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48 Hours in Salzburg: Discover The Magic Behind The Sound of Music

 

 

If you’ve been following my blog or social media channels lately you’ll know that I have recently returned from my epic inter-railing adventure around Europe with my lovely friend Toni and we had the most amazing ten days! After back to back whistle stop tours of Warsaw and Prague, next up on our trip was the stunning Austrian city of Salzburg. Famed for its Sound of Music film locations, its authentic puppet museum and its beautiful castle on the hill, Salzburg stole my heart as soon as I stepped off the train and I fell totally in love with everything about it.  I was lucky enough to arrange a meeting with the lovely Stephanie from Visit Salzburg who really helped us to plan our break to make the best possible use of our time, as well as providing us with our trusty Salzburg cards, but I  could have easily spent another day wandering around the Mirabell Gardens or admiring the view from the castle courtyard. Being the avid travel blogger that I am, I planned my trip well and did everything I wanted to do and more, so here are my tips on making the most of your short time in this incredible city…

 

Take a Sound of Music tour

 

 

An absolute must see whilst in Salzburg, The Sound of Music by Panorama Tours  offers a fun filled half day for all the family. With either a morning or an afternoon slot, and pick up from the central bus station, the tour starts and ends in the same location and ferries you around all day. Stopping at iconic film locations in and around Salzburg, the route begins at the beautiful Mirabell Gardens, where the famous Do-Re-Mi was filmed. You’ll then be driven to the Leopoldskron Palace, the location for the Von Trapp house and the lake and gardens where the boating scene took place. Next up is the Hellbrunn Palace grounds with its gazebo where the musical number ‘Sixteen going on Seventeen’ was filmed.  Afterwards you’ll stop by Nonnberg Abbey, the convent used in the film, and the Salzburg Lake District area where many of the picnic and outdoor scenes were filmed. Your sixth and final stop will be the beautiful town of Mondsee, where you’ll enjoy some free time to explore the cafe’s and shops at your leisure, before heading inside the stunning St Michael’s Church where Maria and Captain Von Trapp were married. The four hour tour was truly amazing and I thoroughly enjoyed visiting all the locations and seeing all the sights, as well as having a singalong on the tour bus in between stops! If you’re a Sound of Music fan this is the only tour you’ll want to take in Salzburg.

 

 

Wander around the Castle Courtyard

 

 

Gazing up at the castle on the hill

 

If you’re anything like me, castles will be one of your favourite things to see in any city and the Hohensalzburg Castle certainly didn’t disappoint. Set on top of the Festungsberg, a small hill at the heart of the city, the castle is complete with an incredible stone fortress and gives a real medieval feel when walking around the site. Erected by the Prince-Archbishops of Salzburg, who were already powerful political figures, construction first began in 1077 with expansions, including the towers and ring walls, later added in the 1460s. Situated at an altitude of over 500m, the castle offers incredible panoramic views over the old town and nearby hills below and is the focal landmark of the entire city. Take the funicular up to the top of the fortress and then wander round the interior and exterior of the castle at your leisure – don’t forget to check out the amazing Marionette museum to see the history behind this puppet art and you might even be treated to a miniature opera too!  The funicular ride and castle entrance are both free with your Salzburg card.

 

Discover DomQuartier’s architecture

 

The pretty cathedral and carousel on site for the Rupertikirtag Festival

 

This was my favourite part of the whole of Salzburg as it looked oh so beautiful both during the day time and lit up at night too. We were lucky to be staying whilst the historic Rupertikirtag Festival was on and were treated to fairground rides, marching bands, traditional food and a real authentic Austrian party. Despite the Festival giving plenty of reasons to keep us occupied, the DomQuartier area would keep you entertained for hours even if the Festival wasn’t taking place. The cathedral-museum complex, designed in traditional Baroque style, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to five museums and the stunning cathedral which is the focal point of the entire area. Choose to explore the state rooms of the Alte Residenz, the terrace above the cathedral arches or St Peter’s Abbey with its spiritual treasures exhibition of the oldest abbey in the German-speaking world. The stunning cathedral is one of the most amazing buildings I have ever seen; everything from its stained glass windows and its intricate altar to its enormous ceilings and its silent underground chamber complete with chapel and light room, left me with goosebumps and was a real highlight of my trip to the city. Don’t miss out!

