Nestled in the heart of Europe lies an enchanting city packed with history, culture, natural beauty, and hills that are alive with the sound of Jessi’s Journey giving her best Sound of Music impression. Back when I lived in Prague as an English teacher, I took myself on a solo birthday trip to Salzburg, Austria. I found a fifteen euro, round trip bus ticket to this charming city and immediately fell in love. It was a cold, snowy January and the city felt like absolute magic. During my trip I ate one of the foods on my list of top treats I’ve eaten around the world, made a new friend on a Sound of Music tour, and had the best time wandering about the scenic city.
I don’t think Salzburg gets enough hype, so I’m here today to tell you to book your trip to this quaint European city as soon as possible. To entice you further, keep reading to discover the top things you must see and do while you’re there. Let’s dive in!
Where Is Salzburg?
Salzburg, the "City of Mozart," is nestled in Austria near the German border. It's renowned for its rich culture and stunning Alpine scenery. From Vienna, about 300 km away, you can easily reach Salzburg by a 2.5 to 4-hour train or bus journey. The Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) provides efficient train services, while buses offer a direct and scenic route. Both options promise a comfortable voyage, allowing you to immerse yourself in Salzburg's charm upon arrival.
What Is Salzburg Most Famous For?
Salzburg is most renowned for being the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the musical prodigy whose genius still resonates throughout the city. Additionally, it gained worldwide fame as the backdrop for the beloved movie, "The Sound of Music," showcasing its idyllic scenery and charming architecture.
Is Salzburg Walkable?
Salzburg's compact size and pedestrian-friendly layout make it the perfect city to explore on foot. The city's cobblestone streets, historic alleys, and well-preserved architecture beckon you to wander and discover its treasures at a leisurely pace. During my trip, I easily navigated the bus system to explore slightly outside of the main city area. However, most hostels and hotels will be located within walking distance of all of the top spots.
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Must-See Spots In Salzburg, Austria
Grab a wiener schnitzel and apfelstrudel to fuel up for your adventures and head out to the following top spots during your visit in Salzburg, Austria. I will warn you, if you don’t try the Sacher Torte and sing to yourself a song from the Sound of Music at least once, I’ll be very mad at you.
Grab A Pint At Augustiner Brauerei Monastery
In my opinion, one of the best things monks do is brew beer. Delight in an authentic Austrian beer experience at Augustiner Brauerei, one of the oldest breweries in Salzburg. Step into the rustic charm of the monastery's tavern, where you can savor a pint of locally brewed beer and relish the unique flavors of Salzburg. The historical ambiance adds an extra layer of authenticity to this delightful tasting experience, allowing you to connect with the city's brewing heritage.
Explore The Old Town
Explore the enchanting UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town of Salzburg, a labyrinth of historic lanes adorned with pastel-hued buildings and ornate wrought-iron signs. Immerse yourself in its timeless charm as you stroll through these well-preserved medieval streets. I spent hours wandering through the charming streets window shopping and talking with locals. It felt like one of the most authentic travel experiences I have ever had.
Visit Salzburg Cathedral
The awe-inspiring Salzburg Cathedral, an iconic Baroque masterpiece, stands as a testament to the city's rich architectural heritage. Step inside to witness its grandeur, from the majestic marble columns to the awe-inspiring dome. Don't miss the chance to admire the stunning frescoes and sculptures that adorn the cathedral's interior, offering a glimpse into Salzburg's historical and artistic legacy.
Enjoy The Most Decadent Sacher Torte
As I mentioned before, during my trip to Salzburg I tried one of my top best foods I’ve eaten around the world. I keep a running list of unique foods I’ve tried in my phone. These are foods I regularly think about and just the thought of them makes my mouth water. This Sacher Torte is on that list. A few years back my great aunt went to Salzburg and I enthusiastically encouraged her to try the Sacher Torte and she didn’t. I’m still bitter about it and consider it one of my biggest failures in life!
Café Sacher is the birthplace of the Sacher Torte. Each bite of this delectable chocolate cake, layered with apricot jam and smothered in velvety chocolate glaze will transport you to a world of pure culinary delight. Even if you don’t have a sweet tooth, grab a cappuccino and try this unique treat. You won’t regret it!
