rooftop view of cathedral
Austria

One Perfect Day in Salzburg

Salzburg is one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in Europe. Even if you only have one day – go! Luckily, Salzburg is a compact city allowing you to experience most of it in one day. Salzburg Austria sits very close to the German border, with spectacular views of the Bavarian Alps. It’s a popular day trip for those travelers touring Bavaria in Germany.

Visiting Salzburg and wondering how you might spend just one perfect day you ask? Follow along as I share how to make the most of your day by highlighting the must-see tourist attractions along with the top things to do in Salzburg. 

Start your day at Mirabell Palace and Gardens

One of the most beautiful sites, and one you will want to enjoy all to yourself, is Mirabell Palace. To beat the crowds, start here first as it will get crowded. This UNESCO World Heritage Site dates back to 1606 when Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau built it to impress his mistress. And, it’s definitely impressive! Of all the highly rated tourist attractions this one is a must. One of the aspects of the castle that is most impressive is Marble Hall. 

palace with gardens and yellow flowers

Equally as impressive as the Palace is Mirabell Gardens. If you’ve seen the Sound of Music, you’ll likely recognize the rose garden and the Pegasus Fountain where Maria and the von Trapp children dance around singing do-re-mi. Visit here, and it’s one of the best free things to do in Salzburg. This beautiful garden has it all – from the flowers to the hedges, the fountains to the statutes. 

bronze statue of horse with wings

When you are ready to explore more of the city, take the hedge tunnel. You might also recognize this from the Sound of Music. 

long tunnel made of trellis of greenery with pea stone pathway

Take a Mozart Music Tour

Just across the park south of the Mirabell Palace, you will find the residence of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. From 1773 to 1787, the Mozart family lived in the so-called Dance Master’s House, formally a dance hall, on Makartplatz. For classic music enthusiasts, the entire 8-room apartment has been turned into a museum dedicated to Mozart. We simply strolled by admiring the pretty pink façade of the residence. 

yellow building with tall windows

Next, make your way to Mozart’s birthplace at No. 9 Getreidegasse. Along the way, you will pass through a lovely square called Linzer Gasse Platz.  You can’t miss the bright yellow Hagenauer Haus where Mozart was born in 1756 and lived his first 17 years. There is a small museum offering tours at specific times of the day.

Walk the Famous Shopping Street

One of the best things to do in Salzburg is to walk Getreidegasse or Grain Lane. Aside from being the street where Mozart lived, this famous street is known for its shopping. The narrow street is characterized by numerous high townhouses side by side with its wrought-iron guild signs. This lively street is a Salzburg must see.

lively street with iron signs above the doorways

Tour the Hohensalzburg Castle

Sitting up high above the city dominating the skyline is the city’s most visible landmark – Hohensalzburg fortress. Of all the things to see in Salzburg, this is top of the list. Either walk up the steep hill to get to the top or take the funicular.

castle sitting up high on hill

Built in 1077, it was once the largest castle in Europe. Based on mixed reviews of whether it is worth touring, we decided not to tour inside. But the views are incredible and definitely worth the climb to the top. Of all the free things to do in Salzburg this has to be at the top of the list. You will have a bird’s eye view of the entire city. If you do decide to tour the castle, go close to opening hours to beat the crowds. 

city view of rooftops and river

Stop for lunch

Directly below the Hohensalzburg Castle is one of the best restaurants Salzburg – Stiegl-Keller. This restaurant offers the best views on its large terrace overlooking the city. Sit under a trellis of flowering vines and enjoy a delicious meal with your favourite Stiegl beer. 

rooftop view of cathedral

Spend time in Old Town

One of the best places to visit in Salzburg is the city’s Altstadt or Old Town. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, there are landmarks you are bound to see. Sightseeing in Salzburg is bound to bring you to some of them: 

  • Residence Square
  • Kapitelplatz, or Chapter Square and its fountain
  • Salzburg Cathedral
  • Peter’s Friedhof
large square with fountain and horse and buggy
Residence Square borders the New Residence with its carillon, the Cathedral, and the Old Residence. It's also where you may take a tour of the city by horse and carriage.
stone archway
The archway between Chapter Square to the Square with Salzburg Cathedral
Fountain with green pond and willow tree
Kapitelplatz or Chapter Square with pretty Kapitelschewemme or Chapter Fountain built in 1732
large cathedral with green domed rooftops
The Salzburg Cathedral is a Baroque-style 17th-century cathedral dedicated to Saint Rupert and Saint Vergilius. Saint Rupert founded the church in 774 on the remnants of a Roman town, the cathedral was rebuilt in 1181 after a fire. The must see site is the interior gorgeous domed ceiling.
historic cemetery with markers
Visit the oldest cemetery in Salzburg - Peter's Friedhof. This peaceful place dates back to 700 when the adjacent St. Peter's Abbey was established. The abbey's cemetery has the oldest tombstone dating back to 1288.
pink coloured building
Salzburg Old Town features beautiful and colourful architecture
orange, yellow and gray coloured building

