Long Weekend in Vienna offers an exciting mix of imperial grandeur, cultural gems and lively nightlife.
It’s one of the great European cities and enchants its visitors with an endless list of attractions and iconic sights.
If you’re planning to visit for a few days, you’ll want to explore as much as you can.
For some inspiration, we’ve put together the perfect three day itinerary.
Long Weekend in Vienna
Visiting the city’s major sights and landmarks is a great introduction to Vienna, best done at the start of your long weekend in Vienna when you’ve got plenty of energy.
Sightseeing tours are an easy and affordable way to cram in as many activities as possible in a short space of time.
A bus tour departs daily from the city opera house with many stops along the way, where you can hop on and off at your own leisure.
One of the most popular attractions includes St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
This dramatic piece of architecture was started during the 12th century, but wasn’t fully completed until almost 300 years later.
It houses some precious works of art and you can even experience one of the daily church services.
The square in front of the cathedral, known as Stephansplatz, is a great place to relax and take the weight off your feet.
Marvel at the unique street performers or indulge in one the city’s most famous culinary delights, Sachertorte.
All of the cafes serve up this heavenly chocolate cake dessert with apricot jam, usually served with lashings of whipped cream.
It’s just the sugar rush you’ll need to continue with your sightseeing extravaganza.
From here, visit another spectacular feat of architecture, the Hofburg Imperial Palace which was built in the 13th century.
This opulent building has been home to some of Europe’s most influential royal families, and is now home to a museum which showcases a collection of imperial household objects.
Now you’ve got all the sightseeing out of the way, it’s time to enjoy a cold drink at one of city’s watering holes.
Some of the best can be found in the trendy area, Bermudadreieck.
It’s also known as the Bermuda Triangle, where patrons are known to get lost in the many bars, only to stumble out a few days later sporting a very bad hangover.
Of course, you can practice moderation at one of the many pubs which play live music into the early hours.
Long Weekend in Vienna Day 2
It’s now time to explore some of the city’s vibrant culture with a visit to some of its famed museums.
Located close to the Imperial Palace, you’ll find one of the ten largest cultural quarters in the world, Museum Quarter.
This sprawling complex is home to The Museum of Natural History, which has some impressive exhibits including fossils from the ice age and a digital planetarium.
Art fanatics will love an afternoon at the Museum of Modern Art or the Leopold Museum—a treasure-trove of masterpieces including the largest Egon Schiele collection in the world.
Once you’ve got your cultural fix, you can enjoy a late lunch or early dinner at the museum’s hip and urbane Café Leopold.
During the summer, the terrace has stunning views over a picturesque courtyard.
In the evenings, the venue transforms into a funky hangout complete with DJ’s and a dance floor.
If you’re looking for something a little more refined, head to the Vienna State Opera House, which hosts a huge range of world-renowned productions.
With a different program every day of either ballet or opera, there’s plenty to choose from but be sure to book in advance so you don’t miss out.
Alternatively, head to the beautiful concert hall Musikverein for a night of classical music from the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.
Long Weekend in Vienna Day 3
For the last day of your long weekend in Vienna, to get an authentic taste of Vienna, explore the city by bicycle, like many of the locals.
The city boasts over 1000 kilometers of bike paths and there’s plenty of tour operators providing rental.
It’s a great way to explore the old city and visit some of the attractions you may have missed on day one, including the Parliament building and the national theatre of Vienna.
Be sure to stop at one of the street food stands or cafe which are common throughout the city.
Your trip won’t be complete without sampling one of the local delicacies, Käsekrainer.
This sausage oozes with melted cheese and is best washed down with a cold beer.
If you’re looking for a healthier option, head to the famed deli, Tongues.
Organic veg and locally sourced produce is at the forefront of their menu of hearty, healthful dishes for surprisingly low prices.
To finish your city break in style, why not treat yourself to a shopping splurge.
Mariahilfer Straße is the best spot—a mile of boutique retailers alongside sprawling department stores and high end designers.
Alternatively, pay a visit to the city’s largest open-air market, the Naschmarkt, to grab yourself a bargain.
There’s plenty of food stalls selling delicious produce or you can do your best to find an antique treasure.
It’s also a great place to find that quirky souvenir.
It’s now time to relax, enjoy one last slice of cake and reflect on your awesome break in Vienna.
Three days isn’t a long time to explore Austria’s capital but with this itinerary you can’t go wrong.
