These days, Salzburg, Austria is every bit as beautiful and picturesque as it was portrayed decades ago in the classic film, The Sound of Music. It’s easy to instantly fall in love with Salzburg with its impressionable palaces, famous gardens, the awe-inspiring beauty of the Alps Mountains, and the surrounding lush meadows as a backdrop.
With Salzburg's lush tapestry and rich history, the world has also come to know this destination as the birthplace of one of classical music's geniuses, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Every year, several thousand tourists come in droves to visit Mozart’s birthplace and first home.
Mozart and the Alps weren't the only reason why I decided to visit Salzburg. It was about immersing myself into the Austrian culture and their idyllic approach on how to enjoy the simpler things in life. And as an established food blogger, it had also much to do with experiencing and enjoying their culinary arts!
Dreams of rich sauces and an endless supply of cured meats and aged cheeses danced in my head and created a state of gourmandising euphoria...a feeling that is very reminiscent to that of a child waking up excitedly on Christmas morning to open gifts. The anticipation of trying Salzburg's culinary offerings was something I’ve had on my “to-do list” for several years.
Typically known for their traditional coffeehouses and beer gardens, Salzburg impresses even the most discriminating of tastes with their gourmet dining options and perfect wine pairings.
With a short amount of time in Salzburg - three days to be exact - I needed to take full advantage of my time the best way I could. And I couldn't have seen as much as I did, had I not had access to the “Salzburg Card,” which is ideal for those like myself who want to experience as much as they can without compromising time or energy. The fact that the card provides free admission to Salzburg's museums, public transportation, and several unique experiences like the Fortress funicular and ship service makes it a must-have travel accessory.
Before I embarked on my 72 hours of bliss, I had to get quickly settled into my lodgings.
Bringing tradition to our modern time is the historical background of the 4-star, superior Romantik Hotel & Restaurant GMACHL. Nestled in the idyllic village of Elixhausen, guests can enjoy tranquility just a few kilometres away from the very popular UNESCO World Heritage site that is Salzburg.
I was surprised to learn that the hotel has been in operation since 1334 and is now managed by the 23rd generation of the family, making Romantik Hotel & Restaurant GMACHL the oldest family-run business in Austria. This serene hotel provides guests with the most lavish views of the Salzburg Mountains, the Untersberg, which is a scene that will take your breath away, as it instantly did mine.
Guests are not only spoiled by the scenic landscape which they can enjoy from GMACHL's panoramic 'Horizon' spa, but they are also treated to award-winning Austrian haute cuisine found in GMACHL's restaurant, which was music to my ears.
GMACHL's gourmet dishes and exquisite wine selection was exceptional. And if that wasn't enough, tasting their house specialties from their family-run butchery was the proverbial cherry on top...or in my case the cured meat specialty that had me longing for more!
While taking the public transportation to the city centre of Old Salzburg, I quickly learned that the city is divided up into squares. Each square has its own charm and purpose, be it to shop for high-end fashion or to discover more of the city's rich history. This system makes it easier to plan your visit and discover the beauty of this wonderful city.
From time to time, I would lose my geographical bearings but I would always find my way back as each square magically weaves into the next. Beautiful statues in each square acted as a strong point of reference as it did when I was in Residenzplatz, also known as residence square.
Residenzplatz is deemed the largest and most beautiful square in the old city, for which fifty-five medieval buildings were torn down to make room for it...nothing but sheer grandeur! It’s also very well known for its impressive and breathtaking baroque fountain of four snorting horses set in the middle of the square. It is easily the most photographed monument in the area, as the fountain is considered to be one of the most significant baroque monuments in Europe today.
Walking in and out of the city squares (there are over a dozen), one can easily lose track of time as there are oh-so many sights to take in. From the perfectly manicured Mirabell Palace and Gardens to Salzburg's famous landmark, the 900 year old Hohensalzburg Fortress, there’s easily something for nearly everyone.
For those of us that enjoy the fresh air while enjoying a well-deserved glass of wine, Salzburg hosts several wine festivals throughout the months of May and June. You can often stumble upon a wine festival, as I did while discovering new sights amid the various squares.
While the attractions are beautiful, let’s not forget about the food, shall we? As I left the city to capture that "Sound of Music" feeling, I found myself high up in altitude, nestled among the hills and rolling green pastures, all the while receiving the warm hospitality that only rural Salzburg could offer. One of many fun aspects of Salzburg is the that within minutes, you can be in the heart of the city or at the top of a mountain.
Making my way to the countryside, I stopped and indulged in a local farmer's market. Sampling fruit liquors and eating slices of cured meats and fresh cheese was sheer perfection. I felt that I was in a movie, with men playing the accordion in their lederhosen attire while I basked in the moment of 'life is good.'
Food lovers that are searching for a genuine 'farm to table' experience need not look any further than the Winterstellgut restaurant. Situated only an hour away outside the city centre, this restaurant exudes country life at its best. When my eyes first saw Winterstellgut, it was as though I had magically stepped into the stage set of Sound of Music.
Respect and tradition are the fundamentals at this serene restaurant and hotel. Everything, and I do mean everything, that guests eat has been cured, roasted or braised right on the premises. At Winterstellgut, they believe in using locally sourced products and every part of the animal in their dishes. My time at the eatery was definitely enough for me to experience the amazing specialty dishes that have been passed on by tradition and to feel the warm hospitality that Winterstellgut is all about.
I had my Sound of Music moment when I strolled through Winterstellgut's grounds and basked in the magnificent beauty that was before me. The mouth-watering culinary masterpieces and great tasting wine enveloped in postcard-worthy scenery was one of my favourite moments on this whirlwind adventure.
Whether you are an urbanite or a lover of the rural life, Salzburg and its surrounding area will likely meet your expectations in every way. The people of Salzburg that I interacted with certainly have a zest for life, something that I wish I could see more of back home.
I can say with absolute certainty that I will return to this wonderful, enchanting city sooner rather than later and I highly recommend that you put it on your short list of travel destinations.
Enjoy the full gallery below:
Brigitte is the owner of The Food Tease, the Canadian Capital’s only combined culinary and travel blog. She has had the privilege of working as a culinary journalist with some of the best chefs and sommeliers in Canada and abroad. As an haute cuisine graduate from the most prestigious culinary school in the world, Le Cordon Bleu Institute, Brigitte gained an appreciation of the hard work and sacrifice required to become a successful chef and to promote and give credit to the men and women of the culinary world.