Austria Itinerary Cover photo

Ultimate 7 day Austria Itinerary (Salzburg, Hallstatt, more!)

Salzburg, Hallstatt, Hohenwerfen Castle, Gossausee, plus more!

Looking for an epic Austria road trip itinerary? Look no further!

I collected info on some of the best things to do in Austria and combined them into an epic 7 day road trip itinerary! I’ve included some of the best landmarks in Austria and formed a tidy little driving route. It really is the perfect itinerary and one of the best road trips in the country!

You should have enough time to fit it all in, and I’ll give you a few optional experiences so that you can customize your own Epic 7 day Austria itinerary!

a little about Austria


Austria is one of Europe’s most underrated countries, often overlooked in favor of Germany. The countries are quite similar. They share a language (German) and culture but also a centuries-long shared history. While Germany is still my favorite country in the world, I find the small country of Austria an absolute delight! It seems to have all the best of Germany with less crowds and a slower pace. WIN!

Austria is one of the most beautiful places in Europe. Its natural beauty can be seen in the towering mountain peaks of the Austrian Alps and surrounding forests, and in the Alpine lakes in colors that dazzle the eye! Austria has imposing castles, scenic drives, and wonderful historic towns like Salzburg and Vienna, and as an added bonus, it’s one of the safest countries in the world. If that weren’t enough, Austria is easy on the pocket book too!

Overview: 7 day Austria Itinerary

Travel Style

historic cities, dreamy castles and palaces, caves, UNESCO World Heritage sites, bucket list worthy locations, cobbled streets, alpine lakes, mountains, and so much more! All = your dream trip!

I avoid larger cities in favor of small villages. The largest city we’ll visit on this trip is Salzburg, population 152,367 (2017)

Trip Route:

Our starting point and ending point will be Salzburg.

This tidy little driving route has plenty of wow factor, and not a lot of driving.

Total Drive time for the entire trip: around 4.5 hours! Wunderbar! The longest drive day is just a couple of hours, so you don’t have to spend too much time traveling!

(route: Salzburg-Hohenwerfen Castle-Gosausee-Hallstatt-back to Salzburg via the scenic Salzkammergut Drive)

7 day Austria itinerary (Salzburg, Hohenwerfen Castle, Gosausee, Hallstatt, Dachstein Caves)
7 day Austria itinerary route

*Disclosure: This blog post may contain affiliate links, I may earn a small commission, ( terms and conditions page.)

transportation

public transport
With a few alterations this trip can be done with public transportation but you’re at the mercy of transit schedules. You can explore your options on the Rome2Rio website or app. (New to Public Transportation? I have an article for Beginners.)

driving
Because of the rural areas and remote locations on this itinerary, a road trip is the best way to do this trip. With your own car you can get around faster. It really is the best option, but not the only option!

  • 1-Do yourself a big favor and add the GPS onto your car rental so you can use Google Maps or other Navigation, or bring one along. We have this GPS unit from Garmin.
  • 2- You may need an International Driving Permit to drive in Europe. Get one at your local AAA office.
  • 3-Rental Car: Search on Booking.com or Expedia to find the best rates and then book with the company directly for peace of mind.
  • If your car doesn’t already have one. you may need to obtain a vignette sticker (toll pass). You can pick one up at petrol stations near a border crossing.

Day 1: Hohenwerfen Castle plus optional experience

stay: 1 of 3 nights: Hallstatt/Bad Goisern/Gosausee

getting money

IF you flew in and this is your first day in the EU, you may want to hit the ATM and get some Euros before you leave the airport. It’s the fastest, easiest, often least expensive and best ways for travelers to obtain foreign currency. Be sure to use your debit card and not your credit card, cash advance fees are normally astronomical. Don’t forget to refuse the Dynamic Currency Conversion (you want the transaction in Euros, not your home currency. They will charge you to convert it.)

pick up your rental car

and head out of town! Depending on your arrival time (hopefully first thing in the morning) you should be able to put in a full day.

