Salzburg Austria is a beautiful historic city situated on the banks of the Salzach River. Enchanting Salzburg is known for its baroque architecture, stunning landscapes, cultural heritage, and rich history. To further add to its charm, the entire city is surrounded by the Austrian Alps which provide a stunning picture-perfect backdrop.
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The perfect Salzburg Itinerary
Can you blitz tour Salzburg in one day? Two days? Yes. Should you? No! It just isn’t enough time! This city deserves at the very minimum a long weekend! So, I’ve crafted this 3 day Salzburg itinerary with the top things to see and do in Salzburg that includes the most popular spots in town! In this three day itinerary I’ll give you plenty of great ideas for the best things to do to fill your time in one of Europe’s prettiest cities, the City of Salzburg!
Feel free to mix this itinerary up anyway that works for you. Have more time? See the alternative experiences listed in this article. Less time? Pick your favorites!
Getting your bearings in the Austrian City of Salzburg:
Salzburg is a relatively small city (population 152,000) with most of the main sites concentrated in a small area. A medieval castle overlooks Salzburg’s historic sites. Salzburg’s Old Town, with its procession of lovely squares, is located on the west bank of the river. New Town, on the east.
Follow the link for an interactive map of the main attractions in Salzburg: link to interactive Google map of Salzburg attractions for tourists
The official Salzburg website has a variety of maps including:
- Transit maps
- Creative Salzburg Walk
- Instagrammable Salzburg
- Church City Salzburg
- Salzburg Beer Culture
- Salzburg City Mountains
- UNESCO World Heritage
Day 1: Salzburg
stay: 1 of 3 nights: Salzburg
Total Walking: about 1.5 miles
Arrival in Salzburg
Ideally, you’ll want to arrive early on the first day so you can fit all of these great things in!
By Air (Salzburg Airport)
Salzburg is served by the Salzburg Airport (SZG), which is located about 4 km from the city center. The airport is well-connected to major European cities. Cities with direct flights to Salzburg include Amsterdam, Berlin, Frankfurt, and London to name a few. If you are arriving in Salzburg by air you may want to stop and get some Euros at a bank ATM before leaving the airport.
By train or bus
Salzburg is also well-connected to other parts of central Europe by train or bus. The city’s main train station, Salzburg Hauptbahnhof, is located in the city center and is served by trains from major cities such as Vienna, Munich, and Zurich. Explore your public transportation options on Rome2Rio.
Driving in the city center is challenging, and parking in the city center is costly. Fortunately, it’s easy to visit Salzburg without a car! Visitors who prefer to rent a car can do so at Salzburg Airport or at various rental agencies located throughout the city. Consider using one of the Park-and-Ride options for parking your car.
Purchase the Salzburg Card
The first thing you’ll want to do is purchase a Salzburg Card from your hotel or at one of the Tourist Information offices in town.
Tourist Information office locations:
- Tourist Info – Mozartplatz: Mozartplatz 5
- Tourist Info – Salzburg Hauptbahnhof: Südtiroler Platz 1
If you plan to visit the majority of the attractions in this article, purchasing this card is a good idea because it will save you money. We figured it saved us about 45 euros per person over 3 days.
With the Salzburg Card: Free admission to many attractions, ride area buses for free, a free round trip boat ride, discounts on the hop-on-hop-off bus tours and more!
Head to Salzburg Old Town City Centre
Since we weren’t staying in the city centre, we jumped on the bus, easy and free of charge with our Salzburg cards!
Charming Salzburg Old Town, (Altstadt) a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the very best-preserved cities in Europe. The unique skyline is a fanciful mixture of Gothic and baroque architecture, which gives the town a decidedly ornate appearance.
Mozart’s Birthplace (covered on Salzburg Card)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born here in this building in 1756. The building now houses a museum that showcases Mozart’s life and work, and visitors can see some of his personal belongings, including his childhood violin, a lock of his hair and a clavichord he may have played. (Getreidegasse #9)
is the very crowded main drag in old Salzburg, which looks much like it did in Mozart’s day. This historic street is lined with unique shops and eateries. I have to be honest, I couldn’t wait to get off of this congested street! It seems like every tourist in town had descended upon this one street all at once. The further you get from Getreidegasse the thinner the crowds become.
other highlights on the street include:
- Getreidegasse #3 for scrumptious pastries at Schatz Konditorei.
