2 Days in Salzburg: Explore the Old Town and Have a Day Trip

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Did you know that Salzburg is the capital of Salzburgerland — a province in Austria that’s packed with rich cultural heritage and picturesque natural landscapes? It’s located north of the Alps, which naturally attracted me to explore it. Guess what? When I explored the area, I was quite amazed by everything I discovered.

It surpassed my expectations, not only because Salzburg is such a beautiful city, but also because there are charming alpine villages, hilltop medieval castles, and palaces home to unique masterpieces — all of which you can quickly visit from the Salzburgerland capital.

One of them is absolutely breathtaking. Another one seems like it’s straight out of a fairytale movie. That’s why I can’t stress this enough: if you’re planning a trip to Salzburg that lasts more than a day, it’s definitely worth considering at least one day trip to the nearby destinations. Good idea, you ask? Absolutely! The two-day itinerary for Salzburg that I’m about to share should give you a clear picture of what I mean.

Following my itinerary,

By the way, if you choose to extend your stay in Salzburg, I’ve got a relaxed 3-day itinerary for you. However, if you’re on a budget, I’ve also prepared a cost-effective one-day itinerary for Salzburg. Check out my ultimate 10-day Austria Itinerary if you also want to visit the breathtaking city of Innsbruck and the magnificent Austrian capital, Vienna.

Salzburg in a nutshell

As a city with a rich history and heritage, nestled near the stunning Alps, Salzburg is the perfect destination for travelers seeking scenic sights, marvelous architecture, and the chance to discover a wealth of cultural heritage. I’m one of these travelers and if you’re one of us, your Salzburg trip would definitely be memorable — Salzburg has everything that you’re looking for in a travel destination!

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

Amazingly, Salzburg offers more than just beautiful natural scenery and historic landmarks. As the birthplace of Mozart, it’s a feast for both the eyes and ears. Salzburg is proud of its musical heritage — Mozart and classical music — and travelers can attend its classical concerts that take place all year. Held in some of the city’s most beautiful and historic locations, these classical concerts are indeed special!

And the fun doesn’t stop at the city limits. Unique attractions are just only a bus ride away or a quick drive from the city. You visit a palace built by a prankster prince-archbishop, see falcons fly at a hilltop fortress, explore a village full of charming houses, and more! And if you’re a fan of the movie ‘The Sound of Music’, then you’re in for a real treat on your trip to Salzburg.

This city is home to many of the film’s locations, and you’ll feel a wave of nostalgia as you explore them. Now, I’m so excited for your 2-day trip to Salzburg. So, let’s now discuss how you can make the most of it now.

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Is two days enough in Salzburg?

Well, while it’s impossible to see everything Salzburg has to offer in just a couple of days, with good planning, a two-day trip is enough to experience the highlights of the city’s Old Town and some other beautiful sights in Salzburgerland (and Bavaria). You can fill your two-day Salzburg trip with memorable experiences. Yes, Bavaria is also easily accessible from Salzburg. Salzburg is located right on the border between Austria and Germany, specifically Bavaria. You can get to Bavaria from Salzburg with a simple bus or train ride, with a transfer.

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How to get to there?

Salzburg is a major tourist destination in Austria, and it’s easy to get there by car, train, or plane. However, if you’re coming from overseas, it might be more cost-effective to fly to Munich or Vienna and then take a direct train to Salzburg. From my research, the cost of a direct flight to Salzburg is usually much higher than the combined cost of a flight to Munich or Vienna and a train ride to Salzburg.

Arriving in Salzburg by train has its perks, one of which is the train station’s close proximity to the city center. There’s a good chance that your hotel is within walking distance of the station. On the other hand, if you arrive by plane, you’ll need to take a bus into the city since the airport is located outside of it. The only downside to taking the train is that it adds a few extra hours to your travel time. But in my opinion, it’s worth it for the money you’ll save. 

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Where to stay?

When it comes to hotels, I’m not too picky. As long as it has a decent bed, is affordable, and easily accessible, it’ll do.

For this itinerary, though, I recommend staying close to Old Town Salzburg, particularly near the train station or Mirabell Palace. Staying near the train station or Mirabell Palace will make it easy to start your day during your first and second days in Salzburg. You can simply walk to your first destination in the city or effortlessly get to the train station for a ride to your day trip destination. If you plan on driving or renting a car, you could stay somewhere else, but I don’t recommend both. Salzburg is compact and the attractions in the old town are all within walking distance of each other. Plus, the day trip destinations are easily accessible by public transportation.

