3 Days in Salzburg: Laidback Old Town Exploration + Day Trip

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If you’ve looked at my one-day and two-day itineraries for Salzburg, you’ll agree that you need at least three days for a Salzburg trip.

While three days aren’t still enough to visit notable landmark, scenic spot, beautiful sights, and try some of the unique experiences offered in Salzburg, three days will give you ample time to explore the Old Town and have a day trip of your choice without feeling rushed. You can get to experience all facets of Salzburg as a travel destination while in real vacation mode. For example:

Let’s talk about the details!

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Be inspired to visit Salzburg!

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3-Day Itinerary

Using this Salzburg itinerary

First: During this three-day trip to Salzburg, you’ll be visiting several museums and taking short hikes to see the stunning views of Old Town Salzburg. Most importantly, most parts of Old Town Salzburg are car-free. Make sure to pack comfortable shoes, as there will be plenty of walking.

People window shopping on Getreidegasse, beautiful places in Salzburg, Austria
People window shopping on Getreidegasse
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Second: On the third day, you’ll head to St. Gilgen, where you can take a cable car up the mountain or enjoy a boat ride on the lake. If these activities interest you, don’t forget to bring warm clothing to protect against potentially colder temperatures.

Lastly: it’s also important to note that the length of the day in Salzburg varies greatly throughout the year. If you’re from a country near the equator (like me) and it’s your first time visiting Salzburg or Europe in general, you may be surprised to see the sun setting at 9:00 pm in the summer and 4:00 pm in the winter.

While this can be fascinating (I was confused the first time I experienced it), it’s something to keep in mind when planning your trip, especially if you’re traveling during the shoulder season or winter months. Restaurants, shops, and most importantly, tourist attractions have shorter visiting hours during these months due to the shorter day length, not to mention the cold weather. In some cases, tourist attractions are closed and outdoor activities are not available.

This simply means that there’s no fixed time to start exploring Salzburg and you have to adjust your plans according to the season you’ll be traveling. Apparently, it applies to this 3-day Salzburg itinerary, of course.

But don’t worry, while this itinerary is optimized for summer, it also has been carefully crafted to work for most of the year. You will also see alternatives to unavailable activities if you are visiting during the colder months. If you’re traveling outside the summer season, you don’t have to alter most of its parts, other than the timestamps.

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Sunrise view of Old Town Salzburg from Humboldt Terrace in Monchsberg, Salzburg, Austria
Sunrise view of Old Town Salzburg from Humboldt Terrace in Monchsberg

Yes — as you’ll see later, each destination in this itinerary has a timestamp. These aren’t meant to specify an exact time, but rather to give you an idea of how long you might spend visiting each destination plus the time it will take to get to the next one. Time stamps are also your guide so you don’t spend too much time in one place.

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Tip no. 1 — Flying in to Salzburg? Here’s the best way…

Salzburg is a well-known tourist spot in Austria, and getting there is pretty easy. You can travel by car, train, or plane.

If you’re coming from abroad or a place outside central Europe, it might be cheaper to fly into Munich or Vienna and then catch a direct train to Salzburg. From what I’ve found, the price of a direct flight to Salzburg is usually a lot more than the combined cost of flying to Munich or Vienna and then taking the train to Salzburg.

If you still want to fly into Salzburg, though, you’ll need to hop on a bus or arrange for a private transfer from the airport into the city since the airport is located outside of town.

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Tip no. 2 — Where to stay? Check out these handy reminders…

Good to know: Salzburg is a very walkable city, and public transportation is readily available for day trips to nearby areas. It is not recommended to rent a car.

Since you won’t need a private car to explore Salzburg, it is highly recommended that you book your accommodation near the train station, bus stops, or within walking distance of the Old Town. This will allow you to easily start your day exploring the city or quickly catch a bus to get to destinations outside the city.

Just a heads up: you’ll need the full three days of this trip to explore the city and check out nearby attractions.

To make sure you’re in top shape for your first day, it might be a good idea to arrive the day before the trip starts so you can rest up after your flight or train ride. And don’t forget to take it easy on your last night in Salzburg so you can head home or onto your next adventure feeling refreshed and energized. That means you’ll need to book four nights of accommodation

Find your hotel here: If you have not yet booked a place to stay, you can use this link to find the best hotel deals in Salzburg. It is a hotel search engine with a map that can help you quickly find the most convenient places to stay in the city.

