It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The holiday season is officially here, and of course I couldn’t be more excited about it. I definitely love to get into the Christmas spirit, and since we were spending the beginning of the holiday season in Europe, my husband and I decided to take a long weekend trip to Austria where the Christmas markets were already abuzz. We settled on the famous city of Salzburg, and it quickly became one of our favorite cities to visit. My husband’s filming schedule always changes (something the planner in me has had to get used to for the last six years), but we always knew he would have Thanksgiving weekend off. We originally were supposed to start our trip in Vienna, but unfortunately we had to cut that part out when my husband was needed on set. But we did not cancel the whole trip, since we were determined to visit Austria together (a country neither of us had been to before). Don’t worry, we still plan on visiting Vienna (it’s high on my “must list”!), but we decided to keep the Salzburg leg of our trip and fly into Munich instead.
After flying into Munich, we boarded an OEBB train out of Munich Central Station to Salzburg, Austria. It’s about a 90 minute journey if you book the express train. Just a quick note: OEBB is an Austrian train line that does NOT have an office in Munich. I strongly recommend purchasing your tickets online and either printing them at home or downloading a PDF of them to your phone before you board the train. We made the mistake thinking we could just pick up our tickets at Munich Central Station, however, there is no kiosk or OEBB desk to do so and my phone didn’t have enough signal to bring up our confirmation email (luckily the official checking tickets on board had mercy on us confused and obviously frazzled tourists). As you approach Salzburg by train, you know you’ve arrived as you cross the river and see Hohensalzburg Fortress up on the mountain in the distance. It’s a very impressive sight. Our hotel, Hotel Sacher Salzburg, was located on the river with a room that overlooked it and the fortress. You can read about our short stay here.
We came to Salzburg for the Christmas markets and festivities, so that’s the first thing we did on our first morning there. The Christmas markets had been open for just a week by the time we got there. The markets reminded me so much of the Danish Christmas markets my family would visit throughout New Jersey when I was little.
Since I was a child, I have always wanted to celebrate Christmas in Europe. I always pictured my dream Christmas abroad (with snow, but sadly we were too early in Austria for that), and this trip to Salzburg was making that dream come true. Christmas music was playing throughout the markets and church bells would ring out occasionally as well. Yes, I was in heaven.
After some traditional holiday glühwein (“mulled wine”) up at the fortress, Tor and I took the funicular back down because we spotted an ice skating rink not far from the Christmas markets. I had not been ice skating in almost four years, and that evidently showed when we first stepped out onto the ice.
Of course, my Canadian husband was a natural show off. But despite all my falls onto my butt, ice skating to Christmas music in the middle of a square in Austria became yet another highlight of our Salzburg visit.
After a long day of exploring, shopping, and skating, we grabbed dinner at Zum Zirkelwirt, which was filled with locals (something we strive to find on every trip). While enjoying our traditional Austrian dishes, a man dressed as Saint Nicholas entered the restaurant with some interesting looking (and quite loud and scary!) monsters that are half demon, half goat called Krampus. He spoke out in German, so we could not fully understand what he was saying. Our waitress was kind enough to explain that in Austria, they don’t necessarily believe in Santa Clause, but they tell their children about Saint Nicholas (the saint associated with Christmas) and that if they are bad, unkind, and not charitable towards others during the year then the Krampus will come after them.
Forget telling kids they’ll get coal for Christmas, instead they’ll get chased by scary monsters! And on December 5 every year, they have what’s called as Krampus night where hundreds of Krampus will take to the streets. Tor and I were completely fascinated by these Austrian Christmas traditions and were glad we got to experience it firsthand!
We enjoyed our visit to Salzburg very much and it most certainly got us into the Christmas spirit, which would continue throughout Munich and then back in Spain. I am glad I get to cross Salzburg (and Austria!) off my bucket list, and I highly recommend visiting this city during the holiday season. Check out my post here about our beautiful hotel!
Photos by Torrance Coombs.