Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany

The Austrian Finale: Racing to the Vacation Finish Line

By the time we left Garmisch-Partenkirchen, I was beat. We’d been in seven countries in the past three weeks, not to mention probably double the number of cities. I was ready to get to Salzburg and unwind (or maybe take a nap).

Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany

The weather lent itself well to sleeping, but not much else. It was cloudy and drizzled the two days we were in town and not at all the Salzburg I remembered from my first summer visit there when I was 20.

Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany

That could be my fault, as well. I had such fantasies of this quaint mountainside town, I’d forgotten what big a city it was (150,000 residents, plus throngs of visitors). In my dreamer mind, I envisioned a scene right out of The Sound of Music; in reality, it’s bustling with tourist traps and crowds of people.

Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany

Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany
Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany

Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany

You have been forewarned.

Still, it’s a city of grand architecture and churches, I’ll give it that.

Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany

Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany
Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany
Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany
Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany
Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany

Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany

And there were visions of Mozart, who was born in Salzburg, everywhere.

Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany
Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany

You’d think I’d soak up any last chance at eating all the strudel, but we didn’t even wind up going out to eat if that gives you a sense of how uninspired we were by this city. Instead, we located a SPAR in the train station and picked up some salami and cheese and nibbled all night.

Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany

Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany
Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany

Look, I’m not saying you should strike Salzburg from your list entirely—I’m often too quick to pass judgment and perhaps I’ll go back another time during Christmas market season and properly fall in love with the city for all its quirks–but I will tell you to pass through on a day trip and not spend too much time there if you’re on a tight schedule as we kind of were.

Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany

But here’s where things started looking up. As the weather did not appear to be improving anytime soon, we popped back over into Germany once more, where it was equally cloudy but offered a few indoor attractions that turned out to be the perfect way to beat the rainy day blues.

Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany

Our reasoning for picking this particular town just over the border from Austria was for its salt mines, but by the time we’d driven the windy hour through the mountains to reach Berchtesgaden, we were starving. A quick Google told me that Hofbrauhaus Berchtesgaden offered an awesome meal with a view, so that’s exactly where we were headed.

Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany

Google did not lead me astray! Hofbrauhaus Berchtesgaden was one of the best meals we had the whole trip and offered the perfect parting dishes from Bavaria.

Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany
Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany

Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany

And plenty of beer, per the norm. All with a view to boot.

Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany

Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany
Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany

Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany

This place is also not more than 10 minutes from Eagle’s Nest for those of you who plan to check out Hitler’s former stomping ground. We tried but the lines were long, and we didn’t want to take a shuttle so we called it a day and headed toward Vienna, our final destination before our train departed for Budapest where we’d catch our return flight home.

Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany
Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany

But there was still one last stop to make before we got back on the road. My Austrian friend Helga had told me about these salt mines that we absolutely had to visit. Apparently, there are a number of them around the Austrian-Germany border, and we picked the one close by in the town of Berchtesgaden. Once I saw you got to go down slides within the mines, I was sold! Forever a child at heart.

However, I was initially terrified given my extreme claustrophobia and the fact that you ride a Seven Dwarves-like mining train into the bowels of the underground cave system. I almost backed out just as the train was leaving the station. But it was so cool, temperature-wise, inside as well as fascinating that I managed to brave the hour-long tour without so much as a minor panic attack! The sweet suits they made us wear helped, no doubt.

Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany
Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany

Two thumbs up and a pair of peace signs for Salzbergwerk Berchtesgaden.

And I’m happy to say we did eventually get our Sound of Music fix with an honest-to-goodness abbey in Melk, as well.

Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany

On our way into Vienna for dinner with Helga, we stopped at this town about an hour outside the capital, and it was a true gem, right off the autobahn, too.

Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany

We didn’t pay to get into the abbey—we’re cheap about stuff like that, I tell you—but you can walk around its outside without buying a ticket and then wander down into the cute town below.

Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany
Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany

Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany

There, we had one last beer, found a local potter from whom to buy our token trip souvenirs and called it a vacation for the books.

Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany

Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany
Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany
Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany

Have you ever revisited a place to find that it no longer held the same charm for you it once had?

Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany


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Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany
Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany
Is Salzburg Overrated? The Finale of Our Epic Alps Road Trip Through Austria and Germany
COMMENTS
  • December 29, 2016

    Bummed to hear you were no longer in love with it. We’re staying three nights on our upcoming trip but plan to get outside of town. That meal you had looks amazing so maybe that will have to be on our list! I wish the salt mines were open in winter. Thanks for sharinG!

    • December 29, 2016

      It’s definitely a good central base close to a lot of things, so I don’t think you’ll be disappointed if you plan to day trip. Can’t wait to see your photos, Kristen!

