Oh Salzburg. This little town on the Salzach is so iconically beautiful that it never fails to amaze us every time. Although we have visited Salzburg on more than one occasion, we have not yet written a blog article with our best tips. So it’s about time we share all the goodies that await you on a weekend getaway to the beautiful Salzburg.
1. Best Sights and Attractions in Salzburg
Salzburg is easy to get around and you can reach almost all the attractions within walking distance. First thing you’ll want to do is head straight to the Old Town, where all the city highlights are located.
Walk through the Old Town to the Main Squares
We recommend that you start your city tour with a walk through the Altstadt (Old Town) just below the fortress. The historic centre of Salzburg is a winding labyrinth of alleyways and passages with a few magnificent Squares that seem to take you pleasantly by surprise.
In the heart of the Old Town you will find the most important Church building in all of Salzburg: the Dom or Cathedral – officially called Dom zu Salzburg. This baroque Cathedral is very well worth a visit.
The Cathedral is surrounded by some of Salzburg’s most important Squares: in front of the Cathedral gates, you will find the Domplatz (Cathedral Square), south of Kapitelplatz Square and north of the Residenzplatz (Residence Square) is where they merge into Mozartplatz (Mozart’s Square). Every Square is impressive in its own way. The views from Kapitelplatz into the direction of the Salzburg Fortress and the Baroque building ensemble on Residenzplatz are especially unique and beautiful.
Our tip: The most extravagant way to enjoy your coffee would be at Café Tomaselli, the city’s oldest Coffee House. You can read more about the cafes and restaurants further down in this blog article.
As you stroll through the Altstadt (Old Town) of Salzburg, there’s no doubt you will pass the Getreidegasse – probably the most well-known street in all of Salzburg. You will recognise it almost immediately as you stumble across the many wrought-iron shop signs (aka. guild marks), which are very eye-catching at first glance.
Another thing we find special are the countless passageways (called Durchhäuser), which tunnel you through from the Getreidegasse to the neighbouring streets.
The most famous house along Getreidegasse is House No. 9: Mozart’s Birthplace. Every hour of every day (except for the evening hours), you will see people gathering in front of the house to marvel and photograph the orange house front of Mozart’s birthplace. You can actually go inside and have a look – free admission for those with the Salzburg Card.
The medieval fortress of Hohensalzburg is undoubtedly the icon of Salzburg and it towers high above the Old Town upon the fortress hill. If there is only one tourist spot you visit in Salzburg, let it be this.
The fortress can be reached both on foot and by the well-known funicular railway. Once at the top, you can either ‘simply enjoy the view’ of the city or visit the grand interior of the fortress.
Our personal highlight is the 360 degree view from the Reckturm. It’s easy to miss this beautiful lookout point as it is rather badly sign posted. The entrance is located at the Info-Point and the price is included in the basic entrance ticket.
Admission: 12,90 Euros (free with the Salzburg Card)
View from Kapuzinerberg
One of the most marvelled views of Salzburg is found on Kapuzinerberg, which you can see from the fortress, is located on the opposite side of the Salzach. We highly recommend you come for sunset!
Moderate fitness is necessary, as the fastest way up the Kapuzinerberg requires 250 steps before you reach the beautiful lookout point. The stairs over the Imbergstiege climb begins at Steingasse street.
If you have more time or would like to see the fortress from a different angle, then we would recommend you to walk along the fortress walls.
Mirabell Gardens & Mirabell Palace
You will find one of Salzburg’s most popular photo spots at the Mirabell Gardens, where the Mirabell Castle is also located. From the west side you have a view directly at the garden with the fortress as a background – could it get any more iconic?
The grandiose marble hall of the Mirabell Palace is also free to enter if you want to take a peek inside. Interesting fact: This hall is actually one of the most famous wedding halls in the world.
Just so you are prepared: The Mirabell garden is extremely popular in every season and always rather crowded. We were really lucky with our photo – usually you have to account for the crowds.
Mönchsberg and Museum of Modern Art
Yes that’s right, another viewpoint – and what a spectacular one at that! From Mönchsberg you have a beautiful panoramic view of Salzburg including the fortress.
