A Guide to Mönchsberg, Salzburg (Going There & Things to Do)

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As a wanderer, I find Salzburg’s geography to be one of the main reasons I’m drawn to this city. Tucked away at the foothills of the Alps, Salzburg offers stunning natural scenery at nearly every turn — even within its historic center! The combination of mountain views and the old-world charm of its historic center makes Salzburg a city that seems to whisper, “Capture my beauty!”

There are numerous viewpoints to visit for amazing photos, some of which offer magical views of the sunrise and sunset. The most breathtaking scenes, however, can be found in the mountains that encircle the Old Town, like Mönchsberg and Kapuzinerberg. If you’re looking for the most accessible viewpoint that requires minimal effort to reach, though, Mönchsberg is your destination. It has an elevator in the Old Town that takes visitors directly to a spot with an overlooking view of the Old Town.

What’s more, Mönchsberg is conveniently located near other top attractions in the Old City, such as Mozart’s Birthplace, Salzburg Cathedral, Hohensalzburg Fortress, Mirabell Palace, and Nonnberg Abbey. If you’re planning to explore Old Town Salzburg on foot, including the viewpoints in Mönchsberg is a no-brainer. But there’s more to do in Mönchsberg than just taking in the breathtaking views. Let me share with you everything you need to know before you visit Mönchsberg.

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Author’s notes

I absolutely love planning trips, and one thing I always make sure to include is destinations with stunning panoramic views!

There’s just something so exhilarating about standing high above anything and taking in the breathtaking beauty of the landscape and its surroundings. It’s like seeing everything with fresh eyes, and it never fails to put a smile on my face. These moments of wonder allow me to clear my mind and find my silver lining amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

That’s why I have become a map enthusiast, mastering the talent of searching for areas where scenic views are found. Using Google Maps and Google Earth, sometimes, I spend hours just to find the best views of the city or area I plan to visit. Planning a trip to Salzburg, that’s how I discovered Mönchsberg.

However, you don’t have to be a map or travel expert to find Mönchsberg. In fact, if you’re already in Salzburg, you don’t even need a map to find where Mönchsberg is. Just head to one of the bridges over the River Salzach, look around, and you’ll see it.

How to Get There

Specifically, Mönchsberg is the mountain located to the west of Salzburg’s Old Town, adjacent to the one topped by the Hohensalzburg Fortress. With an elevation exceeding 500 meters, it provides an expansive view of the old town from the viewpoints along its eastern slopes.

There are a few ways to get to Mönchsberg. It can be accessed from its four sides: Mönchsberg Elevator (east), Doktor-Ludwig-Prähauser-Weg (south), Am Mönchsberg Road (north), and the small staircase near the Landesfischereiverband Salzburg government office (west).

Best way to get to Mönchsberg (from Old Town Salzburg)

Of the four, Mönchsberg Elevator is the most convenient way to get to the top of the mountain, especially if you’re from Old Town. Mönchsberg Elevator is located on Gstättengasse and is just a short walk from Saint Blaise’s Church — you know, the one carved into the face of Mönchsberg that you can see from Getreidegasse. Last time I checked, the ride up to Mönchsberg using the elevator takes only about 30 seconds.

If you’re already in the Old Town, near Salzburg Cathedral, it’s just a 10-minute walk to the Mönchsberg Elevator. The elevator takes you right up to the Museum der Moderne, where you can start your journey on this small mountain.

To Mönchsberg from Hohensalzburg Fortress

Let’s say you just finished checking out Hohensalzburg Fortress and want to head over to Mönchsberg. You do not need to walk all the way back to Old Town and take the elevator – there’s a shortcut! From the fortress, head to the Lodronbogen towergate. It’s that same medieval building you walked through if you bought the pathway ticket to Hohensalzburg Fortress.

