Salzburg is always magnificent, but in August it comes alive, courtesy of the annual Salzburg Festival.
This year, the festival (which runs until September 2) includes 242 performances of opera, theatre and concerts, staged in 17 venues.
Many will feature the music of the city’s favourite son: Mozart. Tickets are hard to come by for The Magic Flute, but check out the Mozart Matinees. Performances of Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s Jedermann, which is staged in the Cathedral Square, are an annual highlight. For more information on events see salzburgerland.com.
WA Mozart Airport is about 5km south-west of the city centre. Trolleybus No 2 departs for the city’s main train station every 10-20 minutes, taking 20 minutes. Tickets cost e2.10 (about R21) from newsagents in the terminal or from the bus driver. A taxi will cost s10 to s14, depending on traffic.
Salzburg is divided by the Salzach river: many of the most interesting tourist sites are in the Altstadt (old city), on the south side of the river, although the main station is on the north side, in the Neustadt.
Getting around is easy because the city is fairly compact. If you want to catch the bus, (salzburg-ag.at), buy a Salzburg Card (salz burg.info), which includes not only transport but entry to most of Salzburg’s most popular sites. A 48-hour ticket costs s34 and is available from the tourist office on Mozartplatz.
Start in the Neustadt at St Sebastian’s Cemetery, where some of the city’s most famous sons and daughters, including Mozart’s relatives, are buried. From there, head south along Linzer Gasse, checking for “stumbling stones”, copper plaques in the ground that pay touching tribute to residents who were deported during World War II.
Turn right at the river and cross Makartsteg bridge, from which hang thousands of padlocks, placed by couples in love. Head for Getreidegasse, the old town’s narrow main shopping street. Go through the Schatz-Haus passage into Universitätsplatz, home to a small food market. Turn left down Churfürststrasse and continue until you reach Residenzplatz, where you’ll find the city’s magnificent Baroque cathedral (salzburger-dom.at).
Turn south and cross Kapitelplatz then take the funicular railway up to the Hohensalzburg (salzburg-burgen.at), a huge, brooding medieval fortress.
Close to the fortress is St Peter Stiftskeller at 1 Sankt-Peter-Bezirk (stpeter-stiftskeller.at), a restaurant that claims to have served its first meal in the year 803. In the central courtyard you can tuck into tafelspitz, boiled beef with fried potatoes and spinach for s20.50.
Expect to find international superbrands such as Louis Vuitton at 45 Getreidegasse. Those looking for something a little more local should seek out Jahn-Markl at 3 Residenzplatz (jahn-markl.at).
There are more than 170km of designated cycle lanes, but you don’t have to get too out of puff if you rent a Movelo bike (bit.ly/movelo), with a small electric motor. Prices vary but expect to pay s15 for a half day. There are 10 hire locations in the city and two for recharging.
Salzburg is Austria’s beer capital, so there’s only one thing you should be drinking. The most charming spot to drink it is the Augustiner Braü at 7 Lindhofstrasse (augustinerbier.at). Fetch your stoneware stein, pay for the beer (s6 a litre), and then watch it be filled with sweetish, mellow Märzen from a wooden barrel.
Dine with the locals at the Tardis-like Die Weisse, 10 Rupertgasse ( www.dieweisse.at; closed Sunday), find a spot in the chestnut tree-shaded garden and try one of the local dishes such as schweinekotelett, roast pork with dumplings and cabbage (s2.90).
There are plenty of churches in Salzburg – such as the Franciscan church at 5 Franziskanergasse (franziskanerkirche-salzburg.at), whose Romanesque origins can still be spotted underneath its Gothic splendour. The key religious site in Salzburg is the cathedral dedicated to Saint Rupert.
Brunch is next, but in a city so rich with views, it can be hard to decide where. M32 at 32 Mönchsberg, the restaurant attached to Salzburg’s Museum of Modern Art, is good. From here you can see pretty much all the city.
As you’re at the museum, wander in (museum dermoderne. at; 10am to 6pm daily except Monday; to 8pm Wednesday; s8). An exhibition devoted to John Cage, the American musician, runs until October 7.
In the town you’ll also find the Panorama Museum at 9 Residenzplatz (salzburgmuseum.at; open 9am-5pm daily; s3), which has a huge amount of paraphernalia from The Sound of Music and a magnificent panoramic 19th-century image of the city by Johann Michael Sattler.
For Mozart fans, a visit to his birthplace at 9 Getreidegasse (mozarteum.at; 9am to 5.30pm daily; s10) is a must.
Cross the river from the old town for a stroll in the sublimely manicured Mirabell Gardens (it.ly/ mirabell) for a break.
At the Hotel Sacher (24), 5-7 Schwarzstrasse (sacher. com) you’ll find the Sacher Café, one of two homes (the other is in Vienna) of the Sachertorte. A slice costs s4.90.
Or head to Paul Fürst on Alter Markt (original- mozartkugel.com), the home of the Mozartkugel – a chocolate, nougat and marzipan sweet invented in 1890. – The Independent