 

Visit Mozart’s Birthplace

 

Photo courtesy of Visit Salzburg Tourism Board

 

Built in the 12th century and located in the centre of the historic old town, Number 9 Getreidegasse was the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1756, the seventh child of Leopold Mozart who was a musician of the Salzburg Royal Chamber. As we all know, the young Mozart became one of the most famous musicians the world has ever seen, and was perhaps best known for his iconic composition The Magic Flute. In 1880 his birthplace was turned into a museum and it has been welcoming guests ever since. Visitors can find out about the early life of the classical composer where they can see his first musical instruments being exhibited and they can also take a tour through some of the many residency rooms inside the building. Owned by the Mozart Foundation, entrance to the museum is free with your Salzburg card.

 

Where to Eat/Drink

 

Inside the cafe of the decadent Hotel Sacher

 

There are plenty of bars, restaurants and cafes to choose from in Salzburg, and they can be found in and around the DomQuartier area. We actually failed at being good travellers as we didn’t have a proper sit down meal at all during our time there – bad Jess!! On our first night it was pouring it down with rain so we sat in the common room in our hostel and watched The Sound of Music whilst eating takeaway pizza and chips! Our second night was spent having a traditional Austrian dish consisting of potatoes and sausage which we quickly chomped down whilst attending the Rupertikirtag Festival in the cathedral courtyard – think Oktoberfest and you’ve got it! I’d highly recommend taking the time to check out some of the other restaurants in the city centre though as they looked fantastic, and one thing you absolutely MUST do is have a slice of Sacher Torte (heavenly dark chocolate cake/cheesecake) at the world famous Hotel Sacher, the place that Julie Andrews stayed in whilst she filmed the Sound of Music!

 

Where to Stay

 

Photo courtesy of Hostelworld

 

As this was an budget inter-railing trip we spent both nights in Salzburg at the YoHo International Youth Hostel, located halfway between the train station and the historic city centre, both of which were a ten minute walk away. The hostel was kitted out for all ages and provided clean and tidy accommodation in an unbeatable location. Although pretty basic, our bunk bed room was a private room and did the job but we had shared toilets and showers which wasn’t ideal –  you could pay more to have a private en-suite room though if you’re not keen on sharing bathrooms. The bar and breakfast area was a great way of socialising and meeting fellow travellers and they play The Sound of Music film in the downstairs common room EVERY SINGLE NIGHT so I would suggest embracing this whilst you’re in Salzburg and making the most of the cheap pizza and giant screen! I’d highly recommend this hostel to those looking for a cheap place to stay for a couple of nights as hotels in Austria are notoriously expensive – thanks to the team for making our stay a great one.

Although not as big as the other two cities we had visited prior to our stopover in Austria, what Salzburg lacked in size it certainly made up for in charm. With its cobbled streets and wonderful cathedral at its small historic centre, there’s a lot to see in Salzburg and 48 hours gives just about enough time to do it all, especially if, like me, you have a snazzy Salzburg card. Thanks again to the lovely Stephanie at the Salzburg Tourism Board for helping to make our time in the city so special, and for our wonderful Salzburg cards, I can’t wait to return one day!

Love Jess X

NB. Our Salzburg cards and Sound of Music tour were complimentary for the duration of our visit and for the purpose of this post, but all thoughts and comments are of course my own.