- Across from #40 Eisgrotte is a tunnel that leads to the famous Balkan Grill (sign reads Bosna Grill) which serves what is purported to be the very best wurst in town. I got the original with onions and mustard.
- Getreidegasse #47 is the location of the Original Furst Shop that invented the Mozart ball in 1890.
The Mozart Family Residence (Tanzmeisterhouse) (covered on Salzburg Card)
Now head across the bridge to New Town. The Mozart family moved from the birthplace across the river to this house. On display: original Mozart family instruments, including Amadeus’s piano forte as well as his violin, and a family portrait. It’s worth a look but I didn’t find it as appealing as the Birthplace so if you must choose just one, I’d choose the birthplace.
IF you feel like it while you are in this area: take the long way around to Mirabell and stop at St. Sebastian Cemetery where Mozart’s wife and father are buried.
Mirabell Palace, Mirabell Gardens and Dwarf Park. (free)
Mirabell Palace and Gardens is a beautiful garden complex and 17th century Palace which was once the home of the Prince-Archbishops of Salzburg. The beautiful but popular gardens are free to visit and feature flowers, manicured lawns, sculptures, and elaborate fountains.
My favorite feature of the Mirabell Gardens is the Dwarf Park (Zwergerlgarten (Ehemalige Bastion der Stadtmauer) which is located between the palace and the river.
Boat Ride (covered on the Salzburg Card)
If you haven’t yet, go ahead and take that free river cruise on the Salzach River that’s included with your Salzburg Card! (Consider hitting this first thing in the morning or booking in advance. By the time we got freed up they were booked for the day. OR try first thing tomorrow morning!)
Evening entertainment options
- Salzburg Marionette Theater
- Mozart dinner concert at Mirabell Palace Marble Hall
- Mozart dinner concert at Hohensalzburg Fortress
- Mozart dinner concert at Stiftskeller St. Peter restaurant (my personal favorite pick!)
Mozart Dinner Concert
This unique experience is so much fun and a MUST if you are planning to be in Salzburg! The concert features an elegant baroque setting, three courses of food, Mozart era recipes, and three 20-minute courses of classical music. Located in Stiftskeller St. Peter restaurant. The Mozart family frequented this restaurant, and Charlemagne ate here in 803, making it perhaps the oldest restaurant in Europe. My husband balked a bit at this experience but he ended up having a great time! So, if you’re on the fence about this experience, order yourself a bottle of wine like he did, and go for it!
Day 2: Salzburg
stay night 2 of 3: Salzburg
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart statue in Mozartplatz
Salzburg Cathedral (Salzburger Dom)
is a stunning 17th century baroque cathedral which features beautiful frescoes, sculptures, and stained-glass windows. See the baptismal font where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was baptized in 1756. In later years he served as organist in this church. Not covered on the Salzburg card so you will need to purchase entrance tickets. Conservation fee adults € 5.00 or € 9.00 for the guided tour.
St. Peter’s Square
Catacombs (covered on the Salzburg card) Medieval hermit monks lived in the Catacombs (Katakomben). Explore the old cemetery where Mozart’s sister Marianne is buried. (free) Stop into the little 12th century Abbey Church of St. Peter. (free) The abbey was founded in 696 but the Monastery is, unfortunately, not open to visitors.
The recommended Stiftskeller St. Peter restaurant in the courtyard boasts that Charlemagne ate here in 803, making it perhaps the oldest restaurant in Europe. If you don’t plan to attend the Mozart Dinner Concert, consider stopping by this historic building for a meal or even just an Apfelstrudel.
