Loved loved Hallein. Salt mine tour was really fun!! In Salzburg, we spent the better part of the day trying to figure out how to get to the fortress. It was impossible. If you haven't been, the way up is through Old Town. Old Town is pretty much closed off by road barriers called rising bollards...these metal cylinders that rise and fall with a code you input. Normal people can't get in. We found out too late that there was a funicular, but that proved elusive too. Traffic a mess. We went to the Mozart dinner at St. Peters (fantastic!) But we drove an hour looking for parking and finally parked 15 minutes away and walked through the rain, risking a ticket. Also...remember you MUST get a "vignette" to stick on your windshield if you plan to be anywhere on an Austrian highway. Stiff fines if not, payable ON THE SPOT!!
There's a reason why we have left the car parked have used taxis or other public transportation in European cities- to avoid the problems you encountered. The old city centers often have large areas that are "local traffic" only or are pedestrianized. Parking garages can be few and far between and expensive. Sorry you didn't know about the funicular (or the vignette) before your trip.
It's no problem to get to the Fortress, unless you're trying to drive a car to it, which doesn't work, as you discovered.
Driving in the old part of Salzburg is just not done, as you have learned. People in this part of the world walk and use public transportation.
Sorry that those glitches hindered your enjoyment of Salzburg and I'm not saying you did anything specifically 'wrong' but for others who might read this post I think it's important to point out that many of the problems you encountered could easily have been avoided with some upfront research and pre-planning.
And that's why you don't drive in European cities. Lesson learned. Hope the rest of your trip was great.
That is the reason why there is public transport everywhere.
Normal people can't get in.
Normal people can. Tourists can’t.😉
Normal people can
Please provide definition of "normal"
and walked through the rain, risking a ticket.
Do not risk the ticket, do as Gene Kelly, sing and dance in the rain, don't just walk!
Hope the rest of your trip was less stressful
Rather than jump on the band wagon, I want to commend you for posting this as a warning to others about the "freedom" of using a car. In the countryside, it can be a godsend, but in cities, it is an 3500 lb boat anchor.
As you've discovered, having a car can be a detriment in European cities as there are many restricted zones enforced by Bollards. "Traffic a mess" is why it's a good idea to park in cities (often expensive) and take public transit or walk. The Funicular is not "elusive" at all. It's very easy to reach and gets you to the Hohensalzburg Fortress in a few minutes.
A suggestion for future reference.... the Rick Steves guidebooks for each country contain a lot of good information, and will help you to have a smooth and problem free trip. If you don't want to buy the books, you should be able to find them at your local library.
Glad you enjoyed the Hallein mine tour! Was the rail slide the highlight, or just one element of an overall fun experience? Our trip was 20 years ago, and I still remember the main message at the mine, “All salt is sea salt, but some of it’s now just located more inland than the salt being harvested along the current coasts.”
First, it is definitely on me that I did not do my research. Secondly. .we had to get a car. My husband has a very bad back, and in our experience if we have to walk too far to a train or public transport, he can be in serious pain. Neither a policeman nor a shop owner could tell us where the funicular was, and they spoke perfect English. This also despite 2 GPS units, one on my phone, one in the car. And lastly, while I understand the necessity of preserving the antiquities, I don't think this barricade system can have done much for tourism. Cutting off access to one of the most visited places in Salzburg doesn't seem like good planning. And yes "normal people." We saw many delivery trucks and vans who had to back out of places where they could not get through the barricades.
As far as the salt mine...yes, loved the slides but it all was great! This one in Hallein had an underground boat too. Also the guide was delightful. Well worth the trip!
I don't drive in Europe...period...don't want any of the stress and potential problems attached to driving, eg, parking tickets, stickers, finding a place to park, paying for gas by the liter, unmanned gas stations, tolls, (as in France), vandalism, etc , etc.
I rely totally on public transport, walk, or on those super rare occasions, taking a taxi...no Uber....not an option.
I’ve lived in Austria for 12 years and haven’t driven a car one single time. It actually is good planning on the part of the city of Salzburg as pretty much every tourist walks in the city center and vehicle traffic is only for deliveries. Imagine how horrible the city center would look if it was nothing but parking lots.
While i understand your frustration, as a disabled person myself, I think maybe skip the parts your husband isnt physically unable to do. I have MS. My son lives in Milan. I go a lot. We dont drive when we are there unless its to go to a small town way out of the way. I have had to skip many things because i just cant. Its how europe is. The city does well on its own without tourists. It is welcoming to it, but as in most of europe, people live there and the city is for them. They are not going to inconvenience the locals or upset the local culture for tourism. Its just unheard of in Europe. Also disability access in Europe is improving, it still isnt as good as in the states, and thats okay. Even on days I need my chair, i woudl rather get up the steps slowly than see these wonderful old buildings with a ramp. I am only saying this as a word of caution to other disabled tourist who are planning a trip. I hope that they read this and take into account what i have gone through and how having a mindset change will make the experience bearable and maybe not make it so personally negative. My first time i used my cane in Paris,,, just wow, and trying to find lifts were impossible. I have adapted but i know a lot of first time people will be shocked. Its worth looking into sights that are friendly. Older museams are usually accomidating. HOpe this helps give some validation to you and also helps people understand the european mindset.