To find a hotel in the most convenient location, you can use this hotel browser that features a map showing the exact locations of hotels in Salzburg.

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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How many hotel nights should I reserve for this two-day itinerary?

I suggest staying for 3 nights in Salzburg to ensure maximum relaxation before and after the main part of your trip. Relaxation is one of the reasons why we travel, right? Of course!

  • 1st Night in Salzburg (Day 0) — arrival in Salzburg. Make sure to complete all the preparations for your trip so that you can spend Day 1 and Day 2 solely exploring the city. Connect your phones to the internet and visit the Tourist Information Salzburg at the train station to ask about any news, closures, or events that may affect your itinerary. Of course, relax in your hotel and get a good night’s sleep so that you’re in top condition to enjoy Salzburg the next day.
  • 2nd Night in Salzburg (Day 1) — to rest after exploring Old Town Salzburg.
  • 3rd Night in Salzburg (Day 2) — Since your second day in Salzburg will also be packed with activities, I’m sure you’ll appreciate having a comfortable bed to rest in before the day ends. After all, we don’t want to head home or move on to our next destination feeling exhausted!

If you don’t have an accommodation yet, here’s where you can find the best hotel deals in Salzburg.

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Must read: SAVE MONEY using 48-Hour Salzburg Card

The Salzburg Card is a great way to save money while visiting Salzburg. The more you use the Salzburg Card, the more value you get for your money. It provides one-time entry to all city tourist attractions and museums for 24, 48, or 72 hours, depending on the type of card you purchase. This all-in-one pass covers all top attractions in the city, some nearby attractions, and various public transportation options. Plus, it gives you the added benefit of skip-the-line privileges at selected venues.

For a 2-day trip to Salzburg, I would recommend getting the 48-hour Salzburg Card if you plan on visiting Hellbrunn Palace on your second day.

Eye-pleasing things to see in Hellbrunn Palace, Salzburg, Austria
Eye-pleasing things to see in Hellbrunn Palace

The last time I checked, the 48-hour Salzburg Card was priced at 39 Euros. 

Note: The price of the Salzburg Card varies depending on the season. During the colder months, the card is less expensive, which makes sense since there are fewer attractions to visit due to shorter daylight hours and shorter visiting times for tourist sites.

As an adult, you could save at least 35.9 Euros by visiting all the attractions on this itinerary, which would normally cost a total of 74.90 Euros. These attractions include Mozart’s Birthplace (11 Euros), Domquartier (13 Euros), Hohensalzburg Fortress (17.40 Euros), Salzach Boat Cruise (20 Euros), and Hellbrunn Palace (13.50 Euros).

You can learn more and get your 48H Salzburg Card here.

If you prefer to visit other places on your second day in Salzburg, the 24-hour Salzburg Card is the best option. Excluding Hellbrunn Palace from the previous calculation, the total cost of the different attractions would be 61.4 Euros. With the 30-Euro Salzburg Card, you could at least save 31.4 Euros.

You can learn more and get your 24H Salzburg Card here.

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2-Day Itinerary

With this two-day Salzburg itinerary, I promise an experience-focused trip that makes the most of every hour.

Müllnersteg - one of the best spots to see panoramic views (day and night) of Hohensalzburg Fortress and Salzburg, Austria
Müllnersteg – one of the best spots to see panoramic views (day and night) of Hohensalzburg Fortress and Salzburg

Day 1: Old Town

During the first day, you’ll be visiting: 

  1. Hettwer Bastion in Kapuzinerberg (optional) – for a stunning first impression of Salzburg from a breathtaking perspective.
  2. Getreidegasse – to explore the unique shopping district and most charming street in Salzburg.
  3. Mozart’s Birthplace – to learn about Mozart and discover the origin of Salzburg’s musical heritage.
  4. DomQuartier – to get a glimpse into the lives of the prince-archbishops who ruled Salzburg for centuries.
  5. Salzburg Cathedral – for a musical experience and to admire the Baroque splendor.
  6. Hohensalzburg Fortress – to uncover Salzburg’s history, discover heritage from cannons to marionettes, and marvel at the magnificent architecture of the princely chambers.
  7. Salzach River Cruise – to relax and appreciate the lovely appearance of Old Town Salzburg from the river.
  8. Mirabell Palace and Garden – to continue relaxing in the beautiful Sound of Music garden and listen to a concert in one of Salzburg’s most gorgeous halls.

