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14 Best Day Trips from Salzburg, Austria

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As someone who loves to explore new destinations, I’ve discovered that Salzburg, Austria, is a fantastic starting point for many incredible day trips. This charming city is brimming with history and culture and surrounded by stunning scenery, picturesque towns, and unforgettable attractions.

Based on my experience, popular day trips from Salzburg include visiting the charming village of Hallstatt, exploring the fascinating Hallein Salt Mine, and enjoying the peaceful Salzkammergut region. With Austria’s incredible transportation system, the options are endless for excursions and nearby single-day trips.

While many of these adventures can be reached easily by train or bus, there are also options for scenic bike and ferry rides, offering a range of enjoyable experiences. If you’re like me and eager to make the most of your time in Austria, these day trips will surely delight and inspire you as you uncover the hidden gems of this incredible region of central Europe.

Day Trips from Salzburg, Austria

1. Hallstatt and the Salt Mines

Interior of Hallein Salt Mine (Salzwelten Salzburg)
posztos / Shutterstock.com

Hallstatt and the Salt Mines, located only 1 hour and 20 minutes away by car from Salzburg, Austria, are some of the most popular day trip destinations. This quaint village in the Bavarian Alps is a great place to explore for a day, with its old-world charm and natural beauty.

Visitors can take advantage of many attractions at Hallstatt and the Salt Mines, such as exploring the Hallstatt Salt Mine and village or hiking around Gosausee Lake. Additionally, visitors can enjoy boat rides on Hallstätter See.

With so much to do in this area, spending an entire day here is easy! Visiting Hallstatt and taking a salt mine tour is an excellent way to experience all the sights the Salzkammergut region offers while getting a glimpse into Austria’s history.

Take a boat ride on the Hallstätter See or visit Market Square – the heart of this village – where you’ll find its famous Bone Chapel. If you want to enjoy one of Upper Austria’s most scenic hikes, drive to Gosauseen and take a moderate trek around the lake.

The Hallstatt Salt Mine is a unique and captivating part of the Salzkammergut region’s history. It’s the world’s oldest salt mines and dates back over 7,000 years. Alternatively, visitors can take a cable car ride up the mountain for incredible views of the surrounding landscape.

2. Dachstein Ice Caves & 5 Fingers

Dachstein Ice Cave, Upper Austria near Hallstatt
Brendan Riley / Shutterstock

For those looking for an extraordinary and thrilling day trip from Salzburg, the Dachstein Ice Caves or 5 Fingers are a must. Just about three hours away, this area offers fantastic views, icy waterfalls, and an enormous ice cave.

Once you arrive at your destination, if you choose the 5 Fingers tour, you can explore the 5 Fingers lookout and admire the beauty of the valley and mountains beneath. At the bottom of the cable car is a visitor center where tourists can learn more about the region.

If you choose the Hallstatt tour, you’ll go to the Dachstein Giant Ice Cave instead. Visitors will find a network of tunnels with stunning ice sculptures and frozen waterfalls inside it. The guided tour lasts 30-40 minutes, but it’s worth it for such a unique experience!

See Related: Vienna vs. Salzburg: What’s Better to Visit?

3. Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest & Berchtesgaden Old Town

Kehlsteinhaus or the Eagle's Nest, a historic World War II site.
Miroslav / Adobe Stock

The historic Eagle’s Nest, or Kehlsteinhaus, is another excellent destination for day trips from Salzburg. The Eagle’s Nest offers incredible views and captivating chronicles in the Bavarian Alps.

Hitler’s Eagle Nest and Berchtesgaden are just 40 minutes away from Salzburg by car, including a beautiful drive along the Alpine roads, making it an ideal day trip destination. Positioned near the German border lies a picturesque Bavarian village – Berchtesgaden.

From here, visitors can take a shuttle bus and brass elevator to reach the Eagle’s Nest – a mountain-top restaurant with views that stretch up to 120 miles on clear days. Talk about some amazing sights!

Originally built as a gift for Hitler’s 50th birthday in 1939, this place was intended to be a study and restaurant for Fuehrer and his VIP guests. Today, tourists can explore the Documentation Center and bunker tunnel system.

See Related: Things to Do in Salzburg with Kids

4. Königssee

Königssee in Germany
moserwork / Adobe Stock

The emerald waters of Königssee, or King’s Lake, are just a short distance across the Austrian-German border, making it an easily accessible day trip from Salzburg. This stunning lake is just half an hour from Salzburg by car.

It is Bavaria’s deepest lake and Germany’s fifth-deepest, surrounded by majestic mountains and renowned for its crystal clear emerald waters. Tourists can take a boat ride to the 12th-century Church of St. Bartholomew on an island in the middle of the lake or ascend to the mountain top via cable car and explore the hunting lodge.

Nearby Hallein (30 minutes away by car) also features an underground border crossing, making it an ideal part of your Konigssee day trip for those seeking a thing offbeat. The picturesque setting makes it perfect for lakeside dining or a lake cruise with views of the Bavarian Alps that you will never forget.

