Things to do in Salzburg: The 17 Best Places to Visit and Highlights
You want to visit Salzburg, in Austria, and you’re looking for the best places to visit?
You’re at the right place!
The hometown of Mozart is famous for its historical center listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, castles and many museums.
In order to help you plan your stay, I have prepared for you this guide of the 17 best places to visit in Salzburg, with all points of interest and must-see attractions.
In addition to this list of things to do and activities, I will also give you itineraries to visit Salzburg in 1, 2, or 3 days as well as my selection of the best accommodations depending on your budget.
So, what are the best things to do in Salzburg? Where to stay?
Let’s find out!
- Things to do in Salzburg: The 17 Best Places to Visit and Highlights
- Visiting Salzburg: 17 Must-See Attractions
- 1. Hohensalzburg Fortress
- 2. Nonnberg Abbey
- 3. St Peter’s Abbey
- 4. Salzburg St. Rupert cathedral
- 5. The DomQuartier in Salzburg
- 6. Mozart’s birthplace
- 7. Getreidegasse
- 8. Mirabell Castle
- 9. Hellbrunn Palace
- 10. Best things to do in Salzburg with kids: Visit the Salzburg Zoo
- 11. Salzburg Museums
- 12. The Salzburg Festival
- 13. Boat trip on the Salzach
- 14. Best things to do in Salzburg at night
- Best things to do in Salzburg
- How many days to spend in Salzburg?
- Salzburg in 1 day
- Salzburg in 2 days
- Where to stay in Salzburg
- Where to eat in Salzburg
- How to get to Salzburg
- Salzburg Tourist Map
- You’re traveling in Austria? These articles will help you!
- Visiting Salzburg: 17 Must-See Attractions
Visiting Salzburg: 17 Must-See Attractions
1. Hohensalzburg Fortress
When it comes to the must-see attractions in Salzburg, Hohensalzburg Fortress unquestionably takes the top spot.
Overlooking the entire city, this fortress whose construction began in the early 11th century (and ended five centuries later) is one of Europe’s most well preserved castles.
Originally serving as protection for the entire principality and the archbishops against hostile attacks. It perfectly fulfilled its purpose since it remained untouched during its ten centuries of existence!
Nowadays, you can visit the inner part of Hohensalzburg and discover among others the Golden Hall and Golden Chamber. An absolute must-see for its magnificent Gothic wood carvings!
Oh, and if you’re looking for thrills, you can also take a look at the dungeons and torture chambers.
Two museums, the Festungsmuseum and the Rainermuseum within the Castle will also teach you about the life of the princes archbishop and Austrian army over the centuries.
You’ll also enjoy a perfect view of all of Salzburg from the fortress.
Finally, if you’re wondering what to do at night in Salzburg, you really should attend one of the many classical music concert given in the fortress. You should <a1>book your tickets by clicking directly here</a1>!
Hohensalzburg Fortress is located on top of a hill so feel free to catch the funicular from the Festungsgasse alley to get there. The view is really nice. You’ll also find a path that gets you directly to the top of the fortress… if you’re the energetic type.
If you plan on visiting Salzburg, you should get the Salzburg Card (I’ll explain it in detail further below). It includes the Funicular ride and visit to Hohensalzburg Fortress.
Save time and purchase it in advance by clicking on the green button below:
If you don’t want to get the Salzburg pass, you should still buy your entrance ticket to the fortress in advance by clicking here!
2. Nonnberg Abbey
Nonnberg Abbey, another major tourist site in Salzburg is a 10-minute walk from the fortress, at the base of the hill.
The baroque-style abbey houses sumptuous 12th century frescoes and offers a stunning view of the Alps.
It is however mostly famous around the world for having inspired the hugely popular Hollywood flick “The Sound of Music”.
The film focuses on the true story of Maria, a Nonnberg convent’s novice sent to Baron Von Trapp, a wealthy widower, to look after his 7 children.
After breaking her vows, Maria would eventually marry him and become Baroness Von Trapp. If you want to know the rest of the story, you should then give a go to this classic piece of cinema.
The film brought international recognition to Salzburg and every year more than 300,000 visitors wander the city in search of the filming locations.
