Day Trip to Salzburg, views of the fortress above Old Town

Day Trip to Salzburg, Austria: The Ultimate One Day Itinerary (2024)

Salzburg Austria has extraordinary views of the snowcapped Alps, charming cobblestone streets, art museums, and more. On a day trip to Salzburg, you can learn about Mozart, eat some famous Mozart chocolates, explore a fortress, and explore sites from the famous film The Sound of Music.

With its picturesque Residenzplatz, the Hohensalzburg Fortress looming over the old town, and the jagged peaks of the Alps to the south, Salzburg is full of dramatic views. The city is so beautiful, it has sometimes been called “The German Rome”.

We visited Salzburg as part of our Family Gap Year (what is a Family Gap Year?) when we spent a month in Vienna in December. We loved the small-town feel of Salzburg, with a ton of family-friendly activities and wonderful traditional food.

Salzburg is a great destination to spend a few days or a weekend, but you can easily visit on a day trip from Munich or Vienna. In this post, we’ll cover what to see in Salzburg in one day, where to eat, how to get to Salzburg, and where to stay in Salzburg. At the end of this Salzburg itinerary, we’ll also cover additional activities in Salzburg to include if you have more time.

Seeing the highlights of Salzburg in a day is absolutely possible, but plan to stay a little longer if you can!

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What is Salzburg, Austria Known for?

Salzburg Austria is known for its majestic mountain views, for being the birthplace and home of Mozart, and for being the setting of the 1965 Movie The Sound of Music starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.

Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Salzburg Austria was once known more for its salt mines than its famous citizens. Once a Roman town, St. Peter’s Abbey and the Nonnberg Nunnery were built around 700. In 798, Salzburg became an archbishopric, meaning its archbishops were considered princes of the Holy Roman Empire. These archbishops were responsible for much of the public building that occurred over the next few centuries, from the cathedral to the city university.

🏅 Editors Top Picks 🏅
Best Salzburg Tour: Sound of Music Half Day Bus Tour
Includes Hellbrunn Palace (with the famous gazebo)

Best Central Hotel: Star Inn Hotel Premium Salzburg

Consider a Salzburg Card

Consider getting a Salzburg Card for your one day in Salzburg. You can buy this card in various increments, but for a Salzburg day trip, the 24-hour card is what you’ll need. It covers the entrance fees to almost every attraction in Salzburg, including the tram up to the fortress. It also includes public transportation around town.

This card begins the 24-hour clock when you first use it. Since many of the first things you will do on your day trip are free, you probably won’t activate the card until mid-day. That means that the 24-hour card is also the right choice if you choose to stay one night in Salzburg- you’ll have an activated card through mid-day on your second day.

The only activity that we recommend that is not included on the Salzburg Card is the concert at the Salzburg Cathedral, which is 6€ for adults, and free for kids under 18.

You can buy the card online and use it via your smartphone. The 24-hour card for adults starts at 27€ in low season and goes up to 30€ on May 1st. Kids ages 6-15 start at 13.50€. Since kids under 6 are free at most attractions and on public transport, they do not need a Salzburg Card.

One Day Itinerary for Salzburg, Austria

When visiting Salzburg in a day, you will need to follow an efficient itinerary or you will run out of time, as there is a lot to see and do. Of course, it’s not possible to do it all in one day!

We’ve outlined below what we found to be the best one day itinerary for Salzburg that includes the top historical and pop culture sites in the city.

However, you may prefer a day trip from Vienna or a day trip from Munich with a tour guide to take the pressure off of navigating around the city yourself. We’ve included details about each tour option below the itinerary.

Arriving in Salzburg via Train

For the purpose of this Salzburg itinerary, we’ll assume that you will be arriving by train. If you prefer to take the bus or rent a car, we’ve included details on those options below.

When you first arrive in Salzburg, (and for the last few minutes of the train ride), you’ll be greeted by stunning views of the mountains. Depending on the season, you may have more or less snow, but for us, after spending most of our time in Vienna with no mountains in sight, these views were breathtaking.

From the train station in the city center, Mirabell Palace Gardens are only about a ten-minute walk. From the main exit, head left, and follow the main road, which curves under the train tracks in a short tunnel. You’ll find a series of casual restaurants- from sushi to afghan, to pizza, keep these in mind in case you need a quick dinner on your way back to the train.

The train station itself is quite large and has everything you might need- snacks, takeaway food, ATMs, etc.

