What to do in Salzburg
To visit Salzburg, in Austria, is to discover nothing less than the birthplace of one of the most famous musical composers in the world, Mozart.
With its historic center listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its castles and its many museums, the city has several places of unmissable interest from a cultural point of view.
I have prepared for you the top 17 things to see absolutely during your stay as well as advice on itineraries to visit Salzburg in 1, 2, or 3 days. And as usual, you will also find our selection of the best accommodations for all budgets!
So what to do and see in Salzburg? Or sleep?
Visit Salzburg: the must-sees
1. Hohensalzburg Fortress
Hohensalzburg Fortress is Salzburg’s iconic landmark,
Dominating the whole city, this fortress, built from the beginning of the 11th century and whose construction took 5 centuries, is one of the best preserved fortified castles in Europe.
It was originally used to protect the entire principality and the archbishops from enemy attacks. Moreover, it fulfilled its role perfectly since it remained impregnable during its ten centuries of existence!
Today you can visit the interior of Hohensalzburg and see the Golden Hall and the Golden Chamber in particular. Not to be missed for its magnificent Gothic wooden sculptures !
And for a slightly more sinister version, you can also see the dungeons and the torture chamber.
2 museums, the F estungmuseum and the Rainermuseum, located inside, will also allow you to learn more about the life of the prince-archbishops and the Austrian army over the centuries.
From the fortress you will also enjoy a breathtaking view of all of Salzburg.
Finally, don’t miss one of the classical music concerts organized almost every evening in the building ( get your tickets directly here! ).
Find all the information for your visit on the official website.
Tips for your Salzburg itinerary:
Hohensalzburg being located on a hill, do not hesitate to take the funicular from the Festungsgasse alley to get there. The view is super nice. For the more sporty, there is a path going up directly to attack the fortress.
To visit Salzburg, I advise you to opt for the Salzburg Card (I’ll tell you about it in detail a little further down). The funicular ride and the visit to Hohensalzburg are included in it.
If you don’t want the full map, I still advise you to buy your entrance ticket for the fortress in advance by clicking here!
2. Nonnberg Abbey
At the foot of Fortress Rock, about a ten-minute walk from Hohensalzburg, is Nonnberg Abbey.
The Baroque-style abbey houses sumptuous 12th century frescoes and offers a superb view of the Alps.
But it is most famous around the world for having served as the basis for the very popular Hollywood film, “The Sound of Music ” or “The Sound of Music” (in English).
The film focuses on the true story of Maria, a novice from the Nonnberg convent, sent to Baron Von Trapp, a wealthy widower, to take care of his 7 children.
Maria will eventually, after breaking her vows, marry him and become Madame Baroness Von Trapp. And to know the rest of the story, I invite you to watch this classic film.
The film made Salzburg known internationally and every year more than 300,000 people walk through the city to the filming locations.
Besides the Abbey, “The Sound of Music” was also filmed at Mirabell Palace and Leopoldskron Palace.
To relive the history of the Von Trapp family, I advise you to book a guided tour of the filming sites now.
3. The Abbey and the Church of Saint-Pierre
The other must-visit abbey in Salzburg is that of St. Peter.
Founded in 696, it is one of the oldest Austrian Benedictine monasteries.
Near the abbey is also the church of Saint-Pierre. Having been the object of fires several times and therefore of reconstructions, the 2 buildings combine Roman, Renaissance and Baroque styles. The set is very beautiful, both outside and inside.
The Abbey also houses a restaurant, the “Stiftskeller St. Peter ”, where dinner-concerts are organized in a magnificent room, with music by Mozart performed by artists in period costumes.
The menu is made up of traditional recipes from the 17th and 18th century. If you want to experience an original and quality evening, I invite you to take your places by clicking here.
During your visit, I also advise you to pass by the cemetery, located just next door and where you will find the tombs of artists, scholars and well-known Austrian personalities, including that of Mozart’s sister.
Do not miss also to visit the catacombs dating from ancient times.
Tips for your Salzburg itinerary:
Just 13 years old, it was for the Abbé de St-Pierre that Mozart composed the mass of Dominicus. He also conducted the church orchestra on this same mass in 1783.
4. St. Rupert’s Cathedral in Salzburg
Finally to stay in the religious monuments, I recommend you to take a tour by the Saint-Rupert cathedral of Salzburg.