After reaching Lodronbogen towergate, take the Oskar-Kokoschka-Weg which is the path that goes right under the funicular rail. Keep walking to reach the Doktor-Ludwig-Prähauser-Weg path after passing through Schartentor. This is the path that connects Festungsberg and Mönchsberg. Continue walking… And when you reach Freyschlössl (Roter Turm) — you’re in Mönchsberg!

From Mirabell Palace to Mönchsberg

Mirabell Palace probably has the most picturesque view of Hohensalzburg Fortress in Festungsberg from its grand parterre, but it’s actually closer to Mönchsberg. If you’re planning to visit Mönchsberg after Mirabell Palace, you have two options.

  • The first is to walk to Old Town and take the elevator, which is faster and preferable if you’re short on time.
  • The second option is to walk to the northern entrance of Mönchsberg, which takes longer but offers more scenic views along the way.

Taking the second option, you’ll pass by a picturesque bridge with a fairy-tale view of Salzburg Old Town and a nice-looking church. If that’s what you like, follow these instructions:

  1. Exit through Mirabell Palace’s northern gate, which is located north of the palace’s small parterre. Turn left towards the Salzach River. Within 5 minutes, you’ll arrive at Müllnersteg, a bridge with beautiful views of Salzburg.
  2. If the weather looks great, I recommend spending a few moments on the bridge to immerse yourself in nature and lovely views. Here’s another way to enjoy Salzburg’s scenery from the Salzach River: Boat Ride on the Salzach
  3. After taking in the picture-perfect views, continue walking west towards the mountain, then turn right onto Kaipromenade and left onto Müllner Hauptstrasse.
  4. Turn right again and you’ll find a long staircase leading to Am Mönchsberg Road.
  5. Once you see Monikapforte, a medieval fortification entry to the mountain, you’ve arrived at Mönchsberg.
  6. If the staircase is closed, continue walking north until you reach the junction of Augustinergasse and Müllner Hauptgasse.
  7. Turn onto Augustinergasse and you’ll find another road and staircase leading to Am Mönchsberg Road.
Outside Old Town to Mönchsberg

Adjacent to the Sigmundstor tunnel under Mönchsberg, Mönchsberggarage is one of the closest parking lots to Old Town Salzburg. (Mönchsberggarage is located east side Mönchsberg)

If you’re visiting Salzburg and want to park your car there, you can quickly reach Mönchsberg by taking the hidden staircase behind the Landesfischereiverband Salzburg government office. From Mönchsberggarage, walk along Reichenhallerstrasse for about 5 minutes and keep an eye out for the staircase on your right, before Reichenhallerstrasse curves to the left. This staircase will take you directly to Mönchsberg. 

Attractions, Activities & Viewpoints

While Mönchsberg may appear to be just a mountain in Salzburg, it’s actually part of the core zone of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Historic Center of the City of Salzburg. The forests, meadows, and breathtaking views from this mountain are just the beginning of what you can experience while exploring this small but fascinating mountain. Named after the Benedictine monks of St. Peter’s Abbey at its northern base, you now have an idea that Mönchsberg also offers a glimpse into the rich history and culture of Salzburg.

Discover: This 2.5-hour walking tour is perfect for those who want to experience the culture of Salzburg, the history of Mozart, and enjoy an amazing panoramic view from Mönchsberg hill.

1. Relax With the View of the Alps From Mönchsberg

Reaching as high as 508 meters, Mönchsberg is definitely one of the best places in Salzburg to take in an unobstructed view of the Alps. Eye-pleasing green vistas with layers of blue, snow-capped mountains in the backdrop await you at Mönchsberg. Since the Alps are located southwest of Salzburg, the western slopes of Mönchsberg are the area you need to visit to see this beautiful sight.

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Learn more about the views of the Alps from Mönchsberg

There are several scenic spots on the western slopes of Mönchsberg. However, there are two particular locations in Mönchsberg that offer the best views: Richterhöhe observation deck and the pathway at the back of Johannesschlössl.

