Best Things to Do in Salzburg: Top 12 Attractions to Visit

by Jen
Best Things to Do in Salzburg
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Are you thinking about visiting Salzburg anytime soon? Here are some of the most fun and unique things to do in Salzburg. These enchanting sights and attractions are sure to make for an unforgettable vacation experience.

Salzburg! The name itself evokes visions of ancient castles, picturesque landscapes, and the enchanting melodies of Mozart. This Austrian treasure offers a wealth of things to do in Salzburg. Wander through the historic Getreidegasse, where whimsical wrought-iron signs adorn quaint doorways. Ascend to the Hohensalzburg Fortress, commanding majestic views of the baroque cityscape and the tranquil Salzach River.

But don’t let the historical charm fool you. Salzburg is also a city of modern delights. From chic cafes serving the most Instagrammable slices of Sacher Torte to contemporary art installations that make you question reality, there’s no end to its wonders. And let’s not forget the surrounding Alpine landscapes that offer endless opportunities for hiking, skiing, and simply basking in nature’s grandeur.

Whether you’re a history aficionado, an outdoor enthusiast, or someone who simply appreciates the finer things in life, Salzburg has something to offer. So pack your bags and your sense of adventure; we’re about to explore the best things to do in this Austrian wonderland. Here’s everything you need to know about these fun things to do in Salzburg.

The top places to visit in Salzburg right now
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Best Places to Visit in Salzburg

Ready to jump into all the coolest things to do in Salzburg? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this historical vacation spot. So keep reading to discover all these unique Salzburg places to visit.

Are you looking at attending classical concerts in historic venues and exploring the birthplace and museums dedicated to Mozart? Or would you prefer hiking and biking in the beautiful region and exploring the nearby Alps? Whatever you’re planning, these must-sees in Salzburg can accommodate your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in Salzburg that you should know about.

1. Old Town (Altstadt)

Ahh the Altstadt—the heart and soul of Salzburg. This isn’t just a place; it’s an experience. As you wander through its labyrinthine streets, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a living museum. The Altstadt is one of the best places in Salzburg to soak up the city’s rich history, and it’s easy to see why. From the towering spires of the Salzburg Cathedral to the quaint shops selling traditional Austrian crafts, every corner tells a story.

Start your journey by visiting Mozart’s Birthplace, a must-see in Salzburg for any music aficionado. Then, make your way to the St. Peter’s Abbey, one of the oldest monasteries in the German-speaking world. Don’t forget to check out the catacombs carved into the Mönchsberg cliff.

But the Altstadt isn’t just about history; it’s also a hub for modern-day pleasures. Indulge in some retail therapy at the boutique stores or sip on a cup of Austrian coffee at one of the many charming cafes. As the sun sets, the squares come alive with street performers, making it one of the coolest activities in Salzburg for culture vultures.

Exploring Altstadt is one of the best things to do in Salzburg.
Altstadt is a living museum where you’ll immerse in the city’s rich history—a must-see experience in the heart of the city.

2. Mirabell Palace and Gardens

If you’re wondering where to visit in Salzburg that combines architectural splendor with natural beauty, look no further than the Mirabell Palace and Gardens. This Baroque masterpiece is a feast for the eyes and the soul. The palace itself is a marvel of intricate stucco work and grand halls, but the real showstopper is the garden.

Many of the Salzburg places to visit often include historical sites, but Mirabell offers a blend of history and serenity. The geometrically arranged gardens are a kaleidoscope of colors, especially during spring when the flower beds burst into bloom. Fountains and statues add an artistic touch, making it an attraction to photography enthusiasts.

And let’s not forget the iconic Pegasus Fountain, where Maria and the Von Trapp children danced in “The Sound of Music.” Yes, you can reenact the scene if you wish; it’s one of those unique things to do in Salzburg that you’ll remember forever.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or a fan of classic cinema, Mirabell Palace and Gardens offer something for everyone. It’s a place where art and nature dance in harmonious splendor.

Mirabell Palace and Gardens showcases a Baroque masterpiece housing intricate stucco work and grand halls, while the garden steals the show.
Mirabell Palace and Gardens showcases a Baroque masterpiece housing intricate stucco work and grand halls, while the garden steals the show.