It is the most important religious building in the city.
Built from the 17th century, the Baroque-style cathedral served as the place of baptism for Mozart.
Later, he also worked there as an organ player for a few years. Today it houses the relics of Saint-Rupert and numerous tombs of archbishops.
With its imposing marble facade and its 2 towers, it is also a very photogenic place in Salzburg. So don’t deprive yourself, and spend some time there during your stay in Salzburg.
Admission is €5.
5. The DomQuartier of Salzburg
Another not-to-be-missed landmark in Salzburg is the DomQuartier. It is located 2 steps from the cathedral, at Residenzplatz. It is one of Salzburg’s major cultural attractions.
The DomQuartier is a resolutely modern space for visits since it brings together several museums in different historical sites. A single entry ticket gives you access to 5 museums.
To visit the DomQuartier is to discover:
- The residence of the prince-archbishops and its sumptuous state rooms
- The residence gallery and its collection of European paintings
- The terrace on the arcades for a unique view of Salzburg
- The Dome organ gallery
- The Dome Museum
- The Cabinet of Wonders and Curiosities
- Saint Peter’s Museum.
The route is extremely well organized and very interesting to discover the historical sites and learn more about the history of Salzburg and its prince-archbishops.
Count about 2 hours of visit. Admission is free with the Salzburg Card.
If you don’t have the card, I advise you to book your ticket + audioguide to visit the DomQuartier by clicking here!
6. Mozart’s Birthplace
It is at number 9 Getreidegasse street that you can visit Mozart’s birthplace.
His parents settled there in 1747 and it was on January 27, 1756 that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born there. He will spend all his childhood and part of his adolescence in this house before moving with his parents a little further on the Mamkartplatz.
Mozart subsequently lived in Vienna, where he died on December 7, 1791.
The house is now a museum on 3 floors.
You will find portraits of the famous composer, musical instruments that belonged to him as well as furniture and objects recreating a classic interior of the 18th century period.
Admission is included with the Salzburg Card.
If you wish, you can also combine a guided city tour by bus + a visit to Mozart’s house. Book directly here!
Getreidegasse street, where Mozart’s birthplace is located, is one of the most beautiful streets in the old town of Salzburg.
With its hand-wrought iron signs (even the local McDonald’s !), its traditional old houses and its arcaded passageways, the street has a very authentic charm.
You will find many traditional shops, major fashion brands, shops offering local and typical products of the region and cafes and restaurants.
The ideal place in Salzburg to do some shopping.
Tips for your Salzburg itinerary:
To visit Salzburg and in particular to learn more about its history, you can also book a guided walking tour of the city.
The tour lasts 2h30 during which you will walk through the old town and in particular the Getreidegasse.
8. Mirabell Castle
To visit Salzburg is of course to discover Mirabell Palace and its gardens. It can be reached from Getreidegasse street via the Makartsteg pedestrian bridge.
The castle was built in 1606 by Prince-Archbishop Wolf in honor of his dear and tender. The name “Mirabell” meaning “admirable” and “beautiful”, just that!
This sublime baroque building now houses the offices of the mayor and the administration. You can still enter to contemplate the Marble Hall, a majestic room ranked among the most beautiful wedding venues in the world (if you have the budget of course :)).
At the time, Mozart gave a few concerts there and it was also used as the setting for the film “Melody of Happiness ”.
To preserve its musical tradition, it now hosts philharmonic orchestras, notably from Vienna and Berlin.
If you want to listen to the works of Mozart, played by great musicians in a sumptuous setting, don’t wait any longer to book your tickets in advance here.
It’s not just the castle to see in Mirabell, its gardens are just as grandiose. With their view of the cathedral and the fortress, the place is truly a must in Salzburg.
During your walk in the gardens, you can admire:
- The Pegasus Fountain
- The large fountain and its statues representing the 4 elements
- The hedge theatre, one of the oldest open-air theaters
- The rose garden
- The orangery
- The Dwarfs’ Garden, made up of 28 white marble dwarfs, the main attraction of the park at the time and which (unfortunately) started a new fad!
9. The Castle of Hellbrunn
Hellbrunn Palace is located south of Salzburg, at the foot of Hellbrunner Berg.
