Though Salzburg is usually a day trip for most people, the quaint Austrian town has a lot to offer, making for a relaxing weekend trip. From ancient fortresses to musical history, Salzburg has a little something for everyone. These are some of the highlights you may not want to miss when you’re in town.
You can see the 11th-century Hohensalzburg Fortress from anywhere in the city, making it a great place to see the city from above. The castle is accessible on foot or by a short funicular ride, though you should know that you pay to get on the grounds whether you take the funicular or walk. The grounds are vast and offer 360-degree views of Salzburg and the surrounding Alps, like a good fortress should. Even with the basic ticket, you can see several parts of Hohensalzburg castle including the Fortress Museum, Marionette Museum, Armory, and a Panorama tour. If you want to visit the princely chambers, you’ll need to buy a slightly more expensive ticket.
Mirabell Palace and Gardens
The Mirabell Palace dates back to the 1600s. Though the palace itself is not much, the main attraction of the palace is the stunning garden, which was featured in The Sound of Music. The gardens feature sculptures, ornamental gardens, and fountains, all with a view of Hohensalzburg Fortress. It’s a good place to enjoy a bit of greenery, a sharp contrast to Altstadt, which is basically a neverending sidewalk. The palace interior is largely closed to the public, although it’s famous for the Marble Hall and Angel Staircase, which was also in the movie. A more memorable way to see the Marble Hall is to enjoy one of the nightly classical music concerts that are held there.
Salzburg Cathedral is one of the Baroque gems of Salzburg’s historic center. It’s massive and ornate interior can be visited for just a few bucks. Even if you’re not especially religious, the cathedral’s interior is bright and awe-inspiring. The intricately carved dome is covered in paintings featuring scenes from the bible. Notably, Salzburg Cathedral is where Mozart was baptized; in fact, his baptismal font is still in the cathedral. He was also known to have played one of the cathedral’s five organs later in life.
The house where Mozart was born is now a museum dedicated to his life. Though this kind of attraction is probably not for everyone, if you’re a particularly big Mozart fan, Mozart’s Geburtshaus takes you through the composer’s early life and family history, making it one of Salzburg’s highlights. The museum showcases what homes and furniture looked like back during Mozart’s lifetime. You can see some original sheet music and a couple of his instruments. Positively thrilling if you like Mozart and classical music, but may not be anything special to some people.
Sound of Music Tour
Many people come to Salzburg as fans of the musical The Sound of Music. Though everything else on this list is fairly easy to access from the center of Salzburg, many of the filming locations for the movie are a little further out. While it’s possible to use public transport or get a car to take you around, the most informative and concise way to learn about the von Trapp’s singing family and see the filming locations is on a tour.
The tour begins at Mirabell Gardens and takes you to Hellbrunn Palace, the von Trapp family home, and the lake district where “the hills are alive with the sound of music.” This is a must-see for fans of the classic movie.
Salzburg’s historic Baroque center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is located on either bank of the Salzach River. Though it can be kind of dead after sundown, the adorable city center is flanked by large fortress walls and features long winding streets full of shops and cafes. Though there are all the souvenir shops you would expect, Altstadt also has some nice boutique shops where you can get a unique piece of jewelry, clothing, or shoes. Buy yourself earrings or some good chocolate. Have a coffee and people-watch in Mozartplatz. Salzburg is a gorgeous backdrop to your main character travel day.
Locals and tourists alike also flock to the riverside to walk their dogs, play with their kids, and enjoy the fresh air with an unforgettable view. If your visit to Salzburg allows, it’s nice to take in the city on a relaxed stroll along the river without any particular destination in mind.