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17+ BEST Places to See & Things to Do in Salzburg, Austria (+Map & Tips)

17+ BEST Places to See & Things to Do in Salzburg, Austria (+Map & Tips)

Thinking of visiting Salzburg in Austria and wondering what there’s to see and do in the city? In this guide, we cover all the musts, top sights, most important landmarks, and things to do in Salzburg that are worth your time the most. For each place, we also include our experience-based tips and useful information for your visit. Take a look!

Instantly recognizable as the beautiful backdrop to the iconic movie ‘The Sound of Music’, the romantic city of Salzburg is steeped in history and rich in culture. Mozart was born here and the city’s tradition of music remains strong. There are numerous performances and concerts every night and various festivals held annually.

But there is so much more to this charming city than its musical heritage. From its scenic location in the foothills of the Alps to its exquisite architecture and wonderful food, Salzburg is a destination that has a lot to offer to any type of traveler.

In this guide, we share all the main sights and attractions in Salzburg, as well as useful tips for visiting this beautiful and vibrant city for the first time. We also created a map indicating all the top places to see in Salzburg – you can find it at the bottom of this article.

TIP: Be sure to buy the Salzburg Card to last the duration of your visit. It gives you free and fast access to many of the city’s main attractions and includes free public transportation too. It will quickly pay for itself, even if you only visit a few of the main highlights in Salzburg in one day! If you spend 2-3 days in the city and surroundings, this card offers incredible value.

READ ALSO: Salzburg 1 Day Itinerary & Salzburg 2 Days Itinerary

Mozart statue on Mozartplatz in Salzburg, Austria
Mozart statue on Mozartplatz

These are the very best places to see and things to do in Salzburg:

1. Mirabell Palace & Gardens

Built early in the 17th century by prince-archbishop Wolf Dietrich for his wife, Mirabell Palace and Gardens is one of the most beautiful places in Salzburg. The palace, the manicured gardens, the fountains, the views – everything is so beautiful. A visit here is like stepping into a fairytale!

Mirabell Palace is home to the Angel Staircase and the famous Marble Hall, considered one of the most beautiful wedding halls in the world. Mozart once made music here, and these days, you can attend a Mozart concert here almost every evening.

Good to know: Normally, you can visit the Angel Staircase (daily from 8 am to 6 pm) and the Marble Hall (Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 8 am to 4 pm and Tuesday and Friday from 1 pm to 4 pm), and the entrance is free of charge. However, the Marble Hall is frequently used to host weddings and other important ceremonies, in which case it’s closed to visitors. So if you absolutely want to see this beautiful hall from the inside and it’s closed, see if you can book concert tickets instead.

The real attraction here, though, are the gardens. Designed in a geometrical Baroque style, they are so beautiful, especially in the warmer months when all the flowers are blooming.

You can see the Pegasus Fountain here, along with the palace Chapel consecrated in 1726. You can also see a Dwarf Garden containing 17 dwarves made from white Untersberg marble, plus an Orangery and an ornamental Rose Garden.

Good to know: If the Pegasus Fountain looks familiar to you, that’s probably because it was used as another location in the ‘Sound of Music’. It was here that Maria and the children danced as they sang ‘Do Re Mi’.

Mirabell Palace Gardens with a view on Hohensalzburg Fortress - best places to visit in Salzburg
Mirabell Palace Gardens with a view of Hohensalzburg Fortress
Mirabell Palace Marble Hall - best places to see in Salzburg
Marble Hall inside Mirabell Palace – Photo efesenko/
Pegasus Fountain and Mirabell Palace in Salzburg
Pegasus Fountain at Mirabell Palace

2. Old Town

Salzburg Old Town is filled with stunning architecture, grand squares, and picturesque streets and alleys. It’s here that you’ll find most of the city’s historic buildings, landmarks, and museums. At the same time, it’s also a very lively place with lots of shops, cafes, and restaurants.

It would be impossible to list every place that’s worth seeing here, and the best way to experience the historic old town is to simply walk around and see ‘everything’. The good thing is that the historic old town is quite compact and so it’s actually quite easy to do.

Below, you can find some information about the main places not to miss in Salzburg’s old town, and we also indicated all of them on our map further below.

Horse and carriage on Residenzplatz in Salzburg Austria
Mozartplatz in Salzburg old town

Some of the main places not to miss include the major squares around the cathedral: Alter Markt, Residenzplatz, Mozartplatz, Domplatz, and Kapitelplatz. They all interconnect and so you basically just walk from one to the other, trying to absorb the incredible atmosphere around you.