Richterhöhe observation deck is the southernmost portion of Mönchsberg and Johannesschlössl is located near the northernmost tip of Mönchsberg. I recommend them since Rainberg, which is another mountain in Salzburg, blocks much of the Alps from view from the mid-southwestern slopes of Mönchsberg.

If you’ve been to Hohensalzburg Fortress, the view will not be very different from what you can see from the viewpoints and towers of the fortress.  However, you can expect it to be more peaceful and tranquil as fewer people visit these spots.

If you plan to stay longer in Salzburg and are looking for a unique, budget-friendly place to watch the sunset, I think these places are great options. When I checked those places, I found a few benches where you can hang out, have a picnic, and enjoy the moment in nature.

2. Photograph the City From Mönchsberg

Overlooking Old Town Salzburg, Mönchsberg lets its visitors see the city skyline from a whole new perspective. You won’t be disappointed — the views are straight out of a postcard! Whether you’re a photography buff or just looking for a romantic spot with a view, Mönchsberg is the place to be. So, where are the vantage points of the city in Mönchsberg? They are located at the northeastern side of the mountain, along the hiking trail between Museum der Moderne and Hotel Schloss Mönchstein.

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More Information about the Photography spot in Mönchsberg

Let’s say you’ve just arrived at the Museum der Moderne using the Mönchsberg Elevator. To reach that scenic area, take the pathway with stairs near the Amalie-Redlich Tower. Within two or three minutes of leaving the museum, you should see the facade of Markuskirche when you look southeast, with the sprawling cityscape of Old Town behind it, stretching all the way to Hohensalzburg Fortress.

From this vantage point, it’s fascinating to see how the Salzach River, Festungsberg, and Mönchsberg served as natural barriers against Salzburg’s enemies during the Middle Ages.

Before you reach the Hotel Schloss Mönchstein, you’ll see a staircase on your right. It leads down to Humboldt Terrace, a viewpoint with an unobstructed panorama of Salzburg. You can check the exact location of the vantage point in the resources section of this post. At this viewpoint, you’ll find an information board that tells a piece of Salzburg history, making it a hidden gem for history buffs like me!

The board says that there was another castle in Salzburg before. It’s the Trumpeters’ Castle, which was a strategic counterpart of Hohensalzburg Fortress and protected the district east of the Salzach River. However, when Prince Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau called the Capuchin monks to Salzburg in 1594, he transformed the Trumpeters’ Castle into a monastery and church for the order.

From the description and map on the board, we can infer that the current Kapuzinerkloster in Kapuzinerberg was once the Trumpeters’ Castle. The board also describes Salzburg before the 1860 Salzach river control.

When you visit this vantage point, with the help of the illustration at the information board, you can imagine what Salzburg looked like several centuries in the past.

3. Visit Museum Der Moderne Mönchsberg

While a trip to Mönchsberg may seem like it’s all about nature and beautiful scenery, there’s actually a modern art museum located on top of the mountain — the Museum der Moderne Mönchsberg.

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Brief overview about the museum

This museum is a popular tourist attraction in Salzburg for travelers seeking a diverse range of experiences. And as you may have discovered a while ago, it can easily be reached with Mönchsberg Elevator.

If you like modern art, step inside and be transported to a world of art and creativity, in stark contrast to the traditional charm of Salzburg. Explore thematic and monographic exhibitions showcasing the best of 20th- and 21st-century art, marvel at the extensive collection of graphics and photography, with a special focus on Austrian photography after 1945, and discover contemporary Austrian art.

I am not completely into modern art, though, so I cannot tell so much about it. But if you want to learn more about the Museum der Moderne in Mönchsberg, you may check their official website I linked to in the resources section of this post.

4. Visit Saint Peter’s Catacombs in Mönchsberg

Another notable tourist attraction in Salzburg lies in Mönchsberg. It’s Saint Peter’s Catacombs and they’re really intriguing. However, unlike the Museum der Moderne, the catacombs are not located on the mountain’s surface. Dating back to the 1100s, these ancient catacombs were impressively carved into the Mönchsberg mountain and served as both a sacred burial site and a place for Christian hermits to live in solitude. You’ll find the entrance of the Saint Peter’s Catacombs in the cemetery behind St Peter’s Church. 

