Following two nights in the Alps cosied away at Hotel Forsthofgut we spent the final 24 hours of our trip in Salzburg to explore the Christmas markets.
We visited Salzburg on a press trip with the Salzburg tourism board.*
Salzburg is a stunning historic city which can be explored in 24-48 hours. The city is fairly small so everything centrally can be explored by foot. Even though it appears small it is Austria’s fourth largest town and inhabits 150,000 people.
Because we had so little time in Salzburg we got ourselves a guide. Our main intention was to visit the Christmas markets and Michaela our lovely guide incorporated this into a 2 hour walking tour around the Old Town sharing brief snippets of history as we wandered.
Salzburg is divided into Old town and New town by the river Salzache. It gets the name “Salt River” because in historic times the river was used transport salt, this also happens to be where Salzburg gets its name.
It was such a wonderful way to see Salzburg, wrapped up warm and wandering the streets that were all lit up and twinkly, grabbing a glühwein, a marzipan chocolate or some deliciously decadent oozing raclette and continuing on. We quickly learned on our Austria trip that this country is very festive and it really was the perfect place to be in the run up to Christmas.
The markets actually started when miners wanted to generate income in the winter when salt mining was out of season. They started the markets two weeks before 6th Dec (St. Nicolas day) and ended it two weeks after. These are now known as the Christmas markets.
Traditionally the markets sell homemade goods, textiles and trinkets as well as food. However it has become more and more popular for people to visit the markets for festive food and drink.
I would definitely recommend getting a guide as you wander, we learned lots of history about Salzburg as well as fun little facts – like the fact that fruit cake is traditionally eaten the winter because of its high dosage of vitamin D from the nuts in it.
Another fun fact we learned was that the silver and blue marzipan chocolate balls are the original chocolates to Salzburg. They are the only ones that are handmade and you can only buy them here. The red and gold chocolates are delicious, however they are mass produced on a large manufacturing scale.
We stayed at the ultra chic, recently refurbished Hotel Stein. Centrally located on the river and with stunning views of the castle.
The views from the Seven Senses restaurant are as stunning as the food they serve. Tasting menus and modern cuisine paired with gorgeous Austrian wines were on the menu for us. We dined on tuna sashimi, turbot with prawns and a chocolate garden for dessert.
The hotel owners run a glass blowing factory in Burano and the hotel has accents of stunning blue venetian glass throughout.
We enjoyed most of our meals at Hotel Stein in the short 24 hours we were there, however there is always time to graze as you go in the Christmas Markets. We also desperately wanted to try some local Austrian dishes. Zum Zirkelwirt came up on Google as “Salzburg’s best Beef Goulash” and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The goulash was rich, warm and hearty – exactly what you’d want after a morning of wandering around a chilly city. The restaurant is very busy so make a reservation in advance.
If you are planning a trip to Austria during the festive period make sure to spend a night in Salzburg to visit the wonderful Christmas markets, enjoy some glühwein and raclette and really get into the Christmas spirit as you wander the streets listening to the wonderful tales of this beautiful city.