Vienna Austria City Guide VIDEO
So the week started in Vienna, the beautiful, clean Vienna which to me reminds me of yummy cup cakes.
Some places are almost too pretty and perfect, like the huge Schönbrunn Palace and park with its perfectly cut lawn.
I could almost see the women walking around the park in the poofy, fluffy 18th century dresses – for me just like cup-cakes.
Nathan and I both have a MASSIVE crush on Austria – last time we were there we spent some time in the countryside, up in the alps, and we fell in love with the country straight away.
The snowy alps with year-round skiing, the green valleys and turquoise lakes, and Vienna with its amazing historical architecture – the country brings you back to a romanticized past, and you don’t want to leave anytime soon.
To read more about our time in Vienna, make sure you check out:
Things to Do In Vienna Austria (City Guide)
On the surface Vienna is elegant, traditional, and slow moving – however, dig a little deeper and you’ll find that it’s also bohemian, trendy, and a place to party all night long.
Vienna’s elegance and tradition are centrally located in the Inner City, or more formally, the First District.
In its 3.01 km2 of space you’ll find stunning architecture made up of palaces, museums, theaters, and churches.
Most tourists stay in this small area of Vienna to see the major sights, then head out thinking that’s all there is.
Pity, those people missed out on seeing what Vienna is really about.
To do that, you have to get out of the Inner City and head over to the districts that surround it.
There’s the Naschmarkt (meaning snack market) where to locals go to dine.
There’s the 7th district with its huge shopping street and bohemian flair made up of funky coffeehouses and local designers.
Even further out, in the 19th district, is a strong wine culture with vineyards in the city limits.
After a long day of touring the city, a round of all-night partying awaits in multiple pubs, trendy bars and restaurants, and dance clubs – Vienna is a versatile town that has so much more to offer than people think.
Dining Out in Vienna
The dining scene in Vienna has exploded over the last few years.
The city now offers cuisine from every part of the world to appease every budget.
Traditional Austrian cuisine is a rich, satisfying fare.
Go to Café Central or Bettel Student, both of which are in the Inner City, reasonably priced, and consistently good.
Eating at a würstelstand (sausage stand) is a must.
The best is in front of the Albertina Museum.
Order your sausage with a side of bread and an Austrian Ottakringer beer.
Vienna coffeehouses are an institution.
Go in the morning and order a Viennese breakfast.
In the afternoon go to Oberlaa for the best cakes in town.
If you’re looking for a more formal dining experience, go to Plachutta and order the tafelspitz.
Doing the Tourist Thing
Amazing Austrian Lakes – I really love this pic, it sums up the best memories of when we were in Austria in the spring time.
The Inner City contains almost all of the “must sees” of Vienna.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral is in the middle of the city and the elevator ride to the top offers a nice view.
The Hofburg – Imperial Palace has multiple tours, but take the Imperial Apartments Sisi Museum tour due to its refreshing honesty about the famous Austrian Empress.
Vienna is the birthplace of the coffeehouse and The Sacher Café is the most prominent with its famous Sachertorte.
Pair the sweet torte with a strong cup of Viennese coffee and the sugar and caffeine rush will keep you buzzing for hours.
To see all the other sights ride the Vienna Ring Tram which is a good value.
There are two important sights outside of the Inner City.
The first is the Schönbrunn Palace.
It offers a 30 and 60 minute tour, but go for the shorter one and spend the rest of the time walking the beautiful gardens.
A little secret about the palace is that it has the world’s oldest zoo on its premises and is a great treat for families.
For hot summer afternoons when touring is done, find the public pool where the chic set of Vienna go to cool off.
The other sight is the Giant Ferris Wheel at the Prater.
Lines can be long and to be honest, it isn’t worth the wait.
Photo opportunities from the ground looking up at the wheel can be really nice though.
Off the Beaten Path
Get off the tourist track to start hanging out where the locals are. Right outside of the Inner City is the Naschmarkt.
Put up with the crowds and walk at a slow pace to see all the exotic edibles on display.
Buy only nibble sized quantities as prices can be high.
To satisfy your hunger go behind the stalls to the diverse restaurants and dine with the Viennese.
Some of the places can be a good value like Tewa, which is stand 672.
On Saturdays the Naschmarkt expands to include Europe’s largest flea market.
It’s fun to poke through all the dusty knickknacks but the items are overpriced.
