Do you admire opulent palaces and the snow-capped hills? Are you planning a trip to Austria? If the answers are “Yes,” then you should spend some days in Salzburg. While Vienna is the largest city and national capital of Austria, most people imagine Salzburg as well as its surroundings when envisioning this East Alpine country.
What’s more, Salzburg can serve as an excellent base for exploring the surrounding regions thanks to its location. This beautiful city has a rich history, so it’s no surprise there are a lot of medieval castles and fortresses. It is also Mozart’s birthplace, whose house is now one of the most visited museums in Europe.
Other major attractions include Mirabell Palace and Gardens, DomQuartier, Salzburg Cathedral, and Hohensalzburg Fortress. That’s not all. While it is possible to visit most of the Salzburg’s sights in one full hectic day, it’s much better to stretch out the 1-day trip to two or three days.
Take your time and spend at least two days in this lovely city rather than rushing from one site to another all day long. Actually, we recommend that you stay in Salzburg for three or four days. In addition to discovering Salzburg itself, plan on venturing to tourist attractions out of the city.
However, not everyone can afford the luxury of spending more than one day here. That is why we have created Salzburg itineraries for one, two, three, and four days. Whichever itinerary you choose, we’ve got you covered.
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1-Day Walking Tour
What if you only have one day to visit Salzburg? Is it feasible to see the most significant sights in 24 hours? Yes, it is. Fortunately, Salzburg is very compact, so you can spend one day in the city and visit the major attractions, assuming that you wake up early and start off immediately by 7 a.m.
Many tourists come here to stay overnight and don’t have a lot of time to wander around the city. There are a lot of hotels and hostels in the city, so all you need to do is find one that suits your needs and budget. Check the Keep Eco Residence. This nice hostel is the fantastic combination of a welcoming community, an environmentally-conscious arrangement, and warm hospitality.
If you want to see as much as possible in less than 24 hours, your best bet is to book a bus tour like the Hop-on Hop-off Tour. This is a great way to get around Salzburg quickly and familiarize yourself with the history of this Austrian city along the way.
Yet we suggest that you experience Salzburg with a self-guided walking tour. Make a 1-day itinerary according to your specific needs and preferences.
If you have just a couple of hours to spend in Salzburg, focus your attention on the Old Town. Lying on the Salzach river, the Old Town (also called Altstadt) boasts unique Baroque and medieval buildings that draw many visitors each year. You can explore this area on foot. That would give you a feel for the city right away.
It is a good idea to map out your 1-day itinerary before heading to the Old Town. Take a look below.
To make better use of your time, follow our 1-day Salzburg itinerary:
- We recommend starting at Hohensalzburg Fortress (also known as Hohensalzburg Castle) early in the morning. It is one of the best-preserved and biggest castles in Austria. Take the funicular to get there quickly without any effort. This place allows visitors to see the city from the top and enjoy breathtaking views.
- Once you come down from the Hohensalzburg Fortress, consider spending the early afternoon in Altstadt (the Old Town). There is a lot to see in this historic center of Salzburg, including the huge Salzburg Dom, Mozarts Geburtshaus (Mozart’s birthplace), and DomQuartier which features St. Peter’s Abbey, Franciscan Church, Salzburg Museum, and much more.
- Visit Mirabell Palace and Mirabell Gardens later in the afternoon. You can get there by crossing the Salzach river. There are lots of footbridges in this area. Mirabell Palace is an impressive historic building surrounded by ornate gardens.
- Finish your 1-day tour by spending the evening at the Augustiner Bräu, one of the most popular beer gardens in Salzburg. Try to set aside some time to walk the Getreidegasse street at night, the major shopping street in Salzburg. It’s lined with numerous shops, restaurants, and cafes.
Itinerary for Two Days in Salzburg
A two-day itinerary would make your holiday more flexible and give you more time to visit other sights as well. After spending the first day at Hohensalzburg Fortress, Old Town, and Mirabell Palace, head further out on day two. Explore the sights and landmarks in the other areas, too. But where to start.