On the Alter Markt, you’ll find the historic Café Tomaselli, the oldest café in Austria. On Mozartplatz – the statue of Mozart, and on Kapitelplatz – a huge golden ball with a sculpture of a man standing on top of it. In the middle of Domplatz, right in front of the cathedral entrance, stands a statue of the Virgin Mary with a Child and four allegoric statues around it.

Residenzplatz is home to the impressive bell tower of Salzburg Carillon (Salzburger Glockenspiel) – its 35 bells play various songs three times a day (at 7 am, 11 am, and 6 pm). Here, you’ll also see the impressive baroque fountain with horses.

This is also the place where horse-drawn carriage rides start. Residenzplatz is also home to some lesser-visited museums that might be worth it if you have lots of extra time for sightseeing.

Fountain on Residenzplatz and Salzburg Carillon in the old town of Salzburg Austria
Residenzplatz fountain and Salzburg Carillon
Kapitelplatz and Salzburg Cathedral
Kapitelplatz and Salzburg Cathedral

You also really can’t miss Getreidegasse, the most beautiful pedestrian shopping street in Salzburg. Every store here has a really unique sign on its facade, making the street really picturesque. Another charming old street to check out is the Goldgasse that connects Alter Markt with Residenzplatz.

Be sure to also check out the Franziskanergasse, a small street where the Franciscan Monastery is located. The gothic interior of the church is very impressive.

And finally, I also recommend a small detour to Marstallschwemme – Pferdeschwemme. The fountain with big murals depicting horses stands at the base of Mönchsberg, with the steep cliffs of the mountain right behind it. This is one of the two preserved horse baths in Salzburg.

Goldgasse in Salzburg old town
Goldgasse in the old town.
Getreidegasse in Salzburg, Austria
Horse baths at the foot of Mönchsberg in Salzburg
Horse baths at the foot of Mönchsberg in the old town.

3. Mozart’s Birthplace

Mozart’s Birthplace is one of the city’s main tourist attractions and definitely a ‘must see’ when you visit Salzburg. It was here – in this bright yellow building at Getreidegasse 9 – that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on 27 January 1756.

He lived here throughout his childhood and much of his youth (until the age of 17) in a middle-class apartment on the third floor. You can take a stroll through the apartment itself, which has been reconstructed as accurately as possible with items from everyday life and 18th-century furniture.

Pieces on display include original letters and certificates documenting Mozart’s life, several portraits painted during his lifetime, and his own clavichord and violin. There is even a lock of hair – believed to be Mozart’s – attached to a letter he wrote in 1777!

Although the museum is small and the number of exhibits quite limited, it feels very special to stand in the footsteps of the great composer and get a glimpse of life as he may have seen it.

TIP: Try to visit early in the morning, before the tour groups arrive. Alternatively, come here an hour or 30 minutes before the closing time. As you can imagine, the museum gets VERY busy!

Practical information: Mozart’s Birthplace is open daily, with hours varying a bit per season. More info here. Free entry is included on the Salzburg Card.

Mozart's Birthplace - one of the top places to see in Salzburg, Austria
Mozart’s Birthplace
Mozart portrait at his childhood home in Salzburg
Mozart’s portrait at his childhood home

4. DomQuartier Salzburg

A UNESCO World Heritage site, DomQuartier Salzburg is a stunning attraction made up of a complex of baroque buildings built around three courtyards.

It was created by the prince-archbishops of Salzburg more than 400 years ago. Originally it contained both their residential quarters and a Cathedral, as an expression of their claim to rule both the heavens and the earth.

These days it is home to three interconnected museums – among the most compelling in the city! You can walk through the beautiful baroque state rooms and visit the impressive Residenz Gallery, containing artworks by 16th- to 19th-century painters such as Rembrandt and Rubens.

Also not to be missed are the awesome views of the city mountains and the Salzburg historic district from the terrace above the Cathedral Arches.

The Cathedral Museum is interesting to see too, from the elaborate stuccowork of the rooms of the Northern Oratory to the views of the cathedral’s magnificent interior from the organ loft.

You also visit the Museum of St. Peter’s Abbey, and the Long Gallery, the oldest gallery in Salzburg that was the prince archbishops’ painting gallery.

Good to know: DomQuartier Salzburg is a large museum and if you want to see everything in detail, you should set aside 2 to 3 hours for your visit. However, if your time is short it would be possible to walk through the best of the exhibits in around an hour.