Walk to Mirabell Palace Gardens

Mirabell Palace was built in 1606, its gardens were redesigned in 1690, and much of the original garden plan is still in place, though some of the statues are from a later date.

The Mirabell Gardens are famous for being heavily featured in The Sound of Music- you’ll find many recognizable sights from the song “Do Re Mi”. I assumed that the garden would be quite large, but it’s really not- there are just a lot of pieces of it shown in the film!

When you reach Mirabell Palace, head into the park area behind the main building, you’ll be approaching it from the back. The first thing you’ll see is the famous steps where Maria and the kids finish the song “Do Re Mi”.

When we visited the ornate gates to the Mirabell Gardens were closed (look through to the unicorn statues), and most of the garden area was roped off. The grass is ornately decorated with small flowers, so visitors are restricted to the main pebbled path. We visited in Winter, and at least one section was closed off due to weather, so you may have better access during the spring and summer months.

Closed gates to the back of Mirabel Palace Garden, famous stairs from the Sound of Music

Continue past these steps (after you’ve sung a few high notes of course, and taken photos), and you’ll find the stone dwarfs that are also featured in the song (closed in winter). The kids in the movie run past and each taps the stone dwarf on the head.

Double back past the closed gates and walk on the dirt path close to the palace to enter the gardens. You’ll get a second view of the stairs from the inside (but can’t get very close). You’ll also see the Pegasus Fountain in the middle that the von Trapp kids run around. Just down the garden, you’ll see the hedge tunnel that they run through as well.

At the end of the Mirabellgarten, you’ll find the formal entrance, with the Greek fencing statues that are also featured in the video. It’s a lot of Sound of Music imagery in a very small area.

If you watch the song video before your visit, these images will resonate a bit better. We watched Do Re Mi before visiting Salzburg, then rewatched the full movie the day after our visit. The kids loved spotting the main Salzburg square, fountains, and even cupolas that they recognized from our visit.

Three people posing in front of the entrance to Mirabell Palace Gardens, next to the Greek Statues

You can also visit the main marble staircase known as “the Angel Staircase” and the concert hall of Mirabel Palace on weekdays. This concert hall was once the banquet hall of the prince-archbishops. Mozart and his family are known to have performed here.

Quick Food Stop: Dean and David Cafe

If you need a snack, coffee, or breakfast depending on how early you arrived, you’ll find Dean and David Café and Wine Bar right past the main entrance to the gardens. They have coffee, pastries, interesting sandwiches, and healthy kid’s meals like a kid’s mini falafel plate. We warmed up, had a coffee, and shared a brownie with raspberry, pumpkin seeds, and hazelnuts.

Alternate Food Option: Cafe Bazaar

If you are looking for a sit-down breakfast, or a more traditional, formal café experience, head to Café Bazaar before you cross the river. This cafe dates back to 1909, starting in 1927 they kept a guest book that details all the famous poets, writers, and actors who have visited the cafe. They have an extensive breakfast menu, and a few things for lunch- usually one soup of the day and two or three other things to choose from.

This is an old-school Austrian café, full of ambiance, with views of the river, and a lovely terrace. This is the kind of place where you will not see laptops, rather there are newspapers hung on rods, and you are welcome to get a cup of coffee and slowly sip and you read the paper.

Cross the River at Marko-Feingold-Steg

Head across the river toward the historic center. Take the Marko-Fiengold-Steg, a pedestrian bridge covered with padlocks.  You’ll have some of your first views of the fortress high on the hill above Salzburg, as well as some of the beautiful buildings around town.

Two kids in front of the locks on Marko-Fiengold-Steg, with views of the river behind.

The Horse Baths- Herbert von Karajan Platz

After you cross the river, take a right on Griesgasse. The streets are lined with holly berry trees here, you’ll see the Museum of Modern Art towering above you on top of the sheer rock face. Warning- there’s also a large Klexx toy shop on this street that our kids were asking to go into.

Head uphill and through the Gstättentor Gate, passing Gettreidegasse, to find the Horse Baths. The bath was used to wash and groom the Prince-Archbishop’s parade horses.

This bath was also featured in the Sound of Music near the end of the song “Favorite Things”- not the main version of the song, but the reprise when they are wearing their dresses made from curtains.

View of the Salzburg horse baths with rock rising up behind it.

Take Photos with the Gurken

The statues of five human-sized pickles in Furtwänglerpark are by Austrian modern artist Erwin Wurm. They went viral, and are now a strange symbol of Salzburg. These are part of the work of the Salzburg Foundation which has been placing modern art around Salzburg since 2002. Check them out for yourself!