- We recommend that you begin your second day at the Heilbrun Palace (catch bus 25). Once a Baroque villa built by Markus Sittikus, this 400-year-old palace is now known for water gardens with a wide variety of water-powered features and hidden fountains. In the summer, this place is very popular among tourists and families with kids. In addition to enjoying water games, they like to spend their time in the nearby zoo and gazebo.
- While you are out of the city, take the cable car that will carry you to the top of the Untersberg mountain. Once you’ve reached the top of this legendary mountain and stepped out, you’ll be welcomed by wonderful panoramic views.
- Alternatively, you may visit the Innsbruck by taking a two-hour train ride. This mountain city is nestled on the River Inn in Tyrol. It is an ideal place for people who love ski sports and those who admire baroque buildings.
- You might be wondering how to spend the rest of your day after getting back to the city. If you’re one of those culture buffs who like fine arts and history, you need to spend the afternoon visiting museums. There’s a full spectrum of museums in Salzburg, including the Museum of Modern Art, Salzburg Museum, Castle Museum (Festungsmuseum), and Natural History Museum (Haus der Natur).
- Finish your day chilling out in a cafe and/or having dinner. There are plenty of cafes and eateries in Salzburg. If you are not tired, you can go to a concert, walk along the River Salzach, or enjoy a relaxing evening cruise.
3-day Salzburg Itinerary
A three-day Salzburg itinerary would allow you to cover more attractions while still having enough time for relaxation and amusement. Now that you’ve seen the most important sights, go check the following locations and attractions on day three:
- Visit the Maria Plain, a Pilgrimage church and one of the emblems of Bergheim that features Baroque architecture and Mozart’s Coronation Mass painting. This spot offers a vast panorama that extends from the city of Salzburg to the Alps.
- You can then reach Schloss Hellbrunn (Hellbrunn Palace) by walking (around 5 kilometers) or taking a city bus. If you didn’t visit the trick fountains yet, come over from Hellbrunn Palace to this amusement place on the third day. Whilst you’re there, set aside 40 minutes to stroll through the extensive parks.
- Moreover, you can also visit the Sound of Music places in and around the city. Rent a bike to see as many of these locations as possible in the afternoon.
- If you re a keen hiker who likes to walk for long distances, then you should set aside a few hours to hike over the hills of Kapuzinerberg or Monchsberg. At 1,663 feet (507 meters) above sea level, the Monchsberg mountain shapes the townscape of Salzburg with massive drawn back that consists of Nagelfluh (conglomerate).
Got More Time? Check These Sights Too!
Four full days would be the ideal amount of time to explore Salzburg and its surroundings during your visit. That would let you be flexible and plan the side trips if you have extra time.
Basically, the four-day stay is similar to our 3-day Salzburg itinerary. We suggest extending your itinerary to the city outskirts during the fourth day, though.
If you have seen the most popular sights around Salzburg, consider venturing to some of these destinations during the last day of your stay:
- Take a trip to Berchtesgaden, Werfen, or Hallstatt. You can’t go wrong with any of these three options. Whichever option you choose, you will be able to travel without booking a bus or train ticket beforehand.
- Explore Dachstein Giant Ice Cave (Dachstein Krippenstein) in the afternoon. You will be embarking on an unforgettable adventure through ice and rocks. This breathtaking cave features stalactites in different colors as well as glistening figures that have a broad range of shapes. All of these natural creations are immersed in music and light.
- What to do in the evening? Eat, drink, and relax. Go to the Sternbräu. Located in the heart of Salzburg, this beer garden is popular with both tourists and locals. As an alternative, you can have a traditional dinner at Stiegl-Keller restaurant. The choice is yours.
It can be difficult or almost impossible to visit all of these destinations and attractions within a couple of days, but try to see and explore as much as you can – the more, the better. It’s well worth exploring!