Greetings, Internet Stranger! Do you ever wake up in the morning and think to yourself that the world is a terrible and ugly place? There is crime and violence every day in the news. Now you’re worried about everything from political corruption to global pandemics. It seems like it’s all going to hell in a handbasket. Well, let me try to help ease your fears with 24 hours in Salzburg. Let me take you to a beautiful place that seems to be lost in the mists of time. Come with me if you want to live.
With 24 hours in Salzburg, we shall peacefully gaze on the views from a mighty fortress. Then we will bask in the dulcet tones of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Finally, we will sup in the oldest restaurant in Europe. Just for today, let’s not live in the Now. Let’s live in the Then.
24 Hours in Salzburg
Where to Stay?
Like many adorable cities, Salzburg can be pricey. We’re not the Hapsburgs (at least, I’m not), so we might want to save a little money. But we want to save money in style! That’s why I recommend the Pension Jahn B&B. The location is good, the price is affordable, and a solid breakfast is included every morning. We can save our money for fine Austrian wines and elaborate powdered wigs!
24 Hours in Salzburg
What to Pack?
The weather in Salzburg is unpredictable. You could get raindrops on roses one day and snowflakes that stay on your nose and eyelashes another. So the two most important things you’ll need to bring are an umbrella and some rain boots. My favorite travel umbrella is the Repel Teflon Waterproof Umbrella. It is strong enough to stand up to the sometimes-quite-strong winds of Austria.
For rain boots, I recommend the Asgard Rain Boots. They are comfy/cozy and keep my feet dry all day. Plus they’re cute enough that I can wear them about a classy city like Salzburg without feeling like some gauche American with gross feet.
Finally, if you’re not from Europe, you need a universal adapter if you’re going to plug in electronics. European electrical outlets don’t work with either American or British plugs. I suggest the NEWVANGA travel adapter. It’s usable with any electrical outlet in the world, so you won’t need to keep buying new adapters. I always carry two with me, just in case something happens to one.
24 Hours in Salzburg
Morning: Festnung Hohensalzburg
One of my favorite things about traveling is that I get to learn the most random words in other languages. Thanks to Austria, I now know that “festnung” is German for “fortress”. I can’t imagine when that could be useful. Wait, yes I can. It would be useful if I’m ever transported back in time and I need to spy on some Nazis to learn the location of their hidden fortress. Now I’m prepared for anything!
Hohensalzburg Fortress is one of the most notable tourist attractions in the city. We will definitely be spending all morning here, so get a good breakfast! You can either reach the fortress by walking for 15 minutes or taking the funicular. I walked because I always choose walking. It gives me the illusion that I’m burning the flobbity-jillion calories I consume when I travel. But I leave the choice up to you.
24 hour tip
If you don’t take the funicular, you’ll need to buy your ticket when you arrive. You can either get the basic ticket (which I got) or the all-inclusive for 3 Euros more. This could be worth it if you are a big fan of Prince Archbishop Keutschach because you get to see his bedchamber. (Ooh la la!)
The Fortress has very good English signage, so you’ll have no trouble learning more than…
Three fun facts: hohensalzburg fortress
A) who built the fortress?
I learned so many crazy facts about Salzburg while touring the fortress. My mind was completely blown. The first was the Salzburg has only been part of Austria fairly recently. For most of its history, it was an independent Archbishopric. I feel like Archbishopric is not a term you hear tossed around very much these day.
Anyways, one of these archbishops, Gebhard I, had the idea to built the fortress back in the 11th century. Obviously it was a little smaller back then. Also there were fewer tourists. It was much harder to be a tourist back in the 11th century because of plagues and roving bands of bandit-rapists and whatnot. See! Salzburg is already making you feel better about The News Today.
b) what does salzburg mean?
I can’t believe this never occurred to me before, but Salzburg literally means Salt Castle. The city was independent (and independently wealthy) for so long because of the salt riches that came through the city on the River Salzach. And the one time the fortress was under siege, during The Peasants’ War, salt supplies helped the nobles inside survive. I can’t tell whether to say yay or boo here! I don’t condone violence, but it just seems wrong to root for nobles over peasants.
Confusing 16th century politics aside, look at those views of Salt Castle! It makes one want to sing The Hills Are Alive…With the Sound of Salt!
c) is it still a fortress?
