• Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Visiting Salzburg

Salzburg - The Sound of Music
February 9, 2011
By , Galavante Co-Founder
Augustiner Brau

The eye candy of vacation destinations, Salzburg is a beautiful town for a sojourn to enjoy winter in all its glory. It’s over the river and through the woods on a sleigh ride you will go. While bundled up in a big fur hat, Salzburg will be high on the romance factor as you stroll through the historic Old Town, hand in hand with eye candy of your own. 

As an old fortress town dating back to 1077 steeped in rich history, Salzburg gives you a high dose of culture. It's here you’ll acquire knowledge about the Romans and the Germans to make you the impressive world traveler that you are. In a span of 150 years it was annexed by Tuscany, Austria, Bavaria, the Austrian-Hungarian empire and the Third Reich, before it was returned to Austria again. Each of these periods left Salzburg with influence in its food, architecture and people, who epitomize warmth and hospitality making Salzburg a place you will feel right at home.

Salzburg is a tiny town but has charming abodes to call home for the weekend. The Bristol is considered by many to be the grande dame of luxury, where the décor for each of its 60 rooms takes inspiration from a different  historical time period. For high-end boutique, the best hotel in town is the Hotel Goldener Hirsch. With a primo location on the main shopping drag among the cobblestone streets of Old Town, the Hotel Goldener Hirsch is the boutique hotel for old-world Austrian décor. For a larger scale version of the Goldener Hirsch with full-service amenities, check into the The Hotel Sacher. The Sacher will be your go-to place for highbrow drinks, meals and their famous Sacher torte. For those who prefer to leave the traditional hotels to the older generation, check out the Hotel Stein — a modern, designer boutique property. Here, sleek décor juxtaposes against the stunning backdrop of the Salzburg landscape.

To feed all this cultural enrichment, Austrian food will rock your world. Quite the unsung hero in the culinary scene, never were names like Kaiserschmarren and Schnitzel just music to your ears. Other Austrian favorites that are, and equally beautifully worded include Germknödel and Topfenstrudel. All of these dishes will warm your belly and your soul. For lunches, head to Restaurant Herzl and Café Demel during your visit. The Herzl is located next door to the Hotel Goldener Hirsch and is the more casual version of the Hotel’s restaurant. The food is no nonsense, rustic Austrian fare; think sausages and goulash with a side of rösti for all sorts of deliciousness. Demel is an Austrian institution. Originally founded in 1786 in Vienna, Demel is Austria’s answer to France’s Fauchon and makes for one of those times when you may choose to have dessert before your meal. 

After a big lunch, explore the town by foot, where there is a whole lot to see in a place that has been around for over 900 years. Begin by hiking up to the Hohensalzburg Fortress, which dominates the Salzburg skyline, then wander over to Stiftskirche St. Peter, a gorgeous baroque church. Afterwards, feel like royalty as you head over to the Schloss Mirabell, an 18th century palace and the stunning Residenzgalerie Salzburg, another opulent palace with staterooms near the pedestrian zone in the heart of the city.

As for shopping, Salzburg is where you can stock your gift closet. If there was ever a time to by a dirndl, the traditional Austrian dress, this is it. Head over to Stassny in the Getreidegasse, where as part of the warm Austrian hospitality, they will offer you a rum punch while shopping, adding to the cultural experience. Stock up on souvenirs that fit in your hand luggage too, like Salzburg Salt — after all, Salzburg does mean Salt Castle — and Mozartkugeln, the signature chocolate truffle with hints of marzipan around since 1890.

The art of coffee is as much a part of Austrian culture as the history on which Salzburg was founded; a coffee at Demel is not your Starbucks fare. Other must stops on your weekend Galavante will be the Hotel Sacher and the Steinterrasse, the latter boasting stunning views. While sipping your mélange, you can hear the Glockenspiel, the famed clock tower, in the background. 

In addition to coffee, Austrian beer, the breakfast for champions, cannot go unmentioned. With two of the best breweries in the world — Stiegl and Augustiner — it’s the perfect place to come in from the cold. An afternoon at these two icons will leave no doubt in your mind who really is the King of Beers.  After an afternoon at the brauerei, you will raise many a glass with “Prost!” as your new way to toast. 

Evenings in Salzburg are both cultural and just good old fun. You will look forward to every meal and dinners are no exception. For a more traditional evening, enjoy the history and charm of St. Peter Stiftskeller. Founded in 803 AD, Charlemagne and Mozart were frequent diners; it’s like being part of a slice of history on your own. Magazin, the trendy, Michelin-starred option in town with modern décor and a fresh vibe, is yet another example of how Salzburg retains its history but has evolved with the times.

For casual after-drinks, head to Hagenauerstuben, in the Hagenauer Haus for an authentic local scene. Mozart’s birthplace is on the third floor of the same building. Another larger scale, rustic option is the Steinlechner. If you want a more grownup evening, the Sacher is a nice place to have a cocktail in the evening, particularly if you are planning to head to a concert or the opera afterwards.

The sound of music in Salzburg will, of course, include Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Herbert von Karajan. For tickets to concerts and opera, ask your concierge for a recommendation in advance of your trip. As the birthplace of Mozart, there’s no more authentic place to catch classical tunes than in this stunning town where the hills really are alive. 

Salzburg’s music will not only be classical, but will also include the Euro groove at Hangar-7.  Brought to you by the founder of Red Bull, Dietrich Mateschitz, Hangar-7 has all the energy you would expect, in this gemutlich town. The Hangar also serves as an event and concert venue and features a panoply of day and night gastronomical options including Ikarus restaurant (note the kitschy play on the Red Bull gives you the wings theme), CarpeDiem Lounge Club, the Mayday Bar, and the Threesixty bar. On display at Hangar-7 is also Dietrich’s private plane and racecar collection, which almost makes it the Disney of clubs. For another club scene, head to Republic Café, a bar, club and lounge, to round out your second night on the town.

For Salzburg is a place you will never forget. Its history will enrich you, its locale will charm you and its people will welcome you back.