21 Best things to do in Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg is the fourth largest city in Austria and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country along with Vienna. Salzburg is located on the Salzach River, in the foothills of the Eastern Alps, in the northeastern part of the country, next to the German border.

Salzburg is known for being the birthplace of the famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, as well as the setting for parts of the musical and film The Sound of Music, and the location of the famous classical musical festival, Salzburg Festival.

Salzburg is also known for its rich cultural history, stunning architecture, and spectacular Alpine landscapes. Salzburg’s Old Town, or Altstadt, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous for its baroque architecture.

Some of the best things to do in Salzburg are the famous tourist landmarks such as the Salzburg Cathedral, Hohensalzburg Castle, Mozart’s Birthplace, and Mirabell Palace.

With its beautiful Alps in the surrounding area, Salzburg is also a destination for outdoor activities such as hiking and mountain biking in summer, and skiing in winter.

Being located close to the Bavarian region of Germany, the regional food is a blend of Bavarian and Austrian traditions. There is also beer culture and breweries such as the Müllner Bräu, Kaltenhausen.

Salzburg Airport is located only 4 km from the city center, and it can be reached by taxi or public bus. There are direct flights from  Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Vienna, Paris, London, Manchester, Stockholm, Zurich and many other cities in the world.

21 Best things to do in Salzburg, Austria

1. Salzburg Old Town

Salzburg Old Town, or Altstadt, is famous for its medieval and baroque style buildings, alpine setting and beautiful location on the left bank of the Salzach River. Old Town is a well-preserved area and was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site from 1996.

The Old Town is packed with narrow, cobblestone streets, beautiful squares, and historic buildings from the Renaissance, Baroque, Romanesque, and Middle Ages times.

Old Town is home to many tourist attractions such as the Old City Hall with its bell tower, Mozart’s Birthplace, Getreidegasse famous shopping street, St Peter’s Abbey, Cemetery & Catacombs at the foot of Mönchsberg mountain, Hohensalzburg Fortress, Chapter Square (Kapitelplatz), Salzburg Cathedral at Domplatz, Residenz Square (Residenzplatz), and Mozart Square (Mozartplatz).

The Old Town is also packed with shops, restaurants, and cafe shops to explore in the Old Town. You can stroll through the narrow streets and alleys, visit the numerous museums and galleries, and enjoy the local cuisine.

2. Salzburg Fortress

Hohensalzburg Fortress is a mighty fortress, sits atop the Festungsberg (Fortress Mountain) that literally dominates the skyline of Salzburg. The fortress overlooks the Old Town and Salzach River, offering breathtaking views over the city and the alps.

Founded in 1077 by archbishop Gebhard with a simple bailey and a wooden wall, and later expanded and is one of Europe’s largest fortresses. You can take a funicular from Festungsgasse to the fortress. 

The Hohensalzburg Castle was used as military barracks, a prison, a fortification, and temporary residence of the prince archbishops over centuries. 

You can explore the medieval Royal Apartment, Fortress Museum which contains a collection of art, artifacts, and historical exhibit, Museum of Puppetry with exhibits from the famous Salzburg Marionette Theatre, and the Rainer Regiment museum.

The castle is open to the public daily. You can take guided tours, audio tours, and self-guided tours.

3. Mirabell Palace and Gardens

The Mirabell Palace and Gardens are one of the most stunning landmarks of Salzburg that was recognized as a world heritage site by UNESCO. Located on the east bank of the Salzach River, close to Landestheater, the Mirabell Palace is easy to reach from the Old Town.

Mirabell Palace and Gardens was one of the locations of the famous The Sound of Music where Maria and the von Trapp kids dance and sing Do-Re-Mi around the Pegasus Fountain. 

The Mirabell Palace (Schloss Mirabell) was built by Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau in 1606 to impress Salome Alt, his mistress. 

The palace was designed by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, and the gardens were designed by Fischer von Erlach and France Scaramanga. 

After his death, his nephew and successor Markus Sittikus renamed the palace to Mirabell After the fire in 1818, the palace was renovated like its current neo-classical appearance. 

Mirabell Palace is used as offices of Salzburg’s mayor and the municipal council, and Marble Hall is a popular place for wedding photos.

You can also visit the Pegasus Fountain, with a sculpture of the famous horse and the Rose Garden which is a romantic spot in Mirabell, as well as the Dwarf Garden, Donnerstiege, Palace Chapel. Hedge Theater, and many marble sculptures created by Johann Paul Wolfl.

