A Winter Wonderland in Salzburg

Finally getting posting again for my 2019 adventures in Europe. I’ve had a lot going on during the start of this new year so I’ve fallen behind on posting about my trips. 2019 marks my final year living in the UK so I’m hoping to hit up as many places as possible in the time I have left.

Last year when I went to Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, I flew in and out of Salzburg, Austria, saw how beautiful a city I is and promised myself I’d come back for a few days to explore, which is exactly what I did for January/first trip for 2019.

A 3am alarm to get myself to Stansted Airport for my early morning flight, because of course that’s when the cheaper flights fly out! Salzburg Airport is my favourite airport to fly in to….in under 15 minutes I’d disembarked from the place onto the tarmac, took photos of the surrounding mountains, walked through passport control, used the toilet, out the exit and onto the bus into Central Salzburg. It was a crisp, clear, cold morning. Blue skies and snow every where. As it was still early I couldn’t check into the hostel yet so I dumped my backpack into luggage storage and went out to explore some of the old town for a few hours. Salzburg is surrounded my snow covered mountains with a fortress perched on the side of one. I climbed a short way up to the fortress before realising I was way too tired to make it all the way up the steep climb so ambled back down to the hostel where I took a nap in my nicely heated dorm room. The hostel offers a free salad buffet for dinner and having not eaten in 27 hours by the time it reached dinner that I devoured two bowls (budget travel means filling up on the free foods) this wasn’t enough food for me and luckily the hostel also offered a decently priced menu with hot food options at the bar.

For 4 euros I filled up on a buffet breakfast at the hostel before heading to the station. My plan for the day was to spend it exploring Hallstatt, a beautiful town in Austria’s Lake District, built into the side of a mountain on the edge of a lake, that has been on my bucket list for a few years. It was a 2 hour journey to get there, via bus and train, through wondrous snow covered mountains and past sparkling aqua blue lakes. The best way to take in the views from the bus is to get to that station early so you can get the front right hand side seat. The Hallstatt train station is across the lake from the town so there is a ferry that goes back and forth between the two, taking only 10 minutes and its timed with the arrivals and departures of the trains. This is a great way to take in the whole of the post-card pretty town in one go. Hallstatt is a world heritage site and it’s easy to see why. I was one of many tourists exploring the cold, snow covered, narrow streets searching for those photographic spots to capture the town perfectly. I can only imagine how crazy busy it would be in summer. Every turn you make theres pretty, Austrian style buildings or lake and mountain views. I found the spots that give you the best and well known views of Hallstatt, showing the houses rising up the mountain and the spire of the Lutheran church. Due to it being the middle of winter and snow every where a lot of shops were closed and I was unable to check out the Skull House or go up the mountain to the salt mines and sky walk look out. Whilst waiting to catch the ferry back across the lake to the train station I warmed up for a little bit inside a little cafe near the dock with a hot chocolate and a slice of the Austrian cake Sacha Torte.

After two days on the go I decided to sleep in and have a lazy start. When I finally put on my many layers and ventured out into the cold, I went for a hike up a hill, past a monastery to a fortress look out. From here I had the best views of the castle and the mountains behind it. Wandering off trail through the snow I was able to get to an even better vantage point to photograph the castle. It was quiet at this look out, no people around, just nice and peaceful surrounded by snow with the city of salzburg below and the mountain views all around. I wandered back down to the old town, via the monastery, to check out the market in the university square, try some Mozart balls and buy Almdudler, Austrias national soft drink. Salzburg and its surrounds is famously known for being the film location of the film ‘The Sound of Music’. Having never seen the movie before I took advantage of the hostel screening the movie every night to finally watch it, especially as I had a Sound of Music bus tour booked for the next day.

I booked The Sound of Music Bus tour as an easy way to see more of Salzburg and into the countryside and it was well worth. With the film fresh in my mind from the night before I was actually able to recognise a lot of the locations the guide pointed out to us. We were taken all around Salzburg but my favourite part was when we were taken though the mountains to the neighbouring towns that were also used for various scenes. The lakes and the mountains, the blue skies and low clouds made for some stunning photographs. It was another crisp, freezing cold day so we warmed up with gluhwein at one of the stops. The bus stopped in Mondsee for an hour so I took advantage of this to pick up a slice of Apfelstrudel from a bakery recommended by a blogger I follow as well as walk along the lake by the town. I spent my last afternoon in Salzburg wandering along the river and then heading all the way up to the fortress/castle to catch sunset over the city. The further around the castle and up the mountain I went the views got better and I was rewarded with a stunner of a sunset as well as a low and full moon just above the castle. One can’t go to Austria and not eat Weiner Schnitzel which is exactly what I ordered back at the hostel bar for dinner.

One day I plan to come back to Austria, in the summer time, hire a car and drive all around the mountains and through the Lake District, stopping as many times as I need to capture the beauty of the country.

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