Note that the Naschmarkt is closed on Sundays and holidays.
From Naschmarkt walk to the bordering bohemian 7th district which is called Neubau.
Within a few blocks is Vienna’s biggest shopping street, Mariahilferstraße.
The usual suspects like H&M and Zara are present, but the department store Peek & Cloppenburg has a flagship location which offers the best shopping opportunities.
If you want something original, check out young designers on Zollergasse.
Then head east to hit the MuseumsQuartier to grab some culture, coffee, and just hang out.
Experiences & Events
Vienna is a great town to explore on foot.
The Vienna Sight Running tour is a unique experience if you’re a jogger or just need to burn off the Austrian sausage, beer, and tortes.
If the thought of jogging makes you woozy, dance away the night during Ball Season.
Vienna hosts over 450 balls each year and is one of the most authentic experiences a tourist can participate in.
They are a great way to get into sections of buildings that are normally closed to see dazzling displays of imperial interior design.
Despite the formal setting and a very strict dress code (men must be in tuxedos and women must wear floor-length gowns) balls are anything but stuffy.
Prepare for a long night of dancing, live music, and fun.
Tip: Balls vary in expense and experience.
The Emperor’s Ball is expensive and touristy so skip it.
The Opera Ball might be the most famous but comes off as tacky due to the media circus around it.
The Vienna Philharmonic Ball is the most elegant and despite a high ticket price, is absolutely worth it.
Most Viennese tend to flock toward the Flower Ball, Coffeehouse Owner Ball, and the Bonbon Ball due to fantastic locations and respectable ticket prices.
Nightlife in Vienna isn’t obvious even though the party week starts Wednesdays and on weekends goes all night long.
25 hours has a laid back bar with a DJ, good vibe, and cheap drinks.
There is nothing special about lutz except for the fact that it somehow manages to be a cool bar, but skip the club scene.
Sofitel is a very sophisticated bar that offers the absolute best view of Vienna.
To go dancing Volksgarten-Pavillon and Albertina Passage are the places to be.
On Fridays and Saturdays don’t show up earlier than midnight.
Getting There and Away
Vienna’s airport is small but efficient.
Ryan Air is a great, cheap carrier that flies to and from Vienna from other European cities.
Train travel is offered by the ÖBB but check out Eurolines first for great prices on clean, punctual buses with laptop plugs and sometimes WIFI.
Vienna, Austria – The Capital Of Café Culture
Nathan and I both have a MASSIVE crush on Austria – last time we were there we spent some time on the countryside, up in the alps and in the cities, and we fell in love with the country straight away.
The snowy alps with year-round skiing, the green valleys and turquoise lakes, and Vienna with its amazing historical architecture – brings you back to a romanticized past, and and a place you don’t want to leave anytime soon.
Vienna is the capital of Austria, and it’s also the capital of cafe culture.
Few places take their cafe culture as serious as Vienna, and out of all the museums, theaters and opera’s, the Kaffeehäuser (coffee houses) were the one thing I looked forward to revisiting the most.
The coffee house culture is a big part of Viennesse history and culture, and with well over 2,000 cafes in the city you have a lot to choose from.
Coffee has been served in Vienna since the 17th century, making the coffee houses some of the oldest in the western world.
There are all kinds of cafes, from traditional 19th century baroque cafes to modern or futuristic cafes.
Personally I really loved the traditional cafes, where the waiters are dressed in dinner jackets, the interior is in dark wood and red garment, and with an atmosphere so cozy and welcoming that people sit for hours on end reading, writing and trading gossip over a cup of coffee.
In Sweden – where I’m from – coffee culture is also very important, and in my family we’re brought up to have “coffee breaks” (fika) with cakes at least once a day – so perhaps that was why I really enjoyed how Vienna had not only preserved their old coffee culture and traditions, but truly valued it.
Since I used to work as a barista I know a bit about coffee, but in Vienna I was lost!
The list of coffees to order was endless, and there were some that I had never even heard of before.
A must try are the Viennesse cakes, especially the famous Sacher torte.
If not for the taste, then for its history, the Sacher torte has become one of the most famous cakes of Vienna and cafes in town have fought each other for decades over the most ”original” Sacher Torte.
But it’s not all about cakes and coffee in Vienna, the city itself looks pretty like a cake.