4. Mozart’s Residence

Mozart’s Birthplace is one of Austria’s most visited museums for fans of Mozart. The No. 9 in Getreidegasse is where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in 1756 and his family lived from 1747 to 1773.

There is a museum displaying Mozart’s personal belongings, including musical instruments such as childhood violin, concert violin, pianoforte, portraits of the Mozart family.

There is a self-guided tour that takes you through various rooms, which include the apartment where Mozart was born, the family’s living quarters, and the workshop where Mozart’s father Leopold Mozart, a composer and violinist, taught and worked.

The property is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily.  The admission fee is 12 euros for adults, and discounted price for children and seniors.

5. Hellbrunn Palace and Trick Fountains

Hellbrunn Palace in Salzburg is famous for its Trick Fountains, marvelous Hellbrunn Gardens, and the location of the Sound of Music filming. There are a few scenes in the movie such as the Liesl and Franz scene, Maria and Georg romantic scene.

Hellbrunn Palace was built in the south of Salzburg, by Markus Sittikus. This beautiful Baroque castle was built in the early 17th century as a summer residence for the Prince-Archbishops of Salzburg.

The Salzburg Water Games, also known as Salzburger Wasserspiele in German, is the Trick Fountain. You can take a guided tour of this fountain.

The palace is located near the Salzach River, and visitors can take a boat ride along the river to get a different perspective of the palace and gardens.

Hellbrunn Palace is located on Schloss Hellbrunn Parken which is home to the Hellbrunn Zoo  with a variety of animals, including exotic species like ring-tailed lemurs and marmosets.

The gardens at Hellbrunn are a great place to relax and have a picnic. Visitors can bring their own food or purchase refreshments from the palace’s café.

6. Salzburg Cathedral

Salzburg Cathedral is a historic baroque Roman Catholic cathedral, located in the heart of the historic center, close to Residence Castle and the Monastery of St. Peter.

Salzburg Cathedral is dedicated to St. Virgil and St. Rupert. It has been built, destroyed, and rebuilt several times throughout centuries. 

Salzburg Cathedral is one of the most prominent landmarks in the city, famous for its magnificent two-towered facade and mighty dome. It has been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997.

The Salzburg Cathedral is part of the DomQuartier, you can visit the Cathedral Museum, the Museum of St Peter’s Abbey, and the private staterooms of Prince-Archbishops.

7. Neugebäude (New Residence) and Salzburg Carillon

The Neue Residenz Palace, also known as New Residential Palace, or Residenz Neugebäude, is situated in the Altstadt (Old Town), in front of the Old Residence and east of the Salzburg Cathedral.

It was first built by Prince Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau from 1588 to 1602, under the name Palazzo Nuovo, as the residence of the archbishop and his family, and a place of residence of foreign guests. 

The building was extended by Prince Archbishop Max Gandolf von Kuenburg between 1670 and 1680. It is home to the Salzburg Museum and the Glockenspiel, which is an impressive carillon with 35 bells located on Residenzplatz.

8. Getreidegasse

Getreidegasse is a famous shopping street in Salzburg, located in the heart of the Old Town running parallel to the river Salzach. The street is home of Mozart’s Birthplace, where he was born in 1756.

The street is packed with picturesque alleyways, courtyards, modern & traditional shops, restaurants, and cafés. It is also a location for a romantic Christmas market, especially along arcades between the Getreidegasse and the Griesgasse.

Getreidegasse was an important route of Salzburg and Bavaria under the Roman Age.

The Getreidegasse was expanded over the course of several centuries. 

You can find houses with public passageways on the ground floor. Some of these passageways have become shopping arcades, with remains of crests, columns, archways in its courtyards.

There are several museums in Getreidegasse such as  the Mozart museum, the Sound of Music World, and the Toy Museum.

9. Toy Museum

The Toy Museum, or the Salzburger Spielzeugmuseum,  is one of the best things to do and see in Salzburg for families and kids.

The Toy Museum has a large collection of toys from around the world, including dolls, model cars, and train sets. 

The museum also has a section dedicated to traditional Austrian toys, such as wooden figurines and puppets.There are exhibits, workshops and events for children.

10. Mozartplatz (Mozart Square)

Mozartplatz, or Mozart Square is named after Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a great composer, who was born in a house just a few blocks from Mozart Square. His family lived here for 26 years, from 1747, before moving to Vienna.

