Have a trip to Salzburg coming up? Check out this guide for the top must-see attractions and experiences you won’t want to miss!
Salzburg, Austria, is a magical city that will transport you back to the past in the best possible way. Filled with charm, history, and stunning architecture – not to mention friendly people and plenty of opportunities for fun – it’s hard to see why more people don’t incorporate Salzburg into their European itineraries.
A few years ago I decided to take Mikael a trip to Salzburg as we were in Germany and he loved it. While Salzburg is a relatively small city, there is much to do. You’d also be surprised at how you can have fun with your teens in Salzburg.
If you’re considering a trip to Salzburg, you’re in for a treat. The city is an absolute delight to explore, regardless of the season. However you choose to spend your time, you’re going to enjoy yourself – but there are a handful of things you absolutely must experience while you’re there. Don’t let yourself go to Salzburg without incorporating at least a few of these top attractions into your plans:
1. Tour the Fortress Hohensalzburg
One of the primary tourist attractions in all of Salzburg, the Fortress Hohensalzburg, should definitely earn a spot on your itinerary. This massive structure was once one of Europe’s biggest castles, and even today, its imposing form looms over the city – which means you’ll have to go up to experience it!
If you’re in the mood to burn some calories, you can walk the path to the fortress, but most travelers prefer to ride the funicular – a fun experience on its own. Once you arrive at the top, you have to stop and admire the view below. Arguably one of the best views of Salsburg, it’s the perfect spot to stop and reflect – and snap a few photos to capture the memories!
You can also tour the various rooms of the Hohensalzburg. Admire the Salzburg Bull, a massive mechanical organ that plays a few times daily, and check out the Prince’s chambers – a collection of impressive rooms that gives you a glimpse at the decadent lives the royalty used to enjoy.
2. Rid the Untersberg Cable Car
This was on our recommended list, but unfortunately, they were closed for the winter season. For a sky-high view of the city and the surrounding area, pick up a ticket to ride the Untersberg Cable Car. You’ll climb for just under nine minutes to reach the top of the Untersberg mountain, enjoying spectacular views the whole way up. Once you’re at the top, you can take advantage of several quick hikes – or simply stay close to the cable car, admire the 360-degree views, and snack on a quick picnic lunch.
If you do plan to explore, bring at least one warm layer, and wear decent walking shoes. Weather at the top of the mountain can be significantly colder and windier than it is in town, and you won’t want to ruin your vacation by catching a cold!
3. Take the Lift at The Top of The Mönchsberg
Mönchsberg is one of the five mountains that rise above Salzburg. St. Peter’s Abbey sits at the bottom, and the top of the mountain is home to the Salzburg Museum of Modern Art. There, you can take advantage of yet another breathtaking view of Salzburg by riding the elevator to the top. This free lift will transport you to a scenic terrace that overlooks Salzburg, offering some genuinely incredible glimpses of the city’s rooftops and Old Town below.
4. Admire the Salzburg Cathedral
You can’t go to Salzburg without witnessing the city’s namesake cathedral. Even if you aren’t religious, you’ll be moved by the beauty of this building, which hosts nearly two million visitors each year. Like other churches in the city, it’s free to enter, although donations are encouraged to support the church’s refurbishment.
The church’s interior is open to the public to tour freely, and you can marvel at the font where Mozart – along with countless others – was baptized. The church’s dome is a true work of art, featuring a number of well-preserved frescoes. You can also explore the crypt, where you can see the remnants of the church’s earlier iterations.
5. Indulge in the Local Dining Scene
If you consider yourself a foodie, you’ll be glad you decided to visit Salzburg. Home to the most gourmet restaurants anywhere in Austria, you’ll find everything from delicious cafes and coffee shops to fine dining and Michelin-starred eateries. Whatever your budget, you can find something absolutely delicious to enjoy while you’re here.
Make sure you try at least a few of the local specialties during your stay. Schnitzel is a huge hit here and can be found at any restaurant serving up homey Austrian cuisine. Pretzels are popular snacks and can be sweet or savory, topped with a number of different spices and seasonings to make them exciting. And, of course, you can’t skip the strudel – apple strudel, to be specific.
Another way to take advantage of Salzburg’s vibrant food scene? Check out a local market. As with many cities in Europe, local markets are popular among locals and tourists as spots to grab a bite to eat and make connections. Many of the city’s markets are only open once or twice a week, so check their website and see what’s available when you plan to be in town.
6. Spend Some Time in the Residentplatz
This prominent square in Altstadt is one of the most beautiful spots in the city, and it’s definitely worth checking out. You can shop the boutiques and cafes that line the square, admire the fountain that serves as the centerpiece, or simply find an empty bench and spend some time relaxing and people-watching.
Centuries ago, the square served as an important hub for life in Salzburg. While the square doesn’t necessarily play such a pivotal role today, it is a well-loved spot in town and a center of activity, hosting several different festivals and events. Visit during the holiday season, and you’ll find a popular Christmas market pops up here each year.
Residenzplatz is situated near many of Salzburg’s other big attractions, like the Salzburg Cathedral, making it an easy stop to incorporate into your itinerary as you explore the city.
I’ve hardly scratched the surface when it comes to covering all of the different things worth seeing and doing in Salzburg. While there are plenty of other great ways to spend your time when you’re in Salzburg, you really can’t go wrong by incorporating a few of these must-see spots into your plans as you navigate the city.