Salzburg is fuss-free and effortless. I mean, you get to do so much in no time. I’m serious. We discovered the distinct sides of the city in just a day. There are endless experiences you can choose from to have in the cultural and musical city of Salzburg. But, if you just have a day, it’s better to concentrate on the best things to do in Salzburg, Austria.
Here’s a practical guide to exploring the city of Salzburg for an indelible and well-rounded experience.
A little over 3-hours scenic road journey from Vienna takes you to the world-famous city of music, Salzburg.
Strolling the streets of Salzburg is magical.
It’s almost like turning the pages of a storybook.
It’s what happens when you add a pinch of love, romance, music, and art to history. A perfect recipe!
Salzburg is often called the Rome of the North as the city’s skyline is still shaped by ancient baroque buildings inspired by papal Rome.
Mozart lived in Salzburg over 250 years ago but he’s still the most favorite son of Salzburg. He’s practically everywhere, and thus, rightfully The City of Mozart.
The vivid history of the archbishops and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is an intense and tangible experience here.
Taking a walk through the original shooting locations of one of the most successful Hollywood movies of all time – “The Sound of Music” is another reason thousands of travelers flock here every year.
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Best Things to do in Salzburg, Austria
Salzburg is quite a compact city and thus, you can easily explore it in a day or two. We spent a day and a half and could visit most of the worth-seeing attractions without feeling hurried.
You can take a self-guided walking tour if you are a good planner or can book one of the popular and highly rated city tours with our trusted site Get Your Guide to enjoy without any hassle.
For a Do-It-Yourself or Self-Guided Tour, follow the same sequence I have mentioned the attractions in – Start the exploration at Mirabell Palace and end at Mönchsberg or Hellbrunn.
Mirabell Palace and Gardens
An extravagant stroll in the baroque Mirabellgarten or Mirabell Gardens reminds you of famous scenes from an old Hollywood musical movie “Sound of Music” where Maria and the Van Trapp kids sing “Do, Re, Mi” while dancing around the Pegasus Fountain.
Schloss Mirabell, a baroque palace, is known as “The Taj Mahal of Salzburg” because it was built by Prince-Archbishop Wolf-Dietrich for the love of his life, Salomé Alt.
Mozart’s father Leopold and his kids Wolfgang and Nannerl performed in the Marble Hall of Schloss Mirabell.
Attend a concert at Schlosskonzerte Mirabell (Palace Concerts Mirabell) to recreate the magic of Mozart’s timeless pieces.
Today the palace houses the office of the Mayor of Salzburg and the municipal administration.
Admission to the Mirabell Palace and Gardens is FREE.
Not to Miss The whimsical Dwarf Garden (Zwerglgarten) in the Mirabell Gardens displaying nasty dwarf statues inspired from the dwarves who worked as entertainers in the court of the Prince Archbishops.
Mozart Wohnhaus or Mozart’s Residence at No. 8 Markartplatz, opposite to Mirabell Gardens, then home to Mozarts is now home to a museum displaying life and times of Mozart family.
The admission ticket costs 11€ (per adult), and 3.50€ (per child aged 6-14 years.)
You can buy the combined tickets for Mozart’s Residence and Birthplace to save some Euros.
Admission is FREE with Salzburg Card.
Pro-Tip Try original Sachertorte with a cup of coffee at Café Sacher Salzburg located just around the corner of Mozart Wohnhaus.
Makartsteg Footbridge aka Love Locks Bridge Salzburg is a pedestrian bridge over the Salzach River that takes you to the Old Town of Salzburg (Altstadt or Historic Center of the City of Salzburg.)
The bridge is an attraction in itself.
The scores of colorful love locks on the bridge’s fencing instantly bring a feeling of love and commitment. Plus the views of Salzburg Old Town with its acropolis as a backdrop from this bridge are to die for.
Good to Know If you happen to be in Salzburg on Sunday, Shop your heart out at Salzach galleries, the biggest open-air craft bazaar in Austria along the Salzach River.
Salzburg Old Town
The Salzach River calmly curving through the pretty old town divided (read united) by a bridge embosomed by love, be flecked with medieval and baroque buildings, skyline defined by spires and domes, a baroque 900-year old hilltop citadel as a backdrop, and the spirit of age-old music traditions; welcome to Salzburg Old Town, all things magical.
The UNESCO-protected historic old town comprises the majority of tourists attractions in Salzburg.
Getreidegasse with its high-end stores, snuggling medieval narrow houses, and restaurants, elaborately crafted wrought-iron guild signs on entryways, mystical alleyways, idyllic courtyards, and curved corridors is a work of art in itself.
Salzburg’s busiest and the most famous shopping lane is a perfect introduction to Salzburg’s Old City.
