Salzburg Travel Guide.

Salzburg is probably most famous for being the setting for The Sound of Music. Although the locals may disagree. They are more likely to point out that this guy called Mozart was born there, and they’d much rather talk about him than the poxy von Trapps.

Maria von Trapp did really exist, and she was indeed a trainee nun in Salzburg in the 1920s before looking after Captain von Trapp’s children. She then married him (he was 25 years her senior) and the family started a singing career which saw them become internationally famous in the 1940s and 1950s.

I acquired her autograph some years ago, although Julie Andrews’ autograph is probably worth more now.

Maria von trapp autograph

I’m not selling it, by the way, but I do have Jimmy Savile’s if anybody is interested.

The 1965 film was a distillation of Maria von Trapp’s book, two previous German films and a musical play…so by the time Julie Andrews donned the wimple for Rodgers and Hammerstein the story had become somewhat fictionalised. For instance, goatherds aren’t lonely at all, they have their goats to keep them company.

Salzburg, a bit like Vienna, is very, very wealthy. Back in the day the city made its money from the salt business, hence ‘Salz’. These days it is more likely to be made from charging tourists a small fortune for a warm beer and, like Austria in general, some dodgy relationships with Russia.

It terms of GDP per head of population, it is one of the wealthiest cities in Europe. I discovered this when I acquired one of the few 20 euro back-row tickets for a Mozart opera during the Salzburg Music Festival. Other tickets were going for 500 or 600 euros. 

I felt somewhat under-dressed in jeans that had been maturing for ten days, stinky trainers and a shirt that I’d rinsed out in my budget-hotel bathroom sink. This was a much aromatic contrast to the well-laundered money being paraded in pristine dinner suits, designer frocks and formal alpine jackets and lederhosen.

salzburg music festival

It was indeed a stunning production of Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’, although perhaps a bit disappointing that they didn’t squeeze in ‘Do-Re-Mi’ or ‘So Long, Farewell’…the latter being a nice one to have ended the opera on.

Salzburg is an expensive city to visit, although most of the Sound of Music locations are free. Click here for my ‘Free Walking Tour of The Sound of Music in Salzburg’.

salzburg panorama

The ‘budget’ area is near the train station, which is about a twenty minute walk from the Old Town (pictured above). I say ‘budget’, but you’ll still be paying around 70 euros a night for a tiny room in high season. There will be no telly, and only a small disk of soap that will disappear after one shower. This is especially so if you are of ample girth with a larger surface area to cover, assuming you were able to fit in the minuscule shower cubicle to start with.

The station area appears a bit rough at first sight, and it does have a vagrancy problem, but it is quite safe. There are bars, takeaways and restaurants that do beer and meals at somewhat less than the tourist rip-off prices in the Old Town.

I’d recommend ‘Casa Al Mukalla’ for its grill food, or just a cold beer. By the way, don’t be surprised if your large draught (fass) beer in Austria is composed of 25% frothy head and 1% wasp…there are a lot of wasps in Austria.

austrian beer

To get your money’s worth, ask for a large bottle instead (ein grosse flasche). It’s the same price as a large draught beer, but has no frothy head and it is trickier for wasps to enter. Although if they do sneak in whilst you’re not looking, be careful you don’t end up chewing on one.

I’ve put some of the cheaper things to do in the old town in my Sound of Music walking tour, (click here), that aren’t just about the Sound of Music. The locals will thank me for that, they may even welcome me back after lowering the tone of their posh opera.

If you want to get up in the mountains, without risking your neck by having to hurtle down them on skis, then I would suggest a day trip to Obersalzburg in the summer. At 6,000 feet high you’ll see some dark history, have a spectacular view of The Alps and you might also see how clouds are made. Click here for how to do that from Salzburg.

I hope you have a lovely time in Salzburg. So, from me, for now, it’s….so long, farewell, auf wiedersehn, goodbye.

I told you it’s a nice one to end on.

For my other guides to Austria click here, for my guides to Germany click here.