There are charming cities and then there’s Salzburg. I will never forget the first time I visited it and I was hooked on every detail, corner and feature of the charming historic centre. At that time there was no Instagram, but I felt it was a city made for photography (with reels). Some time later I returned and nothing had changed: her beauty seems perennial. Here’s what to see in Salzburg for you to enjoy as much as I do.
Salzburg via Shutterstock
🌟 WHAT TO SEE IN SALZBURG
Salzburg is Mozart’s hometown, the setting for “Smiles and Tears” (the Rebel Novice / The Sound of Music) and is also a World Heritage Site. Salzburg is the city where your eyes will have no rest – nor will your camera lens. The mountainous profile of the city, crowned by the fortress of Hohensalzburg, is what one drew in one’s mind as a child when one’s imagination began with “Once upon a time…”.
Its compact size allows you to get to know its most important monuments in a single day and take a leisurely stroll through the historic centre. Take advantage of every second with these recommendations I’ll give you. You can go for a couple of days or do a day trip from Munich (which is only 140km away) or from Vienna (300km by train is done in 2.5h).
▶️ Visit SALZBURG in ONE DAY: the essential ones
Here I tell you which are the essential visits if you will only be in the city one day. Take note and put on comfortable footwear, there’s plenty to see.
Fortress Hohensalzburg via Shutterstock
🔶 Fortress of Hohensalzburg
I’m going to start high (literally). At the top of the hill “Festungsberg” which dominates the landscape of this alpine city stands the best preserved fortress in Europe: Hohensalzburg.
Construction began at the beginning of the 11th century, but over the centuries it underwent several refurbishments and extensions, especially during the 15th century. Due to its strategic situation, it fulfilled defensive functions -and very successful, by the way, since the enemies never managed to cross it-. In addition to defending the city, it was also here that the various archbishops of Salzburg lived.
Music room – Por irisphoto1 / Shutterstock
There are two reasons why I recommend you to go up: first to get to know the fortress inside and to go around the different rooms where you will see furniture and original objects or rooms such as: the “salt store”, the “torture room” or the “golden room”. The second reason is because the views you get from above are simply spectacular.
⏲ Opening hours: from May to September from 9am to 7pm and from October to the end of April from 9.30am to 5pm. You can go up on foot or by funicular.
👛 The basic ticket costs 12.90€ (and includes the entrance to the fortress), the complete ticket to see ALL the halls costs 16.30€ and if you go up on foot the basic ticket will cost 10€ and includes the funicular descent.
✏️ For more information on the tickets and what each one includes visit their official website.
Once you’ve seen the city from the top of Salzburg’s most emblematic hill, it’s time to explore the lower part and fall in love, like me, with its details.
A good idea is to start with the most important square in the historic centre: Residenzplatz (“Residence Square”), which dates back to the 16th century. As a curiosity, 55 medieval buildings had to be demolished in order to build this large stately square.
Residenzplatz by Botond Horvath / Shutterstock
In the square you can visit the cathedral (which I will talk about later), the Resindez palace-museum which was the home of the city’s princes-archbishops, see the largest fountain in Salzburg where a scene from the film “The Sound of Music” was filmed or see the tower with the mythical cheek.
If you have time, I suggest that you visit the museum “Residenzegalerie” where you can find some works of art such as “old woman praying” by Rembrandt and others by artists such as Bruegel or Rubens. The price is 13€ (and includes museums around the so-called “DomQuartier”). Open every day from 10am to 5pm, except Tuesdays when it closes. More information on their website.
💡Descubre Salzburg with a free walking tour of the most emblematic places in Mozart’s hometown. The tour will take you through the corners of the Old City and the New City. It’s FREE, but you must reserve your place. More information about the FREE TOUR here.
🔶 Salzburg Cathedral
In the “Resindezplatz” you will find the impressive baroque cathedral (Salzburg Dom) of the 17th century city.
Salzburg Cathedral by Shuterstock
If you have enough time, go in and see it because its dome is precious and the organs are a real relic. What’s more, Mozart played on one of the church organs (so if you like the story of this prodigious musician, this is an unavoidable quote). As a curiosity, little Mozart was baptized here on January 28, 1756.
Admission is free. Visiting hours are: May to September open Monday to Saturday from 8am to 7pm, Sundays and holidays from 1pm to 7pm. If you go between October and April open Monday to Saturday from 8am to 5pm and Sundays and holidays from 1pm to 5pm.
Salzburg Cathedral by Anibal Trejo / Shutterstock
<FONT COLOR=#38B0DE>-=💡ALTER=- PROUDLY PRESENTS
Very close to the cathedral you will find the old “market square” where today they still have a traditional market where, in addition to handicrafts, they sell typical food at a good price! Come and try some of the characteristic bretzels. Furthermore, in the square where it is located you can see the old court pharmacy, the Baroque buildings or “Florianibrunnen” (Fountain of St. Florian).
You can’t leave Salzburg without taking a stroll along its most popular and tourist shopping street: Getreidegasse (literally “grain street”).