Map Location, Old Town Salzburg’s Highlights, Salzburg, Austria
Map Location, Old Town Salzburg’s Highlights

Legend: (A) Mirabell Palace (B) Getreidegasse (C) Salzburg Cathedral (D) Hohensalzburg Fortress (E) Nonnberg Abbey

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Tip no. 3 — SAVE MONEY with Salzburg Card

Make the most of your trip while saving money. Try this hack — Salzburg Card. This all-in-one pass offers one-time entry to all city tourist attractions and museums, as well as free use of various public transportation options. Available in 24, 48, or 72-hour options, the more you use the card, the more value you’ll get for your money. Plus, you’ll enjoy skip-the-line privileges at selected venues. 

For this itinerary, I suggest purchasing the 48-hour Salzburg Card. (You won’t be needing the card during the last day so 72H Salzburg Card is not recommended). At a cost of 39 EUR (as of my last check), this all-in-one pass can save you 36.8 EUR compared to booking tickets for each attraction in the itinerary individually, which would total 75.8 EUR. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Hohensalzburg Fortress & Folklore Museum — 17.40 EUR
  • Salzach River Boat Ride — 17 EUR 
  • Hellbrunn Palace — 13.50 EUR
  • DomQuartier — 13 EUR
  • Monchsberg Elevator — 2.90 EUR
  • Mozart’s Birthplace — 12 EUR

Get your Salzburg Cards here.

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Day 1 — Highlights & Sightseeing

On the first day of your 3-day trip to Salzburg, we’ll take you to the most picturesque parts of the city to give you a beautiful first impression. You’ll explore the famous Mirabell Palace gardens, cross the river on a romantic bridge, and stroll along the most charming streets of Old Town.

After that, you’ll visit Salzburg’s most notable landmarks and architectural highlights. You can expect to see some scenic sights and explore fascinating museums along the way. 

Before the day ends, you’ll take a relaxing cruise along the Salzach River to see different parts of the city from a unique perspective. Finally, at night, you’ll experience one of the things that makes Salzburg unique — its musical heritage. You’ll attend a concert or play and see why Salzburg is known as the “Stage of The World.”

Sounds interesting? Definitely, yes!

9:00 am — Mirabell Palace & Garden

Your Salzburg adventure starts at the Mirabell Palace that is just a short 10-15 minute walk or a quick 5-minute bus ride from the train station.

Mirabell palace, one of the most beautiful places in Salzburg, Austria
Mirabell palace

This beautiful palace, dating back to 1606, is a historical landmark in Salzburg that you won’t want to miss. Stepping inside, you’ll travel back in time to experience the splendor of the Baroque period in Salzburg. Inside it lies the stunning Marble Hall, one of the most sought-after wedding venues in all of Austria. And as soon as you lay eyes on its lavish decorations and enormous crystal chandelier, you’ll understand why.

Surrounding the Mirabell Palace is its famous garden, the most well-known in Salzburg. With views of the Hohensalzburg Fortress and Salzburg Cathedral, its two parterres are the perfect backdrop for photos as you wander through. The garden is filled with eye-catching fountains, beautiful floral displays, and intricate sculptures and they will keep you captivated as you stroll from one area to another.

For fans of The Sound of Music, the Mirabell Gardens are a must-see. This is where Maria and the Von Trapp children sang and danced to “Do, Re, Mi” in the iconic movie.

10:15 am — Marko-Feingold-Steg

After visiting the Mirabell Palace, we’ll head to the heart of Old Town Salzburg to see more of the city’s top sights.

Marko-Feingold-Steg, Free Things to Do in Salzburg, Austria
Marko-Feingold-Steg

To get there, you should cross the Salzach River.  There are a few bridges you can choose, but among them, it’s Marko-Feingold-Steg or Makartsteg Bridge that you must use. The Makartsteg Bridge offers an unobstructed panoramic view of Old Town Salzburg, making it the most romantic bridge in the city.

As you cross the river, you’ll see padlocks attached to its railings. They’re the testament to the countless lovers who have commemorated their bond here. And if you’re traveling with someone special — you know what to do! 

To easily reach the Makartsteg Bridge, exit the Mirabell Garden through its southern gate, which is closest to the view of the Hohensalzburg Fortress. The Roman statues with outstretched arms mark the southern gate.

10:30 am — Getreidegasse and Pferdeschwemme

From Makartsteg Bridge, it’s easy to reach Getreidegasse, your next destination. It’s undoubtedly the most beautiful street and shopping district in Salzburg, so it’s a must-see.

Getreidegasse, Free Things to Do in Salzburg, Austria
Getreidegasse

Thanks to Getreidegasse’s intricate wrought iron shop signs that hang over the pedestrians, it’s easy to see why it’s one of Salzburg’s most special places. These shop signs come in different sizes and styles, which are sure to catch your eye, especially if you enjoy wandering. Some are even painted gold, giving them a luxurious look.

