Salzburg is often overshadowed by the capital city of Austria, Vienna, but Salzburg holds all the charm without the overwhelming hustle and bustle of a big city. With old-world charm, stunning architecture, and the allure of the Eastern Alps, it’s not hard to see why this was the setting of The Sound of Music. Not only was it the setting for the outstanding classic film, but it was the birthplace of one of the most renowned composers in history: Wolfgang Mozart. So, without further ado, here is my guide for a day in Salzburg!
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What to Do?
You won’t find yourself short of things to do in Salzburg! So whether you are there to stay for the evening or just the day, I have compiled a list of my favourite things to do in the town.
Start your day off with breakfast at Café Tomaselli. Café culture is an essential part of the Austrian experience, and what better way to start your day off than in a café dating back to the 1700s. It’s situated in the heart of the Old Town and has some of the most delicious coffee I have ever tasted.
After you’ve fueled up for the jam-packed day, head out into the Old Town and hit up the Residenzplatz, just a short walk from the café. In the Residenzplatz, you’ll find the Salzburg Cathedral and Resident Palace, two of the most popular places to visit in Salzburg.
After wandering around the Residenzplatz, head along Festungasse Lane up to the looming Hohensalzburg Fortress. The Prince-Archbishops of Salzburg erected the fortress with a length of 250 metres and a width of 150 metres, making it one of the largest medieval castles in Europe. Construction began in 1077, and the only time in its over 900 years of existence the fortress was under siege was in the German Peasants’ War in 1525.
You can follow Festungasse Lane to Nonnberg Abbey, where the real Maria Augusta von Trapp resided.
The walk to Nonnberg Abbey provides spectacular views over the town and the East Alps that just completely took my breath away. The monastery is the oldest continuously existing nunnery in the German-speaking world, consecrated in 714, and was made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996.
After exploring the Nonnberg Abbey or the Hohensalzburg Fortress, head back towards the Old Town and the Art Nouveau pedestrian bridge, Mozartsteg. Of course, the bridge itself was also featured in the Sound of Music. Still, it took you across the Salzach River, another stunning walk with beautiful views of the Nonnberg Abbey and the Hohensalzburg Fortress (pictured below).
The Mozartsteg was built in 1903, and, according to local ‘legend,’ a wealthy owner of a café lobbied for the construction of the Mozartsteg and donated money for it, only because his café did not receive the number of guests that his competitors on the other side of the Salzach River had.
On the other side of the river, pay a visit to Mirabell Palace and Gardens. The Palace was built in 1606 under Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich Raitenau as a pleasure palace for himself and his mistress, Salome Alt. The Marble Hall is possibly the most gorgeous spot inside the Palace, where Gretl Braun- sister to Adolf Hitler’s wife Eva Braun- married SS-Gruppenführer Hermann Fegelein on 3 June 1944.
End your trip to Salzburg with a bite at a local restaurant to try all of the delicacies Austria has to offer! Then, if you have a bit of extra time in Salzburg, you can head to St. Peter’s Monastery, Mozart’s Birthplace, or join the 4-hour Sound of Music Tour.
