We will be traveling to Austria in May/June. We will be visiting these cities in this order and have about 3 days in each city. We will be traveling by train between all 3 cities and from Frankfurt to Austria at the beginning and end of our trip. Can anyone share with us what their favorite sites, restaurants, etc. are? This is our first trip there. Also, the train between cities seem to be anywhere from 4 - 6 hours. Is that correct? ANY INFORMATION would help these two newbies to Austria. Thank you.
My first suggestion is that you'll get a wealth of information concerning "favorite sites, restaurants, etc." by checking Guidebooks for those cities. Rick's Vienna, Salzburg & Tirol will be released in April 2009.
I can provide a few comments on Salzburg:
Mozart sites are always good for a start. There may be some concerts on while you're there.
I really enjoyed exploring the Hohensalzburg Fortress (took me the better part of a day!).
Just walking around the neighborhoods was interesting.
Taking day trips to nearby places is a good choice too. I used Bob's Special Tours for a trip to Berchtesgaden. They also go to Hallstatt, however I decided to go there on my own and spend a few days (I'd really recommend that if you have the time - it's incredibly beautiful!).
Vienna: Schonbrunn Castle was the highlight for me. There is excellent public transportation that takes you right there, and it is worth the effort. The grounds were fabulous. We were a little taken aback by how "big city" Vienna was with heavy traffic right through the old town area. (We had just come from Munich and Salzburg with their large pedestrian only zones) A tip: when going to the sites south of old town, use the underground passages. For example, you can go from the Opera house to Naschmarkt completely underground and avoid all the lights and traffic (which were kind of miserable- we went that way and came back underground). Also, Both Salzburg and Vienna are known for their music, so I would try to do some in each city.
INNSBRUCK-I've been to this city twice and my recommendation is to really research it and see if you can fill three days. Unless you have a way of getting out into the surrounding countryside, three days would be too long for me. While the area is beautiful, the sites are on the weak side. If it were me: I would cut some time there and see if I could stop in Melk overnight (an hour outside of Vienna) I would tour the Melk Abbey and enjoy a smaller Austrian town. (You are going to the three largest cities-so might be a good contrast) With more time in Melk, I would bike to Krems and take a boat back (I've done all this myself and it was wonderful) Back to your actual question. Whoops gotta start a new post for Salzburg.
Salzburg- I love Salzburg. You have already received some good recommendations. Do try to get out into the countryside on a tour. I think Hallstatt is a little too far to go on a day trip, but there are good tours out to St. Gilgen and Mondsee. Also, a salt mine tour is a good idea. We did the one in Hallein (Bad Durnberg) and it was very good. The RS book has information on how to get there and take a tour without a car. Salzburg is my favorite city to ride bikes since it has wonderful bike paths. We always enjoy biking to some of the Sound of Music sights. The RS book lists many good sites including Hohensalzburg Fortress. Restaurants: We always visit Augustiner Braustubl-it is a unique experience. Another favorite is St. Pauls Sutb' n Beer garden. We love the Kasnock'n- a cheesy pasta dish. We always go to a sausage stand while we are there as well. I can't remember the name of my favorite, but it started with a P. There are directions to the restaurants in the RS book. (I guess I should have started with my number one recommendation: but a Rick Steves Germany Austria Guidebook-it pays for itself) While there we generally stay at Haus Reichl- a Zimmer 2 km outside the old city area. For your first trip, you might want to stay closer in. If so, I can recommend Pension Bergland-we enjoyed staying there as well, but it went out of our budget range when the dollar tanked against the euro. Have a great trip and feel free to private message me if you have any specific questions. Austria is my favorie country in Europe (tied with Switzerland).
As an important 1st step, I would recommend that you order the free brochures from the Austrian Tourism Website:
I can highly recommend them, they will give you a feel for not only the lay of the land, travel distances, etc.
but supply you with important information of all sorts.
If you like, I can post the sites for Salzburg, Tyrol and Vienna as well, on each site you have the option to order brochures and maps free of cost.
Each city boasts hundreds/thousands of eateries of all flavors and price categories.
If you tell us more about your likes and preferences, you'll sure to get a flood of recommendations :-))
I am starting off with Vienna/ Wien :-))
For a special meal/occasion on a clear day or night, the Donauturm is lots of fun, and the food is really more than okay!
If you are a Schnitzel fan, and want to indulge in the real thing, you can't go wron with Figlmüller, especially at the Wollzeile:
For traditional Austrian cuisine head to the Griechenbeisl (one of my personal favorites!)
Haas Beisl (a favorite of the Viennese people. They don't seem quite done with their new Webpage, but don't let that stop you!!)
For fine Viennese dining, consider one of the Plachutta restaurants, the food is truly divine:
By the way:
Beisl means inn/restaurant.
With three days in Salzburg, I'd use one day (try for a clear day!) and see either the Salkammergut (which includes Hallstatt) or Berchtesgaden, Germnay area as Ken suggested. Both are beautiful area's and not far from Salzburg. Berchtesgaden itself is less than 30 minutes away.
Salzburg is one of our favorites! A beautiful "compact" old town pesetrian zone which is very easy to see simply by walking. You could spend a day seeing the churches, squares, shops and just sitting at one of the outdoor cafe's. The views from Hohensalzburg Fortress overlooking Salzburg are wonderful.
With three days in Innsbruck, make the very short trip over to Hall in Tirol (in RS book). The old town of Hall in Tirol is actually larger (and nicer, IMO) than Innsbruck's.
