Although it's worthy of at least a couple of days' visit, it is possible to get a great feel for Salzburg in just 24 hours. This beautiful Austrian city, made famous by Mozart and the classic movie, The Sound of Music, has a long, proud history and plenty to offer the visitor.
Here are my pick of the top things to do in Salzburg in one day.
Start your visit in the Altstadt (Old Town) at Mozartplatz by picking up a map at the tourist information centre.
Just around the corner you'll find the imposing Residenz, the 12th Century palace of the Archbishop of Salzburg. If you're so inclined, take a guided tour (50 minutes) of the sumptuous State Rooms.
Also on Residenzplatz is the Residenz Fountain, regarded as Salzburg’s most beautiful fountain. Featuring four snorting horses, giants and dolphins, the baroque fountain is worth stopping to admire.
Your next stop should be Dom, the magnificent cathedral. Finished in 1628, it is one of the finest early baroque monuments north of the Italian Alps and will take your breath away as you enter.
Constructed from pink Untersberg marble, and boasting a huge cupola, it is a real work of art. Mozart was apparently baptized in the 12th Century font.
Next, follow Franziskanergasse to St Peterskirche (St Peter's Church) which dates from around AD 700. The Long Gallery of St. Peter’s Abbey serves as an art gallery which can be visited as part of a guided tour of the Dom Quartier.
A well-tended cemetery in the church grounds is Salzburg’s oldest and it houses the city’s former residents in crypts and mausoleums.
You can also visit the catacombs (entry fee €2), a series of caves which are carved out of the Mönchsberg rock beside the church yard.
Grab yourself a coffee or cool drink to re-fuel as it's time to visit the Hohensalzburg Fortress. If you're feeling energetic you can walk to the entrance (it takes about 15 minutes) but a funicular offers a fast and easy way to reach the top.
However you get there, you'll be rewarded with fantastic views over Salzburg and plenty to see inside the fortress.
Built in 1077, the fortress was home to Salzburg's archbishop-princes who used to rule the city and it is the largest fully preserved castle in Central Europe today.
Inside the grounds you'll find two musuems, ornate staterooms, a look-out tower and torture chambers.
Entry fees start from €12.20 per adult and €7 per child and include return funicular fares. (Included in Salzburg Card - see details below.)
After descending back down to the Altstadt, head towards Rathausplatz and enjoy lunch at one of the many cosy cafes or restaurants.
Not far from Rathausplatz you'll find Mozart's Geburtshaus (Mozart's Birthplace), now home to a small museum displaying memorabilia from Mozart’s life.
Stop for a visit to learn more about Salzburg’s famous son. Entry fee €11 per adult - included in the Salzburg Card.
Spend a while wandering along Getreidegasse and Linzer Gasse, two of Salzburg's most popular shopping streets. Their quaint charm will entice you to linger as you admire the well-kept facades and fascinating shops, many adorned with charming wrought iron signs.
Make sure you sample the city's speciality, the Mozartkugel, a chocolate ball with a marzipan centre.
Cross the Salzach River at Makartsteg for a look at Mozart's Wohnhaus (Mozart’s Residence - entry fee €11) before heading to the stunning Mirabell Palace and Gardens.
Built in 1606, the Palace was remodelled in the early 1700's by the famous Baroque architect, Lukas von Hildebrandt.
Time won't permit a visit inside the Palace (the Palace is open until 4pm on weekdays) which features a stunning Marble Hall, the former banquet hall of the prince-archbishops, but the gardens are open daily until dusk.
You can easily pass an hour or two wandering the manicured gardens which include numerous statues and fountains, an orangerie and impressive floral displays.
The steps in front of the Rose Hill - which you’ll recognise if you’ve watched “The Sound of Music” - offer stunning views over the gardens to Hohensalzburg Fortress in the distance.
Top your visit to Salzburg with a Mozart Dinner Concert at St Peter Stiftskeller (click here to book your table), Europe's oldest restaurant, dating back to 803!
You'll enjoy delicious Austrian dishes, prepared as they would have been in Mozart's day, and be entertained by the music of Mozart, performed by local musicians - it's a wonderful way to end your visit to Salzburg.
Time to call it a day and there's no shortage of excellent accommodation options to choose from in Salzburg.