Top 15 Places to Visit in Salzburg
- Hohensalzburg Fortress: Dominating the city’s skyline, the Hohensalzburg Fortress offers stunning panoramic views and a glimpse into medieval life. The audio tour takes you through the princely rooms and the fortress museum. Website
- Mirabell Palace and Gardens: This beautiful Baroque palace, surrounded by meticulously manicured gardens, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Marble Hall inside is a famous venue for concerts. Website
- Mozart’s Birthplace: Explore the birthplace of the genius composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The museum showcases his life, work, and personal items. Website
- Salzburg Cathedral: This 17th-century Baroque cathedral is an architectural marvel. Visit for its impressive facade, art, organ, and crypt. Website
- Hellbrunn Palace & Trick Fountains: Known for its trick fountains, this Renaissance palace is a great summer escape. Explore the palace’s opulent rooms and lush gardens. Website
- Salzburg Museum: This museum showcases Salzburg’s culture, art, and history, including archaeological finds, paintings, and sculptures. Website
- Getreidegasse: This bustling shopping street is full of historical buildings, high-fashion boutiques, and charming cafes. Don’t miss Mozart’s Birthplace located here. Website
- St. Peter’s Abbey: This Benedictine monastery boasts a beautiful church, ancient catacombs, and a stunning library. Website
- Salzburg Zoo: The zoo offers a unique combination of a park landscape and zoo animals. It houses around 140 different species from all over the world. Website
- Mozart’s Residence: The house where Mozart and his family lived from 1773, this museum presents various items from Mozart’s life, including his fortepiano. Website
- Hangar-7: Hangar-7 at Salzburg Airport is a unique building that houses historical aircraft, Formula 1 race cars, and art exhibitions. Website
- Salzburg Marionette Theatre: Enjoy performances ranging from Mozart operas to Shakespeare plays by the incredibly detailed marionettes. Website
- Hohenwerfen Castle: Situated about 40 km south of Salzburg, this 900-year-old fortress hosts a variety of family-friendly activities. Kids will love the historic weapons exhibit, the falconry museum, and the spectacular bird of prey demonstrations. Website
- St. Sebastian’s Cemetery: This peaceful cemetery contains the tombs of Mozart’s wife, Constanze, and his father, Leopold. Website
- Museum of Natural History and Technology: A perfect blend of knowledge and fun, the museum offers intriguing exhibits on astronomy, biology, geology, and more. Website
Top 10 Places to Visit in Salzburg for Kids
- Fantasiana Theme Park: A fantastic amusement park offering a range of rides and attractions for all ages, from thrilling roller coasters to more gentle, family-friendly rides. There’s also a petting zoo and fairy-tale-themed areas. Website
- Toy Museum: With hands-on exhibits and interactive displays, this museum offers a unique and fun experience for kids. Website
- Haus der Natur: This museum of natural history and science has a wide range of interactive exhibits that children will love, including a reptile zoo and aquarium. Website
- Marionette Museum: Located within the Fortress Hohensalzburg, the museum showcases the history of marionettes and offers puppet shows. Website
- Leopoldskron Swimming Pool: On hot summer days, this outdoor pool, located in the Leopoldskron Palace complex, is a great place to cool off. It has a large pool, a children’s pool, and a playground. Website
- Dwarf Garden in Mirabell Gardens: This unique part of the historic Mirabell Gardens features a series of charming dwarf statues originally carved in the 18th century. It provides a whimsical experience for children and a unique photo opportunity. Website
- Sound of Music Tour: Kids will enjoy this fun tour exploring filming locations of the beloved musical film ‘The Sound of Music’. Website
- Family Skiing at Gaissau-Hintersee: This family-friendly skiing area offers beginner to advanced slopes, ski schools, and equipment rental. Website
- Untersberg Cable Car: A ride on the cable car up to Untersberg Mountain is a thrilling experience with spectacular views. Website
- Family Mountain Adventure at Karkogel: Offering summer tobogganing and winter skiing, it’s a great spot for outdoor fun. Website
Now, I, myself, did not spend the evening in Salzburg, but, after spending hours wandering the town and researching the best hotels/hostels, I have concluded: stay in the Old Town! Almost everything you want to do in Salzburg is located within the Old Town or in very short walking distance of the area; not to mention, the area is just lovely for a stroll about and has loads of quaint dining areas.
Therefore, I have gathered a few recommendations of places to stay from trustworthy sites that I would personally use when booking!
World of Wanderlust recommends this (my first-stop blog for all things travel), which is just a 15-minute walk from the Old Town for €130 a night.
The Broke Backpacker recommends this (my first-stop blog for all things budget travel), which is just a 15-minute walk from the Old Town for €34 a night.