Amazingly, all of these tourist attractions are packed within the compact Old Town and are located within walking distance of each other. It’s possible to visit them all in one day, but you’ll need to stick to a schedule and spend just the right amount of time at each attraction.

The Salzburg Card covers most ofw the attractions on the first day of your two-day trip to Salzburg. So, if you have one, you won’t need to worry about booking tickets for individual attractions. However, there are some exceptions for events during noontime and evening, which we’ll discuss later.

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

Note: Hettwer Bastion is only an optional part of this itinerary. 

If you’re an early bird or you simply want to make your trip extra special, then Hettwer Bastion is the perfect first destination for your two-day trip to Salzburg. Located on Kapuzinerberg mountain, Hettwer Bastion is one of the best viewpoints of Old Town Salzburg and a fantastic place to watch a beautiful sunrise. From here, you’ll have an unobstructed view of Hohensalzburg Fortress, as well as an overlooking perspective of Old Town Salzburg and the Salzach River.

Since the bastion is located on a mountain, please be aware that there is an inclined path to get there. To reach Hettwer Bastion, you can take either the Stefan-Zweig-Weg path or the Imbersteige stairs, both located in Old Town Salzburg southeast of Mirabell Palace. If you’re coming from the train station or another location in Salzburg, you can hop on a bus to Makartplatz, which is near the southern gate of Mirabell Garden, to quickly reach Hettwer Bastion. From Makartplatz, the bastion is just a five to ten-minute walk away.

View from Kapuzinerberg and Franziskischlössl, Free Things to Do in Salzburg, Austria
View from Kapuzinerberg and Franziskischlössl

For everything that you need to know about Hettwer Bastion, please check my guide to Kapuzinerberg.

While the view of Old Town Salzburg from Hettwer Bastion can be spectacular during the sunrise, it’s only highly recommended if the weather is sunny and not too chilly. So, before you head up there, don’t forget to check the weather forecast the night before your first day. 

Another thing: if you’re planning to catch the sunrise from Hettwer Bastion in Salzburg, you’ll need to think about breakfast. The sun can rise as early as 5 am, so you might miss the hotel’s complimentary breakfast if you leave early. For you to still have the complimentary breakfast, consider arranging with your hotel to have breakfast served earlier or packed to go.

If you’d like, you can enjoy your breakfast at Hettwer Bastion or another location of your choice. There are benches in Hettwer Bastion where you can sit and eat while watching the warm light of the rising sun illuminate Old Town Salzburg.

Early Morning: Getreidegasse 
Getreidegasse, Free Things to Do in Salzburg, Austria

After visiting Hettwer Bastion, your next stop should be Getreidegasse. This is Salzburg’s most beautiful street and a shopping district unique and unmissable for its elaborate wrought iron shop signs. To me, Getreidegasse is one of the places that defines the beauty of Salzburg.

We aim to visit Getreidegasse early in the morning to avoid the crowds that swarm the street when all the shops open at midday. You’ll definitely want to see it in its crowd-less form, especially if you’re someone who enjoys taking photos like me. Don’t forget to explore the entire length of Getreidegasse! If you reach the western end of the street, you’ll find Saint Blaise Church with its picturesque vine-covered facade. You’ll love it!

Getreidegasse is located in the Old Town, to the west of the Salzach River. If you are coming from Hettwer Bastion or staying at a hotel near the train station, you will need to cross the river to reach Getreidegasse.

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

For a more romantic experience when crossing the Salzach River, consider taking the Marko-Feingold-Steg bridge, also known as the Makartsteg Bridge or Love Lock Bridge. This bridge is popular among couples who attach padlocks to its railings to commemorate their bond. As you cross the bridge, you’ll immediately understand why people do this, as you’ll be treated to a lovely view of Old Town Salzburg and Hohensalzburg Fortress.

If you haven’t had breakfast by the time you reach Getreidegasse, there is a McDonald’s that opens at 7:00 am along Getreidegasse.

Morning: Mozart’s Birthplace
The birthplace of Mozart located along the beautiful Getreidegasse in Salzburg, Austria
The birthplace of Mozart located along the beautiful Getreidegasse in Salzburg

If you enter Getreidegasse through Löchlbogen (Stadttor) or Hagenauerplatz, you’ll quickly come across Mozart’s Birthplace. This building now serves as a museum where you can learn about the life and work of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his family. I find it to be an inspiring place, particularly the section that details how Mozart pursued his career as a musician.