Drive to: Hohenwerfen castle (Drive time: 45 minutes)

Hohenwerfen Castle Austria

The first stop on our itinerary is the nearly 1,000 year old Hohenwerfen Castle which sits on a hill surrounded by mountains high above the valley below. This delightful castle has a daily falconry show and when we were there the current castle exhibit was all about witches…perfect! It’s definitely worth a quick stop! Take the steep path up or pay the extra charge to ride the somewhat pricey funicular. Want to guess which we chose? I’m all about saving my legs any and every way possible on these long trips! The guided tour lasts about an hour.

get more information: Visit Hohenwerfen, everything you need to know!

Hohenwerfen Castle famous Austrian Landmarks
famous Austrian Landmarks: Hohenwerfen Castle

Where to eat: There is a cafe in the courtyard of the castle. This is where I tried the Salzburger brat for the first time, and I’m kind of hooked!

Salzburger Sausage Wurst Austria
Salzburger!

optional experience

Next stop, if you have enough time you may want to fit in another attraction. This area flush with fun and interesting attractions, many just a short drive (half hours drive or so) off of your route. (You’re near the German border, so a few of these are actually in southern Germany)

Optional experience:

  • Eagles Nest (Kehlsteinhaus) is a mountaintop retreat located near the Germany Austria border. It was built as a 50th birthday present for Adolf Hitler. Today the building has been converted into a restaurant that offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
  • Sound of Music Tour: You’re in the Sound of Music country. The movie has filming locations in Salzburg and the surrounding countryside. Book a tour here and let a local guide show you the most important places in the area for fans of the famous musical! (private tours also available)
  • Gollinger Waterfall (Gollinger Wasserfall) drops over 75 meters (246 feet) in two stages. Short hike to the falls.
  • Salzburg Open Air Museum (Salzburg Freilichtmuseum): around 100 original historic buildings exhibit life from the 16th to the 20th century, including farmhouses, barns, mills, and chapels.
  • Rossfeld Panorama Strasse (Roßfeldpanoramastraße): scenic toll road, the highest panoramic road in Germany.
  • Konigssee and Obersee: (requires nearly an entire day) Take a scenic boat tour through the Bavarian Alps on fjord like Konigsee lake. Disembark and make your way to Obersee, an idyllic emerald-green alpine lake with stunning views! From Obersee you can take a trail to Röthbachfall waterfall, Germany’s highest waterfall! It’s an amazing experience!
  • Parish Church of St. Sebastian: Stop at this picture-perfect little church with the mountains in the background, and the little brook and bridge in the foreground. Just like a painting! fun fact: a road runs through this scene !
  • Berchtesgaden National Park boasts 174 named mountains, including the Watzmann, the tallest peak in the park. It’s a veritable hiking paradise.
  • “Werfen’s “Eisriesenwelt” [world of ice giants] the world’s biggest ice cave.
rent a paddle boat or rowboat on Königssee Lake in Germany
relax for a little bit! rent a rowboat on Königssee Lake
Obersee, Alpine Lake in Germany
Obersee, Alpine Lake in Germany
Photo: Parish of St. Sebastian chapel, Ramsau Germany
Photo: Parish of St. Sebastian chapel, Ramsau Germany (south Germany)
views of Berchtesgaden National park

Drive to: your hotel. (Drive time: 1 hour or so) Total Drive time for the day: 1 hour 45 minutes

Where should you stay?

I like these options: You can stay IN Hallstatt to have the evenings and early mornings crowd free, or you can stay in Bad Goisern, or if you really want a peaceful setting book a room on Gosausee!

Hallstatt:

(although nice, these exceed the $200 per night that I budgeted for)

These options are located in the pedestrian center of Hallstatt and have panoramic lake views:

Seehotel Grüner Baum

This too cute for words little lake Chalet is over 300-years-old and has hosted famous people like Empress Sisi and Agatha Christie. Prices starting at $369 per night, guest rating: 8.8

book it now on booking.com!

Seewirt Zauner

Overnight in one of those ridiculously cute alpine cottages, located just off of the market square. This immaculate little place has a distinctly Austrian feel! Prices starting at: $256 per night, Guest rating: 8.8

book it now on booking.com!

Heritage Hotel Hallstatt

Consisting of 3 buildings, one of which is more than 400-years-old. Prices starting at $321 per night. Guest rating: 8.5

book it now on booking.com!