For more active adventurers, Königssee offers hiking trails, biking paths, and skiing and snowboarding opportunities during winter.

5. Wolfgangsee & Schafberg Railroad

Cog Railway running from St. Wolfgang up the Schafberg, Austria
Eva / Adobe Stock

Why not visit the SchafbergBahn railway for a unique day trip from Salzburg? Just 50 minutes away by car, this area has fantastic views and activities. Named after Saint Wolfgang of Regensburg, it is a pilgrimage site due to its historic churches. Catch a direct train to the lake for a romantic cruise or explore St. Wolfgang village.

The region’s highlight has got to be Schafberg Mountain – reachable via cogwheel railway. Opt for a half-day tour, including a ferry ride, if you have time.

Wolfgangsee and Schafberg Railroad offer an unforgettable encounter worth exploring on your day trip from Salzburg – explore the lake and railway, take in beautiful views, and enjoy romantic lakeside dining!

See Related: Things to Do in Wolfsburg, Germany

6. Melk

View of Stift Melk, a Benedictine abbey above the town of Melk, Lower Austria
Leonid Andronov / Shuttertstock

Located two hours away from Salzburg, Melk Abbey, a stunning Baroque masterpiece perched on a hill overlooking the Danube River, is an indispensable experience. This Benedictine abbey stands as one of Austria’s architectural gems atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the town of Melk.

At Melk, visitors can explore its church, Imperial Staircase, abbey museum, marble hall, veranda, library, and garden with a Baroque pavilion. Melk town is also an enjoyable way to spend your day here if you like walking around a small town.

For those wishing to explore Wachau Valley further before heading off to Neuschwanstein Castle – stop by Werfen Fortress, constructed in the 11th century (open May-October), for incredible views of the area!

Ultimately, a day trip to Melk Abbey promises a memorable encounter with stunning architecture and rich history – making it an ideal stopover on your journey through the Wachau Valley.

7. Neuschwanstein Castle

View of Neuschwanstein castle and Hohenschwangau castle from cable car
anahtiris / Adobe Stock

Neuschwanstein Castle is a great overnight trip from Salzburg (approximately 3.5 hours by car) and an excellent place for anyone interested in Bavarian history and culture. The castle was commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria in 1868 and symbolized Bavarian romanticism. The Mad King Ludwig’s castles have a distinctive style that has inspired a few Disney castles, including the Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland.

The castle is in snow-capped mountains, and the scenery around it is stunning. Visitors can take a private tour of the court and admire the excellent design, which includes gold and ivory furnishings, elaborate murals, and a replica of the royal throne room.

Tourists can also explore Hohenschwangau’s beautiful town and the nearby Linderhof Palace, a Rococo estate with its Hall of Mirrors. Visiting Neuschwanstein is a fantastic experience, and despite the large number of tourists, it is worth visiting at least once.

See Related: Real, Magical Castles in Fairytales to Visit

8. Vienna

Aerial View of Vienna, Austria Cityscape
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The next stop is Vienna, the enchanting capital of Austria. This city is an excellent choice for exploring this cultural powerhouse’s rich history and elegant architecture.

From opulent palaces to renowned museums, it offers a remarkable taste of Austrian culture. The trip from Salzburg takes approximately 2.5 hours by train, making it an accessible adventure if you’re looking to spend the night there.

Once you reach Vienna, there’s plenty to explore – music concerts and operas at theaters throughout the city; Stephansdom Cathedral in the center; Hofburg Palace; Schönbrunn Palace and Belvedere Palace.

Viennese schnitzel is a popular dish, but don’t forget to check out cafes, restaurants, or even Naschmarkt – an outdoor colorful market square with food stalls!

9. Innsbruck

Colorful Homes along the River Inn, Innsbruck, Austria
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Innsbruck, the capital city of Tyrol, is a great day trip choice for those interested in history, culture, and outdoor activities. Its notable for beautiful Old Town, historic buildings and access to nearby ski resorts and hiking trails.

Innsbruck is a place that makes it a tough day trip because you’ll never want to leave. The journey takes about 2 hours from the main train station to reach Innsbruck from Salzburg.

See Related: Salzburg vs. Innsbruck

10. Golling Wasserfall

Gollinger Waterfall in Golling an der Salzach near Salzburg, Austria.
Julia Lavrinenko / Adobe Stock

Located a 30-minute drive south of Salzburg, Golling Wasserfall is an essential experience for nature lovers like me. The charming village of Golling is a great spot to stop regardless of your itinerary.

This impressive 75-meter-high waterfall cascades into a crystal-clear pool. A well-maintained trail leads to the waterfall’s base, where you can enjoy the refreshing spray and marvel at the power and beauty of this natural wonder.

11. Werfen Ice Caves

Exterior and entrance of Werfen Ice Cave
fotofritz16 / Adobe Stock

The Eisriesenwelt (Werfen Ice Caves) in Werfen, just an hour’s drive south of Salzburg, are considered one of Europe’s largest ice cave networks. What renders these caves distinctly magical is their blend of natural beauty with a dizzying array of gigantic ice formations.