Hear the Organs at Salzburg Dom

Each day at noon, there is an organ concert at the main Salzburg Cathedral. Lasting about 40 minutes, you’ll hear 4 of the church’s 7 organs played while learning a bit about the cathedral. The concert starts with a duet using the two Baroque organs nearest the altar of the cathedral, then moves to the Italian organ a bit farther back and ends with a few pieces on the large back organ, above where you enter.

Explanations are in both German and English. You can buy tickets at the booth by the entrance, kids under 18 are free, and adults are 6€. This is one of the only activities not included in the Salzburg card, but we highly recommend trying to time your visit to include the concert.

If you need to skip any of the above sites in order to get to the cathedral by noon, we recommend you do it- all of these places are a quick walk from each other, so you can easily double back and catch anything you missed.

Inside the Dom Cathedral, main alter and two organs, with Christmas decorations.

The Salzburg Cathedral sits on the Residenzplatz, but the entrance is through the arches and in the smaller courtyard to the right. Originally built in 767, the cathedral was twice destroyed by fire and rebuilt.

The current Salzburg Dom was opened in 1628, though it was damaged again during WWII. This church is where Mozart was baptized, as well as Joseph Mohr who wrote “Silent Night”. The three iron gates at the entrance represent Faith, Love, and Hope.

Explore the Residenzplatz

In Residenzplatz, the main square in historic Salzburg, you’ll find the four snorting horses of the Residence Fountain, which are clearly featured in the Sound of Music.

You’ll also find the Salzburg Dom, (the main cathedral) with horses and carriages waiting outside for visitors; the Museum of Salzburg with a clock tower with a special glockenspiel bell tower (listen for familiar songs); and the Dom Quartier, the residence of the prince-archbishops of the cathedral.

Window Shop down Getreidegasse

Getreidegasse is the main pedestrian walkway leading to and from the Residenzplatz. You’ll find all sorts of stores here, from souvenir stores to high-end boutiques. Notice the wrought-iron signs high above doorways- these are traditional, ornamental guild signs. You can play “guess the business” though not all of them are still the original type. Some of these signs are newer than others!

Stassny guild sign hanging in Getreidegasse, Salzburg

Try the Original Mozart Chocolates

On one corner of the Residenzplatz, you’ll find the original Café Konditorei Fürst, known for making the original MozartKuglen, which you see sold all over town in their distinctive silver and blue foil. First made in 1890, these chocolates have a marzipan and pistachio core covered in dark chocolate.

The cafe is still run by the same family, five generations later. You can get a coffee or cake and sit down to eat here or get some chocolates to go. 

Window display of MozartKuglen, the original mozart chocolates from Salzburg

Visit Mozart Square

This smaller square, adjacent to the Residenzplatz features a statue of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Salzburg’s most famous resident. Mozart was born in Salzburg, baptized here, and lived with his family in two different houses here.

In the winter you will find an ice skating rink here, with a place to rent skates. Any time of year, you can visit the Wienachtsmarkt Museum, which has an extensive collection of Christmas memorabilia from the years 1840-1940.

Take a Break for Lunch

If you’re looking for a casual lunch stop, the Grünmarkt in Universitätsplatz may be just what you need. You’ll find stalls selling pretzels, cheese, sausage, and more. Closed Sundays, and only open until 3 pm on Saturdays.

If you’re looking for amazing Austrian food in a sit-down restaurant, head to Pauli Stubm on Herrengasse. It’s only a 4-minute walk from the Salzburg Cathedral, so you can easily sneak this into your itinerary whenever you are ready.

Choose the indoor parlor, or the outdoor beer garden for your meal. You’ll find freshly baked pretzels, pancake soup, schnitzel, baked potatoes, and more, at prices that won’t break the bank.

Side Note: If you haven’t tried pancake soup in Austria yet, we highly recommend it. It’s a beef broth with strips of cut-up crepe in it. Both our kids loved it!

If you are visiting during a busy time, you may want to make a reservation online to avoid spending time waiting for a table.

Alternate Lunch: If you aren’t looking for traditional food, head to 220Grad for excellent coffee and brunch. The menu includes things like eggs benedict, and avocado toast. This also makes a great coffee and cake stop later in the afternoon if you need a break from sightseeing. Located at Wienter-Philharmoniker Gasse 9.

