24 Hours in Austria
A recent whistle-stop tour of a country that has always been on our bucket list has certainly given us a taste and a desire to explore more.
Looking Around Linz
Linz is the third-largest city in Austria and a port of call on many Danube River cruises. The city is well-known for the Linzer Torte, which is said to be the world’s oldest cake thanks to an original recipe dating back to 1653.
Linz signifies exactly what river cruising is to us, an unfamiliar city that we would not have discovered had it not been for a brief stop as part of a river cruise. This takes Hannah, our product executive, back to fond memories of her very first introduction to river cruising back in 2013. On that occasion, it was an afternoon stop in a town called Durnstein, with its impressive blue and white clock tower, cobbled streets and friendly locals - some of whom were dressed in traditional clothing, welcoming her into their shops.
The location of the docking station in Linz couldn’t be more central, which allows you to take part in one of the guided excursions provided by the river cruise lines or independently explore under your own steam. Guided tours incorporate a walking tour of the medieval town square in the historic Old Town, where you will see the Renaissance villas and the old cathedral with the Bruckner organ. Also included is a stop at the Mozarthaus, where the legendary composer created one of his most famous symphonies in 1783.
Less than a five-minute walk brings you to the main street. On the sunny, yet autumnal, October day that we visited, there was a relaxed feel and café culture was being enjoyed by those basking in the late afternoon sunshine. For anyone looking to further stretch their legs, there’s the option to carry on into the city and discover a variety of shops amongst eye-catching buildings with regular trams passing by. It’s a perfect port of call in which to easily spend a few hours before embarking your ship and continuing your journey.
Salzburg By Night
Due to the very nature of our fleeting tour, we walked to the train station and took a train to Salzburg. Birthplace of the aforementioned Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the setting for The Sound of Music, home to a historic city centre and Alpine surroundings, and Austria’s fourth-largest city, we arrived after just a one-hour journey. Our hotel was centrally located, along the banks of the Salzach River, where a 5 to 10-minute stroll brought us into the Old Town, renowned for its baroque architecture.
Hidden side streets boast some culinary gems in the form of restaurants waiting to be discovered. In search of a traditional Austrian dining experience, we were given a map and a restaurant recommendation. Here, we found Wiener schnitzel and Goulash accompanied by plenty of beer, before being tempted by the apfelstrudel on the dessert menu, presented quirkily on a very large rolling pin. A fully booked restaurant on a Tuesday night in October allowed us the chance to dine outdoors, on what was almost certainly going to be the final occasion this year. Walking off dinner gave us a chance to see Salzburg by night, with the stunning buildings elegantly lit, reflecting off the water’s edge.
After a snap-shot of Salzburg, we can say it is certainly a city to come back to and explore when we have more time. With many low-cost carriers flying into the nearby airport, it would make for a fantastic stand-alone city break or the ideal pre or post-cruise stay after a journey along the Danube. Many river cruise lines offer an optional full-day excursion from Linz to visit the city of Salzburg. However, between you and us, the hills are calling and we’d love to join The Sound of Music trip in the picturesque town of Mondsee – a definite must-do experience!
If you would like to sample the delights of Austria, we have some great river cruise options available in 2018 and beyond. Call our team on 0800 954 0064 and we’ll help find the ideal ship and holiday for you.