Stop singing, please. I beg you.
I knew that I was in for a treat when I walked off the train platform in Salzburg and immediately heard “Doe, a deer, a female deer” being sung happily chanted by a souvenir-clad family. From that point on things only went downhill in terms of tourist-overload.
I’m just one of those people that doesn’t enjoying fighting through crowds of people that have no idea where they’re going. And, as imaginable, this city is full of overly happy “Sound of Music” fanatics and the casual passer-bys.
This isn’t to say that visiting Salzburg hasn’t been a positive experience for me. The city is beautiful and walking along the cobblestone streets makes you feel like you stepped back a couple hundred years in time and can almost imagine how members of 18th century high society walking down the narrow alleyways.
Unfortunately the feeling isn’t able to last too long: you’re brought back to reality as soon as you see Mozart’s image pimped-out on umbrellas, napkins, flags, bottle openers and key chains. You can also find the “Sound of Music” memorabilia and “traditional” Austrian fashions in every-other window display.
In Salzburg using history to sell-sell-sell is definitely a business that’s raking in the dough for shop owners. Though it seems a little unfortunate that everything is so overly-commercialized, I’m sure that the cash flow from businesses to the city helps to keep Salzburg maintained and as nice as it was 200 years ago.
At first I thought I could avoid being another one of the ‘typical’ tourists, but I did end up going into St. Peter’s Catacombs and also to Mozart’s Birthplace Museum, which (much to my surprise) was really nice and not just a tourist-trap. I thought it was well worth the entry fee.
Though I’ve only been here for a short time, I can offer these tips to those of you who may be interested in traveling to Salzburg:
1.) Plan Salzburg as a day trip from Munich or only plan on staying for a short time. The city does offer quite a few museums, but most are small and probably wouldn’t take more than an hour or two to go through.
2.) Bring good walking shoes. Nearly everything is within walking distance of each other, so just plan on trekking from point A to point B. There are people everywhere and busses are crowded, so it’s probably your quickest option to walk anyhow.
3.) Remember that grocery stores are closed on Sundays and all public holidays. Expect to pay 10-20€ for a decent meal. For cheaper meals, look along the side streets located across the river from the old town (on the side of the Mirabell gardens.)
4.) Wake up and go out early to get pictures with less random people in them. I went to the Mirabell Gardens around 7 AM and there was only one other person there.
My verdict: Salzburg is definitely worth a visit, but I wouldn’t plan to spend more than a day or so here (unless you’re visiting all of the museums, the castle, and going on tours outside of the city: The Sound of Music tour, the Ice Caves, or the Salt Mines, etc.) Food is expensive and tourists are everywhere. If the weather isn’t nice (it’s been cold and raining for the duration of my stay) your day might be a little bit more of a downer. Just be prepared for sudden shifts of weather.