Visiting Salzburg: Top 12 Things to Do – 2018

Top things to do in Salzburg

To visit Salzburg, Austria is to discover nothing less than the birthplace of one of the most famous music composers in the world, Mozart.

With its historic UNESCO World Heritage Center , castles and numerous museums, the city has many places of interest from a cultural point of view.

So what to do and see in Salzburg?

I have prepared the top 12 things to see absolutely during your stay as well as tips of routes to visit Salzburg in 1, 2, or 3 days. And as usual, you will also find our selection of the best accommodation for all budgets! 

Visit Salzburg: the must-sees

1. The Fortress of Hohensalzburg

The 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 castles in Europe.

It was originally used to protect the entire principality and archbishops from enemy attacks. It has also perfectly fulfilled its role since it remained impregnable during its ten centuries of existence!

Today you can visit the interior of Hohensalzburg and discover the golden room and the golden room. Do not miss it for its beautiful wooden Gothic sculptures!

And for a slightly more sinister version, you can also see the dungeons and the chamber of torture.

2 museums, the Festungmuseum 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 breathtaking views of all Salzburg.

Finally, be sure to attend one of the classical music concerts held almost every night in the building ( take your seats directly here ) .

Find all the information for your visit on the official website .

As Hohensalzburg is located on a hill, do not hesitate to take the funicular from Festungsgasse lane to get there. The view is super nice. For the more athletic, there is a path directly up to the assault of the fortress.To visit Salzburg, I advise you to opt for the Salzburg Card (I talk about it in detail a little further down). The funicular ride and the visit to Hohensalzburg are included in it. Save time by buying it in advance, click here.
Fortress Hohensalzburg

2. The Nonnberg Abbey

At the foot of the rock fortress, about ten minutes walk from Hohensalzburg, is the Nonnberg Abbey.

The abbey, baroque houses sumptuous frescoes of 12 th century and offers a superb view of the Alps.

But it is especially famous around the world for having served as a base for the very popular Hollywood movie, “The melody of happiness  ” or “The Sound of music” (in English).

The film is about the true story of Maria, a novice from the Nonnberg Convent, sent to Baron Von Trapp, a rich widower, to take care of her 7 children. Maria, after breaking her vows, will end by marrying her and becoming Baroness Von Trapp. And to know the rest of the story, I invite you to watch this movie classic.

The film has made Salzburg internationally known and every year more than 300,000 people roam the city on the set. In addition to the abbey, “The melody of happiness” was also shot at Mirabell Castle and Leopoldskron Castle. To relive the history of the family Von Trapp, I advise you to book now a guided tour of the filming sites.

nonnberg abbey

3. The Abbey and St. Peter’s Church

The other must-see abbey to visit in Salzburg is St. Peter’s.

Founded in 696, it is one of the oldest Austrian Benedictine monasteries. Near the abbey is also the church of St. Peter. Having been several times the object of fires and thus of reconstructions, the 2 buildings mix 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 diners-concerts are held in a magnificent hall, with Mozart’s music performed by artists in period costumes. The menu consists of traditional recipes of 17 th and 18 th century. If you want to live an original evening and quality, I invite you to take your places here .

During your visit, I also advise you to pass by the cemetery, located next door and where you will find the graves of artists, scholars and famous Austrian personalities, including that of the sister of Mozart. Do not forget to visit the catacombs dating back to ancient times.

Just 13 years old, it is for the abbot of St-Pierre that Mozart composed the mass of Dominicus. He also conducted the church band on the same Mass in 1783.
abbey st peter salzburg

4. St. Rupert Cathedral Salzburg

Finally to stay in the religious monuments, I recommend you to take a tour through the St. Rupert Cathedral in Salzburg. It is the most important religious building in the city.

Built from the 17th century, the Baroque cathedral was used as a baptismal place for Mozart. Later, he also officiated as an organ player for a few years. Today it houses the relics of Saint-Rupert and many tombs of archbishops.

With its imposing marble façade and 2 towers, it is also a very photogenic place in Salzburg.

Admission is free so do not miss out, and spend a little while staying in Salzburg.

cathedral st rupert salzburg

5. The Salzburg DomQuartier

Another place of interest not to be missed in Salzburg, the DomQuartier. It is located 2 steps from the cathedral, at the Residenzplatz. It is one of Salzburg’s major cultural attractions.

The DomQuartier is a resolutely modern visiting area as it brings together several museums in different historical sites. One admission ticket gives you access to 5 museums.

