Salzburg is known for not only it’s pretty Old Town and stunning natural surroundings, but also as the home to Mozart and of course, The Sound Of Music. For a small city, there is actually quite a lot of things to do in Salzburg. Here’s our guide to Salzburg so you can enjoy the best things to do in Salzburg, best places to eat in Salzburg, best Salzburg hotels and everything you need to know before you go to Salzburg. We also have a printable guide to Salzburg at the end of this post.
A Guide To Salzburg Austria
Things To Do In Salzburg
I’m going to be honest and say that Salzburg was definitely a city that grew on me. Arriving with such high hopes, at first, I was a little underwhelmed. But very quickly, I began to succumb to the small cobblestone streets, and even more so, the ability to explore nature extremely close to the city itself. By the time we left, Salzburg became even more of a special place than I had hoped for.
There are some beautiful streets to explore in Salzburg Old Town. Some of our favourites were Getreidegasse street, Steingasse street and Goldgasse street. Whilst exploring the Old Town, you can also take a look at Salzburg Cathedral and the beautiful Residenz square in front of it. St. Peters Abbey and Cemetery and The Franciscan Church, are also both beautiful.
For those interested in Mozart, music or history, here you can walk through Mozart’s Birthplace and the Mozart residence. I would say that Mozart’s Birthplace has a lot of interesting history you can read about, and also feels like you are exploring more of a home. Whilst Mozart’s residence, although it was a grand building, felt like it had been made more into a museum, so it was more about the exhibitions there, and the music and less about the house. And then you have Mozart balls, but you can explore them more below in the food section.
Perhaps one of my favourite things to do in Salzburg was walking up to Mönchsberg mountain and seeing the views from here. We also loved the Bürgerwehr medieval city walls near here. This is one of the best free things to do in Salzburg.
Another stunning lookout over Salzburg can be found at Kapuzinerberg Hill, with some beautiful views from the terrace near the monastery. Keep following the path along the Bastion Trail for more stunning Salzburg viewpoints.
You can actually get a stunning view of Salzburg Fortress from the beautiful Mirabell Palace & Gardens, another place worthy of exploring. Mirabell Gardens also feature in the Sound of Music.
And of course, visiting Salzburg Fortress, otherwise known as Hohensalzburg Fortress, is definitely one of the best things to do in Salzburg. The building of the fortress began in 1077 and has appeared as it does today since 1500. I loved the internal courtyards, the structure of the castle, the history and exhibitions along the way. One of my favourite parts is the State Rooms. These are included in a standard ticket before 11 am but afterwards you need to pay. We were happy we did, but keep in mind it’s a small area. You can either walk up to the fortress or get the funicular straight to the top.
If you’re wanting to relax, have a bite to eat and something to drink, then head to Augustiner Bräu beer garden. It’s also in a beautiful historic building.
Other places to visit in Salzburg that are just a little further out of town include Hellbrunn Palace, and Schloss Leopoldskron, both of which feature in The Sound Of Music. You can also visit Maria Plain which is Catholic basilica and pilgrimage site.
Should I Get The Salzburg Card?
One thing we almost never do, is getting a city attraction card. Partly, because we like to spend more time exploring the streets and neighbourhoods then we do ticking off sights, partly because we usually stay in places for a month or more and spread out our sightseeing, and partly because they almost encourage you to spend all your time rushing through sights to get value.
But, in Salzburg, I actually think getting the Salzburg card is worthwhile, or at least it was for us. How to decide if it’s worth it for you? Decide what Salzburg attractions you really want to see first, and how much time you think you want to spend at them. Then see if they are available on the card and if it’s cheaper to get the card just for those sights only and if you can see them within the timeframe. One thing that also made our decision easy, was that the card included transport and we were staying outside of the Old Town. Having the Salzburg card also meant not needing to line up for tickets at certain attractions.
So, another thing we decided to do that we wouldn’t normally, is a Salzburg River Cruise. This was one of the attractions included in the Salzburg Card, so we thought, why not? And I must say, yes it felt touristy but it was really nice to see Salzburg from the river and explore a little further outside of Salzburg by boat. My only reservation was that I wish it went a little further outside of Salzburg but you can pay for those cruises, they just aren’t covered with the Salzburg card. If you do the river cruise, try and sit in the front row for the best views.