Practical information: DomQuartier Salzburg is open daily except on Tuesdays. For more details, see the official website. Entry here is also included with the Salzburg Card.

Staterooms at DomQuartier Salzburg
Staterooms at DomQuartier Salzburg
Rembrandt painting Old Woman Praying in DomQuartier Salzburg
Rembrandt’s painting Old Woman Praying in DomQuartier Salzburg
Long Gallery of St Peter Abbey - DomQuartier Salzburg
Long Gallery of St. Peter’s Abbey in DomQuartier Salzburg

5. Hohensalzburg Fortress

Dating back to the 11th century, Hohensalzburg Fortress is one of the largest and best-preserved fortresses in Europe.

A key landmark of Salzburg and an integral part of its skyline, the fortress is located high on Festungberg Hill. You can either walk to it or take a funicular from the old town, which is far quicker and much easier.

When you get there, the views from the various lookouts are magnificent. With the Salzach River winding its way throughout the city and the soaring mountains in the background, it looks like something from a postcard. But it is even more impressive when the sun goes down and the city lights illuminate the scene.

Throughout its life, Hohensalzburg has been a fort, a military barracks, a prison, and home to the prince archbishops. Now it houses several museums and has the look and feel of a medieval village within its protective walls.

The Fortress Museum is especially interesting as it includes access to the staterooms, including the Princes’ Hall, the Golden Chamber, and the Golden Hall. These contain original furnishings from the early 16th century that are very much worth seeing!

TIP: If you are traveling with children, be sure to visit the Arsenal building. It contains several interactive games that the entire family can enjoy.

Hohensalzburg Fortress and Golden Sphere on Kapitelplatz in Salzburg Austria
Hohensalzburg Fortress as seen from the Kapitelplatz
The courtyard at Hohensalzburg Fortress in Salzburg
The courtyard at Hohensalzburg Fortress
Prince archbishops staterooms at Hohensalzburg Fortress
The staterooms at Hohensalzburg Fortress

Practical information: Hohensalzburg Fortress is open daily. From May to September, from 9 am to 8 pm, the rest of the year – from 9.30 am to 5 pm. You could spend 2-3 hours here, or just see the ‘musts’ in about 1.5 hours.

The funicular and museums are included with the Salzburg Card, except for the staterooms (unless you visit before 11 am). If you have to pay a few euros extra to see them, do it – it’s totally worth it!

Good to know: In the evenings, you can attend a Mozart concert inside the state rooms at the Hohensalzburg Fortress. You can choose between concert-only or concert and dinner options – see all the ticket options here.

Salzburg view from Hohensalzburg Fortress
Salzburg city views from Hohensalzburg Fortress
Mountain views from Hohensalzburg Fortress in Salzburg
Mountain views from Hohensalzburg Fortress
Salzburger nockerln - traditional Salzburg dessert at panoramic restaurant at Hohensalzburg Fortress
Salzburger nockerln – traditional Salzburg dessert at a panoramic restaurant at Hohensalzburg Fortress.

6. Mozart Residence

Mozart Residence is another place that deserves a mention on any list of the best things to do in Salzburg. Not to be confused with the earlier-mentioned Mozart’s Birthplace, this is a house at No. 8 Makartplatz, on the other side of the river. This is where Mozart lived with his family from 1773 until he moved to Vienna in 1781.

A large part of this house was destroyed during an air raid in the second world war. It was later reconstructed according to the original building plans and opened as a museum in 1996.

A visit here gives you another wonderful insight into Mozart’s life. You can see a portrait of Mozart and his family in the large ballroom – an image considered to be one of the most accurate depictions of the composer anywhere. The room also contains Mozart’s original piano from the family estate.

The audio guide (included with free entry using the Salzburg Card) explains the significance of the rooms you visit and tells the stories of each family member.

Practical information: Mozart Residence is open daily from 9 am to 5.30 pm. In July and August, it’s open from 8.30 am to 7 pm. The entrance here is also free with Salzburg Card. You need 30-45 minutes for a visit here.

Mozart Residence - best things to do in Salzburg
Mozart family portrait and his original piano at Mozart Residence in Salzburg
Mozart's original viola at Mozart Residence in Salzburg
Mozart’s original viola at Mozart Residence.

7. St. Peter’s Abbey Site

Located beside DomQuartier is the Abbey of St. Peter, a Benedictine monastery and former cathedral. You can’t enter the Abbey itself, although a visit to the interior of its ‘Long Gallery’ is included as part of the DomQuartier tour.