Walking down Getreidegasse can be done quickly in just a few minutes, but you might want to take your time to discover its little gems, like the traditional businesses along the street. One that might interest you is the Wieber Shop, a traditional metalworking business that still creates beautiful wrought iron signs by hand. You might also want to take a break in Getreidegasse and have a coffee. There are several cozy shops along the street to try.

If you’re looking for the most picturesque part of Getreidegasse, consider the street’s western end. It’s the part of Getreidegasse closest to Monchsberg mountain, where you can photograph the wrought iron shop signs with the vine-covered facade of St. Blaise Church as a backdrop.

When you reach the end of Getreidegasse, turn left and after a short walk, you’ll come across Pferdeschwemme, or Horse Pond. It’s one of the locations featured in the movie ‘The Sound of Music.’ In the days of the prince archbishops, it served as a place to wash the city’s horses after events. Essentially, it was a ‘car wash’ for horses! Be sure to take a selfie to capture this unique landmark in Salzburg.

11:45 am — Salzburg Cathedral (tour and concert)

By noon, our goal is to visit the Salzburg Cathedral, which is both the religious center and an architectural highlight of Salzburg.

Salzburg Cathedral, Landmarks and Sights in Salzburg, Austria
Salzburg Cathedral

This immense baroque structure, located in the heart of Old Town, boasts some of the most visually stunning interiors in the city. Although the exterior of Salzburg Cathedral may not be as eye-catching as that of Milan Cathedral, its interior is a feast for the eyes. The baroque interiors, with their splendidly elaborate ceilings, will take your breath away. The stucco work, outlined in gray ink to add extra visual dimension, is incredibly unique.

Salzburg Cathedral is also notable for its five organs, a rarity among churches north of the Alps. These organs are used in midday concerts, which are a must-have experience for anyone visiting Salzburg. However, the concerts are not available on Sundays or public holidays, but take place throughout the week at noon.

If the concert is unavailable and there are no mass services taking place, you can still explore the church with an audio guide to learn about its details and the culture of Catholicism.

To get to Salzburg Cathedral from Pferdeschwemme, simply follow the path along Hofstallgasse, Max Reinhardt Platz, and Franziskanergasse towards Hohensalzburg Fortress, which is easily visible as it overlooks the entire Old Town from atop Festungsberg. This path leads to Domplatz, where you will find the front facade of Salzburg Cathedral.

For convenience, book your entry tickets with audio guides for Salzburg Cathedral online, as well as tickets for Salzburg Cathedral concerts.

1:30 pm — Hohensalzburg Fortress

Your visit to Hohensalzburg Fortress will be the highlight of your first day on your 3-day trip to Salzburg.

Hohensalzburg Fortress, Landmarks and Sights in Salzburg, Austria
Hohensalzburg Fortress
Different scenes you’ll encounter and things to discover during the Panorama Tour of Hohensalzburg Fortress, Salzburg, Austria
Different scenes you’ll encounter and things to discover during the Panorama Tour in Hohensalzburg Fotress

This fortress, which dates back to the 11th century, is now a treasure trove of Salzburg’s heritage, and thus, a must-see attraction. Hohensalzburg Fortress is not only a historical site, but also a scenic spot, an architectural attraction, and home to several museums. If you have a Salzburg Card, you won’t need to worry about booking tickets to Hohensalzburg Fortress.

However, if you prefer not to use a Salzburg Card, I recommend purchasing the highest tier ticket for the fortress. For just a few extra Euros, you will have access to all of the experiences at Hohensalzburg Fortress, including the funicular that makes it easy to reach the fortress. If you’re an architecture enthusiast like me, the top tier ticket is a must-have, as it grants access to the fortress’s princely chambers, whose architecture is straight out of a fairy tale.

All kinds of tickets, however, include the Panorama Tour. Here, scenic views and amazing discoveries await. You will explore the fortress’s salt depot, dungeon, viewing deck, and Salzburg Bull – a medieval alarm system that still functions to this day.

When you visit the museums at Hohensalzburg Fortress, you will find more than just cannons, medieval armor, and guns. The fortress is also home to the Marionette Museum, where you can see a delightful exhibition of cute puppets. Don’t forget to check out the Von Trapp family marionettes while you’re there!

To get to Hohensalzburg Fortress from Salzburg Cathedral, simply exit Domplatz and head towards Kapitelplatz. From there, you will find the start of Festungsgasse, the street where the funicular station to the fortress is located.

Yes, Hohensalzburg Fortress has its own restaurant where you can enjoy a unique dining experience if you haven’t had the opportunity to eat inside a castle before.

5:00 pm — Salzach River Boat Ride

Imagine spending 3 to 4 hours exploring the majestic Hohensalzburg Fortress and its fascinating museum.