If you’re a fan of classical music and Mozart, Salzburg is definitely worth visiting for this reason alone. Check out my guide that thoroughly discusses the interesting things awaiting you inside Mozart’s Birthplace

Inside Mozart’s Birthplace, Free Things to Do in Salzburg, Austria
Inside Mozart’s Birthplace

Mozart’s Birthplace is a three-story museum that can be explored in about an hour. Our goal is to visit the museum when it opens, which is at 8:30 am during the summer and 9:00 am during the winter.  Arriving early in Mozart’s Birthplace, we can maximize our time in Salzburg and visit more places in the city. By 10:00 am, you should be ready to move on to your next destination, which is DomQuartier Salzburg.

Note: Please keep in mind that while I provide time stamps, it is ultimately up to you whether or not to follow them. They are intended as guides to help you manage your time and avoid spending too long at any one destination.

Late Morning: DomQuartier
Things inside DomQuartier, Free Things to Do in Salzburg, Austria
Things inside DomQuartier

Just a few minutes’ walk from Mozart’s Birthplace is DomQuartier, your next destination on the first day of your two-day trip to Salzburg. This cultural highlight of the city was once the residence of the prince-archbishops who ruled over Salzburg.

A walking tour of DomQuartier takes you through some of the city’s most elegant halls and rooms, exquisite galleries, and museums, providing insights into Salzburg’s history. You’ll also see the treasures of Salzburg Cathedral and Saint Peter’s Abbey, which are among the most precious exhibitions in the city and are literally worth millions! During your visit, you’ll be provided with an audio guide to help you learn about the exhibits.

You should allow at least an hour and a half for your visit to DomQuartier, but if you’re interested in history and architecture, you may want to spend longer. I suggest being ready to move on to your next destination, Salzburg Cathedral, fifteen minutes before noon.

If you decide not to purchase a Salzburg Card, you can book your entry tickets to DomQuartier, which include an audio guide, in this link.

Noon: Salzburg Cathedral Concert
The whole facade of Salzburg Cathedral from Domplatz, Old Town Salzburg, Austria
The whole facade of Salzburg Cathedral from Domplatz

One of the special events in Salzburg that you can attend for a very small price is the noontime organ concert in Salzburg Cathedral. It is said that there is nothing like it in any church north of the Alps with the melody that you’ll hear from its five organs.  Yes, it’s a unique musical experience hard not to miss, especially since you’re already in DomQuartier where Salzburg Cathedral is located. 

Most importantly, this concert is already a tradition in Salzburg, dating back to the days of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. You can get your tickets to this noontime concert in Salzburg here

Aside from the musical experience, Salzburg Cathedral also boasts noteworthy architecture. Be sure to have them checked when you visit Salzburg Cathedral! The side chapels and dome of the cathedral are particularly stunning.

Breathtaking stucco inside Salzburg Cathedral, Old Town Salzburg, Austria
Breathtaking stucco works inside Salzburg Cathedral

Outlined with gray ink that adds extra visual dimension, the stuccoes that elaborate the ceiling will definitely keep your eyes fixated upwards. During your visit, don’t also forget to check out notable features such as the Baptismal Font and Artwork Vanitas in the crypt. You can learn more about them and all the must-see parts of Salzburg Cathedral from my article, which you can also use as a guide to Salzburg Cathedral.

Next destination: Hohensalzburg Fortress. You might want to have lunch in the Old Town before heading to the fortress. Or if you like, there is also a restaurant in the fortress where you can have lunch for a unique experience — eating inside a fortress! 

Afternoon: Hohensalzburg Fortress
Hohensalzburg Fortress, Landmarks and Sights in Salzburg, Austria
Hohensalzburg Fortress

Make sure to eat a heavy lunch, as your destination in the afternoon is the Hohensalzburg Fortress. Not only is it the biggest place of interest in Old Town Salzburg, but there are also plenty of activities and things to discover inside. The experiences it offers can be divided into three categories: the Panorama Tour, the Princely Chambers, and the museums.

As its name suggests, the Panorama Tour lets you have the most breathtaking experiences in the fortress, from its defensive features like the tower and battlement walkway, making you feel like a medieval sentry in charge of the city’s defenses. To me, its most unique part lies at the end of the Panorama Tour, where you’ll see Salzburg’s Bull, which is a medieval alarm system that still works to this day.

