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Salzburg has a small airport that flies to select destinations. If you cannot find a flight to or from Salzburg, you can instead fly into Munich or Vienna. Both are a reasonable distance away by train. From Munich, trains run frequently and take about 1.5 hours. You can book tickets in advance or buy them on the day of your journey from the station. I traveled to Salzburg from Munich two different times – once in the Summer and once in the Winter. In the Summer, I booked a ticket in advance while in the Winter I bought the ticket on the day I was traveling. If you know when you will be traveling, you may get a better deal buying in advance and can book seat assignments.
I flew out of the Salzburg airport (SZG) in the Winter as there was a convenient, direct flight where I was going. The airport is about 15 minutes from the city center and tiny so you do not need to allow for extra time at the airport.
Salzburg is a small city, and definitely walkable. You can see most of the major sites on foot. The only attractions where you need some form of transit would be Hellbrunn Palace and the Untersberg Mountain Cable Car. Both can be accessed by bus from the city center. If it is nice, you can also look into renting bikes and cycling to either or both of these locations.
In order to take advantage of being able to walk around the main areas in Salzburg, you will want to find a place to stay that is centrally located. I would recommend staying in or around Altstadt, the Old Town in Salzburg. It is a very nice part of town and allows you to be in the prime area to explore.
Auerspergstraße 4, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
Located in Neustadt, this is a nice option if you prefer a hotel. The hotel is very nice and easily walkable to areas within the city.
Located outside the city center, but walkable to the airport, the hotel is cozy for a night before an early flight or after a late arrival.
If you prefer not to stay overnight in Salzburg, you can also simply take a day trip from Munich. I would recommend giving yourself a weekend here, but it can be done in a day if you desire. In the summer, you can enjoy the warm weather and day trip to Hallstatt from Salzburg, while in the winter you can enjoy the Christmas markets set up for the holidays
This is where the Sound of Music fountain is located. The gardens are open daily until dusk and the palace is open until 4 pm on weekdays
The castle sits on top of the Festungsberg in Salzburg. You can walk up from the bottom of town, take a funicular up to the top, or walk form the Monchsberg viewpoint. We walked from the Monchsberg viewpoint, which was very nice. When facing away from the city, take a left and follow the path to the fortress.
Main pedestrian shopping street running through the city
Take the elevator from the bottom of the Modern art museum to the top for a nice panoramic view of the city. There is also a restaurant up here if you would like.
A well known Church in Salzburg where people visit to see the Church and the cemetery. Each grave is decorated differently in the cemetery. The fencing on some of the graves inspired one of the scenes in Sound of Music (when the family is hiding at the end).
Large Cathedral found in the Old Town area. One of the largest and nicest Christmas Markets can be found here around the holidays
Located along Getreidegasse
Square in Old Town next to the Salzburg Cathedral
Pedestrian bridge with locks along the rails
This is actually inside a monastery. There is a nice outdoor beer garden and many different beer halls inside the building.
Climb the stairs up from Linzergrasse to another viewpoint over Salzburg. As there are a lot of viewpoints, this is one you can skip if you are tired of climbing up stairs
Museum in Mozart’s old home
Brewery in Salzburg about 15 minutes away from the city center. It is easy to catch the local bus or grab a taxi to visit Stiegl Brewery. The brewery offers guided tours, self-guided tours, and has a lovely beer garden to enjoy many of the Stiegl beers along with food for those hungry.
If you are not visiting Hallstatt separately, this is a MUST! Check out the Hallstatt page for more details
Panorama Tours comes highly recommended if you want an organized tour. We decided to do it on our own and found these locations:
Pegasus fountain. Note that some of the ‘Do Re Mi’ song was recorded here
Inspiration for the scene where the Von Trapps are hiding from the Nazis at the end of the movie
The Sound of Music Gazebo is at the Hellbrunn Palace. While visiting, we took the trick fountain tour. It was a 30 minutes tour around the property. It is definitely geared towards families with kids as there are opportunities during the tour for you to get wet (you can get soaked if you choose). Visiting the palace is not a must, but if you are looking for something to do, it is a short trip.
Getting there: catch Bus 25 and take it towards Hellbrunn Palace. It takes about 20-25 minutes from the city center depending on where you get on. We purchased a 24-hour student bus ticket at the bus stop before getting on the bus. Make sure to validate your ticket when you get in the bus for the first time with the ticket. It was very easy to figure out, just make sure you are at the correct bus stop (bus is going the direction you need to go).
10-minute cable car up or you can hike it for a view of Salzburg. The cable car is about 20 minutes from the city center, or longer by bus as the bus can take longer when sitting in traffic. The cable car is not open all year so be sure to check the hours before visiting. We visited in mid December and the cable car had just re-opened after being closed for two months for annual maintenance.
The views at the top are stunning and well worth the trip, especially on a clear day. We probably spent 30-45 min up at the top. If you go in the winter, there will definitely be snow at the top and it will be cooler temperatures. I would recommend wearing boots or shoes you can get wet as you will want to walk through the snow to admire a few different viewpoints.
Salzburg is famous for its Christmas markets and draws locals and visitors in every year. Below find some of the key spots to catch Christmas markets or other holiday festivities in Salzburg.
Salzburg Cathedral and Residenz Square
One of Salzburg’s main Christmas Markets can be found right outside the Salzburg Cathedral. There are two parts to this market and it will definitely be very crowded at night. The little stands sell Christmas ornaments, pretzels, gluhwein (hot wine sold largely sold around the holidays), bratwurst, little gifts and more. There is a large Christmas tree in this market and an ice rink right next to it as well. This is one of the must see Christmas Markets in Salzburg
This is a small Christmas Market found within the Fortress barriers so you have to pay a small entrance fee to get to the area where it is set up. There is also a few spots with beautiful views of the surrounding area and mountains.
There is a narrow strip of Christmas Market huts that are out with food and gift shops along the Mirabell Palace
Another Christmas Market that takes an extra effort to get to as Hellbrunn Palace is on the outskirts of the city. You have to catch the bus (see directions above) to check this market out.
Not a Christmas Market, but the street is beautifully lit up. You can follow the lights and surrounding music to stumble upon any of the many city center Christmas markets.
Bakery off of Getreidgasse that sells Sachertorte which is a special type of chocolate cake that was invented in Austria
Beer hall and beer garden for Augustiner. The outdoor beer garden is nice in the summer, but if you are not there in the summer, inside there a variety of different rooms to enjoy a pint in.
Spot to grab a small bite and drink or can sit down for dinner
If visiting around the holidays, expect most dinner restaurants to be fully booked. Instead, enjoy snacks and bites from the Christmas markets. Do not forget to try some Gluhwein while outside to keep warm and enjoy the holiday drink!
The city of Salzburg can be visited in a day or short weekend trip. The core sights and central area of the city can be visited with just a day-trip, but to add on excursions or see a bit more, a night or two is nice. Salzburg is a great addition to a longer Austria trip, as it can often be used as a starting or ending point to a ski or hiking trip.
Salzburg can be nice anytime of year. In the summer, it is warm but provides long sunny days. In the winter, it is a great access point to reach the mountains for skiing, and a special highlight in the month of December as the city is known for having lovely Christmas markets. In the autumn and spring, the city will be less busy but still may have nice weather.
Transportation and Accommodations
Things to do and see
Food and Drinks