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Salzburg for Locals: Your no-bullshit guide to the real Salzburg

I’ve been living in Salzburg as an American for some time now, so I’d say I’m pretty well accustomed to all the things you should and shouldn’t do in this town. Plus, I’ve dodged tourist groups and biked my way across the river enough to say that I’ve earned some wisdom. This bucket-list is filled to the brim with hidden local gems that you probably won’t find online, and will make you feel like the Salzburger you most definitely are not.

By: Natalia Valencia

A GOOGLE MAP MADE JUST FOR YOU:

THE MUST SEES

St. Peter Friedhof

The St. Peter Friedhof is the location of the oldest cemetery in Salzburg with origins that date back to the year 700. It is also where you will find a catacomb etched into the face of the mountain, and the graves of Mozart’s sister and Haydn’s brother.

Sankt-Peter-Bezirk 1, 5010 Salzburg

St. Sebastian Friedhof

An ornate and historically relevant 16th-century cemetery where royals, dignitaries and a few of Mozart’s family members are buried.

Linzer G. 41, 5020 Salzburg

Mirabell Garden

Not only is it where Julie Andrews sings that one high note, but it’s also where everyone and their mother goes in Salzburg. You’ll find beautiful displays of flowers, fountains, dwarf sculptures and a bush maze that’ll surely make everyone on instagram jealous. And If you’re lucky enough to visit on a Thursday evening, you’ll even find a free symphony concert tucked under the trees.

Mirabellplatz, 5020 Salzburg

The Man on the Golden Statue

At the center Old Town is Kapitelplatz where you’ll find something pretty odd. Don’t call the police (if you even know how), because it’s just a sculpture of a man standing on top of a 30 foot golden ball. A stark modern contrast to an otherwise old plaza, it is definitely something you won’t see anywhere else.

Kapitelplatz, 5020 Salzburg

Getreidegasse

Getreidegasse is a busy shopping street in the historic Altstadt. Densely packed buildings on cobblestone, this area blends high-end shopping with humble outdoor cafes, Mozart’s birthplace, and picturesque European views.

Getreidegasse, 5020 Salzburg

GOING OUT

Sitting by the Salzach River and Drinking Some Beer

If you’ve googled any photo of Salzburg, you’ve likely seen the Salzach river, it’s lock bridge, and the castle in the background. However, the Salzach is the oldest landmark of all three. It is the center point–and arguably the most beautiful–part of the city. On any given day, but especially towards the weekend, locals grab their beer and sit by the river to enjoy the sunset.

Alchimiste Belge

I think beer takes a pretty big role in having a good time in the city. Which is why the Alchimiste Belge is another must-do in Salzburg. This bar offers 150 different selections of quality, famous beer from all over the word; giving their guests a complete multicultural experience without ever leaving town–every single day of the year.

Bergstraße 10, 5020 Salzburg

Augustiner Bräu

The Augustiner Bräu has been around for nearly 400 years and is where you’ll get your most authentic brewery and bier garten experience in the city. Here you can get an inside look into the making of beer, taste traditional Austrian comfort food, and experience the custom of rinsing your own stein. That, and oh yeah, great beer.

Lindhofstraße 7, 5020 Salzburg

The Jigger Bar (best cocktails in town)

This is where you will find the best cocktails in all of Salzburg. None of that watered-down crap. With a cool industrial feel, expertly crafted drinks, and a great mix of music genres; The Jigger Bar is one of the city’s best places to drink, hang out with friends, and meet cool locals.

Schallmooser Hauptstraße 44, 5020 Salzburg

Stiegl Keller (best view)

After a long day of traveling to all these places, take yourself out for dinner to the Stiegl Keller. This place is a mix of a casual bier garten and a fine dining restaurant. But if you’re not in the mood to go all fancy, just grab a classic Stiegl brew and head to the highest balcony of the restaurant to catch an incredible aerial view of the city.

Festungsgasse 10, 5020 Salzburg

Academy Bar

If you go down Franz-Josef-Straße at any point past sunset, there are people spilling out of this bar drinking, chatting, and listening to live music. You can even order a pizza from the restaurant across the street and they’ll walk it right over to you when it’s ready. Academy bar offers a bohemian, free-spirited hang-out spot right in the heart of the Salzburg.

