Salzburg is an attractive town near the German border. We used it as a base for exploring the nearby areas as well as Salzburg city. There is a lot to do in this part of Austria (and bordering Bavaria). Salzburg features a well preserved medieval core, palaces and gardens (like the Mirabell shown here), a host of Mozart-related sights and some Sound of Music tours as well.
Everything in Salzburg is relatively compact. This view from the Mirabell encompasses the east bank of the river, the spires of the cathedral (across the river in the Altstadt) and the Festung Hohensalzburg (castle) above and behind it.
The Salzach River separates the old town area from the newer, slightly less cramped side of town. Most of the hotels as well as the train station are on the east side of the river.
Buildings along the Salzach form a de facto city wall. There are a couple archways leading into the cobblestone maze of narrow streets that make up the old town. One notable item about Salzburg is how quick and easy it is to get into the mountains from the center of town. In most directions you can be amongst alpine pastures in 15 minutes or less.
There are several large squares in the old town of Salzburg. A couple of them host markets on different days of the week. It's a good place to get local produce and cheeses. It's also a good place to learn just how many types of sausage you've never heard of before.
The Dom (cathedral) is roughly in the center of old Salzburg. There are large open squares on three sides of it, although one of them always seemed to be full of horse carriages.
Nearby is the very atmospheric Stiftskirche Sankt Peter. This a quiet place to wander around for a while with several cloisters, arcades and this impressive central cemetery.
The Kapitelplatz connects the Dom, St. Peter and the castle complex. Plus it has this strange gold ball for no apparent reason. On the right in this photo, one can see the funicular up to the castle. There is a combo ticket for the funicular, castle admission and a return trip (optionally) back down.
Festung Hohensalzburg, as the castle is known, has several museum exhibits on weaponry, dungeons, military history around Salzburg and castle life. We felt the star attractions here were the Golden Chamber and Bedchamber in the Prince's apartments. These are very well preserved including the wall coverings, paintings and gildings. After that, the main reason to come up here is for the views over Salzburg and the surrounding mountains.
Like most of Austria, Salzburg is well known for its cafes and the many little desserts that they serve. These are good places to people watch and also to let your child run around chasing pigeons after you just dragged him through two museums on medieval weaponry.
One note about driving in Salzburg: This is actually one of the more confusing towns in Europe that we've been to in terms of getting around. We parked at our hotel and walked to sights in the city but we took several trips out of town. Most roads leading out of Salzburg (particularly to the east and south) are just innocuous looking side streets. Using a combination of a Michelin Map (correct scale, but no names) and one of those stupid tourist maps (street names but ridiculously distorted scale) we only managed to get lost once or twice on each foray.