Wind in my hair, sunshine on my face, feet on the pedals….WHAT? Don’t I mean feet on the ground, like running? Well there was that too, but first I have to tell you about the best bike ride of my adult life.
It’s not that I dislike biking, it’s that it’s not running.
You know I have to ride with cars.
I have to trust drivers.
I have to trust my own balance and my ass hurts.
Not so in Salzburg!!! I can’t really pick a favorite from our time in Croatia, Slovenia and Austria…but dang this one was WAY up there.First of all, I’ve never seen a city with more bikes in my life. Everywhere you turn there are bike racks loaded down and people flying by and oh it just kind of makes you want to be a part of what’s happening.
As you being looking around you realize they likely have as many issues with bike traffic during rush hour as they do cars. But the city is designed for it.
Not only are the bike lanes off the roadways, but most places there is a separate path for walkers! OMG how freaking ingenious and no wonder everyone here chooses to travel this way.
The city is also built along the river, which means that the paths are largely flat and paved or a very soft crushed gravel. It’s the easiest ride you’ll ever find, the only problem being rubber necking at the passing mountains, river or castles could toss you over.
Which brings me to…
How to Spend 2 Days in Salzburg
On day one, you’ll be so enamored by the main town, called the Getreidegasse, that you should definitely spend all your time exploring what’s available here. The alleys filled with ornate shop signs, clocks and nearly every street ending with a church.
You’ll also find pretzels that beat the pants of what we had in Germany!
This was the first stop on our trip where we started to once again run in to Starbucks, McDonald’s and some mainstream chains, but they too had to fit in with the style! As you walk through the Old Town taking in the historic buildings (most of which have been renovated inside), you’ll also find a number of painters or street performers. It’s not a large area, but it’s packed with sites like:
- the Salzburg Fortress (we didn’t go visit this one, but you can)
- the Salzburg Cathedral (you can walk inside to see this beautiful structure)
- Mirabell Palace and Gardens (you can walk the gardens for free)
- fresh running water that you can drink (totally did, it was so fabulous)
You can also walk along the River Salzach via paved paths that stretch for miles, with multiple bridges to cross from side to side making it easy to loop around. This is where you’ll find another love locks bridge, always fun to see, and you’ll get a true feeling for just how many people travel by bike. Hundreds of bikes everywhere and yet you have a separate walking path so you won’t be run down.
Day 2: Biking and Exploring Mount Untersberg
Because biking is so blissfully fun here, I was game for David’s day of exploration. Early morning we grabbed our bikes and set out with map in hand to find the peak off in the distance. We biked along the crushed gravel about 4 miles to Mount Untersberg where we could have taken an INSANE hike, but instead started with a glorious cable car ride up to 6,000 feet.
While mountains in Colorado are higher, this looked bigger because you start from sea level. And for some reason here when they design hikes they go STRAIGHT up rather than using a normal zig zag to work your way up.Upon reaching the top, you’ll find 360 degree views of the surrounding landscape. Breathtakingly beautiful greens, the sharp edges of the rocks, the outlines of more Alps in the distance and the city of Salzburg below.
From the top, you can hike to a few nearby spots or embark on longer hikes. Each major peak is marked with a cross, giving you something to aim for during your hike.
And per usual on this trip, we realized that the hikes here are intense and we once again wished for trekking poles and trail shoes.After we finished exploring up high, it was time to head back down to see a little more. Truly, you’ll find biking here to be so extremely easy because there are paved and crushed gravel paths that follow the river for miles and miles.
Additionally, there are green signs which will point you to some of the most iconic spots as you’re riding. Of course you can see some pieces of the Sound of Music, but there’s also the Hellbrun Castle, aka the Pleasure Palace. To say it will overload your sense is an understatement!!!
“but what is actually a pleasure palace? Quite simply: a place for celebration, for pleasure and recuperation – a representative holiday domicile with a park and trick fountains. Pleasure palaces were highly fashionable around 1615. Little has changed at Hellbrunn in over 400 years.” It’s filled with crazy artwork, sculptures, trick fountains and really must be experienced to understand.Even if you aren’t making stops, simply biking along watch people gallop their horses, looking at the mountains in the distance, the river rushing along or simply the others biking makes for a wonderful and interesting day.
I wish I could transport you to that day because it really was just magical. Flat, comfy seat, perfect views, I mean this is what biking is meant to be for a runner, ha!! Really though I think it’s important to know it would be an easy place for anyone to hop on a bike and explore because it does allow you to see more than on foot.This time we used bikes from our hotel which were 7 Euros for the day, but you’ll find rentals for around 12-15 Euros for the day. I’d recommend renting for the full day, just to ensure you can stop and picnic or stop at the Zoo or the Pleasure Palace, wherever you feel like without worrying about getting back.
The one place not to bike is in the main squares. You’ll find plenty of bike racks across the street to lock up and then as we did walk around sniffing out the best dinner to refuel after a day on the go.
Have you ever been to Austria?
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