Expert guide to Salzburg
Please note our writer visited Salzburg prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
You might not have Salzburg down as an all-night raver – and you’d be right – but there’s still plenty happening when the sun dips behind those mountains. Evenings move to a chilled beat in summer: spent with cold brews quaffed in chestnut tree-shaded Biergarten, or gazing out across the Altstadt’s domes and spires from a chic roof terrace. Year round, you can tap into the nightlife scene in intimate right-bank bars playing up biodynamic Austrian wines, craft beer or cocktails with a pinch of creativity. And if you’re up for a party, you’ll find late-night jazz clubs, gigs and DJ nights if you know where to look.
Right Bank: Altstadt
Follow your cocktail calling down Salzburg’s prettiest medieval lane, Steingasse, to reach this stylish little number. Here mellow music, atmospherically backlit vaults and tubular lighting illuminating the bar set the scene. The doodle-tastic walls are an ode to the Father of Evolution, with ape men, globes and theories etched across them. The cocktails can be ground-breaking, too: from bang-on-the-money espresso martinis to knock-your-socks-off herbal elixirs laced with local honey. See the website for the details of its regular cocktail-making workshops.
Contact: Steingasse 1; facebook.com/darwins.salzburg
Going strong since 1901, this Salzburger Weissbierbrauerei prides itself on the purity and crisp aroma of its cloudy Weissbier wheat beer, which is Marmite love-it-or-hate-it stuff. Die Weisse is the part of the brewery open to punters, bringing together a high-ceilinged pub, an array of cosy, timber-lined parlours, and a summertime courtyard with abundant tree shade. Besides an excellent selection of seasonal beers, there are hearty snacks on the menu (dumplings, goulash, roast chicken and schnitzel) to mop it all up. As the evening wears on, Sudwerk bar takes over with an upbeat crowd and DJs.
Contact: 0043 662 872 246; dieweisse.at
Proof that the global craft beer wave has reached Salzburg comes in the form of Alchimiste Belge. This is a wunderbar drinking den to sample a 150-strong assortment of out-of-the-ordinary brews. The vibe is relaxed, with rock tunes playing and a cheerful crowd piling in for the likes of cherry-laced Krieks, Trappist ales and hoppy IPAs. The chipper bar staff are happy to advise if you can’t make your mind up. When the weather warms, folk spill out onto the pavement terrace on Bergstrasse. And if there’s a small group of you, it’s worth checking out the beer tastings (the website has details).
Contact: 00 43 66 06 81 57 25; alchimiste-belge.at
Natural Wine Dealers
Italians know a thing or two about good wine – and Rafael Peil and Nina Corti are no exception to this rule. They pour love, energy and dolce vita into this warm, friendly, bottle-lined enoteca in an off-the-beaten track corner of the historic centre. Their organic and biodynamic wines are carefully selected, and there are always some interesting Austrian ones in the mix. Get their recommendations, then enjoy a glass or two with an Italian or Austrian sharing platter of cheese and charcuterie with organic sourdough bread at one of just a sprinkling of tables.
Contact: 0043 662 873257; naturalwinedealers.com
Seven Senses is quite literally the icing on the cake of nouveau-chic boutique Hotel Stein. The seventh-floor rooftop bar elicits little wows with its dress-circle views of the spires, domes and medieval houses of Salzburg’s fortress-crowned Altstadt. If it’s impressive by day, by night it really comes into its own when the city starts to twinkle. The lounge area is all about understated sophistication with a dash of glam: eye-catching Murano chandeliers, cobalt blue chairs and contemporary mosaic-tiled floors. It’s the perfect Instagrammable spot for champagne-laced cocktails and conversing.
Left Bank: Altstadt
After clambering up to Salzburg’s high-on-a-hill fortress, you can’t beat a cold and foamy one at this huge beer hall, where vaulted parlours brim with woodsy charm and hunting trophies. If it feels a bit Oktoberfesty, it’s no coincidence – it was designed by the same architect as Munich’s Hofbräuhaus. And it’s been brewing the good stuff for 500 years. The signature is malty, medium-bodied, top-fermented Märzen, which pairs nicely with meaty snacks from schnitzel to pork roast. Other Stiegl beers are seasonally pepped up with ingredients from juniper and coriander to cinnamon. The sprawling terrace has sensational ringside views of the Altstadt.
Contact: 0043 662 842681; restaurant-stieglkeller.at
A rollicking good beer hall in the shadow of Mönchsberg’s cliffs, Augustiner Bräustübl was founded by monks back in 1621. Locals have flocked here to guzzle tankards of beer and set the world to rights ever since. In winter, Salzburger fill its vaulted halls with the sound of clinking glasses and chatter, while in summer it’s all about Austria’s largest beer garden, with 1400 seats taking shade under the chestnut trees. Fill your stein at the foyer pump. Snack stands dish up beer grub like pretzels, pork trotters and grilled sausages.
Ever the rebel on Salzburg’s cultural scene, ARGEkultur swam away from the mainstream when it started up in the 1980s, and today its events still have alternative edge. Virtually anything goes here, with the line-up leaping from poetry slams to gigs, world music, dance, cabaret and DJ-spun party nights. Expect an easy-going vibe courtesy of the many students who come here (it’s at Unipark Nonntal campus). ARGE Beisl is the bar side of things, with industrial flair, day specials on the menu and a terrace that morphs into a beach in summer, complete with deckchairs and palms.
Contact: 0043 662 848784; argekultur.at
Getting in: Advance booking is recommended for events
The architecturally striking, glass-and-steel Hangar-7 complex is home to the historic Flying Bulls aircraft fleet, which you can admire with a cocktail in hand from the sophisticated surrounds of Mayday Bar. The beautifully lit glass dome is impressive date-night stuff, with mixologists whipping up signature cocktails like Mama & the Milkman (vanilla-infused vodka with passion fruit, milk and lemon) and Hangar-8 Mule (Hangar-7 gin, lime, pineapple and ginger ale). Under the same roof is gourmet restaurant Ikarus, raising the bar snack offering with the delicious likes of Vietnamese summer rolls and Brazilian bean croquettes with steak tartare.
Contact: 0043 662 2197; hangar-7.com
Getting in: No dress code per se but it’s smarter than most
One of the best places to get your groove on in Salzburg, this intimate, dimly lit, poster-plastered club brings the cream of the local and international jazz scene to the fore. There’s always a good buzz on gig nights, when the place is packed to the gunnels. Jazz is liberally interpreted here, with everything from solo sax acts and classic quartets to world music and open-mic sessions. There’s always jazz playing at Jazzit:Bar next door, which hosts free Tuesday-night jam sessions and spills out into a courtyard garden in summer.
Contact: 0043 662 88 32 64; jazzit.at
Getting in: Advance booking is recommended for events