Austria (Österreich), has been on my short list of places to visit for as long as I can remember. It’s amazing that we can now do a road trip to this neighboring country from Zurich. With most of Europe on holiday for the Easter holiday, we decided it was a good time for a little “eggs-capade”!
Our first stop…Budget car rental. Only in Zurich do you get a Mercedes S-Class at a Budget car rental! Suh-weeeet! Check out Mike’s huge smile getting in.
SALZBURG: THE SOUND OF M…OZART
The usual 4.5 hour drive from Zurich to Salzburg took longer than anticipated on this holiday weekend. Mike braved the 6.5 hours in the driver seat (hey, this car can practically drive itself!) and we arrived in Old Town just before dinner.
Salzburg is a beautiful city bordering Germany noted for its scenic Alpine backdrop, the birthplace of 18th-century composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the setting for parts of the film, The Sound of Music.
Unfortunately for us, the freezing weather showcased hills that were more partially frozen with the silence of snow rather than alive with the sound of music. Therefore, the photo of me spinning atop hills of greenery will have to wait until my next trip. For now, here is what most of our drive looked ike…Brrrrrrrrr.
The name Salzburg literally means “Salt Fortress” due to the high importance of this mineral in medieval times and derived its name from the barges carrying salt on the Salzach river. Salzburg is currently the fourth largest city in Austria. With its renowned baroque architecture and one of the best-preserved city centers, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
Sites to see in Salzburg
Salzburg Old Town
Wander through the cobblestones of the Old Town and take in the charm of this beautiful quaint city.
Stop by Mozart’s birthplace, Mozart’s Geburtshaus, and see where the infamous musician was born in 1756.
Festung Hohensalzburg (Hohensalzburg Castle): Literally translating to “high Salzburg Fortress” atop the Festungsberg mountain at the bequest of the Prince- Archbishops of Salzburg. It is one of the largest medieval castles of Europe…a feat that began in the year 1077 and lasted over 900 years!
Mirabell Palace & Gardens
Schloss Mirabell (Mirabell Palace & Gardens): Built outside the medieval walls of Salzburg in the early 17th century by the Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich Raitenau as a residence for his mistress. The palace was also the setting of several scenes from The Sound of Music. Today, Mirabell Palace houses the offices of Salzburg’s mayor and the municipal council. Have a walk around the gardens and take in its beauty.
VIENNA: CAPITAL, EMPIRE, CITY OF DREAMS
Vienna (Wien), is the capital and the largest city of Austria with a population of ~1.7 million. It lies in eastern Austria, close to the borders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.
With continuous habitation recorded since 500 BC, it is a city steeped in rich history. In 1919, Vienna became the capital of the First Republic of Austria. It is also known to some as the “City of Dreams”, because it was home to the world’s first psycho-analyst, Sigmund Freud. Today, it is the 9th largest city by population within city limits of the European Union.
Spending only 2 days in this great city was challenging but not undo-able. Here are my recommendations for top sites to see.
Sites to see in Vienna
Vienna’s Ring Boulevard
Vienna’s Ringstrass (Ring Boulevard) is a 5-km road that incorporates numerous important sites in Vienna including the State Opera, the Parliament, the City Hall, the Burgtheater, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Natural History Museum.
The Vienna City Hall
The Vienna Rathaus (City Hall) An impressive edifice built in the Gothic style from 1872 – 1883, the Rathaus today serves as the seat of the mayor and the city council. Over 2,000 people work in the building.
The Imperial Palace
Hofburg (Imperial Palace): Construction on this palace began in the 13th century and has housed some of the most powerful people in European history, including the Habsburg dynasty over 600 years (rulers of the Austro-Hungarian empire), emperors of the Holy Roman Empire, and the seat of the Emperor of Austria. Today, it is the official residence of the President of Austria and also houses three museums accessible to the public.
The Schönbrunn Palace
Schloss Schönbrunn (Schönbrunn Palace): An hour’s drive from Vienna brings you to the former imperial summer residence for centuries of royals, including the home of young Marie Antoinette prior to her marriage to Louis XVI. This beautiful Rococo edifice boasts 1,441 rooms, not to mention it’s only 20 min away from the Hofburg Palace! Check out the palace as well as the beautiful grounds.
Stephansdom (St. Stephen’s Cathedral): Founded and partially constructed in the 12th century (it was largely destroyed by a great fire and later rebuilt in the following two centuries), St. Stephen’s Cathedral is the most important religious building in Austria’s capital. It serves as the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vienna and the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna.
The Belvedere is a Palace and museum featuring impressive collections ranging from medieval art to works by the famous Austrian painter, Gustav Klimt.
Try the Sachertorte!
The Sachertore is a popular Viennese dessert, consisting of two layers of chocolate sponge cake with a thin layer of apricot jam and coated with dark chocolate icing. Delicious and worth it’s own bullet point! 🙂
Well folks, that concludes our quick weekend in Austria. So long, farewell, adieu and until next time!