Upon planning our move here to Austria we did as much research as possible but very little was curated by travellers – more locals with what they think would be helpful. This post is inspired by The City Lanes Post of a similar name. He came up with 9 tips that I would have in hand the immediate second I touched down in Tokyo. I hope we can do the same for Austria, Salzburg and South Tirol.
15 tips you should know before visiting Austria, Salzburg and the South Tirol in Spring and Summer
Salzburg Airport Bus to and from Salzburg
Grab a bus from the airport to take you into the city centre of Salzburg. Bus drivers speak english well but if youre staying a little out of town like we did go to the information desk first and they will tell you what stops to change buses.
Be warned that every trip on a bus (whether you go one or one hundred stops) is EU2.60 – so if you can walk from one stop to your destination rather than jump on an additional bus for a stop or two it will save you coin. Your other option is to buy a 1-2-3 day pass but they start at around EU27 per person per day and with a city as walkable as Salzburg youre just burning your money.
Mobile Phone Data Simcard
This is the first thing I seek our then hitting a new country/city. There’s no portable WIFI hire in Austria so the best bet is to get a local simcard. You can’t go into a 7/11 or tabacco store to get yourself a simcard. You need to go into a actual phone shop to buy your simcard.
The best I found was the 3 Internet Card. For EU29 (EU10 for the simcard) you get 6GB of data for EU12 plus EU8 for calls/texts which is really handy to call places to find out if they’re open and book a table.
WHY BUS WHEN YOU CAN UBER/TAXI?
Uber has strong-armed it’s way into everyone’s life here offering a much more professional service than local taxis.
That’s why you should load Uber on your phone before you arrive. The cars are brand new, the drivers have an iPad in every car with the route for them to follow and you also sometimes get water or lollies from some drivers. We tend to use Uber X which undercuts the price of local taxis for the same journey by 20%, so it’s a no brainer to use them and since the cost does onto your credit card you can worry about the bill (cheap) when you get home.
Get your first ride free on Sharking for Chips and Drinks – Sign up here and get a massive discount off your first ride!
Best view of the City
For the best view of Salzburg City, its more economical to go up to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) which you’ll see perched on a cliff face from anywhere in town. For a straight up and down ticket (without entry to the museum) where you get access to the outside space for an unlimited time at the top it costs EU3.20. You also have the option of grabbing a drink in the bar – spectaular in the evening.
This is a better option than heading up to the castle as it’s a similar situation as New York where if you go up for the view in the Empire State Bulding you don’t get the iconic view of the building when youre in it.
Shut when they should be Open
If you live in a major city you may be used to a more regular set of opening hours – something we would have expected from quite a touristy town such as Salzburg. Be aware that some restaurants don’t open on weekends (when most people are visitng on city breaks) or if they do they don’t open until after 5pm. So it’s best to check opening times before trekking across the city to find that little hole in the wall shut. While it is one of Austria’s biggest cities it defintely not a 24/7 party town.
Also – don’t expect chemists of anytihng useful to be open on the weekends – so if you ned drugs like cold and flu tablets – bring them, with you or get them before they shut up for the weekend. They all close on Midday on Saturday and won’t open again until Monday.
This is a small city with many a tourist so it’s best to use that sim card and book anywhere you feel you might like to eat. There were so many places we walked into thinking we’d be fine but have to book for the next night – or even a week later when we rolled back into town.
There’s a great outdoor food market that’s on most days that you can pick up speck, cheeses, beer and bratwurst. If youre on a budget these places are a lifesaver. But even in you arent then it’s well worth stopping by and sampling the local produce as you pass through. And how could you not stop for a bratwurst injected with local cheese I ask you?!
The locals recognized the advantages of riding a bicycle in Mozart’s city a long time ago. A fully-developed bicycle path network leads cyclists in and around Salzburg. Over 170 kilometers of attractive cycle paths with 900 signs, 23 scenic bicycle routes through the city, 5,500 parking spaces and self-service stations offering free tools, bike stands, lubricating oil and compressed air for emergencies make Salzburg Austria’s number 1 cycle city. The bicycle network encompasses the entire city; contra-flow cycling is possible in 83 one-way streets.
