A little while ago I was lucky enough to present at a conference in Salzburg. Of course, it can’t be all work and no play, and my mini Salzburg getaway remains one of my favourite solo travel experiences. So if you’re planning your own little Salzburg holidays, here are my recommendations for what you have to see, drink, and eat!
Salzburg Holidays: Top Attractions
Salzburg is the fourth largest city in Austria, and most Westerners know it from the movie The Sound of Music. Home to World Heritage Sites and beautiful Baroque architecture, the city is a haven for history buffs. It’s not the cheapest city in Europe, but there are plenty of cheap or free attractions, and it’s well-worth a visit if you have some free time in your Europe itinerary.
Salzburg is the birthplace of Mozart, and his life and music are celebrated throughout the city. The first place to visit, and one of the best museums in the city, is Mozart’s birthplace. Mozart was born on January 27, 1756, and his family occupied an apartment on the third floor, of what is now the museum, for 26 years. The museum was opened back in 1880, and features original letters and memorabilia. It also houses Mozart’s own violin and clavichord.
The museum is open all year round, except for Mozart week when it is filled with the music of special concerts. Adults enter for €11, kids for €3.50, and youths from 15-18 get in for €4. Find the museum address and opening hours here.
From 1773 to 1787 the Mozart family lived in what is known as the ‘Dance Master’s House. The first floor of the building is now a museum. The building was partially destroyed in World War 2, and later the museum was reconstructed true to the original plans. The museum houses many exhibitions, and includes Mozart’s fortepiano.
You can get tickets to the Mozart residence for the same amount as his birthplace, but if you’re really music-mad, you should look into getting a combined ticket for the two museums. Find more details about combined tickets here.
Mirabell Palace and gardens is the best place to take a stroll away from the bustling streets of the old town. The palace was built in 1606, and seeing as it was graced by the musical talents of Mozart, it is a sort-after wedding venue for Europe’s elite today. The gardens are geometrically designed in the baroque style, which gives it a very different feel to many other palace gardens in Europe.
There are beautiful fountains dotted through the gardens, and it is a wonderfully romantic place for a stroll if you are lucky enough to have your partner with you. The gardens were also a shooting location for The Sound of Music, and you can recognize one of the fountains in the scene where Maria and the children sing Do Re Mi.
The gardens and palace are free to the public, and open daily. Find out particular opening hours here.
Salzburg Old Town, or Altstadt, is one of the largest UNESCO World Heritage Sites by area. Featuring gorgeous medieval and Baroque architecture, the old town is the perfect place to get lost for a few hours. You can find plenty of restaurants and coffee shops where you can take some time to soak in the history while enjoying amazing Austrian pastries. In fact, Salzburg is best enjoyed on foot, and the best place to start is undoubtedly the Altstadt. Chuck the map away and get lost in the narrow streets, just remember your umbrella, Salzburg gets a lot of rain!
Nestled in a square near many other historical areas, Salzburg Cathedral is a must see. Originally built in 774 BCE, the cathedral has been demolished and rebuilt many times over the years. Nowadays the cathedral is considered the most important sacred building in Salzburg, and it even contains relics from Saint Rupert and Saint Virgil. There’s even some graffiti scratched into the marble entranceway, which dates back 370 years. Even better, the cathedral still houses the baptismal font in which Mozart was christened!
Entrance is free and guided tours are around €5 per person. Find details of the Salzburg Cathedral opening times and tours here.
Hohensalzburg Castle, otherwise called Salzburg Fortress, gives the most beautiful views over the city, while providing a fascinating look at life in historical Salzburg. The rulers of Salzburg have run the city from the fortress since 1077 BCE, but luckily nowadays there is a funicular to get you all the way to the top without too much effort.
Hohensalzburg is actually the biggest fully preserved castle in Central Europe, and is a massively popular tourist attraction, so expect to contend with the crowds. The fortress houses many museums, including one on the history of the fortress itself, as well as a marionette museum which is well worth a visit. If you’re around at 11:45 on a Sunday morning, you’ll be treated to a trumpet fanfare live from the towers, and many music concerts are held at the fortress every year.
The fortress is wheelchair accessible, and open all year round. Funicular tickets are €12.90 for adults, and €7.40 for kids from 6 to 14 years. Tickets can also be cheaper if you’re willing to make your way up the footpath, or if you book online, so take a look at the Fortress website here before you go to figure out the cheapest way to visit.
