Hi: I'm hoping those who have visited Salzburg can help me out. We're staying in Vienna for 10 nights in July (already rented an apartment) and intend to do a few day trips while there (no car). After that it gets cloudy...I'm thinking about using Salzburg as a base for our final 6 nights...this is when it gets sticky. (Option 1) Take the train to Salzburg and use public transportation / take tours for day trips to places like Hallstatt, Berchtesgaden/Eagles Nest, etc. (Option 2) For a little more freedom, rent a car in Vienna, drive to Salzburg, rent a place with access to parking, and use the car for sightseeing in the vicinity; (Option 3) Rent the car in Salzburg and day trip to nearby sites; (Option 4) Take the train from Vienna to Hallstatt, stay there 1 or 2 nights, take either the train or bus to Salzburg, and possibly rent a car for the final 4-5 nights. (Option 5) Other ideas? FYI, we're flying open jaw...into Vienna, out of Salzburg. And another FYI - I have no problem with European driving, and in our past travels, we have enjoyed the freedom and ability to stop on a whim that a car provides. Your learned opinions would be greatly appreciated...thanks!
I'm glad you're experienced in European car rentals. Any of your options would be just fine. The drive over to Salzburg is very nice, and there are many B&B's all over Salzburg and in the suburbs with free parking. You're right about day trips out of Salzburg that would be very satisfying. I just love the mountain lakes east of Salzburg, and the Austrian Alps to the south.
Last time we were there, we took a bus into the city center to do the tourist thing. We didn't want to drive after visiting "The Fathers" over at the Augustiner for a fantastic afternoon in the gardens.
I would vote for two nights in Hallstatt. We had only one night on our Austria/Germany trip in 2006 and wished we had had more. For Salazburg, I suggest two full days, so three nights. It not so much that there are a ton of sights to see in either place, just that they are both very pleasant, good places to just slow down and enjoy being there. We did not day trip outside of Salzburg, so I don't know whether there is something even better that could do in lieu of spending more time in Salazburg. Rick's book is really strong for Austria; when we used the guide it was a combined book with Germany. The puppet theater in Salzburg is a lot of fun. We saw them do the Magic Flute -- I was skeptical but my wife insisted and I am glad she did. As the ticket seller said when we bought our ticket up at the castle, "it's an institution."
I'm generally not a proponent of renting cars, but it's a good option in Salzburg. Some of the sites are either inaccessible or difficult to get to by train, like the Eagle's Nest and Salt mines. I would keep in mind European gas prices if you have any budget concerns. Is it just two people traveling? If so it's probably cheaper to buy a train ticket in advance than it would be for gas from Vienna to Salzburg...