The Schönbrunn palace with its gigantic manicured gardens, Burg Theater and Hofburg palace made it easy to dream yourself away a few hundred years back and imagine what things were like then, with Mozart sipping a coffee in a corner cafe, and empress Sisi walking around the gardens of her palace.
Vienna is for the indulging and dreamy type people – in other words, perfect for me… how about you?
Making The Most Of Austria Guide
Austria is one of the most beautiful countries in Europe, with its magnificent Alpine landscape and beautiful villages scattered over the country, not to mention the beautiful cities Salzburg and Vienna.
Here are some tips on how to make the most of your time in Austria…
Hang out in the Coffee Houses
With its historical buildings, castles, opera houses and theaters, Vienna is a very special city, art and classical music fans especially enjoy it.
But the best way to really get to know the culture is to sit down at one of the many coffee houses with a cup of coffee and one of the famous Viennese cakes like Sacher Torte.
Vienna has one of the oldest cafe cultures in Europe, and the coffee houses are one of the most important places for the locals to meet, relax and hang out.
Take a hike
The nature in Austria is absolutely stunning, and in the Alps there are plenty of opportunities for enjoying the nature to the fullest.
Summer, late spring and early autumn is perfect for hiking, while you can enjoy some of the best skiing in Europe during winter.
With countless hiking trails, you have a lot to choose from. Some hikes can last for several weeks, while others a day or just an hour.
It’s up to you and what you want to do.
If you just want to take a nice and easy walk and explore the nature, there are many opportunities to do that too.
Stay At The Sound of Music Hotel
Salzburg with its musical festival is a big draw for visitors.
It is also the location where most scenes in the classical movie “The Sound of Music” was staged, and today you can even stay in the very same house that used to belong to the Von Trapp family which the movie is based on!
These are just three of many things to do in Austria, we hope you enjoy your time in this beautiful country!
Things To Do in Vienna Austria
Vienna is such a romantic city, not only does it have the most romantic history, but with so many white buildings, picturesque coffee shops, wineries, beautiful parks and old castles it makes this place perfect for a romantic weekend – even for budget travelers.
Staying in Vienna is cheaper than most other capital cities in western Europe, and there are some great hostels around.
We booked a hotel room for 18,5 Euro per person (which is cheaper than the price of an average dorm in Europe – if you want the name of the hotel, just ask in the comments below), and got great value for the money.
Things To Do in Vienna Austria Things To Eat
There are some great local delicacies to try in Vienna the Capital of Austria, and you can probably spend a whole weekend going between cafes.
Here are a few of the must-tries:
Vienna is famous for its delicious cakes.
The Sacher Torte is heavenly, and you can try these little dreams in Aida Café Konditorei.
It’s a cafe pastry chain which serves the most delicious cakes, and the environment couldn’t be better – pink, sweet and fluffy decor all around!
Vienna is world famous for their coffee, and you simply won’t get enough of it.
Try their coffee in the typical old fashioned cafe Hawelka or Kaffe Alt Wien.
Here you’ll experience more of the authentic Viennese style cafe with smokey dark wood, and they have kept the old Viennese coffee customs.
Another old cafe in traditional style is Kleine Kafe. Just remember to order the coffee in Viennese style: “Ein kleiner brauner” (Viennese coffee with milk) or “Ein kleiner schwartzer” (back Viennese coffee).
Vienna is the world’s only big city with a significant wine industry, with over 700 hectares of vineyards.
You can try the Viennese wine in many bars and restaurants in town.
Austria and cheese go hand in hand, and the cheese is simply amazing.
There are quite a few local tiny markets around, but the Naschtmarket is a bigger and the most famous one.
There you can try heaps of different samples before you choose your favorite cheese – trust me you will find it…
Things To Watch in Vienna
Art, music and culture have a long history in Vienna, and many of the world’s best artists, philosophers, musicians and composers hung out here.
If you want to get an even deeper understanding of the city and get a more broad view of the place, visit an opera, theater or musical show.
This also really enhances the experience of being in Vienna and walking among the same buildings the musicians got their inspiration from – the connection between the city and music is so clear!
Choose between the world’s best classical orchestra; Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, one of the many amazing theaters, or why not a typical Viennese operetta?
There are people dressed up in cloaks and costumes on the streets selling concert tickets, sometimes you can get better deals with them if you’re good at bargaining. 😉
Things To Visit in Vienna
St Stephen’s Cathedral
If you’re going to see one church in Vienna it ought to be this one.