DomQuartier Salzburg (covered under the Salzburg Card)
DomQuartier is a museum complex located in the historic center of Salzburg, Austria. It is situated on the Domplatz, next to the Salzburg Cathedral, and comprises several buildings that were once part of the archbishop’s palace. The complex includes the Residenzgalerie, which houses a collection of European art from the 16th to the 19th centuries, and the Dom Museum, which showcases the history and culture of the Salzburg archdiocese. Visitors can also explore the state rooms of the former archbishop’s palace.
Hohensalzburg Fortress (Festung Hohensalzburg) (covered under the Salzburg Card)
The best way to get to the castle is to take the funicular / cable car (no extra cost to you with the Salzburg card which includes skip the line privileges!) up to the 1,000 year old Hohensalzburg Castle. The medieval fortress, also known as the Hohensalzburg Fortress, is perched high on Festungsberg Mountain overlooking charming Salzburg. It offers panoramic vistas of Salzburg’s fanciful rooftops and surrounding mountains.
The expansive castle complex has about 50ish buildings. Castle highlights include the Marionette Museum, the castle museum which houses a collection of weapons, armor, and other artifacts, and the STUNNING Regency Rooms and castle interiors.
Consider attending one of the world class Mozart Concerts at the stunning concert hall in the Fortress. While you’re up on the hill you may be interested in the Mönchsberg Walk, a paved wooded walking path along the narrow ridgeline. Here is where you get a different perspective of town, along with the most magnificent views of the city!
When you are ready to head back down, you can ride the elevator (also covered on the Salzburg card), or head back to the FUNICULAR.
The castle is open late, which is a great time to explore with fewer crowds.
Evening entertainment options
On the second day choose from one of the evening activities listed under Salzburg Day 1!
Day 3: Salzburg
stay night 3 of 3: Salzburg
Schloss Hellbrunn Palace and Gardens (covered under the Salzburg Card)
Make your way to (Schloss) Hellbrunn Palace, a baroque palace located on the outskirts of Salzburg. Built in the 1600’s, what makes Hellbrunn so special are the dozens of playful trick fountains, designed to entertain guests, located in the gardens. The palace interior is stunningly decorated and worth seeing for its intricate frescoes and ornate furnishings.
Here are some of my favorite fountains at Hellbrunn
There are a few options for getting to Hellbrunn:
- Take a taxi (10 minutes, around $20)
- Take the boat (this one is not covered on the Salzburg card): The boat takes you as far as the Palace, where you will disembark and take a four-minute ride on the London Double Decker which will take you the rest of the way to the palace.
- Use the hop-on-hop off bus (yellow line) or regular buses (Rome2Rio)
- Walk or cycle from the city center (or consider the boat there and walk back): There’s a 400 -year-old tree lined path called Hellbrunner Allee! In the evening the riverbanks are a world of floodlit spires. Approximately 3.5 miles from the city center.
If you need to fill out your day, consider one of the “alternative experiences” below.
Evening entertainment options
Choose from one of the evening activities listed under Salzburg Day 1.
Salzburg alternative experiences
There are tons of things to do in the surrounding area. Here are a few of my favorites to fill extra time:
Join a tour or excursion
- take a Sound of Music tour from Salzburg. Explore filming locations from the popular movie with a tour guide, including the Mirabell Palace and Gardens, the Nonnberg Abbey, and the Mondsee Cathedral. The tour also includes a visit to the famous gazebo, where the song “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” was filmed.
- take a tour of Eagles Nest from Salzburg. Eagle’s Nest, formerly a retreat for Hitler is now a popular high-altitude restaurant with breathtaking views.
- Salzburg 2.5-Hour Walking Tour: Mozart, Old Town & More, from a local guide
- Full-Day Bavarian Mountains Tour (includes Berchtesgaden, Eagles Nest, and Konigssee)
- Bavarian Salt Mine Tour and Berchtesgaden
- Sound of Music & Salt Mines Tour
- Salzburg: Ghost Tour
- Stiegl Brewery Tour with Beer Tasting, this one’s for beer lovers!
Explore one of Salzburg’s Museums
Salzburg has many museums to choose from, such as the Museum of Modern Art. Check the website for the Salzburg Museum list.
