top of page

top five guide: salzburg, austria

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

Panoramic View Salzburg Austria Old Town Sunset

Perhaps best known as Mozart's birthplace, Salzburg has all the usual trappings of an idyllic European destination: a small river with pedestrian bridges, winding cobblestoned paths, historical architecture, impressive natural surroundings, and a cheery local culture.

This gorgeous Austrian town had a quaint vibe that reminded me of Lucerne or Ljubljana, but with a Bavarian twist as it sits right on the German border. An easy train ride from Vienna, Salzburg is a can't-miss a stop for any trip to Austria.

here are my top five tips for a trip to SALZBURG:

Numa Mozart Salzburg Austria Hotel New Town Window View Mountain

1: where to stay

Like many European towns, Salzburg is comprised of both an Old Town (Aldstadt) and a New Town (Neustadt), which are clearly separated by the Salzach river. While there are great accommodation options and attractions on both sides, we stayed on a quieter street in New Town at Numa | Mozart (pictured), a trendy kind of apartment/hotel concept. I particularly loved the design and views, and it was located just a 12 minute walk from the heart of Old Town. If you prefer something a bit more centrally located and luxurious, I would check out Hotel Goldener Hirsch in Old Town.

Dome Salzburg Cathedral Austria

2: explore old town

There is much to see on the Old Town side, so it's best to take a walking tour of some kind, whether it be self-guided or more organized (my favorite guy, Rick Steves, actually has a free self-guided audio tour that you can download from his Audio Europe app). Whatever option you choose, be sure not to miss the ornate Salzburg Cathedral (pictured), the quirky headstones at Petersfriedhof cemetery, shopping on picturesque Getreidegasse street, and Mozart’s childhood home, which now serves as a museum.

Sound of Music Movie Location Bike Tour Salzburg Austria Mansion on Lake

3: sound of music tour

If you have any familiarity with the film The Sound of Music whatsoever, I implore you to do a quick rewatch ahead of your trip and book Fraulein Maria's Bicycle Tours. Salzburg is famously where the film was shot, and while this is certainly one of the most touristy things to do in town, we actually had a blast. This tour takes you to popular Old Town sights and beyond to the rolling green hills surrounding the city. You'll learn a bit about Salzburg while also spotting famous spots from the film (yes, you will spin around like Maria did). Fun fact: Austrians don't know (or care) much about the movie - it's an American thing!

Aussicht Kapuzinerberg Sunset Panoramic Viewpoint Salzburg Austria

4: sunset views

One evening while exploring New Town solo, I stumbled upon a small alley that took me uphill to the most lovely viewpoint overlooking the city. This gem is located on a path that follows old wall fortifications, and it is my favorite spot in all of Salzburg. The panoramic views and relatively fewer crowds make it an ideal place to relax and watch the sunset over both Old and New Town. To get there, search "Aussicht Kapuzinerberg" in your maps, bring along a bottle of local beer or wine, and thank me later.

Beer Bratwurst Sauerkraut Austria Salzburg Meal

5: eats and drinks

Salzburg is closer to Bavaria than Vienna, and as a result you will find biergartens, pretzel vendors other German-style delights. Grab a beer at the popular Augustiner Bräu, Austria's largest public house where brews have been enjoyed for an astonishing 400 years. Another iconic spot is Grünmarket, an open air market that's perfect for sampling local treats, as well as the Schrannenmarkt farmer’s market. For something a bit less traditional, you will find excellent cappuccinos poured up at Favorite Kamer, amazing Colombian food at Bistro de Marquez, and solid Indian fare at Taj Mahal.

you can't always do it all, so one thing I WISH I had done:

Take a day trip to Hallstatt. About an hour's drive from Salzburg lies one of the most picturesque villages in all of Europe. While it is an excellent day trip for those with cars, a visit here is a bit more difficult to manage if you are relying on public transportation as there is no direct train route. In any case, this lakeside paradise has been highly recommended by many peers and remains on the bucket list!


bottom of page