Built in 1612 to serve as a summer residence for one of the prince-archbishops, it is one of the most sumptuous examples of Renaissance-style monuments.
You can visit the inside of the castle but there is not much to see. The main attraction is its huge park and its famous water games.
The archbishop wishing to entertain and above all impress his guests, he installed a whole mechanism of automatons based on the theme of water.
You will find there many fountains animated with more than 200 automatons handling tools or musical instruments to reproduce the life of a city of the time. The cave of Neptune and that of Venus are absolutely to be seen.
The park is the perfect place for a family outing. In addition to the water games, there is a large playground for children and many paths for walking or picnicking.
Access to the park is free.
Tips for your Salzburg itinerary:
To get to Hellbrun Castle, take bus line 25. For example, there is a stop next to the Mozart house. The journey takes about fifteen minutes.
10. Salzburg Zoo
Salzburg Zoo is directly attached to Hellbrunn Palace. It is located on the former site of the archbishop’s game park.
With more than 1,200 animals and 140 different species, the zoo will interest you as well as your children.
You can observe lions, linx or white rhinos. The 14-hectare park is well done and has laid out several areas according to the continents. It is well maintained and the animals do not seem (too) cramped.
After visiting the water games, this is the ideal place to continue your family outing. Allow around 2 hours for the visit.
11. Salzburg Museums
The city of Salzburg has many other interesting museums (in addition to those I have already told you about) and well done. I have prepared a list for you in order to better organize your visits according to your centers of interest:
- The Natural History Museum and its exhibitions ranging from dinosaurs to the human body, physics or aeronautics. A very fun and interactive museum.
- The Salzburg Museum of Modern Art and its collection of works from the 20th and 21st century.
- The Salzburg Museum focusing on the history of the city and its people.
- Hangar-7 and its collection of planes, helicopters and even Formula 1 racing cars.
12. The Salzburg Festival
The Salzburg Festival is one of the most famous festivals in the whole world.
It takes place every year in summer and brings together performances of operas or theaters and classical music concerts. The world’s best artists perform there to the delight of spectators.
Over a period of 90 days, more than 200 performances are given. Its richness and variety are recognized worldwide.
For example, you can attend Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” or a concert by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.
The shows are played mainly in the Grand Palais des festivities, at Mozart’s house, at the Rochers carousel and on the cathedral square.
13. Boat Trip on the Salzach
For a quiet stroll in Salzburg, I advise you to take a mini cruise on the Salzach, the river that winds through the city and allows you to discover the monuments from another angle.
Several different formulas are possible:
1) The classic circuit which lasts about 40 minutes. This boat trip in Salzburg can be booked here.
2) A cruise package + visit to Hellbrunn Palace.
Departing from Salzburg, the boat will take you to the Hellbrunn wharf where a double-decker bus will be waiting to drop you off at the castle entrance. The visit of the interior + 1 priority access to the fountains of the garden are included in the price.
At the end of your visit, you are driven back to Salzburg.
3) A cruise + dinner and concert in the fortress of Hohensalzburg
This package includes a 40-minute cruise and the funicular ride to the fortress. You will then be welcomed in the panoramic restaurant to enjoy an excellent dinner followed by a concert dedicated to Mozart.
You can also book cruise + concert only (without dinner) by clicking here!
What to do around Salzburg?
If you have decided to go to Salzburg for a few days, you can also take the opportunity to visit the surroundings.
Here are the best things to do around Salzburg.
14. Hohenwerfen Castle
If you are not tired of visiting castles, I recommend the discovery of Hohenwerfen Castle.
It is a 40 minute drive south of Salzburg.
Built in the 11th century at the top of a hill, you can notably visit the royal apartments, the arsenal, its chapel, the dungeon and the torture chamber. It also offers several exhibitions including one on its history and a digital and interactive exhibition on the world of wizards.
Particularity: the castle also houses the historic falconry of Salzburg which has a dedicated museum and offers flight demonstrations of birds of prey (eagle, falcon).
The castle being really touristy and one of the most visited around Salzburg, remember to book your entrance ticket in advance. You will have the choice between going up with or without the funicular and the audio guide is included.
