Austria: Christmas in Salzburg: Dec 19—27, 2017
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Our very relaxed tour explores both Salzburg’s stunning alpine setting and its rich artistic history, combining easy birding with masterpieces of medieval and Baroque architecture.
Perched along the Salzach River on the northern edge of the dramatic Austrian Alps, Salzburg comes alive for the holidays, from the cheerful bustle of central Europe’s most charming Christmas market to the high drama of some of the most beautiful architecture in the world.
For all its high culture and rich human history, Salzburg’s stunning natural setting is also the winter home of a wide range of birds. In the city, colorful tits and finches feed in gardens and parks, while Tufted Ducks and Black-headed Gulls haunt the waters of the Salzach. Far above, the imposing fortress of Hohensalzburg in some winters attracts mountain species fleeing the snow-covered higher elevations; there is even the chance of finding a Wallcreeper—creeping, naturally, up the walls.
Our relaxed tour combines both aspects, with visits to masterpieces of medieval and Baroque architecture and to more natural habitats rich in wildlife. Most of our days will feature a mix of cultural sightseeing and birding; at many sites, such as the cliffside forests around the twelfth-century abbey church of St. Peter or the gardens of the palace of Hellbrunn, we are likely to be able to enjoy both at the same time.
The Christmas season is a highlight in this famously musical city’s concert year. As a group, we will have good seats for two concerts or recitals (the leaders will select the dates as soon as the schedules and programs have been published). There will also be abundant opportunities to explore Salzburg’s musical offerings on your own.
Because we are based at a single, very comfortable hotel, with no travel from place to place, it is always possible to take a morning, an afternoon, or a full day off simply to wander Salzburg and enjoy the festive atmosphere. This flexibility and our easygoing approach make this an ideal tour for spouses, partners, and traveling companions whose interest in birds is less than all-consuming, but who still want to experience one of Europe’s most welcoming countries at its most appealing season.
Accommodations and cuisine very good; leisurely morning departures and short days; birding and sightseeing generally alternating, or simultaneously at a single site; relatively low species totals; perfect for birders and non-birding companions; cool to cold, possibly snowy weather.