Salzach River Boat Ride, Free Things to Do in Salzburg, Austria
Salzach River Boat Ride

With all the walking, you’ll definitely need to take a break and relax. And what better way to do that than by cruising along the Salzach River? As you glide along the water, you’ll be treated to stunning views of Salzburg from a unique perspective.

The boat tour is not only breathtaking, but it also offers refreshing views of the Hagen and Tennen mountains and all the lush greenery along the river banks. It’s the perfect way to maximize your time sightseeing in Salzburg while taking a well-deserved relaxation. The boat ride begins at Franz-Josef-Kai, near the Marko-Feingold-Steg, and lasts for about 40 minutes. The boat departs every hour until 6:00 pm during the peak season in the summer.

If you’re coming from Hohensalzburg Fortress, you can take the funicular back down to the Old Town to get there faster. From the Festungsbahn, it’s just a 10-minute walk to the dock. If you have a Salzburg Card, you can take a cruise on the River Salzach for free. If you don’t have a Salzburg Card, you can book your boat ride tickets here.

Please note that the last boat departure time varies depending on the season. It may be an hour or two earlier, depending on the length of the day. For example, in September, the last departure is at 5:00 pm, while in October it’s at 6:00 pm.

After the boat ride, it’s time for dinner. If you’re looking for a restaurant with a view of Old Town Salzburg, try Café Bazar or Steinterrasse. Both are just a 2-3 minute walk from Franz-Josef-Kai and are located beside the Salzach River, with outdoor seating facing Old Town Salzburg.

You can find links to their official websites in the resources section of this post to learn more about their cuisine and service.

7:30 pm — Marionette Theater/Mirabell Palace Concert

What better way to spend an evening in Salzburg than by attending one of the city’s cultural events or musical performances? Discover why Salzburg is known as the ‘Stage of the World’ and immerse yourself in its rich musical heritage. Given your location in Salzburg after your boat ride, why not catch a show at the Marionette Theater or Mirabell Palace? 

Depending on your preference, it’s all up to you which event to attend.

  • For a very special experience, consider the classical concert inside the splendid Marble Hall of Mirabell Palace — the same place where Leopold Mozart and his children Wolfgang and Nannerl have performed back in their days.
  • Are you traveling with your family? If so, I think you’ll all really enjoy the Magic Flute, especially your kids. It’s a fun adaptation of Mozart’s most famous opera, performed by a group of professional puppeteers. The performance is in German, but there are explanations projected near the stage to help you follow along. The show takes place at the Salzburg Marionette Theater, which is recognized as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage site.

The Marionette Theater has a variety of performances throughout the year, though.

  • One of their shows is an adaptation of the Sound of Music, where you can watch puppets sing and dance to songs from the beloved movie. Even if you or your family haven’t seen the movie, it’s still a fun show that will help you appreciate the tourist attractions in the city.
  • The Nutcracker is another show played in the Marionette Theater.

If you’re visiting Salzburg during the winter, early spring, or late autumn, you should consider enjoying a musical performance at the Hohensalzburg Fortress instead. After exploring the fortress, you can stay and watch a concert without having to brave the cold weather by traveling to another venue. Plus, the boat ride isn’t available during the winter, so it makes even more sense to stay put. And if you’re looking for a complete experience, there’s even an option to enjoy dinner after the concert at the Hohensalzburg Fortress.

It’s a great way to make the most of your visit!

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Day 2 — Heritage & Architecture

On the second day of your 3-day trip to Salzburg, we’ll explore the city’s heritage in more detail. You’ll discover the stories and hidden gems behind Salzburg’s beautiful appearance, and learn more about Mozart, the prince-archbishops, and even some of the city’s darkest secrets. Along the way, you’ll see more stunning architecture and breathtaking sights. But first, you’ll visit a unique palace outside the city which is an absolute must-see, as well.

If you’re an early riser, you can even experience one of Salzburg’s most hair-raising musical traditions.

6:45 am — Nonnberg Abbey

Note: Visiting Nonnberg Abbey is an optional activity for this itinerary, but it would be great if you could visit it.

As the ‘City of Churches,’ Salzburg is home to more than a dozen churches that you can visit. One that’s particularly noteworthy is Nonnberg Abbey. Dating back to the 8th century, Nonnberg Abbey is the oldest continuously existing nunnery in the German-speaking world.

The entrance and the Sound of Music's filming location in Nonnberg Abbey, Salzburg, Austria
The entrance and the Sound of Music’s filming location in Nonnberg Abbey

Among the things to experience at Nonnberg Abbey, the singing of the Gregorian Chant by its nuns in a chorus is the one truly special. This tradition has been practiced for centuries, and hearing it even today is simply amazing. If you’re an early riser, you’re in luck because you can easily catch the nuns singing at 6:45 am.