It’s not only the history nerds that will enjoy Salzburg, as the shopping is also top-notch. Take in the historical shopping street of Getreidegasse and enjoy fine jewelry, fashion, antiques, and traditional costumes, amongst the many cafes and bistros. Shopping is pricey in Salzburg, but beautiful glass shop windows ensure that you can indulge in window shopping to your heart’s content without breaking the bank.
There are three great markets going on in Salzburg year-round, and each are worth a look if you have the time. On Thursdays you can find the Salzburg Schranne in front of St Andrew’s Church, selling arts, crafts, and delicious local foods. The daily Grünmarkt has been running since 1857, and it takes place at Universitätsplatz for the whole day. Pastries are a specialty here, and I can personally recommend getting your hands on a massive chocolate pretzel that can pretty much count as a whole, indulgent meal! Finally, Fridays from 8am to 1pm see the organic farmer’s market at Kajetanerplatz, where you can get a variety of organic food and drinks.
For more information on each of the markets, take a look at the market website here.
Salzburg Holidays: Delicious Bites and Beers
I’ve already said you should pop into the markets to get some pretzels and other fresh pastries, but I also want to mention one awesome place in particular to eat and drink that you simply can’t miss!
If the idea of good beer makes you happy, then you should definitely take some time out at Austria’s largest beer inn. This converted old monastery serves beer straight from wooden barrels into stone pitchers. Go early to get yourself a seat, choose your pitcher size, and settle into one of the gorgeous old halls to really feel like you’re part of a medieval feast. You can also grab some local snacks at the Schmankerlgang stalls on the property.
The beer hall is open from 3pm to 11pm, Monday to Friday, opening half an hour earlier on weekends. Find out where to go here.
Salzburg Holidays: Where to stay
You can find an abundance of hotels, airbnbs, and hostels around Salzburg, but there is one hotel that I feel confident to recommend. I would love to hear if you’ve got other recommendations, shoot me an email or a comment if you’d like to add to our list!
Hotel Schwarzes Rössl
When I was looking for a hotel, I had no idea where to start. At that point I was nervous of using online platforms to book, and I had never even attempted to book my own travel without a travel agent’s help. So when I stumbled upon Hotel Schwarzes Rössl, I couldn’t believe my luck.
The historical building has been a hotel since 1507, and it is conveniently located close to Mirabell gardens and just a short walk away from the old town. I walked easily to all of the sights mentioned in this article, so you’ll have no problem staying at the hotel. The staff is kind and willing to help, you can store your luggage before or after your stay in a secure location, and you have a number of room options available to you.
Have your own en-suite bathroom and a single room for around €63-€74. You can also choose to share a bathroom if you want slightly cheaper rates. There are definitely cheaper options available, but the location, amenities, and comfort mean that this is a hotel I’ll stay in again without hesitation. Book your stay here. If you’d like to have a look at what else is available, here’s a directory of hotels in Salzburg.
Salzburg Holidays: How long do you need?
Now that I’ve given you all of my recommendations, the final question is how long you need to give Salzburg to get to see everything important. As I’ve said before, Austria is not cheap, and Salzburg unfortunately does suffer from tourist pricing. With that being said, Salzburg is small enough to be really walkable, and I would say that a long weekend would be more than enough time to take in all the top sites with a little bit of planning. Austria has a wonderful train system, so consider adding a quick visit to Salzburg into your Austrian itinerary, it only takes a few days to take in the town, and it is linked by rail to many major cities.
Salzburg Holidays: Perfect for Solo or Couple Travel
Salzburg was one of the first times I travelled solo to Europe, and it was such a lovely introduction to solo travel. The city is safe for women travelling alone, and it is really easy to get by speaking only English. That being said, it would be wonderful to travel as a couple to Salzburg, as it really is the epitome of a fairytale romantic Europe city. However you decide to go, don’t be scared away by the price, Salzburg has enormous charm and beautiful history, and it is possible to have Salzburg holidays on a budget. If fairytale towns are your thing, check out our post on Rothenburg, the German equivalent of Salzburg. I hope you get to see this gorgeous city, as it really is something very special.
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