Salzburg or Graz?

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Trelin946
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Salzburg or Graz?

Post by Trelin946 » Sun Aug 03, 2014 9:38 pm

Dh and I will be visiting Vienna in October and will plan a one day side trip to either Salzburg or Graz? Which place do you recommend and why? Thanks!

communipaw
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Re: Salzburg or Graz?

Post by communipaw » Sun Aug 03, 2014 9:58 pm

I lived in Graz for a year and have visited Salzburg many times.
Both beautiful and well preserved cities in scenic settings. Salzburg is well known and very touristed; Graz is much visited by Europeans, not as much by Americans. Both have fascinating architecture and a vibrant city life.
I would visit both; if you must choose one, I'd say Graz.

Valuethinker
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Re: Salzburg or Graz?

Post by Valuethinker » Mon Aug 04, 2014 3:07 am

My last visits to these 2 cities were 25 years ago (been to Vienna and Innsbruck much more recently).

Salzburg is chocolate box cute. Everything was about Mozart. Very touristy. Nice place but I preferred Innsbruck (also very touristy, but that little bit more 'authentic' if there is such a thing).

Graz I went for one reason the Landeszeughaus (spelling?). Basically this is the largest collection of arms and armour of the c. 1500s in the world. Styria was known at Steimark, ie the Styrian Marches, and was the historic frontier against Ottoman Turkish incursions. This is the arsenal of the city militia. I think I learned about it from Rick Steves' book (not sure).

To see so much in one place, sitting on the racks, like an alarm bell would ring and the Graz city guard would just appear and arm itself-- that was really quite unique. In its original setting. You could feel history blowing through the racks.

With the exception of the Museo Stibbert in Florence, I've never seen anything like it.

I do not remember much else about the town other than that I had to take a streetcar to the train station, and that I ate in a Nordsee fish bar (common chain of fish restaurants).

For a unique experience I'd choose Graz, although the city is less distinctive overall than Salzburg (which is kind of your postcard Austrian town, except they milk it to the limit).

Professor Emeritus
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Re: Salzburg or Graz?

Post by Professor Emeritus » Mon Aug 04, 2014 6:15 am

I have worked and stayed in both cities many times. While I like Graz very much and the wine country around it is lovely, Salzburg, despite the touristy kitsch is a far more complex and interesting destination. So ignore the "sound of Music tours and start on the history of this ancient and wealthy city.

NB You would eat better and cheaper in Graz and if you are a weapons fan , there is nothing in the world like the Landeszeughaus

Theotree
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Re: Salzburg or Graz?

Post by Theotree » Mon Aug 04, 2014 6:48 am

Salzburg with a day trip to Hallstatt. :happy

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cowboyinasia
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Re: Salzburg or Graz?

Post by cowboyinasia » Mon Aug 04, 2014 9:48 am

Never been to Graz but I did spend a day in Salzburg. It was a nice little town, and the surrounding area was pretty to. We drove Zurich to Vienna and back, and the western part of that drive was so gorgeous.

m2go
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Re: Salzburg or Graz?

Post by m2go » Mon Aug 04, 2014 12:34 pm

I used to work in Vienna. Everything that's been said is right. In a nutshell, Salzburg is more of a jewel, and more touristed. Graz is a nice regional provincial capital city and cute. I'd fly from Salzburg from NYC, but probably not to Graz. It's down to your expectations - are you coming back to Austria/Europe some day, or is this your one chance to see Salzburg?

Keep in perspective that Graz (under 2 hours) is nearer to Vienna than Salzburg (3hrs), and traffic is probably overall usually more manageable. So, esp. if you plan to drive, going from Vienna to Graz and back by car is much easier than to Salzburg. By train, Salzburg is on a faster train line, and you might get less bogged down in traffic than by car, but it's still longer (2:30h to Salzburg vs 2 to Graz)... so if it's a true day trip, Graz might still be more manageable depending on when you want to leave and expect to come back.
Last edited by m2go on Mon Aug 04, 2014 1:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

snowman
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Re: Salzburg or Graz?

Post by snowman » Mon Aug 04, 2014 12:38 pm

What others have said, including Salzburg if you absolutely have to choose.

Raladic
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Re: Salzburg or Graz?

Post by Raladic » Mon Aug 04, 2014 1:49 pm

Austrian national here. Even for ourselves, we tend to prefer visiting Salzburg over Graz.

Salzburg will have more things for you to visit, it is more of a tourist attraction with things like Mozart, Augustiner Bräu (A beer brewery run by Monks since 1621), The actual castle Hohensalzburg (burg is German for castle) overlooking the city, and if you do have extra time and have never been in a salt mine - Hallein (which is just a bit outside of the city) where you can visit the salt mine and slide down on some pretty old slides.

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JupiterJones
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Re: Salzburg or Graz?

Post by JupiterJones » Mon Aug 04, 2014 2:48 pm

I've also been to both and would recommend Salzburg, hands-down.

Not that there's anything wrong with Graz. It has an interesting "old town", charming cafes, and all that stuff. I just don't think Graz offers anything particularly new to someone who is already coming from Vienna. Salzburg, on the other hand, does.

Granted, my wife and I are musicians, so maybe all the Mozart Gebursthaus stuff carries more weight for us. (We're also unabashed The Sound of Music fans, which doesn't hurt either! maybe if we were Arnold Schwarzenegger fans the scale would tip more toward Graz...)

I think it was Rick Steves that said something to the effect that Salzburg was very touristy, but as long as you go into it accepting of that fact, and just sort of let yourself roll along with the touristyness of it all, you'll have a great time. I couldn't agree more.

