In Podcast 16 in my travel podcast series, I visit Salzburg in Austria and the nearby Lake Wolfgang at the beginning of May with my family. We looked in at Hangar 7, a combination of motor and aeronautical museum and foodie destination, climbed up to the Hohensalzburg Fortress that dominates Salzburg, and tapped into the musical connections that the city has with Mozart and the Sound of Music. After a couple of days we drove east of Salzburg to Lake Wolfgang, stopping to see the trick fountains at Schloss Hellbrunn and stayed in the wonderful Hotel Im Weissen Rössl by the lake and took the steam train up the mountain for amazing views of Lake Wolfgang and the other lakes nearby.
Our first stop on arrival in Salzburg was Hangar 7, a domed hangar on the edge of Salzburg airfield, filled with vintage planes and Formula 1 cars, with an art exhibition in one area and a computer game console with a motor racing game.
We ate in the Mayday bar, which serves Smart Food, that is delicious, beautifully presented and nutritionally designed to do you good. You can choose between the Brain Menu, the Mood Menu or the Beauty Menu and in the podcast you’ll hear what I enjoyed from the Brainfood Menu.
The next day we visited the Hohensalzburg Fortress, ascending on the funicular, with birds eye views over Salzburg and the countryside around. From the audioguide tour we learned how the wealth of the city was built on salt and how the Bishops of Salzburg who ruled here built up the fortress over the centuries. As we came down from the Fortress, the Mayday celebrations were in full swing and we found a beer tent with a brass band at the foot of the Fortress where we ate lunch of bratwurst and sauerkraut.
Across the river we wandered through the Mirabell gardens where the formal parterres were filled with a colourful display of tulips and pansies. The gardens are a favourite place for newly married couples to come and have their wedding photos taken, and as I’d visited the gardens as a child with my sisters, we recreated the photo of our family sitting on one of the stone unicorns in the Mirabell gardens.
Next we visited the museum at Mozart’s Birthplace set in the house where Mozart was born and his family lived. The family apartment is quite small with only one bedroom where Mozart was born, although the museum stretches over other rooms, and contains family portraits and information about Mozart’s life. The rooms were quite bare so you couldn’t get much sense of what the house was like when Mozart lived there.
Our last sightseeing stop was the Museum der Moderne, Salzburg’s Museum of Modern Art. Although the Museum is set on the top of a cliff, there’s a lift that takes you up from street level. There was a Giacometti exhibition and I enjoyed the large outdoor sculptures on the wooded terrace outside the main Museum building.
I’d been recommended by Austrian blogger @Travelwriticus to visit the Steinterrasse on the 7th floor of the Steinhotel. From here we got another great view over the town of Salzburg and we sat in the late afternoon sunshine enjoying a coffee, slice of Sacher Torte and an ice cream sundae.
Later that evening we ate at the Sternbräu restaurant where I interviewed Restaurant Manager, Johannes Magoy about some of the traditional Austrian dishes served at Sternbräu. The Sternbräu restaurant is one of the largest restaurants in Austria, with 14 restaurant rooms, all serving traditional Austrian dishes. The restaurant used to be a brewery until it moved out of the city and it is thought that Mozart also came here to eat.
Johannes recommended traditional Austrian dishes such as Tafelspitz – boiled beef with horseradish sauce, Bierfleisch, a goulash made with beef cooked in a beer sauce. For desert he suggested you try the Salzburg Nockerl, a sweet souffle of eggs and sugar and Topfenknödel a dumpling filled with cream cheese. If you love cakes you should try the Sacher Torte invented at the Sacher Hotel in Salzburg as well as the Apfelstrudel, apple pie Austrian style. Sternbräu serves 7 different kinds of draught beer including the Stern beer that is brewed especially for the restaurant and the Weissbier or Wheat beer that some people say tastes like bananas.
Driving out of Salzburg we stopped at Schloss Hellbrunn, built by the Archbishop of Salzburg, Markus Sittikus in 1613. The park is free to enter and there is a country house to look around but Schloss Hellbrunn is best known for the trick foruntains. The archbishop was brought up in Italy and had visited Italian villas with similar fountains and he made the fountains as a diversion and amusement for his guests. The trick is that when turned on the fountains spout water from unexpected places and directions to soak the unwary passer by.
There is a large stone table where the jets of water spout out of the table and seats and a grotto where there is a fountain was topped with a golden crown that moved up and down on the jet of water to represent the rise and fall of power. We also passed by a water theatre with small models which turn around, all powered by the flow of water.