Different experiences in Hohensalzburg Fortress, Free Things to Do in Salzburg, Austria
Different experiences in Hohensalzburg Fortress

On the other hand, the Princely Chambers are the architectural highlight of Hohensalzburg Fortress.  They contain three magnificent halls in Gothic style, filled with elaboration and objects straight out of a fairy tale. Be sure to watch out for the library and the golden stove!

Most importantly, Hohensalzburg Fortress is a treasure trove of discoveries.  Believe it or not, there are not one, but four museums in the fortress: the Marionette Museum, the Rainer Regiment Museum, the Fortress Museum, and the Armory With so much to see and do in the Fortress, you could easily spend the whole afternoon there. However, three hours should be enough to see one of each part of the fortress. For more information, please check my Hohensalzburg Fortress guide.

Breathtaking architecture (wall, ceiling, and door) inside the Princely Chambers of Hohensalzburg Fortress in Salzburg, Austria
Breathtaking architecture (wall, ceiling, and door) inside the Princely Chambers of Hohensalzburg Fortress in Salzburg

To get to Hohensalzburg Fortress from Salzburg Cathedral, simply head south in Kapitelplatz. Continue walking until you reach Festungsgasse, where you can find Festungsbahn, the funicular station to the fortress. For travelers with Salzburg Card, you’ll have full access to the fortress, its museums and chambers, and to this funicular. If you prefer not to use the Salzburg Card, you can simply buy tickets when you arrive at the fortress or book admission tickets to Hohensalzburg Fortress online for convenience.

Lastly, if you’re buying tickets for the fortress separately, remember that you can choose a ticket with reduced access to save money.

Late Afternoon: Salzach River Cruise
Salzach River Boat Ride, Free Things to Do in Salzburg, Austria
Salzach River Boat Ride

For Salzburg Card holders, make the most of your card and your first day in Salzburg by hopping on a boat to cruise the Salzach River. After exploring the castle for hours, sightseeing on the river is probably the kind of relaxation you’ll need. Breathe in some fresh air as you glide along the Salzach River and take in a view of Old Town Salzburg from a unique perspective.

The boat ride lasts for 40 minutes, and you can expect to see more than just the city center, including some of the most desirable villas in Salzburg and the Tennen and Hagen mountain ranges. The boat tour has different durations, but for this 2-day itinerary, I would suggest taking only the 40-minute cruise. The tour is available from Spring to Autumn and departs every hour starting from 1:00 pm until 6:00 pm during the summer.

The last departure time can vary depending on the length of daylight during your visit. For example, if it’s September, the last departure is at 5:00 pm. During October, it’s at 4:00 pm. That being said, whether or not you can do this activity depends on the season and how interested you are in experiencing Hohensalzburg Fortress.

If you’re visiting Salzburg during the summer, you’ll likely have the chance to take a boat ride in the afternoon, either on the second-to-last or last departure even if you spend 3 to 4 hours in the fortress.

During the shoulder season, your chances are slimmer. But if you really want to take the boat ride, you can always do it the next day after your day trip.

The boat tour is covered by Salzburg Card. If you prefer not to use a Salzburg Card during your Salzburg trip, you can book your Salzach River Cruise tickets here. If you’ve made an online booking, be sure to redeem your voucher at least 20 minutes before departure at the ticket counter located on Franz Josef Kai, near Marko-Feingold-Steg. The dock is also located in the same area.

Sunset or Night: Mirabell Palace Classical Concert & Dinner
Mirabell palace, one of the most beautiful places in Salzburg, Austria
Mirabell palace

On the first day of your two-day trip to Salzburg, your final stop will be Mirabell Palace. This stunning palace, built in the 17th century, is a must-see attraction in Salzburg, especially for fans of the movie ‘The Sound of Music’. In fact, over five scenes from the movie were filmed in the palace’s beautiful gardens! It’s no surprise that the filmmakers of ‘The Sound of Music’ chose Mirabell Garden as one of their filming locations.

With its elegant architecture, stunning fountains, and beautifully designed flower beds, the garden is a feast for the eyes. You’ll be inspired to take photos at every turn!

The picture perfect views of Old Town and Hohensalzburg Fortress from Mirabell Palace's small and grand parterre, Salzburg, Austria
The picture perfect views of Old Town and Hohensalzburg Fortress from Mirabell Palace’s small and grand parterre

The garden is oriented towards Old Town Salzburg and Hohensalzburg Fortress, and its grand and small parterres are two areas you won’t want to miss capturing on camera. The view of Mirabell Palace is even more breathtaking during the Golden Hour!

