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October 11, 2017

Austria: An Amazing Journey from Salzburg to Vienna

Belvedere Palace hero

Austria is an incredible country that has so much to offer for all types of travelers. Whether you are traveling for the cuisine, culture, faith, skiing, or simply for the adventure, Austria has it all. During my stay in this Alpine nation, I was able to spend time in both Salzburg and Vienna which are located on opposite ends of the country. Something that I think definitely enhanced my Austrian experience was the timing. I was there in mid-January. Traveling to Austria in the winter months is not a traditional vacation away from New England, but I think it definitely made my experience in Austria that much more worthwhile and memorable.

Austria during the off-season

salzburg austria winter

Traveling around Austria in the winter during its off season is something that I would recommend for my fellow travelers because it definitely has its benefits. I have been blessed with opportunities in my past to see many different parts of the Alps such as in France, Switzerland, Italy, and Germany, but unfortunately none of these travel experiences took place during the winter months. I can say without a doubt that seeing the Alps in Salzburg in January was one of the most breathtaking experiences I have ever had. Although the mountains can be viewed from practically any vantage point while visiting Salzburg, I found that the best place to take in the beautiful surrounding mountains is from the look-out of the Festung Hohensalzburg.

Hohensalzburg Castle

austria hohensalzburg castle

The Festung Hohensalzburg (Hohensalzburg Castle) is located on top of the Festungsberg that overlooks the Alps, Salzach River, and the entire city of Salzburg. The castle is easily accessible by funicular for just a few Euros which includes the price of admission to tour the fortress. This castle has a particularly interesting history as construction began in 1077, it has withstood many conflicts and wars with its nearly one thousand years of existence. One of the perks of traveling to Salzburg in January was while I was visiting the Hohensalzburg Castle there were less than 50 people in total visiting that day, so the wait time to take the funicular up the mountain to the castle was less than ten minutes. Along with the small wait time, on the tour of the castle we essentially had the entire fortress to ourselves to explore at our own leisure without being pushed through.

The music in Salzburg

Furthermore, when visiting Salzburg, there is no way to avoid the music. This city is the birthplace and home of the world-famous classical composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. You can visit both his birthplace, Mozart’s Geburtshaus, as well as his childhood home which is now a museum where you can see some of the organs that he composed some of his most famous masterpieces on. Aside from the works of Mozart, Salzburg is was also the home to the Von Trapp family who fled to the United States during World War II to escape the Nazi regime. This family’s story was made famous by the 1965 film, The Sound of Music. Some sites in the city that are featured in the film include the Mirabell Palace and Garden, Leopoldskron Palace, and the Nonnberg Abbey, to name a few.

Vienna

About a three-hour train ride via ÖBB Railway east through the Austrian countryside, lies Austria’s capital city, Vienna. This imperialistic city is a traveler’s dream with gothic cathedrals, palaces, food, and Central European charm. The first thing that I would recommend to someone visiting the city is to visit Saint Stephen’s Cathedral which stands above the city at 448’ in height. For just € 5,50 you can go to the observation deck, which is accessible via elevator, and from there you can see the entire city of Vienna. Something that makes Saint Stephen’s Cathedral so unique is that the roof of the Cathedral is decorated with ornate tile-work which can truly be appreciated from the observation deck.


The Belvedere Palace

austria belvedere palace

When visiting Vienna, whether it is for weekend or for an extended period of time, one cannot go without visiting the Belvedere Palace or the Schönbrunn Palace. The Belvedere Palace is a Baroque Palace that was once home to the Hapsburg Dynasty, but the ornate building is currently being utilized as an art museum which houses many Austrian masterpieces, but most notably Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss”. After admiring both the art and architecture of the Belvedere, I would highly recommend taking the Metro to the Schönbrunn Palace on the outskirts of the city. The Schönbrunn Palace is a 1,441-room summer home of the Hapsburgs. When touring this Palace you can see what it was like for the rulers of the Dynasty to live in a place as ornate and grandiose as this. Aside from the palaces, when visiting Vienna I would recommend exploring the old part of the city, Karlskirche, and a stroll along the banks of the Danube River.

After all this traveling, it is impossible to visit Austria without sitting back in a local restaurant to warm up with a radler beer and some homemade wiener schnitzel.

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