Out of the dozens of cities I’ve been to, Salzburg, Austria is one of my favorites. The city is relatively small, so it’s easy to see in a few days. I was surprised by how relaxed and calm the city’s atmosphere is — it’s a wonderful destination for relaxed escapes, sightseeing, and learning about the regional culture.
When people travel to Austria, many tend to only visit Vienna. Although Vienna is incredible, it’s regrettable to skip out on the beautiful city of Salzburg, framed by the spectacular scenery of the surrounding mountains. Salzburg, compared to Vienna, is also a better and closer home base for many worthwhile day trips in Salzburg’s Lake District.
Like much of Austria, Salzburg’s classical music scene is world-class. It’s home to the forever-famous Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Not only that, but the cuisine in Salzburg is excellent. From traditional Austrian food, and regional classics like fried Schnitzel and hearty Goulash, to upscale, modern cuisine, there is something to satisfy everyone. If you’re a foodie, it’s well worth considering a food tour of Salzburg.
When it comes to the best time to visit, I recommend going to Salzburg in the fall. September and October are considered the off-season, so the majority of people walking around are locals, which offers a more authentic experience.
I immediately pictured myself living in Salzburg after a few hours of strolling through the streets and chatting with locals. Be prepared to push your flight because you will want to stay longer. The sunny and warm weather of late summer and early fall is all you need to fall in love with this Austrian city.
When I was last in Salzburg, I stayed at Cocoon Salzburg. It’s a beautiful, trendy hotel with amazing staff. It’s affordable, yet looks and feels upscale. It has a little restaurant and bar to hang out in and make friends.
Plus— the hotel is a five-minute walk to Salzburg’s train station, Innsbruck Hbf. NH Collection Salzburg City is another wonderful, affordable hotel option I’ve stayed in. This hotel is closer to Old Town Salzburg. It too has a cool, yet more upscale restaurant and bar and lounge.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself – so get comfy, and get ready to get planning a vacation to Austria, as I spell out the best things to do in Salzburg.
- Most significant landmark – Hohensalburg Fortress
- Best free activity – Wandering historic Old Town Salzburg
- Best activity for kids – Toy Museum Salzburg
- Best activity for adults – Augustiner Bräu Beer Garden
- Best tour – Sound of Music Tour
- Best food – St. Peter Stiftskulinarium Restaurant
- Best nightlife – Hohensazlburg Fortress Dinner and Concerts
- Best all-around accommodation – NH Collection Salzburg City
Best & Fun Things to Do in Salzburg
1. St. Peter Stiftskulinarium Restaurant
Address: Sankt-Peter-Bezirk 1/4, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
It may be surprising to see a restaurant at the top of this list, but St. Peter Stiftskulinarium merits number-one status. It’s famous for being the oldest restaurant in the world, as well as for its significant historical clientele and a blend of traditional and modern cuisine.
Many incorrectly think that Sobrino de Botín in Madrid, which opened in 1725, is the oldest restaurant in the world. Admittedly, Sobrino de Botin does hold the record for the oldest continuously running restaurant in the world, but St. Peter Stiftskulinarium boasts the earliest opening date.
St. Peter Stiftskulinarium opened in the year 803, meaning it’s around 1,200 years old, and just a smidge older than the new kid from Spain. It’s is located inside St. Peter’s Abbey which was built in 696. It was first documented in a letter to Charlemagne –if your jaw just dropped, I get it.
It’s said that Christopher Columbus, Johann Georg Faust, and Wolfgang Mozart were all patrons at the restaurant, which was also an inn back in the day. Stiftskulinarium also served cardinals, kings, and in more modern times, Bill Clinton, Clint Eastwood, the President of Austria, and other European political figures.
Be sure to have a glass of wine from their famous collection of 600 wines. For your meal, I recommend ordering Tafelspitz. It’s a traditional beef dish, cooked in broth with vegetables, that has been served for hundreds of years.
The accompaniments include creamed spinach, white sauce made with bread, and apple horseradish. I also recommend ordering their famous meringue-like dessert, Salzburger Nockerln.
