The Best Things To Do in Salzburg, Austria

The picturesque Austrian town of Salzburg offers plenty for both culture and nature lovers
The picturesque Austrian town of Salzburg offers plenty for both culture and nature lovers | © Peter Schickert / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Culture Trip
16 September 2020

Whether you prefer an active holiday spent exploring the landscape by hiking or skiing, or a laid-back trip exploring museums and galleries, these tips will help you have an unforgettable trip to the Austrian city of Salzburg. Read on to discover the best things to see and do.

Swim outdoors

Natural Feature
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Austria, Salzburg State, Flachgau, Thalgau, open-air swimming pool,
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Salzburg can get scorching hot in the summer months. What better way to cool off than 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 while enjoying the mountainous location. Most pools also have a volleyball court and café, so why not make an afternoon of it? You can also travel to the nearby lakeside town of Fuschlsee.

Take a stroll on Mönchsberg

Hiking Trail
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Hohensalzburg Fortress, as seen from Monchsberg, Salzburg, Austria
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A 20-minute climb, the views from the top of Mönchsberg are awe-inspiring. To reach the hill from the Old Town, take the steps up past the Nonnberg Convent and head in the direction of the castle (which sits on the Festungsberg, the adjoining hill). 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, the beginning of the imposing Austrian Alps. The trip can be extended to an hour-long walk, which takes you to the Augustiner Brewery at the other end of Mönchsberg or simply back down into the city.

Visit the Stiegl Brewery

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Stiegl Brauerei, brewery, Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria
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An ideal trip for a rainy day, the Stiegl Brewery is home to Salzburg’s most popular beer. This brewery is located a short bus ride away from the centre of town, in the direction of the airport, and contains various exhibitions and the offer of a beer-tasting session at the end of the tour. The museum takes you through the brewing process, the various advertising campaigns and gives you a brief history of Austrian beer culture. All the production is done locally, with the water for the brewing process sourced from the mountains nearby. If you’re feeling peckish or thirsty, Stiegl also has a restaurant and beer garden attached.

Visit the DomQuartier Museum

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The Residenzplatz square with  DomQuartier, Salzburg's cathedral-museum complex , UNESCO world heritage in the Old Town of Salzburg, Austria.
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If you’re only going to visit one museum in Salzburg, then the DomQuartier Museum is the one to go for. Located in the heart of the Old Town, this museum combines five smaller museums in one space, giving you real value for your money. The Residenz Palace will be fascinating for those interested in Austrian history, and the guided 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 be sure to take your time to enjoy the curious architecture.

Enjoy a traditional breakfast

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Having a decent breakfast is imperative when on holiday. With a strong heritage of café culture, it’s a great idea to spend a leisurely hour (or two) in the morning enjoying a coffee and a generous breakfast spread. If you’ve got a particularly jam-packed day ahead, go the whole hog and indulge in an Austrian breakfast made up of cheese, cold meats, rolls and croissants, jam, muesli and yoghurt. With a huge range of cafés to choose from, you could go to a different one each morning.

Discover the Haus der Natur Museum

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Haus der Natur, Natural history and science musem, Altstadt, old town, Salzburg, Austria
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For those with kids, or the young at heart, this museum makes for a fun afternoon. Containing extensive and interactive exhibitions, Haus der Natur has something for everyone, with exhibits on subjects such as space, energy, music and technology, as well as an aquarium and reptile house. Perfect for a rainy day, Haus der Natur is centrally located and also boasts a cosy and inexpensive café, serving some of the best all-day breakfast in the city.

Explore the Mirabell Gardens

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Schloss Mirabell, view across the Mirabell Palace Gardens (Mirabellgarten) towards the city cathedral and hill-top castle, Salzburg, Austria.
© Michael Brooks / Alamy Stock Photo

It wouldn’t be a trip to Salzburg without at least one mention of the timeless classic, The Sound of Music. Instead of forking out for a coach tour, why not pay a visit to the beautiful and tranquil Mirabell Gardens? Just a short walk from the centre 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.

See Mozart's birthplace

Memorial, Museum
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Austria, Salzburg, Mozarts birthplace in the Getreidegasse empty amid Coronavirus pandemic
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Salzburg attracts thousands of classical music lovers each year, partly due to it being the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Now converted into a museum, the house in which the prodigy was born on January 27, 1756, still stands. Guests can learn about Mozart’s life and his music by walking through his bedroom, living room and kitchen. The museum features various original documents chronicling his life and even a replica of his own piano.

Hike up to Untersberg

Hiking Trail
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Untersberg, Geiereck and Hochalm mountain pasture as seen from Salzburger Hochthron mountain, Groedig, Salzburg, Austria, Europe
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A short bus ride takes you to the cable car station in the valley beside Salzburg’s imposing mountain, Untersberg. In the summer months, it is, of course, possible to hike up to the top, but another option is to take the cable car and then walk around the top. The view from the peak is nothing short of incredible, boasting panoramic views of the Alps, Bavaria, Salzburg and the lakes in the Salzkammergut National Park. Snow covers the mountain throughout the winter, and there is 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 embarking on your trip, as it’s really only worth the visit on a clear day.

Take a trip to Hellbrunn Palace

Hiking Trail
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Hellbrunn Palace, Schloss Hellbrunn, Salzburg, Austria, Europe, UNESCO World Heritage Site
© Zoltan Bagosi / Alamy Stock Photo

The 3.5-kilometre (2.2mi) trip to Hellbrunn Palace is too beautiful to take the bus. Completely flat and adorned with avenues lined by shady trees and white-washed old houses, cycling is a great opportunity to appreciate the view of the Untersberg from the valley below. During spring and summer, the surrounding meadows are full of lush grass and blooming flowers, while in the run-up to Christmas, the avenue is lined by romantic fairy lights. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, follow the hand-written signs to the ‘Milchautomat’, where you can collect cheap, fresh and delicious dairy products from local farms.

These recommendations were updated on September 16, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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