 

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Travel Guide to Vienna, the musical Austrian capital

 

As part of my mini Europe trip taken in March I visited the pretty city of Vienna, somewhere I have wanted to explore for AGES! If you read one of my previous posts you’ll know that I travelled with my friend and fellow blogger Lucy to Bratislava for two nights before catching a train over to the Austrian capital for a further two nights. We stayed in the quirky Musuemsquartier, located in the cities seventh district, and found it to be the perfect base for exploring the rest of the city. We only had two full days there so barely scratched the surface, but here’s a round up of my short time in the city and my top tips on what to see and do there…

 

Climb St Stephen’s Cathedral

 

Because a city isn't a city unless it has a beautiful cathedral at the very heart of it 💒😍 #Vienna #stephanzplatz @viennatouristboard

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Climbing towers is probably one of my favourite things to do when I’m on a city break – there’s just something about racing to the top to discover breathtaking views of the city below you and viewing it from every angle possible. I didn’t get chance to climb the 343 steps of St Stephen’s South Tower during my visit to Vienna, but I saved my little legs and instead was able to take an express elevator up to the top of the North Tower to capture the most stunning views of the Old Town below. Although the South Tower is the highest point of Vienna’s inner city skyline, and the views are supposedly slightly better, I really enjoyed my visit to the North Tower and even caught a glimpse of the largest bell in Austria, The Boomer Bell, which has resided in the tower since 1957.

 

Visit Hundertwasser village

 

 

This was somewhere completely off the beaten track and really unexpected but I am so glad I got chance to visit this pretty place whilst I was in Vienna. Lucy had seen photos of Hundertwasser all over Instagram, but I was yet to lay my eyes on it so had no clue what to expect when we set off on our wander through the city to try and find it. After a few wrong turns we came across our desired location and we soon fell in love with this place – I’ve never seen anything like it! Essentially it’s just a residential block of flats with a small shopping centre directly opposite, but the design, style and architecture is incredible and made for the most amazing Insta shots. Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser founded the site, which has now been turned into a museum and is visited by thousands of tourists annually. I think the building was really reminiscent of iconic Spanish architect Gaudi, and Hundertwasser looked a little like Park Guell. I just feel a little sorry for all the residents who have to go about their normal everyday lives whilst the cameras are constantly clicking, but if you get chance I’d 100% recommend stopping off here for a few minutes!

 

Wander around Stadt Park

 

 

After a busy day of exploring it was nice for us to sit down, rest our feet for a short while and just enjoy the ambiance of Stadt Park, a gorgeous green space right in the heart of the city. With flowers, trees, ponds, streams and local wildlife to look at, this place offered some respite from the hustle and bustle of the city centre and was well worth a visit. We cut through Stadt Park to reach Hundertwasser Village and the walk was gorgeous.

 

Tick off all three of the big palaces

 

Pretty sure this is one of the most beautiful palaces I've ever seen 😍 #Vienna #belvedere @viennatouristboard

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Make sure you visit Belvedere Palace with it’s elegant architecture and perfectly manicured flower gardens…

 

Ohhhhhh Viennaaaaaaa 🎼🎼

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… don’t miss out on Schonnbrunn either, one of the most recognized landmarks in the whole of Vienna, and the biggest palace complex in the city…

 

 

… and finally, no trip to Vienna would be complete without visiting all of the big three palaces, so ticking the stunning Hofburg complex off your list is an absolute must! With so much history and culture to discover, taking a trip to all of these palaces will help you to fall in love with Vienna even more.

 

Eat like a local

 

 

I always try to indulge in some local cuisine when I’m visiting a new city, and as it was my first time in Austria, I couldn’t wait to see what would be on the menu! I have to admit, I wasn’t as adventurous as I normally am when travelling, mainly because I was a bit limited on funds and short on time, so mostly just wanted to eat quickly before getting on with exploring! I did however get chance to eat chicken schnitzel for dinner and traditional Viennese sausages for breakfast which were a particular highlight. Sadly I didn’t get chance to sample any of their world famous apple strudel.. but there’s always next time!

 

Stay in the Museumsquartier area

 

The edgy, quirky district of #Museumsquartier made the perfect base to explore #Vienna 😍 @viennatouristboard

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I’m slightly biased as I stayed in this area during my time in Vienna – you can check out my hotel review of the amazing 25 Hours Hotel to find out why it was so great – but I would definitely recommend basing yourself near to the Museumsquartier area if you can! This place made such a good base for us as it was so central, close to the metro/bus/tram stops and there was so much to see and do within the district itself. Brimming with shops, cafe’s, bars, restaurants and, of course, museums, this part of town is edgy, lively and will certainly keep you busy during your visit to Vienna.