What makes the Mönchsberg so special is its easy access: with the Mönchsberglift you can reach the observation deck at the summit in just a few seconds. Up here is also the Museum of Modern Art. (Both free with the Salzburg Card.) The contrast between the historic Old Town and the Museum of Modern Art could hardly be greater. If you’re a fan of contemporary art, then this place is for you.
Our tip: The M32 Restaurant on the summit is not cheap, but the view is spectacular. We can certainly recommend a stopover for coffee and cake.
The Cathedral and the Residence together form the DomQuartier. You can visit these magnificent state rooms as part of a tour and the route will lead you through several museums over several floors. The collection is quite extensive – we actually expected the Domquartier to be smaller.
A highlight of the DomQuartier is the viewing terrace, from which you have a nice view over the Cathedral Square and the Residence Square. During winter, the Christmas markets really add to the atmosphere.
Admission: 13 Euros (free with the Salzburg Card)
A very popular destination in Salzburg is the 400 year old Palace of Hellbrunn and its extensive park area. This particular palace is also frequently called ‘The Water Games Hellbrunn’. If you’re interested in the history of the palace, you can do a guided tour (40 minutes). The historic fountains are a small work of art but they never fail to surprise you. Conclusion: ideal for families with children.
Of course, you can visit the beautiful Palace Garden for free. Sound-of-Music fans will find a small highlight: the pavilion from the film is located here and can easily be reached.
Admission: 13,50 Euros for Palace (audioguide) and Water Games (Guided Tour) – free with the Salzburg Card.
Getting there: By car – just over 10 minutes outside the Old Town. By bus – Nr. 25 to “Schloss Hellbrunn”
Are you a beer lover? Then perhaps the Stiegl-Brauwelt may be something for you. The largest private brewery in all of Austria is located in Salzburg, and it is here you will find the popular Stiegl-Brauwelt – a hands-on exhibition that showcases the history of brewing in interactive way. At the end of the tour, there is a 0.3L taste test. Conclusion: Worthwhile going if you have time or if the weather is bad.
Admission: 12,90 Euros (free with the Salzburg Card)
Getting There: By car – just over 10 minutes outside the Old Town. By bus – No. 1 or 10 to “Bräuhausstraße”
2. Top Restaurants and Cafés Picks in Salzburg
Perhaps the most extravagant place to enjoy your coffee and cake in Salzburg is the terrace of Café Tomaselli. The Tomaselli is the oldest Coffee House in Salzburg and the atmosphere is respectively dignified.
Our favourite spot? Definitely the terrace on the 1st floor. Even better, if you can find a table overlooking the Old Market. Interesting fact: If you want to order a cake or slice, the Cake Lady will come directly to your table with a tray so that you can choose your piece.
Address: Alter Markt 9, 5020 Salzburg
Our favourite place for a chill breakfast or lunch in Salzburg is the 220 Grad. They are actually based in two locations, but we are referring to the newer one just outside the Old Town in Nonntal. This former Mechanic Workshop has been converted into an industrial hipster café.
The menu here is more extensive than the original building located in the Old Town. They serve many breakfast variations and lunch dishes, as well as cakes, pies and of course their home-roasted coffee. Conclusion: Highly recommended and definitely worth the trip.
Address: Nonntaler Hauptstraße 9A, 5020 Salzburg (location on the photos) and Chiemseegasse 5, 5020 Salzburg (original café branch in the Old Town)
This tiny cafe on Rudolfskai is perfect for a quick caffeine boost. It describes itself as “a cafe that’s somewhat different” – to which we couldn’t agree more. The ambience is very young, hip and simply unique. You can even take a seat outside by the window sill.
The espresso macchiato was very good and the staff very friendly. Conclusion: Not a cafe where you would linger too long, but certainly one of the few places in Salzburg, where you get really good coffee.
Address: Rudolfskai 38, 5020 Salzburg
The Green Garden
A paradise for those who eat vegetarian or vegan food. The Green Garden attaches great importance to regional and seasonal products. The most beautiful spot is in the small Schanigarten right in front of the restaurant. You can come for lunch or dinner.