Franz-Josef-Straße 4, 5020 Salzburg

EATING

Pauli Stubm

Pauli Stubm is as Austrian as it gets on this list.  As soon as you walk in it feels like you’ve been transported back in time to the days when the Habsburg’s ruled (look it up). It offers traditional Austrian cuisine, a charming bier garten, and a cool location tucked in an alley at the base of the fortress.

Herrengasse 16, 5020 Salzburg

Ludwig Burger

American’s think they have the science of burger making mastered. But really, I think the real medal goes to Ludwig Burger. Because here you’ll find every style of burger you can think of; from classic to vegetarian, and everything in between. And of course, there are hand-crafted sauces, homemade french fries, and five different milkshake flavors too (for those of you wondering).

Linzer G. 39, 5020 Salzburg

Fuxn

This local favorite mixes tradition and fun by offering you Austrian culture and cuisine, lawn chairs to relax in, and a kiddie pool to swim in. You may even be lucky enough to catch sight of Fix and Foxi, the piglets that can be seen running around outside with the restaurant’s friendly chickens.

Vogelweiderstraße 28, 5020 Salzburg

Die Weisse

Established in 1901, Die Weisse is Austria’s oldest (and coziest!) wheat beer brewery. It has long dining hall tables for people to share, delicious sausage dishes, pork roasts, bread dumplings and potato wedges, all alongside an endless choice of beer and mixed drinks that everyone can enjoy.

Rupertgasse 10, 5020 Salzburg

Kaffee Alchemie (best coffee)

Kaffee Alchemie is a hotspot for coffee connoisseurs everywhere. It is a quaint, unassuming, no-bullshit coffee shop that you are bound to fall in love with. You can grab your favorite brew and sit beside the Salzach River which you’ll find just outside its doors.

Rudolfskai 38, 5020 Salzburg

220 Grad (also best coffee)

If you’ve ever wanted to sit on a low stool overlooking a European cobblestone alleyway, 220 Grad is your place. It has a small, predominantly vegetarian, and seasonally crafted food menu; along with some of the best coffee you can find Salzburg. This cafe is tucked away from the bustle of tourist hotspots and so it remains a cherished favorite among locals. Just look for the orange chairs and you’re there.

Chiemseegasse 5, 5020 Salzburg

Green Garden (vegetarian & vegan)

For a friendly and light no-meat meal, enjoy The Green Garden in Nonntal. It offers delicious, fresh, local ingredients that won’t make you feel like you overpaid for a piece of lettuce. Every dish is filling and exquisitely crafted. Plus, one you’re finished with your meal, you can walk two feet to the restaurant’s vegan ice-cream shop.

Nonntaler Hauptstraße 16, 5020 Salzburg

The Cabreras (Mexican food and great breakfast)

Mexican food? In Austria? If you’re thinking this is too good to be true, it isn’t. The Cabreras is the literal definition of a mom and pop shop. It’s owned by a Mexican-Austrian couple who decided to bring Mexican cuisine right here to Salzburg. They pride themselves on their home-grown ingredients and stylish, cozy atmosphere. And along with quality mexican food, they offer fresh cakes, quality coffee, organic beer, unique gifts and some of the best breakfast dishes in town.

Priesterhausgasse 20, 5020 Salzburg

Balkan Grill Walter

If you’re hungry and in the mood for something quick, cheap and entirely Austrian, cross into Altstadt and find the tiny alley that smells the most like sausage–it’ll be hard to miss. The Balkan Grill Walter is the home to the Salzburg original hot dog. This isn’t your normal boiled and flavorless hotdog though. We’re talking grilled pork bratwurst, onions, fresh parsley and a secret blend of spices, served between two slices of white toasted bread.

Getreidegasse 33, 5020 Salzburg

DOS AND DON’TS

Stay out of the bike lane:

When you’re out walking in the city, do everyone a favor and look down. Are you standing on top of a painted bicycle? If you are, move. Everybody–kids; grandmothers; adults who are going, unlike you, to their jobs– ride their bikes. And unless you want to get yelled at in German or accidentally clipped by a biker, stay out of the bike lane.