I’m not disabled but I’ve raised two kids here in strollers. Never had an access issue - ever.
Disabled people in Austria would never drive either as the public transportation system is centered around people needing extra assistance.
It’s just a different way of living that tourists might struggle with, especially those who are used to electric wheelchairs and disabled parking spots, which don’t exist here (because public transport is so good!).
I would add that Austria is exceptional when it comes to mobility access - way ahead of the curve.
I understand your frustration, but the the layout of old cities in Europe sometimes dates back to medieval times. Other than in the US most people here are not willing to submit to car traffic.
I agree with your statement that you have not done your homework properly. Maybe you should have read this:
Among the bigger cities in Austria traffic in Salzburg is known to be the worst, ranking at #1 for traffic jams. But this is not due to the number of tourists arriving by car, but due to a general disagreement among the locals how far car traffic should be further restricted, resulting that nothing reasonable is done.
The city does well on its own without tourists. It is welcoming to it, but as in most of europe, people live there and the city is for them. They are not going to inconvenience the locals or upset the local culture for tourism.
In certain towns the inconvenience has grown so far, that restrictions had been put into place to lower the number of tourists.
Best example in Austria: Hallstatt
Hallstatt town has a population of around 350. It is minute in size, merely about half a mile long, and about 100 yards wide at the most. Nevertheless in 2010 about 3500 busses with tourists came to the town, in 2018 it was 20000, resulting that up to 10000 tourists per day were surging through the center per day. Now the number of busses will be limited, requiring the bus driver to purchase an access ticket in advance, defining a time slot for entering and leaving the town.
In Italy: Venice
Venice has imposed an entry fee on day tourists for access to the old town.
Venice has imposed an entry fee on day tourists for access to the old town.
dnolan, sounds like quite a challenge you experienced. Travel 'out of the ordinary' is even more difficult than the homework required for the general run of the mill fit person. I wonder if a river or ocean cruise would offer you some alleviation to the need to drive in cities that are not mobility efficient? Some cruise lines offer the rental of motorized chairs and these can be used for port visits. Or the river cruises have activities based on fitness level. It might still mean walking, but perhaps then a folding seat would ease DHs back strains.
I live in Germany and drive almost everywhere. Honestly I rarely travel by train. I do take advantage of buses, trams and subways in larger cities. Was in Salzburg four weeks ago. Took secondary roads to avoid buying a vignette from Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden. Used Park and Ride Süd. One ticket for 5 persons included parking and the bus round trip (about 15 minutes) that stops at the old city next to the Salzach. Could not miss the funicular railway tracks up to the fortress. 15 euro per person for the funicular and fortress per person. A lot of steps in the fortress. Park and Ride comes in handy in most German and Austrian cities. Sorry you had such a hard time.
I know it's too late now, but the website below really does give you a good perspective on what to expect if you're driving in. It covers all the items you mentioned: bollards, park and ride lots, vignettes, public transport, funicular to fortress, etc.
I don't think it's reasonable to assume that "mobility" in smaller cities/towns means solely by car, or that a separate road could be built in the back somewhere to access the castle (they've already invested a lot in the funicular, and it provides access perfectly). Mobility and accessibility in Europe (and some larger US cities) means multi-modal, with a special emphasis on public transport. This is a quality of life enhancement for the local population, and frankly makes these cities as charming and accessible as they are.
Venice has imposed an entry fee on day tourists for access to the old town.
==> not yet
You are right. Is was planned effective May 25th, but is now postponed until September.
I have always thought that the Park & Rides in Salzburg are way overpriced. Yes, for €15 you can leave your car all day and get the bus into the centre, and around the centre. That doesn't cover the Funicular as far as I know.
I park for up to 4 hours for €4 or 8 hours for €6, a genuine bargain in Salzburg, under the mountain. All I have to do is stop in at one of the many shops in the Altstadt displaying a special sticker on the window and get my parking ticket stamped. Sometimes I don't purchase anything in the particular shop, sometimes we take home a small usable souvenir. Last time my wife got a nice inexpensive but very well made pair of tweezers. We needed one anyway. Previously I have bought a hairbrush (lucky to still have hair), which is very small and fits in the glovebox and replaced a tatty old comb.
Ironically, my joy of visiting Salzburg is Salzburg is a very walk-able town. We didn't have to look right and left to avoid being run over by a local or tourist driving a vehicle. Vehicle traffic was non-existing in Old Town and on the pedestrian oriented Linzer Gasse. And sidewalks were wide where motor vehicles were allowed.
We stayed at the Mozart Hotel on Franz-Josef-Straße a car allowed street but only a short walk to Old Town. Our taxi ride to the hotel was straight forward and uneventful. The hotel was a 20 or 25 minute walk to St. Peters Mozart Dinner. Walk from Mozart Hotel to the central train station was only 1 km and took less than 15 minutes with luggage.