While it’s lovely to visit the palace in the morning, the sunset view is truly magical and the perfect way to end your first day in Salzburg. That’s why I recommend visiting Mirabell Palace at the end of Day 1.

If there are no events taking place inside the palace during your visit, you can go inside to see its Marble Hall. This Baroque masterpiece is considered by some to be one of the ‘most beautiful wedding halls in the world’. You can check out my five reasons to visit Mirabell Palace to learn more.

In addition to being a public building and park, Mirabell Palace also serves as a concert venue. If you’re interested, you can attend a concert at the palace to make the most of your visit. For an even more special experience, consider choosing a concert and dinner bundle at Mirabell Palace.

If you’re looking for other activities to do in Salzburg at night, here are some recommendations:

  1. Top pick — Salzburg Ghost Tour
  2. Amusing — The Magic Flute at Marionette Theater

Day 2: Day Trip

While there are still plenty of activities and attractions to enjoy within the Old Town, it’s hard not to recommend exploring the tourist attractions outside the city. Considering the amount of new fascinating discoveries, fun experiences, and breathtaking sights, these day trips from Salzburg surely exceed the worthiness of the ones that are left in the city. Take a deep breath of fresh air, visit charming places with fewer crowds, and discover the enchanting side of Salzburg.

Don’t worry about spending too much time traveling — the journey is short and the views along the way are a treat in themselves. On the second day of your 2-day Salzburg itinerary, you can choose from any of these destinations for your day trip:

St. Gilgen is an alpine village nestled on the shores of Lake Wolfgang, considered one of the most charming villages in Austria. Come here to relax by the lake, wander through the picturesque village, take in the scenic mountain scenery, and discover a few hidden gems. Time to spend in St. Gilgen: whole day or half day.

The charm of St. Gilgen in 4 pictures, a day trip from Salzburg, Austria
The charm of St. Gilgen in 4 pictures
Eye-pleasing things to see in Hellbrunn Palace, Salzburg, Austria
Eye-pleasing things to see in Hellbrunn Palace

Hellbrunn Palace is a 17th-century palace located 25 minutes from Salzburg by bus. It’s famous for its Trick Fountains, which can be considered one of the earliest forms of artistic pranks. The palace is also home to marvelous halls and fascinating museums, providing insights into Salzburg’s folklores and traditions. Time to spend in Hellbrunn Palace: half day.

Hohenwerfen Fortress is the sister fortress of Hohensalzburg. It’s hailed as one of the most beautiful fortresses in Europe, and prominent online publications such as Conde Nast Traveler agree. Perched atop a hill overlooking the Salzach Valley, Hohenwerfen Fortress is both breathtaking and time-transporting. But there’s more to experience and discover here, like falcons and witchcraft! Time to spend in Hohenwerfen Fortress: half day.

The Hohenwerfen Fortress courtyard garden where the birds of prey show takes place, Werfen, Salzburg, Austria
The Hohenwerfen Fortress courtyard garden where the birds of prey show takes place
Jenner, Eagle's Nest, Konigssee, and Salt Mine Berchtesgaden, a day trip from Salzburg, Austria
Jenner, Eagle’s Nest, Konigssee, and Salt Mine Berchtesgaden

Berchtesgaden is a Bavarian town less than an hour away from Salzburg by bus, worth visiting for its incredible natural scenery, which is one of the best in Germany. Nestled in the Bavarian Alps, it’s home to the Eagle’s Nest, a WW2 historic landmark with panoramic views of the mountains. There’s more to see, though, like Königssee (the cleanest lake in Germany) and the Salt Mine (the oldest salt mine in Germany). Time to spend in Berchtesgaden: whole day or half day.

Hallstatt is the most iconic village in Austria, famous for its fairytale-like appearance. Its pastel-colored houses sit beside a tranquil lake, with the majestic mountains of the limestone Alps providing a stunning backdrop that is sure to bring your fantasies to life. But there’s more to see than just the village in Hallstatt: visit the oldest salt mine in the world, Salzwelten; explore a natural spectacle, Dachsteinhöhlen; relax by taking a boat ride, and more! Time to spend in Hallstatt: whole day (half day if visited with St. Gilgen)

Hallstatt, the most famous day trip from Salzburg, Austria
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If you like, you can visit more than one destination during the second day of your 2-day trip to Salzburg. This is doable since these attractions are only a few kilometers away from Salzburg and from each other.