Bad Goisern:

Welterbe-Wirtshaus Steegwirt

Nestled against a mountain backdrop on the far northern shores of Lake Hallstatt, just where the lake and the river join. It is a truly lovely spot. The interior has gorgeous rustic wood detail. Our room had a large picture window overlooking the stream below. Both breakfast and dinner were excellent. Distance from Hallstatt: 8 km, Prices starting at $238 per night, guest rating: 9.4

book it now on booking.com!

Gosausee:

Stay right on the lake at Gasthof Gosausee! They offer rooms with balconies overlooking the lake!

book it here on Booking.com!

day 2: Lake Gosausee

stay: 2 of 3 nights: Hallstatt/Bad Goisern/Gosausee

drive to: Gosausee (drive time: 15-minute drive, unless you decided to overnight here)

Alpine Lake Gosausee

Gosausee is a crystal-clear emerald green lake that reflects the surrounding majestic mountain range. These are the Dachstein Mountains which include the Hoher Dachstein, the highest mountain in the range. There’s a picturesque trail that circles the lake or head up the cable car for views from above, the perfect way to escape the crowds of Hallstatt! Gosausee is a popular tourist destination too, however it’s nowhere as crowded as the city center of Hallstatt!

Get more details: How to plan the perfect trip to Gosausee, the prettiest place on earth!

Gosausee Lake, the prettiest lake in Austria!
beautiful view: Gosausee Lake Dachstein mountains view
Gosausee Lake Austria mountain reflection, prettiest place on earth! Gosausee Dachstein
Photo: Gosausee Dachstein mountain refection on the lake

where to eat

Even if you are staying in Hallstatt, consider having dinner on the lake. Gasthof Gosausee is located just past the Gosausee Parking Lot. It sits right on the lake and has outdoor umbrella tables with amazing views, or sit indoors in their cozy dining room.

Day 3: Hallstatt

stay: 3 of 3 nights: Hallstatt/Bad Goisern/Gosausee

Hallstatt Austria

Today we’ll spend the whole day exploring the picturesque town of Hallstatt, my bucket list destination (which I finally got to see last year!) The charming small town of Hallstatt sits prettily on the shores of beautiful Lake Hallstatt, surrounded by majestic mountains and lush forests. Hallstatt and the surrounding area are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Here you’ll find traditional Alpine architecture and colorful houses built into the mountainside, each one adorned with flower boxes and views of the swan studded lake! Choose from top things to do like touring the bone chapel that contains hundreds of human bones and skulls or visiting the 700-year-old salt mine (that includes an underground train ride!). Consider getting out on the lake OR above the little town for a unique perspective.

WHEN is the best time to visit Hallstatt? get the answer here!

Get more details: Great options for filling your day in Hallstatt, AND how to avoid crowds in this popular destination.

Hallstatt Austria on Lake Hallstatt
Hallstatt Austria on Lake Hallstatt
The Swans of Hallstatt Austria: they make themselves at home!
The Swans of Hallstatt Austria: they make themselves at home!

salt mine and panoramic views

After you explore the town head on up ABOVE the town! Take the funicular up for views of the town and to visit the ancient salt mine. (cost of the funicular included in the salt mine ticket)

where to eat

Anywhere along the lake with a view! The food may or may not be great, but the views are guaranteed to be! While you’re up above the town consider having a meal at the Rudolphsturm Cafe. They serve affordable food with million dollar views.

about the crowds

Day trip crowds descend on Hallstatt during midday and late afternoon. Consider these crowd beating tips and then come back for sunset views and romantically lit evenings! Overnighting in town? you’ll get early mornings sans crowds too!

Day 4: Dachstein Cave and Salzkammergut Scenic Drive

stay: 1 of 4 nights: Salzburg

Drive to: Dachstein Cave (Drive time: 25 minutes)

Dachstein Giant Ice Cave

Dachstein Giant Ice Cave (Dachstein Krippenstein) on Dachstein Mountain: subterranean glaciers with stalactites and light & sound shows. Mammoth Cave (Mammut Cave) is one of the largest karst caves in the world. At the top you’ll have a splendid view of the imposing Dachstein Glacier.

On tap, a panorama gondola, viewing platform at the highest point with views that will STUN YOU, an ice palace, and Austria’s highest suspension bridge!

Dachstein, one of the best places to visit in Austria!