 

Make use of the metro or the trams

 

 

I’ll go into more detail about this below, but I cannot stress how important it is to use public transport during your time in Vienna. The city is ENORMOUS, and you’ll barely even scratch the surface if, like me and Lucy, you only have two full days there. I did get to tick off all the landmarks I wanted to see, but still feel like we saw barely any of the city despite exploring as much as we possibly could. The transport systems in Vienna are amazing, so take advantage of them, whiz from place to place and see as much, or as little, as you want to see there whilst allowing your legs to rest while you’re chilling on the tube!

 

Purchase Vienna city cards

 

 

This was an absolute MUST for us and we couldn’t have been without them during our trip. These city cards, from the lovely team at the Vienna Tourist Board, gave us free public transport to anywhere in the city, on the trams, metro and buses, and enabled us to go as far and as wide as we wanted. Vienna is such a huge city and it’s impossible to see it by foot, so these cards were a godsend and I’d 100% recommend them to anyone visiting the city.

 

So there we have it, my travel guide to Vienna. For the best possible experience I’d recommend using different methods of transport to get around, such as the metro, buses and trams, and you can walk to some places too, depending on where you’re staying. The city is huge and you’ll find it difficult to see everything without using the metro to get from place to place, but I always think it’s boring just being whizzed around on the underground, rather than appreciating the beauty of the city from one of the open top tourist buses! I have to admit I felt a bit like this during my time in Vienna and it kind of spoilt it a little – we were so pushed for time that we had no option but to use the metro, but I just felt like we were whizzing from place to place just to tick certain landmarks off, rather than spending time getting lost down side streets and discovering quirky, hidden areas of the city.

 

 

Overall though, I did think Vienna was absolutely stunning and I saw as much as I wanted to see during my short time there, but I just wish I’d got to really immerse myself in the city a little more. Hopefully this post inspires you to think about choosing Vienna for your next city break, and will leave you wanting to explore one of the most famous places in Austria. Have you ever been to Vienna before? Tell me what you thought of it, I’d love to hear your comments!

Love Jess x

Thank you to the wonderful team at the Vienna Tourist Board for our complimentary city cards for the duration of our trip.

 

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A guide to Florence, the charming Tuscan capital

#Florence sunsets 😍🌅 #Italy #visitflorence #nofilter #takemeback

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The prettiest cathedral I've ever seen 😍🇮🇹 #duomo #florence #firenze #italy #ig_italy

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Hi everyone,

Last month I spent some time in the charming city of Florence, somewhere I hadn’t really thought of visiting until I started planning my Italian Escapade ! Three nights/ four days is a perfect amount of time to spend soaking up the typical Tuscan atmosphere, and you could even plan a day trip to a nearby city if you’re wanting to explore a little further afield. Here’s my ULTIMATE guide to visiting this beautiful city…

Arrive by train

 

firenze-smn

Photo credit: www.acprail.com

 

 

Arriving by train is a really easy way to begin your journey to Florence. The city is well connected to other major cities in Italy, just 2hrs from Venice, 1hr30 from Rome and 1hr 40 from Milan, with up to 40 trains a day running between them. The Santa Maria Novella train station is centrally located and easy to navigate. Taxis are waiting to collect you as soon as you exit the station, so you’ll arrive at your accommodation in a matter of minutes, depending on where you’re located. We found all the trains to be high speed, very clean and quiet and extremely efficient, as well being a great stress-free alternative to flying!