Day Trips from Salzburg
These are popular day trips from Salzburg:
- Salzkammergut Drive: If you have a car, consider making your way out to the mountainous countryside on the Salzkammergut Scenic Drive. (Hwy 158 to Hwy 145)
- Hallstatt: is a small village located in the Salzkammergut region of Austria, and a popular day trip from Salzburg and easily reached by public transportation. The village is famous for its picturesque views of the lake and mountains. Distance from Salzburg: 80 km. Get more details: Everything you need to know about Hallstatt PLUS crowd beating tips!
- Gosausee: is a stunning alpine lake where the surrounding mountains refelect off of it’s emerald green surface. It’s a must see when in Austria! Distance from Salzburg: 80 km. Get more information: How to see Gosausee!
- Berchtesgaden Area: Königssee is a fjord-like lake located in the Bavairan Alps of Germany. Take a boat ride along the lake and disembark at Obersee, a magical alpine lake surrounded by mountains. From there you can take a trail to Germany’s highest waterfall. Get details on on this great activity: Königssee and Obersee, how to see them both! also in the area, the picture perfect Parish Church of St. Sebastian, one of Germany’s most recognizable churches. The little chapel sits magicall between a babbling brook and a mountain backdrop and it is PERFECT! Distance from Salzburg: about 50 km
- Hohenwerfen Castle: is the nearly 1,000 year old castle which sits high above the valley below, surrounded by mountains. This delightful castle has a daily falconry show. A personal favorite, this castle is an absolute delight. The red paint color used on some of the architectural elements really pops against the deep blue canvas of the sky. Distance from Salzburg: 45 km. Get more information: Hohenwerfen Ultimate visitor guide!
Austrian food and eating in Salzburg
If you’re like me, then the best part of the trip is usually the food! When in Rome, try the local cuisine!
- Eiernockerl (their version of spaetzle with cheese and fried onions)
- Speckknodel (dumplings with ham and bacon mixed in, served with broth)
- Mozart cake (layers of chocolaty goodness!)
- Salzburger Nockerl, (souffle resembling mountain peaks with a snowy dusting of sugar)
- German food: There’s a lot of cross over between Austrian and German food, you know the basics…wurst, schnitzel… Learn all about the best German food since you’ll have the opportunity to try a lot of it in Austria!
My favorite way to find the best restaurants is on TripAdvisor. You’ll get plenty of customer photos and reviews, all ranked top to bottom!
While we could all eat Austrian food every day, if you are looking for a bit of a break consider some of the international cuisines in the city. We had some of the best Asian food that we have ever had at Yuen Restaurant, Getreidegasse 24.
Accommodation: where to stay in Salzburg
the quieter outskirts of town:
There are some great options in the historic city center that are within walking distance of the main attractions. However, MY favorite stay in Salzburg is Bloberger Hof. Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and trade it for scenic meadows with highland cattle and a mountain backdrop. Bloberger Hof is located on the bus route directly into the city center, and the hospitality and food are excellent! If you still have the car, they also offer FREE private parking. I wrote a full article on wonderful Bloberger Hof, or
Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron
Splurge Alert! This palace was build in 1736, It’s surrounded by 17 acres of manicured grounds and mountains and sits on an idyllic little lake. Located 1.2 miles from the city center. Scenes from the Sound of Music were filed here, opulent dining areas and a library fit for a King! guest rating 8.8
City Center options:
Rather Stay in town? Here are some of the standout options:
- Altstadt Hotel Stadtkrug: a 700-year-old building located in historic old town, guest rating 8.4
- IMLAUER Hotel Pitter: opened in 1864, panoramic views of the city, including the castle! guest rating 8.7
- Hotel Wolf: the building dates from 1429, this place is CUTE! guest rating 9.0
- Hotel Stein: (adults only) the building dates back to medieval times, beautifully renovated with eye popping color! sits on the Salzach River, panoramic rooftop terrace with views of the town, including the castle! guest rating 8.6
- Hotel am Mirabellplatz: boutique hotel located in a 17th-century building (former residence of Archbishop Paris Lodron) looks out over Mirabell Palace, guest rating 8.6
- Hotel Sacher Salzburg: another luxury option, this 1866 hotel is luxuriously decorated and has a beautiful quintessentially Austrian dining room with rich wood waxed to a high shine, on the banks of the Salzach River with views of the castle, guest rating 9.6
For budget-conscious travelers:
- Yoho International Youth Hostel Salzburg: This hostel is located just a short walk from the city center and offers dormitory-style rooms with shared bathrooms.