Hohensalzburg Fortress has actually been used as a fortress in the 20th century. Italian prisoners of war were kept here during WWI. I couldn’t find any information about it being used as a fortress by the Nazis. I can definitely see why you wouldn’t want to brag about something like that if it were, though.
24 Hours in Salzburg
Once you descend from FESTNUNG HOHENSALZBURG (either by foot or by funicular), it’s time to spread your marble angel wings and explore this historic Austrian city. Most of the charm of spending time is Salzburg is just wandering around and seeing the beauties the city has to offer. But I can point you in the right direction with…
Approximately top 5: 24 hours in salzburg
1) Lunch at 220 Grad
Viennese coffee is legendary, so what better place to stop for lunch than an adorable Viennese cafe. 220 Grad is sometimes called the best cafe in Salzburg because they roast their own coffee.
I should have done the hipster thing and taken my house blend black, but I couldn’t resist getting this latte with ice cream. Just about everything tastes better with ice cream on top, except maybe a hamburger, and I bet some entrepreneur is figuring out a way to make the world’s first burger with ice cream on top.
I lunched on a bowl of celery soup, which was surprisingly flavorful, but the real treat was the bread. It’s covered in salt! What could be more appropriate in Salt Castle than Salt Bread? Like ice cream, salt makes everything delicious. Salt even makes ice cream more delicious! Haven’t you ever had salted caramel ice cream?
Also, not only does this cafe have great food, you can play Pokemon here! Ich habe Dich ausgewählt Pikachu!
24 hour treasure
You absolutely cannot leave 220 Grad without trying one of their sweets. This heavenly creature is a chocolate-ginger cake topped with cherries. I assume this cake will help you fight off a cold because I always drink ginger tea if I’m sneezy. The spice of the ginger balances out the dulcet tones of the chocolate.
2) Mozart Residence
Speaking of dulcet tones, our next stop in our 24 hours in Salzburg is Mozart’s Residence. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Salzburg’s most famous son, was certainly not born in this home. His family moved here when he was a child because their old house was too small.
Mozart lived here until he got too big for his wig and shipped off for the bright lights of the big city of Vienna. Then his dad Leopold lived here alone. But nobody cares about Leopold Mozart unless you’re writing a book about Legendary Stage Dads.
If you are a Mozart fan or even Mozart-curious, this house has everything you could possibly want. On display are many of Mozart’s musical instruments, including his pianoforte. The museum also contains examples of the myriad of objects that have been created with his famous wigged head on them. Apparently there are even criminals who have tried to counterfeit Mozart portraits, which is a very classy kind of crime as crimes go.
(According to the museum, Mozart’s image is worth 5 million euros.) Perhaps strangest of all, the museum houses one of Mozart’s guns. Can anyone imagine Mozart with a gun? Now I want to hear a mashup of Janie’s Got a Gun with Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.
Unfortunately, picture taking is forbidden inside the house. But I was allowed to take a picture of this adorable bloody drawing of Mozart’s heart done by an Austrian 10-year-old. I feel that Mozart, who never had a proper childhood himself, would appreciate this tribute.
3) St Peter’s Abbey
Salzburg is sometimes known as the city of churches. I guess it’s part of the deal when you’re an archbishopric for hundreds of years. Unfortunately, the famous Cathedral was closed when I was in Salzburg, so I had to make do with St. Peter’s Abbey, the oldest church in the city. You might find that surprising to hear when you look inside. BLAMMO!
There’s nothing medieval about that, is there? It’s just a whole bunch of Rococo gold, white, pink and cherubs in your face, man.
I said, in your face! Apparently the whole church was redone on the inside during the 18th century. I wonder if people protested the “modern Rococo” architecture at the time. Did this style ever look simply too newfangled for words?
4) St Peter’s Abbey Cemetery
Once you’re done inside the church, pay your respects to the dead Salzburgers at St. Peter’s Cemetery. I’ve been to a lot of cemeteries in my day because I’m a very creepy person. But I’ve never seen graves in this curved metal style before. Did Salzburg run out of salt money? Could they not afford a full-sized headstone?
Also, this cemetery is famous because it’s where the family of Hans Gruber, the villain from Die Hard is buried.