Besides the abbey, “The Sound of Music” was also shot at Mirabell Castle and Leopoldskron Castle.
To experience the story of the Von Trapp family during your visit to Salzburg you should definitely book a guided tour of the filming locations now.
3. St Peter’s Abbey
Another must-see edifice in Salzburg is St. Peter’s Abbey.
Founded in 696, it’s one of the oldest Austrian Benedictine monasteries.
Just next to the abbey, you’ll find St. Peter’s Church. Throughout the centuries, it has undergone multiple rebuilds due to fires, resulting in a captivating fusion of Romanesque, Renaissance, and Baroque architectural styles. The overall look is extremely appealing, both inside and out.
Within the Abbey, you’ll also find “Stiftskeller St. Peter,” a remarkable restaurant featuring a stunning hall where delightful dinner concerts showcasing the musical genius of Mozart are regularly performed by artists dressed in period costumes. A truly immersive experience!
The restaurant’s menu consists of traditional recipes from the 17th and 18th centuries. If you are interested in experiencing an original and quality evening during your trip in Salzburg, you should book your seats by clicking the button below:
During your stay, you should also pause by the cemetery right next door, where you will find the tombstones of famous Austrian artists, scholars and celebrities, including Mozart’s sister.
Don’t forget to explore the fascinating local catacombs that date back to the classical era.
4. Salzburg St. Rupert cathedral
To stay on the topic of religious monuments not to be missed in Salzburg, you should also give Salzburg St. Rupert’s Cathedral a go.
It’s the most important religious edifice in the city.
The cathedral, built from the seventeenth century onwards in the Baroque style, is actually the place where Mozart was baptized.
He also volunteered there as the church’s organ player for a few years. Nowadays it holds the relics of St. Rupert and many archbishops’ graves.
With its imposing marble facade and two towers, it is also a very photogenic place to check out in Salzburg. So don’t hold back, and spend some time there during your stay in this city.
Admission is included in the Salzburg Card but if you don’t want the card, you can also book:
- A ticket for the cathedral visit + audioguide
- A guided tour of the cathedral
- Your seat for the organ concert in the cathedral at midday (concert + entrance ticket)
5. The DomQuartier in Salzburg
Another must-see place of interest in Salzburg, the DomQuartier. Located just 2 steps from the cathedral at the Residenzplatz, it’s one of Salzburg’s major cultural and tourist attractions.
The DomQuartier is a distinctly modern touristic area as it brings together several museums in various historical sites. A single admission ticket gives you access to 5 museums.
Visiting the DomQuartier allows you to discover:
- The Princes Archbishop’s Residence and its sumptuous ceremonial rooms.
- The Residence Gallery and its fine collection of European paintings.
- The terrace on the arcades with its unique viewpoint of Salzburg.
- The gallery of the organ of the Dome
- The Dom Museum
- The Cabinet of curiosities
- Saint Peter’s Museum.
The tour is extremely well organized and exceedingly interesting. It allows you to explore the historical sites and learn more about the history of Salzburg and its princes archbishop.
Allow about 2 hours for the visit. Admission is free with the Salzburg Card.
If you don’t take the card, you should still book your ticket + audio guide to visit the DomQuartier by clicking here!
6. Mozart’s birthplace
During your Salzburg tour, go take a look at #9 on Getreidegasse. There you’ll find Mozart’s birthplace.
His parents moved there in 1747 and it was on January 27, 1756 that his mother gave birth to the not-yet-but-soon-to-be famous Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He would spend all of his childhood and part of his adolescence in this house before moving with his parents a little further down the road to Mamkartplatz.
Mozart later moved to Vienna, where he died on December 7, 1791.
The house is now a 3-story museum.
Here you will find portraits of the famous composer, musical instruments that belonged to him as well as varius furniture and artefacts re-creating a classical interior from the 18th century period.
Admission is included with the Salzburg Card.
If you have an interest in Mozart’s life, you also grab the opportunity to book a reservation (click on the orange link for info):
- A private Mozart-themed tour including admission to his birthplace.
- A guided walking tour of Salzburg featuring an introduction to the old city and the history of Mozart.
One of the most beautiful streets in the old town of Salzburg is the Getreidegasse, and this is where you’ll find Mozart’s birthplace (as mentionned above).
