Framed by mountains, crowned by the Hohensalzburg Fortress and divided by the turquoise Salzach River, the Salzburg landscape is pure drama. Salzburg has been an endless source of inspiration to the prince-archbishops who created its mighty baroque churches and palatial Residenz and to famous son Mozart, whose symphonies regularly headline the Salzburg Festival. It's served as a comely backdrop for movies like The Sound of Music. Stroll the tangled lanes of Salzburg's Old Town, a World Heritage Site, to discover your own favorite things about this most Austrian of cities.
Things to Do
Horse-drawn carriages clip-clop through Salzburg's storybook Old Town to the Residenz. Here, frescoed state apartments and Dutch master paintings underscore the wealth and power of the prince-archbishops. Mozart and Maria von Trapp are Salzburg's biggest exports, and you can visit the virtuoso's birthplace on Getreidegasse and tour Sound of Music locations like the Mirabell Gardens of "Do-Re-Mi" fame. Savor Salzburg's majestic cityscape from the 900-year-old Hohensalzburg Fortress. Its clifftop neighbor, the avant-garde Museum der Moderne, hosts contemporary art exhibitions.
Wrought-iron signs hang above the specialty shops in Getreidegasse, which do a brisk trade in tight-fitting Alpine dirndls, designer labels and kitschy yodeling souvenirs. Continue your Old Town shopping along Judengasse for Christmas sparkle; Goldgasse for antiques, porcelain and accessories; and Sigmund-Haffner-Gasse for classical CDs. The Grüner Markt takes over elegant Universitätsplatz, with stalls piled with giant pretzels, Alpine cheeses, fruit and schnapps. For a sweet taste of Salzburg, take home chocolate-nougat Mozartkugeln (Mozart Balls) from Fürst and candied violets from Demel.
Nightlife and Entertainment
Even if you're not in town for the summertime Salzburg Festival, you can find entertainment year-round at Mozart concerts in the baroque marble hall of sumptuous Schloss Mirabell, opera at the 18th-century Landestheater and intricate puppetry (yes, for grownups) at the Marionette Theatre. Bavaria is just over the border, and it shows in cavernous beer halls and tree-shaded beer gardens like StieglKeller near the fortress. Sample Anton-Neumayr-Platz for DJs and cocktails and the medieval alley Steingasse for intimate wine bars.
Restaurants and Dining
In the Old Town's maze of Gassen (alleys), vaulted taverns serve up meaty favorites like Hungarian goulash. Getreidegasse dishes up everything from Indian to sushi and ice cream, while market-fresh fare is on the menu at the cafes in Wiener-Philharmoniker-Gasse. On the right bank of the River Salzach is bistro-dotted Linzer Gasse, where the wood-beamed Alter Fuchs does classic schnitzel and hearty dumplings. Special occasion? Book a table at Michelin-starred Riedenburg for creative dining in a garden setting.