With huge five-storey square Baroque houses sitting on the meandering Salzach River and a medieval castle towering above the city, strolling the beautiful narrow streets of Salzburg I could feel the city’s opulence and wealth. Salzburg’s culture and history come alive against this picturesque setting, and is only reinforced by being the birthplace Mozart. And the whole scene felt even more perfectly Austrian when I realized the Sound of Music was filmed in and around the area too!
With just a weekend in Salzburg, Austria so much of the city can be seen and experienced. The guide below includes ideas of things to see, do and eat to help you plan your weekend break in the city!
Salzburg’s Altstadt (old city) is a small pedestrian area that is entirely walkable and includes most of the city’s highlights. If you are staying in this area then it will be easy to get to many of the sites you would want to visit over a weekend in the city. If you’d like to wander a little further out, it’s easy to rent a bike and head out on the network of bike baths to some beautiful gardens and quiet spots along the river. For exploring the beautiful outdoors around Salzburg, then you can also take the bus or rent a car.
Tip: If you only have a short time, a hop on hop off bus tour is an easy way to get an overview of Salzburg!
Where to Stay
On a Budget
What to Do Over a Weekend in Salzburg:
Explore the Hohensalzburg Fortress
Take the Festungsbahn funicular railway (6.80 Euros) from the old city up to the Hohensalzburg fortress, a medieval castle on a hill overlooking the entire city of Salzburg and the surrounding mountains. It’s a great spot for a panorama of the city!
Take a Tour of Mozhart’s Gerburtshaus
Walk through Mozart’s time on a tour (11 Euros) of his birthplace and where his family lived for 26 years. Centrally located in the Old City of Salzburg, you can also easily then access many of the other spots on this list.
Wander Getreidegasse in the Old City
After a tour of Mozhart’s Geburtshaus, you’ll already be on Getrediegass, Salzburg’s most famous street. The street is the bustling heart of Salzburg and lined with all kinds of shops and businesses. Even if you don’t plan to shop, the architecture of the area is interesting to explore – small doorways that lead into passages and courtyards, elaborate gold gilded signs, and beautiful facades and doorways.
Have an ice Cream and sit by the Salzach River
The beautiful Salzach River meanders through the city and is a great spot to rest, have a picnic and an ice cream (!), and people watch. You’ll probably find yourself sitting along the river many times during your weekend in Salzburg.
Listen to Mozart at St. Peter Stiftskeller
Have dinner in Central Europe’s oldest restaurant, which has been serving food for over 1200 years. They even do Mozart Dinner Concerts with live music and dinner by candlelight in St. Peter Stiftskeller’s big baroque hall (56 Euros).
Have coffee at Cafe Tomaselli
If you want the true Austrian cafe experience, head over to Cafe Tomaselli in the heart of Salzburg’s old city. It’s such a stylish little spot, great for sipping on coffee and people watching!
Wander Mirabell Palace and Gardens
Just opposite the old town is Marabell Palace and Gardens (free admission), built in 1606. The baroque gardens were also one of the sets for several scenes from the musical The Sound of Music (big fan over here!).
Have cake at Schatz
One of the best spots for cake in Salzburg is the tiny dessert shop, Schatz, which has been selling confectionary since 1850. Very close to where Mozart was born, the shops specialties include raspberry soufflés, cherry rolls, Schatz vanilla slices, Rigo-Jancsi cake, apple, cheese curd and cherry strudel, a selection of Danish pastries.
See the fountains at Hellbrunn Palace and Gardens
Hellbrunn Palace and Gardens (12.50 Euros) are located a 20-minute bike ride along the Salzach River in the south of Salzburg. You can also take the bus or Line 25 from the train station (see hellbrunn.at). The gardens are filled with fountains and spacious parks for picnicking or reading. If you happen to be visiting during Christmas time, the palace courtyard turns into an Advent market. Tip: try some delicious warm Gluhwein if you visit the market before Christmas!
Take a Sound of Music Tour
A few of the spots I’ve listed in this post are set locations from the famous musical, The Sound of Music. And while many people visit Salzburg for the history and music, many also visit because of the movie. There are plenty of tour operators to choose from, and tours are usually half a day and cost around 50 Euros. Stops usually include: Mirabell Gardens, Leopoldskron Palace, Hellbrunn Palace – Gazebo, Nonnberg Abbey, Salzburg Lake District and Mondsee – Wedding Chapel.
Have you been to Salzburg? Let me know in the comments below what some of your favorite things to see and do in the city are!