Having lived in Germany, Austria was just a hop skip and a jump away for us. After growing up watching Sound of Music, initially the draw was to go to Salzburg and see everything from the movie. But it is so much more than that! It’s perfect for a destination of its own, or as a part of a multi-country trip commonly included on river cruises. As a European travel specialist, I can assure that Austria will wow you.
When my clients travel to this country, the choices are endless. Between experiencing the local culture and cuisine with a market visit with a local chef, or attending the Mozart Chamber Orchestra of Salzburg performances, your personalized trip will create lasting memories.
I fell in love with this city, and I know you will too!
Austria's Little Gem - Experiences You Can't Find Anywhere Else
Located in the middle of Europe and made up of nine federated states, Austria is one of the continent's most compelling countries. The nation has a population of nearly nine million. You can imagine how much beauty and interest this place holds if so many desire to reside within its borders. With a history full of famous musicians and renowned artists, and an abundance of breathtaking scenery and architecture, it's time to start planning your vacation to the enchanting nation of Austria.
Here are some of my favorite hidden gems in Austria.
As the most monumental and famously preserved citadel in Central Europe, the Hohensalzburg Fortress is undoubtedly one to behold in person. Tourists from all over come to explore this longstanding medieval fortress. While touring through the castle, make sure to visit the staterooms, torture chamber, and the museums. Take a day out of your schedule because you won't want to rush this visit.
Visit Salzburg's Old Town
While in Austria, make sure to mosey on through Salzburg's Old Town to get acquainted with the cobblestone streets, quaint alleyways, preserved 15th-century buildings, and awe-inspiring architecture. The Old Town even contains some of the best shopping around, making it perfect for picking up souvenirs and grabbing something delectable to munch on.
Salzburg Marionette Theatre
Established in 1913, the Salzburg Marionette Theatre is one of the oldest marionette theatres in the world. Live actors were used in the productions at this theatre, and as of today, the theatre is used to record live soundtracks. For marionette productions, there are over 500 characters that are still used, including the entire cast in the Sound of Music. The puppet masters for the theatre perform operas from composers such as Tchaikovsky, Shakespeare, Mozart, and Saint-Exupéry using their wooden characters.
Johann Sattler, a well-known painter from the 1820s, painted a remarkable wall that included an in-depth panoramic view of Salzburg. This painting included great detail, not just of the buildings and architecture of the Austrian state but of the residents and their everyday lives from over 200 years ago.
Guided Sound of Music Tour
Now's your time to hit up all the beautiful locations you grew up watching in the classic film, Sound of Music. With over 15 sites, you'll want to see Mirabellgarten, Hellbrunn Palace, and the Nonnberg Abbey. Even if you choose not to take a guided tour, make sure you at least visit these iconic spots.
Pro tip: book the Frauline Maria Sound of Music bike tour if you are traveling with kids. It was a highlight of our trip!
Not wanting to ride a bike? That's ok! Book one of the other amazingly fun tours here.
St. Peter's Cemetery and Catacombs
Dating way back to the 1600s, St. Peter's Cemetery and Catacombs is the first Christian burial grounds in Salzburg. Since 696, monks have been coming to the monastery to pray, live, and work. This site is certainly one to behold. It isn't just a place to mourn but a place that features gorgeous architecture and rock caves in the Mönchsberg.
The Klessheim Palace
Once upon a time, this magnificent Baroque structure acted as the residence to Archbishops of Salzburg. Now the Salzburg Casino, it is a beautiful place to partake in a little gambling, but that's not all. The interior design, gardens, and pleasure grounds are all worth seeing. If you make this trip, dress appropriately. There is a dress code for all those who visit.
Sachertorte & Coffee
Austrians are known for their amazingly thick, rich chocolate cakes. So make your way to Sachertorte & Coffee for a piece of the most exquisite dessert around, the Sachertorte.
The Home of Mozart
Once Mozart's family moved away from his birth home, they moved next to the Salzach river. Today, this home is known as Mozart's Residence Museum, where you can get an inside view of how Mozart grew up and the delicate artifacts of his past.
Salzburg Open-Air Museum
There is so much to experience at the Open-Air Museum. With structures and artifacts that date back to the 16th-century, you will get an intimate view of how the natives lived centuries ago. There are well over 100 historic structures, so get ready for a long, exciting day.
Calling all beer enthusiasts! This brewery will teach you all about the history of beer through its enjoyable beer tasting and exhibits. You don't want to miss this multi-sensory experience.
Whether you brought the kids along or left them at home, you should make a stop at the Toy Museum. This museum holds the most extensive assortment of toys from around Europe. Nearly the entire museum is hands-on and interactive, so there's no doubt, you'll feel like a kid again.
If you happen to visit Austria anytime in November or December, you must make it to the Christmas Market. This age-old event is one that will create memories that last a lifetime. The smell of roasted chestnuts and mulled wines fill the air as you walk through the three squares, Domplatz, Kapitelplatz, Residenzplatz taking in the true essence of the wonderful holiday
If you make it to the Christmas Market, then you must make it up to the Christmas Museum. Luckily, the Salzburg's Christmas Museum is a year-round attraction. This museum will teach you all that there is to know regarding the spirit of Christmas and its history.
While in Town, Get a Horse and Carriage Ride
Horse and carriage rides are popular forms of transportation when you're trying to get around town. The tourists especially love them and for a good reason! Taking a carriage ride is one of the best ways to learn all about the city as you see it from a unique perspective.
Last but Not Least, Try Austrian Food
This one may be kind of obvious, but you can't possibly leave Austria without trying some of its authentic cuisines and traditional foods. Austrians love their red meats, bread, and potatoes. Pair a mulled wine or freshly brewed beer with a hearty meal at least once before you head home. Some of the classic dishes you should consider include strudel, wiener schnitzel, tafelspitz, and speckknödel.
Make Apple Strudel
Learn how to prepare an original Austrian apple strudel. Located in a cave cut into the side of the mountain, your small group or private experience will be guided by your experienced chef. It's a reqarding experience for both kids and adults, with a tasty and memorable outcome. Book the class with the most famous and spectacular Dessert in Salzburg - the Salzburger Nockerl for added fun. The program includes lunch with a traditional goulash soup which will be served before you get your ovencooked creations.
This is an absolute MUST when in Salzburg! My family loved the whole experience.
Whether you are looking for kid-friendly activities, or the perfect adult luxury getaway to immerse yourself in the beautiful country, Austria will not disappoint.
If you have been struggling to plan a Europe trip on your own and are looking for a stress free way to plan your trip contact me today. Work with an experienced travel agent to plan your trip to Austria or other parts of Europe. You will be in the best hands and have a memorable trip that you won’t forget.