Someone mentioned Halstatt, which I also highly recommend. Although it would be pushing it to do both Halstatt and Salzburg just on a single day-trip. Better to make it an overnighter if you're going to do that.

If you have the time, you might also consider a half-day trip to Bratislava. We took the Danube boat out there in the morning, wandered around a bit, had lunch, then took the train back. Very interesting!
Stay on target...

Professor Emeritus
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Re: Salzburg or Graz?

Post by Professor Emeritus » Mon Aug 04, 2014 2:59 pm

Ok true Salzburg Story.
We were visiting Hohensalzburg castle on business (yea Academics have all the luck ). We are walking down past Cathedral ant the street musicians were a string quartet. It was my Birthday and my colleague asked them to play "happy birthday " for me (Nb Germans sing it in English, just like Americans). They said of course and went over to another group and borrowed a tenor and I got the most amazing classical rendition of Happy Birthday you can imagine . Then from across the square I got a trumpet refrain and a flourish

Wow

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Nearing_Destination
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Re: Salzburg or Graz?

Post by Nearing_Destination » Mon Aug 04, 2014 3:03 pm

JupiterJones wrote:I've also been to both and would recommend Salzburg, hands-down.
Someone mentioned Halstatt, which I also highly recommend.


The few (cheaper) accomodations in Halstatt were filling up fast...some rooms in the pricier places might be available.

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JupiterJones
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Re: Salzburg or Graz?

Post by JupiterJones » Mon Aug 04, 2014 3:13 pm

Nearing_Destination wrote:
JupiterJones wrote:I've also been to both and would recommend Salzburg, hands-down.
Someone mentioned Halstatt, which I also highly recommend.


The few (cheaper) accomodations in Halstatt were filling up fast...some rooms in the pricier places might be available.


Well I don't know if I'd sleep in Halstatt, necessarily, given a tight schedule. Probably better to get a room in/near Salzburg. Then either...

A) Drive out to Halstatt from Vienna at the crack of dawn, so you can spend the morning/lunchtime there, then press on to Salzburg. Enjoy the afternoon and evening in Salzburg. Spend the night, enjoy the morning there, then back to Vienna.

or...

B) Drive to Salzburg directly from Vienna. Enjoy a few more hours in Salzburg that day than you would with plan A above. Spend the night. After breakfast, head out and visit Halstatt on your way back to Vienna.

Incidentally, we did something closer to plan B, hitting Halstatt on the way back to Vienna. (Although we spent more than just one night in Salzburg.)
Stay on target...

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JupiterJones
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Re: Salzburg or Graz?

Post by JupiterJones » Mon Aug 04, 2014 3:26 pm

Professor Emeritus wrote:Ok true Salzburg Story.


Nice!

Here's ours: Submitting ourselves to Salzburg's touristy charms, we capped off a wonderful day there with the "Mozart Dinner". This takes place in a room at Stiftskeller St. Peter--supposedly the oldest restaurant in Europe. We enjoyed a (surprisingly not mediocre) candlelit dinner and drinks, with Mozart opera excerpts performed between courses, by a pair of excellent singers and a string quintet.

Afterwards, we're walking back to the bus stop. The old town is still beautifully-lit, but nearly deserted. We hear the faint sounds of a pipe organ and follow it to an old church, where someone is taking advantage of the late hour to do some practicing.

So there we stood, full of good food and wine, just outside a set of beautiful old wooden doors, listening to a marvelous organ concert. As if the music and the city were just for us alone. Magical!
Stay on target...

Trelin946
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Re: Salzburg or Graz?

Post by Trelin946 » Mon Aug 04, 2014 3:50 pm

Thanks fellow bogleheads! This is really helpful for me and my DH. We've decided to do Salzburg and the selling point is that we won't have to return to Vienna. We can take the train to Zurich which is our next stop. We initially were going to return to Vienna and fly to Zurich. The airfare is about $250 per person, one way. The train is only about $80 from Salzburg to Zurich.

m2go
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Re: Salzburg or Graz?

Post by m2go » Mon Aug 04, 2014 4:28 pm

I'd like to counter the suggestion to go to Bratislava/Pressburg. Don't go there. It's a waste of time, nothing you would want to see in this dreary East Bloc capital.

The boat on the Danube... that may be interesting. But if you want to take the boat, go upstream to Stift Melk, a Baroque jewel along the Danube.

Valuethinker
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Re: Salzburg or Graz?

Post by Valuethinker » Tue Aug 05, 2014 3:35 am

Trelin946 wrote:Thanks fellow bogleheads! This is really helpful for me and my DH. We've decided to do Salzburg and the selling point is that we won't have to return to Vienna. We can take the train to Zurich which is our next stop. We initially were going to return to Vienna and fly to Zurich. The airfare is about $250 per person, one way. The train is only about $80 from Salzburg to Zurich.


Depending if you do that train in the day time, the views should be spectacular-- a journey worth it in and of itself.

Takes a fair bit of time, from memory (I was on a sleeper when I did it).

panzer
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Re: Salzburg or Graz?

Post by panzer » Tue Aug 05, 2014 2:31 pm

Never been to Graz but stopped in Salzburg for a day and wish I had planned three.

22twain
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Re: Salzburg or Graz?

Post by 22twain » Tue Aug 05, 2014 3:21 pm

Definitely do Salzburg - Zürich in the daytime if you can manage it. I did it in the opposite direction many years ago, actually from Lindau (Germany) to Salzburg with a few nights in Innsbruck in the middle.

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