Salzburg, Austria Travel Guide: Top Things to Do and See in Austria
Salzburg translated to English as the “Salt Fortress.” This city transports you back in time to a medieval kingdom surrounded by the remnants of a stone fortress with views of the Austrian Alps. This charming city, filled with beautiful baroque architecture and rich history, is also known for ‘Sound of Music’ and is Mozart’s birthplace. This is the one city where you can truly get the authentic old Europe experience.
Sights to See/ Things to Do
- Catch a marionette show portraying an adaptation of a classic opera or play after dinner at the Salzburg Marionette Theatre in Neustadt.
- Although the shows are in German, there are English, French, Spanish, and Japanese subtitles
- Hike up to the Festung Hohensalzburg castle or take the funicular up to get a glimpse of life in this castle and a stunning view of Altstadt and Neustadt.
- Explore the path up Kapunizerberg just off Linzer Gasse & Platzl, scaling the fortress to get a direct view of Hohensalzburg Fortress with the Alps in the background overlooking Altstadt
- Schloss Mirabell Gardens – Smell the blooming flowers in the morning or go for an evening stroll when the fountain is lit up before catching a show at the neighboring theatres (Salzburg Marionette and Landestheatre).
- Residenzplatz and fountain – This square is located right in the middle of Altstadt and provides a welcome relief from the crowded, narrow streets. Great lunch spot to admire the architecture and people-watch.
- Number 9 Getreidegasse – this bright yellow house, in which Mozart is born, is located right by the entrance of Altstadt.
- Hellbrunn Palace and Trick Fountains – best way to get here is on a bike, you’ll pass by the Nonnberg abbey, which is still an active nunnery to this day, and take in the beautiful scenery.
- St. Peter’s Abbey (Stift St. Peter) – contains the church and Benedictine monastery.
- Hike up Untersberg (5000m) if you’re itching for a challenge or take a cable car up.
Where to Eat
- Balkan Grill Walter “Bosna Grill” – A hidden gem in a passageway of Altstadt, this 68-year-old hole in the wall (literally) hotdog stand serves Bulgarian “Bosna” style hot dog.
- This is a Salzburg classic marked by its unique blend of toppings and curry spices on top of a crispy bratwurst.
- Café Würfel Zucker – Enjoy freshly made crisp apfelstrudels (apple strudels) served in warm vanilla sauce with a view of the Salzach river accompanied by live music at certain hours.
- The Heart of Joy Café – great breakfast or brunch spot on the Neustadt side for locals and visitors alike. Caters to those who are vegetarian, vegan, and anyone who wants some positive vibes to start the day off right.
- Café Tomaselli – Austria’s oldest coffee house is well known for its decadent desserts. Servers will bring you a tray filled with numerous mouth-watering sweets and pastries to choose from.
- Bärenwirt – A trip to Austria is never complete without having a wiener schnitzel.
- Augustiner Brau – if you can’t make it to Germany but want a sip of their famous brew, grab a beer at this establishment.
- Grünmarkt – Grab a quick bite or stock up for a picnic and chat with local vendors at this bustling farmer’s market in Universitatsplatz.
- Schrannenmarkt – Once a week on Thursdays in front of the church, you’ll find dainty trinkets, food, flowers and hand knitted items.
- Hallein – This was where the composer of Silent Night was born and there is a Celtic Museum for history lovers. Can be easily reached by taking the S-bahn train and then catch a bus up to Bad Dürrnberg to explore a salt mine.
- Fun fact: This mine overlaps the borders of both Austria and Germany.
- Hallstatt – This quaint village is recognized as an UNESCO World Heritage Site for its cultural landscape with the Dachstein ice caves and one of the world’s oldest salt mine.
- Munich – Just an hour train ride away from Salzburg if you have a couple days to spare.
- Language: German – Austro Bavarian dialect
- Currency: Euros
- Best times to visit:
- Early-mid October after the tourist season to avoid crowds, good weather, plus accommodations tend to be cheaper. This is also when the week long Salzburg Culture Days occurs – enjoy a free glass of wine on the streets as musicians and artists entertain.
- December/ January for all the Christmas festivities and markets (the many Christmas themed stores are very telling). Also for when it turns into a classic Alpine village.
- Etiquette: In most cafés you seat yourself and the servers will come to you. Order stilled or carbonated water instead of tap water to avoid offending servers.
- Getting Around
- Walking – most attractions can be seen on foot as they are concentrated in and around Altstadt (Old Town) and Neustadt (New City) separated the river Salzach which can be crossed by a pedestrian bridge.
- Bicycle – Easy to rent, there are designated bike paths spanning throughout the city.
- If you are a Sound of Music fan: Frauline Maria’s bike tours are ideal if you’re travelling solo or on a time crunch and want to re-enact the Von Trapp family’s adventures. (Note: this only runs until late October). Otherwise, you can rent a bike or take the Hop-On Hop-off bus to reach most of the locations.
- Tip: There are hefty fines for using your phone while biking.
- Bus – There is a hop-on hop-off bus available around city centre.
- Tip: buy a city pass and your bus pass is included
- Train – take the S-Bahn or OBB to surrounding cities, salt mines, even across the border to Munich.
- Tip: the 24 hour Bayern pass (€25) allows for unlimited travel throughout parts of Bavaria and into Southern Germany including Munich and Berchtesgaden.