15. Hallein Salt Mine
It is a must visit to do around Salzburg, especially if you have decided to go on a trip to Austria with your children. The Hallein salt mine is located 20 minutes by car from Salzburg.
The visit to the mines allows you to discover the whole process of salt extraction through a guided tour of the tunnels. But all this is done in a playful and fun way since you will first board the mine train which will take you to the depths.
You will then take a 50-meter toboggan to access the underground lake where a boat awaits you for a small cruise enhanced by a digital show with sounds and lights.
You will end with a visit to the Celtic village of Hallein.
16. Day Trips from Salzburg
From Salzburg, you will be spoiled for choice if you want to take a day trip around.
They all include return transport to Salzburg and the guide for 1 day.
I have selected the best for you below. Simply click on the links in orange to access information, prices and proceed with the reservation:
- Half-Day Hallstatt Tour – Stroll through this charming, picturesque village and along the shores of its lake.
- From Salzburg: Lakes and Mountains in the Salzkammergut – Explore the mountainous region near Salzburg and discover Lake Wolfgang on a cruise.
- Hallstatt and Salzkammergut combo tour – A perfect mix of the 2 previous tours but without the lake cruise.
- Visit to the Berchtesgaden salt mines and underground lake – Transport included: the principle is the same as for the Hallein salt mine with a guide who will explain how it works, slides and a raft ride on the lake.
- From Salzburg: Kehlsteinhaus and Berchtesgaden Tour – Discover the Bavarian Alps and the “Eagle’s Nest”, Adolf Hitler’s vacation home.
- Combined Salt Mine + Eagle’s Nest Tour – A mix of the 2 tours below.
- Combined excursion to the salt mines + Salzkammergut – Visit to Berchtesgaden + cruise on Lake Wolfgang.
17. Sports activities to do in and around Salzburg
In addition to the classic tourist visits, you can take advantage of your stay in Salzburg to indulge in some super cool activities:
- A paragliding baptism of 15 or 30 minutes to contemplate the Austrian landscapes seen from above
- A paragliding flight from Mount Gaisberg at an altitude of 1287 meters
- A paragliding baptism from Mount Bischling at an altitude of 1834 meters
- A thermal paragliding baptism with turns and acrobatics (still at Mount Bischling)
- Canyoning – Beginner level
- Canyoning – Intermediate level
- Canyoning – Confirmed level / And for the pros, I also recommend canyoning in the Gorges de Fischbach, to book here!
- A rafting descent of the Salzach river – Beginner level / For those who have already done it, the more sporty version can be booked here!
- Supsquatch on the Salzach River, a kind of giant paddle board on which you can ride together.
- A zipline descent with a length of 1,600 meters at 143 meters above the ground! With a maximum speed of 130 km/h it is one of the fastest in Europe!
How many days to visit Salzburg?
I advise you to spend 2 days in Salzburg to be able to visit all the places of interest that I have told you about in this top 17 things to do and see.
All the monuments are close and you can visit the city entirely on foot. Only for Hellbrun Castle do I recommend taking the bus as it is a bit outside the city center.
If you want to explore the surroundings, you can spend 3 or more days in Salzburg.
I also advise you to get the Salzburg Card.
As I told you above, it will allow you access to most monuments for free, including the cable car and the fortress of Hohensalzburg or the DomQuartier.
The card also includes unlimited access to public transport and a panoramic boat tour, plus discounts on excursions around Salzburg. It will pay for itself very quickly. We make it easy for you, you can get it directly here.
1 Day Salzburg Itinerary
To visit Salzburg in 1 day, I suggest the following itinerary:
- Ascent by cable car to the Hohensalzburg fortress and visit of the interior
- Passage through the Abbey of Nonnberg, in the footsteps of the film “The Melody of Happiness”
- Visit of the DomQuartier to see the Saint-Pierre church, the cathedral and the residence of the prince-archbishops
- Lunch break
- Discovery of the famous birthplace of Mozart and the Getreidegasse, the street with a thousand signs
- End of the day at Château Mirabell and its sumptuous gardens.
In the evening, you can also take part in a Ghost Tour.
Your guide will show you the dark side of the city telling you all the stories and legends of witches, explaining the medieval methods of torture and telling you about different strange events that happened.