It’s a beautiful Romanesque Gothic cathedral with colored tile roof and nice details.
If you get up in the tower you can get a neat view of Vienna.
This big palace that today is a UNESCO world cultural heritage site, used to be a summer house for the monarchs in the old days.
The history of this place dates back all the way to the 17th century.
It has a huge sculpted garden with a maze and botanic flowers.
Coming here you get a sneak peek into what the rich people’s lives were like in the old days.
This is a big tourist attraction so either book a tour in advance or count for a long time in line to get in.
Walking Around Vienna
Just walking around Vienna and looking at impressive buildings is half the fun of being there, the buildings give such a romantic touch and it feels like you’re stepping back in time a few centuries.
I really recommend you to put on some comfortable shoes, bring a map and start walking.
In the central area there are heaps of nice buildings to see:
- The Parliaments building
- Vienna Rathaus
- Natural History Museum
- The Stadt park (with over-the-top looking statues)
Pretty much every shop is closed on Sundays, so these days are perfect for some museum touring and simply walking the streets.
If you cook your own food, make sure to buy all you need the day before – it can get pretty hard finding an open supermarket on Sundays – trust us, we spent hours doing this.
We were in Innsbruck Austria Capital Of The Alps!
What was supposed to be a comfortable 1.5 hr train ride through the Alps to Innsbruck, instead turned out to be a 5 hour train ride in the wrong direction.
Because of an avalanche on the track the train had to take a ridiculously long way around, going in the completely wrong direction (via Munich).
The train we would be taking instead also got canceled, and 2 hours later we were still at the same station, wishing we would have hired a car for the day instead.
When we finally arrived late in the afternoon we were absolutely exhausted, but as soon as we walked out of the train station, our mood lightened up:
Many cities don’t live up to your expectations, so we usually try not to have any at all, but when it came to Innsbruck we couldn’t help but to expect something great – and I’m happy to say that Innsbruck definitely lived up to its reputation…
Innsbruck Austria Capital Of The Alps!
Innsbruck has everything any other typical city has: an Old Town, museums, tourist attractions and incredible churches – but there is one thing that makes this place stand out from most other cities in the world: The Alps.
Known as the capital of the Alps, Innsbruck is one of the largest ski resorts in the Alps, giving you the best of both worlds: a vibrant city-life and stunning nature.
No matter what direction you look, majestic snow-capped mountains dominate the view, giving you access to 7 ski fields and a great free ride park in winter, and in summer plenty of walking trails along with one of the best mountain bike tracks in Europe.
You don’t really realize how close the ski fields and sport opportunities are until you see people in their full ski gear walking down the main street, on their way to the slopes.
Innsbruck Austria Views
The abundant nature and beautiful mountains surrounding you makes it impossible even for the most stubborn of urban people to resist the urge to get up high.
Innsbruck is all about the views, and there are plenty of places to get them; Bergsiel ski jump, the City tower and Nordkette are just a few of them.
We took the Nordkettenbahn up to the ski field, sat down in the sun chairs and embraced the view.
There is something about getting above a city and seeing it from a distance that truly makes you appreciate it, and getting a look over the endless number of mountain peaks reaching out to the horizon, makes you feel very small.
Innsbruck Austria Cupcake Buildings & Other Yummy Sweets
Painted in pastel colors of green, yellow, pink and blue, the buildings reminded me of cupcakes, and the white fluffy decorations made the icing on the cake.
Walking around the warren of cobble stoned streets in the Old Town, soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying a coffee and cake in the sun at an outdoor seating was a great way to spend a day in the city.
Talking about coffee, Austria has one of the oldest cafe cultures in Europe, and the cakes are to die for!
While the cafe culture really derives from Vienna, it’s flourishing in Innsbruck as well.
The famous cafe in Vienna which invented the Sacher torte can be found in this city too, and on the opposite side of that cafe is another cafe specializing in what Austria is perhaps even more famous for: the strudel…
Innsbruck Austria Cupcake
We stuffed ourselves full of different types of strudel (there is more than just apple flavor!), ice cream and cakes until we couldn’t take another bite, and then continued exploring the streets of Innsbruck.
In many ways, Innsbruck reminded me of my home town, which is probably why I felt so “at home” there.
It is hard to pin-point exactly what it was that reminded me of Gothenburg, but I think it was the relaxed and friendly vibe, one that you find more often in places that are larger than towns but smaller than cosmopolitan cities – a vibe that you find in places like Innsbruck.