Since you visited Hohensalzburg Fortress on day 1, getting to Nonnberg Abbey should be easy, as you’re already familiar with Festungsgasse. This road also leads to Nonnberg Abbey, as this religious landmark is situated on Festungsberg.

When you reach Festungsbahn in Festungsgasse, simply continue walking eastward to Hoherweg until you reach the easternmost side of the Festungsberg. Entrance to Nonnberg Abbey will be a few steps away after the curve.

If you’ve watched the movie, the Sound of Music, you’ll surely find the gate of the Abbey familiar. It is seen in the last parts of the movie when the Von Trapp family tried to escape the Nazi guards.

9:00 am — Hellbrunn Palace

While visiting Nonnberg Abbey can be a great way to start the second day of this 3-day Salzburg trip, waking up early may not be for everyone, especially if you’re looking for a relaxing vacation and want to savor the comfort of your hotel bed. If you don’t think you can wake up early, that’s totally okay because you won’t miss the main destination for the morning of Day 2, which is Hellbrunn Palace.

The view from the Roman Theater fountains in Hellbrunn Palace in Salzburg, Austria
The view from the Roman Theater fountains in Hellbrunn Palace
Some of the most beautiful things to see inside Hellbrunn Palace, a day trip from Salzburg, Austria
Some of the most beautiful things to see inside Hellbrunn Palace

To me, and probably to many others who have visited, Hellbrunn Palace is another must-see during a trip to Salzburg. Like Hohensalzburg Fortress, Hellbrunn Palace is packed with amazing discoveries, making it so much worth visiting. At Hellbrunn Palace, you can find artworks that provide insight into the minds of the wealthy and aristocratic, exhibits about Salzburg’s folklore, beautiful halls filled with murals, unique fountains, and more.

Built by Markus Sittikus and improved by his successors, Hellbrunn Palace was an oasis of relaxation and leisure for prince-archbishops. With its vast gardens and many fountains, it’s easy to imagine how these prince-archbishops found refreshment here.

For centuries, many of the features they added to the palace have amused visitors, and for sure, you’ll be no exception when you visit. Thanks to the Trick Fountains, for which Hellbrunn Palace is famous for, we can think of this place as an early form of an artful prank and a 17th-century engineering marvel powered by water. It’s truly a unique place.

Getting to Hellbrunn Palace is very simple, with just a single 25-minute bus ride on bus #25 from the Old Town. The bus has several stops in Old Town Salzburg, starting from Mirabellplatz (which you’re probably most familiar with), then Makartplatz, Rathaus, Mozartsteg, and so on.

You can find the timetable for bus #25 in the resources section of this post for more information, or you can simply check Google Maps by searching “Old Town Salzburg to Hellbrunn Palace.” Actually, it’s amazing that Google Maps can even show the exact location of the bus along its route!

Please know that the garden of Hellbrunn Palace opens as early as 6:30 am. So, if you visited Nonnberg Abbey early in the morning and have already had breakfast, you can go straight to Hellbrunn Palace afterwards if you like.

Arriving at Hellbrunn Palace before the palace and trick fountains open gives you many beautiful photo opportunities and tranquil moments for introspection or relaxation.

If you want to experience everything that Hellbrunn Palace has to offer, it may take you until lunchtime to finish exploring. There’s a restaurant inside the palace grounds where you can eat if you’re hungry before heading back to the city.

2:00 pm — DomQuartier

Most probably, you’ll be able to return to the city in the afternoon after visiting Hellbrunn Palace. If you plan to have lunch at Hellbrunn Palace, you can go straight to DomQuartier, your next destination for the second day of your 3-day Salzburg trip.

Things inside DomQuartier, Free Things to Do in Salzburg, Austria
Things inside DomQuartier

You can take the same bus (#25) to return to the city. Get off at either Mozartsteg or Imbergstrasse bus station, both of which are a short walk from DomQuartier.

So, what is DomQuartier all about? It’s an architectural complex located in the heart of Salzburg’s Old Town, comprising the Cathedral, the Residenz, and St. Peter’s Abbey. Like Hohensalzburg Fortress, it’s a cultural highlight of Salzburg. And with so many things to discover, it’s definitely a must-see in Salzburg.

In DomQuartier, you can gain plenty of insights into the lives of the Prince Archbishops, see noteworthy artworks, discover exquisite 1300-year-old religious treasures, and so much more. You’ll also have the opportunity to see the cathedral square from a unique perspective along the terrace above the cathedral’s arches, which is a great place to appreciate the architecture of the Old Town’s center.

Speaking of architecture, you can expect to be awe-inspired by DomQuartier’s State Rooms in the Residenz. If you want to get a preview of DomQuartier, I’ve linked a YouTube video in the resources section of this post. Be sure to check it out later!