3. Hohensalzburg Fortress

For a panoramic view that’ll make your heart skip a beat, ascending to Hohensalzburg Fortress is a must. Perched atop the Festungsberg hill, this 11th-century fortress is one of the largest and best-preserved in Europe. Trust me, the view from up here is nothing short of breathtaking.

Curious about what to do in Salzburg when you reach the fortress, you ask? Well, there’s more than just the view. The fortress houses several museums that delve into its storied past. From medieval weaponry to intricate Gothic carvings, there’s a lot to absorb. And hey, don’t miss the Marionette Museum, a quirky addition that showcases the art of puppetry.

Now, let’s talk about logistics. You can either hike up the steep path or take the funicular. Either way, the journey is part of the experience. Once you’re up there, grab a coffee at the fortress café. Sipping on a warm brew while overlooking the city is a Salzburg attraction in itself.

Hohensalzburg Fortress is a high point—literally and figuratively—in any Salzburg itinerary. This makes it one of the most amazing things to do in Salzburg, hands down.

Visit Hohensalzburg Fortress for a breathtaking panoramic view from one of Europe's best-preserved 11th-century fortresses.
Visit Hohensalzburg Fortress for a breathtaking panoramic view from one of Europe’s best-preserved 11th-century fortresses.

4. Mozart’s Birthplace

Nothing beats tthe sweet symphonies of Mozart! If you’re a music lover, one of the best places to go in Salzburg is Mozart’s Birthplace, also known as Mozarts Geburtshaus. Situated in the heart of the city, this unassuming yellow building is where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born and spent his formative years.

Inside, you’ll find a museum that’s a tribute to his genius. From his first violin to handwritten music sheets, the artifacts here are awe-inspiring. And let’s not forget the room where he composed some of his earliest masterpieces. Standing there, you can almost hear the echoes of his music filling the air.

But it’s not just about the past; the museum also delves into Mozart’s enduring impact on music and culture. Interactive exhibits make it engaging for all ages. So, whether you’re a classical aficionado or a casual listener, this is a destination that strikes a chord.

And here’s a pro tip: Don’t rush through. Take your time to absorb the aura of the place. After all, how often do you get to walk in the footsteps of a legend? It’s one of those best things to do in Salzburg that you’ll cherish forever.

Visit Mozart's Geburtshaus for a musical pilgrimage to the place where Mozart was born and spent his formative years.
Visit Mozart’s Geburtshaus for a musical pilgrimage to the place where Mozart was born and spent his formative years.

5. Salzburg Cathedral

When it comes to architectural marvels, the Salzburg Cathedral is a must-see in Salzburg. This masterpiece isn’t just a feast for the eyes; it’s a journey through history and spirituality. Built in the 17th century, the cathedral stands as a testament to Salzburg’s rich religious heritage.

As you enter, you’ll be greeted by a grand organ that has serenaded congregations for centuries. The intricate frescoes on the dome, the ornate altars, and the stunning stained glass windows are nothing short of awe-inspiring.

But what sets this cathedral apart is its underground crypt. A labyrinth of chambers and chapels, the crypt offers a glimpse into the city’s medieval past..

And here’s a little insider tip: Don’t miss the opportunity to climb the tower. The panoramic views of Salzburg from the top are absolutely breathtaking. Visiting the Salzburg Cathedral is a sublime experience that should be on everyone’s list of Salzburg things to do.

Salzburg Cathedral, a 17th-century architectural masterpiece celebrating the city's rich religious heritage.
Salzburg Cathedral, a 17th-century architectural masterpiece celebrating the city’s rich religious heritage.

6. Sound of Music Tour

If you’re a fan of the iconic film, “The Sound of Music,” then this is one of those coolest things to do in Salzburg that you simply can’t miss. The Sound of Music Tour takes you on a magical journey through the very locations where Maria and the von Trapp family sang their way into our hearts. I’ve done this tour a couple of times and I must say…it doesn’t get old!

Hop on a vintage bus and let the hills come alive! The tour guides are not just knowledgeable; they’re downright entertaining. You’ll find yourself singing along to “Do-Re-Mi” as you explore the Mirabell Gardens, the Leopoldskron Palace, and the Nonnberg Abbey.

But wait, there’s more! The tour also includes a visit to the charming village of Mondsee, where the wedding scene was filmed. It’s one of those unique places in Salzburg that offers a perfect blend of cinematic nostalgia and natural beauty.

