Things to do:
- Visit Old Town: The old center of town is home to gorgeous buildings and statues, as well as some of the best restaurants in the city. I would highly recommend going to walk around and taste test everything you can fit in your mouth!
- Dom zu Salzburg (Salzburg Cathedral): This breathtaking 17th C. Baroque cathedral is one of the most distinct buildings in Salzburg.
- Mirabell Palace: Sprawling gardens with a huge, beautiful palace.
- Hohensalzburg: Massive fortress on a hilltop. This imposing barricade is a very cool site to see, and it offers a great view of the city.
- Mozart's House: You can take a tour, or go look around outside. Either way it is incredible to stand in the same place where some of the world's most influential music was created!
Where I stayed:
- Villa Carlton: I cannot say enough good things about the Villa Carlton! The staff was wonderful, the location was perfect, and my room was an absolute dream. I would 100% stay here again.
St. Gilgen/St. Wolfgang
Things to do:
- You should watch the Sound of Music before you go here -- these are the lakes featured in the movie! There are several lakes in a close range, and each is even more beautiful than the last. Stay for a day (or five!) to swim, boat, hike, bike, eat, drink, and enjoy yourself. This is truly one of the most beautiful places I have ever been (though the cloudy photo certainly doesn't do it justice).
Foods to Try: Wiener Schnitzel: One of the most authentic dishes in Austria, this is a delicious fried meat often served with potatoes or fries.
Apfelstrudel: Another essential Austrian dish -- a delicious pastry stuffed with cinnamon apples.
Knodel: Potato or bread dumplings often served with a meat (if ordered savory) or fruit (if ordered sweet).
Schinkenfleckerl: Bow-tie pasta with ham and your sauce of choice.
Tafelspitz: Boiled beef with vegetables, spices, herbs, and broth.
Goulash: Beef stew with vegetables, paprika, tomato sauce, and dumplings.
Austria is an incredible country, with so much to see and do. I would highly recommend splitting your time between the city and the more rural areas so you get a feel for both! I loved having access to a car while I was there so that I could easily explore the many beautiful lakes and hiking trails.
I felt completely safe and comfortable in Austria. People were so kind and helpful, and I didn't feel like I ever stumbled into an unsafe neighborhood (though I'm sure they exist, as they do in every country). That being said, make sure to keep an eye on your valuables (pick pocketing is common) and keep your wits about you when going out at night! It's also a pretty good rule of thumb to ask your hotel/hostel/Airbnb host where to go (and not to go) at night.
If you're in the mountains in the winter, always check the weather conditions before going out. You don't want to get stuck on the slopes with a snow storm rolling in! You should also be aware that while major avalanches are uncommon, small ones happen relatively frequently in the winter. Be vigilant, and ask a local if there are areas to avoid.
Transportation in Austria:
Transportation throughout Austria is easy and inexpensive to access. There are public buses, metros, and trams in the major cities, and a great network of buses and trains that run between cities and into the countryside.
We rented a car to get out to some of the lakes and explore the countryside, which was very easy and convenient. However, I'm sure we could have gotten a bus if we didn't want to drive! The cost of the car was pretty low, but we lucked out with a promotion. Be aware that your cost will vary based on your age, the site you use to book, and if there are any deals going on.
If you're going to be traveling between cities or countries in Europe, I recommend getting a Eurail Pass. I bought a one month unlimited pass and was able to take as many trips, to as many countries as I liked for one flat rate. You can buy them for almost any length of time for whichever countries or regions you prefer. There are lots of discount flight websites if you prefer to fly. I particularly like Ryanair, Rome2Rio, and Google Flights.