On the Road in Bavaria Day Six: Putting the Salt in Salzburg

Hallein salt mineThis is Part Six in a multi-post series about the first roadtrip Nicole and I took together. We’ll be heading out for a Southwest roadtrip in less than six weeks, and will be chronicling our adventures from the road!

After a near-perfect day in Innsbruck, it was going to be tough to beat our trip to the top of an Alp. Nevertheless, we picked up a quick breakfast at McDonald’s (I know, I know—but we had to sample the Austrian fast food offerings) and hit the road. The drive to Salzburg was manageable (about two hours) and uneventful, especially compared to our snowy travels days earlier.

We were headed to Salzburg for one big reason: Nicole’s love of the Sound of Music. (I remain ambivalent about the musical, although our visit certainly made me appreciate it a bit more.) With a day-long tour planned for the following day, we figured we would take today easy. In fact, we underestimated the drive and actually had nothing planned for the remainder of the day—a rarity with advance planners like us!

So we took our time unwinding at our bed and breakfast, the delightful  Haus Reichl. As Nicole has detailed previously, this alpine oasis is located just outside the city, with a breathtaking view of the Untersberg and fields of deer and cows nearby. With several hours to fill, we flipped through our guidebook and were tickled to discover that we would have time for something we had previously written off for lack of time: a trip to the Salzkammer District, and a tour of the salt mine.

Haus Reichel in Salzburg Austria

The adorable Haus Reichel!

view from Haus Reichel in Salzburg Austria

The view from our bed and breakfast

Salzburg literally means “salt castle”—and no wonder. The city is located near the Hallein Salt Mine, a 7,000-year-old working mine.  A brief drive from our B&B took us to the mine’s entrance, where we bought our tickets, stowed our belongings, and dressed in very attractive miner jumpsuits. Wish I had anticipated our costume change before choosing a skirt and boots that morning!

Hallein Salt Mine Salzburg Austria

Outside the salt mine

Salt mine jumpsuit at Hallein

Somebody is very excited about the salt mine tour!

For the next 90 minutes, we were whisked away—or, more accurately, down—into the mine, riding a miniature train that resembled something from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Instead of diamonds, though, we were surrounded by sparkling salt crystals. The tour was a fantastic blend of history, science, and fun: We descended two levels of the mine by riding down long vertical wooden slides before boarding a raft to cross an indoor salt lake as we watched a (I’m not kidding) laser light show. If only photography was allowed!

Hallein salt mine near Salzburg, Austria

Enjoying the view outside the salt mine

Hallein salt mine near Salzburg, Austria

Not the best outfit for this tour—but still a lot of fun

sheep near the Hallein salt mine

Sheep on a nearby hillside

We finished our tour with a trip to the gift shop (table salt, saline spray, and other salty treasures), then headed back to Salzburg for a dinner of some of the best Chinese food we’ve ever tasted. Then it was early to bed—we had to meet our guide for the Sound of Music tour the next morning.




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