The hills are alive with the smell of aviation gas, writes Grant Bradley from inside Red Bull's shed in Salzburg

Close to half a million tourists visit Salzburg for Sound of Music tours, while others flock to see Mozart's birthplace.

For us, an overnight stay in this beautiful town in the Austrian Alps en route to an Avalon Waterways cruise on the Danube had a different focus — the high octane Hangar-7.

In what is a modern treasure of a building, there are gathered an eye-popping trove of some of Red Bull's most magnificent machines. You don't have to be a plane buff to admire these magnificently restored and pimped-up historic planes, or much of a petrolhead to enjoy, at touching distance, gleaming cars that have won Formula 1 and IndyCar races.

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The hangar at Salzburg Airport is owned by the founder of the energy drink company, Dietrich Mateschitz, who's amassed a multi-billion dollar fortune selling the highly caffeinated beverage.

It is underplayed in promotional material about Salzburg but once you find it (three stops on a public bus but walkable from the terminal) it is a great way to spend a couple of hours.

Staff were happy to store our bags after we had emailed ahead.

Among the planes we gawked at were a 1945 Corsair with its folded wings for operating off aircraft carriers in the Pacific (the RNZAF also operated the "bent wing bird" during World War II) and the dazzling chrome-look Lockheed P-38 Lightning also used in the Pacific. There was a grunty, stunted-looking 28B Trojan and a sporty 1981 Alpha jet. These planes are part of the Flying Bulls fleet.

On display are the original wings with which Felix Baumgartner, the sky-jumper, crossed the English channel between Dover and Calais.

Race cars, racing bikes and enduro machines mean less to us but they were beautiful to see close up.

The X2010 S Vettel was especially cool, it looked like something from a Batman movie. There are explanations of the exhibits on iPads and this car was designed for a PlayStation game. Its designer was tasked with creating something which doesn't respect any race car regulations and whose pure purpose is to go as fast as possible around a lap. The result is a 1500 horsepower beast capable of top speeds of 450km/h.

The hangar also attracts architecture aficionados, with 380 tonnes of glass covering the 1200 tonnes of steel used in its skeleton.

It makes much of its gourmet dining. We had a snack at its downstairs cafe and the currywurst was impressive, if twice the price of what was available on the street in Berlin, just over an hour's flight away.

Hangar-7 is open daily from 9am to 10pm and it's free to get in. While it's literally a promotional vehicle for Red Bull, nobody's forcing you to drink it.

CHECKLIST

Getting there:

offers airfares to Vienna, with return Economy Class tickets from $1859.

Cruise details: Avalon Waterways' 'Active Discovery' cruise departs Linz, a one-hour train ride from Salzburg.

Further information: See hangar-7.com/en