Stopovers at Getreidegasse • Eisl Eis Salon for their organic sheep's milk ice-cream. • Blume & Duft for quintessential Salzburg souvenirs of dried flowers and spice arrangements. • Balkan Grill (sign board reads Bosna Grill) for the best sausages in Salzburg. • Weiber Locksmith's Shop for witnessing the way they make beautiful elaborate wrought-iron guild signs for shops at Getreidegasse
One of the medieval narrow houses at Getreidegasse is a canary-yellow House No. 9, Mozart Geburtshaus. This is where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born and learned to play violin and piano and wrote his first composition.
Today the building houses a Mozart Museum. The exhibits – Mozart’s childhood music instruments, portraits, old letters, and collectibles reveal the heart and soul of Mozart’s life.
Interesting Fact Mozart's Requiem Mass in D Minor, unfinished piece at the time of his death in 1791, was completed by his student Franz Xaver Süssmayr on the request of Constanze, Mozart's wife.
Altes Rathaus (Old City Hall)
The Old City Hall is located by the Kranzlmarkt at the crossing between Getreidegasse and Sigmund-Haffner-Gasse.
The bell tower can be spotted easily as it graces the Salzburg’s skyline.
Walk a few steps from Mozart’s Birthplace towards University Square via Griesgasse and you reach the famous local farmer’s market in Salzburg, Grunmarkt.
From fresh fruits, vegetables to local cheese, ham, and bread; the market is a one-stop-shop for travelers who fancy fresh local and regional delicacies.
Please note, Grunmarkt is closed on Sundays.
Our Picks Right in the middle of Grünmarkt, Mayer Delikatessen sells huge pretzels and yummy sandwiches.
Alter Markt (Old Marketplace)
A few minutes stroll from the Mozart Museum is Alter Markt.
The square lays out pastel-tinged impressive baroque townhouses on all sides and St. Florian Fountain in the center.
Once a venue for weekly markets, events, and celebrations, the square is now flanked by attractions like old court pharmacy – Alte Fürsterzbischöfliche Hofapotheke, the oldest coffee house in Salzburg – Café Tomaselli, the smallest house in Salzburg – House no. 10A, most famous chocolatier of Salzburg and the inventor of Mozart-Kugel (Mozart Balls) – Café-Konditorei Fürst.
You can buy the original hand-made, hand-wrapped, and extravagant Mozart Balls from Fürst as a sweet remembrance of Mozart’s city.
We picked up a Mozartkugel gift box with 12 pieces costing €21. Good things come with a price tag. Isn’t it?
Toy Museum Salzburg
Around 700 meters from Alter Markt, fun awaits for kids and kids-at-heart at the Toy Museum Salzburg (Spielzeugmuseum.)
Exhibits including wooden toys, clay toys, pewter toys, dollhouses, and educational toys are not only for kids to look at but to touch, play and experience.
Alongside Alter Markt lies prince archbishop’s former seat of power, the DomQuartier Salzburg.
DomQuartier, the baroque architectural complex spans the Residenz, Salzburg Cathedral, and Benedictine St. Peter’s Abbey.
Salzburg Cathedral with its beautiful baroque dome and two towers is one of the high points of Salzburg. The cathedral is home to the world-famous 4,000 pipe organ and a Romanesque font where Mozart was christened.
With a single entrance ticket (€13 per adult and €5 per child,) you can catch a sight of the splendid staterooms of Alte Residenz, the Residenz Gallery, the Cathedral Museum, and the Museum of St. Peter.
The highlight of the tour must be the imposing views from the two vantage points – Dombogenterrasse (Cathedral Archway Terrace) and the organ loft in the Salzburg cathedral.
The admission to DomQuartier is FREE with Salzburg Card.
Residence Square with its Residence Fountain encircled by Salzburg Cathedral, New Residence, and Old residence is one of the most beautiful squares in the city.
It’s also one of the “Sound of Music” locations.
Adjacent to Residenzplatz is Mozart Square is famous for the statue of Mozart and house no. 8 where Mozart’s wife once lived.
Kapitelplatz (Chapter Square)
Not far away from the cathedral is Kapitelplatz set apart by an idiosyncratic work of art by a German artist Stephan Balkenhol, Sphaera.
Kapitelschwemme (Chapter Fountain), a baroque horse pond is another attraction here.
Apart from that, it’s a quintessential spot to admire and capture in camera the centerpiece of Salzburg, hillside Fortress Hohensalzburg.
Rising 400 feet above the Salzach River on Festungsberg cliff is Hohensalzburg bestriding Salzburg’s skyline.
The fortress remains one of Europe’s mightiest castles as it was never attacked or conquered by anyone. Salzburg surrendering to Napolean is a different story. It’s thought of as a wise move in history.
FestungsBahn (Fortress Funicular) departing from Festungsgasse takes you up to the fortress in no time (54 seconds!)
The basic funicular ticket includes the admission to the fortress and its museums ( €12.90 per adult and €7.40 per child aged 6-14 years) regardless of you want to visit them or not.