Innsbruck Kicked Us Out … Where To Next?
After spending 1 month in Innsbruck we realized the city didn’t want us hanging around anymore – it was kicking us out!
Having to take care of thousands of new students desperate for a place to stay, Innsbruck simply didn’t have time to deal with us as well.
So after two full weeks of apartment searching, we decided that while we really liked the city, it just wasn’t meant to be.
Apartments were taken within hours of being put online.
The students were desperate for ANYTHING!
We were not …
This photo was taken in a small village in the Austrian alps.
And is living proof that places like in those old fairy tales still exist today – we loved the outdoor lifestyle there and could hardly leave – Sound Of Music anyone???
small village in the Austrian alps
We didn’t want to share a room in someone’s home, or pay €1500 extra just to get hold of an apartment – so we have decided to move on, or more precisely, we’re moving north into the wild..!
Ok, perhaps that was a “little” exaggerated, but the place we’ve decided to move to is one of those places you would like to find yourself in when the rest of the world falls apart – so what better place to spend the end of 2012 than in Norway? ;P
Norway is a country we both have been longing to see more of, and we’re looking forward to see if it really is what everyone always claims; the most beautiful country in the world.
Having found a great 2 room apartment in Trysil (Norway’s biggest ski resort) located only 3 mins from the slopes, we decided to just go for it and spend the next 6 months in Norway.
That’s the blessing and the curse with being able to be wherever you want – a blessing because you can do whatever the hell you want, but a curse for the very same reason.
The students in Innsbruck HAD to make it work, we didn’t – so we moved on.
Sometimes, having too many options makes it more difficult than if there was only one way to go.
Getaway with Skyscanner Innsbruck Austria
After our trip to Bergamo in Italy, we continued with Skyscanner to Innsbruck in Austria, our final destination – Innsbruck is an old city surrounded by the Austrian alps, and it really is the perfect city for a wonderful weekend getaway!
Check out our video from a day exploring Innsbruck below:
Getaway with Skyscanner & Going Full Circle
After Portugal, we continued for a 4 day weekend getaway with Skyscanner to Bergamo, before continuing to our “final destination” Innsbruck, Austria.
We often find it very time-consuming looking for good flight deals, especially when it doesn’t really matter where you go, only where you travel from.
We experienced this problem again earlier this summer when looking for a flight from Asia to Europe – it didn’t matter where in Europe we ended up, as long as we got there.
Back then we didn’t know that Skyscanner had this “Everywhere” feature where all you had to do was to enter the destination you flew from, and they would find the best deals to destinations all over the world from your airport.
We spent days searching airport to airport to compare the prices, something which would have easily been done in a few minutes with this feature.
This time around, we tried the feature for the first time, and found a great deal to Bergamo, and from there continuing to Innsbruck.
Bergamo – Going Full Circle With As We Travel
It was kind of funny that Skyscanner would be taking us to Bergamo, because this was the first city we traveled to when we first started As We Travel over 2.5 years ago.
Arriving in this gorgeous city brought back a lot of memories from that time, when we had barely enough money to get by, and when As We Travel was nothing but three blog posts and a hope for a better future.
Our journey from where it all began has been long and crazy, and we have treasured every moment, so it was really incredible to be back where we started.
But walking along the streets we both had that strange feeling when a period of your life is about to end, and a new one about to begin.
Everything in our lives have worked in threes – every 3 years, our lives have changed and started going in a new direction.
We have the feeling that things are about to change once again, that we’re about to take a different turn, and our blog will change with us.
Kind of scary, but very exciting at the same time!
Travelers Settling Down.
After our weekend in Bergamo, we continued with Skyscanner to Innsbruck, a stunning city which everyone who visits instantly falls in love with.
With dramatic mountain peaks surrounding you in every direction, a beautiful old town, outgoing people and the most delicious pastries, it’s hard not to love this place.
In fact, we liked it so much we decided to try and settle down to live there for the next six months.
If there is one change we know will happen with As We Travel, it’s the way we travel.
We need to slow things down, stay in places for longer, or simply settle down and take smaller trips from there.
Traveling full time is an incredible experience, but it certainly has its downsides.
Salzburg – It’s More Than Just About Mozart
There are two things associated with Salzburg: the all-time classic movie “The Sound of Music”, and the legendary composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – and while “The Sound of Music” has some epic scenes shot in Salzburg, and Mozart really fits into the spirit of Salzburg, there is more to this city than just that.
