Although Salzburg in winter is full of holiday cheer and sleigh rides through the snow-covered Alps, Salzburg in springtime has just as much to offer. Though notorious for its “Schnürlregen,” or “string rain,” due to its geographic location, there are endless ways to spend the sunny days in between downpours. Here are 4 of the best ways to enjoy Salzburg during a (dry) spring day:
1. Attend a local May Pole Raising on May 1st
One of my favorite experiences in Austria so far has been attending the May Day festival in Aigen, a small village within the Salzburg area. In order to celebrate both the working class and the beginning of spring, all the locals come together in the field surrounding Schloss Aigen for a day of traditional food, drink, and of course, the raising of the May Pole. Join in on the festivities by donning dirndl or lederhosen (the traditional Austrian clothing), and maybe even try climbing the May Pole for a chance to win a pretzel the size of your torso! Attending this event will bring you about as close to authentic Austrian culture as you can get.
2. Hike Gaisberg
Whether you are a seasoned hiker or not, it’s hard to turn down a day of hiking in Salzburg when the Alps are at your feet—or above your head. Make sure you have a sunny day and a couple of hours at your disposal, and take the bus just outside the city to Gaisberg, one of the most prominent mountains near Salzburg. If you start from the very bottom, it takes about two hours to reach the peak, but the view is worth it. Pack a lunch and picnic in the grassy field overlooking the Alps with the city nestled below, or enjoy some local food or ice cream at the restaurant up there.
3. Day (or Weekend) Trip to Munich, Germany for Springfest
If you are studying abroad during spring semester and are disappointed that you won’t catch Oktoberfest, fear not: Munich’s Frühlingsfest, or Springfest, will give you the same taste of a Bavarian party, with slightly shorter lines. Known as Little Oktoberfest, Springfest takes place each year spanning the last weekends of April until the first weekend in May. With a Ferris wheel, carnival games, sausage stands, and of course, the giant tents packed with people of all ages enjoying the best of German cuisine and music, the festival is well worth a day trip at the very least, and well worth squeezing into your dirndl again! If you have the time and energy, be sure to make it into a tent after 7 PM — with most of the tourists cleared out, this is when the real Springfest begins. Don’t expect to find a seat at one of the long wooden tables; everyone will be standing on the benches, singing and dancing to the German Top 40 hits. You won’t know the lyrics, but surely you’ll find a group of German teens who are more than happy to stomp their feet on the benches with you.
4. Enjoy the sunset at Kapuzinerberg
Cliché as it is, I don’t think anyone has ever regretted dedicating an evening, or even just a half hour, to watching the sun set — it’s easy, it’s free, and it makes it easy to fall in love with your surroundings, because you are seeing them at their best. If for some unfathomable reason you are having difficulty falling in love with Salzburg, make the trek up the stone steps to Kapuzinerberg, the hill on which the old city walls stand. With more time, you can walk along the various trails winding around the hill or stop in one of the small churches along the way. If you are just there for the main event, though, take a seat on a bench at one of the various lookout points and watch the sky turn from peach to purple. If you don’t love Salzburg after that, you’ve got your money back guaranteed — if only it had cost you a dime.