Hiking up the castle can save you some euros plus the views are incredible. It can take up to 30 minutes to walk up so be sure you’ve enough time on hands.
The best part of the fortress is its lookout point that offers awe-inspiring and other-worldly views of the city of Mozart, snow-capped Alps, and lush countryside.
St Peter’s Abbey, Cemetery and Catacombs
St. Peter’s monastery and church have been the spiritual center of Salzburg since the 7th century. The cemetery and catacombs are also famous as “The Sounds of Music” location.
The St. Peter’s cemetery is counted among one of the oldest and most beautiful cemeteries in the world.
Carved into the little mountain of Salzburg, Mönchsberg is catacombs and two chapels – Gertrauden Chapel and Maximus Chapel.
The long gallery of St. Peter’s Abbey can be seen on a DomQuartier Tour.
Hey, Nature lovers and hikers, Salzburg has got you covered. They present Mönchsberg for you!
One of the five mountains in Salzburg, Mönchsberg is covered by a highland of lush meadows and forests.
Mönchsberg lift at Anton-Neumayr-Platz takes you up where nature lovers can spend time amidst nature and hikers can take one of the hiking routes to enjoy the panoramic views over Salzburg and around.
If contemporary art inspirates you then indulge yourself at the Museum of Modern Art (Museum der Moderne) located on the Mönchsberg.
Mönchsberg lift ride ( €3.80 per adult and €1.90 per child aged 6-14 years for a roundtrip and €2.50 per adult and €1.30 per child aged 6-14 years for one way) and admission to the Museum der Moderne ( €8.00 per adult;€6.00 per child aged 6-18 years and €12.00 for a family ) are free with Salzburg Card.
Schloss Hellbrunn (Hellbrunn Palace)
With no bedrooms, Hellbrunn served as a place to spend some idle hot summer days for the prince archbishop of Salzburg, Markus Sittikus with his friends.
Amid numerous attractions on the palace grounds – Hellbrunn Hall, Salzburg Zoo, Steintheater, Stone Theater, Monatsschlösschen; the trick fountains designed in a Mannerist architecture remains the unique feature of Hellbrunn.
No points for guessing what happens when kids set foot in the adventure playground.
Pro-Tip After a long sightseeing day sit and relax at cozy Bärenwirt while having traditional dinner. Try their Backhendle, Schnitzel, Kasnocken, and Kaiserschmarren. Complement food with beer from Augustiner Bräu (Salzburg's oldest brewery.)
Best Tours in Salzburg
Being a planner is no easy task! Ask me!
The hardest part of being a planner is that all the responsibility falls on you. You gotta listen if plans fail. I’ve had my fair share of terrible experiences.
Sometimes, I take a break from all that planning thing and book one of the tours recommended by fellow travelers. It releases stress and keeps me going with the planning.
Here are the tours we recommend to you so that you can have a blast in Salzburg without stressing out.
Hotels in Salzburg
The best accommodations in Salzburg, recommended by travelers.
Hotel Goldener Hirsch, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Salzburg
Right in the heart of the city, Luxurious Goldener Hirsh warmly welcomes families with kids. It is rated 9.9 for a stay with kids.
Arthotel Blaue Gans
Located in the ancient 14th-century building in Salzburg’s Old Town, Arthotel Blaue Gans is where old meets contemporary. It is rated 9.7 for a stay with kids.
Hotel IMLAUER & Bräu
Just a few steps away from Mirabell Palace, Hotel IMLAUER & Bräu is a traditional family-friendly hotel and has been rated good for its location.
A bit away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Hotel Rosenvilla is a beautiful mid-range accommodation.
MEININGER Hotel Salzburg City Center
One of the bestsellers in Salzburg, MEININGER apart from the excellent guest services offers a roof terrace with some amazing views over the city.
Now all those who fancy “The Sound of Music,” It’s your chance to stay at Von Trapp family’s home. They lived here from 1923 to 1938. The place is maintained in a way that it still exudes the charm and aura of the time in which the Von Trapp family lived here.
Salzburg has a great choice of family-friendly, luxury, budget, and boutique hotels, apartments, and hostels to suit every kind of budget.
Have you tried Airbnb? Salzburg has lots of cheap yet lovely Airbnb options. Click here to get a discount on your first Airbnb booking.
Have you ever been to Salzburg? How do you like it? I’d love to know!
And if this post helped you plan a beautiful trip to Salzburg, Austria, be a sport and please share it with the world.
You might want to read before planning a trip to Europe:
- Vienna, Austria
- Wachau Valley, Austria
- Bratislava, Slovakia
- Undredal – a Fjord Village in Aurland, Norway
- Oslo, Norway
- Finnish Lapland in Summer
- Copenhagen, Denmark
- Dragør, Denmark
- Renting a Car in Europe
- Schengen Visa for Europe
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