After our recent time in Salzburg, we talk about what we got up to, and our top ten picks for things to do on your visit to this gorgeous Austrian city.

To listen, hit play below or find episode 275 in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud:

1. Visit the castle

The Hohensalzburg Fortress is situated on a hill right in the centre of town, looming over the city and forming one of Salzburg’s most recognisable symbols. If you have a Salzburg card, entrance is included to the fortress and all of its museums, as well as an ascent and descent on the funicular railway. Otherwise it’s €7.80 for your ticket and a one-way funicular ride.

Allow two to three hours for your visit, as you’ll want to spend some time looking at the puppets in the marionette museum and checking out the history of the castle in the fortress museum. You can also do a half-hour audio tour through the State Rooms, which is included in your ticket and worth doing.

Panorama from the Monschberg
Panorama from the Monschberg
Detail from within Hohensalzburg fortress
Detail from within Hohensalzburg fortress

2. Have a beer at the Augustiner

Salzburg is famous for beer, and there are a wide range of places to drink it. The Augustiner brauhaus is a top choice, though, because that’s where the Salzburgians go — join several hundred locals for a litre of tasty ale served straight from the keg, drunk in an enormous, leafy beer garden.

Beer at the Augustiner
Beer at the Augustiner

3. Get your Mozart fix

Salzburg’s most famous citizen is certainly celebrated in his home town; if you’re a fan you have your pick of Mozart-themed activities. You can visit his birthplace and residence, or see a concert in the festival hall named in his honour (the Haus für Mozart). And although he had nothing to do with either, try a Mozartkugeln chocolate and a Mozart chocolate liqueur — they are both delicious.

Mozart's birthplace
Mozart’s birthplace

4. Go to the Salzburg museum

The Salzburg museum has several floors of interesting exhibits as well as a basement level featuring temporary installations. It also caters for children with activities for kids scattered throughout the building — it’s easy to see why it won an award for being the best museum in Europe in 2009.

Temporary exhibit at the Salzburg museum
Temporary exhibit at the Salzburg museum

5. Visit a salt mine

Salzburg is named for salt (salz in German) because of the huge salt deposits in the nearby mountains. A visit to one of the salt mines will give you an interesting glimpse into the history of both the city and the “white gold” as salt used to be known. Choose from the Hallein mines just 15km from Salzburg, or head across the border to Germany to Salzbergwerk in the town of Berchtesgaden.

The salt mines at Berchtesgaden
The salt mines at Berchtesgaden

6. Avoid the Sound of Music

I mean, experience the Sound of Music. This movie put Salzburg on the map for English-speaking tourists, but locals don’t know what all the fuss is about. If it’s one of your favourite films, though, it might be worth doing a Sound of Music bus tour, or just wander around the city noticing landmarks. If you’re staying in the Yoho youth hostel, they play the film every night at 7pm.

You can also go to a Sound of Music dinner show, or learn about the real Von Trapps in the museum. Or see the German-language “Die Trapp Familie” (the Trapp Family) for a more historically accurate account of the story.

Sound of Music... on a bus
Sound of Music… on a bus

7. Walk along Steingasse in the evening

This might not show up in your guidebook as a Salzburg must-do, but almost every local we spoke to suggested a visit to this street. It’s across the river from the more-famous Getreidegasse with its wrought-iron shop signs (also worth a visit), and is mostly residential. However, there is something about Steingasse: it’s narrow and winding, with buildings towering above you on both sides — it’s really quite special.

Steingasse - a medieval street running through Salzburg
Steingasse – a medieval street running through Salzburg

8. Visit the cemetery (and catacombs) bakery/restaurant

Attached to St Peter’s Abbey monastery is one of the most beautiful places in the city: a cemetery. The graves are marked with intricate wrought-iron crosses, and are planted with a wide array of flowers that are carefully tended. If you enter from near the funicular to the castle, you’ll pass the oldest bakery in the city, and you can see the water wheel in operation outside. Stop in to see the short explanation video and to buy a small loaf of delicious rye bread.

Back in the cemetery, climb up into the “catacombs”, which weren’t catacombs at all — they were hermits’ caves (which is cooler, we think). Entrance is €1.50 and you’ll see two caves and get a good view over the cemetery and the city.

The hermits caves, known as the Catacombs
The hermits caves, known as the Catacombs

9. See the city from the top of the Mönchsberg

Speaking of good views, you’ll get a great one from the Mönchsberg. If you have a Salzburg Card, use it to ride the Mönschsberglift elevator to the top of the hill, and spend half an hour or so in the Mönschsberg modern art museum before heading out for a walk along the ridge line. Otherwise, climb the steps from near the St Peter’s church, or find the path that leads away from the fortress, and wander along to the tower for a beer.

Looking over the city
Looking over the city

10. See a show

There are a wide range of shows to choose from, with more on offer during the Salzburg festival. Locals love the puppet shows, while you might prefer a bit of opera or a more-touristy Sound of Music or Mozart dinner show.

The festival halls tour
The festival halls tour

Honorable mentions

Salzburg is also a city of festivals, and if you can time your visit to coincide with one of them, you’ll be rewarded with an excellent ambience. The Salzburg Festival takes place in summer (this year from 19 July to 1 September) and features a variety of shows and concerts. We loved taking part in the mayday celebration at the Freilicht museum on 1 May — many people were dressed in traditional dirndls and lederhosen, and there were plenty of places to get a glass of beer.

Read our review of the Salzburg card
Read our review of the Salzburg card

Your thoughts on "Top ten things to do in Salzburg podcast"

  • Great article and pictures, The information your have provided really useful and inspiring. Looking Forward to the more and more interesting destination and event.

    on May 23, 2013 at 3:55 am Reply
  • What a beautiful place! Love the pictures! Nice share!

    on May 23, 2013 at 7:43 am Reply
  • Thanks for the show about Salzburg. I really enjoyed it. I loved the short time that I had there in '92. One thing I would recommend to visitors is to take the last funicular up to the fortress in the evening, wander around as much of the fortress grounds as you can, enjoy the sunset and twilight and stroll back down into town. I did this with a few friends I had made at the hostel after having taken the tour first thing in the morning and doing other things in town and it was a lovely experience. Probably best done during the summer when stays light a bit later. Another thing some people might like to see are the two cave churches up in the "catacombs". From what I was told by the tour guide, one of them was one of the oldest existing churches in Europe and was or may have used by Christians when they were required to worship in secret.

    on May 24, 2013 at 12:56 am Reply
  • Awesome photos! Just miss lovely Salzburg so much after reading your post, but hopefully we’ll soon go back there ;)

    on May 24, 2013 at 7:17 am Reply
  • Wow if I ever travel back to Salzburg, I will be sure to keep this list of amazing things to do in mind. I love your article and the pictures that are with it. You did a fantastic job and I can't wait to read more!

    on May 24, 2013 at 10:13 am Reply
  • A nice list for my next visit to Salzburg. I really like Austria - not only for the variety of things one can do there but also for the tasty food. BTW: Salt mines can be found all around the region and are really fun to discover!

    on May 26, 2013 at 11:09 pm Reply
  • Thanks for a great piece on Salzburg. I will definitely be using as a resource on my next visit.

    on May 27, 2013 at 12:30 pm Reply
  • We were there in May a couple of years ago and had a great time - if you're looking for a side trip from Salzburg then I'd also recommend Lake Wolfgang where we also stayed.

    on June 9, 2013 at 11:11 am Reply

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