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Top 10 Things To Do And See in Salzburg, Austria

Picture of Liz English
Liz English
Updated: 9 February 2017
Whatever the weather, Salzburg has something to offer for people from all walks of life. Whether you prefer to enjoy an active holiday or peruse museums, these 10 tips will help you to have an unforgettable trip.

Take a walk on the Mönchsberg

Completely worth the five minute climb, once you’re on top of the Mönchsberg the view is spectacular. From the Old Town, take the steps up past the Nonnberg Convent and head in the direction of the castle. Whether you decide to go in or not, you can still appreciate both the view over the rooftops of Salzburg and, looking in the other direction, a fantastic sight of the beginning of the Austrian Alps. This trip can be lengthened into an hour’s walk, taking you to the Augustiner brewery at the other end of the Mönchsberg, or you can simply pop back down into the city to carry on your day.

Visit the DomQuartier Museum

If you’re only going to do one museum trip in Salzburg, then the DomQuartier Museum is the one to go for. Located right at the heart of the Old Town, this museum links up five smaller museums in one, so really gives you a lot of value for money. The Residenz Palace is absolutely breathtaking, whilst the tour gives you an exclusive view of the cathedral from the upper gallery. The terrace linking the Residenz and the cathedral spans across the two main squares in the Old Town, so take your time to enjoy the great architecture and spot details you can’t easily see from the ground.

Haus der Natur Museum

For those with kids, or simply the young at heart, this is the perfect museum. This giant, interactive science museum really has something for everyone, with exhibitions such as space, energy, music technology and even a wheelchair obstacle course. Perfect for a rainy day, Haus der Natur is still very central and also boasts a cozy and well-priced café, serving among other things the best all-day breakfasts to be found in the city. This place will keep you occupied for hours and you still won’t manage to see everything.

 

Go Out For Breakfast

Forget lunch and dinner, breakfast is the meal to make a fuss about. With a strong heritage of café culture, why wouldn’t you spend a leisurely hour (or two) enjoying a mélange (espresso with steamed milk) and plate of baked goods in the morning? If you’ve got a particularly long and busy day ahead, go for the whole hog and splash out on a large Austrian breakfast of cheese, cold meats, rolls and croissants, jam, muesli and yogurt. Whilst Saturday might be the most traditional day of the week to breakfast out, you’ll be bound to encounter many a local on any other day too. With plenty of cafés to choose from, you could go to a different one each morning.

Sing ‘Doe,a Deer’ in the Mirabell Gardens

It wouldn’t be a trip to Salzburg without at least one mention of that timeless classic, The Sound of Music. Instead of forking out to go on a coach tour (unless you’re a real die-hard fan), why not pay a visit to the beautiful and calming Mirabell gardens. Just a short walk from the center of town, these gardens are highly maintained and were part of the famous ‘Doe, a Deer’ scene. Enjoy a walk past the flowers and fountains, before taking those must-have photos on the steps, where Julie Andrews struck her famous hat-in-the-air, hand-on-hip pose. The gardens are also lodged between the theater and the Mozarteum university, so don’t be surprised if you are suddenly serenaded by beautiful music.

Go to a Festival

Austrians are fond of tradition, and this stretches to their public festivals which usually celebrated with lots of beer, brass bands and traditional dress. Before visiting, check out what festival is likely to be taking place during your trip. Particular highlights are the Krampuslauf, a terrifying festival in early December involving men dressed up as monsters running through the streets, Rupertikirtag, a three-day family-friendly celebration Salzburg’s patron saint in late September, and Maibaumfest, held at the beginning of May, where locals welcome in the spring by raising Maypoles and drinking lots of beer. These festivals give a genuine flavor of the way of life in Austria, as well as being great fun.

Cycle to Hellbrunn Palace

The 3.5 km trip to Hellbrunn Palace is too beautiful to take the bus. It’s completely flat and is an avenue lined by tall trees and those classic yellow white-washed walls which are so popular in Salzburg. The cycle ride is also a great opportunity to appreciate the view of the Untersberg, the largest mountain closest to the city. In spring and summer are meadows full of long grass and yellow flowers, whilst in the winter months the avenue is lined by fairy lights in the run-up to Christmas. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, follow the hand-written signs for the ‘Milchautomat’, where you can collect cheap, fresh and delicious dairy products from local farms.

Visit the Stiegl Brewery

Another ideal trip for a rainy day is the Stiegl brewery. Stiegl is the most famous beer from Salzburg, and every local is familiar with their catch-phrases, ‘Es muss ein Stiegl sein‘ (It’s got to be a Stiegl). This brewery is a short bus ride away from the center of town,in the direction of the airport, and is a fun, interactive museum with a beer-tasting session at the end. The museum takes you through the brewery process, the advertising through the years and initiates you into the Austrian beer culture. All the production is done locally, with the water required for the brewing process coming from the mountains nearby. If you’re feeling peckish or thirsty, Stiegl also has an excellent restaurant and beer garden attached.

Go up the Untersberg

A short bus ride takes you to the cable car station in the valley beside this mountain, the one that can be seen from practically all over Salzburg. In the summer months the mountain is hikeable, but another popular activity is simply to take the cable car up the mountain and hike around the top. This is infinitely more enjoyable for those who aren’t keen hikers or who haven’t brought any walking gear with them. The view from the top is incredible; visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of the Alps, Bavaria, Salzburg and the lakes in the Salzkammergut National Park. Snow covers the mountain throughout the winter and there is even the possibility of skiing down the mountain to a village nearby, although this is only for experienced skiers. Don’t forget to check the Untersberg online webcam before setting off though, as it’s really only worth the visit on a clear day.

Go To an Outdoor Swimming Pool

This last point may sound a bit bizarre, but Salzburg can get fairly hot in the summer. What better way to cool off then by going for a dip outside? The Salzach river, though cool and enticing is off-limits to bathers because of the strong currents, but Salzburg boasts three central outdoor swimming pools, including one adventure pool in Leopoldskron. If you have a free afternoon, kick-back poolside whilst enjoying the mountainous location. Most pools also have a volleyball court and café, so why not make an afternoon of it?