Adventure in Bavaria and Austria
Salzburg makes a lot of money off of tourists. Both Mozart and The Sound of Music—born here and filmed here, respectively—are big business. But the industry of Salzburg travel can't spoil the magic of the trip. Explore the cobblestone streets of the Altstadt (old city), where even the Golden Arches are displayed inside an old-fashioned, wrought-iron sign.
Above the city stands the medieval Festung Hohensalzburg (high fortress), and across the River Salzach, the lovingly groomed Mirabell Gardens invite you for a stroll among brilliant flowerbeds, high hedges, and mythological fountains and statues. On a clear evening, take in the sunset from one of the bridges west of the Altstadt, where the water reflects the reds and pinks of the sky and the lights of the city.
Salzburg's Old World charm is all the more appealing in combination with its Alpine setting, as you'll find access to everything from mountain biking to mountaineering.
While long-distance hikers with weeks to spare may wish to test their legs on the Arno Trail—a 745-mile provincial grand tour—check out nearby Untersberg (1,243 feet) for a moderately challenging day trip. Part of the limestone mountains south of the city, the Untersberg serves as the natural border between Salzburg and the Berchtesgaden area. A short bus ride to Glanegg gets you to the base. The mountain itself requires three and a half to four and a half hours to ascend, plus another two and a half hours to descend. The view of Salzburg and the surrounding peaks are definitely worth the climb.
If you need to rest and refuel, stop at one of the two mountain refuges; if your knees need a break, ride the cable car (ten minutes) back down to St. Leonhard, where you can catch a bus to Salzburg. Wear good hiking boots and bring bad-weather gear.
For a classic bike tour, take on a portion—or the entirety—of the Tauernradweg. Head southwest from Salzburg along the Saalach River valley, on a brand-new bike path, to the picturesque town of Zell am See. Pedal back north into the city along the Salzach River valley, and you'll pass by the Liechtenstein Gorge, giant ice caves, and Hohenwerfen Castle, to name just a few essential sights.
This loop covers 132 miles of the 174 possible, and the entire path is well-signed in both directions. Throughout both Austria and Germany, you can rent decent bicycles at most train stations for a fairly affordable price, and even take them onboard if you prefer to travel to or from a trailhead by rail. Cyclist-friendly accommodations, marked by green and blue flags, dot the region, and those establishments that go the extra mile for bike travelers are noted with green and red flags.
CanyoneeringTo up the adrenaline ante, check out the amazing canyoneering opportunities in the Salzburg area. Just eight miles east of the city (about 25 minutes by car), beginners will enjoy "Swiss Cheese"—a canyoneering route named for the water-filled holes pocking the rock. Some routes have you rapelling down waterfalls, slipping down natural waterslides, or leaping into the river below—Swiss Cheese works up to an anxiety-inducing 20-foot jump, a bull's eye of water between two menacing cliffs. Crocodile Sports (011-43-662-642-907; email@example.com; www.crocodile-sports.com) will take you on a four- to five-hour guided trip for about $40. One tip—bring a waterproof, disposable camera to capture your daring leaps.
Salzburg is just two hours from Munich by rail, and numerous trains run each day.
For more information:
Salzburg City Tourist Office
Auerspergstrasse 7, A-5020
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication