Salzburg is a city that people go crazy for – some people visit for Mozart (he was born here), others because it’s where The Sound of Music was filmed, and others because it’s just stunningly beautiful.
Lying almost on the border with Germany, Salzburg boasts baroque architecture nestled against a backdrop of the northern Alps. It really is a city straight out of a storybook, and we absolutely loved visiting. Here are my top 10 things to do in the city.
1. Hohensalzburg Fortress
The biggest fully preserved castle in central Europe sits atop Festungsberg, the hill that overlooks Salzburg old town, offering sweeping views over the rooftops of the city. The Fortress was built initially in 1077, and developed in the 1500s to what we see now. At the castle, there are a number of museums including the Fortress Museum which tells the story of the castle and its occupants. Interestingly it has never been captured by foreign troops! You can walk up to the Fortress, or catch the Funicular up if you’d rather.
2. The Old Town
Salzburg old town is full of baroque architecture. It’s a small city which is easily walkable on foot. There are lots of quaint alleyways to explore, ornate shop signs and streets opening up to pretty squares.
3. Mirabell Palace and Gardens
This beautiful palace is where The Sound of Music was filmed – and is great for a visit even if you’ve never seen the film. With pretty gardens, baroque architecture and a marble ballroom, exploring the palace is a must.
4. Hotel Sacher
Hotel Sacher is Salzburg’s grandest hotel, and if you can stay there then I really recommend it. Breakfast is really something – with champagne and slices of Sacher Torte (the famous Austrian chocolate cake)!
If your budget doesn’t stretch to a stay at the hotel, then it sits right on the riverfront and is a great place to stop for a coffee slice of Sacher Torte in Cafe Sacher, or even hit the Sacher Bar for a drink.
5. Street Parties
In Salzburg, each district has its own street party one weekend each year. During our visit there was a street party in the newer part of the city. Each shop decorated their front with something representative of what it sells – we saw everything from flowers to towels to buckets and even suitcases hanging in to the streets! There were deck chairs out, live bands in the street and so much fun!
6. Hallein Salt Mine
A great half day trip from Salzburg is to visit the Hallein salt mine. You can reach the mine in around 20 minutes by car, or you can make a day of it by cycling from Salzburg to Hallein along the river Salzach which takes about an hour each way.
At the salt mine, you put on special clothing (resembling some sort of hazmat suit) and go deep under ground. The most fun part is that you get to slide in to the mines – it’s pretty fast and is a fun experience. Uniquely, the tour of the mines also enables you to visit an underground lake and cross the border in to Germany whilst underground!
Salt has been mined here since Celtic times, and also in the town of Hallein you can visit the Celtic Museum to learn more. We found it a really informative trip.
Views along the river and at the top of the slide!
7. Eagle’s Nest
Eagle’s Nest is the site of Hitler’s mountain retreat, just across the German border. A visit to this amazing place is a must if you’re in Salzburg for more than a couple of days, and it requires a full day of your time to make the most of it. You can read my full guide to visiting the site here.
8. The Cathedral
The historic cathedral in Salzburg was initially built in the 1100s, still uses bells over 400 years old, and is also home to the font where Mozart was baptised! The view below is out to the south facade across the rooftops.
9. The Mönchsberg
The Mönchsberg is a hill which rises skyward in the middle of Salzburg, giving beautiful views out over the city. It’s named after the monks of nearby St Peter’s Benedictine Abbey and is now also home to the Museum der Moderne and a terrace restaurant to enjoy the views. Walls and fortifications have been here since the 13th century, protecting the boundaries of the original city settlement.
Just outside of the centre of the city, across the river from The Mönchsberg, is another hill which deserves a climb! The Kapuzinerberg is around 600m high, and is home to dense forest, multiple churches and even an Abbey, alongside the multiple hiking paths. At the top is the Franziskischlössl which has sheer walls facing across to Bavaria which were constructed as a strong defence, but is now a beautiful seasonal lunch spot.
Thank you for reading. Have you ever been to Salzburg? I would love to be able to go back one day – the area of South Germany and West Austria is one of my favourites in the whole world, and once travel is open up again it will be one of the first places I go. Stay safe and happy travelling.