If you’re a die-hard fan of the movie or simply someone who appreciates scenic landscapes and a good story, this tour is a must-do. It’s an experience that will leave you humming your favorite tunes long after you’ve returned home.

Taking The Sound of Music Tour tis one of the best things to do in Salzburg.
Take The Sound of Music Tour to visit the iconic film’s locations—an unforgettable experience for fans of the movie.

7. Getreidegasse

Ah the Getreidegasse—a shopping street that’s more than just a place to splurge. It’s one of those Salzburg places to visit where history, culture, and retail therapy collide. The narrow, cobblestone street is lined with charming old buildings, each adorned with intricate wrought-iron guild signs that tell you what’s sold inside. From traditional Austrian garments to high-end international brands, this street has it all.

The Getreidegasse is a living, breathing piece of Salzburg’s history. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born here, and the street has been a bustling marketplace since the 12th century. It’s one of those Salzburg spots that offers a delightful blend of the old and the new.

As you wander through, don’t forget to look up. The ornate signs and the charming windows above the shops often hide fascinating details. Whether you’re window-shopping, people-watching, or soaking in the atmosphere, this is one of those places in Salzburg that you’ll want to revisit.

Getreidegasse is a historic shopping street where culture and retail therapy blend.
Getreidegasse is a historic shopping street where culture and retail therapy blend.

8. Salzburg Zoo

If you’re in search of unique things to do in Salzburg that will captivate both the young and the young-at-heart, look no further than the Salzburg Zoo. Nestled at the foot of the Hellbrunn Mountain, this 14-hectare zoo offers a natural habitat for over 120 animal species. It’s an experience that brings you closer to the wonders of the animal kingdom.

The zoo is designed to mimic natural environments, from the African savanna to the Eurasian steppes. You’ll find yourself immersed in different worlds as you wander through the well-planned enclosures. It’s one of those cool destinations in Salzburg that go beyond mere sightseeing.

What sets this zoo apart is its commitment to conservation and education. Interactive exhibits and educational programs are offered to families. Whether you’re keen on watching the playful antics of meerkats or observing the majestic stride of a Siberian tiger, the Salzburg Zoo offers a rich tapestry of experiences that go beyond the ordinary.

Are you thinking about where to go in Salzburg for an educational yet entertaining day? The Salzburg Zoo is your answer. It’s a place that combines learning with fun, making it a must-visit for anyone in the city.

Salzburg Zoo offers a unique experience with over 120 animal species in a natural habitat.
Salzburg Zoo offers a unique experience with over 120 animal species in a natural habitat.

9. St. Peter Stiftskulinarium

When it comes to unique places in Salzburg that offer a blend of history and gastronomy, St. Peter Stiftskulinarium takes the cake. Founded in 803 AD, this is Europe’s oldest restaurant, and it’s still serving up delectable dishes that would make even a food critic’s mouth water.

Imagine dining in a space that has hosted European royalty and luminaries like Christopher Columbus and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The atmosphere is nothing short of magical, with vaulted ceilings, antique wooden furniture, and soft candlelight that transports you back in time.

The menu is a delightful mix of traditional Austrian fare and modern European cuisine. Whether you’re in the mood for Wiener Schnitzel or a more contemporary dish like truffle risotto, St. Peter Stiftskulinarium has got you covered. And let’s not forget the wine list, which is as extensive as it is exquisite.

So, if you’re planning on what to do in Salzburg that combines history, culture, and a culinary journey, make a reservation at St. Peter Stiftskulinarium. It’s not just a meal; it’s an experience that will stay with you long after you’ve left the city.

St. Peter Stiftskulinarium is Europe's oldest restaurant, offering a unique blend of history and gastronomy.
St. Peter Stiftskulinarium is Europe’s oldest restaurant, offering a unique blend of history and gastronomy.

10. Salzach River

The Salzach River, a natural gem that meanders through the heart of Salzburg. For Salzburg attractions that offer a serene escape from the city’s bustling streets, this is it. The riverbanks provide a picturesque setting for a leisurely walk, jog, or even a romantic date.

The Salzach River is more than just a body of water; it’s a living, breathing part of Salzburg’s history and culture. As you stroll along, you’ll pass by charming bridges, historic buildings, and even some modern art installations. It’s one of those best things to do in Salzburg that allows you to experience the city from a different perspective.

