Salzburg is the stuff of fairytales. The streets here are sprinkled with magic and there’s a romantic atmosphere, thanks to the city’s medley of baroque architecture and mountainous backdrop.
The hometown of Mozart and The Sound of Music, Salzburg is Austria’s cultural hotspot nestled within the eastern Alps. But it’s not all highbrow here. Among the palaces and churches, you’ll find atmospheric beer halls and jovial inns to relax and let loose after a day of sightseeing.
Planning a trip to the city? Get stuck into our list of things to do in Salzburg:
- Festung Hohensalzburg
- Salzburg Old Town
- Mirabell Palace and Gardens
- Salzburg Cathedral
- The Sound of Music tour
- Hellbrunn Palace
- St Peter's Abbey
- Mozart’s Birthplace
1. Festung Hohensalzburg
Not quite sure what to do in Salzburg first? Towering above the city, Festung Hohensalzburg dominates the skyline and is the obvious first attraction to visit. Ancient and awe-inspiring, the castle dates back to the 11th century and looks like it’s fallen straight out of a Disney film.
Ride the vintage funicular up the hillside to the fortress, where you can roam around the battlements and discover the flamboyant Golden Hall. Don’t miss the views from the observation tower – they’re spectacular!
2. Salzburg Old Town
Follow signs for Altstadt and you’ll find yourself in Salzburg’s Old Town. This elegant UNESCO-protected area between the rugged Mönchsberg hillside and Salzach River is a patchwork of medieval and baroque architecture. Spires and domes pierce the sky, creating a charming sight.
3. Mirabell Palace and Gardens
Commissioned by Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich for his lover in the 17th century, Mirabell Palace is a lavish must-see. Old-school romance oozes from the charming complex, something you’ll recognise as soon as you start to explore. Waltz your way through to the Marble Hall, decorated in ornate style. Outside, the grounds provide the most beautiful place for an afternoon stroll.
From one palace to the other – the Residenz is another example of Salzburg’s rich heritage. You’ll find this grand complex in the DomQuartier, where it was first built in the 13th century. Follow in regal footsteps as you flit between the palace’s state rooms. While the extravagant furniture is jaw-dropping, the lavish ceiling frescoes will mean for most of the time, your gaze will be turned skywards.
Rising 1,853 metres into the Austrian air, Untersberg is one mighty mountain. Ride the cable car up to the snow-dusted peak and you’ll be able to marvel at striking views across the city and surrounding countryside. There are plenty of hiking trails to nearby viewpoints, as well as a cluster of restaurants to rest and refuel.
6. Salzburg Cathedral
A masterclass in baroque architecture, the city’s cathedral is a real stunner. Stand in front of this epic church and you’ll be greeted with the sight of two turquoise-topped towers and a mighty dome that contrasts beautifully with the marble façade.
While the cathedral’s history can be traced back to 767, fires and bombs have damaged and destroyed it over the centuries. But its beauty lives on in this version that was re-consecrated in 1959. Head inside to study the magnificent ceiling frescoes and see the 14th-century baptismal font that was used at Mozart’s christening.
7. The Sound of Music tour
The Sound of Music tour in Salzburg is a must for any fan of this award-winning musical. The film has captured the hearts of millions since it was first released in 1965 and this city was the principal filming location for the hit flick.
Dedicated tours can take you to shooting locations including the Von Trapp’s home, Schloss Leopoldskron, and Mondsee Basilica, scene of the wedding. It’ll leave you singing all the way around Salzburg!
8. Hellbrunn Palace
This yellow-tinged pleasure palace once served as a retreat for Markus Sittikus von Hohenems, one of Salzburg's prince-archbishops. More than 400 years later, this gorgeous complex still wows.
The focus is on the garden, with its ponds, sculptures and tree-lined avenues, but most particularly on the unique trick fountains. Watch out – hidden water jets in the grottos are known to splash unsuspecting visitors!
9. St Peter's Abbey
Established in the 7th century, this monastery complex boasts a harmonious blend of architectural features. Study the interior and exterior and you’ll see traces of Romanesque, Renaissance and rococo styling.
The catacombs draw most visitors here. Descend into the subterranean complex, where you’ll see chapels and crypts carved out of the Mönchsberg. You may recognise the catacombs and the cemetery here from The Sound of Music, as the Von Trapp family try to flee the city.
10. Mozart’s Birthplace
You can’t miss this bright yellow building nestled along Getreidegasse. Emblazoned with the words ‘Mozart’s Geburtshaus’, this baroque townhouse marks the spot where the famed composer was born and raised during the 18th century.
The property is a now a museum and somewhat a mecca for classical music fans. You can see instruments and other artefacts from Mozart’s childhood to help you get a better picture of the composer’s life in Salzburg.
Inspired by our list of the best things to do in Salzburg? Book a getaway to the city now with Jet2CityBreaks.
Posted: 2nd Apr 2019.