I landed on an October afternoon in weather clear enough to enjoy the breathtaking sight of the towering cliff that hugs the river, capped by the 600metrehigh peak Monschberg.
It was a wall of rock to match the ramparts of souvenir shops below on Getreidegasse.
For a terrific overall view of Salzburg, ride the elevator to the top of Monchsberg, where there's a modernart museum. From the summit Salzburg is mesmerising, particularly in the morning sun.
Strolling among the cobbled streets below, though, one destination alone demands everyone's attention: the yellow apartment house where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born and raised.
You can pay a few euros to see the family rooms on the third floor. Or you can pay much less for a postcard and just take a seat at the cafe in front, order a glass of wine for 2 euros (Bt90) to ward off the chill, and gaze at the composer's homestead, imagining his life before fame came knocking.
Shoppers love Getreidegasse, one of the oldest streets in Salzburg. Wroughtiron signs hang above the shops explaining pictorially what's inside.
In centuries long gone the street was where shipments of salt were tallied for export. Few people could read, of course, so the storekeepers used signs with pictures and symbols.
A McDonald's has joined the traditional shop fronts here, but with its round sign bearing just the initial "M" it manages to fit in.
There are some wonderful little courtyards as well, hidden down side passages, with galleries, boutiques, the occasional secondhand market and cafes that can be small enough to scare away the claustrophobic.
In less than an hour you can see virtually all of Getreidegasse, from the tiny corner shops to the fresh market in the back, and there's no chance of getting lost with Fortress Hohensalzburg always looming at one end of the city.
Even without the landmark, visitors feel they know their way around the old town - they vividly remember the scenes from the classic 1965 film "The Sound of Music".
"Many people come here because of the movie, which is more famous outside Salzburg than it is here," a guide pointed out.
The fans usually make a beeline to Mirabelle Palace, the white mansion with a flower garden out front where Julie Andrews' Maria sang and danced to "DoReMi" with Captain von Trapp's seven children.
Now part of the Mozarteum, a museum-cum-music university, the palace on the far bank of the Salzach from the old town looks just as it did in the movie, complete with the arched tunnel.
In the old town is Salzburg Cathedral, better known as the Dom, hailed as the most perfect building of the northern Renaissance, even in a former ecclesiastical state famed for its churches and monasteries.
Nearby is the Rococostyle St Peter's Church, huge and tall and with a door on the west side an impressive 800 years old.
A fiveminute walk away is a very plain building that houses the world's first bakery, and it's still treating shoppers to bread made from its original recipe.
No one gets offended if you find the bread tough and dull-tasting, least of all the pigeons in the plaza next door, which will gladly finish off your portion while you buy some salty bagels instead.
The smell of horse manure fills the air. Just like in "The Sound of Music", horse-drawn carriages rattle around for tourists to enjoy the city the old-fashioned way.
What fascinated me most in Salzburg was St Peter's Cemetery. Nowhere in Thailand are you invited to visit a cemetery - they're the preserves of the dead, sacred if not scary. But St Peter's is lovely.
It's the oldest cemetery still in use in the Germanspeaking world, and the final restingplace of artists, scholars, merchants and nobility.
The individual stone-block mausoleums are in all sizes, with wrought-iron signs of their own in different styles. Flowers of every hue adorn the lawns, so much so that if it weren't for the crosses you might think you were in a garden.
The old town deserves its reputation as the one of the best-preserved city centres north of the Alps, as well as its status as a Unesco World Heritage site.
Like many of the venerable cities of Europe, Salzburg is ideal for people who love to walk, with historic sites vying with all sorts of fascinating, passing details to seize the visitor's attention.
Rolling along in luxury
Most visitors come to Salzburg from Vienna, 336 kilometres to the northeast, and the choice of transportation is an interesting one.
The autobahn is famously fast, but driving is still only recommended if you have days to spare. If your time is limited to about three hours, the train is the choice.
And it's a cheaper option too, at about 70 euros (Bt3,200) for the round trip, and less if you travel with someone else. The quickest trains from Vienna to Salzburg take two hours and 39 minutes.
You could fly, of course, but the cheapest airfare is about 165 euros.
Going by train is wonderfully relaxing, letting you soak in the views of hillsides, old houses, wind turbines by the score and, as you approach Salzburg, beautiful lakes and pine forests.
To travel the rails in the grandest style, book passage on the Majestic Imperator.
Modelled on the transportation favoured in the early 19th century by Emperor Franz Joseph I and Empress Elisabeth, the rulers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, this elegant train shuttles between Vienna, Salzburg, Munich, Prague and Budapest.
The press group with which I was touring last October found the red-carpeted, air-conditioned carriages as splendid as promised.
Stewards greeted us warmly and spent the journey serving us champagne and snacks in the dining car.
The private cars attached had upholstered sofas, perfect for a quiet read or nap. These can be reserved for group outings, and on festive occasions like New Year's Eve special dinners are provided.
As the Empress Elisabeth put it, "The destinations are only desirable because the journey lies in between."