This restaurant is upscale, yet relatively affordable. It is very popular with tourists and locals alike, so be sure to make a reservation. If you want an elevated experience, check their calendar, as the restaurant hosts dreamy candle-lit Mozart concerts!
See Related: Salzburg vs Innsbruck: What is Better to Visit?
2. The Sound of Music Tour
Salzburg is famous worldwide for the beloved classic film, The Sound of Music. Tens of thousands of people from all over the world have visited Salzburg to feel the magic and learn the history of the film and the real-life von Trapps.
For those living under a rock, The Sound of Music is inspired by a real Austrian family (who now live in Stowe, Vermont) in the 1920s and 1930s. The story is about the widowed Austro-Hungarian Naval Captain Georg von Trapp, his seven children, and a lady named Maria. Maria was a governess who Captain von Trapp hired from a convent to help care for his children, and the rest is history.
The movie follows the family through songs, merriment, and escaping from Nazis – some of it true, some of it not, although it is worth noting that the real-life family was known for their singing. Even if you’re not a fanatic, The Sound of Music sites in Salzburg are stunning and worth seeing.
You can visit The Sound of Music filming locations and sites of inspiration yourself, or you can go on one of the many guided Sound of Music tours. If you don’t enjoy going on tours with strangers, you can always book a private group tour.
If you’re a bit of a completionist, there are Sound of Music sights inside the city of Salzburg and in towns outside the city too. If you plan to go alone to see the sites outside the city, you need to rent a car, take a train, or book a more exclusive tour.
Popular Sound of Music sites include Mirabell Palace and Gardens, Hellbrunn Palace and Gardens, Nonnberg Abbey, the “Do Re Mi” Hill in Werfen, St. Michael Basilica in Mondsee, and Leopold Palace.
3. Explore Old Town Salzburg (Altstadt Salzburg)
Salzburg’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Known as Altstadt (which translates to Old Town), the first thing you’ll notice when walking through is the city’s magnificent setting.
The backdrop of snow-capped mountains and Fortress Hohensalzburg is unforgettable. I nearly tripped multiple times while walking because I couldn’t stop looking in awe all around me.
Salzburg’s Old Town is quaint, romantic, and picturesque. It’s full of beautiful Baroque architecture and is made up of a labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets that open up to charming squares and beautiful plazas. It’s mostly a pedestrian zone full of cafes, restaurants, shops, and museums.
Many of Salzburg’s attractions are located in Old Town and are within walking distance from each other. These attractions include Fortress Hohensalzburg, Salzburg Cathedral, Nonnberg Abbey, and both Mozart’s birthplace and residence.
Grain Lane (or Getreidegasse) is Old Town’s main and most famous shopping street. It has a good mix of small gift shops and designer stores. Even if you’re not shopping, the juxtaposing Baroque-style exteriors and hip interiors of these stores are a feast for your eyes. I couldn’t help but splurge on a designer item here, which was a first for me.
Be aware that the shops close at 5 pm. This isn’t the end of the world, as Grain Lane also has numerous cafés and restaurants that serve specialty coffees, desserts, and dishes.
A specialty dessert that originated in Vienna but is also served in Salzburg is Sacher-Torte. It’s a decadent chocolate cake with apricot jam that dates back to 1832. You can famously find this yummy cake sold in the lobby of Hotel Sacher Salzburg.
If you’d like to learn about what you’re seeing while walking around the city, I recommend taking a guided walking tour of Salzburg that takes you through Old Town and New Town.
See Related: Best European Palaces to Visit
4. Day trip to Bad Ischl
One of my favorite excursions while in Austria was my day trip from Salzburg to Bad Ischl. You probably won’t see this town listed on many tourist guides or lists, so consider this our little secret.
A wonderful Austrian woman who worked at the hotel I stayed at in Salzburg convinced me to go to Bad Ischl, her hometown. She had so much pride while talking to me about it that almost immediately I got in my rental car and drove the 50 minutes there. If you don’t have a rental car, you can still get to Bad Ischl easily via train or bus.