Bring cash:

A lot of cafes around the city won’t take your card. I know you’re used to handing over the VISA, but avoid the trip of shame to the ATM and bring enough cash to cover your expenses.

Rent a bike:

Here’s how you’ll really feel like a local. Biking is the most efficient and least expensive way to get around. Salzburg is centralized and fairly small, so biking will probably get you places faster than any bus or car.

Think sustainable:

Salzburger’s care a lot about the environment, and you should too. Carry a reusable water bottle to refill with the city’s clean tap water and bring your own bags to the store (because you won’t get one for free).

Obey the green man:

Locals don’t mess around when it comes to traffic laws. Avoid the judgy looks and cross the street where and when you’re supposed to. Seems simple, but you’ll be tempted to do otherwise.

Ask for tap water:

If you want to avoid paying for water at a cafe or restaurant, just ask for tap water specifically. You won’t get ice, but hey if it makes you feel better, you never will in this town.

Carry change for public restrooms:

most public restrooms–in parks, at the train station– will require an entrance fee. If you don’t have 50 cents and you desperately need to pee, you’re in trouble.

Learn the bus route:

Although it is majorly helpful, don’t solely rely on google maps to tell you how to get places. The best way is to familiarize yourself with the bus routes. Make sure you’re at the right bus stop (some stops in the same area will have the same name) and are headed in the right direction (do this by checking the digitized sign at the front of the bus). Downloading their local app Qando Salzburg helps a lot too.

Bring good walking shoes:

Think comfortable, think walkable–you will be doing A LOT of it.

Be aware of how you’re sticking out:

Austrians are introverted and reserved. If you’re a stranger, they probably won’t interact with you much. Most of them can tell an American from a mile away by how chipper, loud and dramatic they’re being. So just chill out and be cool and you’ll be fine.

Always check business hours:

Austrians take leisure and working hours very seriously. If you go anywhere after 5pm, chances are it will be closed. This rule is especially true on the weekends where most businesses are closed for the entire day.

Have a plan, but deviate if necessary:

In Salzburg you’re bound to stumble upon something cool. Allow yourself the freedom to ditch the itinerary and check it out. This is where most of the fun happens.

OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

The City Wall

Austrians love to climb things. Mountains, steep cliffs, you name it. So if you’re into that kind of stuff, the City Wall is your place. Just bring your own equipment and the whole cliff is free game. You’ll ultimately get a spectacular view of Salzburg when you reach the top, just don’t forget the beer.

Glockengasse 4A, 5020 Salzburg

Swimming in the Almkanal in Gneis

This is definitely a more relaxed take on the city, but it’s a popular activity among the locals of the area. The Almkanal is a charming creek in the outskirt neighborhood of Gneis where it’s totally free to jump in for a refreshing swim, relax along its shore, and enjoy a beautiful view of the mountains.

Leopoldskroner Allee 9, 5020 Salzburg

Mönchsberg (taking a walk or watching the sunset)

Literally translated to “Monk’s mountain,” Mönchsberg is one of the 5 mountains in Salzburg. It’s decorated with woodlands and meadows and offers you a plethora of hiking trails that lead to a panoramic view over the rooftops of Salzburg. Also, if you begin your hike later in the day you’ll be guaranteed a gorgeous sunset.

Waldbad Anif

Go on a 30 minute drive south of the city center and you’ll find yourself amongst greenery and one of Salzburg’s most cherished swimming lakes. It has crystal clear water, an open-air lakeside restaurant, and a variety of leisure activities to help you enjoy nature in its purest form.

Waldbad Anif 5081

Riding your bike to Hellbrunn (Hellbrunner Allee)

If you’ve ever had the dream of riding your bike down a whimsical gravel road, canopied by parallel tree lines, this activity is definitely for you.  Hellbrunner Allee is located at just a short 15 minute bike ride from the city center. And If you bike the allee the entire way, it eventually leads you to Schlosspark Hellbrunn, where you can find city favorites such as: Hellbrunn palace, a zoo, and The Sound of Music gazebo.