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Learn more about the catacombs

It’s open all year and only costs two euros for adults – just remember to bring cash. As you explore, you’ll see well-maintained preserved remains of altars, relics, tombs, inscriptions, and faded murals that date back to antiquity. You’ll also uncover the cultural significance of the catacombs, with both Michael Haydn and Mozart’s sister, Nannerl buried near the entrance.

The catacombs and cemetery were even featured in the classic 1965 film, The Sound of Music. If you’re a fan of the movie, Saint Peter’s Catacombs is worth a stop while exploring Salzburg. 

Right now, visitors can explore two levels of the catacombs: the “Gertrauden Chapel,” which was built in 1178, and the “Maximus Chapel,” which is located about 40 steps higher and is believed to be even older.

Before you visit, please make sure to wear walking shoes with a good grip. The stairs to the catacombs are really old and can be slippery. It’s also pretty steep and doesn’t have handrails in most places.  You may check the references at the end of this post for the visiting hours of Saint Peter’s Catacombs.

5. Admire Sigmundstor and Pferdeschwemme Below Mönchsberg 

Mönchsberg is home to some of Salzburg’s most historic and remarkable landmarks, including Sigmundstor and Pferdeschwemme. These landmarks are situated on the mountain face of Mönchsberg, and they are another place to be for curious wandering in Salzburg or Mönchsberg.

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More information about these unique landmarks

Sigmundstor, with its imposing entrance arches decorated with reliefs and historic figures, is particularly impressive. Dating back to the 18th century, it is one of the oldest road tunnels in Austria and served as a city gate to Old Town Salzburg.

The tunnel literally goes through the mountain and took 18 months to dig and almost 4 years to complete, including the details on its arch. It’s an impressive feat of engineering, especially considering the technology available at the time.

Nestled beside Sigmundstor in Old Town Salzburg, you’ll find Pferdeschwemme, also known as Horse Pond. This 17th-century landmark offers a fascinating glimpse into Salzburg’s rich culture and history. 

Once used to wash and groom parade horses from the prince-archbishops’ stables, the Horse Pond features a statue of the “Horse Tamer” and unique frescoes on its back wall that bring the customs of that time to life. Discover: Original Sound of Music Tour Horse Pond included!

If you’re planning a visit to Mönchsberg from Old Town Salzburg, be sure to check out Sigmundstor and Pferdeschwemme before taking the Mönchsberg Elevator to the top of the mountain. These landmarks are just a 3-minute walk apart, along the street that runs closest in parallel to the mountain. It’s the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in Salzburg’s history before taking in the breathtaking views from atop Mönchsberg. 

Resources

That is all I have to share about Mönchsberg in Salzburg! I hope you find this post helpful for your trip to Salzburg. If you need more information about the 5 points of interest on the mountain, the links below will guide you.

If you’re planning a trip to Salzburg and haven’t booked a hotel yet, I highly recommend using my partner’s hotel search and booking platform. It offers some of the best hotel deals in Europe and is my go-to resource for finding accommodations. I’m confident you’ll find it useful as well. Please be aware that this is an affiliate link, which means we receive a small commission at no extra cost to you if you book your hotel through this link. This is a fantastic way to support WanderInEurope. Thank you for your support!

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Salzburg has more to offer than just the stunning views from Mönchsberg. You can partake in the unique activities and experiences that this city has to offer, or simply stroll around the old town to see the notable landmarks and historical sites. After exploring the city, consider taking a day trip to nearby attractions like Berchtesgaden, Hohenwerfen Castle, Hellbrunn Palace, and Saint Gilgen. If you’re in need of a Salzburg itinerary, I’ve got you covered with one-day, two-day, and three-day options. Feel free to check them out!

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