One of the must-visit cities in Austria is without doubt Salzburg, also known as the birthplace of Mozart!
Salzburg will for sure surprise you with its UNESCO-protected architecture since the city exists since Roman times! If you like magnificent churches, historical architecture, impressive castles, classic music and of course the movie The Sound of Music, then this is the ideal day trip destination for you!
As you probably noticed from my description, there is a lot to discover if you only have one day. I visited Salzburg in the summer of 2021 and felt overwhelmed as well. But don’t worry, in this post I’ll go over all Salzburg’s highlights (from my personal experience) so that you know exactly what to visit in one day!
Let’s take a look at this Salzburg itinerary!
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Salzburg itinerary map
One day in Salzburg itinerary
Below I’m going to give you some suggestions as to what to include in your one-day Salzburg itinerary. Fortunately, you can visit all these places on foot since this is the easiest way to get around the city of Salzburg! If you still want to use public transport to get around the city, consider buying the Salzburg Card.
Start at Hohensalzburg Castle and follow the order of my recommendations below for the rest of your day!
Hohensalzburg Castle is just one of the impressive medieval castles that can be found in this region of Austria. For most people, a visit to Salzburg isn’t complete without a visit to its castle!
This castle dates back to the 11th century and is located high upon a hill (as the name says) with a magnificent view over Salzburg and the region. Right now, the castle provides a true experience for both parents and children, it’s even possible to plan your child’s birthday party here!
I would definitely recommend buying the full ticket that gives entry to all the halls of the castle which you can explore at your own pace. Alternatively, you can book a group or family tour with a guide.
In addition, the castle is home to a puppet museum as well as other museums that tell about the history of this castle and Salzburg. If this all sounds like a lot to you, I understand! Make sure to count at least a few hours to spend here!
Practically, it is possible to walk up to the castle, but if you want an easier route, you can just take the funicular starting from the city center. You’ll pay a bit extra for the ride but it definitely saves you a hard climb!
Residenzplatz & Mozartplatz
After your visit to the Hohensalzburg Castle, you should make your way to the Residenzplats which is the most central square in the old city center of Salzburg. From here, you’ll be able to start your visit to the city!
But before you run away to the next destination on your Salzburg itinerary, don’t forget to admire the beautiful fountain and take a look at the Mozartplatz where you’ll find a statue of Mozart himself.
You’ll also see horses and carriages stationed on the Residenzplatz, which can take you for a tour around the city if you wish.
Dom of Salzburg
At the Residenzplatz, you’ll also find the dom of Salzburg. To me, the dom is one of the most impressive buildings in this city. This baroque style dom has a history that goes back to the eighth century and is abundantly decorated on the inside.
Usually, you can visit the dom every day of the week, and occasionally you can even enjoy a concert here! A ticket to explore the church costs €5 and if you come around noon, you have the chance of enjoying an organ recital!
St. Peter’s Abbey & its catacombs
The catacombs of St. Peter’s abbey are a true hidden gem in Salzburg. When you enter the courtyard of St. Peter’s abbey and make your way to St. Peter’s Friedhof (the cemetery) you’ll be catapulted back in time.
The garden is home to several wonderfully decorated, historical graves and if you know it’s here, you’ll also find the entrance to the catacombs. For a few euros (literally), the lady at the entrance will let you go up the stairs into the rocks that were carved out to form the catacombs.
As you’ll also read in the info folder, this used to be the home of monks hundreds of years ago and until today, you can still see the original altars where they used to honor their God.
Birthplace of Mozart
If you say Salzburg, you say Mozart. This is the city where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart has been born and everywhere in the city you’ll find proud signs of this, from Mozart’s statue and square to his birth house!
If you’re curious about Mozart and his life, then you definitely want to take a look at the bright yellow house where he was born as well as the house where he spent a substantial part of his life.
At his birthplace, you’ll be able to visit an exhibition about his life, called Mozarteum, which takes approximately 1 hour and will cost you about €12 (2022 admission). A must if you’re interested!
