A charming city close to the German border with spectacular views of the Eastern Alps in the background, Salzburg is one of the top destinations in Austria. Did you know that The Sound of Music, the feel-good, heartwarming classic, was filmed here? Oh, and the Altstadt (Old Town), renowned for its standout baroque architecture, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Breathtaking squares, palaces and gardens abound, and if taking in the sights is not enough, you can always visit the house where Mozart was born. Yes, THAT Mozart! One day in Salzburg is bound to be magical however you look at it.
PLAN YOUR TRIP
Salzburg in a day? Yes, it can be done! Read here how to organize your trip.
1. What’s the best time to visit Salzburg?
2. Things to do in Salzburg in Winter
3. A few facts about Salzburg
4. One day in Salzburg itinerary
4.1. Start Your Day by Visiting the Mirabell Palace
4.2. Take a Short Walk to the Mozart-Wohnhaus
4.3. Explore Linzer Gasse
4.4. Cross the Salzach River
4.5. Stop for an Early Lunch
4.6. Visit One of the Nearby Museums
4.7. Move on to Mozart’s Birthplace
4.8. Check Out DomQuartier Salzburg
4.9. Take the Salzburg Cable Car to Fortress Hohensalzburg
4.9.1. Try Some Great Brews at the Augustiner Brewery Salzburg
5. Where to stay in Salzburg?
6. Day trips from Salzburg
7. Extra tips for visiting Salzburg
Similar to many other European cities, Salzburg receives most of its visitors during the summer. If you want to enjoy the numerous Salzburg attractions in relative peace, then the best time to visit Salzburg would be between September and October. By then, the summer crowds will have cleared for the most part.
In addition, the temperatures are ideal during the early fall, much more comfortable even than March or April, when it can still get quite cold at times. Do note that Easter is pretty big here, with Salzburg Easter Festival taking place at that time. Then there’s also Salzburg Festival in summer, the most significant drama and opera festival in the world.
However, if you don’t mind below-zero temperatures, though, then you should definitely visit Salzburg in winter. This time in the city is so special that it demands a paragraph of its own.
There’s a reason why so many historic Central European cities today have Christmas markets during the winter months. Hot, fragrant Glühwein and the warm glow of lights adorning the snow-covered streets of old town Salzburg will show you the magic of the holiday season like no other place in the world. In addition to enjoying tasty treats and shopping at the Christmas market, attending a Baroque concert with Mozart’s iconic music is certainly among the most spellbinding things to do in Salzburg in winter.
You can also go skiing, with some of the best ski resorts in the Alps located in the south of the province – perfect for a day trip from Salzburg. If you don’t feel like leaving the city, apart from eating Lebkuchen and drinking Glühwein, make sure to check out the Christmas Museum (Salzburger Weihnachtsmuseum). While open all year, it definitely benefits the most from the festive mood that fills the city’s streets during the season.
The city of Salzburg, the fourth largest city in Austria, is located on the banks of the Salzach river. Literally translated as “salt castle”, Salzburg is famous for its impeccably preserved city center. In fact, the center’s impressive baroque architecture got it listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Most people are familiar with the fact that the city was the setting for The Sound of Music, as well as the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, of one of the greatest classical composers of all time.
Bud did you know that Salzburg’s Stiegl-Brauwelt is one of the oldest breweries in the world still working today? It opened in 1492, the year Columbus crossed the Atlantic for the first time.
Additionally, Nonnberg Abbey, or Stift Nonnberg in German, is the oldest still functioning women’s convent in not only Austria, but also Switzerland and Germany. It was founded between 712 and 715 A.D.
Other than the abbey, the oldest Salzburg attractions are mostly castles. Not far from the city, you will find Moosham Castle, built on the foundations of a Roman military fortress. Then there’s the impressive Hohenwerfen Fortress towering over the Salzach Valley. In addition, there’s also the Gothic Fischhorn Castle, the magical Bluehnbach Castle, a medieval hunting lodge from the 1400s, and many others.
