After a lovely three days in Vienna, we started our fourth day with one final big breakfast at the Park Hyatt before packing up our suite and making our way to the train station. The three of us purchased our tickets in advance from the Hutteldorf station which was one stop west of the Hauptbahnhof in Vienna where everyone else in our group booked their departure.
We decided to take the Westbahnhof and booked our tickets a few months out; this was cheaper than booking directly with OBB (the main rail company in Austria). For our journey, the cost was 24.50 euro total for the journey to Salzburg.
The train ride across the Austrian countryside was quite pretty and it was enjoyable to get outside of the city and see some of the smaller villages and rural areas of the region. Because the train was quite full, and we had a lot of luggage, it wasn’t quite as comfortable as it could have been but overall it was by far the best option to travel the 300 KM journey.
We arrived in Salzburg around 3:00 pm and had a nice 15 minute walk to our hotel. We choose the Crown Point Salzburg for 4 nights due to its good reviews, proximity to Salzburg’s “Old Town” area where most of the historic sites are located, and of course the great rates they were offering during our four night stay.
The city of Salzburg is famous for its fortified Castle, towering churches, and for being the birthplace of Mozart. It is a quant city along the Salz River and has a much more laid back feel and charm as compared to Vienna. Fewer tourists and a slower pace made Salzburg an ideal destination to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas. We spent our time meandering through the Christmas markets, town squares, cafes, churches, parks, and took a funicular ride up to the Salzburg Fortress. The Fortress is one of the largest and best preserved castles in all of Europe and was originally constructed in 1066; it was last used regularly during WWI to house Italian prisoners.
Walking through Salzburg’s Old Town is interesting as you stroll through winding, narrow paths housing restaurants, cafes, quaint shops, and also high end designer stores all along the same streets. There is a mix of local stores/touristy shops, and high end brand stores that make for great window shopping and people watching. The Old Town is separated by a series of bridges that cross the Salz River and one of these is the locks of love bridge which features thousands of padlocks along the chain link fence.
The river has great cycling paths and walking/jogging paths that stretch along a nice 12 km loop. In addition to the typical tourist areas and shops there are some great playgrounds, gardens, and parks located throughout the city. We spent a few hours on Christmas morning at a small playground that had a slide that was way too fast (and would never fly in the US in 2015) but incredibly fun for kids (and adults). The 7 of us had a great time watching Matteo meet some new playground buddies and soaked up the sunshine until it was time for lunch.
4 Days was a great amount of time to see Salzburg and though we could have tried to fit more attractions in (Salt Mine tour, Casino Salzburg, nearby skiing), we really enjoyed being able to spend time catching up with family and moving at a slower pace. Salzburg was a great place to stay over Christmas and we would definitely recommend a visit even if you can only manage a quick day trip from nearby Munich or Vienna. We checked out on Boxing Day and as the AZ Galietti’s headed Munich to fly home, we continued our trip to Innsbruck where we had no idea what was in store for us.