Anyway, this lady was right, and the drive was worth it. Bad Ischl is a charming town full of beautiful flowers, cute shops, restaurants, and adorable old houses, as well as a scenic river and bridge. The highlight for me was Konditorei Zauner, a luxury Grand-café restaurant, premium chocolate shop, and bakery that was started by the Zauner family in 1832.
Konditorei Zauner’s historic charm and nostalgia hit me as soon as I walked in, and the smells of pastries and chocolates were heavenly. The place has ornate pink, cream, and twinkling gold interiors. I felt like I stepped into the storybook of Alice in Wonderland.
Konditorei Zauner has a large circular glass display case filled with decadent specialty desserts. At that point, I’d never seen more gorgeous and colorful desserts in my life. Behind the bakery and chocolate shop, there is a cafe restaurant where you can order delicious comfort food.
In the restaurant, you can also order over-the-top ice cream or frozen yogurt sundaes. I had the best strawberry milkshake of my life!
The locals have a lot of pride in Konditorei Zauner. Bad Ischl is a beautiful town, and this heavenly restaurant and bakery alone makes it worth visiting.
If you choose to stay overnight in Bad Ischl, I recommend staying in the town center so you can wake up and easily walk to the shops and restaurants. Hotel Goldenes Schiff is a beautiful four-star hotel right on the river.
On the way to or from Bad Ischl, I recommend stopping nearby to see the outside of Red Bull’s Headquarters, just under 30 minutes away from both Bad Ischl and the city of Salzburg. You’ll understand why when you’re there – it looks like the whole complex came from the future.
5. Mirabell Palace and Gardens
Address: Mirabellplatz 4, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
Mirabell Palace and Gardens is a must-see when you visit Salzburg. It’s central and easy to walk to from anywhere in the city. It also happens to be one of the most popular Sound of Music filming locations.
Mirabell Palace was built in 1606 by Prince Archbishop Wolf Dietrich for his mistress. Today, Mirabell Palace serves primarily as a venue for nuptials and other events held in its grand halls or around the stunning Angel Staircase.
The palace’s baroque-style gardens are wildly impressive and pristine with marble statues, fountains, and mesmerizing flower formations of every color. I can’t imagine how intensive the landscaping schedule is. When you’re in the gardens, remember to look up and enjoy the view of Hohensalzburg Fortress in the distance.
While visiting the gardens, you can reenact The Sound of Music scenes of Maria and the von Trapp children singing “Do Re Mi” while dancing around the Pegasus Fountain, jumping up and down on the steps, and running through the hedge maze tunnel. Mirabell Palace and Gardens are a stop on all Sound of Music tours.
A great, and surprisingly affordable activity to enjoy at Mirabell Palace, is a Mozart concert. They frequently take place in the palace’s breathtaking Baroque Marble Hall, regarded as one of the most beautiful wedding halls in Central Europe. Some of Salzburg’s best musicians put on the concert and are guaranteed to enchant you with famous classical pieces performed by renowned ensembles and soloists.
If you’re thinking of staying in the neighborhood, NH Collection Salzburg City is just a short walk from Mirabell Palace and Gardens.
See Related: Best Gardens in Europe to Visit
6. Hohensalzburg Fortress
Address: Mönchsberg 34, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
Arguably chief among Salzburg attractions, Hohensalzburg Fortress is impossible to miss, looming over the city at the top of Festungsberg (literally Fortress Mountian). Commanding unrivaled views of the city center and the surrounding countryside, Hohensalzburg Fortress is one of Europe’s largest castles.
It’s also one of the oldest European castles still standing, being commissioned by archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg in 1077. Over centuries the castle was chopped, changed, and added to, with the last major renovations being conducted at the turn of the 16th Century.
Today the fortress is open for visitors year-round and can be reached via the Fortress Funicular train on Festungsgasse, which is like a gondola of sorts on rails.
It’s incredible just how well-preserved it is. The great condition of the castle may be because it only ever briefly came under siege once, at the hands of local peasants – I’m sure you can imagine how well that went for them!
You can easily spend a whole day exploring the castle complex if you take your time. Not only can you see the vast grounds and immaculately preserved rooms and halls, but the fortress is also home to three fascinating museums that give extra context to the city’s history.