 

Cross the Ponte Vecchio bridge

 

 

Perhaps one of the most iconic landmarks in the whole of Florence, the Ponte Vecchio bridge is one of only 4 bridges left in the world with shops built in to it on either side. Accessed only on foot, the medieval bridge is popular with locals and tourists looking to buy authentic souvenirs, expensive jewellery and quirky handmade gifts. At night when the shops have closed, the bridge is lit up beautifully and is fairly quiet, apart from the occasional band or busker playing on site. Famously, the Ponte Vecchio was the only bridge in Florence to survive the German bombings in 1944, with Adolf Hitler claiming it was ‘too beautiful to destroy’. One of my favourite things to do during my time in Florence was to grab some proper Italian gelato (ice cream), soak up the sunshine and perch on the edge of the bridge gazing down to the River Arno below – bellissimo!

 

Jump on the Hop on Hop off bus

 

Panoramic views over #Florence? Yasssssss 🙌🙌 #Firenze #michaelangelo #italy #ig_italy #sundayfunday

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So this is a pretty touristy thing to do, and it might not appeal to everyone, but a CitySightseeing Hop on Hop Off bus is a really great way to explore Florence and beyond. It’s a large city, and not everything can be reached within walking distance, so using the bus allows you to see just about everything whilst giving your legs a rest! An adult ticket costs €23 and there are three routes in which to explore. Line A is a great one to start with as it lasts for just an hour and you can see everything  you need to without getting off – it’s good just to get your bearings and see where everything is. Lines B & C run for 120 minutes each, but they cross over a lot in parts, so between all three lines you’ll see just about everything. I’d highly recommend getting off at Michaelangelo’s Piazza for stunning skyline views across the city, as well as stopping off at Fiesole, a pretty town high on the top of a hill, just a few kilometres out of Florence, which is worth a visit in itself.

 

Purchase a 5 in 1 church pass

 

 

Florence is quite a religious city, and there a number of important buildings that should be seen on your visit. Queues can be extremely long, so I would recommend purchasing a 5 in 1 combo ticket (€15) either from the ticket office in piazza San Giovanni, or online if possible. We actually just turned up on the day to purchase but had to queue for around 40 mins first! The 5 in 1 pass is great as it gives access to 5 fantastic buildings; The Dome, The Basilica (although entry for this is free), Giotto’s Bell Tower, The Baptistery & The Opera del Duomo Museum. You can climb both the dome and the bell tower for spectacular panoramic views across the city, but be prepared to climb a significant number of steps at both! We climbed the bell tower and were treated to some amazing views, including a close up of the dome itself which, in our opinion, was arguably better than the view from the top of the dome! No visit to Florence is complete without visiting these fantastic buildings.

 

 

Eat dinner in the piazza

 

 

Florence is all about the food, and what better way to enjoy the famous Italian pizza, pasta and Prosecco by sitting in one of cities beautiful piazzas and soaking up the Florentine atmosphere?! There are a vast array of restaurants to choose from in the city, many of which are centred around some of the most picturesque piazzas. You’ll often hear musicians playing in the squares, or see buskers performing their talents and offering some light entertainment whilst you’re dining. Piazza della Repubblica and Piazza della Signoria are great places to enjoy typical Italian dining and the prices aren’t extortionate either. If you’re not on a budget and you fancy eating in front of the beautiful cathedral head over to Piazza del Duomo, although it’ll cost you a little bit more, the setting is truly stunning.

 

Plan an excursion

 

 

Florence is perfectly positioned to explore some of the finest hotspots in Italy, so why not wander out of the city and take a day trip somewhere new to satisfy your wanderlust cravings? Tour operators such as CitySightseeing and Viator offer some fantastic half and full day trips to a whole host of nearby destinations. Why not take a tour of Pisa and the Leaning Tower? Hike the Cinque Terre for some spectacular scenic views? Or enjoy a unique Vespa tour of the Tuscan hills? Italy offers so much choice, and there are a multitude of things to see and do in this beautiful country, so go and explore it while you’re in Florence!

 

So there we have it, my top tips on exploring Florence! Immerse yourself in the true Tuscan charm of the city, visit the sights and learn about its fantastic history. Hopefully this post inspires you for your trip to the city and helps with that all important planning!

Have you ever been to Florence? Tell me what you thought of it, I’d love to hear your comments!

Love Jess x

 

😍🇮🇹 #Florence #duomo #visitflorence #italy #ig_italy

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