Drive to Salzburg (drive time: 1.5 hours)

(but this is a particularly scenic area of Austria so consider taking your time for stops along the route!)

Salzkammergut Scenic drive (optional)

(take Hwy 145 N north of Bad Ischl, and then take the 158 to Salzburg)

Scenic drive through UNESCO region with stunning alpine lakes, deep valleys, rolling hills, and rugged mountain ranges.

Video footage of the Salzkammergut drive: Not your style? just let the navigation take you back to Salzburg via the shortest route.

Salzkammergut Drive, a great place to see mountain views!

Drop off the car

unless they are closed, in which case you’ll have to drop it off the next morning.

where to stay in Salzburg

I’ll include favorite places  we stayed but if they don’t suit your tastes, the best place to search accommodations is booking.com.

Bloberger Hof

City center options are within walking distance of the main attractions and you’ll find the train station is just steps away. 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 just a short walk from the bus route directly into the city center, and the hospitality and food are excellent! Still have the car? the hotel has a FREE private parking lot. It’s the perfect place in my opinion!

Read about Bloberger Hof here or book it now!

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. (1.2 miles from the city center) Scenes from the Sound of Music were filmed here, opulent dining areas and a library fit for a King! guest rating 8.8

book it here on booking.com! (the best place to search for accommodations!)

city center options

Rather Stay in a central location in town? Here are some of the stand out 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 Archbishop’s residence) looks out over Mirabell Palace, guest rating 8.6
  • Hotel Sacher Salzburg, this 1866 hotel is luxuriously decorated and has a beautiful quintessentially Austrian dining room, sits on the banks of the Salzach River with views of the castle, guest rating 9.6

Salzburg Map

Follow the link for an interactive map of the main attractions in Salzburg:

link to interactive Google map of attractions in Salzburg for tourists
Google map of attractions in Salzburg for tourists

Day 5: Salzburg

stay: 2 of 4 nights: Salzburg

PURCHASE SALZBURG CARD

The next day the first thing you’ll want to do is purchase a Salzburg Card. Hotel guests should be able to purchase one from your hotel. 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 30 euros per person over the 3 days.

With the Salzburg Card: Free entry to many attractions, ride area buses for free, a free round trip boat ride and more! Discounts on the hop-on-hop-off bus tours and more!

Head to Salzburg Old Town City Centre

We jumped on the bus, easy and free of charge with our Salzburg cards!

Charming Salzburg Old Town, (Altstadt) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Why? because it’s one of the best preserved European cities on the continent! In fact, some say it is the most beautiful city in Austria. The unique architecture is a fanciful mixture of Gothic and Baroque which gives the town a decidedly ornate appearance, and the surrounding mountains provide a stunning backdrop. You will simply fall in love with it!

We’ll spend the next 3 days in this wonderful town. This is an overview of the best things to see and do, feel free to mix up this itinerary any way that works for you.

Need more details? 3-Day Salzburg itinerary

Salzburg Austria
Salzburg Austria

Mozart

Salzburg is Austria’s classical music capital and the birthplace of Mozart! Plan your entire trip around the famous musician! here’s how: Mozart in Salzburg

Mozart in Salzburg! Mozart things to see and do in Salzburg Austria, Mozart Statute
Mozart Statue in Mozartplatz

Day 1 Salzburg highlights include:

(Total walking about 1.5 miles)

  • Mozart’s birthplace apartments museum: Mozart was born here in 1756.
  • Getreidegasse is the very crowded main drag in old Salzburg, which looks much like it did in Mozart’s day.
  • The Mozart Family Residence Museum (after they moved from the birthplace)
  • Mirabelle Palace, Mirabelle Gardens and Dwarf Park.
  • Boat Ride: Go ahead and take that free boat ride on the Salzach River (included with your Salzburg Card!) Consider hitting this first thing in the morning or booking in advance. We tried to get on a boat whenever we got freed up and they were booked out for the rest of the day.

Evening entertainment options

choose one!

Mozart Dinner Concert. This unique experience is a MUST! Enjoy three courses of food (Mozart era recipes) and three 20-minute courses of classical music in a elegant baroque setting. It was the BEST EXPERIENCE! 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.

marionette theater

Day 6: Salzburg

stay: 3 of 4 nights: Salzburg

Day 2 Salzburg Highlights include:

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart statue
  • Salzburg Cathedral (Salzburger Dom) where Mozart was baptized and served as organist for two years
  • St. Peter’s church and Catacombs: Medieval hermit monks lived here.
  • DomQuartier Salzburg: Tour the state rooms of the Residenz, the former palace complex of the Salzburg sovereigns.