To visit the DomQuartier is to discover:

  • The residence of the prince-archbishops and its sumptuous ceremonial rooms
  • The gallery of the residence and its collection of European painting
  • The terrace on the arcades for a unique view of Salzburg
  • The Dome Organ Gallery
  • The Dome Museum
  • The cabinet of wonders and curiosities
  • The Saint-Pierre 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 around 2 hours of visit. Admission is free with the Salzburg Card.


6. The birthplace of Mozart

At No 9 Getreidegasse 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. He spent all his childhood and part of his adolescence in this house before moving with his parents a little further on the Mamkartplatz. Mozart later 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 eighteenth century.

The entrance is included with the Salzburg Card.

birthplace mozart

7. Getreidegasse

Getreidegasse Street, home to Mozart’s birthplace, is one of the most beautiful streets in Salzburg’s Old Town.

With its hand-wrought iron signs (even the local Mc Do’s to it!), Traditional old houses and arcades, the street has a very authentic charm. You will find many traditional shops, major fashion stores, shops selling local and typical products of the region and cafes and restaurants.

The ideal place in Salzburg to do some shopping.


8. Mirabell Castle

To visit Salzburg is to discover Mirabell Castle and its gardens. It is accessible 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” means “admirable” and “beautiful”, just that!

This sublime baroque building now houses the offices of the mayor and the administration. You can still enter to admire the marble Hall, a majestic hall ranked among the most beautiful wedding venues in the world (if you have the budget of course :)).

At the time, Mozart gave some concerts and it also served as a backdrop for the film “Melody of Happiness  “. To keep its musical tradition, it now hosts philharmonic orchestras, including Vienna or Berlin. If you want to listen to Mozart’s works, played by great musicians in a sumptuous setting, do not wait any longer to book your tickets in advance here.

It is not only the castle to see in Mirabell, its gardens are equally grandiose. With their views of the cathedral and the fortress, the place is truly a must in Salzburg. During your walk in the gardens, you can admire:

  • The fountain of Pegasus
  • The big fountain and its statues representing the 4 elements
  • The hedge theater, one of the oldest theaters of greenery
  • The rose garden
  • The orangery
  • The Garden of the Dwarves, composed of 28 white marble dwarves, the main attraction of the park at the time and which (unfortunately) launched a new fashion!
View from Mirabell Castle Gardens

9. Hellbrunn Castle

Hellbrunn Castle is located south of Salzburg, at the foot of Hellbrunner Berg.

Built in 1612 to serve as a summer residence for one of the princes-archbishops, it is one of the most sumptuous examples of Renaissance 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 especially impress his guests, he had a whole automaton mechanism based on the theme of water installed You’ll find many animated fountainswith more than 200 automata wielding tools or musical instruments to replicate the life of a city of the time. The cave Neptune and Venus are absolutely to see.

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 trails for walking or picnicking. Access to the park is free.

To get to Hellbrun Castle, take the number 25 bus line. There is for example a stop next to the Mozart house. The journey takes about fifteen minutes.
hellbrunn castle

10. The Salzburg Zoo

Salzburg Zoo is directly annexed to Hellbrunn Castle. 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 be as interesting as your children. You can see lions, linx or white rhinos. The 14-hectare park is well done and has laid out several areas depending on the continents. It is well maintained and the animals do not appear (too) cramped.

After visiting the water games, this is the perfect place to continue your family outing. Allow about 2 hours of visit.

zoo salzburg

11. The museums of Salzburg

The city of Salzburg has many other interesting museums (in addition to those I have already mentioned) and well made. I have prepared a list to organize your visits according to your interests:

  • The natural history museum and its exhibitions ranging from dinosaurs to the human body, physics or aeronautics. A very playful and interactive museum.
  • The Museum of Modern Art Salzburg and its collection of works of the 20 th and 21 th century.
  • The Salzburg Museum is interested in the history of the city and its inhabitants.
  • The Hangar-7 and its collection of planes, helicopters and even Formula 1 racing cars.
museum shed-7 salzburg

12. The Salzburg Festival

The Salzburg Festival is one of the most famous festivals around the world. It takes place every year in the summer and includes performances of operas or theaters and classical music concerts. The best world artists perform there for the greatest pleasure of the spectators.

