How do I even begin recapping our anniversary trip to Austria in June? To quote a famous stanza from a famous song that served as the theme of this trip: Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.
When we first received PCS orders for Germany, everyone asked me what I was most excited to see and do. Naturally, I wanted to reply, “Everything!” but I would finally say, “I want to go to Salzburg, Austria, and see all the sights from The Sound of Music” when prodded for an actual answer. So for the June 4-day weekend that happened to coincide with our 5th wedding anniversary, we did just that.
Admittedly, I had high expectations for this trip. So high, in fact, I was sure that I would be disappointed. I am thrilled to say Salzburg exceeded every one of those expectations.
Before I jump into the “what to do” because we did so many different and fun activities that they each deserve a post of their own, let’s break down where to stay and eat.
Where To Stay
We stayed at the Sheraton Grand Salzburg and had the best experience. Admittedly, it’s a little on the pricey side (it is a 5-star hotel) but we considered the rate reasonable when factoring in the modern conveniences of an American hotel chain. Those conveniences primarily being air conditioning and an elevator! 😉 Plus, it wasn’t too much more than the cost of AirBNBs located in the city center. We actually had a free night’s stay thanks to my Marriott Bonvoy credit card, which decreased the total price per night for our total 3 nights. (I have a referral code for the Marriott Bonvoy credit card – you can earn 3 free nights after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months. Use your credit card responsibly, of course!)
The hotel staff was incredibly friendly and helpful, doing things like loaning us an umbrella on an overcast day and leaving a chocolate on the pillow in Drew’s travel cot during the nightly turndown service. They even upgraded our room from a classic to a deluxe for free!
One of the best pieces of advice I received regarding traveling with a toddler (after our disastrous weekend in Garmisch) is to stay as close as to the attractions you plan to visit as you possibly can. If you need to sneak away for a few hours’ nap, you won’t waste precious time driving in and out of the city. Plus, it’s less time for your kiddo to sit in the car seat. (Anyone else have a toddler who suddenly began protesting the car seat, or just me?)
That suggestion was perfect, especially for a walkable city like Salzburg. Our hotel’s “backyard” was Mirabell Gardens, and we were just a quick walk across the “Love Lock” bridge from two restaurants that were our favorites of the entire trip.
I highly, highly recommend the Sheraton Grand Salzburg and will definitely stay here again on any future trips to Salzburg.
Where To Eat
If you know me, you know I’m probably the world’s pickiest eater. So it will shock you to hear that I enjoyed every single meal in Austria. Seriously. Every single restaurant had a meal I would eat, and most required few modifications. (Granted, I like sausage, and since currywurst and bratwurst is a regional staple, I was in luck!) Most of the restaurants we visited also had a few vegetarian options, which was helpful since my toddler is going through a weird stage of not always eating meat when it’s served.
Griesgasse 15, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
We had never heard of the Burgerista chain before (literally) stumbling upon it in Salzburg, but we were so glad we did! After arriving in town late Friday evening, we took a quick walk around our hotel’s neighborhood, hoping to find something to eat. It’s located across the “Love Lock” bridge, around the corner from Mozart’s birthplace. Burgerista is a premium burger chain that reminded me of Teddy’s Bigger Burgers in Hawaii. Being the picky eater I am, I ordered a plain hamburger, but Andy recommends the VIB Beef burger! There’s also a Burgerista in Nürnberg (about an hour from our home in Graf) that we’ll have to visit sometime.
Griesgasse 15, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
Sharing the building with Burgerista is Backwerk, a bakery chain. Andy decided to stop inside for a sweet treat to polish off his dinner. I assumed they wouldn’t have anything that I would like – I’m particular about my donuts (nothing beats my favorite hometown donut store back in Owensboro!), but I was quickly proved wrong. They had the yummiest sugar donuts. I loved them so much that we stopped at Backwerk on our Sunday morning stroll, and I made a quick donut run on Monday morning before leaving town. Backwerk also has locations in Weiden and Amberg (the 2 cities closest to Graf) that I will definitely be visiting!
inside the Eagle’s Nest in nearby Berchtesgaden, Germany
I’ll share more about the Eagle’s Nest in a future post. Still, it was a diplomatic reception house built for Hitler by members of the Nazi Party to celebrate the Führer’s 50th birthday and entertain visiting diplomats. It was spared bombing during WWII due to its location on top of the Kelstein mountain peak. After it was turned over to the Bavarians, it was turned into a restaurant. Sadly, the interior was renovated, and it looks just like every other German gasthaus, but it’s kind of interesting to say we ate at what was once one of Hitler’s lodges. Although the food wasn’t spectacular, I’d recommend eating here for the experience alone.
inside the fortress (Festung Hohensalzburg)
located at Mönchsberg 34, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
Sadly, due to pandemic restrictions, we didn’t get to eat inside the castle hall, but we did enjoy an outdoor lunch in the middle of the courtyard. Andy said their Käsespätzle was delicious, although I ordered just a burger and fries.
Marchhart’s Thai – Fisch – Steak
next to Schloss Leopoldskron
Firmianstraße 2, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
This restaurant was rather pricey, but it was our “big splurge” for our anniversary weekend. The patio has a lovely view of Leopoldskroner Weiher, aka Leopoldskron Lake. The wait staff was so kind and friendly, which we appreciated because Drew was unusually fussy during our meal. I had some steak strips, Andy had the Surf & Turf combo, and Drew had chicken kebabs. For dessert, we all shared a chocolate soufflé.
We also took advantage of being in a big city to order food on the Lieferando.AT app (or website, since I didn’t want to download the app to my phone.) We’re not normally the type to order food in, but it was helpful to eat dinner with a cranky toddler because it’s past bedtime.
Kaigasse 15, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
I was craving Mexican food and saw this option on the Lieferando website. It hit the spot! Andy loved their nachos and beef burrito, while Drew ate their chicken quesadilla. When I forgot to make a note for a special request for my tacos on the app, we immediately called the restaurant, and they were easily able to make my tacos just how I like them.
…A ghost kitchen?
And while I wouldn’t recommend this restaurant, I include it here because I found it hilarious. We ordered pizza from what we thought was a local pizza chain called Daddy’s Pizza. Looking back, the name of the pizzeria sounds sus, but at the time, I was just hungry so I didn’t care. I was curious about where this place was located, so I Googled the address…. and it belonged to a nightclub! I was in hysterics. I had heard of ghost kitchens before and even knew some people who had accidentally ordered from them (my sister ended up with pizza from Chuck-E-Cheese, and her friend ended up with chicken strips from a strip club), but this was the first time it had happened to us. Daddy’s Pizza tasted like cardboard, so I would not recommend it.
Whether you’re a picky eater like me or more adventurous like Andy, you will not be disappointed in the delicious food of Salzburg!
Without further ado, it’s time to recap the trip itself. And gosh, what a trip it was!