Nevertheless, Mozart is a big part of the city, so let’s start with the influences he had on the streets and history …
The Mozart Obsession
Salzburg is known as the city where Mozart was born and raised, something which they’re eager to point out: with streets named after him and statues built of him, the whole city breathes Mozart.
His childhood home and the house where he lived later on in life are both attractions to visit (Mozarts Gebursthaus and Mozart Wohnhaus), as well as streets, bridges (Mozartsteg), squares (Mozartplatz), buildings and statues (Mozart Monument).
These however, aren’t the only things named after Mozart – there is even a special sweet dedicated to the composer: Mozartkugeln.
Literally translated to “Mozart balls” (not even kidding!), this tasty treat is a specialty of Salzburg and a must when visiting the city.
With a ball of pistachio in the middle covered in nougat and a chocolate coating on top, this chocolate candy melts in your mouth.
The Mozartkugeln can be bought everywhere, and you usually won’t have to walk more than a few meters down the road until you see a shop filled with Mozartkugeln in different packagings.
But while the shops with the brightest windows might look the most inviting, they usually sell them much more expensively, so if you want ‘more balls for you buck’ just get them at the supermarket instead.
The Old Town
Salzburg’s old town is small, charming and quite confusing.
The narrow, winding streets are like a maze, but part of the fun is to get lost in them and just explore the little alleys, many squares and cafes dotted along the way.
The beautiful world famous baroque architecture of the Old Town really adds to the atmosphere and is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Two streets not to miss are Goldgasse and the Getreidegasse – Gold Gasse is a small, narrow lane well-known for its antique shops, galleries and book shops.
With medieval and baroque buildings lined along the curving street, it looks very picturesque.
Getreidegasse, also known as Grain Lane, is another beautiful street in Salzburg, and dating back to Roman times it’s one of the oldest in Salzburg.
What makes this street so pretty and unique are the many creative wrought iron signs that hang above each shop.
Each sign illustrates the profession or business of the shop, an old tradition that was used in the days when most people were illiterate.
These signs can be seen all over the Old Town, but no street has as many and as beautiful signs as Getreidegasse – this is also the street where you will find Mozarts Gebursthaus, the house where Mozart was born.
Today it’s a popular museum devoted to Mozart and his family.
Some other great places to visit are Mirabell Gardens (with the quirky dwarf gardens) and Salzburg Castle which provides amazing views over the city and surrounding valleys.
Eating and Drinking
Mozart balls aren’t the only sweets Salzburg has to offer – in fact, for the sweet toothed there is something much bigger – and crazier – on the menu.
Salzburg’s signature dish is a dessert called Salzburger Nockerln.
It’s one of the strangest desserts I’ve had, and I can’t quite describe what it tastes like – only that it kind of disappears in your mouth.
Always made in a portion large enough for two, the Nockerln is a sweet puffy soufflé made of egg yolk, flour, sugar and vanilla, mixed into a big dough with stiff egg whites that is then baked under low heat in the oven.
Often it’s served with raspberry sauce in the bottom of the plate.
Some places that serve Salzburger Nockerln are Zum Mohren (used to have guests such as Mozart and Franz Schubert), S’Nockerl (a new modern restaurant) and St. Peter Stiftkeller (who claim to be the oldest restaurant in Europe, dating back to year 803!).
For drinks, Salzburg has some excellent beer, with many cute little bars and breweries around town.
The oldest brewery in Salzburg is the Stiegl’s Brauwelt, the largest privately owned brewery in Austria which also houses a beer museum.
Dating back to 1492, the brewery has seen many people pass through its doors to enjoy a pint of beer.
According to Mozart’s sister Nannerl, even the composer drank at the Stiegl’s brewery.
In August 1780, Nannerl wrote: ‘… at 3 o’clock the three of us went to the Stiegl brewery to watch a game of skittles…’ – still to this day they deliver their beer barrels with horse drawn carriages to the local pubs in Salzburg.
These are the things we enjoyed most about Salzburg on our visit – have you visited?
Exploring A Hidden Ice Palace in Hintertux Glacier
A few weeks ago we spent the weekend skiing and exploring Tux-Finkenberg and Zillertal 3000, a huge ski area which includes the Hintertux Glacier.