So if you’re in Salzburg for your love for the Sound of Music, this is your hostel: they stream the film every night and are just a short walk from the DoReMi steps!
Recommended by Nomadic Matt, this is just outside the Mirabell Palace, another stop on your Sound of Music tour for just €90 a night.
Top 5 Hotels in Salzburg
- Hotel Sacher Salzburg: An iconic luxury hotel offering stunning views of the Salzach River and the old town. Website
- Bristol Hotel Salzburg: This historic hotel is situated near the Mirabell Palace, offering elegant rooms and a renowned restaurant. Website
- Goldener Hirsch, a Luxury Collection Hotel: Dating back to 1407, this hotel blends historic charm with modern luxury. Website
- Radisson Blu Hotel Altstadt: Located in a building from 1377, this hotel offers unique, individually decorated rooms and fine dining. Website
- Hotel Stein – Adults Only: Situated in the heart of Salzburg, this boutique hotel offers stylish rooms and a rooftop bar with panoramic views. Website
Getting Around Salzburg
Salzburg has an efficient public transport system, including buses and trains, which are often the best option for tourists. Here are some useful resources:
- Salzburg Verkehr (Website): Provides comprehensive information about public transportation in Salzburg.
- OBB (Website): The official site of Austrian Federal Railways, where you can check train schedules and purchase tickets.
Tip #1: Travel on foot.
Salzburg’s public transportation, including buses and taxis, gets a whole lane on the road dedicated to their travel. But there is no other way to get around but by foot or bicycle! My preferred method is on foot. You get to take in the city at a slower pace, completely taking in the scenery and architecture, and, if you’re clumsy like me, you get to avoid any accidents by bike!
You’ll also save money by walking and burn off all the Knödel and Apfelstrudel you’ll be devouring!
Tram and Bus
Both tram and bus run on the same ticketing system, with €2.10 for a single journey, if purchased from the driver, or €1.90, if purchased from a ticket machine. If you plan on choosing this as your primary mode of transportation, you can also buy a 24-hour ticket for €5. If you are staying on the outskirts of the city, I’d recommend this option.
Just remember: Buses stop running at either 11 pm or 11:20 pm, depending on what part of Salzburg you’re in, so you may have to catch a taxi back to wherever you’re staying if you find yourself out late in the evening.
Taxi and Horse-Drawn Cab
You’ll never find yourself in short supply in taxis waiting to whisk you away for fares starting at €3, and these tolls can very quickly rack up.
With Salzburg being considered a ‘small town,’ it’ll also be harder to find a taxi that takes your bank card over cash, so ensure you have plenty of euros on hand if you choose this method!
A “traditional taxi” — a fiaker (horse-drawn cab) — will provide both a ride and a bit of history of the city at a hefty price of €36 for 20 minutes and €72 for 50 minutes. If you have the money to spare, this is a must-do for a complete Salzburg experience, but otherwise, find your transportation elsewhere!
Tip #2: Avoid, avoid, avoid renting a car in Salzburg.
Quite frankly, in most places in the city, it is impossible to navigate a vehicle because it is pedestrian-only. Public parking lots — designated with a large P — can be found throughout the city, but after paying the hefty price of renting a car, you probably don’t want to keep adding on parking fares.
If you must rent a car for further road-tripping, see if your accommodation allows free parking, and leave the car there until you decide to leave the city!
Salzburg Weather Information
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Travel Tips for Salzburg
- Currency: Austria uses the Euro. Credit cards are widely accepted but carry some cash for small vendors or tips.
- Language: The official language is German, but English is widely spoken in tourist areas.
- Public Transportation: Salzburg has an excellent public transportation system. Consider getting a Salzburg card for unlimited public transport and free entry to most attractions.
- Tipping: It’s customary to tip around 10% in restaurants and for services.
- Electrical Plugs: Austria uses Type F plugs (two round pins), and the standard voltage is 230 V.
- Travel Insurance: Always a good idea to have travel insurance to cover any unexpected situations.