Traveling west through Austria, the country’s grandiose Alpine scenery begins to emerge.
Touted as Austria’s most beautiful area, Salzburg – or “salt castle” – sits like a Baroque jewel on the banks of the river Salzach at the northern boundary of the Alps. The fourth largest city in Austria, it was once the meeting-point of Italian and German cultures and has emerged intact from its storied history as a center of creativity, giving birth to the genius of such luminaries as Mozart, Strauss, and Toscanini, among others. Much of its past can be seen in the city’s Old Town, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best-preserved city centers north of the Alps marked by a profusion of spires and domes from the magnificent Salzburg Cathedral, the ancient Alter Markt Square, and the notorious trick fountains of Schloss Hellbrunn against the backdrop of the stunning mountains.
Home to the world-renowned classical Salzburg Festival, the birthplace of the city’s most famous son Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the setting behind the heart-warming movie musical “The Sound of Music,” Salzburg is haven for music enthusiasts across the world. In fact, it is not uncommon for visitors to spontaneously burst into song while walking along the river, climbing up to the fortress of HohenSalburg, skipping through the Mirabell Gardens, or visiting Mozart’s birth home along Getreidegasse.
In addition to its musical roots, Western Austria is also home to impressive universities, varied winter sports, and incredible natural wonders such as the Krimml Waterfalls, the world’s largest ice cave Eisriesenwelt, the eternal ice of the Großvenediger mountain range, and National Park Hohe Tauern, which houses Austria’s highest peak, the Grossglockner. Further west, Innsbruck, Tyrol’s main town, offers a convenient mix of urban sites and Alpine splendor.