The Hohensalzburg Fortress Museum documents the history of Salzburg’s prince-archbishops – the men who called the fortress home as they ruled over the city. Military buffs will enjoy the Museum of the Rainer Regiment which records the deeds of one of Austria’s most decorated infantry regiments.
Last but by no means least, this museum is maybe a little odd, but well worth the time, especially if you have kids in tow. Salzburg has a long history of puppetry, and the Marionette Museum is a superb little museum that does its best to keep this history and craft alive. There are hundreds of puppets here, with a good chunk coming from the famous Salzburger Marionettentheater (which is another great day out).
Seems like a lot, doesn’t it? Well, there’s even more to this fortress than meets the eye…
7. Salzach River Cruise and Fortress Concert
One of the most famous Salzburg tourist activities is the Salzach River Cruise tour, which includes an amazing dinner experience and a Best-of-Mozart concert in the 900-year-old Hohensalzburg Fortress. I can’t think of anything cooler than spending an evening in a beautiful, ancient fortress after enjoying the best views of Salzburg while cruising along the Salzach River.
The total time for this excursion is four to five hours. The tour starts in the center of Old Town where you meet to walk to the cruise boat. The river cruise lasts 40 minutes.
Salzburg stretches along both banks of the Salzach River. From the river, you’ll get the best views of Old Town Salzburg as well as the Tennen and Hagen Mountains in the distance.
After the river cruise, the tour guide will take you up to Hohensalzburg Fortress on the fortress funicular. Once at the fortress, dinner is served at the panorama restaurant with standard and VIP dining options. A Best-of-Mozart concert will follow dinner.
The concert is held in the fortress’s gorgeous Golden Hall. It’s put on by the Mozart Chamber Orchestra of Salzburg, a highly respected and internationally sought-after chamber orchestra dedicated to keeping the magic of 18th Century classical music alive.
If you would prefer to skip the river cruise, there are options to only dine and enjoy the concert at Hohensalzburg Fortress.
See Related: Inspiring Songs about Traveling
8. Mozart’s Birthplace (Geburtshaus)
Address: Getreidegasse 9, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is easily the most famous historic figure from Salzburg and one of music’s most celebrated names. You simply cannot visit this city without paying homage to one of the world’s greatest composers.
One of the ways you can do this is by visiting his birthplace, Hagenauer Haus, at No. 9 Getreidegasse in Salzburg.
Mozart was born in 1756 and today, his birthplace is one of the most visited museums in Austria. Mozart’s family lived in Hagenauer Haus’s 3rd-floor apartment from 1747 to 1773, being built in the 12th Century. Today, three floors hold exhibits on the composer’s childhood, his private life, and his world-changing music career.
The first floor of the museum shows a typical home in the 18th Century including furniture, everyday items, documents, and paintings.
The second-floor exhibit focuses on Mozart’s opera music. The exhibit has costumes, scores, models, and dioramas of theater sets that were made for his operas. Mozart’s clavichord, an early piano on which he composed The Magic Flute, is also on display.
In the third-floor exhibit, you can see the actual room where Mozart was born. Other artifacts for viewing include Mozart’s childhood violin, portraits of his family, and some of his early musical scores. There are also items from Mozart’s time in Vienna as well as his harpsichord.
You can experience Mozart’s birthplace museum within thirty minutes, so it’s a quick, easy, and worthwhile activity to fit into your Salzburg itinerary. It’s also nearby other popular Salzburg attractions and top hotels such as Cocoon Salzburg.
9. Mozart’s Residence
Address: Makartplatz 8, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
Mozart spent his childhood in his birthplace, Hagenauer Haus, up until 1773. He then moved to a different Salzburg residence where he stayed until 1781. In 1781, Mozart left Salzburg to spend the rest of his life in Vienna.
This residence is much larger than the previous three-bedroom apartment where Mozart was born. The museum spans eight rooms, and each section of the museum has its own theme.