Over a period of 90 days, more than 200 performances are given. Its richness and variety are internationally recognized. For example, you can attend Mozart’s “Magic Flute” or a concert by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

The shows are mainly played in the Grand Palais of festivities, Mozart’s house, the Rochers carousel and on the cathedral square.

salzburg festival

How many days to visit Salzburg?

I advise you to spend 2 days in Salzburg to visit all the places of interest that I told you about in this top 12 things to do and see.

All the monuments are nearby and you can visit the city entirely on foot. There is only Hellbrun Castle that I recommend you to take the bus because it is a little outside the city center.

I also advise you to buy the Salzburg Card. As I pointed out above, it will allow you access to most monuments for free, including the cable car and the fortress of Hohensalzburg or DomQuartier. The card also includes unlimited access to public transport and a scenic boat tour, plus discounts on excursions around Salzburg. It will be very quickly profitable. We make it easy for you, you can get it directly here with a single click.

1 Day in Salzburg

To visit Salzburg in 1 day, I suggest the following route:

  • Cable car ride 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 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 Mirabell Castle and in its sumptuous gardens

And for all those who are a bit in a hurry or can not walk too much, do not hesitate to take a tourist bus with multiple stops. It’s really the best way to see everything without getting tired, in one day. You can buy your city tour here.

Visit Salzburg in 2 days

To visit Salzburg in 2 days, I advise you to take the route of a day and add:

  • The discovery of Hellbrunn Castle and its water games
  • Visit the zoo 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).

Where to sleep in Salzburg

To help you prepare your trip, I’ve selected the best accommodation in Salzburg to suit your budget.

So where to sleep in Salzburg?

  • Stadtalm Naturfreundehaus  : Youth hostel located near the Salzburg Museum of Modern Art. Bed in dormitory from € 25, breakfast included. The access is not very easy because at the top of a hill and the rooms are a little small but the view against, is extraordinary. This is the best price for a hostel in Salzburg. The others start at 50 €, which is a bit expensive for a bed in dormitory.
  • Motel One Salzburg-Süd  : Hotel located 4km from the center of Salzburg. A bus stop right in front of you 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 €. The most: the quiet location, the comfort of bedding, the excellent breakfast. This is our heart stroke for its benefit / price ratio.
  • H + Hotel Salzburg : Located a 15-minute walk from Mirabell Castle. Modern and comfortable double room from 120 € per night, breakfast 17 €. Most: the breakfast room overlooking the mountains, the comfort of beds, shops and restaurants nearby.
  • Altstadt Hotel Stadtkrug : Small, typical hotel located in the very heart of Salzburg’s old town and the pedestrian area (so no car noise!). Comfortable double room with typical Austrian charm from 190 € per night, breakfast included. The most: the central location for everything to visit on foot, the very friendly staff, the very good bedding, the excellent quality breakfast and hearty, the terrace for dinner on the roof and enjoy the view.

Where to eat in Salzburg

  • Gablerbrau  : Located 9 rue Linzer gasse. This restaurant offers traditional Austrian dishes in a nice room with a warm atmosphere. The dishes are rich and varied. Very good value for money.
  • Barenwirt : Located along the river at 8 Mullner Main Street. Here too, the typical Austrian cuisine is at the rendezvous! 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. Booking more than recommended and even a few days in advance.
  • Organic Pizza Salzburg  : If you’re fed up with Austrian cuisine, nothing like a good pizza! Located at 24 rue Franz-Josef-Strasse, this small establishment offers very good organic pizzas with homemade dough. The vegans can also feast.

How to get to Salzburg

To reach Salzburg from France, you can take a plane to Paris, these are the only direct flights from France. If you leave from another city, you will have at least one stop.

You can also choose to land first in Vienna and then Salzburg. Count:

  • Approximately 3 hours by car
  • At least 7h bus for thirty euros, not the fastest option or the most economical!
  • 2h20 for 20 € by train, for me the best option if you do not want to rent a car

The prices of the flights for Austria vary enormously, it is a good idea to compare them as soon as possible. For this you can use our flight comparator, in partnership with Skyscanner. It’s the assurance of getting the best price.

Once on the results page, feel free to compare multiple sites, to ensure that no fees are added to the final rates.

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 I’m talking about in this top 12 things to do. You can display the legend of the map by clicking on the button at the top left with a small arrow.

Visiting Salzburg: Top 12 Things to Do – 2018
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Camille L.

Passionate about foreign languages, cooking and writing. I wish to share with you the places, the meetings and the gastronomic discoveries which gave relief to my travels.

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