The square is located in the Altstadt (Old City) of Salzburg. It is surrounded by historical buildings and is a hub of activity, with numerous restaurants, shops, and other businesses located in the area. 

The square is also home to the Mozart Monument, a bronze statue of Mozart that was unveiled in 1842 to honor the composer,  just after the 50th anniversary of Mozart’s death.

11. Hangar 7

Hangar-7 houses a collection of historical aircraft Flying Bulls, helicopters,  rally cars, Formula 1 cars, and  a museum of all things Red Bull. It is  located on the east side of Salzburg Airport, 15 minutes drive by car from Salzburg city center.

There are also bars, restaurants, and cafes such as the Carpe Diem Lounge Café, Mayday Bar & Threesixty Bae, and Outdoor Lounge.

The building was designed by Austrian architect Professor Johann Kleihues and is considered a modern architectural masterpiece. It has a distinctive glass and steel structure and is shaped like an airplane hangar. 

12. St. Peter’s Monastery & Cemetery & Catacombs

St. Peter’s Abbey is the oldest monastery in the German-speaking world. Built in 696 by St. Rupert has a monastery in the center of Salzburg, next to the Salzburg Cathedral.

The abbey is known for its impressive Baroque architecture and its beautiful gardens. The abbey is home to a community of Benedictine monks, who are known for their commitment to the monastic way of life and to the intellectual and cultural traditions of the Catholic Church.

The abbey church, which is dedicated to Saint Peter, is a fine example of Romanesque architecture and contains many important works of art. The abbey is also home to a library that contains many valuable manuscripts and incunabula. 

The Salzburg Catacombs are underground tombs that were carved out of the Mönchsberg rock face and are located next to St. Peter’s Cemetery.

The cemetery and its catacombs are some of the locations of the famous The Sound of Music. There are also musical and culinary pleasures at the Mozart Dinner Concerts at St. Peter’s.

13. The Eagles Nest

The Eagle’s Nest, also known as Kehlsteinhaus in German, is located on top of Mount Kehlstein, above Berchtesgaden, and offers a spectacular panoramic view. 

Eagles Nest and the alpine town of Berchtesgaden are popular days trips from Salzburg.

Eagles Nest is a small chalet on the top of the mt. Kehlstein, home of Hitler. The Eagles Nest was the present from the Nazi Party for Adolf Hitler’s 50th birthday and it was named Eagles Nest by the Allies.

Eagles Nest was converted into a beer garden and restaurant with a sweeping view of the Alps. Hitler’s Eagles Nest can be reached by car or public transport from Munich and Salzburg.

14. Gaisberg Mountain

The Gaisberg is located very close to the Old Town of Salzburg. It is a popular place to do outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking, paragliding in summer, as well as skiing  in winter. 

There are several hiking paths around the mountain, including the  Gaisberg-Spitze which is one of the best trails, and links straight to the top of the mountain.

At the summit of the mountain, there is an open area where you can admire the 360 degree spectacular views and take a rest before heading back down the mountain.

In July, there is a Gaisberg Race, where vintage vehicles race around the mountain. 

15. Residenzplatz

Residenzplatz is a square in the center of the Old Town and was built on the former site of an ancient Roman Forum. It is also set close to popular attractions such as the Salzburg Cathedral, the old Residence Palace of the city’s rulers, and the New Residenz buildings with its carillon.

You can find the Residenz Brunnen Baroque style fountain at the center of the square, which features a statue of Triton. The fountain is also the location of the movie The Sound of Music.

Residenzplatz hosts the annual Salzburg Christmas market.

16. Franciscan Church

Franciscan Church, also known as Franziskanerkirche in German, belongs to the Franciscan monastery, and is located in the Old Town of Salzburg.

The church has a beautiful Baroque architecture style. It is known for its ornate interior, which features elaborate frescoes, gilded altars, and intricate stucco work. 

The church is also home to a number of important works of art, including paintings by Johann Michael Rottmayr and Johann Baptist Zimmermann. 

17. Salzburg’s Festival Theaters

Salzburg Festival, also known as Salzburg Festspiele in German, is the world-renowned music festival held every summer in Salzburg. 

Founded in 1920, Salzburg Festival attracts thousands of people from all over to visit and enjoy the atmosphere.