Check out Kollegienkirche

Stop into this unique church – the altar is decorated all in white, with blue uplighting. This church was disparaged when it was built in 1707 as being too modern. Architect Johann Fischer von Erlach put the center of the building directly under the dome, and choose white as the color of divinity. A lengthy restoration process was finished in 2013.

all white alter of Kollegienkirche in Salzburgs Old Town

Take the Azwanger Passage

From the Kollegienkirche, cross the plaza to take Azwanger Passage through to Getreidegasse. You’ll find several of these passages connecting the streets with stores on either side and stairways leading to the levels above.

Visit Mozart’s House

There are two houses in Salzburg where Mozart lived- the first is at No. 9 Getreidegasse where he was born in 1756 and lived in his childhood years. The second is on Makartplatz Square where the family moved in 1773 when they had more money, called the Mozart Residence.

We recommend visiting Mozart’s birth house, or Geburthaus, though if you have extra time you can get a combined ticket for both. Look for the bright yellow exterior of Mozart’s birth house.

Start by going up to the third floor where the family actually lived. You’ll see the kitchen, then enter the rest of the house which is set up more as a museum than a residence. You will also see Mozart’s childhood violin, read about his family, and see paintings, and other memorabilia throughout the museum. The rest of the museum winds back down through the other floors, including the last floor where you’ll see costumes from his operas, as well as a series of set design models.

Two costumes at the Mozart birthhouse from his opera The Magic Flute

Our kids got a bit tired of the museum by the end, but it was a good introduction to Mozart, especially after seeing the Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, where he performed one of his first concerts at age 6.

Tickets to Mozart’s Birth House are included in the Salzburg Pass or are 12€ for adults, 3.50 for kids 6-14, and free for those under 6. 

Gold Sphere

In Kapitelplatz square, just behind the Dom Cathedral, you’ll find a sculpture of a large golden sphere. This 2007 sculpture by Stephan Balkenhol is part of the same Modern Art Walk that led you to the pickles! Called “Sphera”, the golden orb has an “everyman” standing on top with a neutral expression.

View of modern art piece Golden Sphere next to Dom Cathedral in Salzburg Austria

Friedhof of St Peters

Just pass “Sphera”, head up the cobblestone street Festungsgasse, and you’ll quickly see the entrance to the Friedhof (cemetery) of St. Peters. Google Maps was trying to tell us it was a long walk up and around, but the entrance is very close to Kapitalplatz.

Gates of St Peters Cemetery and tombstones in Salzburg Austria

This cemetery is beautiful. It’s the cemetery that’s featured in the Sound of Music when the family is hiding behind tombstones near the end. You’ll see the gated plots running along the side. Many of the graves here are planted, so you’ll see all sorts of colors, flowers, and textures decorating the plots. Peek into the chapel, it’s usually open.

Up to Hohensalzburg Fortress

The next stop on this one day Salzburg itinerary is a visit to the imposing Hohensalzburg Fortress.

This 11th-century fortress sits atop the rock, looking down over Salzburg. Its massive walls are visible from many places around town. This is the largest preserved fortress in Central Europe and has served as a barracks and also as the temporary residence of the prince archbishops.

There are two ways to get up to the fortress- you can walk, which takes about 20 minutes, (and is not as difficult as it might seem from down below) or you can take the tram, called the FestungsBahn.

The tram has been running since 1892 but was just renovated in 2011. You’ll find the entrance just uphill from the Friedhof, the tram runs every ten minutes and takes you up to the Salzburg Fortress in about one minute.

Prices for the tram are 3.50€ for adults each way, and 2.10€ for children, though the tram up is included in many of the fortress tickets, and all tickets include the descending tram.

If you have the Salzburg card both the fortress and the tram in both directions are included in your pass. We recommend taking the tram up to the fortress, and then walking down the hill to visit the Nunnberg Abbey on your way back to town.

Once at the fortress, you’ll find mostly stark stone walls. Inside the fortress, you’ll find Royal Apartments, a castle museum, a puppet museum, and the Rainier Regiment Museum which is focused on military history. Most visitors remark more on the views than on any content within the fortress itself.

Tickets for the fortress start with a basic family pass for 26€, and go up to an all-inclusive pass that is 42€ for a family.

Hohensalzburg Fortress looming above the town of Salzburg Austria

Nonnberg Abbey

Down the hill from the fortress is the Nonnberg Abbey. You can’t enter the Abbey itself, only the church, you’ll see the sign for the Stiftskirche Nonnberg. Take a seat in the church and listen to the nuns singing. This is the actual Abby where the “real Maria” who inspired the Sound of Music character lived and worshipped.