If you’re a Salzburg Card holder, you can access DomQuartier without purchasing tickets.However, if you don’t plan to use the Salzburg Card, you can book your DomQuartier entry ticket, which comes with an audio guide, here.

4:15 pm — St. Peter’s Abbey

While visiting the museum of St. Peter’s Abbey is included in DomQuartier, it’s only one part of the abbey. You should also see the rest, especially since it’s another notable place of interest in Salzburg.

Saint Peter’s Church, Landmarks and Sights in Salzburg, Austria
Saint Peter’s Church

Saint Peter’s Abbey is of great historical importance as the oldest continuously existing monastery in the German-speaking world, founded in the 7th century. The age of the abbey’s church is evident in its architecture, which features elements of Rococo, Baroque, Renaissance, Gothic, and Romanesque — different styles from different eras.

St. Peter’s Abbey Church, with its large rectangular murals, can be seen as a religious museum of art and architecture. As a Catholic, you may find inspiration in these artworks for reflection and prayer.

Another place to visit during your visit to St. Peter’s Abbey is the Saint Peter’s catacombs. There is a small fee to enter, by the way, which can be considered as a donation. The catacombs, impressively carved into the cliff of Mönchsberg and dating back to ancient times, offer a strange and fascinating experience, especially when considering the religious practices that have taken place within and their great age.

When visiting, be sure to peek through the window of the catacombs for a unique view of Salzburg Cathedral. Be cautious when exploring the catacombs, as there are steep and uneven steps inside.

If you’re a fan of the Mozarts, you may be interested in visiting the final resting place of Michael Haydn and Nannerl (Wolfgang Mozart’s sister) in the cemetery of the abbey. Their tombs are located near the entrance to the catacombs.

St. Peter’s catacombs, featured in the movie The Sound of Music, have become an even more popular attraction in Salzburg throughout the years. If you’ve seen the movie, you may remember the scene where the Trapp family escapes from the National Socialists through the catacombs. You can find a link to learn more about St. Peter’s Abbey in the resources section of this post.

5:00 pm — Mozart’s Birthplace

Born in Salzburg, Mozart was destined to make the city a unique destination. A visit to Salzburg would be incomplete without gaining insights into the inspiring life of this musical genius.

Mozart’s Birthplace, Landmarks and Sights in Salzburg, Austria
Mozart’s Birthplace

So, where’s the best place to learn about Mozart’s life? It is none other than his birthplace, located along Getreidegasse. If you enter Getreidegasse through Löchlbogen (Stadttor), you’ll quickly see Mozart’s Birthplace across Hagenauerplatz. The exact address is 9 Getreidegasse.

The Mozart family lived on the third floor of this building from 1747 to 1773, and it was here that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on January 27, 1756. Today, Mozart’s Birthplace is a three-story museum dedicated to his life, family, and career.

During the first half of your tour of the museum, you’ll learn about a wide range of topics, from Wolfgang’s parents to his wife and children. And by letting your imagination run wild and viewing his personal objects on display, you can get a sense of what Wolfgang Mozart’s life was like back then.

One of the most notable exhibits inside Mozart’s Birthplace is Wolfgang’s silverpoint pen drawing by Dorothea Stock, located in the Study. Many believe that this portrait truly captures the image of Mozart. Personally, I found Mozart’s life to be inspirational after exploring the ‘An Artist’s Life’ exhibit on the second floor of the museum. This exhibit highlights key aspects of Mozart’s time in Vienna and provides insight into his career and the hard work and effort he put into becoming a great musician.

If you have a Salzburg Card, you don’t need to worry about buying a ticket to Mozart’s Birthplace.

On your way from St. Peter’s Abbey to Mozart’s Birthplace, I recommend taking a detour through University Square and Kollegienkirche to see more of Salzburg’s beauty.

6:30 pm — Mönchsberg

You can likely finish touring Mozart’s Birthplace in about an hour, and by the time you’re done, it will be dinner time.

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Museum der Moderne atop Mönchsberg in Salzburg, Austria
Museum der Moderne atop Mönchsberg
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One of the best places to have dinner in Salzburg is at M32 Restaurant, located next to the Museum der Moderne on top of Mönchsberg mountain. The restaurant features alfresco seating, allowing you to dine while enjoying a panoramic view of Old Town Salzburg. You can check out the menu for M32 Restaurant using the link provided in the resources section of this post. 

Please note that the last time I checked, M32 Restaurant was closed on Mondays. However, there are plenty of other dining options in the Old Town. If you enjoy dining with a view, consider trying one of the restaurants along the Salzach River facing the Old Town, such as Steinterrasse Restaurant or Café Bazar.