But you might want to stop and take a moment to appreciate the wonderful smell of fresh bread coming from Stiftsbäckerei St Peter, Salzburg’s oldest bakery. You can still see the old water wheel originally used to power the monastery’s mill just as you enter the abbey site.

The Abbey of St. Peter’s main attraction, however, is its beautiful, ancient cemetery (Friedhof St. Peter) and St. Peter’s Catacombs.

Fans of the ‘Sound of Music’ movie flock to see the cemetery, as it was here that one of the final scenes was filmed. If you’ve seen the movie, you definitely remember how the von Trapp family was hiding here during their escape from the National Socialists.

But there are many other points of interest, including St. Margaret Chapel (Margarethenkapelle) and the vaults and burial sites of some of the city’s most notable residents. Mozart’s sister and her husband are buried here as well.

Salzburg best things to do - St Peter cemetery
St. Peter’s Abbey and the old cemetery
St Peter Cemetery (Friedhof St Peter) in Salzburg Austria
St. Peter’s Cemetery (Friedhof St Peter)

The Early Christian catacombs – hewn from the rock of the Mönchsberg mountain during the 1100s – are the oldest and best-maintained in Austria. Two different levels are open to the public – the ‘Gertrauden Chapel’ and the ‘Maximus Chapel’, located 40 steps higher.

Here you can see the preserved remains of ancient tombs, altars, relics, and murals. You can also enjoy beautiful views of the city from the balcony around halfway down the stairs.

Good to know: The steps inside the catacombs are very steep and there is no handrail, so it helps to wear walking shoes with a good grip.

Practical information: The cemetery is free to visit and a ticket for entry to the catacombs is free with the Salzburg Card. The Catacombs are open daily except for some public holidays. They usually close for lunch between 12.30 and 1 pm. Count 15-30 minutes a visit here.

St Peter Catacombs in Salzburg
Early Christian Catacombs in Salzburg
Staircase inside St Peter's Catacombs in Salzburg
Staircase inside St. Peter’s Catacombs
What to see and do in Salzburg Austria
Salzburg Cathedral and St. Peter’s Abbey as seen from the terrace of the catacombs.

8. Salzburg Cathedral

The impressive Cathedral is one of the most notable landmarks in Salzburg. Standing right in the heart of the old town and surrounded by the most beautiful and important town squares, you’ll inevitably pass here at least a few times during your visit.

A cathedral was first built on this site in 774. Throughout the centuries, a series of fires led to it being entirely rebuilt three times. The last major reconstruction dates from 1628 and the towers – 40 years later. The central dome, however, was destroyed entirely by bombing during WWII and the basilica we see now was eventually completed in 1959.

The cathedral houses the font where Mozart was baptized in 1756 and contains five organs, one of which – the Hoforgel – he later played. Most spectacular of all is the view of the dome’s interior, featuring 16 frescoes in 2 rows depicting Old Testament scenes.

Good to know: A visit to the earlier-mentioned DomQuartier Salzburg includes a look at the inside of the cathedral, including a close-up view of its impressive organ. This means that you don’t need to plan a separate visit to see it unless you want to explore everything inside.

But it is certainly worth taking the time to view this magnificent building from the outside too. This baroque masterpiece is visually stunning, featuring two spires and an imposing copper dome. There are four huge statues at the main entrance, depicting the apostles Peter and Paul and the two patron saints Virgil (who built the very first cathedral) and Rupert.

TIP: If you are a music lover, then perhaps the best way to enjoy the cathedral is to attend one of the 30-minute organ recitals that take place just after noon every day, except for Sunday. You can find more information and get the tickets here. If it’s not too busy, you can normally get a ticket on the spot as well – the Cathedral is huge and there’s lots of space inside.

Practical information: Salzburg Cathedral is open daily, with hours varying per season. No visits are allowed during mass and during the concerts at noon. There’s a small fee to visit the cathedral, and this is one of the few of the main sights in Salzburg that are not included with the city card (you do get a discount though).

Salzburg Cathedral
Salzburg Cathedral as seen from the Domplatz
The interior of Salzburg Cathedral
The interior of Salzburg Cathedral
Salzburg Cathedral (Salzburger Dom)
Salzburg Cathedral as seen from the catacombs

9. Views from Kapuzinerberg

Located on the Salzach River’s eastern bank, Kapuzinerberg is the highest point in Salzburg. However, the viewpoint at the monastery is just a bit uphill, so you won’t have to climb far. The short uphill walk is a bit steep, but the unmissable views awaiting you make it very worthwhile. This is one of the best viewpoints in the old town of Salzburg!