Hohensalzburg Fortress (Festung Hohensalzburg)

Take the funicular (skip the line with the Salzburg card!) up to the 1,000 year old Hohensalzburg Castle, also known as the Hohensalzburg Fortress, a medieval fortress perched high on Festungsberg Mountain overlooking charming Salzburg. It offers panoramic vistas of Salzburg’s fanciful rooftops and surrounding mountains. The eight-acre fortress complex has about 50ish buildings, the expansive castle grounds, a nice place to grab an ice cream and wader.

The hill is also the location of the Monchsberg Walk, a paved wooded walking path that runs along a narrow ridgeline and offers stunning views of Salzburg. You can ride the elevator down, or head back to the FUNICULAR.

Hohensalzburg Fortress famous landmarks in Austria
Hohensalzburg Fortress

Evening entertainment options

Choose from one of the evening activities listed under Salzburg Day 1

Day 7: Salzburg

stay: 4 of 4 nights: Salzburg

We’ll slow it down on the last day, which will give you some time to rest. To fill out your day, simply add something that strikes your fancy, or revisit one of your favorites!

Schloss Hellbrunn Palace and Gardens

Drive to Schloss Hellbrunn (Hellbrunn Palace), the last stop on this itinerary. This Baroque palace, located on the outskirts of Salzburg, was built in the 1600’s. What makes Hellbrunn so special? the dozens of playful trick fountains located in the gardens! These water features were designed to entertain guests. The palace interior is stunningly decorated and worth seeing for its intricate frescoes and ornate furnishings.

Getting to Hellbrunn:

  • visit on a day when you still have a car
  • Take a taxi (10 minutes, around $20)
  • Take the boat / bus combo from the city center (not covered on the Salzburg card
  • Use the hop-on-hop off bus (yellow line)
  • Walk or cycle the 400 -year-old tree lined path called Hellbrunner Allee! In the evening the riverbanks are a world of floodlit spires.
Hellbrunn Palace Landmarks in Austria
Hellbrunn Palace

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:

Austrian food!

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!

cost and trip planning resources

Cost: Road trip 7 day Austria itinerary

How much can you expect to spend on this 7 day Austria road trip?
(2024 rates)

hotel
Based on double occupancy
$1,400 (7 nights)
rental car$400
tours and admission$250 (per person, plus any optional experiences. Price only includes ONE dinner concert)
estimated total for two people$2,300= (plus the cost of food/drinks)

(prices are an approximation)

Don’t forget to add the cost of airfare (we fly free, learn how here!) PLUS sign up for “Going” (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights) to get flight deals sent to your inbox! see the world for less!

when is the best time to go?

Spring and Fall are ideal times to visit Austria. However, mountain regions may already be or still be dealing with snow.

Winters are cold, but a popular time for winter sports. Expect to deal with winter weather road conditions, particularly because most of this Austria itinerary is located in the mountainous Alps region. Some mountain passes may be closed.

The summer months are prime time to enjoy outdoor activities like swimming and boating. This is also the most crowded time to visit.

Crowd beating travel tip:

The common sense 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.
  • Travel in the shoulder or off season

Plan your 7 day Austria Itinerary

Create your own itinerary: Plan the perfect road trip in Austria just 6 simple steps! with the best travel guide in the market: absolute best books on traveling Europe!

Want to take that trip you’ve always dreamed of but not sure how to pay for it? budget friendly ways to pay for your Austrian road trip.

Nervous about not speaking German? No problem! overcoming the travel language barrier so you can relax and enjoy your travels

Protect yourself with trip insurance
Road trips in Austria cost money. Protect your investment with “cancel for any reason” trip insurance. Shop for one at Travel Insurance.com! but don’t delay, most CFAR policies need to be purchased within 14-21 days of your initial trip payment, depending on the policy.

Travel Resources
Check out my Travel Resources page to learn how to get the best deals on accommodations, airfare and rental cars for your Austrian road trip!


Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *