Travel Guide to Salzburg, Austria

By Briana Seftel

Go beyond the tourist trapps in Salzburg, Austria. The city famous for Mozart unfolds like a beautiful opera, with stunning castles, gardens and churches at every corner. With this helpful guide, you'll see Salzburg like a local.

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What to Know

On the border of Germany, Salzburg is Austria’s fairy tale city. The city is divided by the Salzach River, with the medieval baroque city (Aldstadt) on the left bank and the new 19th century city (Neustadt) on the right. Salzburg is most well-known as the birthplace of Mozart and the setting for the Sound of Music.

Salzburg’s proximity to the Alps makes it a popular base for day trips. Lakes, mountains, charming villages and more are all easily reachable from the city, either by car or train.

When to Go

The best time to visit Salzburg is from September to October, when the summer crowds disappear and the weather is cool but comfortable. Summer months bring warmer temperatures but more crowds, while spring is a pleasant time yet chilly. Winter in Salzburg takes on a mystical sheen, as the snow dusted city glitters under the bright lights of the annual Christmas market. Winter is also a great time to enjoy the many winter sports in the Alps.

How to Get Around

If you plan on staying in or near the Old Town, walking is your best bet. Biking is also a popular option to get around the city, with five eBike rental stations around the city. If you plan on visiting in the colder months, try the public buses, which provide a stress-free way of getting around the city throughout the year. For a more atmospheric experience, hitch a ride by horse carriage, also known as a fiaker.

Where to Eat

Salzburg has more gourmet restaurants than any other Austrian city, but that doesn’t mean you have to shell out big bucks to eat well. Some of the best food can be found in cozy taverns and beer gardens. Below are some of our top picks for eating and drinking in the city.

What to See

Hohensalzburg Castle

Take the funicular up to Hohensalzburg Castle, one of Europe’s best preserved medieval fortresses. Built to protect the principality and the archbishops from hostile attacks, the fortress was never taken. It can be reached either by foot or funicular.

Mirabell Palace

Commissioned in 1606 by prince-archbishop Wolf Dietrich to impress his mistress, Mirabell Palace is still as beautiful now as it was then. The Italian-inspired palace is famous for its baroque gardens and as a filming location in The Sound of Music.

Mozart's Birthplace

A visit to No. 9 Getreidegasse is a must for any music fan; it was here on January 27, 1756 that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born. View memorabilia, Original certificates, letters documenting Mozart’s life in Salzburg. Across the river is Mozart Wohnhaus, his residence from 1773 to 1787.

Hellbrunn Palace

A visit to Hellbrunn Palace is full of surprises. A summer residence completed in a record setting three years, it was intended for pure pleasure and fun - there aren’t even any bedrooms! Roam through the beautiful grounds and be amazed by the trick fountains.

Tips and Tricks

  • Most Austrians have never seen the Sound of Music, so if you plan on visiting specific filming locations, expect to see only tourists.

  • Salzburg is famous for its puppetry. Catch a show at Salzburg Marionette Theatre!

  • Salzburg Festival takes place every summer and is one of the most popular music and arts festivals in Europe.

  • If you plan on seeing all of Salzburg’s main sights within a few days, consider buying the Salzburg Card, which grants you one-time free admission plus free public transportation and discounts.

Day Trips

Hallein Salt Mine

Go deep into the Dürrnberg to see this 7,000-year-old mine! A 70-minute tour on a train leads you into the depths of the mine that lent its name to the city and province of Salzburg (Salzburg translates to "Salt Castle"). Discover the mine’s rich Celt history and see where rich deposits of white gold were found.

Stubnerkogel Mountain

Walk Europe’s highest suspension bridge at Stubnerkogel Mountain in Bad Gastein. Enjoy fantastic views of Austria’s highest mountain, the Grossglockner, as you teeter across the bridge. Enjoy many marked hiking trails, a restaurant, a kid’s center and more at the top, then head back into Bad Gastein, a beautiful spa town with a waterfall running right through it.

Krimml Waterfalls

Take a two-hour drive southwest to Europe’s tallest waterfalls, reaching a height of over 1,200 feet. The best way to see the thundering glacial falls is by a three-part hike beginning in the village of Krimml (expect to spend 1 ½ hours to hike to the top). You’ll be treated to spectacular nature views every step of the way.


You won’t believe your eyes as you arrive in the village of Hallstatt. Nestled on the edge of Hallstätter Lake and sitting below the towering Dachstein mountains, Hallstatt is blessed with one of the most spectacular locations in Europe. Take a ferry across the lake to the picture-perfect village and explore its cobbled lanes and quaint shops on foot.

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