Along the trail, you will come across the Stations of Cross (Kalvarienbergkapellen Kapuzinerberg), Franziskischlössl (a small 17th-century defense tower), a small church that you can visit, and the monastery for Capuchin friars from which the hill took its name.

From the viewing platforms at the top, you can enjoy sweeping views of Salzburg, taking in the old town, the fortress, the river, and the surrounding mountains.

There are two times of the day that are particularly good to visit. One is at noon, when you can hear all the church bells across the city ringing – a wonderful sound that really enhances the experience. Alternatively, visit towards the end of the day for some truly spectacular sunset views.

Good to know: There are two ways to get to the top of Kapuzinerberg – by stairs from Steingasse or via the road with the cross stations starting at Linzer Gasse. The latter is much easier than the stairs, so I recommend that way up and then taking the stairs down – that way, you can also enjoy the nice views in the direction of the river and the fortress.

Salzburg old town view from Kapuzinerberg
View from Kapuzinerberg
Cross Stations at Kapuzinerberg in Salzburg
Cross Stations at Kapuzinerberg. This is the easiest way up to the viewpoint at the monastery.
Sightseeing in Salzburg - staircase at Kapuzinerberg
This staircase takes you down from Kapuzinerberg to the old town – best do it in this direction!

10. Views from Mönchsberg

Another place from which to enjoy exceptional city views in Salzburg is at the top of Mönchsberg hill.

You can reach the viewing platform – also known as Winkler Terrace – by taking a short elevator ride from Gstättengasse street, near the river. The cost of the ride is also included in the Salzburg Card. Alternatively, you can hike to the lookout point using the Mönchsberg hiking path on the other side of the hill.

There is a museum of modern art at the top of the hill, although you don’t need to buy tickets for it in order to access the viewing platform. You’ll find the platform just through the glass doors to the right of the elevator. The panoramic views are some of the finest in Europe and were featured in some of the most famous scenes of ‘The Sound of Music’.

Right at the viewing platform, there’s also a restaurant with a big outdoor terrace. This could be a nice place for a drink. Mönchsberg also has several walking trails, and you’ll see locals walking dogs or jogging here.

TIP: From the viewing platform at the museum, take the stairs on the right-hand side and follow the path until you reach a second viewpoint from which you can see another angle of the city. Yet a bit further down the dirt path and then a sharp right down the stairs, you’ll find a viewpoint at Humboldtterrasse. The views here are also very nice, with yet another angle on the river and the old town.

Best things to do in Salzburg - Mönchsberg viewpoint
Views from Mönchsberg
Salzburg city and river views from Mönchsberg terracce
Vews from Mönchsberg
Humboldtterrasse viewpoint on Mönchsberg in Salzburg Austria
Views from Humboldtterrasse on Mönchsberg

11. Hellbrunn Palace

Located just a bit outside the city center, Hellbrunn Palace is another place that’s well worth including in your Salzburg sightseeing itinerary if you have at least 2 days in the city. This magnificent Baroque palace took just 3 years to build, from 1612 until 1615. That would have been considered record time at the start of the 17th century!

Intended as a summer retreat, it was constructed for the enjoyment of the prince-archbishop Markus Sittikus. Over the years, it became a getaway spot for all sorts of rulers who enjoyed good food, the exotic foliage, and the palace’s famous trick fountains!

These remain a popular attraction today, with hidden water jets soaking – yet delighting – its visitors. It is funny to think of all the aristocratic members of society from the past also getting sprayed by these secret fountains!

There is lots more to see at this pleasure palace, including the water-powered Mechanical Theater with almost 200 moving wood carvings, the beautifully landscaped gardens, and a large adventure playground for children. There is also an exhibition inside the palace where you can learn lots more about its fascinating past.

You can also see the gazebo in which Liesl and Franz sang to each other in ‘The Sound of Music’. Another interesting place is the Stone Theatre in the forest – a natural rock quarry that Markus Sittikus had converted into a stage.

Hellbrunn Palace in Salzburg Austria
Hellbrunn Palace
Fountains at Hellbrunn Palace Salzburg
Fountains at Hellbrunn Palace – Photo by irisphoto11/

Practical information: Hellbrunn Palace is open daily from the beginning of April till the end of October. You can easily get here by public transport from the city center in about 15 minutes. Transport, as well as the entrance to the palace, are also included with Salzburg Card.

