When you have had your fill of the crowds in the Altstadt/Old Town, it’s time to escape and experience some of the secret places of Salzburg. There are hidden corners of even the most popular sites. Let me show you! These are places that took me a while to discover and I love spending time at each and every one of them.
Best Coffee Hideaways
Nothing wrong with cake at Hotel Sacher, Cafe Bazar or Tomaselli, but if you want to escape Viennese coffee houses, my go-to is Favorite Kammer on Linzergasse where they will serve you amazing coffee while you browse their little homeware shop. But now they have no toilet facilities which is a bit rude so I also like 220 Grad at Chiemseegasse 5 (there’s another branch at Nonntaler Hauptstrasse 9A). They roast their own beans and the Nonntaler branch is great for brunch. If you need to do some work on the road, head to Coffee Press on Bergstraße 10: it’s a cafe attached to a private American university so you’ll find plenty of company for your laptop there- and free wifi, of course!
Secrets in Mirabell Gardens
Take that selfie over the flowers looking toward the Festung/Fortress… and then escape the crowds. Follow the steps up from the Pegasus Fountain across a bridge to the Zwerglgarten/Dwarf Garden. Here you’ll find a collection of statues collected by Prince Archbishop Franz Anton Harrach standing happily in a circle. They go to sleep in little wooden boxes through the winter. You should also find the Orangerie, in the same courtyard as the Papagena fountain. This is a great place to step into in the winter because it’s always warm! Say hello to the caged birds, the turtles and take a minute to yourself.
Some of Salzburg’s best-kept secrets are hidden in its graveyards. Step off Linzergasse into St Sebastian’s Cemetery to find the grave of Mozart’s wife and father and the huge central mausoleum of Prince Archbishop Wolf Dietrich. He oversaw much of the rebuilding of Salzburg that we admire today, including Mirabell Palace, before being imprisoning in the Festung/Fortress by his successor. At the southern corner, close to the entrance from Cornelius-Reitsamer Passage, is a staircase up to the resting place of Paracelsus. This Swiss doctor was behind much of the medical revolution that happened during the Renaissance (the Chocolate Frog cards in Harry Potter also credit him with discovering Parseltongue).
In the Altstadt, instead of taking the Festungbahn (funicular) to the Fortress/Festung, walk down the little archway off Kapitalplatz to St Peter’s Cemetery. Here you can see the family vault of the Fürst family (inventors of the Mozart Ball) along with the graves of Mozart’s equally gifted sister Nannerl and of Haydn. You can also pay a whole 2EUR to climb steps into the catacombs: caves in the side of the Mönchberg. Take some great photos up here and search for remains of hidden alters. The legend is that the town’s early Christians hid here from rampaging pagan tribes.
Stop off at St Peter’s Bakery/Stiftsbäckerei St Peter on the way back out: allegedly the oldest bakery in town where they grind their own flour and make incredibly dense sourdough Schwarzbrot/Black Bread in their wood-fired ovens.
Time for a swim?
Of course you can always head into the Salzkammergut/Lake District with the hordes but there are two places closer to Salzburg that are good enough for me.
Anif Waldbad (Waldbadstrasse 50) is hidden in the woods, rather oddly by a giant Maximarkt supermarket. Take Bus 170 from Mirabellplatz to the stop “Maximarkt”. 7EUR gets you a day by the water until sunset with boardwalks, sports, a bar and a wakeboard centre. Get a drink and settle in.
If you don’t fancy paying anything, just go to the Almkanal in the Leopold-Moos district, on the western side of the city. The Prince-Archbishops built this waterway in the 12th century to bring fresh mountain stream water into the growing city. It goes right through the Mönschberg (you can explore this underground section once a year when the canal is drained for cleaning). One of the best places to swim is the section near Hans-Donnenberg Park. Just hang out with a beer on the banks like everyone else and take a dip in the rather cold water. Further out of the city, in Birkensiedlung downstream from the Weidenstrasse bridge, is the Almcanal Surfing Wave/Almwelle. That’s right, you can surf in Salzburg!
Time for a walk?
I love a walk or run up and around Kapuzinerberg. I use the trail on the east side of the hill (the Doplerweg) which hops its way up steps to reach Franziski Schloss at the top. From there, you can choose a roundabout way or a direct way down to the Kapuziner monastery. Follow the trail down the old fortification walls to enjoy the old towers and views towards the fortress.
Maria Plain (Bus 21 from Mirabellplatz to Bergheim or the S-Bahn from the main station to Bergheim) is a good place to head, especially in winter when the trails are still cleared in the snow. The hill is topped by the impressive Maria Plain pilgrimage church and incredible views over the city. Stop and eat at Franz- Der Wirt (Dorfstraße 35) at the bottom for great food and beer.
Further out of the city, try exploring Hellbrunn (Bus 25 from Rathaus by the Staatsbrücke). Of course there is the Schloss there, built by Markus Sittikus von Hohenems, a Prince-Archbishop with a sense of humour, but there is also a huge public park with a central water feature which is very child and pram friendly. I like wandering up the hill to the “Little Month Castle” and down via the Steintheater (Rock Theatre), a former quarry transformed by Markus Sittikus into a theatre which hosted the first opera outside of Italy. It’s a very pleasant 3km route with great views of Untersberg.
A little bit farther out again is Aigener Park, my top secret place!! Start walking from the forest entry by Schloss Aigen Gasthaus, follow Felber Stream/Bach up its course to discover the Hexenloch/Untere Grotte: a natural cave that was hollowed out to be used as storage and allegedly as the meeting hall for the local Illuminati lodge. Just above this, by Schleusenbrücke, are some pools perfect for a little paddle. It’s cool and shady by the stream which makes it a great place to explore on a hot summer’s day.
For those staying a little longer and looking to branch out from pork and potato based products, there’s some great grocery shops to stock up in. The mainstream stores will not help you find anything in any way exotic (say, for example, fresh coriander) so try these places instead.
There is a large, good Asian store on Mirabellplatz but my friend pointed me around the corner to Cheung Kwok Man (Faberstrasse 2). I’m not sure if it’s owned by the same people who run the sleek Global Blue Tax Free shop targeting the Chinese tourist market next door but, if it is, they have a split personality. In contrast to the glowing white, this place is gloomy and rammed to the roof with goodies. This glorious shop is all you could imagine: cheap noodles, curry pastes, huge chest freezers of frozen fish, vats of coconut milk, bean sprouts and pak choi by the handfuls, 5 litre bottles of soy and oyster sauce…
A Turkish friend tipped me to Kavak Gesellschaft (Bayerhamerstrasse 22). Goodness, what a complex! This supermarket has a butchery and a bakery attached (complete with simits). The butchery is exceptionally good and the bakery provided me with a spinach stuffed pastry that has me out digesting on the couch as I write this. I wandered around the shop in a state of awe. It held aspirational ingredients for me; I would love to know how to treat an aubergine as it deserves. I left with sumac and za’atar (this is definitely the place to find cheap spices), pomegranate dressing, fig jam, coffee and my own body weight in falafel.