For smaller, designer hotels located in the city centre, try:
The pretty, family-owned Hotel Rosenvilla, just a 15 minute walk from the city centre, is also highly recommended. Click here for current prices.
Still can't decide where to stay? Browse more accommodation options in Salzburg here.
Wherever you choose, you're sure to sleep well after a day discovering the delights of Salzburg.
Have more time to visit Salzburg? Here’s what I’d include if you have two days in Salzburg:
How to spend 48 hours in Salzburg
Spend your second day in Salzburg as follows:
Start the day with a visit to Hellbrunn Palace. Built as a pleasure palace for prince-archbishop Markus Sittikus in the early 17th-century, the palace’s gardens were all about entertaining - and they still are today.
Trick fountains are a feature of the gardens, along with mysterious grottos and water-powered figures, and you can experience the impressive water features on a guided tour.
Allow time to wander the palace grounds and to visit inside the palace itself. Inside, a permanent exhibition shares the history of Hellbrunn.
Hellbrunn Palace entry fee is €12.50 which includes a guided tour of the trick gardens. Holders of the Salzburg Card (see details below) are entitled to free transport by bus from central Salzburg.
To reach Hellbrunn Palace by bus, take Line 25 from Salzburg Main Station to Schloss Hellbrunn.
Head back in to Salzburg’s Old Town for lunch.
Join a half day “Original Sound of Music tour” to relive scenes from the famous movie. Click here to check prices.
You’ll visit locations used during the filming of the movie both in Salzburg and in the surrounding Lake District, including the beautiful ‘wedding church’ at Mondsee, and be entertained with songs from the original movie soundtrack.
Be sure to finish your meal with a slice of the original (and delicious!) Sacher-Torte.
More Salzburg attractions
Still need more ideas on what to do in Salzburg?
Salzburg Christmas Museum
At Mozartplatz 2, across from the Tourist Office, you’ll find the Salzburg Weihnachtsmuseum (Christmas Museum).
Here you’ll find eleven themed sections featuring displays of traditional Austrian and German Christmas symbols. If you love all things Christmas, a visit here is a must.
Set in 14 hectares of grounds near Hellbrunn Palace, Salzburg Zoo is a favourite with both children and adults alike. The zoo is home to 140 species of animal from various continents, all kept in conditions as close to their natural habitat as possible.
Entry fee €11.50 adult / €5 child (Included with Salzburg Card.)
To reach the zoo, take bus line 25 from Salzburg Main Station to Anif Zoo Salzburg (next stop after Schloss Hellbrunn).
A great way to save money whilst sightseeing in Salzburg is by purchasing a Salzburg Card.
Available in durations of 24, 48 and 72 hours, the card includes one-time free admission to all the city’s attractions and museums, discounts on cultural events and concerts, and free Salzburg public transport.
If you plan on visiting at least three of Salzburg’s main attractions in a 24 hour period (for example Hohensalzburg Fortress, Mozart’s Geburtshaus and Mozart’s Wohnhaus), the Salzburg Card will save you money and, in most cases, time as you can skip the ticket queues.
- Salzburg Card 24 hours – click here to check prices
- Salzburg Card 48 hours – click here to check prices
- Salzburg Card 72 hours – click here to check prices
Disclosure: On my recent visit to Salzburg, my husband and I were each given a Salzburg Card by Salzburg Tourist Office. I was able to confirm for myself that a Salzburg Card is good value.
Where is Salzburg
Salzburg is located in central Austria, close to the German border. It is 300 kilometres from the Austrian capital, Vienna, 180 kilometres from Innsbruck and 140 kilometres from the German city of Munich.
If you don’t have a vehicle, Salzburg is well served by public transport.
The Vienna to Salzburg train (and vice versa) departs every 30 minutes and takes just over two and a half hours.
From Munich, the train to Salzburg takes two hours.
- Salzburg day trip from Munich by train (click here for prices)
- From Vienna: Day tour of Salzburg (click here to check prices)
Day trips from Salzburg
If time allows, there are a number of day trips to nearby towns and rural areas that are available, including:
- Eagle’s Nest and Berchtesgaden tour from Salzburg (click here to check prices)
- Hallstatt half day tour from Salzburg (check prices here)
Whether you have 24 hours in Salzburg or longer, I am sure you will fall in love with this beautiful Austrian city just as I have.
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