I have a confession to make. For all the traveling I’ve done, not much of it has been on a train. I’m happy to jump on a subway and didn’t pass up the opportunity to take a bullet train in Japan, but my preferred mode of transportation between countries tends to be by air. There are some downsides to this, including missing out on scenery and killing time in airports but hey, it’s what I do.
That being said, I highly recommend riding the rails if you’re travelling through Austria. The tiny country is famous for its rolling hills, which anyone who’s seen The Sound of Music can attest to. Anyway, I was vacationing in Munich, Germany when I found out that Salzburg was just an hour and a half away.
Never one to turn down another stamp on the passport, I hopped on.
The trip only costs about €35 and the best part: you don’t have to be there two hours early like the airport! Throughout the quick trip you’ll be treated to images of bright green hills, farmhouses and cute towns.
When you get to Salzburg, you’ll arrive at the central train station which is only a 15-minute walk from the city centre. You can easily see the main sights in just a few hours, and many visitors start with a trip up to the Hohensalzburg Fortress, which is perched on a hill overlooking the entire city.
The fortress is open daily, and admission costs €11 including a trip up and down on the cable railway—a great option if you’re not up for the hike (or exploring Salzburg with kids). Wander around the medieval rooms and courtyard before heading back down and wandering over to Mozart’s birthplace. It’s hard to miss the building’s bright yellow façade, which is now home to a museum dedicated to the famous composer. Admission costs €10, and gives visitors access to the museum and exhibitions.
Take some pictures of the nearby Salzburg Cathedral or head over to the Hellbrunn Palace, before stopping for lunch. It would be sacrilege to not order bratwurst with sauerkraut, and wash it down with a cold beer at a biergarten.
Finally, cross the bridge over the Salzach river for some picturesque views and shopping, before making your way back to the train station. Try not to snooze on the way home—this is your last chance to see those beautiful hills.
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