With its hand forged iron signs (even the local McDonald’s has its own!), traditional houses and arched passageways, the street has a very authentic feel to it and is the perfect place to stroll in Salzburg.
There you’ll find many traditional stores, major fashion brands, boutiques selling the region’s local and typical products and obviously loads of cafes and restaurants.
The perfect place to go for a little shopping break in Salzburg.
If you want to thoroughly visit Salzburg and in particular want to learn more about its history, you can also book a guided walking tour of the city.
The tour lasts 2 1/2 hours, enough time for you to wander around the old town and especially the Getreidegasse.
8. Mirabell Castle
Visiting Salzburg also means discovering Mirabell Castle and its gardens. You can get there from Getreidegasse by taking the Makartsteg pedestrian bridge.
It’s construction started in 1606 by order of Prince Archbishop Wolf for his mistress Salome Alt. The name “Mirabell” meaning “admirable” and “beautiful”, the Prince was definitely a seducer!
This sublime Baroque structure now houses the mayor’s and the city’s administration offices. You can still get in to gaze at the Marble Hall, a majestic room ranked among the most beautiful wedding venues in the world (if you know a Prince that wants to get married, tell him about the place).
Mozart gave a few concerts there in his days and the castle also served as a decor for the world-renowned “The Sound of Music” movie.
To perpetuate its musical tradition it now hosts philharmonic orchestras like Vienna’s or Berlin’s.
If you want to hear Mozart’s works played by talented musicians in a sumptuous setting, don’t wait any longer and book your tickets in advance here.
You can also get a combo with dinner at the Grand Sheraton’s Mirabell Restaurant + classical concert night at Mirabell Castle. Just click on this link to book!
It’s not only the castle you get to enjoy at Mirabell, the gardens are just as magnificent. Along with the view over the cathedral and fortress, the place is truly a must-see in Salzburg.
As you walk through the gardens, you’ll be able to enjoy:
- The Pegasus Fountain
- The Great Fountain and its 4 statues as symbolic of the 4 elements.
- The hedge theater, one of the oldest theaters of greenery in existence.
- The rose garden
- The orangery
- The Dwarf Garden, consisting of 28 white marble dwarves, the garden’s main attraction at the time.
To visit Salzburg and easily get from one place of interest to another, you should book a ticket for the multi-stop bus that runs throughout the city.
It passes by Mirabell Castle and the Hellbrun Palace.
You will also be provided with an audio guide.
Book your ticket for the Salzburg sightseeing bus now by clicking here!
9. Hellbrunn Palace
Hellbrunn Palace lies south of Salzburg, at the foot of the Hellbrunner Berg.
Built in 1612 to serve as the summer residence of one of the princes archbishop, it is one of the most lavish examples of Renaissance-style architecture.
You can visit the Palace’s interior but there’s not much to see. The main attraction is its immense garden and hugely popular water games.
To impress and especially entertain his guests the archbishop had a whole mechanized show on the theme of water installed in his garden.
There you’ll find many animated fountains and more than 200 automated machines handling tools or musical instruments in an attempt at reproducing the city’s everyday life of the time. The caves of Neptune and Venus are a must-see.
The garden is the perfect place for a family outing in Salzburg. In addition to the water features, there is a large playground for kids and plenty of trails to walk around or just relax.
Access to the garden is free.
10. Best things to do in Salzburg with kids: Visit the Salzburg Zoo
The Salzburg Zoo is adjacent to Hellbrunn Palace. It was built on the former archbishop’s game park grounds.
The zoo will be a delight for the whole family with over 1,200 animals and 140 different species.
You’ll be able to say hello to a few lions, linx and even white rhinos if you’re lucky. The 14 hectares (35 acres) park is well designed and divided into different areas for each continent. It is well maintained and the animals do not seem (too) cramped.
Following the visit to the water works, this is the perfect place to carry on your family day out. Allow approximately 2 hours for the visit.
Admission to the zoo is included with the Salzburg Card.
11. Salzburg Museums
The city of Salzburg boasts plenty of other interesting museums in addition to the ones I’ve already mentioned.
