One of the top reasons we travel is to eat! Yes, you heard that right! Food is an expression of the culture of the place. When you eat a dish at its place of origin in its original form, it is usually delicious and worth travelling all the way there! While Austria may not be a foodie’s destination, there are some really good gems there if you find the right places. Here are some of the best dishes we had during our trip.
Apple strudel (Apfelstrudel)
We had never heard of this dish before we visited Austria. After a long walk through Salzburg town, we walked into a bakery that looked very inviting. And we picked the item that looked the most delicious – the apple strudel.
The first bite (as is usually the case with new dishes) was tentative – it had a crispy outside, the inside was warm and mushy with the sweetness of apple and spice of cinnamon. Within moments it melted in the mouth! We’ve had many trips and countless dishes after that but that apple strudel is still one of the highlights! A must-eat if you are visiting Salzburg. And we recommend trying it at a local family-run place instead of the big bakery chains.
One of the most famous dishes in Austria and counted among the “national dishes”, the schnitzel is actually quite a simple meal. It is basically a thin slice of meat (usually chicken or veal) that is pounded, breaded and fried. It is usually served with a side of salad with a vinaigrette dressing, potatoes and a slice of lemon.
Luckily the ones we had were good, but there is always a risk of the meat being too dry. So, look for a good place and head there for an authentic experience.
Pizza in Austria? If your trip doesn’t include Italy and you happen to be near the Italian border (Innsbruck, Tirol and even up to Salzburg), then you can find plenty of authentic Italian pizza places. On our first night at Salzburg, we found a small restaurant in the neighbourhood where we stayed and were mind-blown.
Cafes in Vienna
Vienna has a strong cafe culture and you can find plenty of them while walking around the city. We specifically wanted to visit Cafe Sperl as we had read about it during our pre-trip research. It was beautiful inside with warm lighting and we managed to get the cozy seats near the window. Sitting there in that cafe from 1880, we felt like we were transported back in time. We ordered Wiener schnitzel, Viennese cold coffee, a “tall brauner” (double mocha) and a cheesecake while we soaked in the atmosphere.
Check out our complete itinerary for Austria here. If you enjoy reading our blog, do leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Your comments keep us going!
A beautiful town in the west of Austria, Salzburg is the perfect example of where nature meets culture. Sitting on the banks of the Salzach river, Salzburg is home to the legendary Mozart and has everything from beautiful gardens to palaces to an amazing medieval fortress and of course some amazing food. Salzburg literally means “Salt Fortress” referring to the huge salt mines around the area.
Arriving at Salzburg
We spent an entire day exploring the town during our Austria trip (check out our complete itinerary here). We arrived at Salzburg by train from Prague – we had to change into another train at Linz before reaching Salzburg. From the train station, we took a bus to our hotel. It is easy to navigate your way around in Austria – there are maps everywhere and with some amount of prior research, you can easily use public transport without having to sacrifice anything in your itinerary.
Bus 130 dropped us near our hotel, Hotel Turnerwirt. The place looked straight out of a story book.
We pulled up our luggage along the creaky wooden stairs to the 3rd floor and settled in. We looked for a good eatery nearby and found a Pizzeria. Salzburg to the west of the country and you can find some good Italian food here. We ordered a wood fired pizza with ham, cheese, tomato and mushrooms. The ambience was really nice with “antique knick-knack” stuff around. The pizza was amazing and we ended up loving the crust even more than the toppings – it was so fresh and crunchy!
We walked back enjoying the clear night time sky and hurried to make it to the hotel before they closed their front doors.
We woke up early and checked out of the hotel. We took the same bus 130 back to the railway station and kept our luggage in the lockers there. You can find such lockers all over Europe – they are super convenient, cheap and mostly automated. Shoulders light and hands free, we picked up a couple of sandwiches and walked to a nearby garden. We sat there at the park bench and munched on the ham and cheese sandwiches while observing the life of the locals – there were some folks in formals rushing to work, an old man walking his dog in the park, a couple of kids cycling.
We always make it a point to take such time out so that our trips don’t become a series of checkpoint races.
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Let the walking tour begin
Our next stop was the Mirabell Palace and gardens – beautifully manicured gardens with flowers of all kinds. It is the kind of place where a photographer can go crazy – as if on cue, we saw a video shoot happening there.
We also took our share of pics, posed with the dwarves and walked on.
We stopped at a small bakery on Linzerstrasse where we had one of the best foods of the entire trip! Apple strudel (or Apfelstrudel) – a pastry filled with apple, it was crunchy, sweet and melt-in-the-mouth! Food that makes you want to go back again and again!
With happy tummies, we continued our walk on the stone path along the Salzach river. These walkways were beautiful and perfect for an evening stroll. They also offered amazing views of the fortress.
Along with these walkways, there were cycle paths. There were cycles everywhere – we even saw a modified cycle which had a baby pram tagged along with it! We crossed the river at the Mozart bridge and landed at Mozartplatz. We walked past the museums (we’d heard they weren’t great and decided to reserve our museum visits for Vienna) toward the Salzburger Dom cathedral – a huge cathedral with intricate paintings and sculptures which were symmetrical all the way around. We were right on time to hear the giant church bell ringing and echoing everywhere. We also visited the crypt below the cathedral – it was eerie down there with all the coffins!
Our next stop was the top of the fortress we’d been seeing right from the time we reached Salzburg – the Hohensalzburg Fortress. Built in 1077, the fortress has stood the test of time and is a majestic landmark overlooking the entire town. You can choose to take the funicular to the top of the hill or walk up – we chose the funicular as it was something we’d never seen before and wanted to experience the ride! We opted for the audio guided tour of the fortress and were given earpieces which looked like hand-held phones. The views from the top were spectacular! We got a panoramic view of the town, the river snaking its view through it and the hills on the other side with snowy peaks.
Inside the fortress we got to see the story of the town of Salzburg and how it evolved over the ages. There were also pictures showing how the fortress itself changed over the years. It was really pleasant walking through the cool corridors of the fortress. We saw the giant horn – the Salzburg bull which when blown could be heard for many kilometres. In recent years, the fortress was used to house prisoners of war during the World Wars before it was turned into a museum/tourist attraction.
After the tour, we took the funicular back down and proceeded to St. Peter’s Abbey. It had a cemetery with the graves beautifully decorated with flowers.
We also explored the catacombs whose steep stairs cut into the mountain. We walked up into a small hall where a girl was playing a piano. We stopped for a quick bathroom break and then walked to the old market.
The market area also housed Mozart’s birthplace.
We picked up a couple of fish burgers from Nordsee and ate it sitting by the bank of the Salzach. We topped it up with cherry ice-cream. Our day in Salzburg was coming to a close.
We picked up our luggage from the train station and took bus 150 to Sankt Gilgen which was going to be our base in the Salzkammergut region.
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