1. Festung Hohensalzburg


Salzburg’s most visible icon is this mighty 900-year-old cliff-top fortress, one of the biggest and best preserved in Europe. It’s easy to spend half a day up here, roaming the ramparts for far-reaching views over the city’s spires, the Salzach River and the mountains. The fortress is a steep 15-minute jaunt from the centre or a speedy ride in the glass Festungsbahn funicular .

The fortress began life as a humble bailey, built in 1077 by Gebhard von Helffenstein at a time when the Holy Roman Empire was at loggerheads with the papacy. The present structure, however, owes its grandeur to spendthrift Leonard von Keutschach, prince-archbishop of Salzburg from 1495 to 1519 and the city’s last feudal ruler. Highlights of a visit include the Golden Hall , where lavish banquets were once held, with a gold-studded ceiling imitating a starry night sky. Your ticket also gets you into the Marionette Museum , where skeleton-in-a-box Archbishop Wolf Dietrich steals the (puppet) show, as well as the Fortress Museum , which showcases a 1612 model of Salzburg, medieval instruments, armour and some pretty gruesome torture devices.