Tips for your Salzburg itinerary:
And for all those who are a bit in a hurry or can’t walk too much, don’t hesitate to take a hop-on hop-off tourist bus. It’s really the best way to see everything without getting tired, in a single day.
If you prefer to benefit from a private tour of Salzburg by car for 1 day, it is also possible by clicking here!
2 Days Salzburg Itinerary
To visit Salzburg in 2 days, I advise you to take the one-day itinerary and add:
- The discovery of Hellbrunn Castle and its water games
- Visit the zoo located next door
- Lunch break
- Afternoon in one or more of the city’s museums such as the Salzburg Museum or the Natural History Museum (recommended with children).
Recommended Accommodation in Salzburg
To help you prepare for your stay, I have selected for you the best accommodation in Salzburg according to your budget.
So where to stay in Salzburg?
- Stadtalm Naturfreundehaus : Youth hostel located near the Salzburg Museum of Modern Art. Dormitory bed from €25, breakfast included. Access is not very easy because it is on top of a hill and the rooms are a bit small, but the view, on the other hand, is extraordinary. This is the best price for a hostel in Salzburg. The others start at 50€, which is a bit expensive for a single bed in a dormitory.
- Motel One Salzburg-Süd : Hotel located 4km from the center of Salzburg. A bus stop right in front will allow you to get to the center in just 10 minutes (and remember, with the Salzburg Card it’s free). Spacious and modern double room from 80€ per night, breakfast at 9.5€. Most: the quiet location, the comfort of the bedding, the excellent breakfast. It is our favorite for its price/performance ratio.
- H+ Hotel Salzburg : Located a 15-minute walk from Mirabell Castle. Modern and comfortable double room from €120 per night, breakfast at €17. The pluses: the breakfast room with a view of the mountains, the comfort of the beds, shops and restaurants nearby.
- Hotel Sacher Salzburg: 5-star hotel located right in the heart of Salzburg’s old town and on the riverside. Comfortable and spacious double room, all individually furnished, from €400 per night, breakfast €35. Most: the central location to visit everything on foot, the very friendly staff, the very good bedding, the excellent quality and hearty breakfast, the view of the fortress. This is our recommendation for a luxury stay in Salzburg.
Where to eat in Salzburg
- Gablerbrau : Located 9 rue Linzer gasse. This restaurant offers traditional Austrian dishes in a pretty room with a warm atmosphere. The dishes are plentiful and varied. Very good value for money.
- Barenwirt : Located by the river at 8 Mullner Main Street. Here too, typical Austrian cuisine is on the menu! The portions are more than generous and very good and the prices are very small. If you are looking for an authentic restaurant, this is the right choice. Reservation more than recommended and even a few days in advance.
- Organic Pizza Salzburg : If you’re a little tired of Austrian cuisine, there’s nothing like a good pizza! Located at 24 rue Franz-Josef-Strasse, this small establishment offers very good organic pizzas with homemade dough. Vegans can also enjoy themselves.
If you want to learn how to cook some specialties of Austrian cuisine like the iconic dessert, the apfelstrudel, I advise you to book this cooking class.
The workshop lasts 1h30 during which you will prepare a strudel and a Nockerl salburger (a soufflé eaten as a dessert). Lunch also includes a soup before tasting your desserts.
How to get to Salzburg
To reach Salzburg from France, you can take a plane from Paris, these are the only direct flights from France. If you are departing from another city, you will have at least one stopover.
You can also choose to land in Vienna first and then fly to Salzburg. Count:
- About 3 hours drive
- At least 7 hours by bus for around thirty euros, not the fastest or most economical option!
- 2h20 for 20€ by train, for me the best option if you don’t want to rent a car.
Salzburg Tourist Map
To help you visualize the city a little better, I made you a tourist map of Salzburg listing the places to visit that I talk about in this top 17 things to do. You can display the map legend by clicking on the top left button with a small arrow.
Are you going to Austria? Read also:
- Discover all our articles about Austria: all articles about Austria are listed here.
- What to do in Austria? The TOP 20 things to do and see in Austria
- Itinerary: A week in Austria: Itinerary to prepare your trip to Austria
- Hallstatt: The 6 things to do during your stay
- Graz: Top 10 must-see places
- Linz: The 10 places to see
- Innsbruck: Top 15 places to visit
- Vienna: 4 Days in Vienna