Address: Nonntaler Hauptstraße 16, 5020 Salzburg
Other restaurants and cafes in Salzburg we would recommend:
- Afro Café: Colourful, young, hipster restaurant in the Old Town; delicious lunch dishes; good coffee.
- St. Peter Stiftkulinarium: A traditional restaurant with award-winning cuisine in St. Peter’s Abbey.
- Stieglkeller: Traditional inn with great beer garden and a nice view.
- KO & CO: Youthful ambience, traditional cuisine with creative ideas, very delicious.
- Ludwig Burger: Spacious, hipster burger restaurant with vegetarian & vegan options.
- Andreas Hofer Weinstube: Marion’s favourite restaurant, which was sadly fully booked during our visit.
3. Regional Culinary Specialties
Unwritten law: No one may leave Salzburg without having tasted an original Salzburger Mozartkugel. There are countless suppliers of this nougat marzipan ball, but only one pastry shop in Salzburg can claim to produce the original Mozartkugel. We are talking about the Konditorei Fürst, which is located in the heart of the old town.
The Mozartkugeln are made by hand and this is reflected in the price: One piece costs around 1.40 Euros. But totally worth it in our opinion, because the Mozartkugeln from the Konditorei Fürst are simply the best.
Address Konditorei Fürst: Brodgasse 13, 5020 Salzburg (This is the main branch, but there are a few others also located in Salzburg.)
Salzburg’s most famous dessert is a pyramidal soufflé. Normally, one serving portion would be three Nockerl, symbolising the three local mountains surrounding Salzburg – Mönchsberg, Kapuzinerberg, Gaisberg.
Granted, we (and others we know) are personally not huge fans of these, as we reckon there are much better desserts out there. However, there are those who rave about the Salzburger Nockerln as the best dessert ever. Without a doubt, we think it’s definitely something you should try at least once.
4. Extra Travel Tips for Salzburg
Is Salzburg Over-Crowded?
Salzburg is booming. The City of Mozart experiences an increase in the number of overnight stays year after year. Together with the many day visitors who pass through, Salzburg is certainly not a secret in Austria.
Although some would say that the winding Altstadt (Old Town) is simply too crowded and “overflowing” during certain months, Salzburg is still one of those cities, which you have to see at least once in your life. We would personally not be deterred just by the number of tourists.
Best time to visit Salzburg
Generally speaking, you can visit Salzburg at anytime of year, although we would prefer to avoid the holiday and festival season – unless of course, you are attending the Salzburg Festival. We find that a warm spring or a sunny autumn weekend to be the most ideal. But even during the Christmas period, Salzburg is well worth a trip with its beautiful market stalls.
The Salzburg Card: Is it worth it?
What it does: The Salzburg Card is a bonus savings card, which you can either buy in 24, 48 or 72 hours. It gives you free admission to all sights and museums. It also includes public transport for free.
If you are planning to visit lots of places in Salzburg, then the purchase of a Salzburg Card will almost certainly pay off. Suppose you are in Salzburg for two nights and would like to enter the DomQuartier and Hellbrunn Palace next to the fortress. In this case, the purchase of the card would have already paid itself off.
You can buy the Salzburg Card in advance here: Salzburg Card
5. Our Hotel Recommendation in Salzburg
We stayed at the Arthotel Blaue Gans and can highly recommend this hotel as the location could hardly be more central: from our window, we had a direct view over Getreidegasse. What makes this boutique hotel so special, is that it’s located in a historic building. Therefore, the rooms are rather small, but very comfortably furnished.
The beds were extremely comfortable and we slept very well. The extensive breakfast definitely deserves high praise: you will find everything your heart desires and the atmosphere in the hotel restaurant is very pleasant. Conclusion: perhaps a little pricier than most other hotels, but we can highly recommended it as it’s a very unique experience.
You can view/book the hotel here: Arthotel Blaue Gans
Transparency: Affiliate Links
This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through these links, we will receive a small commission from the company. But this will not change the price for you at all. A million thanks from the both of us!
Have you ever been to the Salzburg region? If so, what did you think of it? If you have any further tips or questions, drop us a comment down below – we look forward to reading them all!