Oh, Salzburg. Sweet dear Salzburg, you’ve won me over completely! With good reason, this delightful city swiftly secured a place in my top 10 favorite European urban havens.
It’s a city that has everything a traveler could want and more. One of the things that I love about Salzburg is its train station. Yup, you read that right. I have a great appreciation for train stations that combine form and function seamlessly. The Salzburg train station is a prime example. Its design caters to the needs of short-term visitors, with a tourist information center that provides maps, brochures, and local attraction details.
If you need to store your luggage for a few hours, lockers are readily available, allowing you to explore the city before checking into your hotel. My recent trip to Salzburg, coming from Budapest, involved a quick stop to drop our bags in one of their medium-sized lockers. The locker was just a few euros – but for up-to-date information regarding locker rental prices check the official website of the station.
Salzburg’s public transportation network is also easily accessible from the station, making it a convenient hub for traveling around the city. But for us, most times we opt to explore by foot.
We were in and out of the station within 15 minutes. Pretty impressive, if you ask me.
Now once you step outside the train station, you see it, the Hohensalzburg Fortress. Iconic, medieval, and massive. A castle this impressive is a must-see in Europe. I wish I could say that we made this decision after careful consideration, but truth be told, we didn’t anticipate how challenging the climb would be. I almost gave up halfway, but then I asked the attendant near the top how much further, and he encouraged me to keep going. The ascent was grueling, but the view from the top is beyond an adequate description. STUNNING – yup, it deserves all caps. Largest of its kind in Europe, the Hohensalzburg Fortress reigns over Salzburg, leaving visitors in awe of its grandeur.
If you’re planning a visit, be aware that there is an admission fee, but it’s reasonably priced. The fortress is open year-round, with longer hours during the summer months. To avoid the crowds, plan to arrive early in the day or later in the afternoon. Check their official website before you go.
Wander through the winding alleys of Old Town, where the baroque buildings will make you feel like you’ve time-traveled. Don’t miss the legendary Getreidegasse, which has been Salzburg’s primary shopping street since the Middle Ages.
If you’re a fan of Mozart, make sure to visit his birthplace and learn about his life and work. And for a unique perspective on the city, take a leisurely boat ride on the Salzach River. Boat rides are available for dinner as well!
To get a glimpse of the city’s rich history, the DomQuartier Salzburg, a museum complex and UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers a fascinating glimpse into the city’s history. It’s unique because it combines a cathedral and museum. Don’t miss the chance to see the stunning architecture and artifacts.
But let’s not forget about the local specialties. When in Salzburg, be sure to indulge in some of the city’s famous delicacies such as Mozartkugel, chocolate truffles filled with nougat, and Salzburger Nockerl, a fluffy dessert that looks like a cloud.
The city is also known for its rich, hearty dishes such as the world-famous Schnitzel and the delicious Tafelspitz, boiled beef served with traditional sides like potatoes and horseradish.
Pair it with a local beer or wine.
Try Augustiner Bräu – The largest beer tavern in Austria, Augustiner Bräu has been producing beer since the 17th century. Their most popular beer is the Augustiner Lagerbier.
Or head to one of several wine regions near Salzburg, such as Gasteinertal, Wachau and Salzburger Land. Each of these regions produce a range of wines, including reds, whites and rosés.
For a breathtaking view of Salzburg, explore the Untersberg. Take a cable car up to the top of the Untersberg mountain. Or if you prefer to keep your feet on solid ground, go on a hiking adventure, exploring the trails that lead you through the mountain’s rugged terrain. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Germany! The summit is also a popular spot for paragliding and hiking.
Discover the Hellbrunner Allee. This avenue, lined with trees and fountains, was originally created as a hunting path for the prince-archbishops. Today, it’s a beautiful and tranquil spot for a stroll or a picnic. Don’t forget to bring some snacks and enjoy the scenery. The Allee is open to the public from sunrise to sunset, so plan accordingly.
Next, head to Nonnberg Abbey. This historic abbey has been around for over 1300 years and is the oldest abbey in Austria. The abbey is still in use today, with a community of nuns residing within its walls who still follow the strict discipline and prayer routines established centuries ago. Take a guided tour and admire the beautiful frescoes that adorn the interior walls of the abbey’s chapel.
Visit during the early hours of the day before the crowds or during the afternoon to witness the nuns’ choir practice.
The Mirabell Gardens are a great place to take a stroll and enjoy the scenery. Fragrant flowers, sprawling lawns, and perfectly trimmed hedges creates a serene atmosphere. My stroll through these picturesque gardens was so captivating that I completely lost track of time. I even forgot to take a photo with the iconic Pegasus fountain. This stunning fountain is a symbol of the city and has been featured in countless films and TV shows. Next time!
Take a walk along the Kapuzinerberg. This hill offers stunning views of the city and is a great place to escape the crowds. To get to Kapuzinerberg, head to the Old Town and follow the signs. There are several entrances, but the easiest one to find is at Linzergasse, near the Kapuzinerkloster church. From there, it’s a steep climb to the top, but the views are well worth the effort.
There are several hiking trails to choose from, ranging from easy to challenging. Don’t forget to bring comfortable shoes and some water.
Museum der Moderne
If you’re interested in modern art, consider visiting the Museum der Moderne. Located on the Mönchsberg mountain, the Museum der Moderne offers a stunning view of Salzburg’s Old Town.
It focuses on modern and contemporary art, featuring works from the 20th and 21st centuries. The museum houses an impressive collection of paintings, sculptures, photographs, and installations.
Check the museum’s official website for any special exhibitions, as well as any special events, talks, or workshops that may be taking place during the time of your visit. You can also purchase tickets in advance, which can save you time and ensure that you get to see everything you want without waiting in long lines. Additionally, the website provides information regarding opening hours, ticket prices, and directions to the museum.
Celtic Museum Hallein
Just outside of Salzburg, you’ll find the Celtic Museum Hallein. This museum showcases the rich Celtic history of the region. Exhibits range from intricate jewelry to impressive pottery. Be sure to check out the museum’s temporary exhibitions, as they often showcase rare and unique artifacts. One of the museum’s highlights is its replica of a Celtic village, where you can immerse yourself in the daily life of the ancient Celts. To make the most of your visit, consider joining one of the museum’s guided tours, which are available in several languages. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of the exhibits and the fascinating history behind them,
Bonus: Salzburg Card
Last, but not least If you plan on visiting multiple attractions or if you’re on a tight budget, consider purchasing the Salzburg Card. The Salzburg Card is your ticket to discounted prices and free admission to over 30 of the city’s must-see sites.
With this card in hand, you’ll have access to unlimited public transportation, free entry to iconic landmarks like Mozart’s birthplace, and discounts on guided tours. Plus, you can use the card as many times as you want during its validity period.
If you’re staying for a few days, it’s definitely worth the investment.
Get it online so you can access it on your phone, or once you’re in the city you can either purchase it at your hotel or the many tourist information offices around the city. It’s available to use for 24, 48 or 72 hours.