and a 12-minute dawdle to the center of Salzburg, including the Domplatz and Mozart's birthplace, the family-run, 14-room, Struber continues to offer visitors a refined, comfortable, and amicable resting place. Impeccably dressed in warm wood, oriental carpeting, and historic city portraiture, the Struber reflects the taste, serenity, and hospitality of its owners, Frau and Herr Illmer, who personally oversee the bountiful buffet breakfasts and an always-helpful front desk (usually staffed by a family member).
Daily Rates: Doubles €140-180
Contact: Hotel Garni Struber, Nonntaler Hauptstrasse 35, A-5020 Salzburg, tel. +43/0662/8 43 7 28, fax 8 43 72 8-8.
Rating: Quality 15/20, Value 17/20
Once a Gemütlichkeit top pick, the Wolf has slipped over the years. Rooms are rather Spartan and quite small. Great location, however.
Daily Rates: Singles €68-98, doubles €98-158
Rating: Quality 10/20, Value 10/20
Four-star, business-oriented hotel in a quasi-residential district 10 to 15 minutes' walk from the Old Town. Most of the spacious and well-appointed guestrooms have been refurbished. Parking is free, and there is a fitness room with sauna, steam bath, and roof terrace.
Daily Rates: Doubles €145-185
Rating: Quality 13/20, Value 10/20
This hotel, in an attractive Baroque-style building on the edge of the right bank's commercial area, is a step up the quality ladder from most left bank hotels, but one step down in price. Guestrooms are more spacious and better maintained and furnished. The location is quiet and the welcome warm.
Daily Rates: Singles €70-79, doubles €114-130
Rating: Quality 13/20, Value 14/20
This cozy hotel enjoys a convenient location just over the river from the old town. Recently refurbished, it is a better value than other hotels in its category in the Altstadt. The Hirschbichlers are pleasant hosts and able to offer guests passes for on-street parking in the neighborhood.
Daily Rates: Doubles €103-133
Rating: Quality 10/20, Value 12/20
Salzburg best value, the Jedermann has 16 thoughtfully furnished guestrooms with hardwood floors and pleasant furnishings. There is free Internet access in the lobby, free parking, and the Altstadt is a 15- to 20-minute walk (three or four minutes by bus).
Daily Rates: Singles €65-75, doubles €90-130
Rating: Quality 13/20, Value 15/20
This sociable little three-star hotel is run by Peter Kuhn, who painted many of the colorful, stylized paintings that cover the walls. Rooms range from rustic to modern, and all have spotless, white-tiled bathrooms with shower and toilet. Off-street parking is a plus. Herr Kuhn rents bikes and offers Internet access. Buses run to the Altstadt from close by.
Daily Rates: Singles €60-78, doubles €90
Rating: Quality 12/20, Value 15/20