Alternatively, you can also visit here with a hop-on hop-off bus (entrance to the palace not included) or this river cruise that brings you to the palace and includes the entry tickets. Some other (Sound of Music) tours stop here as well (but usually do not visit the grounds of the palace).

TIP: If you are visiting Salzburg before Christmas, a visit to this palace is a must! The entire courtyard and old driveway are completely transformed into a magical and festive Advent Market.

The gardens of Hellbrunn Palace in Salzburg
The gardens of Hellbrunn Palace.

12. Nonnberg Abbey

Founded at some point between 712 and 715, Nonnberg Abbey is the oldest Benedictine nunnery in the German-speaking region. But that isn’t its only claim to fame!

The true story of a novice from the nunnery – Maria Kutschera – was the inspiration behind the now world-famous movie, ‘The Sound of Music’.

Maria was sent by her abbess to be a governess to the children of the widowed Baron Georg Ritter von Trapp. She later married the baron and – as the movie portrays – founded a family choir. It’s pretty amazing to visit the spot where the story started! The Abbey was also used as one of the filming locations for the movie.

Peaceful and pretty, it contains frescoes at the high altar and in the “Paradise” under the nuns’ choir that can be illuminated.

Nonnberg Abbey in Salzburg
Nonnberg Abbey and Salzburg skyline
Nonnberg Abbey entrance gate
Nonnberg Abbey entrance gate was one of the locations featured in The Sound of Music. Several other scenes were filmed at this abbey as well.

Practical information: Both the church and the cemetery are open to visitors every day from 6.45 am, although visits are not permitted during services. Located at the foot of the Festungsberg, Nonnberg Abbey can be reached from Kaigasse via the Nonnbergstiege staircase.

Good to know: If you are an early riser, consider coming here in the morning when the beautiful sound of the nuns’ choir fills the Nonnberg Abbey Church at 6.45 am. You can also hear them sing in the afternoon (weekdays at 5.15 pm, Saturdays at 5 pm, Sundays and public holidays at 4.30 pm), although these times are subject to change.

Nonnberg Abbey cemetery - Salzburg
Nonnberg Abbey cemetery.

13. Salzach River Cruise

Taking a slow cruise along the Salzach River is another popular thing to do in Salzburg for tourists. It gives you a great opportunity to view the city from a different perspective, but also to rest your legs and enjoy the scenery in comfort.

Although there are various cruises available – romantic cruises, for example, or those including visits to particular attractions – a regular boat tour is free with the Salzburg Card.

Taking around 40 to 50 minutes, it includes a commentary in both German and English to help you learn more about the places you’re seeing. Eight kilometers long in total, the route takes you towards Hellbrunn, slightly beyond the limit of the city, then returns the way you came. The tour ends with the boat ‘waltzing in the river’ which is quite fun and definitely the most exciting part of this easy-going tour.

Good to know: Unless you book a timed ticket at an extra cost, you may not be able to find a spot for the next available cruise. So if you want to use the Salzburg Card for this, you have to stop by their ticket office by the river to reserve a place. We were lucky to just get on the next boat, but it quickly fills up in the summer.

While I find that a river cruise is something nice to do in Salzburg if you have plenty of time, it’s definitely not a must. I actually think it would be more enjoyable if you do it as part of this tour that includes the Hellbrunn Palace visit.

Salzach River Cruises are among most popular things to do in Salzburg
Salzach River Cruises depart right next to the pedestrian bridge in the old town.
Salzach cruise in Salzburg
Salzach cruise takes you a bit outside of the city of Salzburg.

14. The Sound of Music Tours

It is hard to visit Salzburg without acknowledging its deep connection to the famous Hollywood movie ‘The Sound of Music’.

But even if you are not a fan, the bus tours are well worth taking as they include so many lovely places outside the city. Bicycle tours are also available, although these tend to concentrate more on the city itself and will often include places you will already see anyway.

Whilst there are several options available, most tours will take in iconic locations like Mirabell Gardens (with the Pegasus Fountain), Leopoldskron Palace (where the boating scene was filmed), the rebuilt Gazebo at Hellbrunn Palace, Nonnberg Abbey, and the wider Salzburg Lake District Area. The final destination is often Mondsee, where you can see the church in which Maria and Baron von Trapp were married in the movie.