We visited at the end of the day and found ourselves in a completely dark church. There should be boxes to deposit a 50-cent euro piece to light up the altar and another for the back frescos. Your coin will turn on the lights for five minutes at a time. Come during daylight and you’ll have an easier time finding them!

You may recognize the walls of the abbey and the road leading up the hill from some of the scenes in The Sound of Music– they drive “away from the cemetery” here. You may also recognize the cupola of the abbey from the movie, so be sure to look up. It’s easy to miss the cupola as you’ll be so distracted by the amazing mountain views! Even if you skip the fortress, make sure to walk up here, if only for the views.

View of gate of Nonnberg Abbey used during filming of Sound of Music in Salzburg Austria

Leaving the Abbey, head back down towards town, taking the steps down to Kaigasse. Take this back to Mozartplatz, then take the Mozart Bridge across the river, and back to the train station. This bridge was also featured in The Sound of Music.

Sound of Music Tours in Salzburg

One of the most popular things to do in Salzburg is to take a Sound of Music Tour. Many places in the town of Salzburg are featured in the classic film. There are also several locations just outside the city that a tour will help you visit.

Sound of Music Half-Day Tour

This half-day Sound of Music tour takes you via bus not only to the sites in Salzburg but also to sites around the outskirts of the city including Hellbrunn Palace where you’ll see the original gazebo that was used in the movie, and up into the Alps where you’ll see where some of the mountain views were shot. A lovely half day on a bus with the soundtrack playing in the background.

Book Now: Sound of Music 4 Hr Bus Tour

Sound of Music Bike Tour

You can also take Fraulein Maria’s Bike Tour, which takes you around Salzburg on bikes! This is a great tour for all ages and takes about four hours.

If you plan to visit some of the Sound of Music highlights on your own, this list of movie locations and where they are featured in the film is quite helpful.

Salzburg Christmas Markets

Salzburg is known for its Christmas markets, and for being a festive holiday destination. The main Christmas market is set up in the Residenzplatz. There has been a market here going back to the 15th Century. You’ll also find an ice rink and food huts in Mozartplatz.

You’ll also find Christmas markets in the Hohensalzburg Fortress Courtyard, as well as in Mirabell Square.

Because Salzburg is a popular holiday destination, you’ll find lots of Christmas ornaments, from blown eggs to glass, as well as nutcrackers and other Christmas decor on Judengasse. The holidays are a fantastic time to visit Salzburg- you will find festive holiday magic, though you will also find the town quite crowded.

Additional Things to Do in Salzburg

If you have more time, there are many more things to do in Salzburg. When just visiting Salzburg for a day, you’ll have to pick and choose a bit and decide how much you want to rush around versus taking your time to wander and window shop through the charming historic center. Here are a few more options for your Salzburg itinerary.

The DomQuartier

We tried to squeeze in a visit to the Museum DomQuartier Salzburg, not realizing how extensive it is. You will need several hours to do this well. Despite the fact that there are several sections to the DomQuartier, it is a one-way path, so if you don’t want to spend a lot of time there, it’s hard to cut it short.

The DomQuartier is the residence of the prince archbishops of the Salzburg Cathedral. These people controlled the secular and religious life of the town. There are several sections to the DomQuartier including the State Rooms, the Residenz Gallery, the Cathedral Museum, the Long Gallery, and St. Peter’s Museum.

The highlights for our family were seeing how the residence is connected to the Cathedral itself, via a terrace with great views over the Residenzplatz, entering the cathedral from the balcony that holds the grand organ, and seeing the church we had visited earlier from this new perspective.

The second highlight for us was the Archbishop’s Mitre. This hat is covered in more jewels than most of the crowns of Europe. There is also a large diamond clasp and an intricate gold staff.

Music lovers will enjoy seeing the room of instruments, including Haydn’s glasses and handwritten sheet music. 

Richly decorated room in the Dom Quartier with red and gold wall covering and a crystal chandelier in Salzburg

The DomQuartier does a good job of including interactive elements for the kids, from places to listen to bits of music or operas, to a space to play with cathedral-shaped building blocks, to a wall where they could draw with crayons. We had to rush them through all of these activities, as the tour itself is quite long.

Entrance to the DomQuartier is included in the Salzburg Card or costs 13€ for adults, 8€ for Children. Audio guides are included in the price. They have a special audio path for kids- they follow the numbers shown with a ghost figure.

Augustiner Brau Brewery

This brewery is Austria’s largest beer garden, and has been serving beer and snacks since 1621! With lots of seating indoors and out, it’s a great place to take a break and sample some regional food from an arcade of specialty producers.

