Encircled by mountains and straddling the river Salzach, this beautiful Austrian city has a dramatic setting that matches its own baroque splendour. With its Alpine surroundings and historic centre that was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1997, Salzburg really is just as lovely as the city portrayed in The Sound of Music.
It has a long history going back to Roman times, but it was in the 16th century, thanks in great part to the strong will and grand vision of one of the city's famous Prince Archbishop rulers, Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau, that it became the Salzburg we know today, with cobbled streets, narrow alleyways, elegant, secluded squares and fabulous architecture.
Being the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Salzburg has developed an incredibly rich musical life that would no doubt have made the great composer proud. The Salzburg Festival is considered one of the most important musical festivals in the world, and there are plenty of other festivals in the city. Salzburg puts on some 4,000 cultural events (most of them musical ) every year.
And the city mixes high-brow and low-brow with ease. While an air of cosmopolitan sophistication hangs over the elegant shops, restaurants, lanes and squares of the old town, an altogether different, but just as interesting, culture is encountered in the many Bierstuben selling locally brewed beer.
Salzburg is Austria's second city and capital of the province bearing its name. It has a population of 150,000 and attracts close to seven million visitors each year. Castle Travel can find you an ideal place to stay in Salzburg.
By air the Salzburg WA Mozart Airport is just four kilometres (2.5 miles ) to the west of the city, has scheduled flights to several European cities including Frankfurt, Vienna, London, Paris, Dublin and Stockholm.
Salzburg's main railway station, the Hauptbahnhof, connects several major rail lines with frequent east-west trains servicing Vienna, Munich, Innsbruck and Zürich and several trains heading south through the Alps into Italy. Trains arrive from Vienna (journey time three hours ) and from Munich (journey time two hours ) every 30 minutes from early in the morning until late at night. From the station, buses depart to various parts of the city, including the Old Town (the Altstadt ) and there is a taxi stand right in front of the station entrance.
CityBus (StadtBus ) has a comprehensive bus route network covering the city and its environs with around 20 routes in all. During weekdays, buses leave every ten minutes between 6.30am and 8pm and slightly less frequently early in the morning and late in the evening. Services are less frequent at the weekends, particularly on Sundays. There is also the SalzburgCard, which is made especially for tourists and is valid for either 24, 48 or 72 hours.
Salzburg is a great destination both in summer and winter and with direct flights out of Knock in winter this is a destination definitely worth a visit.
Salzburg's cathedral is the city's ecclesiastical centre and one of the most significant pieces of early baroque architecture in the whole of Europe. Among the precious objects it contains is the font in which Mozart was baptised.
Overlooking and guarding the city from high above, the Hohensalzburg Fortress is the largest fully preserved fortress in Central Europe and Salzburg's chief landmark with a history going back to 1077. It can be accessed by using the funicular railway.
The Getreidegasse is the most famous shopping street in Salzburg and it is famous not only for the excellent range of shops on offer, but also for the layout of the street and the peculiar and elegant interconnected houses, passageways and courtyards along the way.
Mozart's family lived on the third floor of the Hagenauer House from 1747 to 1773, and it was here that the musical genius was born in 1756. Today the house is a museum with exhibits such as Mozart's childhood violin and several of his other instruments. There is also a museum at the Mozart family residence.
The Residenz is the former official apartments of the Salzburg prince archbishops. It is an extensive and impressive complex of buildings, which contains the Residenz Gallery, an excellent art gallery with masterpieces by Rembrandt, Rubens and Brueghel, to name but a few.
Being a university town and a city of music and culture par excellence, Salzburg has a bustling nightlife with a decent number of bars, clubs and live music venues. This may not be immediately apparent to first-time visitors, since the city's heritage preservation laws prohibit conspicuous advertising.
Salzburg's Old Town, with over 400 shops and boutiques, offers a unique shopping experience. Jewellery, handicrafts, designer wear, high fashion, books, music, souvenirs - there is an abundance of items for sale along the pretty, narrow lanes and the charming squares in Salzburg's historic centre. The Getreidegasse is the most famous shopping lane here, but there are many others as well, and in between all the shops and boutiques there are plenty of places selling refreshments or a bite to eat.
The street markets offer a different kind of shopping. The Green Market on University Square and the adjacent Wiener Philharmoniker Gasse is open daily except for Sundays and features an abundance of meat, fruit, vegetables, seafood, fish, bread and cheeses, as well as flowers and local handicrafts. Every Thursday morning there is a lively and popular market in front of St Andrew's Church called the Schranne, which is well worth visiting.
For further details or to make a booking contact Castle Travel, Ellison Street, Castlebar (between the Bank of Ireland and Heatons ) on 094 902 4244.