Option 1: St. Gilgen and Hallstatt

St. Gilgen and Hallstatt are both located in the Salzkammergut Region, which is also known as Salzburg’s lake region. You can easily visit both places in one day. Since St. Gilgen is on the way to Hallstatt, you won’t have to worry about figuring out complicated driving directions or going out of your way.

If you’re planning to rent a car and drive, it’ll take you about an hour and a half to get to Hallstatt. You’ll reach St. Gilgen just 30 minutes after leaving Salzburg, and from there it’s another hour’s drive to Hallstatt. If you’re taking public transportation, the bus is the faster and cheaper option. To get to Hallstatt directly, it’s a three-step journey:

  1. First, take bus 150 from Salzburg to Bad Ischl.
  2. From there, take bus 542 to Hallstatt Gosaumühle.
  3. And finally, take shuttle 543 to Hallstatt Lahn.

St. Gilgen is one of the stops on bus 150.

You’re not limited to just taking the three-bus journey to get to Hallstatt, though. Trains also run along some parts of the route. You can check the OBB Scotty route browser, which is linked in the resources section of this post, to find alternative routes.

  • In the OBB Scotty web app, simply type ‘Salzburg Hbf’ in the start box and ‘Hallstatt Lahn’ in the destination box.
  • Then, adjust the time and date of departure and arrival, tick the ‘Add return journey’ switch, and select any other preferences you like.
  • Press the search button and OBB Scotty will give you several options instantly.
  • You can even book tickets online for added convenience.

If it’s your first time traveling to Hallstatt and you’re planning to use public transportation, the transfers might seem overwhelming. You might be worried about missing a stop and wasting time finding your way back. To make your visit to Hallstatt and the must-see parts of Salzkammergut seamless, you can check out the tours listed below. 

  1. Traveling with friends or family: Private Tour of Hallstatt from Salzburg
  2. Solo traveler (without St. Gilgen): Hallstatt Tour (5.5 Hours)

The guides will take care of everything for you!

Option 2: Hellbrunn Palace and Hohenwerfen Fortress

Important: Keep in mind that Hellbrunn Palace and Hohenwerfen Fortress are only open from April to November. If you’re planning to visit Salzburg outside of these months, it’s a good idea to have some other day trip options in mind.

Since Hellbrunn Palace and Hohenwerfen Fortress are both located south of Salzburg, you can be visited together on a day trip from Salzburg. The best part? Hellbrunn Palace is on the way to Hohenwerfen Fortress, so you won’t have to worry about taking any detours or figuring out complicated routes.

Hellbrunn Palace is just 5 kilometers south of Old Town Salzburg, near the southern district of Morzg, making it the closest day trip from the city. 40 kilometers further south, you’ll find the town of Werfen, where Hohenwerfen Fortress is located.

Both attractions open at either 9:00 or 9:30 am, and you can visit either one first. However, it’s a good idea to visit Hellbrunn Palace in the morning if you want to make the most of your time in Salzburg. You can wake up early, head to the palace’s garden, and enjoy the peace and quiet before it gets crowded during opening hours. The garden of Hellbrunn Palace opens as early as 6:30 am.

To get to Hellbrunn Palace from Old Town Salzburg, you can either take bus 25, which takes 25 to 30 minutes, or drive, which takes about 10 minutes. If you have a Salzburg Card, you won’t have to worry about booking tickets to Hellbrunn Palace or paying for the bus ride.

For your lunch: there is a restaurant inside the palace grounds. This is the most convenient option if you’re using public transportation.

If you’re driving, there are more lunch options in Werfen, or you can have lunch inside Hohenwerfen Fortress. By around 12:30 pm, you should be on your way to Werfen from Hellbrunn Palace.

If you’re using public transportation, there are several ways to get to Hohenwerfen Fortress from Hellbrunn Palace. The most efficient way is to take bus 170 to Hallien and then catch a train to Werfen train station, where you can wait for a shuttle to Hohenwerfen Fortress. Alternatively, you can take bus 25 back to the city and then catch a train to Werfen. You can check the OBB Scotty web app for more options.

It’s important to note that you need to reserve a seat on the shuttle to get to Hohenwerfen Fortress. You can do this by calling the shuttle service’s phone number, which is listed on the official Hohenwerfen Fortress website’s ‘How to Reach Us’ page, under the ‘train’ section.

