“I HAVE TEARS IN MY EYES. IT IS SO BEAUTIFUL HERE.” – An actual quote from my good friend, Kayla, and I, repeated at least once an hour every day that we spent in Salzburg, Austria.

The hills are very alive with the sound of music in the city of the famed movie musical.

Most everything listed is either free or covered with the Salzburg Card, which can be purchased for a 24-hour (€27), 48-hour (€36) or 72-hour (€42) period of time. We bought the 48-hour card, which gave plenty of time to catch everything we wanted to and saved us over €70. Two days is plenty of time to explore the city, but with three days you can finish up anything you may not have gotten to in the other days.

1. Hike and eat Apfelstrudel atop Untersberg Mountain

Untersberg Mountain is a mastiff of Berchtesgarden Alps, spanning from Berchtesgaden, Germany to Salzburg, Austria. A cable car takes you to the top, soaring over rolling mountains of trees, and at the top you are free to take whatever hiking trail you choose. We took the “shortest” route, whose overall time was one hour, give or take a few minutes. On the way back, stop at the restaurant near the cable cars and order a slice of apfelstrudel. The warm, apple treat is the cherry on top of nature’s glory. Plus, it’s on top of a mountain–what could be better?

2. Take a cable car to the Fortress

A three minute ride carries you to the entrance of Hohensalzburg Fortress, where you could spend hours passing through the individual rooms and museums located inside. Don’t miss the marionette museum! And take time in the Fortress’s personal square, where children frolic and couples find relief on benches. Drink in the spectacular views to be had because, really, they aren’t hard to find.

3. Visit Stift Nonnberg

Go in the morning, for quiet, sweeping views of the mountains and the city. You’ll also beat any crowds that may appear later in the day, meaning you will have the abbey to yourself to take photos, observe every detail, sit and find a moment for prayer.

4. Tour the Stiegl Brewery

A sixty minute tour takes you through the history and process of creating Stiegl beer, and finishes with a trip to the restaurant for three complimentary beer samples. If you’re not a big beer drinker, try Stiegl’s grapefruit beer: it’s sweet enough that it doesn’t leave a bitter-beer taste in your mouth.

5. Check out Hellbrunn Palace

Take the Trick Fountains tour before heading in to the grandiose palace. The grounds are a splendid place to walk, and on the way you’ll find the Sound of Music Gazebo.

6. Climb to the observation deck at the Museum der Moderne Mönchsberg

For the can’t-miss sights of the Old Town. Sunset is the sweetest time to head over, and a walking path behind the museum allows you a quick escape into woods. (There are lamps along the path, but don’t head in once the sun has dipped below the horizon.) You could sit there forever as the light changes and old world shifts to new world.

7. Do your own Sound of Music Tour.

We took helpful hints from this blog post by No Money, Will Travel. Don’t spend money on the tour bus when you can reach everything far easier, and in greater depth by yourself.

8. Try Mozartkugel chocolates

Pistachio, chocolate and nougat all come together brilliantly in these candy balls. Sublime.

9. People watch in Residenzplatz

Sometimes there’s a race that passes through; other times, it’s brimming with people at outdoor restaurants, or sitting by the fountain with a coffee. Either way, there is always something and somewhere there.

10. Read a book in the Mirabell Gardens

If we had had time to do so, I’m sure it would have happened. Sit by the fountain, stroll through the twirling pattern of flowers, and open up a novel. One of the best places to take a load off.

11. Step inside St. Peter’s Cemetery and Cathedral

The cemetery is incredibly well-maintained, bursting with flowers and trees. (Another Sound of Music filming location). Inside the walls of the cemetery you will find the entrance to the catacombs, which are another must-see. Clamber through the hollowed out stone that rises above the city and, of course, bear witness to those unbeatable views.

12. Grab a different slice of cake every day

Need I say more? There are cafes on every street corner, so you can’t go wrong anywhere. My favorite of our time there was

13. Peruse the Christmas Store.

Located on Getriedegasse is a shop dedicated to eggs. Not any old eggs: beautifully crafted egg shells, individually painted for almost all holidays. Take a while to examine each work of art (because that’s what they are) and coo over the characters and scenes you find. The little discrepancies between identical eggs are the coolest part of all. They dangle overhead on bare branches, and sit warmly on miniature pine trees throughout. Go there on the first day, because you’ll definitely want to come back.

And not just to the Christmas Store: to the city as a whole.

What tops your Salzburg list?

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