What comes to mind when you think of Salzburg?
Sounds of Music? Castle? Mozart? Alps? Crickets?
To be honest, before I went there the first time, I didn’t know much about it. I read in a Rick Steve’s travel book that Salzburg was a must see and my brother and I were driving through Austria to get to Neuschwanstein Castle from Vienna, and what happened to be there almost in the middle? Salzburg. So, on our way back to Vienna, we spent the night and a day there. But, we wish we had more time, because as they say say, the hills were alive.
Fast forward 7 years and Salzburg is now the top place to visit in 2020, according to Lonely Planet.
So what makes this almost sleepy little Alpine town the top place to visit in 2020? Great question.
HISTORY OF SALZBURG
The history of Salzburg begins in 15 BC as a Roman city. It was strategically located along the river and was part of Rome’s expansion into German. But, as the empire began its descent, so did Salzburg, and it was all but abandoned until the 5th century, when the first monastery was built there. Salzburg’s fortunes didn’t begin to change, however, until almost 700 AD when the city was gifted to St. Rupert from a Bavarian Duke.
The next 500 years would be anything but a walk in the park. The massive Hohensalzburg Fortress would be started in 1077, fires would destroy parts of the city in the 1100’s, and the plague would wreak havoc in the 14th century. But, things would really begin to change in the 1700s - this was the time that defined and shaped the beautiful Salzburg that we know and love today. It was also the century when the city’s most famous child was born - Wolfgang Mozart.
THE BEAUTY OF SALZBURG
What attracts a lot of people to this town is really the sheer beauty of the city. It has this imposing castle on top of the hill, a beautiful church with its turquoise domes, and winding old streets with their baroque architecture and lively nature. Some of the highlights to see are the Salzburg Cathedral, with its beautiful domes that stand above the city, or the Hohensalzburg fortress - the medieval protector of the city, or the Augustiner bräu - the brewery and restaurant from 1621. The city itself is more than manageable and all the highlights can be see in one afternoon/night and a day (like we detail in our 2 Days in Salzburg itinerary), or you can take your time and spend 2-3 days here just relaxing and adding in tours like the Sound of Music.
THE SOUND OF MUSIC
Which brings me to our next point - the Sound of Music. A lot of Salzburg’s current visitors know the city and area as the home of the famous movie and musical, the Sound of Music. The famous Trapp family was actually a real family, and, while their story is fictionalized, much of its essence is true. In fact, following in the steps of the Trapp family is the most popular reason to visit Salzburg - even above Mozart. There are many locations in the city and around it where the Trapp family did live and frequent, and if you choose to do the full Sound of Music tour (part of our 3 Days in Salzburg itinerary), you actually get out into the truly picturesque parts of the country side that take your breath away in the movie.
Finally, there is that famous old musician, Mozart. Born on the main walking street through the city, Mozart brought a lot of fame and attention to Salzburg long before the Trapp family did. Mozart’s youth was spent traveling all over Europe playing for the rich and famous of his time. But, during this period, Salzburg was his de facto home - the place he always returned to. That was until he was 25, when he moved to Vienna. While he truly found personal success in Vienna, his days in Salzburg would be his formative ones - well, when he was there. Wander the streets where Mozart did, imagine what it would have been like for this boy wonder to be changing music at such a young age.
GET YOUR ITINERARY
Salzburg has earned its place as the number one destination of 2020. With its natural beauty, history, and sight seeing options, there is something for everyone. Whether you go for the Sound of Music, the castle, or Mozart, make sure you get your full itinerary to help you navigate the city and make the most of your time. And when you do go, make sure you let us know!