Where To Eat In Salzburg
Our favourite meal in Salzburg was at Barenwirt, one of the best restaurants in Salzburg. It was so delicious I definitely recommend you have lunch or dinner here if you can. Here we had a fantastic schnitzel and Kasnocken, an Austrian pasta dumpling dish with cheese and onion. We also loved the Apple Strudel for dessert.
Another delicious option for a casual lunch is Balkan Grill Walter. Here at this little window, you can get a ‘Bosna‘, which is a sausage in a bun with other toppings, originally from Bulgaria. It may sound simple but it is so so good. This was a tasty surprise during our trip to Salzburg.
If you’re after something laid-back, tasty and simple, then try Organic Pizza Salzburg.
Moving onto desserts, we loved the organic sheep milk ice cream at Eisl Eis. The flavour is a little bit different at first, but once you get used to it, it’s really tasty. For delicious cakes, hot chocolate and Mozart Balls (Mozartkugel), we enjoyed Schatz Konditorei. It’s a small confectioner with a few table and chairs, in a little side street. But what’s a Mozart Ball? It’s a small round chocolate filled with pistachio marzipan and nougat, named after Mozart.
And for anyone craving the best coffee in Salzburg, head to Kaffee-Alchemie, where your flat white awaits you.
*Gasthaus Zwettlers, Cafe Wernbacher and Johanneskeller were other restaurants that looked great, but we didn’t get time to try.
Where To Stay In Salzburg
Here are our picks for the best Salzburg Hotels…
Hotel Goldgasse – Small Luxury Hotels of the World – An excellent location in Salzburg Old Town, with a beautiful design. Check prices here.
There are also some great options in Salzburg on Airbnb. Click here for $50 credit towards your first stay.
Read More: Where To Stay In Salzburg Austria
How to get to Salzburg? You can fly into Salzburg W. A. Mozart Airport from some destinations in the UK and Europe, or with stop-overs for other international flights. You could also fly into Munich Airport or Vienna airport, and get the train from there to Salzburg. If you are already travelling in Europe, getting the train to Salzburg is a great option. We love booking our Europe trains through Trainline. And if you are coming from or going to Cesky Krumlov, here is the best way to do this journey.
Getting Around Salzburg
Getting around Salzburg Old Town and surrounds is easy by walking or hiring a bicycle. If you need to go to the outskirts of Salzburg, there are plenty of bus services.
When To Go
So when is the best time to visit Salzburg? It’s a great destination to be visited all year round, but obviously different times will offer you different experiences.
Christmas is a popular and pretty time to visit Salzburg, and of course, it can snow in the winter. Keep in mind if you want to visit around Christmas you will need to book in advance and expect higher prices. There are also some events in the winter that can make those specific times fairly busy.
The shoulder seasons of late Spring and early Autumn are also great, perfect if you want to hike with milder weather. Although Easter can be a busy time.
And of course, if you want to visit surrounding lake areas and go swimming, or just enjoy the sunny weather, summer is great. Keep in mind that summer can be pretty busy and prices can be higher. We visited Salzburg at the end of July, and although it was busy, didn’t find it was too much of a problem. So the best time to visit Salzburg really depends on what you want out of your experience.
Getting Out | Day Trips from Salzburg
Not only is Salzburg beautiful, but its surrounds are too. There are many Salzburg day trips you can do during your stay. You can visit and hike Gaisberg Mountain, and take in the stunning views. There are many beautiful lakes and villages to visit near Salzburg, including Wolfgangsee (St. Gilgen) and Königssee. Another beautiful place to visit is Hallstatt, but it might warrant more time than just a day trip. Hohenwerfen Castle, Eisriesenwelt ice caves, and Hallein Salt Mine are other options for Salzburg day trips.
How Long To Stay For
How many days should you stay in Salzburg? Salzburg is a small city but there are definitely plenty of options for things to see and do. If you only want to explore the main sights within the Old Town, then 2 days in Salzburg will be great. If you want to see some of the attractions that are a little further out of the Old Town, I’d recommend 3 days in Salzburg. And if you have more time and want to explore some of the beautiful areas surrounding Salzburg, such as Wolfgangsee (St. Gilgen) and Hallstatt, I would add on a day for each place that interests you.
One of the best parts about Salzburg is the beautiful nature that surrounds it, and you don’t need to go on a day trip to experience it. Start with Mönchsberg mountain, one of our favourite parts of Salzburg. Download or print off our guide to Salzburg below to help you plan your trip to Salzburg or take it with you on your trip.
A Printable Guide To SalzburgGet your free printable guide to Salzburg resources here.