Don’t forget to bring your camera because the views are Instagram-worthy, especially during sunset when the sky turns into a canvas of orange and pink hues. And if you’re into bird-watching, you’re in for a treat. The river is home to various species of birds that add a touch of nature to your urban exploration.

For a blend of natural beauty and urban charm, a walk along the Salzach River is a must. It’s not just a walk; it’s an experience that captures the essence of Salzburg in every step.

The Salzach River offers a serene escape with picturesque riverbanks—a natural gem.
The Salzach River offers a serene escape with picturesque riverbanks—a natural gem.

11. Untersberg Mountain

For those who crave a dash of adventure, Untersberg Mountain is your go-to spot. Just a short bus ride from the city center, this towering natural wonder offers some of the coolest activities in Salzburg. Whether you’re an avid hiker or someone who simply wants to soak in panoramic views, Untersberg has something for everyone.

The mountain’s cable car is an experience in itself. As you ascend, you’ll be treated to breathtaking vistas of the surrounding Alpine landscape. Once you reach the top, the real adventure begins. From leisurely walks to challenging hikes, the mountain trails cater to all levels of outdoor enthusiasts.

But what truly makes Untersberg a must-see in Salzburg is its mystical allure. Local legends speak of hidden caves and mythical creatures that inhabit the mountain, adding an element of intrigue to your exploration.

If you’re a photography enthusiast, don’t miss the golden hour. The way the sun casts its warm glow over the craggy peaks is nothing short of magical. And for the history aficionado, there are ancient ruins and monuments that tell tales of the mountain’s storied past.

Make sure Untersberg Mountain is right at the top of your list of Salzburg places to visit. This isn’t merely an outing; it’s an adventure that guarantees a fusion of nature, history, and legend.

Untersberg Mountain offers adventurous activities—a must-visit for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts.
Untersberg Mountain offers adventurous activities—a must-visit for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts.

12. Museum der Moderne

Are you a fan of contemporary art? A visit to the Museum der Moderne is one of the coolest things to do in Salzburg that you can’t afford to miss. Perched atop the Mönchsberg cliff, this modern art museum offers more than just a feast for the eyes; it’s a multi-sensory experience that challenges your perceptions and ignites your imagination.

As you step inside, you’re greeted by a diverse collection that spans multiple mediums—painting, sculpture, video art, and more. Each exhibit is thoughtfully curated, offering a glimpse into the creative minds of artists from around the globe. The museum’s architecture is a masterpiece in itself, with sleek lines and expansive glass windows that let in an abundance of natural light.

But the real kicker? The museum’s terrace offers jaw-dropping views of Salzburg’s historic cityscape, juxtaposed against the modernity within the museum walls. It’s the perfect spot to sip on a cup of Austrian coffee and reflect on the art you’ve just witnessed.

The Museum der Moderne is a sanctuary for the soul that appreciates art in all its forms. Is this one of the top things to do in Salzburg, Austria? You bet!

Exploring the Museum der Moderne is one of the best things to do in Salzburg.
The Museum der Moderne offers a multi-sensory contemporary art experience that challenges perceptions and ignites the imagination.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in Salzburg

Looking for more content on the top things to do in Salzburg? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Salzburg:

What’s the best time to visit Salzburg?

The best time to visit Salzburg depends on your preferences. Summer (June to August) offers pleasant weather for outdoor activities, festivals, and green landscapes. Winter (December to February) is ideal for the magical Christmas markets and snow-covered scenery. Spring and autumn provide milder weather with fewer crowds for a peaceful visit.

What is Salzburg best known for?

Salzburg is best known for the following:

  1. Birthplace of Mozart: Salzburg is the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, one of the most famous classical composers. His birthplace, located in Getreidegasse, is now a museum showcasing his life and works.
  2. The Sound of Music: The city served as the backdrop for many scenes in the iconic film “The Sound of Music.” Fans from around the world visit Salzburg to take themed tours that visit filming locations.
  3. Salzburg Festival: An internationally renowned music and drama festival held annually. It attracts top talent from around the world and is a significant event in the classical music calendar.
  4. Historic Center: Salzburg’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, boasting well-preserved baroque architecture, narrow alleys, and charming squares.
  5. Hohensalzburg Fortress: Perched atop a hill, this fortress offers panoramic views of the city and the surrounding Alps. It’s one of the largest and best-preserved medieval castles in Europe.
  6. Salzburger Dom: A stunning 17th-century baroque cathedral in the heart of the Old Town.
  7. Mozarteum University Salzburg: A prestigious institution dedicated to the study of music and the dramatic arts, named in honor of Mozart.
  8. Salzach River: The river that runs through the city, with beautiful pathways and bridges, including the iconic Makartsteg Bridge adorned with love locks.
  9. Hellbrunn Palace & Trick Fountains: A Renaissance palace with whimsical water games, beautiful gardens, and the famous gazebo from “The Sound of Music.”

