Salzburg has an unusual history. It was ruled for centuries by Prince Archbishops who got wealthy on the back of salt mines, and good chunks of this wealth were spent in the Residenz palace, which is brimming with lavish ceiling paintings and OTT furniture.
The palace is part of the Domquartier (domquartier.at) route which combines treasures across several buildings and finishes next to the gigantic organ of the cathedral. Look down from the balcony and there’s a very distinctive view courtesy of the black/ grey stone used to outline the decorative detail.
Also worth visiting in the outrageously handsome old town is Mozart’s birthplace (mozarteum.at), which has a somewhat undignified position above a Spar supermarket, but offers a good overview of the composer’s life — and of his pushy parents.
Slightly further down picturesque shop-filled Getreidegasse, Sound of Music World (Soundofmusicworld.com) tells the true story of the von Trapp family — and the significant differences from the movie are fascinating.
For properly shameless Sound of Music cheeseballery you need to go on a tour of the filming locations — which include Leopoldskron lake, the infamous gazebo and the church where Maria gets married. Panorama Tours (panoramatours.com) runs half-day trips for €45, although the smart move is to extend it to an €85 full day trip that adds in the Bavarian Alps and a novelty transport-packed visit to a 500-year-old salt mine.
For more gimmicky getting from A to B, take the funicular from the old town to the hulking fortress that overlooks Salzburg. From there, walk across the Mönchsberg — the hill in the middle of town — to contemporary-art-focused Museum der Moderne (museumdermoderne.at). A lift dropping down through the mountain takes you back to the old town. If winter wonderland is what you’ve come for, take the cable car (untersbergbahn.at) up to the top of Untersberg, the mountain that looms over the city.
The flashiest place to dine is inside Red Bull’s Hangar-7 (hangar-7.com) at the airport. Here, amid planes and Formula One cars, a different top chef from around the world is imported every month to experiment with their own cuisine. Expect to pay from €195 for a tasting menu. Much more traditional is the wood-beamed Gasthof Goldgasse (gasthofgoldgasse.at), where several dishes — including the signature fried chicken in a copper pot — are based on an 18th-century cookbook. Mains cost about €21.
Humboldt Stubn (humboldtstubn.at), meanwhile, does traditional dishes such as schnitzels, tafelspitz and goulash with modern sentiments. There’s a strong emphasis on organic, locally-sourced produce. Mains cost about €15. For pre-dinner drinks, well-hidden Little Grain at Getreidegasse 34 has knowledgeable cocktail barmen whipping up concoctions based on your personal tastes in a vaulted underground cave.
The initial appeal of historic, family-run Altstadthotel Kasererbräu (kasererbraeu.at) is location: it’s one of few hotels in the old town. But it is also gloriously full of character, with idiosyncratic decoration and old photographs thrown at every available space, and one of the oldest cinemas in the world tucked away on the premises. Rooms are simple but solid, costing from €80.
Salzburg Airport is served by BA from Gatwick and Heathrow, easyJet from Gatwick and Luton, and Ryanair and Eurowings from Stansted. Visit salzburg.info