If you’re traveling to Hohenwerfen Fortress by public transportation, please allow for 1.5 to 2 hours of travel time; 30 minutes if you’ll be driving. Try to arrive at Hohenwerfen Fortress at least 30 minutes before the Birds of Prey show so you can get a good spot to watch. The show takes place at around 3:15 pm during the shoulder season and 4:30 pm during the summer or peak season.

You can book your tickets to Hohenwerfen Fortress here.

Option 3: Hellbrunn Palace and Berchtesgaden

Important: It’s not recommended to visit Berchtesgaden during the winter if you’re planning to see this Bavarian Town, as many of its top attractions, such as Eagle’s Nest and Konigssee, are not accessible to travelers. However, you can still visit Berchtesgaden to see its Salt Mine — Germany’s oldest salt mine.

If you’re traveling by public transportation, a day trip to Hellbrunn Palace and Berchtesgaden is easier than one to Hellbrunn Palace and Hohenwerfen Fortress. This is because bus 840, which links Salzburg and Berchtesgaden, stops at both Hellbrunn Palace and the Salt Mine in Berchtesgaden. You can see more with less effort in a single day.

So, which should you visit first? Since there are no time restrictions for visiting Berchtesgaden, aside from the public transportation schedule (buses run until around 6:00 pm and trains until around 9:00 pm), it makes sense to visit Berchtesgaden in the afternoon and Hellbrunn Palace in the morning.

Visiting Hellbrunn Palace in the morning is a good idea for the same reason as option 2 – you can take advantage of the early opening hours of its garden (6:30 am) and enjoy a peaceful stroll.

If you’re visiting during the summer, I recommend the following sequence of attractions:

  • Hellbrunn Palace from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm
  • Salt Mine Berchtesgaden from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
  • Eagle’s Nest at 4:00 pm
  • Berchtesgaden Old Town at 6:00 pm

Salzburg Card holders have a 20% discount in Salt Mine Berchtesgaden. If you have a Salzburg Card, don’t forget to take advantage of the free transportation to Hellbrunn Palace by using bus 25. Please read my post Berchtesgaden for more information about Eagle’s Nest, Salt Mine Berchtesgaden, and Old Town Berchtesgaden.

Alternative Attractions

So, that’s it! That’s how you can spend 2 days in Salzburg, seeing its highlights and visiting fantastic destinations outside the city. If you’re looking for more things to do in Salzburg or want to replace something in the itinerary, there are still more than a dozen attractions and activities to choose from. Looking for guided tours? Check this list of things to do in Salzburg.

Check out these other places of interest in Salzburg:

Humboldt Terrace in Monchsberg, Free Things to Do in Salzburg, Austria
Humboldt Terrace in Monchsberg

Monchsberg  is a mountain that offers some of the best views of Old Town Salzburg (Humboldt Terrace and Richterhöhe). It’s also home to the Museum der Moderne, which has a restaurant (M32) next to it that offers an overlooking view of the city. If you’re looking for a restaurant with a great view of Salzburg at night, this could be one of the restaurants you’re looking for.

Don’t worry if you don’t want to climb stairs and hike uphill to get to these great places. The mountain has an elevator located in Old Town Salzburg that takes you straight to the museum or restaurant. If you have a Salzburg Card, you can use the elevator for free and access to the museum is also free.

Nonnberg Abbey is the oldest continuously existing nunnery in the German-speaking world and offers a unique cultural experience: the Gregorian Chants of the nuns, which take place every morning around 6:45 am. Nonnberg Abbey is also one of the filming locations for the movie The Sound of Music. If you’re a fan and want to see all of the filming locations for The Sound of Music in Salzburg, you might want to visit Nonnberg Abbey before leaving Salzburg on your third day.

Nonnberg Abbey, Free Things to Do in Salzburg, Austria
Nonnberg Abbey


As promised, here are the links that you might need to polish your 2-day Salzburg trip.

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After exploring Salzburg, you might want to set your sights on Innsbruck. This alpine city in Austria is just a short, less than 2-hour train ride away from Salzburg. Much like Salzburg, Innsbruck boasts a charming old town, picturesque views, and beautiful discoveries waiting for you. In fact, it’s also suited for a day trip from Salzburg. If this sounds like a good idea, you can begin your adventure in Innsbruck with my itinerary, which offers a variety of ideas on how to make the most of a day in Innsbruck.

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