TIP: This highly-rated bus tour is the most popular original Sound of Music tour in Salzburg. You can find more options here.

Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg
Schloss Leopoldskron, one of the filming locations visited by the Sound of Music tours.
Schloss Leopoldskron lake and horse statues - Sound of Music locations in Salzburg
The pond at Schloss Leopoldskron. You may recognize these horse statues and the gate from the movie.
The Sound of Music pavilion at Hellbrunn Palace in Salzburg
The Sound of Music Pavilion at Hellbrunn Palace

15. Mozart Concerts

Mozart concerts with or without dinner are among the most popular things to do in Salzburg. You can opt for an all-in experience that includes a concert and a nice dinner, or just attend a concert (usually, in a very beautiful setting).

There are various options, and most of them are available almost daily throughout the year.

Here are the best Mozart concerts in Salzburg :

  • Mozart concert with dinner – inside the Baroque Hall of St. Peter Abbey. If you are looking for a really good food experience too, this is the best option. Also, this is a more special experience with opera singers in costumes, etc.
Best things to do in Salzburg - Mozart concert inside the staterooms of Hohensalzburg Fortress
The Golden Hall of Hohensalzburg Fortress – one of the places where you can attend a Mozart concert in Salzburg.

16. Traditional Beer Gardens & Restaurants

While not something you can compare with visiting the famous landmarks, just as fun – and must-do in Salzburg – are the traditional beer gardens and restaurants.

This is just something so typical to the region and no trip would be complete without at least a quick drink at a Biergarten (beer garden) or a traditional Austrian meal at a Bierkeller (beer cellar).

One of the easiest-to-visit beer gardens in the center of Salzburg is Sternbräu, located between the main shopping street Getreidegasse and the river. Another popular choice (also a restaurant) is Augustiner bräu at an old cloister.

One of the oldest beer cellars in Salzburg is PitterKeller (1926) located in the basement of Imlauer Hotel Pitter. With dark-wood walls and traditional murals, it’s a real institution in Salzburg, a popular dining place for locals and tourists alike. If you plan to come for dinner (and definitely on weekends), it’s best to reserve in advance.

TIP: As an absolute minimum, you really can’t leave Salzburg without trying some pretzels. Locals seem to eat them at all times of day, and you’ll even find them served for breakfast at the hotels in the area. You can buy pretzels in bakeries, street-food stands, cafés etc. all over the city.

Stern beer garden (Sternbräu) in Salzburg Austria
Stern beer garden is right in the old town and is not to be missed in Salzburg.
Pretzel at Sternbräu beer garden in Salzburg
You really have to try pretzels when visiting Salzburg!
Pitter Keller traditional Austrian restaurant in Salzburg
Pitter Keller traditional Austrian restaurant.

17. Salzburg Museums

In addition to all the main sights and attractions in Salzburg mentioned above, there are also many museums in the city. Many of them are included with the Salzburg Card as well and could make a nice addition to your itinerary.

However, I’d only recommend visiting most of them if you have more than 2 days in the city and/or are really interested in a specific museum. It’s also something nice to do in Salzburg when it rains or in winter when you might want to spend more time inside.

We visited a few of them and found that they weren’t really worth it on a short visit. Often, it’s better to spend more time in fewer places rather than trying to ‘see it all’. But if you do indeed have time to spare, here are some of the best museums in Salzburg (and included with the Salzburg Card):

  • Salzburg Panorama. Located on Residenzplatz, this museum houses a giant 26 meters – long panorama painting depicting the city as it looked in 1829.
  • Salzburg Christmas Museum. If you love Christmas, you’ll love this museum. Most exhibits date from mid 19th to the beginning of the 20th century.
  • Salzburg Museum. Located in the Neue Residenz on Residenzplatz, this museum gives you insights into the art and history of Salzburg through a somewhat eclectic mix of exhibitions and multimedia installations.
  • Museum of Modern Art at Mönchsberg. Contemporary art museum with works from the 20-21st centuries.
  • Toy Museum. This interactive museum can be fun if you are looking to fill a few hours in Salzburg with kids.
Salzburg Panorama
Salzburg Panorama
Museum of Modern Art at Mönchsberg in Salzburg
Museum of Modern Art on Mönchsberg
Traditional mask at Salzburg Museum in Salzburg Austria
Traditional mask at Salzburg Museum

17+. Explore beyond the city

No trip to Salzburg would be complete without seeing the beautiful surroundings. The area is stunning, with palaces and medieval castles, incredible mountain landscapes, and too many beautiful places to see to even try to mention them here.