Take A Sound of Music Tour
If you’re visiting Salzburg, you’re likely a Sound of Music fan. While there are plenty of self-guided Sound of Music tour guides online, I personally think paying for a bus tour is worth the extra cost. (And keep in mind I was willing to spend this during my extremely tight budget backpacking days.) What makes the bus tour unique is that it takes you to the famous hills Maria twirled in and the church Maria and the Captain got married in which you can’t visit without your own vehicle. Additionally, you’ll get some inside scoop on the filming of the movie you can’t find online.
Tour Hellbrunn Palace and Trick Fountains
Hellbrunn Palace is an architectural gem surrounded by beautiful gardens. Discover the playful world of trick fountains, where surprise water jets and whimsical features create a delightful spectacle. The meticulously designed gardens, adorned with sculptures and greenery, provide a serene escape, making this a must-visit attraction for history, architecture, and nature enthusiasts alike.
Visit The Salzburg Museum of Modern Art
Modern art fans will love delving into the vibrant world of contemporary art at the Salzburg Museum of Modern Art. The museum hosts an impressive collection of contemporary artworks that showcase the evolution of artistic expression over the years. Wander through the diverse exhibits, featuring pieces by renowned artists, and let the creative energy of modern art inspire and captivate your senses.
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Attend a Classical Music Concert
Immerse yourself in the melodious world of classical music in Salzburg, a city synonymous with the great composer Mozart. Attend a live classical music concert, an experience that transcends time and connects you to the rich musical heritage of the region. Whether it's an orchestral performance or an intimate chamber recital, the acoustics of Salzburg's historic concert halls enhance the enchantment of the music, promising an unforgettable cultural experience.
Take a Boat Tour on the Salzach River
While you can easily explore Salzburg by foot, one unique way to discover Salzburg's beauty is by embarking on a boat tour along the picturesque Salzach River. Glide through the heart of the city, marveling at the stunning panorama of historic landmarks and natural wonders. As you cruise beneath Salzburg's iconic bridges, you'll gain a newfound appreciation for the city's architectural beauty, all while enjoying the gentle sway of the boat and the soothing ambiance of the river.
Visit Hallein Salt Mine
Embark on a captivating journey into the depths of history by visiting the Hallein Salt Mine. This is a short trip from Salzburg, but well worth the adventure. Explore the ancient mine, once a vital source of wealth and trade for the region, and discover the fascinating world of salt mining. Engage in guided tours, slide down wooden miners' slides, and sail across underground salt lakes, gaining insights into the centuries-old mining techniques that shaped Salzburg's cultural and economic heritage.
Climb Kapuzinerberg Hill
Hike up the scenic Kapuzinerberg Hill, offering panoramic views of Salzburg and the surrounding Austrian landscape. As you ascend through lush forests and well-marked paths, the anticipation builds for the breathtaking vistas awaiting you at the summit. Once at the top, catch your breath and witness the city's beauty from above, a vista that captures the essence of Salzburg's charm and the grandeur of the Alps.
Relax at Hellbrunn Palace Gardens
Find serenity amidst the carefully landscaped gardens of Hellbrunn Palace, an architectural gem in Salzburg. Stroll through the manicured lawns, elegant parterres, and whimsical water features that grace this historical estate. The meticulously designed gardens, combined with the playful trick fountains, create a peaceful and rejuvenating environment, inviting you to unwind and savor the beauty that surrounds you.
Learn about Mozart's Life at Mozart Residence
Delve into the life and times of the legendary composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, by visiting his former residence in Salzburg. Explore the carefully preserved rooms and exhibitions that provide intimate insights into Mozart's early years, musical genius, and lasting impact on the world of classical music. This immersive experience offers a glimpse into the private life and extraordinary talents of this musical prodigy.
Is Salzburg Worth Visiting?
Salzburg is a journey worth every step. Its allure extends far beyond stunning landscapes and architectural marvels; it's a city that encapsulates the very essence of Austrian culture and heritage. From the quaint streets of the Old Town, echoing with musical history, to the breathtaking backdrop of the Alps, Salzburg is a picturesque canvas waiting to be explored. Do yourself a favor and book a trip to Salzburg as soon as possible.
Is Salzburg, Austria on your bucket list? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!