I have prepared a list to help you organize your visits in accordance with your own personal preferences:
- The Natural History Museum and its exhibits ranging from the dinosaurs to the human body, physical sciences and even aeronautics. A very entertaining and interactive museum.
- The Salzburg Museum of Modern Art and its collection of works from the 20th and 21th centuries.
- The Salzburg Museum focusing on the history of the city and its residents.
- Hangar-7 and its collection of planes, helicopters and even Formula 1 cars.
If you were wondering what to do in Salzburg when it’s raining, you now have a good set of options!
12. The Salzburg Festival
The Salzburg Festival is one of the most famous festivals in the world.
Held annually in the summer, it features opera/theater performances and classical music concerts. The world’s top artists perform here each year to the delight of the spectators.
With more than 200 performances given over a 90-day time frame, it’s a marathon! Its richness and diversity are internationally praised.
You could attend “The Magic Flute” by Mozart or a concert by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra during this spectacular event.
Shows are performed primarily in the Grand Palace of Festivities, Mozart’s House, the Felsenreitschule (litteraly rocks riding school) and on the Cathedral plaza.
If you have decided to go to Salzburg in the summer it’s a must-see!
13. Boat trip on the Salzach
For a little quiet stroll in Salzburg, I recommend taking a mini-cruise on the Salzach, the river that winds through the city. An excellent way for you to discover the city’s numerous monuments from another angle.
Several Salzburg cruises available: 1) The classic tour which takes about 40 minutes. Book this Salzburg boat trip here:
2) Mini-cruise + visit to Hellbrunn Castle package.
Departing from Salzburg, the boat will take you to the Hellbrunn quay where a double-decker bus will be waiting to drop you off at the castle entrance. Interior tour + 1 priority access to the garden fountains included in the package.
After your visit, you will be taken back to Salzburg the same way you came.
Book your boat ride in Salzburg + visit to Hellbrunn now by clicking on the button below:
3) Cruise + dinner and concert in the Hohensalzburg Fortress
This package includes a 40 minutes cruise and the funicular ride to the fortress. You’ll then be seated in the panoramic restaurant to enjoy an exquisite dinner followed by a concert dedicated to Mozart.
You can also book your cruise + concert only (dinner not included) by clicking here!
4) Cruise in an amphibious vehicle (+ audio guide)
14. Best things to do in Salzburg at night
If you want an alternative suggestion for a night activity in Salzburg, you should definitely try out the ghost-themed tour!
You’ll get to know all the dark legends of the city as you set out on a witch hunt and learn more about the fun and inventive torture methods they used in medieval times.
To book this activity in Salzburg, click here!
Best things to do in Salzburg
If you’ve decided to stay for a few days in Salzburg, you can also use the time you have to visit the neighborhood.
Here’s my advice on the best things to do around Salzburg
15. Hohenwerfen Castle
At this point, if you are not fed up with visiting castles then you should definitely check out Hohenwerfen Castle.
It’s a 40-minute drive south of Salzburg.
You’ll find among other things the royal apartments, the arsenal, a chapel, the dungeon and the torture room of this 11th century castle. It also features several exhibits including one on its history and a digital, interactive exhibit on the wizarding world.
Unique feature: the castle is also home to the historic Salzburg Falconry. It houses a dedicated museum and offers flying demonstrations of birds of prey such as eagles and falcons.
Since the castle is a really touristy site and one of the most visited around Salzburg, remember to book your entrance ticket in advance. You’ll have the choice of going up with or without the funicular and the audio guide is included:
16. Hallein Salt Mine
It’s a must-see around Salzburg, especially if you’ve decided to bring your kids along in Austria. The Hallein Salt Mine is a 20-minute drive from Salzburg.
The mine visit provides an opportunity to learn all about the salt extraction process through a guided tour of the tunnels. All and all a very fun and playful visit since you’ll first ride the mine train that will take you into the depths of the mine.
You’ll then go down a 50-meter slide to access the underground lake where a boat awaits you for a small cruise embellished by a digital sound and light show.
You’ll wrap up the experience with a tour of the Celtic village of Hallein.
Purchase your tickets to the salt mine by clicking the button below:
17. Daytrips from Salzburg
When departing from Salzburg, you’ll be spoilt for choice if you want to go on a day trip in the surrounding area.