Photo via Shutterstock
This street is in the historical centre and is super picturesque, with its medieval architecture or its little shops with wrought iron posters. Also at number 9 is Mozart’s birthplace, now a museum, where he lived until the age of 17.
🔶 Mozart’s Birthplace
One of the must-see places in Salzburg is the house where the prodigious musician W.A. Mozart was born and lived for 17 years.
The three-storey house, now a museum, will allow you to discover the rooms where the little boy grew up, with 18th century furniture, interesting objects such as his violin, a harpsichord or portraits and even replicas of his scores.
Birthplace Mozart via Shutterstock
Visiting hours are: September to June every day from 9am to 5.30pm and in July and August from 8.30am to 7pm. The entrance fee is 11€.
✏️ But, if you are a big Mozart fan you can also visit “another Mozart house” (Makarplatz) where he lived from 1773 until 1781 when he moved to Vienna, and the combined ticket to the two houses costs 18€.
🎟 If you want to go deeper into the life of this music prodigy, sign up for the “MOZART” SPANISH TOUR. You will travel Salzburg by bus following in the musician’s footsteps, including the entrance to Mozart’s Birth House!
If you know the name of this square is not Mozart or the film starring Julie Andrews, but because this is where they hold the famous Christmas market in Salzburg. If you go in December, don’t miss it.
Kapitelplatz by lkonya / Shutterstock
If you go at another time of the year, I recommend you take a walk through this square from where you get a breathtaking view of the Fortress of Hohensalzburg and where there is the giant chess board (which appears in so many photos of Instagram).
🔶 Mirabell Palace and Gardens
If you have to choose just one place to see in Salburg during your visit, this is THE place. It’s an emblematic palace of the seventeenth century, declared a World Heritage Site, which did not need the help of the hit box office “The Sound of Music” to draw attention to the profile of the city.
Mirabel Palace and Gardens by Shutterstock
You can – and I highly recommend you – visit inside to get to know the different rooms (such as the “Marble Room”), see the “ladder of angels” and, of course, its baroque gardens with their fountains.
Spend some time in the gardens, as there are beautiful places like the hedge theatre, the dwarf garden, the Pegasus fountain or the greenhouse.
Laszlo Szirtesi / Shutterstock
👛La entrance to the Palace and Gardens is free of charge.
⏲ Visiting hours of the Mirabell Palace: every day from 8am to 6pm. The marble room is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8am to 4pm and Tuesdays and Fridays from 1pm to 4pm.⏲ Visiting hours for the Mirabell Gardens: every day from 6am until dark (which varies depending on the time of year). More information on its official website.
🔶 Church, cemetery and catacombs of San Pedro
In the heart of the historic centre is the church of San Pedro, which dates from the 7th century and forms part of the Benedictine monastery of San Pedro. One of the most interesting visits here is to its Roman cemetery, making it one of the oldest cemeteries in the world.
Cemetery by Elena Odareeva / Shutterstock
As you walk through the cemetery you can admire the mausoleums of important figures such as Nannerl Mozart (sister of the musician), Santino Solari (architect who built the cathedral and castle of Hellbrunn) or Richard Mayr (lyric singer). You can also see the catacombs that were excavated in the rock of Mönchsberg.
As it could not be otherwise, this cemetery was also the scene of “The Sound of Music”, so it became very popular and today is another must-see in Salzburg.
Catacombs via Shutterstcok
👛 Entrance to the church and cemetery is free and to the catacombs costs 2€ (it is free with the Salzburg Card).
⏲ The church is open every day from 8am to 12pm and from 2pm to 6.30pm.
⏲ Cemetery hours are: April to November from 6.30am to 7pm. From October to March from 6.30am to 6pm.
⏲ The catacombs are open from May to September from 10am to 12.30pm and from 1pm to 6pm. From October to March from 10am to 12.30pm and from 1pm to 5pm.
🔶 Hellbrunn Palace
Another place to see in Salzburg is this beautiful Renaissance-style palace complex located just over 5km from the city centre.
Hellbrunn for Shutterstock
Hellbrunn Palace was used by Prince Archbishop Markus Sittiku to spend the summer and is therefore completely surrounded by open and landscaped spaces, fountains with caves and sculptures. Does the scene of The Sound of Music where the teenager sings “I am 16 going on 17…” ring a bell? (click here if you don’t remember) Well, it was filmed here!
Gardens by Shutterstock
The most striking are the “water games” (fountains and ponds that throw jets of water unexpectedly) that delight the visitor.
The interior is also beautiful, with different rooms (such as the “Salon de fêtes” or the “Sala de la Música”), period furniture and good works of art.
👛 The price is 12.50€.
⏲ Timetable: open only from 30 March to 3 November. The opening hours are different depending on the time of year:- April and October from 9am to 4.30pm- May, June and September from 9am to 5.30pm- July and August from 9am to 9pm.
✏️ Here you have the link to its official website if you need more information.
▶️ Visit SALZBURG in TWO DAYS or more
If you are going to be in the city for more than a day, then I recommend you other visits that are worthwhile.
If you like hiking trails and get the best views of a city, then don’t miss the climb to the top of Kapuzinerberg hill.