You’ve made an excellent choice by coming to spend one day in Salzburg. This is a city of culture and architecture with breathtaking sights wherever you look. Therefore, you will need to have a good itinerary with you if you want to see all the most important places. Here are the top sights and things to do while in Salzburg – enjoy!
Salzburg is a relatively small city, with most of the attractions within walking distance from one another. Still, you should visit the gardens of the Mirabell Palace early in the morning, before the area gets crowded, which happens often, especially during the summer.
The Palace itself features a gorgeous ballroom which is mostly used today for various concerts (you can book a ticket in advance), conferences, awards ceremonies, and romantic, extravagant weddings. Quite fitting, considering the fact that Mirabell Palace was built in 1606 by Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich Raitenau for Salome Alt, the love of his life.
Today, Salzburg’s municipal offices and the mayor’s office are located there, which means that a large part of the building is inaccessible. While checking out the palace, you should also spend some time in the small but beautiful gardens outside. The large fountain located there is a timeless Baroque masterpiece representing the four elements.
Just across the park south of the Mirabell Palace, you will find Mozart’s former residence, which also has a nice little souvenir store next door. The house is now a museum where you can admire a number of items used by the famous composer himself. In addition to Mozart’s letters, instruments, and music scores, a large part of the museum’s setup is dedicated to various members of his family.
The tour of the museum is self-guided, with the option of using scannable QR codes that correlate with an audio tour available for smartphones. Although the tour is informative and exciting, especially for Mozart enthusiasts and fans of classical music, you can go through it all pretty fast. With 30 minutes being enough to see everything, this will fit nicely into your one day in Salzburg itinerary.
After Mozart’s home, take a short walk south-east until you reach a small square near the Staatsbrücke bridge. The square, called Linzer Gasse Platzl, is where Linzer Gasse, one of Salzburg’s most enchanting little pedestrian streets, meets the Salzach river. The street itself is full of great restaurants, charming coffee shops, and storied hotels. It is a great place to go for a walk and enjoy the city’s beautiful architecture.
You can also spend some time shopping if you feel like it. The street runs parallel to Park Kapuzinerberg, which is definitely worth a visit. The area just south of the monastery (Kapuzinerkloster), directly above Linzer Gasse Platzl, offers some pretty amazing views of the city and the Salzach river.
The majority of things to do in Salzburg, including its most famous attractions, are located on the other side of the Salzach river. Staatsbrücke is a good place to cross, unless you are feeling particularly romantic. In that case, take a short walk north until you reach the Makartsteg Bridge.
Here, you will see thousands and thousands of padlocks that were left there by couples in love and people seeking to “lock” their memory of visiting Salzburg.
The childhood home of Herbert von Karajan (the famous conductor) is also by the bridge. You can take a moment to see the commemorative plaque and the bronze statue of Karajan. If you start your day in Salzburg early, you should cross the bridge to the other side before noon.
Although not the best time for lunch, you should grab a bite to eat now in order to save time later. Burgerista, located between the two bridges, facing the river, is an excellent choice for a quick, yet delicious bite. You can get great at affordable prices here, including a number of veggie options to choose from.
However, if you feel like you want a more comprehensive meal, there are plenty of excellent choices. Gasthoff Goldgasse, for example, offers great food in a lovely, quaint setting, with tasty Austrian dishes on the menu. Then there’s Indian Palace Restaurant if you’re in the mood for something Indian, and Zum Zikelwirt also comes highly recommended. There are plenty of different options close by, so you certainly won’t be hungry!
After lunch, go for a scenic walk through Griesgasse street west until you reach Museumsplatz, an elongated public square under the impressive cliff. The nearby Haus der Natur is a sprawling museum focusing on natural history and science, with interactive displays. They even have an aquarium and a reptile zoo!
The museum is one of the top Salzburg attractions, and is definitely worth a visit if you are visiting the city with children. As a matter of fact, families and children can count on some nice discounts here.
If you consider yourself more of an art aficionado, then your time may be better spent visiting the Museum der Moderne Salzburg or the Modern Art Museum. Its astonishing clifftop location is just as good as its impressive collection of contemporary visual art.