Is visiting Salzburg expensive?

Salzburg can be moderately expensive, especially in the peak tourist season. Costs include accommodation, dining, and attraction fees. However, budget-friendly options like hostels and local eateries exist. The overall expense depends on your choices and travel style, but Salzburg offers options for various budgets.

View of Salzburg, Austria, with illuminated historic buildings against the clear sky.
View of Salzburg, Austria, with illuminated historic buildings against the clear sky.

How many days do I need in Salzburg?

To fully explore Salzburg’s cultural and historical treasures, including Mozart’s heritage and picturesque old town, plan on spending at least 2 to 3 days. This allows time for key attractions, leisurely strolls, and perhaps a day trip to the stunning surrounding landscapes like the Salzkammergut or the Bavarian Alps.

Is Salzburg good for families?

Salzburg is an excellent destination for families. Its rich history, musical heritage, and stunning landscapes offer a variety of activities for all ages. You can explore the city’s historic sites, enjoy outdoor adventures, visit interactive museums, and attend family-friendly concerts, making it a well-rounded family vacation spot.

What is the best season to visit Salzburg?

The best season to visit Salzburg largely depends on your interests:

  1. Winter (December to February): Salzburg is magical during the winter months, especially around Christmas. The city is adorned with festive lights, and the Christmas markets, particularly the one in the Old Town, are a major attraction. The snow-covered Alps and rooftops add to the city’s charm. Additionally, Salzburg’s proximity to the Alps makes it a good base for winter sports enthusiasts heading to nearby ski resorts.
  2. Spring (March to May): As the snow melts, Salzburg comes alive with blooming flowers and green landscapes. The weather is mild, and the city is less crowded than in the peak summer months. It’s a great time to explore the city’s gardens, like the Mirabell Gardens, and enjoy outdoor activities.
  3. Summer (June to August): This is the peak tourist season. The weather is warm and pleasant, making it ideal for sightseeing, picnics, and outdoor concerts. The renowned Salzburg Festival, which takes place in July and August, attracts music and drama enthusiasts from around the world. However, expect larger crowds and higher accommodation prices during this period.
  4. Autumn (September to November): Fall is a beautiful time to visit Salzburg, with the foliage turning vibrant shades of orange, red, and yellow. The weather is cool and crisp, perfect for hiking and enjoying the autumnal scenery. The city is also less crowded compared to the summer months.

Do I need to know German to get around?

While knowledge of German can be helpful for navigating Salzburg, many locals in the tourist industry speak English. Most signage and information are available in both languages. Learning a few basic German phrases can enhance your experience, but it’s not strictly necessary to get around and enjoy your visit.

What is the most famous thing in Salzburg?

The most famous attraction in Salzburg is undoubtedly the Hohensalzburg Fortress, a stunning medieval castle that dominates the city’s skyline. It’s not just an architectural marvel but also a symbol of Salzburg’s rich history and cultural significance. A must-see for any visitor!

Is Salzburg worth visiting?

Absolutely, Salzburg is a gem worth visiting! With its enchanting old town, world-class music scene, and stunning Alpine backdrop, the city offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural richness. It’s a haven for history buffs, music lovers, and outdoor enthusiasts alike. A trip here is time well spent.

Final Thoughts on Exploring Salzburg

And there you have it, folks! A whirlwind tour of the coolest activities in Salzburg, a city that’s as rich in history as it is in contemporary flair. Whether you’re an art aficionado, a history buff, or someone who simply loves to soak in the beauty of nature, Salzburg has something for everyone. From the towering cliffs of the Alps to the intricate details of Baroque architecture, this Austrian gem is a feast for the senses. So pack your bags, book that ticket, and get ready to fall head over heels for Salzburg. Trust us, this is one love affair you won’t want to end.

The top things to do in Salzburg for all types of travelers
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