7 things to do in Salzburg, Austria

by Bea Cińska
Salzburg photo by Dimitri Anikin

If you plan on visiting Austria, make time for Salzburg. This alpine city has several claims to fame, a few of them musical. For one, it was the birthplace and hometown of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Secondly, the famed Salzburg Festival takes place here every summer. And the famous film “The Sound of Music” was filmed here in the 60s. Furthermore, this city is also a UNESCO world-heritage site.

Salzburg Chapter Fountain

We visited Austria two summers ago on our European family road trip through eight countries. In fact, we stopped in two Austrian cities that have long been on our bucket list: Innsbruck and Salzburg. See our Innsbruck blog post for itinerary ideas. After visiting Innsbruck, we spent a day and a half in Salzburg with our 8-year old son. Below are seven items that can help you build your own itinerary based on your tastes and time constraints. So without further delay, we present to you:

7 Things to do in Salzburg:

Salzburg mountain

1. Aldstadt (Old Town) of Salzburg

The Old Town of Salzburg is beautiful and full of history. We started our day here. All the sights we describe here are part of the Old Town, which makes sightseeing convenient and easy. The entire time we were in this beautiful city, we walked everywhere with our 8-year old.

Salzburg Festival

2. Salzburg is all about Mozart

I think it’s safe to say that Mozart being born in Salzburg is the city’s main claim to fame. So make sure you visit Mozartplatz (Mozart Square) with his famous statue. We only had to walk for five minutes from the statue is Mozart’s birthplace and first home, Mozarts Geburtshaus. And a further 5-minute walk, this time across the Staatsbrücke bridge, we ended up at the Mozart-Wohnhaus or the Mozart residence, where the composer lived as a young adult.

Salzburg Mozart Museum

3. Mirabell Palace & Gardens

This palace and its gardens are a UNESCO heritage site. So obviously we couldn’t not visit this place. It is iconic of this city and its story is a sordid one. Constructed in the 17th century, it was a gift from the Catholic archbishop and prince of Salzburg, Wolf Dietrich Raitenau to his mistress Salome Alt with whom he had 15 children. The gardens of this property were prominently featured in “The Sound of Music”. Admission into the Mirabell is free. 

Salzburg Mirabell Palace

4. Walk along the River Salzach

The name of the river comes from the word “salt”. Shipping salt on this river had been one of the most important parts of the local economy until the 19th century. We enjoyed a leisurely stroll along the shore admiring the city views.

Salzburg River walk

5. DomQuartier Salzburg (Cathedral District)

Visit the cathedral quarter to be awed by the power and wealth of the bishop princes who used to rule ths city. If you don’t have time to visit all museums in this tour (palace, cathedral and St Peter’s Abbey), at least visit the cathedral. It is here that Mozart was baptised. Come in to view the font used in his baptismal ceremony. You can also visit the crypt and the chest containing relics of St Rupert and St Virgil.

Salzburg Cathedral photo by Simona Todorova

6. Hohensalzburg Fortress

The High Salzburg Fortress is another must see. Its construction began in the 11th century at the behest of the then ruling Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg. It sits atop a hill above the city and defines its skyline. We hiked up on foot. But if you are not up for walking, you can also ride the Festungsbahn up to the fortress.

Salzburg Hohehsalzburg

7. Petersfriedhof (St Peter’s Cemetery) in Salzburg

This is the oldest cemetery in Salzburg dating back to the 8th century. It was established at the time of the creation of the adjacent St Peter’s Abbey. The oldest tombstone still standing dates back to the 13th century. Many notable people have been buried here, including Michael Haydn and Maria Anna Mozart. I am a sucker for old cemeteries. I love reading old tombstones (if readable) and trying to imagine what kind of lives these people led when they were alive.

Petersfriedhof St Peter's Cemetery, Salzburg

This is how we spent one day in this beautiful city. Of course, there are many other sights to visit in Salzburg if you have the time. No matter how long you stay, it is not possible to get bored here. So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to this iconic Austrian city.

Auf Wiedersehen!

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Salzburg itinerary

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Lasma January 29, 2022 - 6:11 pm

Saved it for the future! A lot of information an always wanted to visit this place 🙂

Cedric September 24, 2018 - 12:58 am

Great list! I would love to visit the fortress. And the old cemetery looks both eerie and interesting at the same time.

BPK October 7, 2018 - 4:40 pm

I loved that cemetery! I find cemeteries, especially really old ones, to be such a connection to our past.

Lynne F. September 24, 2018 - 12:56 am

I would love to do the Sound of Music tour. That is my favourite movie of all times!


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