To continue your exploration of the city’s rich history, you can visit Mozart’s birthplace in Old Town Salzburg, on Getreidegasse street. The street, also great for shopping and sightseeing, is just 200 meters (3 minutes on foot) from the Haus der Natur.
Mozart’s birthplace offers exciting tours that provide valuable insights into the composer’s younger years. In addition to the wealth of information on his life and family, you will find impeccably preserved writings and musical instruments. There is also a beautiful replica of Mozart’s famous piano here.
If you are wondering what to do in Salzburg apart from tracing Mozart’s footsteps, head east until you reach the Old Market (Alter Markt). Turn south to arrive on a broad, awe-inspiring 16th-century square with a baroque fountain in its center. The square, called Residenzplatz, is bordered by the Salzburg Cathedral on the south side and DomQuartier Salzburg to the west.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, DomQuartier Salzburg is a large Baroque complex with tours that let you learn more about Salzburg’s art and cultural history. The treasures there used to belong to the archbishops of Salzburg, and they contain numerous paintings, old furniture, and religious art. The audio tour includes every room, with hours and hours of content. You can even explore the upper floor of the Salzburg Cathedral, which can be reached via a terrace.
Make sure to save some time for one of the most famous Salzburg attractions: Fortress Hohensalzburg, which is only open until 5 PM. On your way there, you will pass Stift St. Peter Salzburg, a Catholic church and monastery dating to the 7th century, with the ancient and picturesque Petersfriedhof cemetery.
The fortress itself, on the other hand, dates back to the 11th century. The complex, located on a hilltop, can be reached by Salzburg Cable Railway to the Fortress (FestungsBahn), located south of the cathedral, next to the cemetery.
Apart from enjoying the amazing views of the city and the Alps, the trip to the fortress is worth it also because the castle is a well-preserved, carefully maintained, and all-round magnificent piece of history. You will love the ancient objects, the excavations, the on-site museum and the beautiful Prince’s rooms.
Even though Salzburg is a relatively timid city primarily known for its culture, architecture, and rich history, there are still a couple of things to do in Salzburg that have nothing to do with sightseeing and touring museums. They do, however, have something to do with food and drinks.
After visiting churches, castles, and Baroque homes, the best way to close out the day is to spend the evening at one of the many Salzburg beer gardens. Augustiner bräu – Kloster Mülln is a cozy brewery with a spacious garden. With amazing food and authentic, friendly atmosphere, it is one of the best places to sit down for a beer in all of Salzburg. They serve the beer from wooden casks in authentic mugs for the ultimate experience.
If you’re looking for a little variety after the beer, consider Murphy’s Law Irish Pub, one of the best Irish pubs in Austria. The owner is an Irishman who is a bit of a local legend, so you can’t go wrong. For whiskey, though, you can’t go wrong with the Salzburg Whiskey Museum. The staff (including the owner) is helpful and friendly, more than willing to share their knowledge on great whiskey haunts in Austria.
Hotel Schloss Mönchstein
Mönchsberg 26, Altstadt, 5020 Salzburg
Hotel Schloss Mönchstein is situated at the very heart of Salzburg Old Town, on top of Mönchsberg hill. With breathtaking panoramic views, an outdoor hot tub and pool, and a large park, this hotel’s singular location is simply unbeatable. Inside, the hotel is a proper castle which treats its guest like royalty providing gorgeous marble bathrooms and authentic antiques in each room. The on-site restaurant was awarded 2 toques by Gault Millau for its outstanding traditional Austrian cuisine. This, of course, is paired with a wide selection of fine wines.
Hotel & Villa Auersperg
Auerspergstraße 61, 5020 Salzburg
This family-run boutique hotel, while small, offers all the amenities you can ever want on your one day in Salzburg. With a great location only 15 minutes from all the main attractions, Hotel & Villa Auersperg offers individually designed rooms, with either modern or classic furnishings. On top of that, you can relax at the spa area or hotel’s quaint garden terrace. You can also count on free maps, bicycles for rent, and plenty of useful information to help you reach all the most important things to see in Salzburg.