Shopping at Getreidegasse Street
If you’re into shopping, I’d definitely recommend you to take a walk through Getreidegasse street where the best shops in Strasbourg are located, as well as Mozart’s birthplace!
Even if you’re not into shopping, this street is a must-see because of its still historical look (besides the fact that there are modern shops of course) since all stores still have a traditional nameplate hanging above their door. Plus, if you’re looking for some traditional Austrian clothing, this is the place to be!
At the end of this street, you’ll also find the St. Blasius Church, a rather small, but aesthetic-looking church that is definitely worth a short visit!
Stroll along the waterside
When you have time left and you’ve had your fair share of the history of Salzburg it is definitely worth it to take a stroll along the river Salzach. There, on the Franz-Joseph Kai, you’ll find a long line of stands where locals will try to sell their crafts.
This is the perfect place to pass by when you’re on your way to the Mirabell Garden or the Augustiner Bräu Gastgarten!
Go for drinks & snacks at Augustiner Bräu Gastgarten
When you say Austria, you say schnitzel and beer, right?
Well, for the largest beer festivities in Salzburg, you should leave the old city center and make your way to the Augustiner Bräu Gastgarten. This place is probably the most stereotypical place you’ll find regarding the beer culture in Austria!
When you’re above the legal drinking age, you can enter this “beer garden” and enjoy beers from traditional beer jars as well as typical snacks such as sausage with sauerkraut, etc. Either enjoy the exciting atmosphere on the terrace or take a seat in one of the traditional wooden halls inside. There’s a great chance you can join locals in traditional attire at one of their circle dances!
Even if this place is not entirely your thing, I believe it is something you should at least have seen. Order a beer and discover the place, because this is one of the most Austrian experiences you’ll have here!
Go for lunch or dinner at Augustiner Braugasthof Krimpelstätter
If the Augustiner Bräu Gastgarten is not really your thing (which I can understand because it is a lot to digest), then you can visit the restaurant next door to enjoy a better quality, traditional Austrian meal in a calmer atmosphere.
This is the time to try a schnitzel if you haven’t done so already, with one of the light beers they brew at the brewery further in the street.
I can highly recommend this place for a good Austrian food experience where you can enjoy your meal at ease!
On the opposite side of the river, you’ll find Mirabell garden, which is without doubt one of the most beautiful, must-see places in Salzburg. This garden has been featured in the movie The Sound of Music so fans can really indulge themselves here!
Mirabell garden is the garden of Schloss Mirabell, a castle dating from the 17th century. In spring and summer, you’ll find the park in full bloom covered in wonderful colors of all kinds of flowers. Also, don’t forget to take a look at the sculptures of the dwarfs you’ll find here!
For the fans, make sure to take a look at the Pegasus fountain and walk down the stairs where Maria and the Von Trapp children sang one of their most famous songs! The best part of all, the entrance is completely free!
The last stop to make when spending one day in Salzburg is the splendid viewpoint at the Kapuzinerberg. Depending on how high you want to climb you’ll have a wonderful view of the historical city of Salzburg, this time not seen from the castle but from the other side of the river.
On your way up, don’t forget to pass through the Felix gate, one of the city’s historical gates, and stop by the Kapuzinerkloster, where you can light a candle in the church of the monastery.
If you decide to spend more time in Salzburg or you prefer other activities than the ones I explained above, you might want to take a look at the suggestions below!
The Sound of Music tour
There is one major reason why I regretted spending only one day in Salzburg and that is because I didn’t have the time to take The Sound of Music tour!
This tour starts at Mirabell Garden and takes you to places outside of the city where several important scenes in the movie The Sound of Music have been recorded.
The tour is in English, takes about 4 hours, and will take you to 5 additional destinations outside of Salzburg such as the Leopoldskron Palace, where the boating scene was filmed, and Nonnberg Abbey, where the real Maria has been a novice.
In short, this tour is for you if you’re a huge fan of The Sound of Music! If you only have one day, you might want to swap your visit to the Hohensalzburg Castle with this tour!