They all include return transportation to Salzburg and guide for 1 day.
I’ve selected the best ones for you below. Just click on the links highlighted in orange to get all the information, rates and proceed with the reservation:
- Half Day Excursion to Hallstatt – Stroll through this charming, picturesque village and get to enjoy its superb lakefront.
- From Salzburg: lakes and mountains in the Salzkammergut – Explore the mountainous region around Salzburg and discover Lake Wolfgang on a boat trip.
- Combined excursion to Hallstatt and Salzkammergut – A perfect blend of the previous 2 excursions, without the lake cruise.
- Tour of Berchtesgaden salt mines and underground lake – Transportation included. Same as for the Hallein Salt Mine with a guide here to tell you all about the salt extraction process. Mine slides and boat ride on the underground lake included.
- From Salzburg: visit Kehlsteinhaus and Berchtesgaden – Discover the Bavarian Alps and the “Eagle’s Nest”, vacation home of the infamous Adolf Hitler.
- Combined excursion of the salt mines + Eagle’s Nest – A combination of the 2 excursions above.
- Combined excursion to salt mines + Salzkammergut – Sightseeing in Berchtesgaden + cruise on Lake Wolfgang.
18. Sports activities in and around Salzburg
In addition to the typical tourist visits, you can take advantage of your stay in Salzburg to indulge in some great activities:
- A 15 to 30 minute paragliding initiation to contemplate the Austrian landscape from way up above
- A paragliding flight from Mount Gaisberg starting at 1,287 meters above sea level
- A paragliding initiation flight from Mount Bischling at an elevation of 1,834 meters
- A paragliding initiation in thermal flight with twists and turns and acrobatics (still at Mount Bischling)
- Canyoning – Beginner Level
- Canyoning – Intermediate level
- Canyoning – Advanced Level / And for the experts among you, you should absolutely try canyoning in the Fischbach Gorge. Book here!
- A rafting trip down the Salzach River – Beginner level / For those who’ve done it before, the “athletic” variant can be booked here!
- Supsquatch on the Salzach River, a kind of giant paddleboard that you ride on with several people.
- A zip line descent: 1,600 meters long and 143 meters off the ground! With a top speed of 130 km/h it is one of the fastest in Europe!
Another exceptional activity: ever thought about booking a private helicopter tour? Do it in Salzburg! All information is available here!
How many days to spend in Salzburg?
You should spend 2 days in Salzburg to be able to visit all the places of interest I’ve told you about in this top 17 things to do and see.
All the monuments are in easy reach and you can tour the entire city on foot. Except for Hellbrun Castle, where you should grab the bus since it’s a bit outside the city center.
If you also plan on discovering the city’s surroundings you should stay at least 3 days in Salzburg.
You should also get the Salzburg Card.
As mentioned above, it will give you access to most of the monuments for free, the funicular, Hohensalzburg Fortress and the DomQuartier.
The card also includes unlimited access to public transportation and a scenic boat tour + discounts on a variety of tours around Salzburg.
It will quickly pay for itself. Since I’ll always try to make it easy for you, you can get it directly from the button below:
Salzburg in 1 day
To visit Salzburg in 1 day you should try the following itinerary:
- Cable ride to Hohensalzburg Fortress and tour of the fortress’ interiors
- Make a stop at Nonnberg Abbey and experience some of the memorable scenes from the movie “The Sound of Music” once again
- Take a tour of the DomQuartier to see St. Peter’s Church, the cathedral, and the former residence of the princes archbishop.
- Lunch break
- Discovery of the famous Mozart’s birthplace and Getreidegasse, the street with a thousand signs.
- End your day at Mirabell Palace and its splendid gardens.
In the evening, you can also join a Ghost Tour.
Your guide will take you to the “dark side” of the city by telling you all the witch stories and legends, explaining medieval torture methods, and relating various strange events that have occurred.
And for those who may be in a hurry or cannot walk too much, do not hesitate to take a hop-on-hop-off tourist bus. It truly is the best way to see everything in a day without getting tired.
Salzburg in 2 days
To visit Salzburg in 2 days, you should follow the one-day above itinerary and add:
- The discovery of Hellbrunn Palace and its water games.