We had a great time in Salzburg.
We purchased the Salzburg Card during our second multi-day trip to Salzburg. We find the town very charming and were happy to return to spend more days there. The fortress is on the Salzburg Card, along with the funicular. We stayed at the Weiss Taube (White Dove) Hotel, and the fortress was very close and handy.
We did travel solely by train, but had a taxi take us to our hotel from the train station. (He had access to lower the traffic bollards.)
Glad you enjoyed Hallein!
"there was a funicular, but that proved elusive too" - The funicular is not the Scarlet Pimpernel, it is easy to find.
For those who ever want to drive into Salzburg from elsewhere, parking at Hellbrunn - well worth visiting - is cheap and plentiful. From Hellbrunn you take a pleasant riverside stroll into town or catch a bus close by.
"They seek him here,
they seek him there.
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere.
Whether he's in Heaven or Hell, that damned elusive Pimpernel."
You could have parked in the underground parkhouses on the back of the festival building and have easy access to the funicular on one side and to elevator on the other side. It is not cheap but you pay for convenience.
I parked at the Mirabel Gardens public parking and walked to the old town center.We drove from St Wolfgang and found the public parking Locations on our GPS.
Last summer we spent three weeks driving through Europe and we forgot to have the car’s GPS changed from German to English. (We learned “right” and “left” pretty quickly!). Oops! We also learned quickly that we could download offline maps in google maps, then we didn’t need to use data to view them. From there, type in “parking” and you will see parking areas nearby. This was very helpful because driving in any city center is stressful.
We found the underground parking structure to be very centrally located. It’s actually in the “hill” under the fortress.
I stayed in Salzburg for 2 nights in September 2018. Arrived by train and rode a bicycle all around the city. Had the speed of a car and the flexibility and access of a pedestrian. There's lovely cycle paths lining theriver and circumnavigating the town and castle.
We frequently drive in Europe - my husband has one really bad ankle and he has a difficult time managing train stations with luggage, walking long distances, etc.
Lots of European families take car trips so it isn't something that is uncommon there. You'll see license plates from all over Europe when you park in lots around big European cities. It's mostly people visiting from very far away, who just don't want to drive, that ditch their cars and do everything via public transport.
It is completely doable to see Europe in a car but you have to research parking beforehand. Salzburg has several large and small garages ringing the old part of town. That said, you still have to do some walking as the city center has mostly been pedestrianized and the garages aren't near to some of the sights you want to see. For most big cities this is the case. Some will have public transport into the more congested centers, like Paris or Prague, but for smaller places like Salzburg you just have to walk.
Sorry you had a frustrating time there! I guess it's one of those live-and-learn situations. Parking lots are also not typically covered very well in tourist guidebooks as it is assumed most people will use public transportation. When information IS present, it's often outdated or incomplete. I usually use Google to find the most up-to-date info. Lots of cities also have interactive maps to find parking. It's not ideal but it isn't hard to do either...I do find that you need to budget for it as it can add a lot of cost to your trip.
I have found that some of my best memories come when things don't go as planned. We were on the RS tour of MSV last September, when after our apple strudel cooking class in Salzburg, we decided to go to the fortress. There was a group of us so we headed to the fortress going the back way. Two hours and feeling pretty tired, we reach the back of the fortress but we are below it by a few hundred feet and can't figure out how to get around to the front. Finally we just start walking in the same direction as several other people until we get to the bottom of the fortress and are looking for the funicular. However, when we ask we are told we missed the place to pick up the funicular so we stand around for a few minutes and decide we have come too far to just give up now. We keep walking til we get to the entrance to the fortress and have many steps with a sharp incline to get to the top. We put our heads down and march until we make it. Hands on hips and breathing hard we look around and knew this was worth all the time and effort it took to get there. Two things I took from this little adventure: First, we took a picture of the fortress from the back side and this is the picture which is hanging in our living room today. Would have never had this angle of the fortress if we had never taken a different route. Second, it took us almost three hours from the time we started until we got to the fortress but it took us one and half minutes to get down using the funicular. But we saw so much more and we are still talking about our Salzburg adventure. Happy travels!!!!!!
I find Salzburg to be the most over rated place in Austria, and one of the biggest wastes of time in Europe, although not as bad as Paris, Berlin, and Munich.
find Salzburg to be the most over rated place in Austria, and one of
the biggest wastes of time in Europe, although not as bad as Paris,
Berlin, and Munich.
No doubt the same could be said for any place in the world, depending on one's preferences and priorities. Personally, I find Salzburg delightful, if touristy. When living in Germany, we frequently took guests there for an overnight (at their request), and all voiced their enjoyment. So definitely a case of personal opinion. I hope, given your exacting requirements, that you are able to come up with locations to visit that meet your standards.
I find other people’s personal opinions a waste of time, especially when presented in a negative way.