Is it us, or is the air a little more refined up here? Stunning Salzburg, Austria’s fourth largest city, sits in baroque splendour in the lap of the Alps, close to the Austria-Germany border.
Rightfully famous as the birthplace of Mozart, Salzburg became even more popular in 1965 when it featured in The Sound of Music film. Yet the city remains quiet and classy. In its UNESCO-listed Old Town the shops still sport guild signs made from curling wrought iron, and the streets still have their cobbles intact. Above the many church spires and courtyards, a huge fortress keeps watch over the hillside. Below, the creamy blue Salzach River entices visitors out into the countryside: and the surrounding Salzkammergut region really is a joy to behold – head to Zell am See to ski, or the pretty shores of Fuschlee for a spot of lakeside luxury. Whether you want to climb every mountain, or visit every schloss (stately home) in the vicinity, discover Salzburg: it’s just a short British Airways flight from London to the prettiest city break you’ve ever had.
Salzburg’s Christmas Markets are a huge draw in winter and there are three main markets around the city. But Salzburg is also popular gateway to Austria’s ski regions, many of which are under two hours’ drive away. Stock up on lebkuchen at the market, then in an hour and a half you can reach the ski resort of Kaprun, which sits at the base of the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier. It’s a short drive from here to Zell am See, where many ski runs have fantastic views of the lake below. For an even wider variety of runs, head to the nearby Saalbach-Hinterglemm skicircus. It’s one of the largest ski areas in Austria, comprising 270km of pristine piste.
Three words: lakes and mountains. The Salzhammergut region possesses a natural rare beauty that begs exploration in the warm summer weather. Hire a car and you could reach the beautiful Lake Fuschl in under half an hour. On the clearest lake in the region you’ll find the picture-perfect little town of Fuschl – all wooden balconies and geranium-filled windowboxes. Don’t miss the nearby lakes of Wolfgangsee and Mondsee. A little further south and you hit the charming town of Hallstatt with its deep, dark salt mine. And many people cross into Germany to ascend a dramatic rocky outcrop in Bavaria to Kehlsteinhaus – the Eagle’s Nest – the infamous meeting point of the Nazi Party in the 1940s.