- Visit to the zoo located right next door.
- Lunch break
- Boat trip
- Remaining afternoon in one or more of the city’s museums such as the Salzburg Museum or the Museum of Natural History (a must if you travel with your kids).
Where to stay in Salzburg
To help you prepare your stay, I have selected for you the best accommodations in Salzburg according to your budget.
Here are the best places to stay in Salzburg:
- Stadtalm Naturfreundehaus: Hostel located near the Salzburg Museum of Modern Art. Dormitory beds from €25, breakfast included. Access is not very easy as 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. Other ones start at €50, which is a bit expensive for a simple dormitory bed.
- Motel One Salzburg-Süd: Hotel located 4 km from the center of Salzburg. A bus stop right in front allows you to reach the center in just 10 minutes (and remember, with the Salzburg Card it’s free). Spacious and modern double room from €100 per night, breakfast at €9.5. Strong Points: quiet location, comfortable bedding, excellent breakfast. It’s my favorite for its excellent value for money!
- H+ Hotel Salzburg: Located 15 minutes walk from Mirabell Palace. Modern and comfortable double room from €120 per night, breakfast at €17. Strong points: breakfast room with mountain views, comfortable beds, shops, and restaurants nearby.
- Hotel Sacher Salzburg: 5-star hotel located in the heart of Salzburg’s old town and by the river. Comfortable and spacious double rooms, each uniquely furnished, from €400 per night, breakfast at €35. Strong points: central location for walking to all sights, very friendly staff, excellent bedding, high-quality and plentiful breakfast, view of the fortress. The best hotel in Salzburg for a luxury stay!
Where to eat in Salzburg
- Gablerbrau: Located at 9 Linzer Gasse. This restaurant offers traditional Austrian dishes in a cozy atmosphere. The dishes are generous and varied. Great 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 delicious, and the prices are quite low. If you’re looking for an authentic restaurant, this is the right choice. Reservation is highly recommended and even a few days in advance.
- Organic Pizza Salzburg: If you’re a bit tired of Austrian cuisine, nothing beats a good pizza! Located at 24 Franz-Josef-Strasse, this small establishment offers very good organic pizzas with homemade dough. Vegans can also enjoy their meal here.
If you want to learn how to cook some Austrian specialties like the emblematic dessert, apfelstrudel, you should book this cooking class.
The workshop lasts 1h30 during which you will prepare a strudel and a Salzburger Nockerl (a soufflé served as a dessert). Lunch also includes a soup before you get to enjoy your desserts.
Book your cooking workshop in Salzburg directly with the button below:
How to get to Salzburg
To reach Salzburg from France, you can take a flight from Paris. No other direct flights from France. If you’re departing from another city, you’ll have at least one layover.
You can also choose to first land in Vienna and then head to Salzburg. Allow:
- Approximately 3 hours by car
- At least 7 hours by bus for about €30, not the fastest and not even most economical option!
- 2h20 for €20 by train, which is the best option if you don’t want to rent a car.
You should check the train schedules and fares before leaving and book your tickets here:
Flight prices to Austria can vary greatly, so it’s a good idea to compare them as early as possible. For this, you can use our flight comparison tool, in partnership with Skyscanner. This ensures you get the best price.
Once on the results page, don’t hesitate to compare several websites to make sure no fees are added to the final prices.
Salzburg Tourist Map
To help you visualize the city a bit better, I’ve created 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 the button with a small arrow at the top left corner.
So what are you planning to do and see in Salzburg?
🚗 Rent a car
🗽 Book entrance tickets and guided visits
🏄 Book your sports activities
🚤 Book your rental boat
🌍 Take a travel insurance
🙎 Book a tour
🚅 Book your train tickets
✈️ Book your flight
You’re traveling in Austria? These articles will help you!
Discover all my articles about Austria: All my articles to help you plan your trip to Austria are listed there.
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- Hallstatt: TOP 6 things to do during your stay
- Innsbruck: The 15 best things to do and see
- Linz: TOP 12 places to visit and must-see attractions
- Salzburg: The 17 best things to do
- Vienna: TOP 25 tourist attractions