As one of Europe’s cultural hubs, there’s plenty to keep you occupied while visiting Salzburg. Perhaps you’d love to visit after having watched the famous 1960s film, The Sound of Music, or maybe you’d like to see Mozart’s birthplace. There’s no doubt about it; just strolling on the streets can make you feel overwhelmed by what the city has to offer. Yet, just as the Old Town cobblestones hide more than what meets the eye, so does the region; and within a one hour drive, you can step into a tableau that seems like a dream born out of a poetic fantasy. Hidden behind the dense forests surrounding the Autobahn, you can discover charming towns and lively nature spots, so a quick road trip is definitely in order.
25 minutes North…
Oberndorf bei Salzburg
Silent night, holy night / All is calm, all is bright … In 1818, the famous Christmas Carol, Silent Night, was sung, for the very first time, in this quiet, peaceful town, at the Church of St. Nikolaus. Just down the road, you can visit the Salzach Bridge, a true architectural masterpiece dating back from the turn of the 20th century. If you cross the river, you’ll actually step into the town of Laufen, situated in Bavaria! What I loved most about this place is how beautifully it depicts the Austrian slice of life. When you step into a restaurant or just walk by the water, you might encounter occasional polite stares; it’s almost like the locals are able to spot immediately you’re not from there, and this, somehow, makes the entire experience that much more charming.
1 hour 15 minutes South – East…
The Chinese knew a special place when they saw one; that’s why, in 2012, they built an entire replica of this town in the city of Huizhou, China. Now, this is a village that knows how to leave an impression! It’s easy. From the moment you drive down the curvy roads circling the forested hills of the Dachstein, you can almost feel there is going to be something special at the bottom. The geography itself is something out of an imagined painting; here you have a tiny town that is situated at the curvature of a mountain base, surrounded by a tiny gulf that leads to yet another imposing peak. There are just a handful of tiny, rustic houses build along a dozen narrow roads, all gathered around a minimalist, Neo-gothic church. In ten minutes, you can stroll around the entire place, but the picture-taking stops will probably lengthen your journey tenfold.
1 hour South…
As a ski buff, I couldn’t say no to a perfect day skiing the stunning slopes of Flachau. The reality is, you don’t even need to ski to enjoy the breathtaking views. Just take the cable car, grab a hot chocolate and voilà. Do get carried away!
30 minutes South…
Golling an der Salzach
This colourful, market town, with narrow streets and plenty of nature to keep you refreshed and inspired, was one of my favourite pit stops along the way while en route to Flachau. Lots of charming stores, tiny cafes and little vistas are sure to make you lose track of time.
A quick hike up through the forest – no, it’s not a movie set, although it may very well be – and you reach one of the top attractions of the village, the Gollinger Wasserfall. There are barely any people here, so you can take a sit on one of the fallen logs and breathe in the fresh, misty air. If you don’t mind getting wet, or lost among the cumulus clouds, I’d recommend hiking all the way to the top! Close your eyes and listen to the sound of nature take you far, far away..
Next time you find yourself in Salzburg, don’t overlook the day trips! They’ll for sure make you glad you stepped out of the city!
© Silent Night Reference: Lippincott, 1968 – Germany, Austria & the Benelux Countries