The coolest thing about the cemetery is that it is connected to a group of winding catacombs. They only cost about two Euros to enter, so I think it’s worth it. There are two chapels cleverly hidden inside the catacombs. If you find this chapel, you get to sacrifice this small Austrian child to the angry bird god pictured above the altar.
If you’re not a horrible murderer, wend your way through the catacombs until you reach this amazing view. You can take all the photos you want, and almost no tourists will bother you. (Probably the angry bird god scared them off.)
6) go a-wandering
Once the museums and churches have closed, take some time in your 24 hours in Salzburg to freely wander around Austria’s fourth-largest and first-prettiest city. You can play a giant game of chess vs. a sentient golden ball.
I hear Death is available to play chess too, if you are into that.
Don’t miss the totally bananas Residence Fountain. It features horses, giants, dolphins, and a giant representation of King Triton. It’s like someone took their weirdest dream and turned it into a fountain.
The most off the beaten track thing I found was this sad head of a sad man. He is a poet from Salzburg named Georg Trakl who died of a drug overdose in 1914. I must admit I didn’t even know people could die of a drug overdose back in 1914. Anyway, I love that people care enough about any poet to leave a memorial like this up. I’ll further honor him by sharing one of his poems:
In the farmyard the white moon of autumn shines.
Fantastic shadows fall from the eaves of the roof.
A silence is living in the empty windows.
Now from it the rats emerge softly
And skitter here and there, squeaking.
And a grey malodorous mist from the latrine
Follows behind them, sniffling.
Through the mist the ghostly moonlight quivers.
And the rats squeak eagerly as if insane.
And go out to fill houses and barns
Which are filled full of fruit and grain.
Icy winds quarrel in the darkness.
Yeah, I would say it’s pretty clear the dude who wrote that poem was dealing with some stuff. But I really like that line about the insane squeaking rats. I think I’ll use this poem for Poem in My Pocket Day at my elementary school.
24 Hours in Salzburg
Evening: Dinner at St. Peter Skiftseller
St. Peter’s Skiftseller is the oldest restaurant in Europe. On their website, they say they’ve been in the hospitality business for 1200 years. That sounds pretty good to me, but then I’m from New York City, and I’m pretty sure our oldest restaurant dates back to the Carter Administration.
24 hour treat: salt from salzburg
I was tickled from the moment they brought me the bread course because instead of butter, the bread came with prosciutto and salt. First off, I’ve never been given so much complimentary meat before. But more importantly, it came with salt! Way to put the salz back in Salzburg!
24 hour treat: bread dumplings
I thought the food was delicious, but the best part of the meal was that each dish was perfectly paired with an Austrian wine. The first course was a beef consommé with a bread dumpling inside. This came with a slightly sweet Austrian white wine, which added some contrast to the very savory dish.
The most traditionally Austrian part of this dish is the bread dumpling, semmelknodel in German. I salute any people who’ve thought of strategies for adding more carbs to dishes.
24 hour treat: austrian apricots
My main course was much heavier: pork with a side of apricots, couscous, and white wine sauce served with my first ever glass of Austrian red wine. Pork is a large part of Austrian cuisine, but adding the couscous and white wine sauce made the pork preparation feel more modern than a giant pork knuckle.
My favorite part of the dish were the apricots. I was lucky to be in Austria during apricot season, and until now I didn’t realize that apricots are an important crop in Austria. The Wachau apricot is actually protected by the EU, and there are several apricot festivals every July. I would never have thought to pair pork and apricots but of course the sweetness goes well with the piggie flesh.
The dessert was a cold and sunny lavender creme brulee with a honey semifreddo. Obviously neither one of these is a traditional Austrian dessert, but lavender and honey is a classic combination. My final course was accompanied by a sparkling Austrian dessert wine. Everything goes better with sparkling wine!
And just as I promised, by the end of my 24 hours in Salzburg, all my troubles were melting away. (Except for my guilt over sacrificing that Austrian child to the bird god. That guilt will always be with me.)
That’s 24 Hours in Salzburg, Austria!
What would you do with 24 hours in Salzburg? Are you ready to start booking your hotel in Salzburg? Do you think people will ever start calling Salzburg Salt Castle? Will the bird god come back for vengeance? Please leave your thoughts below.
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours in Salzburg. If you have another 24 hours in Salzburg, try this itinerary!