Here are some of the most popular (half) day trips from Salzburg for first-time visitors:

  • Hallstatt & Salzkammergut. Hallstatt is probably the most-photographed mountain village in the world, instantly recognizable for its picturesque lakeside church with a stunning mountain backdrop. This is one of the most visited places in Austria and the most popular day trip from Salzburg. See all the tour options here.
  • Eagle’s Nest and Berchtesgaden. This is Adolf Hitler’s famous vacation home in the Bavarian Alps, right at the Austrian – German border, a very short ride from Salzburg. See tour options here.
  • Berchtesgaden Salt Mines and underground lake. This is a really fun tour for the whole family. Not only do you get to visit the old salt mines, but also take a raft tour on the subterranean lake. You also see some amazing scenery of the Bavarian Alps (just over the border in Germany). See tour options here.
Hallstatt, Austria - one of the most popular places to visit near Salzburg
Hallstatt, the most photographed mountain village in Austria. No wonder it’s also the most popular day trip from Salzburg.

These are just the most popular options that you can visit with organized tours from Salzburg. If you have a car, the possibilities are almost endless.

Our kids absolutely loved Eisriesenwelt, the biggest ice cave in the world, as well as the birds of prey show at the Hohenwerfen Castle (tickets and more info here). You can also visit the ice cave with a tour, but it’s rather expensive.

Another nice free attraction in Salzburg is Hangar-7 (aka Red Bull Hangar), just outside the city center. You can also consider Salzburg open-air museum which showcases 100 rebuilt farmhouses from the 16th century onward and includes a short train ride through the grounds (free with Salzburg Card).

TIP: If you are visiting Salzburg in winter and are looking for something special to do in the beautiful area nearby, check out this horse carriage sleigh ride experience. In summer, there are also rafting tours available (both – beginner-level and white-water rafting). And, of course, you can simply visit the mountains, go hiking, and enjoy the spectacular scenery.

Austrian Alps as seen from Eisriesenwelt ice cave near Salzburg
Mountain scenery as seen from Eisriesenwelt ice cave near Salzburg

Map of the Best Places to Visit in Salzburg

To help you plan your time in Salzburg, we created a map indicating all the best places to see in the city – see below.

TIP: If you are planning a short city trip to Salzburg and want to make the most of your time, take a look at our sample itineraries via the links below!

READ ALSO: 1 day in Salzburg & 2 days in Salzburg

How to use this map: Use your computer mouse (or fingers) to zoom in or out. Click on the icons to get more information about each place. Click the arrow on the top left corner for the index. Click the star next to the map’s title to add it to your Google Maps account. To view the saved map on your smartphone or PC, open Google Maps, click the menu and go to ‘Your Places’/’Maps’. If you want to print the map or see it in a bigger window, click on ‘View larger map’ in the top right corner.


Where to Stay for Sightseeing in Salzburg

Salzburg city center is really compact and walkable, so if you stay in the center, you can just walk to almost all the main sights. If you are traveling by train, you may want to stay closer to the station. And if you are visiting by car, make sure that your hotel offers car parking and reserve it in advance if possible.

One of the most convenient areas to stay in Salzburg for sightseeing is the area around the Mirabell Palace. This is also where we stayed – at IMLAUER HOTEL PITTER. The location is excellent, the hotel has a fantastic rooftop terrace, and a really nice traditional restaurant. We loved it.

Below are some of the& best-rated hotels in Salzburg for various budgets:

TIP: Using the map below, you can compare hotels, apartments, and short-term rental accommodations in and around Salzburg. Simply insert your travel dates and group size, and you’ll see what’s available for your stay. Check it out!


So, this is our guide to the very best of Salzburg for first-time visitors. Whatever your passion – whether it be spectacular scenery, history, architecture, or music – you will find it all in this captivating Austrian city.

Have a great trip!

More travel inspiration for Austria:

If you found this post useful, don’t forget to bookmark it and share it with your friends. Are you on Pinterest? Pin these images!

Salzburg attractions and best places to visit - Salzburg Austria
Top things to do and places to see in Salzburg Austria

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Aliza R.

Friday 18th of August 2023

I love your blog posts and have used them many times! This one for Salzburg is perfect! Thank you for all the information and wonderful recommendation! Take care!!


Friday 25th of August 2023

Glad to help, Aliza, and thank you for the kind feedback. Happy travels!

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