Visit one of the many castles around Salzburg
The Salzburg region is full of castles. Thus, if you haven’t had enough with the Hohensalzburg castle, I recommend taking a look at the following castles:
- Burg Hohenwerfen – very nice to do with kids
- Castle Leopoldskron – you can actually stay here!
- Castle Hellbrunn
Should you buy the Salzburg Card?
The Salzburg Card gives you access to many of the museums and tourist attractions for free, plus public transport. If you’re actually planning to visit many attractions in one day, then this card can be more affordable than buying separate tickets for everything.
When following this itinerary, yes, it is beneficial to buy the Salzburg Card. Overall, buying the Salzburg Card will cost you less than paying for all the attractions separately.
The card will cost you €30 for a day which will cover your entrance at the Hohensalzburg Castle, the funicular, the Mozart museum, the St. Peter’s catacombs, Hellbrunn castle, and many other museums!
It is also possible to buy this card for a period of 2 or 3 days, which is even more affordable!
How to get to Salzburg
Salzburg is easy to reach by many different modes of transportation.
First of all, the easiest way to reach Salzburg is by car. You’ll find several parking lots all over the city but be prepared to pay at least €20 for a day of parking your car. I parked my car at Tiefgarage Barmherzige Brüder which is basically at the old city center and very easy to reach.
- from München: 1h40
- from Vienna: 3h
- from Hallstatt: 1h10
- from Innsbruck: 2h10
Of course, it is also possible to arrive in Salzburg by train. From the main train station, it is only a 20-minute walk to the historical center or a 15-minute bus ride. This is also the easiest option if you’re arriving from a nearby city for example for a day trip from Vienna.
- from München: 1h40
- from Vienna: 2h15
- from Hallstatt: 2h20
- from Innsbruck: 1h45
If you’re visiting more places in the Salzburg region and you’re coming from further away, then you might want to arrive by plane at Salzburg airport. From there, you can easily take a taxi to the city center.
When to visit Salzburg
Salzburg is most alive in summer when you’ll find many foods stands in the streets, horses and carriages riding tourists through the city, and locals enjoying all Salzburg has to offer.
But, if you want to experience Austria in all its facets, you might also like the winter season, especially when Salzburg is covered in snow and decorated with Christmas lights!
However, the least busy periods might be spring and winter. Summer can attract many tourists to the city so if you want a calmer and more authentic experience, you might want to visit in either of these seasons!
Where to stay in Salzburg
Salzburg has many more than decent options to stay. In general, the best area to choose your hotel is, without a doubt, the old city center!
If you love a bit of luxury, you might want to consider staying at an actual castle, namely Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron. Although not located in the center, it is a truly unique experience for sure!
Close to Mozart’s birthplace, you’ll find a more affordable option, Sishaus Hostel. This location couldn’t be better!
Day trips from Salzburg
One of the other highlights in the region of Salzburg is Hallstatt. This quaint village enclosed by the mountains at the side of a magnificent lake is one of the most picture-perfect destinations in Austria.
Enjoy a magnificent view of the valley through a boat tour on the lake or by walking down the skywalk above the village. The colorfully decorated houses and cute shops will teleport you back to Austria hundreds of years ago!
Castle Hohenwerfen is together with Castle Hohensalzburg one of the three main fortresses in the Salzburg region. As the name says, this castle is located high on a rock in the mountains giving a magnificent view of the region below.
This castle has been the scene for the well-known movie Where Eagles Dare and through a guided castle tour you can get to know the ins and outs of what living in this castle used to look like! Complimented with an exposition about Where Eagles Dare and a falconry show for the kids, this is a perfect day trip for the entire family!
Is one day in Salzburg enough?
If you’re only interested in visiting the main highlights of Salzburg, yes, then one day in Salzburg is enough. However, if you want to explore all facets of this city at a calmer pace then I would recommend staying an entire weekend.
Personally, I regret a bit staying only for one day and I would recommend you to consider staying one day longer since there is just so much to discover in Salzburg!
I hope this guide helped you to plan your day trip to Salzburg successfully and I wish you all the best on your trip!
If you feel that I forgot to include something important about Salzburg that should not be missed on a one-day itinerary, feel free to comment below!