Examples include the women in Mozart’s life and the trips the Mozart family took across Europe. Two favorite artifacts in this museum are Mozart’s fortepiano and the best-known portrait of the Mozart family.
While his birthplace would survive, unfortunately, Mozart’s Salzburg residence was destroyed during World War II, but was reconstructed and opened to the public in 1996. The museum within this residence, Tanzmeisterhaus (or Dance Master’s House), educates visitors on the everyday life of the Mozart family and includes each of their biographies. Similarly to Mozart’s birthplace, this museum inside his former residence is a great experience and doesn’t take long to complete.
In addition to a museum, this residence is also a venue for special events, temporary exhibitions, and concerts.
10. Panoramic views from Kapuzinerberg and Mönchsberg
One of the many reasons Salzburg is unique is that the city has multiple mountains surrounding it. From awesome architecture to mesmerizing mountains, the city’s skyline and scenery are extremely dynamic.
There are many options for hikes on different mountains to give you viewpoints of Salzburg and beyond. I think the best panoramic views are from Kapuzinerberg and Mönchsberg., both mountains located inside the city of Salzburg.
You can easily reach the Mönchsberg from the city. A popular route begins on the right shores of the Salzach near Imbergstraße.
If you don’t want to walk to the top, you can take the Mönchsberg Lift, which carries passengers to the top of Mönchsberg in just 30 seconds. The scenic terrace offers magical views of Salzburg’s Old Town, Hohensalzburg Fortress, and the Alps.
The three-mile hike to the top of Kapuzinerberg is considered easy. It takes about two hours and fifteen minutes to complete. On the hike, you’ll see the ruins of a medieval fortress in addition to the panoramic views of Salzburg, Hohensalzburg Fortress, and the Alps.
See Related: The Ultimate Backpacking Through Europe Itinerary
11. Day trip to Hallstatt
Hallstatt is one of the most beautiful small towns in Austria and one of the most famous tourist towns in all of Central Europe. It’s located in Salzkammergut, Austria’s lake district. If you have over three days in Salzburg, it’s worth leaving the city and doing a half-day tour of Hallstatt.
This half-day excursion is between five and six hours long. It’s a guided tour plus two and a half hours of free time to explore at your own pace. The tour bus leaves Salzburg and will drive through a number of charming villages in the lake district.
Activities in Hallstatt include a leisurely walk along the lake and admiring all of the houses that cling to the mountainside with their reflections shining on the water. You’ll also have time to see the Mullbach waterfall, Bone House, lakeside park, Hallstatt Skywalk, and the local museum.
The Bone House, located in Hallstatt’s St. Michael’s Chapel, is one of the most interesting and peculiar experiences you’ll have while in Austria. The Bone House has existed since the 12th Century. There are 1,200 human skulls kept here. 610 of them are intricately hand-painted, and they’re all arranged according to individual family groups, and the dates of death are marked on them.
The Hallstatt Skywalk is a relatively new viewing platform that extends 12 meters from the mountainside and 360 meters above the ground. This is the perfect way to get a bird’s eye view of Hallstatt. Plus, it’s an awesome spot to take photos.
During the Hallstatt day tour’s return journey back to Salzburg, you’ll drive through and see the stunning Gosau Lake and the Dachtsein Mountains.
Visiting Hallstatt was a dream come true for me. The lake and famous landscape of the houses and the enormous church tower are breathtaking.
It’s hard to believe that the scenery isn’t a green screen. I recommend going to Hallstatt during the off-season, like in the fall. It’s more enjoyable to explore the small village when there are fewer tourists.
If you prefer to stay in Hallstatt for a night or two, Chalet Hallstättersee is a great vacay home rental, steps away from the park on the lake.
12. Hellbrunn Palace and Trick Fountains
Address: Fürstenweg 37, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
Hellbrunn Palace and its trick fountains are a must-see when in Salzburg. They were built in the early 17th Century by then Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg, Markus Sittikus. Hellbrun Palace is situated at the foot of the well-watered Hellbrunn Mountain, and water was the main theme in the design of the Palace and the world-famous trick fountains.