Altstadt Hotel Hofwirt Salzburg
Schallmooser Hauptstraße 1, 5020 Salzburg
Located east of the Salzach river, the Altstadt Hotel Hofwirt Salzburg is only 10 minutes on foot from Mirabell Palace. Amenities include tablets with internet access in each room, nonsmoking rooms, both in modern and traditional style, and a rich breakfast buffet with delicious Austrian meals. Very close to all key Salzburg attractions, this hotel is a great choice for travelers looking do some sightseeing. Convenient and comfortable, this hotel will provide you with great value for your money.
Institut St. Sebastian
Linzer Gasse 41, Altstadt, 5020 Salzburg
If you’re looking for a hostel in Salzburg, Institut St. Sebastian is an excellent choice. Its location near the city center is one of its biggest advantages, but there’s more to consider. Comfortable beds, immaculately clean rooms, and even a roof terrace all help provide guests with a fantastic experience. Perfect for sightseeing since many of the most important Salzburg sights can be reached on foot from here.
Have some time on your hands? How about setting up a day trip from Salzburg? Or maybe two? The area around the city is absolutely mesmerising, so no matter which place you choose to visit you won’t be making a mistake. Here are some of the most popular choices, many of which are pretty much a must if you’re spending more than one day here.
Hallstatt is an absolutely stunning little town on the shores of Lake Hallstatt and something that should really be seriously considered when choosing the destination for your day trip from Salzburg. The scenery is nothing short of spectacular with beautiful hills rising over the crystal-clear lake and picturesque houses dotted over them.
Apart from natural beauty, however, Hallstat is also known as an important archaeological site, with traces of early Celtic people being found here. All of that has contributed to UNESCO putting the whole area under its protection, and one day in this magical place will surely rejuvenate you.
Grossglockner Road is the best way to get up close and personal with the majestic Alps. It goes straight through Hohe Tauern National Park, so you will be greeted by incredible nature and fairy-tale landscapes everywhere you go. Also, a ranger will be with you every step of the way, teaching you about all aspects of the environment here.
This is also a fantastic place to take some really impressive photos. The Wilhelm-Swarovski Observatory is also a great place to visit, plus there is a restaurant (Kaiser Franz Josefs Haus) you can visit and enjoy a memorable meal. A great way to get out of town during a hot day.
Salzkammergut is another magical secluded place in the Alps. In fact, it is so beautiful that Austrian royalty used it as a resort retreat. As you travel through it, you’ll encounter many glacial lakes, so a short boat ride is a great idea, too.
Charming little towns and a few castles scattered around only add to the experience because this really is like traveling through a fairly-tale. Stop for a meal or just a cup of hot coffee if you’re here during colder days. The serenity of the place will engulf you and fill you with energy in an instant!
Since Salzburg is on the border with Germany, you can very easily get into Austria’s bigger neighbour and head to Eagle’s Nest. This infamous place was once Adolf Hitler’s retreat, and the view you get once you reach it is incredible. Obviously, there is a lot of history to explore here too, since Hitler held various meetings in this somewhat isolated place.
If you have time, do visit Kings Lake and the salt mines in the nearby town of Berchtesgarden, which is a great place to have lunch and try some real Bavarian delicacies. An excellent way to scratch off another European country from your list.
The Salzburg card can prove to be invaluable if you want to visit as many Salzburg attractions as possible in a day. Available for purchase at tourist desks, hotels, and online, a Salzburg card offers numerous benefits. These include one-time free admission to all attractions and museums, free public transport (including the Salzburg cable car), discounts on concerts and other events, and discounts on Salzburg day trips.
The opening hours in Salzburg for businesses and attractions are somewhat irregular. Some restaurants are closed on weekends, and others are open only after 5 PM.
For the same reason, bring your own pills and medicines. Drug stores and chemists are also mostly closed on the weekends.
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Anca is a travel writer and the founder of One Day Itinerary - the biggest collection of travel itineraries for those who are time-limited or just want to maximize their time while traveling. Although she easily becomes homesick for Croatia, she thinks travel is essential to her happiness. She has traveled to more countries than she is years old and doesn’t plan on changing that fact. In her travel guides she aims to inspire people to travel whenever they have a spare day (or two).