What to listen to
If youre driving anywhere in the country I cannot recommend FM4 radio station to listen to. A great mix of music somewhere between BBC Radio 6 and Triple J – the station is in both Austrian and English, the music is phenomenal, there’s genuinely interesting chat about what’s happemning in the world, no ads and they take a lunchbreak which they then put on a mixtape for an hour.
If you have time – it’s well worth doing a night or two in Innsbruck. If you get in early enough to Salzburg you can pretty much scale that city from top to bottom in 24 hours. Then Don’t waste any time grabbing a hire car (we went back to get ours from the airport) and doing the 2 hour drive. We’ll have a whole feature on that city in a later post.
On your way to Innsbruck you cannot not go and see the biggest waterfalls in Europe – Krimml waterfalls. The three stages of the hike, starting in the village of Krimml, take you to ever more spectacular views of the falls and the surrounding countryside. Bring your camera.
Keep a handy 2 hours for the waterfall walk to get up and back down again (4km up and 4km back). If youre not an experienced walker you may not want to try to make it up to the top.
Into The Alps & The Bregenzerwald Cheese Trail
If youre heading to Arlberg and it’s surrounds with some time on your hands – steer well clear of Feldkirch and instead push into Lech and make your way onto the Cheese Trail. It isn’t a street or a road in the usual sense, but rather a union of experts from various disciplines.
Throughout the whole year, the members organise events, invite people to tasting sessions, and initiate guests into the secrets of cheese production in the Vorarlberg region. Stations on the trail include the modern cheese cellar in Lingenau, where several thousand blocks of cheese are left to mature; the Käsehaus in Andelsbuch, open seven days a week and selling the entire range of delicacies from the Bregenzerwald; and the alpine dairy school in Egg where you can make your own cheese.
Arlberg Summer Card
Well worth investing in – especially if youre planning on doing a hike by yourself or with a guide. This card alklows you free reign of the tracks in Arlberg plus gives you access to every single working cable car going up and down the mountains whiule it is valid.
Lake swimming in Bad Gastein
After a hard days driving there’s nothing more serene to see that on the way up the mountain you spot a lake with locals lying around on sun lounges. Get there after 4pm and it’s half price entry EU3pp.
Fun in the water in the midst of a spectacular natural setting. Surrounded by the fascinating scenery of one of the most beautiful, diverse regions in the heart of the Austrian Alps. Pure summertime fun during swimming season in Gastein, from the beginning of June until September. The water is FRESH but take a book, douse yourself and lie back in the sunshine.
Top of the Gastein
Little did we realise – but Bad Gastein is actuall split into 3 sections of town – the bottom with the lake, the middle with the Old Town (looking very much like the Wes Anderson film Grand Budapest Hotel) with building literally just clining ot the rocks and the top section where it’s all hot springs, cable cars to top of mountains and the best coffee in Austria. There’s also a zip line that can be taken over the waterfall, but at EU19.90 it was a little expensive for a 20 second ride.
Felsentherme Hot Springs
Relax in a warm thermal pool and take it all in at Felsentherme. The spa offers eight different saunas and steam rooms varying in temperature, as well as massage services and a fitness center. Take your pick from the indoor hot spring pool, thermal grotto, 70 m (230 ft) slide, outdoor bubbling hot springs, or sports pool. Be mindful of time, as guests who are tardy leaving the spa area are charged extra. Once fully invigorated, stop by Blonde Bean for a very decent coffee.
EU23 for maximum 3 hours.
Gonna Get High
Setting out from Bad Gastein, the mountain lifts will take you either up the Graukogel or the Stubnerkogel. Awaiting you once you are up there is some special spine-tingling excitement amid the Gastein mountains.
The suspension bridge is 140 m long and just one meter wide, with this gently swaying structure leading from the terrace of the mountain restaurant to the transmitter station. This bridge actually breaks two records: It is the first pedestrian bridge at 2300 m above sea level and it is accessible year-round.
If you visit the restaurant at the mountain station of the new Stubnerkogel lift and then, just a few meters away, step out onto the new suspension bridge, you are bound to feel a few butterflies in your stomach. Yet more memorable mountain experiences are offered by the Glocknerblick viewing platform and Felsenweg path. Just be sure to wear sturdy shoes. If you want to head higher into the mountains, you should definitely come equipped with boots and hiking gear, then ride the Goldberg lift before exploring the hiking paths in the Sportgastein ski area. EU23pp return to top of mountain.