The Prince-Archbishop intended Hellbrunn Palace to be a place for enjoyment and leisure. Back then, visitors came to this pleasure palace for excursions, hunts, and elegant receptions.
Today, Hellbrunn is a tourist attraction and holds important meetings, seminars, and glamorous social events. It’s also just a short hop from Salzburg Zoo (aka, Salzburg Zoo Hellbrunn, Zoo Salzburg, or Tiergarten Hellbrunn – phew!).
The trick fountains, on the Hellbrunn grounds, are one of the most fascinating cultural jewels of Salzburg. They’ve been entertaining guests since 1615! Prince-Archbishop Markus Sittikus, a bit of a trickster in his day, had this system of fountains built both as a status symbol and to astonish and excite his guests.
The vast park and gardens on the Palace grounds are beautiful for walking around or enjoying a picnic. The landscaping and colorful flowers are overwhelming in the best way possible.
For those Sound of Music fanatics, within the park, you can visit the famous “Sixteen Going On Seventeen” glass pavilion/gazebo from the movie. This is where Liesl and Ralph danced, sang, and had their first kiss.
Maria and Baron von Trapp also proclaimed their love for each other while slow dancing and singing “Something Good.” Unfortunately, you can’t go inside, but you can still take great pictures in front of it!
See Related: Real, Magical Castles in Fairytales to Visit
13. Nonnberg Abbey
Address: Nonnberggasse 2, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
Nonnberg Abbey is another popular Salzburg tourist attraction. Founded in the year 696 by Saint Rupert of Salzburg, Nonnbery Abbey is a Benedictine nunnery and the oldest convent in the German-speaking world.
It’s been a continuously operating nunnery since its inception. Today, it houses a number of artifacts, including mid-12th Century murals.
Nonnberg Abbey is most famous for its connection to The Sound of Music. Five scenes were filmed here. The Abbey is also a huge part of the real von Trapp family’s life.
Maria lived here in the convent before caring for the von Trapp children. She later married Captain von Trapp in the Abbey Church in 1927.
Nonnberg Abbey is a bit of a trek, located on the Festungsberg. While visitors are not permitted to visit the actual abbey as it’s still in use, you can visit the church and grounds. Most of the city’s Sound of Music tours take you by the abbey but only give you enough time to get a glimpse and snap a few photos.
If you’d like to see it up close, I’d recommend taking the stairs up to it. Be aware that this walk is a bit steep.
Another option is to take the funicular up to Hohensalzburg Fortress and visit Nonnberg Abbey on your walk back down the mountain. Trust me, the views of Salzburg from the mountainside are worth the visit.
The church and cemetery are open daily and free to enter, but you do have to request permission/register on arrival to view some areas of the church. If you’re an early riser, I recommend going to the church at 6:45 am. You’ll likely be able to hear the nuns singing their morning Gregorian chants.
14. Salzburg Festival (July – September)
The Salzburg Festival, established in 1920, takes place every year from July through September. The Salzburg Festival presents a prominent display of operas, plays, and concerts of the highest artistic standards.
It’s held in an amphitheater known as Rock Riding School, (aka Summer Riding School, or Felsenreitschule). This enormous theater that stands today was initially built to be a cathedral. Today, the Rock Riding School is Salzburg’s most popular concert venue and is able to accommodate around 1,500 people.
Historically, boulders were cut from Mönchsberg mountain in the city, which left a crater where the Rock Riding School now stands. In 1693, Archbishop Johann Ernst von Thun repurposed the cavernous space and later it became a theater.
15. Salzburg Cathedral
Address: Domplatz 1a, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
By now, you’ll probably realize there are a number of unmissable landmarks in Salzburg. Salzburg Cathedral (or Dom zu Salzburg) is easily in the top three, and it’s certainly one of the oldest (if not the oldest) Salzburg tourist attractions.
This breathtaking cathedral is the city’s most significant church and its ecclesiastical center. The cathedral represents the most impressive early Baroque edifice north of the Alps. It’s also a quick and easy place to see while walking around the city.