    • December 29, 2016

      Also, go to Königssee if you have the time. I regret we ran out of days as I really wanted to see it! Ditto to Hallstatt.

  • December 30, 2016

    It’s good you guys had a car! Otherwise it would’ve been much harder to leave Salzburg. I haven’t been yet, but I usually avoid travelling Europe in summer. It’s simply too busy. I think visiting off-season would help so much with the vibe of the city!
    Dominique recently posted..My Book Reviews of 2016My Profile

    • January 13, 2017

      You’re right. It’s just too crazy to really enjoy yourself! But it’s a huge continent—surely somewhere is less trafficked in the summer months?!

  • December 30, 2016

    I went to Salzburg a couple of times and loved it although I never felt that I could get a feeling for the real city, for how it works beyond tourism. I loved the views, the gardens, the beer, and a couple of restaurants, but I couldn’t connect with the city as much as I could in Prague, for example. As always, your photos capture so many fun and beautiful details.
    Jenna recently posted..30 Things to Do in the Mendocino AreaMy Profile

  • December 31, 2016

    I had no idea there were salt mines in that part of the world. We’ve been to the Turda one here in Romania and there is one about 10 minutes from here in Ukraine that’ll we’ll visit this year, they’re cool places!
    Alyson recently posted..Christmas in Breb. 2016, Year 2 !My Profile

    • January 13, 2017

      And I didn’t know there were salt mines in Romania either!

  • December 31, 2016

    So sorry to read of your disappointment in Salzburg, which happens to be one of my all-time favorite European cities. Maybe you need to act more like an Austrian to get a feel for the city. Go shopping. They have wonderful shops with wonderful things. Walk up or walk down from the castle. Great exercise. Eat at and enjoy the show of Mozart music at Europe’s oldest restaurant where even Mr. Mozart dined. Go to the street market and buy the wonderful cheese. Eat strudel at the café behind the Mozarthaus. Have a beer and a meal in one of the Kellers. And go off-season, like winter, and enjoy the Christmas markets. It snows and is cold, but all the more reason to drink Glühwein and enjoy a Dampfnudel. And speak some German. Maybe I should write more about my travels…

    • January 13, 2017

      Anita, I’m bummed, too! I really wanted to love it. Maybe the Christmas markets will change my mind? I’m not opposed to going back, but I’d definitely prefer winter next time. Summer was just WAY too touristy for me!

  • December 31, 2016

    So sorry to read of your dissatisfaction with one of my all-time favorite European cities. Perhaps you need to think, feel and chat more like an Austrian. Take a hike up to the castle and back. Great view and great exercise. Go shopping in the narrow streets at its wonderful shops. Go to the market and eat cheese and wurst. Eat the strudel at the café in back of the Mozarthaus. Dine and enjoy the show at the oldest restaurant in Europe where even Mr. Mozart dined. And go off-season, like winter and enjoy the dazzling Christmas market. It is cold and can snow, but all the more reason to enjoy the Glühwein and Germknödel. Perhaps I should write more about my own travels…

    • December 31, 2016

      Ha! I actually did want to shop but it was so rainy and so crowded, we just decided to get out of town entirely. Like I mentioned, I’d still love to get back during Christmas season to see how it’s different. We were there in summer (though it was cold and drizzly nonetheless) so no markets and no Glühwein (though we’re currently in the snowy North Cascades and drank plenty of it at a bonfire last night!).

  • January 7, 2017

    Sounds like maybe you were just vacationed out after 3 weeks on the road? Summer crowds certainly don’t help!
    Leigh | Campfires & Concierges recently posted..Christmas TravelMy Profile

    • January 13, 2017

      That could be the case, too! And I’m just not good with crowds either, so there’s that.

  • January 10, 2017

    I loved these posts, old architectures and wonderful landscapes, I’m thinking of doing tourism on vacation, thank you!

  • May 3, 2017

    Surprised you didn’t like Salzburg, it’s a gorgeous city.

    And I just moved to Vienna last year (don’t ever plan on leaving) and am just blown away by all Austria has to offer — plus the friendliness of the people, the amazing food and the gorgeous scenery.

    Maybe try Salzburg again sometime — like someone else said, in winter with the Christmas markets and less people 🙂

    • May 3, 2017

      Yeah, it was my second time there and I remember liking it the first—then again, that was before I’d visited 100+ countries and the first stop on my solo trip around Europe for four months!—but honestly, it has gotten so crowded, that Salzburg just doesn’t appeal to me at all. At least in summer months. I’ll do as you say and give it another chance at Christmas, but in warmer months, I’ll stick to Vienna and Bavaria 😉

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