You can enjoy opera like Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Verdi’s Aida, as well as classical music and theater performances at several venues in the city such as Cathedral Square and Festival Hall.

18. St. Sebastian’s Church and Cemetery

St. Sebastian’s Church is a Roman Catholic parish church dedicated to the patron saint of archers, St. Sebastian.

The church was originally built in 1505 and completed in 1512. The current building was created by Kassian Singer in the 18th-century in the Baroque style.

The Mozart family often visited St Sebastian’s for Catholic mass due to its close proximity to their home. Many of the Mozart’ members were buried here. You can find the Mozart family tomb  and the Mausoleum of Prince Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau.

20. Untersberg mountain

Untersberg mountain is a popular place for hiking and climbing, and for paragliding tandem flights. It is located at the south of Salzburg, between Austria and Germany.

There are numerous hiking trails to the top of the mountain but if you don’t like hiking, you can take a cable car to the summit, and admire sweeping views of the surrounding area. The highest peak on the mountain is the Berchtesgadener Hochthron, which is 1973 m above sea level.

The mountain is famous for its distinctive limestone cliffs and its rich history, which includes legends about emperors, knights, and supernatural beings. 

21. Hallein and the Celtic Museum

Hallein is a city located about 15 kilometers south of Salzburg. It is known for its salt mines and its rich history, which dates back to the Celts. 

You can learn about the history and culture of the Celts in the region at the Celtic Museum, or  the Salzburg Celtic Museum, which is situated in the Hallein Salt Mine.

Salzburg Celtic Museum displays artifacts about the daily life, art, and religion of the Celts. Visitors can also take a tour of the salt mine and learn about its history and the salt mining industry in Hallein.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Salzburg known for?

Salzburg is a city in Austria that is known for being the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  the location for the film The Sound of Music, and the world-renowned music festival. It is also known for its historical sights like the Hohensalzburg Castle, Salzburg Cathedral, and Mirabell Palace. Surrounded by the Alps, there are also outdoor activities such as skiing and hiking.

Is it worth visiting Salzburg?

Salzburg is well worth a visit because it is a beautiful city with a rich culture and history through its museums, galleries, castles, churches, and music events. You can explore the beautifulOld Town, the Salzburg Cathedral, the Hohensalzburg Fortress, and beautiful natural surroundings.

How many days do you need in Salzburg?

Many visitors spend two to three days in Salzburg, which is a good amount of time to explore the city and its major sights. You may want to stay longer if you want to take day trips or spend more time on leisurely activities. It depends on your interests and the activities you want to do in Salzburg. 

What are the unique things to do in Salzburg?

Some unique things to do in Salzburg include visiting the Mirabell Palace & Gardens, the historic Old Town, Salzburg Cathedral, Hohensalzburg Fortress, and Mozart Birthplace. You can also take a boat ride on the Salzach River, stroll along the waterfront, and try the local cuisine.

What are the underrated things to do in Salzburg?

Salzburg is known for its beautiful architecture, Mozart, and the Sound of Music, but there are also many underrated things to do in the city such as visiting Stiegl brewery, taking a hike in the nearby mountains, and exploring the Salzburg Baroque Gardens. 

What are the best things to do in Salzburg in winter?

Some best things to do in Salzburg in winter are skiing or snowboarding in the nearby mountains, go ice skating, visiting the Salzburg Christmas market, or taking a horse-drawn carriage ride.

What are the adventurous things to do in Salzburg?

Some of the adventurous activities to try in Salzburg are white water rafting on the Salzach River, paragliding off the Hohensalzburg Fortress, skiing in the nearby ski resorts, and rock climbing in the Bavarian Alps. There are also numerous hiking and biking trails in the surrounding mountains, and many cultural attractions to explore.

What are the free things to do in Salzburg?

There are plenty of free things to do in Salzburg such as taking a stroll through the Old Town, Mirabell Gardens, Nonnberg Abbey, Hohensalzburg Castle, and Salzburg Museum. You can also go hiking and biking in the nearby mountains.

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So there you have it, the best things to do in Salzburg for your next trip. If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment below.

About Author: Linda Smith

I'm Linda Smith, the Hotel Expert, an experienced travel blogger who passionate about traveling. I'm here to share with you all my travel experiences and tips. I cover a wide range of travel topics, specializing in sharing information about the best areas, neighborhoods, and hotels in each city. I hope all these things will make your travel easier.

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