The cathedral is a part of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Salzburg and is dedicated to Saint Rupert and Saint Vergilius. Salzburg Cathedral was built in 767 but was destroyed and reconstructed – three times, no less! The final construction and expansion took place in the 17th Century, leaving us with the grand, baroque masterpiece that stands to this day.
Inside the ornate interiors of the Salzburg Cathedral, you can see the place where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was baptized and composed many of his musical masterpieces. And if music is your jam, you can attend a mid-day organ concert here.
If you’d like to learn more about this magnificent house of worship, don’t forget to stop by the nearby Salzburg Cathedral Museum, home to a wealth of information regarding the cathedral and its relationship with the city, not to mention unique works of art from the Salzburg Archdiocese.
See Related: Incredible Bucket List Ideas
16. Salzburg Museum
Address: Mozartpl. 1, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
Established in 1834 and relocated in 2005, the award-winning Salzburg Museum, also known as Neue Residenz, is incredible and the perfect bad-weather destination for all ages. There are many multi-media installations and exhibits for visitors to marvel at and learn from.
If you want to learn more about the history and culture of Salzburg and the region, this is the place to do it. Initially a modest military museum, the Salzburg Museum quickly evolved into a provincial museum, featuring the works of Salzburg residents as the centerpiece.
While it’s not the biggest museum in town, its grandeur is second to none. The first floor of the museum walks visitors through the history and modern-day events of Salzburg, as well as the Napoleonic Wars. Exhibition rooms are revolved around different epochs.
The museum’s second floor explores the lives and contributions of Romantic painters, writers, and scientists from in and outside of Salzburg. The exhibit also educates visitors on how and when tourism started in Salzburg.
The Art Hall of the Salzburg Museum is home to an extraordinary collection that holds major special art exhibitions. Art buffs should be making a bee-line for this part of the museum to view simply spectacular paintings, sculptures, and frescoes.
17. Day trip to Innsbruck
If you’re looking for a change of scenery or perhaps some winter sports in the Bavarian Alps, consider taking the fast train from Salzburg to Innsbruck. The historic city of Innsbruck is every bit as lovely as Salzburg, home to history, interesting attractions, great food, stellar nightlife, and ski slopes galore.
On top of the plethora of skiing and snowboarding opportunities, it’s also an awesome place to visit for views of the Bavarian Alps. The Top of Innsbruck cable car experience is the most popular for sure, but adrenaline junkies might find the Innsbruck Paragliding Adventure a better way to enjoy the view.
While Innsbruck is popular for extreme and winter sports, there are a number of famous cultural attractions here. First, is the Hofburg of Innsbruck, considered one of Austria’s top three most culturally significant buildings, the other two being the Hofburg Palace in Vienna and Schönbrunn Palace (which is one of my favorite places in Austria).
The most significant cultural attraction in Innsbruck however, has to be the Golden Roof (or Goldenes Dachl). The Golden Roof was the final gift for Austro-Hungarian Emperor Maximilian I in celebration of his wedding to Bianca Maria Sforza. Completed at the turn of the 16th Century, the roof of this royal observation box is covered in nearly 2,700 shimmering copper tiles.
It makes for a fantastic photo op, and if you’re peckish, the square below the observation box is home to some of the best restaurants in Innsbruck. I also recommend spending a night or two here. You won’t regret it, especially if you check into somewhere like aDLERS Hotel, the tallest, and swankiest joint in town.
18. Salzburg Christmas Market (November to January) and the Salzburg Christmas Museum
Address: Mozartpl. 2, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
As a German-speaking nation, Austria comes alive at Christmastime. Salzburg is no different with the picturesque streets around the cathedral arches filled with enchanting decor as one of Austria’s most celebrated Christmas markets comes into bloom.
If you’ve never been to a Christmas market, I cannot recommend it enough – even if you hate Christmas. They are infectiously joyful and great places to enjoy traditional delicacies and tipples as well as source traditional Christmas gifts.
Sadly though, these festive markets are only temporary fixtures. If only there was some way to enjoy Christmas all year round…oh, wait, thanks to Salzburg’s Ursula Kloiber, you can!
