The Ultimate Travel Guide to Salzburg, Austria
(Salzburg, Austria) – Divided by the idyllic river Salzach and bordered by the Alps to the north and south, Salzburg, Austria’s 4th largest city, is a paradise for lovers of music, baroque architecture and chocolate.
Birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, his music is even piped in at the airport and the central train station. You’ll never be in doubt where you are. The entire Old Town has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996 because of its more than 20 baroque churches and buildings. Salzburg is the setting for the musical/film ‘The Sound of Music’ and as far as chocolate is concerned, there is the world famous Sacher Torte to be sampled in the Café Sacher and Mozartkugeln, little chocolate balls filled with marzipan and pistachio beckon in many confiseries.
Add to this the majestic castle Hohensalzburg, the music festival, and the many delightful parks and you will see that Salzburg is a city that offers something for every taste.
In this Salzburg Travel Guide blog article, we’ll give you travel tips to the city of Salzburg with budget tips and advice on things to do and see, itinerary, money saving tips, best hotels to stay, and more.
Best time to visit
Salzburg has a typical four seasons climate which means it’s good to visit year around. In the summer you might find days with a light drizzle, called Schnuerdlregen by the locals and at any time there may be Foen. This is a sudden change in pressure caused by the nearby winds from the Alps and some people get headaches and, in extreme and rare cases, even start to behave strangely.
How to get there
Salzburg’s airport serves mostly charter and low-cost airlines and connects some European cities via regular flights. If you come from overseas, fly to either Munich or Vienna and catch one of the fast EC trains which run on an hourly basis.
Or if you hire a car, drive along Germany ’s and Austria’s excellent motorways.
Salzburg is one of those cities that want to be explored on foot. If you tire of walking you can use any of the 20 lines of the Trolleybus system or the 5 of the S-Bahn. Parking within the Old Town is nearly impossible, so leave your car in one of the car parks near the train station.
Where to stay
Nothing beats the atmosphere of a family run hotel and if it’s in the luxury category, that’s even better.
Imlauer Hotel Pitter Salzburg
Address: 5020 Salzburg – Rainerstraße 6
Telephone: +43 662 88 978 – 813
The Imlauer Hotel Pitter in Salzburg’s Old Town fits the bill perfectly.
Recently renovated, it offers a splendid view from the Sky Bar on the rooftop and is centrally located so you can reach everything you want to see on foot.
Hotel Sacher Wien
Address: Philharmoniker Str. 4, 1010 Wien, Austria
Phone: +43 1 514560
The best and most traditional Hotel in Salzburg combing atmosphere with luxury and super service is the Hotel Sacher.
Located on the shore of the river Salzach near a bridge to cross over, it’s a very relaxing place to be. Not to forget the Café Sacher with its wall of fame and traditionally dressed waitresses all of which evokes the times of Salzburg’s café society.
Both these hotels are expensive and I opted for a cheaper but equally fabulous hotel: Hotel am Mirabellplatz
Hotel am Mirabellplatz
Address: Paris-Lodron-Strasse 1, New Town, Salzburg, Austria
Phone: +43 662 881688
In Goldgasse, close to Domplatz and in the center of the Old Town. Rooms are very comfortable and I also liked the minimalist décor in reception and the very friendly and helpful staff.
Where to eat
Austrian cuisine is rich, heavy on meat, gravy, and pasta of the local kind. Then there are the deserts to die for if you have a sweet tooth like Kaiserschmarn, Apfelstrudel and Salzburger Nockerln which even have their own song. Here are a few suggestions where you can best sample these Austrian specialties.
Top of your list should be Europe’s oldest restaurant. Stiftskeller St. Peter (official website)
This is for atmosphere and great dining with excellent service, wines, and quality food, but expensive.
For Austrian food, a somewhat cheaper alternative is Zum Zirkelwirt in Pfeiffergasse 14. I had Sachertorte in the Café Sacher and food in one of the many stalls in the market. A Bratwurst with Sauerkraut for some €10 in the market lasted me all day.
What to do and see
I arrived in Salzburg by train from Munich and explored on foot, staying overnight in the Hotel am Mirabellplatz. My first stop was the huge and beautiful Mirabell Garden, one of several of Salzburg’s green lungs. If you are lucky like me, you might even witness a wedding Salzburg style.
From there I made my way to the Birth house and museum of Mozart and his home, which is a nearby different building.
I reached the river and made my first coffee stop in the Café Sacher. Crossing one of the many bridges into the Old Town, I strolled along the tiny streets, named Goldgasse, Silbergasse etc according to the trade which was carried out here in times gone by.
You wander from one baroque building to the next, from the Cathedral to Holy Trinity Church to the Festspielhaus (Opera), the center of the world famous Salzburger Festspiele in July/August.
If you want to attend, you need to book at least a year in advance to ensure tickets and hotels.
I then enjoyed the vast marketplace and the flower market before making my way to the medieval fortress high up on a cliff overlooking the city: Festung Hohensalzburg. It’s one of Europe’s oldest and largest castles and, many say, the most beautiful. You can walk around endlessly, visit the permanent museum and the royal rooms, have a snack at the café or participate in one of the many events that take place in the castle over the year.
To reach the castle, you can either take the easy way by using the funicular or, if you are reasonably fit, you can walk. I went up in the funicular but walked down to enjoy the ever-changing views.
There are beautiful things to do and see just a few miles outside Salzburg too: the park and castles of Hellbrunn and something unusual and modern: Hangar 7. It’s a multifunctional building owned by Red Bull, housing historical airplanes, helicopters and Formula 1 racing cars, as well as a Michelin, starred restaurant. Ikarus.
If you are so inclined, you can even go on guided tours to the film locations of The Sound of Music or follow on your own.
With so many things to do and see you should plan two days for your stay in Salzburg.
Salzburg Travel and Tour Packages
Salzburg Day Tour from Munich
- This tour starts from Munich, Germany.
- Explore a city so special they named the entire place a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Salzburg is famed for its old world glamor, made all the more striking by a majestic backdrop of the snow-capped Alps.
- Visit the Mozart Museum in the hometown of genius composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
- See one of the most popular “movie tourism” destinations in the world because of the film “The Sound of Music”.
BOOK THIS TOUR
Salzburg Day Tour
- Enjoy the beautiful countryside view via comfortable round-trip bus transfers from Vienna to Salzburg.
- Stop by St. Gilgen and take stunning photos while enjoying the breathtaking view of the Wolfgangsee.
- Take a guided walk in the old town of Salzburg stopping by the University Church, St. Peter’s Abbey, the Salzburg Cathedral, and the Festival Hall.
- Sing “do re mi” like Maria Von Trapp and the children at the Mirabell Palace.
- Visit Getreidegasse, the street where Mozart was born and learn about his life.
- Feel free to explore the town at your own pace, shop for souvenirs or have some lunch during the free time.
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Salzburg and the Lake District
- Visit the charming city of Salzburg, home of Mozart and have some free time to explore or go shopping!
- Travel through the Bavarian Alps and see the breathtaking countryside featured in “The Sound of Music”.
- Cruise across Lake Wolfgangsee (only available from April to October), and you can even take a boat ride to the White Horse Inn and the pilgrim church!
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