These ice giants include everything from ice towers and pillars to cascading ice waterfalls. The Werfen ice caves offer visitors a journey through awe-inspiring natural artistry frozen in time.

Once inside these magnificent ice caves, prepare yourself for an outstanding display of nature’s prowess. The enchanting beauty of the place, combined with the eerie silence, grants an unimaginably surreal experience.

Also, note that you must go on a guided tour, so check the visiting hours for your season. Remember to wrap up warm, even during summer. Indoor temperatures can drastically dip due to the icy environment.

12. Munich

Munich, Germany Aerial view
Animaflora PicsStock / Adobe Stock

Located in neighboring Germany, Munich offers an exciting day trip option for those interested in experiencing Bavarian culture and history. Famous for its dynamic city center, Munich is only about 2 hours by train from Salzburg.

Start your journey at the historic heart of Munich, the Marienplatz. This central square houses two of Munich’s most recognizable landmarks: the New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus) with its beautiful Glockenspiel and the centuries-old St. Peter’s Church, which offers panoramic city views.

Next, visit Munich’s grand royal park, Nymphenburg Palace. Walk through the vast gardens, explore the sophisticated palace rooms, and admire an atmosphere frozen in time.

See Related: Most Famous Historical Landmarks in Munich, Germany

13. Mauthausen Concentration Camp

Mauthausen Concentration Camp entrance
Agata Kadar – stock.adobe.com

The Mauthausen Concentration Camp (about an hour and a half from Salzburg) was one of the most notorious camps during World War II. It’s a sobering journey to the past, with a few exhibitions and memorials to honor the victims.

Through guided or self-guided tours, you will learn about the tragic history and the events at the camp. A visit here is undoubtedly a poignant but necessary reminder of humanity’s capability for extreme cruelty.

14. Grossglockner High Alpine Road

Pasterze Glacier in Grossglockner High Alpine Road, Austria
anatoliil / Adobe Stock

I highly recommend the Grossglockner High Alpine Road for an unforgettable scenic drive with breathtaking views. It’s about 2 hours from Salzburg.

This picturesque route winds through the heart of the Alps and leads up to Austria’s highest mountain, the Grossglockner. With numerous viewpoints and rest stops, you can easily spend an entire day exploring the stunning alpine scenery, spotting wildlife, and even hiking or cycling.

See Related: Family Vacation Ideas in Germany

Tips for Booking Day Trips

As someone who loves traveling, I want to share some tips on booking day trips from Salzburg, Austria. In this section, I will cover local tour companies, independent travel, the best times to visit, and the ideal trip duration.

Local Tour Companies

Kapuzinerberg, Gaisberg, and the Salzach River
Kenneth Sponsler / Shutterstock

Countless local tour companies in Salzburg offer day trips to popular destinations. Some of the advantages of using a tour company include:

  • Convenient transportation arrangements
  • Guided tours with expert knowledge
  • Group discounts

Before booking with a tour company, I recommend checking reviews and comparing prices to ensure you choose the best option.

Independent Travel

A young tourist girl takes pictures of the historic center of Salzburg
naumenkophoto / Adobe Stock

For those who prefer more flexibility, independent travel is an excellent choice. This allows you to create your itinerary and travel at your own pace. Some considerations for independent travel include:

  • Researching transportation options, such as trains, buses, or car rentals
  • Planning your activities and sights to see
  • Accommodating for any language barriers

While independent travel may require more preparation and research, it can be a rewarding experience tailored to your interests.

Best Time to Visit Salzburg

Aerial View of Salzburg Old Town
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

As someone who has experienced different seasons in Austria, I recommend visiting Salzburg between May and September. The weather is generally mild and pleasant during these months, perfect for outdoor activities and sightseeing. Although peak tourist season is from July to August, visiting during the shoulder seasons (May, June, September) can help you avoid large crowds.

Ideal Duration for Trips

Aerial View of Salzburg, Austria
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The ideal duration for day trips from Salzburg varies depending on your destination and interests. But, as a general rule:

Destination Duration
Historic Towns (i.e., Hallstatt) Half-day to full-day
Lakes District (i.e., Wolfgangsee) Full-day
Alpine Regions (i.e., Grossglockner) Full-day to overnight

Consider your travel preferences, the available time, and the activities you want to participate in when planning day trips from Salzburg.

FAQs

What is there to do outside of Salzburg?

Outside Salzburg, there’s a wealth of activities, including hiking in the majestic Alps, exploring the crystal-clear lakes of the Salzkammergut region, or visiting the historic Hohenwerfen Castle. These destinations offer a combination of natural beauty, outdoor adventure, and cultural experiences that are a stone’s throw away from Salzburg city.

What are the best day trips from Salzburg by train?

For the best day trips from Salzburg by train, consider the charming town of Hallstatt with its picturesque lake and historic salt mines. Innsbruck offers stunning Alpine scenery and unique Golden Roof architecture.

These destinations are easily accessible via Austria’s efficient train system, making them perfect for a day trip and providing unforgettable experiences of Austrian culture and landscapes.

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