Founded in 2014 by Christmas-crazy Ursula, the compact Salzburg Christmas Museum (or Salzburger Weihnachtsmuseum) is located above the famous Café Glockenspiel on Mozartplatz in Old Town Salzburg.
Here, you can learn about Germanic Christmas customs and traditions from the 19th Century up to the present from Ursula’s own collection of festive knick-knacks that she has been building for the last five decades.
See Related: Best Christmas Markets in Europe
19. Toy Museum Salzburg and Museum of Historic Musical Instruments
Address: Bürgerspitalgasse 2, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
If you are visiting Salzburg with young kids, this next stop is a must. Founded in 1978, Toy Museum Salzburg (or the Spielzeugmuseum), might just be my favorite of all Salzburg museums – me, a grown adult!
The best thing about this museum is that it is intended for kids. It ain’t your typical museum, that’s for sure. All of the exhibits are at a child’s eye level and many of these exhibits are hands-on too, promoting real play.
There’s also an extensive children’s library, a fun maze, and a movie theater for the kids to enjoy. The museum also hosts frequent puppet shows, many of the puppets and puppeteers courtesy of the Salzburger Marionettentheater.
While the kids play, the adults can learn, because here you’ll find the largest collection of historical European toys in the country, featuring a huge collection of historic and contemporary toys dating from the 17th Century to today’s playthings.
Another thing that makes this a great place to visit with wee ones is that it shares a ticket with the Museum of Historic Musical Instruments (run by the Salzburg Museum). It’s no secret by now that Salzburg has a thing for music, and this fantastic museum is of the world’s top authorities and collectors of historical musical instruments.
With a huge collection of musical instruments and artifacts from the 16th Century to the present, this hands-on museum is great for toe-tappers and any budding Mozarts of your own. As well as being able to try your hand at certain musical instruments, concerts are frequently held here too.
20. Augustiner Bräu Beer Garden
Address: Augustinergasse 6A, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
Well, now that we’ve taken care of the kids, it’s time for the adults to indulge in a bit of self-care. So make sure you stop by the Augustiner Bräu Beer Garden – the largest outdoor Biergarten in the country!
Like its neighbor Germany, Austria is mad about good beer and has been for centuries. The Augustiner Brewery has been around for many of these centuries, founded by some boozy monks in 1621. The beer they brew and serve today is much the same as it was back then in the 17th Century, strictly adhering to the German Purity Laws.
If you have the time, you should look into a tour of the brewery, although I’d suggest doing this before you start indulging in their mouthwatering produce.
To say they make fabulous beer is an understatement. I might have spent my whole trip here had I not booked The Sound of Music Tour. But they also serve some pretty delicious food, mostly Austrian traditional fare, and they host several festivals and events throughout the year.
See Related: Best Breweries in Germany
What is the best day trip from Salzburg?
If you are an avid Sound of Music fan, Werfen is the town to visit. The close-up views of the Untersberg Mountains are breathtaking. It’s a priceless experience to sing and picnic on the famous “Do Re Mi” meadow in the film.
If you don’t care about The Sound of Music, I recommend visiting Hallstatt. This way, you drive through Austria’s lake district and see one of the most famous towns in Europe. If you’re after winter sports, consider Innsbruck.
Which is better – Salzburg or Vienna?
You can’t compare the two cities because they are widely different. Vienna is a much larger metropolitan city. Salzburg is smaller and feels more intimate.
It’s worth visiting both if possible. You can’t lose either way because both cities are beautiful, have delicious food, rich history, and are world-famous for classical music. I just have a soft spot for Salzburg.
What is the coolest restaurant in Salzburg?
St Peter Stiftskeller offers a once-in-a-lifetime dining experience. Founded in the year 803, it’s the oldest restaurant in the world.
It’s built into ancient stone cliffs and the interior decor is stunning and modern. The food, cocktails, and wine are also amazing.
Should I stay in New Town or Old Town Salzburg?
Old Town Salzburg. No question. If there is no availability in Old Town, New Town is still walking distance from Old Town. Note that Old Town is more expensive to stay in.
- Most Beautiful Small Towns in Austria
- Cheap Places to Visit in Europe
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