We really enjoyed seeing Schloss Ambras in Innsbruck.
The Nordkettenbahnen takes you up into the mountains right from Innsbruck!
The first leg of the trip is the Hungerburgbahn that takes you from Innsbruck to the tiny "village" of Hungerburg, overlooking Innsbruck. From here you take the cable car UP into the mountains. Spectacular views of Innsbruck and the Alps from up here! Even if you don't take the cable car from here, the views from Hungerburg alone are terrific!
If you're interested, we have photo's of some of these places at:
Hope this helps.
I can second the recommendation for Salzkammergut. And getting the brochures from austria.info. You can get a TON of information from them.
Heading to the Salzkammergut may be a good break, especially after Vienna, and a chance to get out of the big cities for a while. The region is relatively unknown to non-Europeans, but is a huge vacation spot for Germans and Austrians.
There are LOTS of good day trips from Salzburg. You could do the Sound of Music tour- you get to see a bit of the surrounding area as well as the movie sites (and a ride on the luge). There is also a tour that included Burchesgarden and the Salt Mine. Tours of the Saltzcamergurt are nice too. Innsbruck has a nice cable car ride up the mt. You get nice views of the town and the alps. Vienna has lots to do in the city- Lots of palaces, churches, museums, etc.
Wow! I am so amazed at how much information everyone is willing to share. Once I have time to review all your suggestions, I might have more questions. Thank you to everyone and I'll be in touch as we continue our planning. There are still good people in this world!!!
Sherri, In Vienna, you definitely don't want to miss the Schonbrunn Palace and the Hofburg Palace. We toured the home of Mozart- I honestly could have done without that, although I thought I'd love it. It was hyped up and not worth the money. You'll get a lot more out of Schonbrunn if you are a Mozart fan-Especially the Hall of Mirrors, where he played for Empress Maria Theresa when he was 6 years old. The view from a top of the gloriette is a perfect place to take a picture of the entire city of Vienna. If you have children, consider letting them take part in the kindermuseum.
If you are going on a Sunday, check out mass at Augustiner Kirche or better yet, make sure to see the Vienna Boys Choir- It was the highlight of the trip for us. Finally, don't miss St.Stephansdome. You can tour the basement, or go all the way to the top and see a magnificent view of Vienna. Make sure to learn the amazing history of how the different body parts of the royal family are buried in different parts of the city.
We ate at a quaint little restaurant called the Purstner in Vienna- Don't miss it. Just a word of warning- Be careful how much you spend... They tax you 50% over a certain amount. This is true anywhere in Austria.
Get a book on Vienna by itself- Take your time reading up and make your selections carefully- with only 3 days to spend, you'll be very busy. Try to learn as much of the language as possible the Austrian people appreciate it.
The Naschmarkt was a wonderful experience. It is a market in the heart of the city. We had a terrific lunch with a native of Vienna. Definitely one of the highlights of the trip.
If you have the opportunity, take a day trip tour to Melk and Durnstein. That was probably the highlight for my wife.
Good luck and have fun!
Would you suggest driving a car between these cities or riding the train?
Sherri, I would definitely take the train. You can do tours that will show you the countryside. Everyone has given you great advice. I would add that if you do decide to take a Sound of Music Tour do be sure and use Bob's Special Tours as covered in Rick's book. It's a small van with only at most 8 people which is much better than the full bus of 50! Also, take advantage of the Luge ride. It's a hoot. Truly, anyone can do it. In Vienna, I also enjoyed the tour of the Opera House. You should check schedules to see if you can attend any of the performances. When I was a student I got standing room seats, which are practically in the attics of the opera house, but I still enjoyed it. Also, if you are interested in music you might want to visit Der Haus du Musik. It was great fun. The art museums are spectacular in Vienna. Pam
"We will be visiting these cities in this order."
I hope this is a typo and you realize that Salzburg is between Innsruck and Vienna. Vienna Salzburg is 5-6 hours and Salzburg-Innsbruck is about 3. Unless you are planning on doing some sidetrips I would suggest that you plan no more than 1 day in Innsbruck.
If you spend 3 days in Innsbruck, consider renting a car for sidetrips. You're within day-trip distance of Ludwig's castles at Schwangau, the Zugspitze, Mittenwald, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Linderhof, and Oberamergau (I always mispell that name). People on this website seem to love Hall in Tyrol. I personally found it charming, but also rather dull. For the rest of your trip, trains are probably the better option.
vienna to salzburg 3hrs. salz-innsbruck 2 hrs.
You've gotten great advice in the previous posts- I'd add that you should check out St. Stephen's Dom (cathedral) in Vienna and the Dom in Salzburg. I love Innsbruck, but agree that 1 or 2 days is good there. You might want to add the time to Salzburg as there are so many things to see and do there. The Berchegarten/salt mine and Sound of Music trips are wonderful. If you want to splurge a bit, check out staying at the Goldener Hirsh in Salzburg. It is in the heart of Old Town and is over 400 yrs old. The rooms are marvelous- huge and decorated in lovely traditional Austrian style. The Fortress is well worth an afternoon. Take extra camera memory chips- if the weather cooperates (and it usually does) you'll want LOTS of pictures in Austria. One other suggesstion- you can do a day trip to Budapest from Vienna by train.
I forgot to mention one thing.... When in Vienna, take the tram up to the Grinzing area and have supper at one of the many Herrierger. ("new wine" resturants) The wine is good and the food is too.