Reaching the top of Mönchsberg is quite straightforward from Mozart’s Birthplace. Near St. Blaise’s Church at the western end of Getreidegasse, you’ll find the Mönchsberg elevator, which can take you directly to the Museum der Moderne or M32 Restaurant with ease.

If you have a Salzburg Card, you can use the elevator at no cost. And if you’re interested in watching a sunset in Salzburg from a unique vantage point, consider checking out other viewpoints in Mönchsberg, such as Humboldt Terrace or Richterhöhe.

8:00 pm — Salzburg Ghost Tour

To make the most of your second day in Salzburg, consider joining the Ghost Tour of Salzburg at night.

Dusk and night view of the city from Monchsberg, Salzburg, Austria
Dusk and night view of the city from Monchsberg

This fascinating tour allows you to discover the darker side of Salzburg’s history, including superstitions, legends, and centuries-old tales of horror. You’ll learn about the roles of executioners and torturers and explore the city’s medieval and modern methods of torture. If you’re a fan of fantasy movies featuring kings and magic, this is a tour you won’t want to miss. Part of the tour includes visiting the original sites of Salzburg’s horror stories, from torture chambers to places of execution.

Due to its popularity, this tour often gets fully booked quickly, so it’s best to book your Salzburg Ghost Tour as early as possible.

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Day 3 — St. Gilgen Day Trip & a Beautiful Sunset

On your last day in Salzburg, we’ll ensure that you experience the utmost relaxation while still exploring more beautiful places. This way, we can guarantee that you’re fully unwound and rejuvenated before heading home or moving on to your next destination.

To achieve this, you’ll escape the city and avoid the crowds by visiting a less touristy yet charming and scenic location for a day trip. Upon returning to Salzburg, you’ll conclude your three-day journey at one of the city’s best viewpoints, watching the sunset. It’s a beautiful way to end your trip to Salzburg!

9:00 am — St. Gilgen (or Hohenwerfen Fortress)

Whenever I hear about people who have visited Salzburg but missed out on seeing its nearby beautiful destinations, I feel a twinge of regret for them.

Mozartplatz, Mozart’s Fountain, and Rathaus, St. Gilgen, Salzburg, Austria
Mozartplatz, Mozart’s Fountain, and Rathaus
St. Gilgen and Wolfgangsee, a day trip from Salzburg, Austria
St. Gilgen and Wolfgangsee

With its rich heritage and alpine landscape, the province of Salzburg is one of the most beautiful in Austria. Anyone staying in Salzburg would definitely enjoy exploring the city’s surroundings.

If you’re looking to relax and do nothing intensive, I would recommend visiting the village of St. Gilgen. It’s only a single 45-minute bus ride (#150) from the city, so getting there is not a problem at all. If you have a car, you can get to St. Gilgen in just 30 minutes after leaving the city. I’ll leave a link to the bus #150 timetable in the resources section of this post.

In summary, nestled in the Alps and sitting beside Wolfgang Lake, St. Gilgen is one of the most charming villages in Austria. It has cute houses painted with murals depicting the history and culture of the region. You’ll love wandering around it! You can chill by the lakeside promenade, eat plenty of ice cream, ride a cable car, take in the breathtaking alpine scenery, hike to relax your mind, and so many more.

If you find Saint Gilgen too laid-back for your taste, you might want to consider visiting Werfen.

It’s a quaint market town in the province of Salzburg, just an hour south of the city by train. Nestled here is the Hohenwerfen Fortress, a sister fortress to Hohensalzburg. Renowned travel publishers have hailed it as one of the most beautiful fortresses in Europe, and I wholeheartedly concur. Perched atop a mountain and overlooking the Salzach valley, this landmark seems as if it’s been lifted straight from a fairytale.

Hohenwerfen Fortress in the midst of low-lying clouds, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
Hohenwerfen Fortress in the midst of low-lying clouds

Tip: Hohenwerfen Fortress can be visited in conjunction with the Eisriesenwelt, the largest ice cave in the world. You can learn more by checking out its official website, which is linked at resources section of this post.

If you’re traveling with a group, you can simply join a tour that takes care of all the preparations for visiting both Hohenwerfen Fortress and Eisriesenwelt.

During winter, however, it’s preferable to do other activities other than Saint Gilgen and Hohenwerfen Fortress. Alternatively, you can try the 8-Hour Tour with Horse-Drawn Sleigh Ride From Salzburg. It’s perfect for you if you’re looking for a unique and relaxing winter experience — let yourself be enchanted by the snow-white woods and meadows as you pass by at a leisurely pace! If you’re traveling with your friends or family, however, here’s a group package so you can enjoy the winter together: Sleigh Ride Through The Countryside (per group up to 8).