- A&O Salzburg Hauptbahnhof: This hostel is located near the train station and offers both private and dormitory-style rooms.
- Eduard-Heinrich-Haus: This hostel is located just outside of the city center and offers dormitory-style rooms with shared bathrooms.
Tips and Tricks for Visiting Salzburg
Here are some tips and tricks to help you make the most of your visit:
While you’ll get along just fine speaking English in Salzburg, you may want to learn a little German before you go. I have a guide to overcoming the travel language barrier so you can relax and enjoy your travels!
when is the best time to go?
Spring and Fall are ideal times to visit Austria. However, mountain regions may already or still be dealing with snow.
Winters are cold but with lovely snow-capped mountains as a backdrop. Expect to deal with winter weather road conditions, particularly because most of this Austria itinerary is located in the mountainous Bavarian Alps region. Some mountain passes may be closed.
Summer months are prime time to visit for summer activities like swimming and boating but it will be crowded.
Crowd beating travel tip
The commonsense rule of thumb for avoiding the worst crowds at popular tourist attractions are:
- Visit early morning or late in the day (i.e., the first or last tour of the day)
- Weekdays are often less crowded than weekends.
- Visit in the Off-Season: Salzburg can get crowded during the peak season (June-August), so it’s best to visit during the off-season (September-May) when there are fewer tourists and prices are lower.
Once in Salzburg, visitors can use the city’s efficient public transportation system to get around. The city has an extensive bus network, with buses running every few minutes. Visitors can buy tickets at vending machines located at bus stops or at the Salzburg Verkehr (SVB) ticket office. The city also has a tram system, which is particularly useful for getting around the city center.
Taxis are also available in Salzburg, but they can be quite expensive. Take a Walking Tour: Salzburg is a walkable city, and taking a walking tour is a great way to explore it. There are many guided tours available that cover different parts of the city, including the Old Town, the Mirabell Palace, and the Sound of Music locations.
Festivals and free things to do in Salzburg
The best free things to do:
- Explore the squares and take in the beautiful architecture, statues, fountains, and St. Peter’s Square.
- Explore Mirabell Palace and Gardens
- The Mönchsberg Walk above Salzburg for panoramic views of the city.
The most popular festivals include:
- Salzburg Festival: Held late July through August is one of the world’s most important festivals for opera, music and drama.
- Christmas Markets: Salzburg hosts some of the best Christmas Markets in Austria. There are several held at various locations around town. For more information check the Salzburg Calendar of events or check out their Christmas Market map.
cost and trip planning resources
Cost: 3-day Salzburg Itinerary
How much can you expect to spend on this 3-day Salzburg Itinerary? Depending on your travel style prices can vary greatly. This is a middle of the road estimate:
Based on double occupancy
|$600 (3 nights)|
|transportation||Minimal if you use buses and trams (and in many instances free if you purchased the Salzburg Card!)|
|tours and admission||$150 (per person, plus any optional experiences. Price only includes ONE dinner concert)|
|estimated total for two people||=$750 (plus the cost of food/drinks)|
Frequently Asked Questions
How many days are sufficient for Salzburg?
You can hit some of Salzburg’s best highlights on a one- or two-day trip. However, to really do this wonderful city justice three days is ideal. Is a week too long for Salzburg? If you have even more time to spend in Salzburg, you won’t run out of things to do in this Austrian cultural and historical hub!
What language do they speak in Austria?
German is the official language of Austria.
What kind of currency do they use in Austria?
The Euro is the official currency of Austria.