The evening before we had watched a DVD of the Sound of Music which was filmed in and around the city and there are popular Sound of Music tours to visit the film locations. I watched the film after we had spent a day sightseeing and we had fun spotting the locations where we had been earlier in the day such as the Fortress that is the backdrop of many scenes in the film, the Mirabell gardens and the squares and fountains that feature in the film.
At Schloss Hellbrunn, we saw the pavilion that features in the film where Liesel sings I am 16 going on 17 and Captain Von Trapp proposes to Maria. It would be fun to do a Sound of Music tour but you can see many of the locations just by wandering around Salzburg.
Most of the things we saw in and around Salzburg were with the Salzburg Card that we purchased at our hotel. The card allows free or discounted entrance to most of the major sights and attractions in Salzburg as well as free public transport and is especially good value if you are there for 2-3 days. While in Salzburg we stayed in the comfortable Hotel Zur Post, a family run Gasthaus that is a short bus ride from the old centre of Salzburg.
From Salzburg we drove to Lake Wolfgang where there was a Mayday celebration taking place in the town with bands playing and different stalls selling food and wine and beer.
We were lucky to stay at Im Weissen Rössl, one of the nicest hotels in St Wolfgang – well known as the setting of the popular opera also called Im Weissen Rössl, about a head waiter who falls in love with the widow who owns the hotel. There is a spa, indoor pool and lakeside terrace at the hotel with an outdoor pool and jacuzzi which we enjoyed swimming in. The lake water is known for being of drinking quality being very clean and clear.
While in Wolfgangsee I interviewed Wolfgang Linsmayer who I met at the Mayday celebration and runs Gastof Burglstein, a 4 star hotel beside Wolfgangsee. He told me the story of how St Wolfgang build a church in the town, which has been a centre of pilgrimage over the centuries. The story goes that St Wolfgang threw his axe from the mountain and where the axe landed he decided to build the church. Saint Wolfgang made a bet with the Devil and as the Devil lost, he had to help build the church.
Wolfgang recommends that his guests enjoy swimming in the lake and there are plenty of walking and hiking trails in the mountains surrounding the lake, as well as a cycle path around the lake. Being in the centre of the Salzkamergut region there are many things to do such as visit the town of Salzburg, and see the nearby Salt mines at Hallstatt or the Ice caves at Werfen.
On our last day we took a trip on the Schafbergbahn, a steam powered cog wheel train that runs up the mountain from St Wolfgang. The train takes 45 minutes to get up to the top of the mountain with amazing views over the lakes below. At the top you can do some hiking or just have a coffee or drink in the cafe at the top before coming down again.
On our return to the hotel we had a final ride in a pedalo on the lake provided for guests at Hotel Im Weissen Rössl before heading for the airport and back to the UK.
If you enjoyed this travel podcast please check out my other podcasts in my Travel Podcast Archive
Links to places mentioned in the Podcast
Hangar 7 – Free entry motor and aeronautical museum and stylish foodie destination
Hohensalzburg Fortress – dominating the town, this Fortress was built up over the centuries by the Prince Archbishops of Salzburg
The Museum of Mozart’s Birthplace
Museum der Moderne – Salzburg Museum of Modern Art
Steinterrasse – the open air terrace cafe on the 7th floor of Hotel Stein
Sternbräu restaurant – one of the largest restaurants in Austria with 14 different rooms and courtyards serving traditional Austrian dishes
Hotel Zur Post – a comfortable Gasthaus where we stayed while in Salzburg
Schloss Hellbrunn – a country house with lake and gardens that is known for its trick fountains
Im Weissen Rössl, (The White Horse Inn) – a small luxury hotel set on the shores of Wolfgangsee in Austria
Gastof Burglstein – the 4 star hotel by Wolfgangsee, run by Wolfgang Linsmayer who I interviewed at the Mayday festival
Schafbergbahn – the steam powered cog wheel railway up the mountain
Salt mines at Hallstatt – The wealth of Salzburg was founded on salt
Ice Caves at Werfen – the largest system of ice caves in the world
Salzburg Card – provides free or discounted entrance to all the major attractions in Salzburg and free public transport
Salzburg Tourist Information website
Wolfgangsee Tourist Information website
My thanks to the Austria National Tourism Office UK for sponsoring our trip to Salzburg and Wolfgangsee
Music Credits: The music at the start of the podcast was Venus as a girl by Andy McKee and the Mozart music was Piano Quartet in G 3rd Movement played by Linda Holzer both on Musicalley.com, other band music was recorded at the May Day Festival in Wolfgangsee
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