7:00 pm — Hettwer Bastion (Kapuzinerberg)

Before you return to your hotel to finally rest in the comfort of your soft, warm bed, don’t forget to visit Hettwer Bastion, located in Kapuzinerberg mountain.

View from Hettwer Bastion, Free Things to Do in Salzburg, Austria
View from Hettwer Bastion

It’s one of the best viewpoints in Salzburg, offering an unobstructed panorama of the Old Town. From here, you can view the baroque skyline of Salzburg with Hohensalzburg Fortress visible overlooking the town.

The view is incredibly magical during the sunset as the warm light from the setting sun paints Hohensalzburg Fortress and the spires of the churches in the Old Town with red and orange hues. As the light from the sky fades, the streets and old buildings begin to glow – the transition is amazing. If you know how to take time-lapse videos, this is the moment you must capture.

Because Hettwer Bastion is elevated in the mountain, you can expect an inclined path to get to the bastion. Nicely, access to it is within the Old Town.

If you want to go straight to Hettwer Bastion after visiting St. Gilgen, alight bus #150 at Mirabellplatz. From Mirabellplatz, walk straight south eastwards along Dreifaltigkeitsgasse until you reach Linzergasse. Along this street, you can find Franziskuspforte (portal), which is the start of Stefan-Zweig-Weg (path) that will lead you to the Bastion. Alternatively, you can go straight to Steingasse and climb Imbergstiege (stairs), which is also a way to Hettwer Bastion.

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Where to Go Next After Salzburg

So, that’s how you can spend three days in Salzburg! Whether you’re planning to visit another destination or extend your stay in Salzburg with an additional day trip, I recommend considering Berchtesgaden, Innsbruck, and Hallstatt. These three destinations are the closest to Salzburg and offer plenty of reasons to visit.

Berchtesgaden, a German town nestled in the heart of the Bavarian Alps, is just a stone’s throw away from Salzburg at only 25 kilometers. It’s an absolute must-visit for anyone looking to experience the diverse wonders of the alpine world. From the underground labyrinth of the Salt Mine Berchtesgaden, to the crystal-clear waters of the picturesque Konigssee lake, and the historical Eagle’s Nest perched atop a mountain, there are countless spectacular sights to behold. It takes approximately an hour to reach Berchtesgaden by bus and a mere 30 minutes if you’re driving.

Jenner, Eagle's Nest, Konigssee, and Salt Mine Berchtesgaden, a day trip from Salzburg, Austria
Jenner, Eagle’s Nest, Konigssee, and Salt Mine Berchtesgaden
Breathtaking sights to see during a nature-focused one-day trip to Innsbruck, Austria
Breathtaking sights to see during a nature-focused one-day trip to Innsbruck

Innsbruck, another city in Austria, is a beautiful destination in the Alps, much like Berchtesgaden. It’s renowned as a skiing destination, but it’s also a historical city with fascinating landmarks. As the capital of Tyrol, Innsbruck is home to some of the region’s most important treasures. One that particularly filled me with awe was the statues of the Black Men inside its Court Church. The intricate details they possess are simply breathtaking.

From Salzburg, Innsbruck is roughly a 2-hour drive or train ride away. It’s slightly farther than Berchtesgaden, but the journey between these cities is an experience in itself! The beautiful alpine scenery along the drive or train ride is not to be missed.

Have you ever dreamed of visiting a fairytale village, nestled in the heart of the mountains and beside a serene lake? Look no further than Hallstatt, one of Austria’s ultimate destinations. Located in the stunning Salzkammergut Region, this charming village is so enchanting that it even inspired the Disney movie Frozen! Imagine wandering through its picturesque streets, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a storybook. But there’s more to Hallstatt than just its beautiful scenery — you can also explore its UNESCO Heritage Site salt mine, considered the oldest in the world.

Iconic view of Hallstatt, a day trip from Salzburg, Austria
Iconic view of Hallstatt

While a day trip from Salzburg is lovely, it is recommended spending more than one day in Hallstatt to truly experience its magic. It’s best to visit Hallstatt very early in the morning before tourists from nearby cities arrive. If you have limited time and it’s only enough for a day trip, check out the Per Person Salzburg Tour or the Private Salzburg Group Tour.

Resources

As mentioned earlier, I’ve compiled a list of links to help you plan your 3-day trip to Salzburg. These links provide information on tourist attractions, restaurants, and public transportation options in the city.

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If you’re looking to explore more alpine attractions, I highly recommend the destinations in the Jungfrau Region of Switzerland. You absolutely must visit Lauterbrunnen, a place so beautiful it’s often referred to as heaven on earth! In my opinion, it’s the most breathtaking part of Switzerland.

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