Relax at Hellbrunn Castle and Trick Fountains

fountain with pond

One of Salzburg best places to visit lies just outside the city – the beautiful Hellbrunn palace. This 17th century Italianate villa served as a relaxing summer palace for archbishops like Markus Sittikus. One of the unique things to do in Salzburg was to see the trick fountains on the grounds of Hellbrunn. There is another Sound of Music connection with the famous gazebo scene between Liesl and Franz and the duet of “Sixteen going on Seventeen” takes place on the grounds.

As a holidaymaker…

There you have it – the must see in Salzburg. Did it convince you that Salzburg is one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in Europe? I thought so. Hope you have an opportunity to spend one perfect day in this beautiful city. 

yellow buildings and garden

26 Comments

  • Umiko

    Salzburg is one of the city in Europe that I want to visit. The Sound of Music is part of it, but also Mozart’s birthplace and residence. But like you said, even strolling around admiring the buildings will be best of all.

  • Smita

    Salzburg really is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, and so underrated! I was there years ago and was blown away. Getreidegasse is so charming and so quintessentially European!

  • Jeff Albom

    I loved Salzburg and even have a photo of my 2 girls skipping through the hedge tunnel. The city is so pretty and I love the history there. The family spent a lot of time strolling through the streets.

  • Emma

    What an amazing looking city, I really want to visit Austria. It’s so good that the palace is free, no wonder it gets busy. Love the views over the city and all the colorful buildings

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thanks Emma for dropping by and commenting. I just want to point out that the castle is not free, but the views from around it are :).

  • Jas

    I love visiting gardens too and I’ll definitely have to put Mirabell Palace and Gardens on my bucket list. (Although I might have to rewatch Sound of Music as it’s been awhile and I don’t think I recognize the scenes.) Exploring Mozart’s residences sounds fun as well. I used to study music so seeing Mozart’s birthplace would be pretty cool! I’m totally convinced that Salzburg is one of the most beautiful European cities and will definitely have to plan a visit soon!

  • Eric Gamble

    I LOVE SALZBURG!! We spent several days there exploring all the major locations in this magical city and home of Mozart. I love your perfect 1 day guide cause you hit all the major spots. I think my favorite was riding the funicular up to the Hohensalzburg Castle. The castle itself is really cool too and the views of the entire city are amazing. Of course we loved checking out both of the Mozart houses and just walking the streets. I also recommend you eat your weight in Mozartkugel! They are soo YUMMY!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thank you Eric! We ate our weight that’s for sure! So many choices delicious choices. My favourite was the sachertorte.

  • Riana Ang-Canning

    Ah this is bringing back such sweet memories of Salzburg. I love that city! Definitely agree with your recommendations, and wish we had spent more time exploring churches and cemeteries. If you have a bit more time, I highly recommend heading up to the fortress as the views really are incredible!

    • The.Holidaymaker

      Thanks Riana! Totally agree, the views from the fortress are the best, we just didn’t do the tour inside!

      • Brooklyn

        Salzburg just seems so charming! Being a Sound of Music fan I’ll have to go one day, and I think this is a great one day itinerary for seeing the major spots!

  • Linda (LD Holland)

    We enjoyed a few days in Salzburg when we visited. And got to do a day trip out to Hallstatt because we had extra time. Even with the extra time, we are sorry we did not enjoy more of the music history or take in a concert. We often visit cemeteries but we missed this one. All good reasons why we would love to go back to Salzburg.

    • The.Holidaymaker

      You’re so right Linda, I would love have taken in a concert while there. It’s something we always do, but didn’t have the chance while we were there.

  • Jamie Italiane

    I had a magical day in Salsburg with my father 20 years ago. We chased Sound of Music sights, many of which you have covered. The best part of the day was nighttime in a random empty church with monks singing vespers in the background. It is a magical city.

  • Sue

    Salzburg looks lovely! I have to admit I only visited once, back in 1994 as part of my interrail adventure. I only went because I knew it was home to the Sound of Music! I remember going up to the castle & little else but having read this I feel I need to go back & do it justice!

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