Hellbrunner Allee, 5020 Salzburg

Finding the Flamingoes and Walking Around the Leopoldskroner Weiher

This one is weird and totally worth the visit. No one really knows why, but a local millionaire loves flamingos so much that he decided to open his own local zoo to display them, among other friendly animals, for free to the general public. But if you’re like me and accidentally stumble upon them while walking home one day, you’ll genuinely believe you’ve been slipped acid.

Also, once you’ve regained your sanity, you should totally walk over to the Leopoldskroner Weiher, a small lake that sits beside the famous von Trapp house.

Flamingos: Wolfgang-Schafflor-Weg, 5020 Salzburg

Lake: Leopoldskroner Weiher, 5020 Salzburg

CULTURE

Museum der Moderne

From the outside, it looks like just a strange castle on a mountain, but on the inside, it is Salzburg’s architecturally refined and exquisite modern art museum. Take the elevator up the mountain from the street below, and soon you will be greeted with intriguing exhibitions, tall glass walls, grand staircases, and a phenomenal overlook of  the city.

Mönchsberg 32, 5020 Salzburg

Galerie Fotohof

A modern photo gallery and library all in one, the Fotohof is the perfect place for those searching for a more artistic insight of Salzburg.  With seasonal exhibitions, an extensive photo archive, and passionate and informative staff, you’ll leave this place feeling inspired to take your own interesting photos of the city.

Inge-Morath-Platz 1-3, 5020 Salzburg

Visiting the Public Library and the Coffee Shop on the Top Floor

Going to the public library may seem like an unusual thing to do during your visit, but the one in Salzburg has a hidden gem of a cafe on the top floor; offering those who venture a panoramic view of the city and an open and modern space to enjoy delicious snacks, desserts and coffee.

Schumacherstraße 14, 5020 Salzburg

Rockhouse

Whatever the building’s use was in 1842, now it is the home to Salzburg’s rock scene. This historic venue offers high-vaulted ceilings, a bar, and hard rock performances from all over the world.

46, Schallmooser Hauptstraße, 5020 Salzburg

ARGE Kultur

ARGE Kultur is one of the event venues in Salzburg where local artists, poets, bands, and singer-songwriters take the stage. Plan a night out here to immerse yourself in music, youth culture, and what’s popular in the city.

Ulrike-Gschwandtner-Straße 5, 5020 Salzburg

Jazzit

If you’re a night-owl and would rather spend your time listening to music than walking in a park, then you definitely want to go to Jazzit. The Jazzit is a place where you can talk in a casual atmosphere, enjoy your drink, and listen to good music– everything from jazz, avant-garde, improvised, electronic and what’s up-and-coming. It also hosts jam sessions on Tuesdays and a DJ on Wednesdays.

Elisabethstraße 11, 5020 Salzburg

FESTIVALS

Rupertikirtag

Organized in honor of the Holy Rupert, Rupertikirtag is the most traditional Salzburg festival that happens every year in early autumn. The town is transformed during this celebration with rides, beer tents, and local cuisine. On top of this, thousands of people show up to display their beautiful Dirndl and Lederhosen.

Salzburg Festival “Festspiele“

Salzburg, often referred to as “The World’s Stage,” puts on a music festival every year; featuring performances ranging from opera, drama, and classical concerts. Every summer, only the best and most famous artists from all over the world are invited to Salzburg. And with this, visitors to the Salzburg Festival can combine the enjoyment of art with vacationing.

Sommer Szene

Every summer Salzburg gets a little…dramatic. Sommer Szene is a two week festival in which leading names and newcomers from all around the world visit the city to present their latest dance and theatre pieces. There is, however, a display of other forms of art such as film, installation pieces, and concerts. Sommer Szene also works with local companies to transform some public spaces into performance venues.

Jazz and the City

During Jazz in the city, Salzburg is literally turned into a stage. Music ricochets off of every street corner as over 50 locations–bars, churches, schools, restaurants, hotels, cafes–become free jazz concerts for the public. Ultimately giving the locals a delightful blend of music, great food, drinks, and casual encounters.

Winterfest (Artistic Theater)

Winterfest is a circus…no, but seriously. It’s the largest festival for contemporary circuses in Austria and it happens every winter (hence the name). Well known circus companies from all over the world sprawl out among tents in the city and engage audiences with dance, drama and acrobatics.