That’s the view as you go up. Via Shutterstock
However, keep in mind that the climb is quite steep and it takes a long time… but once you get to the top you will get your recommendation: the best views of Salzburg (so don’t forget the camera) and the old convent of Capuchin monks.
🔶 Salzach River Bridges
Salzburg is divided by the Salzach River – the natural border between Austria and Germany – but linked by several bridges. If you have two days to tour the city, take a walk by the river and cross one of its bridges, such as the Makartsteg (full of locks).
Bridge by hbw_pictures / Shutterstock
🎟 What to see around Salzburg
Very close to Salzburg are many picturesque villages such as Hallstatt or Innsbruck, stately cities like Vienna or eclectic cities like Munich, note that here I tell you everything.
If Salzburg seemed like a fairy tale to you, then when you visit Hallstatt you will melt with sweetness. It’s an alpine village that has so much charm that it shouldn’t be real… but a hologram from a perfect Disney tale.
You can arrive on your own by public transport, private bus, train or go on a day trip that includes transfers.
Hallstatt via Shutterstock
If you want to go by public transport, keep in mind that it will take you at least 3 hours because you have to take a bus, a train and a boat! and it will cost you little mens of 18€.
You must take the bus nº150 until the last stop that is “Bad Ischl” (one hour and twenty of trip approx.). Once there you must take the train to Obertraun-Dachstein (25 minutes) to Hallstatt. When you get off the train at the station, you must take a small boat that crosses you to the village (few minutes).
If you decide to go by train, you must take the train from Salzburg to Attnang-Puccheim and there combine with another to Hallstatt. Once in the terminal, take the boat that brings you closer to the village. The approximate price of the whole trip is just under 30€.
Hallsttat via Shutterstock
The bus option is also good and inexpensive. Take bus #150 to Bad Ischl and there combine with another bus to Hallstatt, although it does not leave you in the heart of the village, but about 10 minutes walk. In total the journey will cost you about 15€.
Finally, the least time-consuming and quickest option is to go on a tour, which takes you from your hotel to Hallstatt and brings you back, leaving you enough free time to tour the town on your own and stopping on your way to other beautiful towns. More information about the excursions from Salzburg to Hallsttat can be found here.
🔶 Salzkammergut Lake District
If you like nature, then don’t miss an excursion to the lake region, where in addition to a lot of nature you can see many fairytale villages or take boat trips on their lakes.
St. Gilgen and Lake Wolfgangsee at Shutterstock
Some of the towns you can visit are Sankt Gilgen, where Mozart’s mother was born, at the foot of Lake Wolfgangsee; Krottensee and its lake, Mondsee and Lake Moon.
You can do this route on your own, by public transport, by car or if you have little time, it is best to do it in a full day tour.
🔶 Eagle’s nest
This is a historical site, since it was the residence where Hitler met with other leaders of the Nazi party.
Eagle’s nest via Shutterstock
It is located in Berchtesgaden, at the top of Mount Kehlstein, and from there you can get unparalleled views of the natural environment of the Bavarian Alps. You can go on your own by public transport or, to save yourself trouble and wait, on a tour that takes you there and gives you all the time to explore it on your own. More information here.
🚏 How to get to Salzburg from Vienna
If you’re going on a day trip from Vienna to Salzburg, it’s easy to get there and here’s how to do it:
1. Train: there are trains all day that connect both cities and leave 1 per hour. The duration of the journey is 2.5 hours and prices start at 14€ (although it depends on the train you take, there are some that cost 70€).
2. Car: you can rent a car so you can make stops on the way and enjoy the alpine scenery. The road is good (check in winter).
3. Excursion: another option is to book a day and SPANISH excursion from Vienna to Salzburg which includes transfers and guided tour + free time.
Salzburg via Shutterstock
🚏Cómo to Salzburg from Munich
Salzburg is only 150km from Munich, so a day trip is almost obligatory. You can go by bus, train, car or excursion.
1. Train: there are different train companies that connect these two cities in less than 2 hours. The price will depend on whether you take a fast train (1.5h) or a slower one and on the company and class you choose, but the journey is around 25€.
2. Bus: buses make this journey several times a day and take about 2 hours to link the cities. The cost varies according to the company and the timetable, but is around 8€ per journey.
3. Car: you can rent a car so you can make stops on the way and enjoy the alpine scenery. The road is good and remember that you are going to cross a border, so make sure you have the right papers for the car.
4. Excursion: another option is to book a day trip in Spanish from Munich to Salzburg which includes transfers and guided tour + free time.
Details of Salzburg via Shutterstock
💤 Accommodation in Salzburg
It’s best to stay in the heart of Salzburg, so that you’re close to all the attractions and also so that you can enjoy the good atmosphere of the city.
An excellent option is “The Sound of Art, Central B&B” which has from shared bedrooms (super spacious, clean and comfortable) to beautiful private rooms. They also serve a full buffet breakfast and are located in the heart of the city.
If you’re looking for something different, you can check here all the hotels in the city, with accommodations from 24€ a night!
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