Deep underground only 200 meters from Hintertux Glacier’s highest point at 3,250 meters above sea level, is the spectacular natural glacial crevasse aptly named “Nature’s Ice Palace”.
Discovered by mere chance by Roman Erler in 2007, the underground crystal chambers, corridors and ice galleries hold many mysteries and questions that are yet to be answered, such as just how old the ice really is and for how long the crevasse has been there.
More importantly, why when other glaciers in the world continuously move and change shapes, does this crevasse not seem to change much at all?
Roman who guided us around the narrow corridors and sparkling rooms excitedly told us that hopefully this year they will finally find some answers to some of their many questions.
As we slowly made our way past enormous ice stalactites and glacial lakes, the narrow winding tunnels would suddenly open up into huge rooms with the most amazing ice formations.
The largest room and one of the highlights of the tour was the “Ice Palace”, with an impressive height of 15 meters and ice crystals with up to 7 meters in length!
The twisting, crystal clear ice stalactites were even more beautiful as they reflected the colorful lights that lit up the rooms and caves, giving the underground Palace a mystical atmosphere.
With -26 degrees and arctic winds outside, the Hintertux Glacier Ice Palace felt warm and cozy in comparison, since temperatures in the caves always stay around 0 degrees no matter how cold or warm outside!
How & When To Visit Hintertux Glacier:
The Ice Palace is open all year round, and is a perfect activity for gloomy days
There are two tours to choose from:
Regular Tour: 45 minutes, at 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 13:30, 14:30 and 15:00. Admission is €8 for adults and €4 for children under 8 years.
Grande Tour: 70 minutes, following the regular tour schedule except for at 2.30pm and 3 pm. Admission is €16 for adults and €8 for children.
You can do the tour in your ski boots, but it gets a bit slippery at times so if possible it’s better to bring a good pair of walking boots.
Spring Skiing in Zillertal 3000, Austria
With over 245 kilometers of slopes covering 900 hectares, the Ski and Glacier World Zillertal 3000 is a huge playground for ski and snowboard lovers – and we had two days to make the most of it.
Our first ski destination was the Hintertux Glacier: an area known for its year-round skiing and an altitude of up to 3,250 meters, it’s one of the best glacier skiing regions in the world.
When Peter, our ski guide, met up with us in the morning and warned us about the 26 degree minus temperatures waiting for us on the glacier, I first thought he was joking.
Minus 26 degrees?
Is that even possible in March?
Then Peter turned to me and said “You’re Swedish, you’re used to it!”
My hopes weren’t very high, but Nathan assisted with some pep-talk: “if you expect it to be cold, you will feel cold.
Don’t think about it and you won’t feel it”.
Maybe I fit the stereotype of a cold-tolerant Swede better than I thought, or maybe Nathan’s advice actually worked – but when we finally got onto the slopes, I was surprised to find that it really wasn’t that bad.
Nathan’s beard was covered in ice crystals, and my nose was running like a leaking tap, but we didn’t care – the important part was that we were back on the skis, and that was a feeling we both had been longing for all season.
And what better place to get back on the skis than at the Hintertux Glacier and do your first run from 3,250 meters above sea level?!
Bluebird Day at Zillertal 3000
The next day we woke up to clear blue skies and a view of white, snowy mountains from our window.
Our ski guide Peter was excited:
It’s the best day we have had all season!
Perfect weather, perfect snow.
It could not get any better than this!
And it really couldn’t: it was the perfect bluebird day with fresh snow, clear skies and a bright sun warming our happy faces – this was the true meaning of spring skiing!
Getting up on the mountain, overlooking the breathtaking views over the alps and sunny peaks surrounding us in every direction, I felt like a child bursting with excitement.
Looking around me, I was reminded why I love the mountains so much – there is something about the never-ending views and feeling of being in the midst of nature that can’t be compared with any city in the world, no matter how great it is.
Trying to cover three mountains in one day (Eggalm, Rastkogel and Penken) would seem impossible, but Peter knew the mountain so well he could probably do it blindfolded if he had to.
Peter showed us around everywhere, and in just a day we had skied in pretty much every area – including the steepest ski run in all of Austria: Harakiki…
With an average incline of 78%, it was by far the toughest slope I’ve ever done.
By the end of the day my legs were shaking and burning with lactic acid – happy but exhausted from hours of skiing, we rounded off the day at the local aprés ski bar Hexenkessel with a few cold beers and some good old Austrian Oompah music.