Salzburg Toy Museum

The Salzburg Toy Museum is a great indoor activity if you’ve got a rainy day, or need a break from cold weather. There are lots of interactive areas for kids to play in, with everything from marble runs to building blocks. There is a portion of the museum that takes kids back in time- from a knight’s castle to a Viking ship, to the land of dinosaurs! Be prepared to spend a few hours here.

Museum of Modern Art Salzburg

The Museum of Modern Art Salzburg has two locations. The first is the Mönchsberg which sits high atop the rock shelf looking over the city (Monk’s Hill). Take the Mönchsberg lift from Anton-Neumayr-Platz, you’ll be at the top in 30 seconds. The terrace of the restaurant here has wonderful views, while the collection is focused on 20th and 21st-century artworks.

The second location is the Rupertinum, closer to the center of the old town. Located in a building from 1653, this building holds the contemporary and modern collections.

Both locations are included with the Salzburg Card.

Ride the Cable Car to Untersberg

This 8 1/2 minute long Untersberg cable car ride rises over 1300 meters and has views that on a clear day stretch for miles over Salzburg and the surrounding lake district. The base of the cable car is a 20-minute drive from the center of Salzburg, so you’ll need some extra time to fit this into your Salzburg itinerary.

The cable car departs every half hour, on the hour and half past. Tickets are 28€ round trip for an adult. You can reach the base via taxi, rental car, or buses 25, 28, or 5 from the center of town to Valleystation Untersbergbahn.

How to Get to Salzburg from Munich

Planning your Salzburg day trip from Munich? Here are all the ways to get to Salzburg from Munich.

Rent a Car

Yes, you can rent a car in Germany, and drive it to Austria! Just make sure to tell the rental company so there are no surprises. A car is a great way to get from Munich to Salzburg, the drive is about 2 hours.

We trust Discover Cars to provide a clear, easy rental experience.

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If you rent a car, make sure you have the best road trip activities, and road trip snacks to make the journey fun!

Take a Day Tour from Munich

Ready to have someone else do some of the planning? On this full-day tour from Munich, you’ll travel with your group via train to Salzburg, then have a 1 1/2 hour walking tour of the city, then have an additional three hours to explore on your own before taking the train back to Munich. This is a great tour for people looking for a bit of history and guidance, but who also want to time to explore at their own pace.

Book Now: Day Tour from Munich with Free Time

Take the Train from Munich

Taking the train from Munich to Salzburg is a great way to see the countryside and enjoy your 1 1/2 to 2-hour journey between these cities. Make sure to book in advance for the best prices- the closer you are to your travel date, the higher the prices. Planning ahead is one of our top travel tips, you’ll find that train prices double or even triple if you wait too long!

Trains leave from the Munich Hauptbahnhof and arrive at the Salzburg Hauptbahnhof.

Book Now: Train Tickets from Munich to Salzburg

Take the Bus from Munich

Buses from Munich to Salzburg are infrequent- sometimes leaving 6-8 times a day. Leaving from the Central Bus Station in Munich, the ride is between 2 and 2 1/2 hours to Salzburg, usually to the Salzburg South station, often called Salzburg P+R Sud. This station is 5 km south of the Old Town, making this an inconvenient way to visit the city.

How to Get to Salzburg from Vienna

Planning your Salzburg day trip from Vienna? Here are all the ways to get to Salzburg from Vienna. We love Vienna for its amazing architecture, wide boulevards, and of course, it’s the famous Viennese Christmas markets. (Over-rated? We think Vienna is worth it)!

If you’re staying in Vienna, be sure to check out our posts on whether Vienna is safe, and whether Vienna is walkable for details about getting around the city.

Rent a Car

A rental car is a great way to get to Salzburg from Vienna on your own time and explore some villages along the way. The drive is about three hours from Vienna to Salzburg. You won’t need your car in the center of Salzburg, but having a car will allow you to visit some other sites on the outskirts of the city such as Hellbrunn Palace.

We use Discover Cars to book our car rentals- they show you different rental companies to choose from and are always upfront about their pricing. No surprises!

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Take a Day Tour from Vienna

If you’d prefer to have all the logistics handled for you, check out this small group tour of Salzburg from Vienna. Limited to 8 people, with a minimum age of 5, this tour includes stops at the Basilica of St. Michel where the wedding scene in Sound of Music was filmed, Lake Wolfgang, and Old Town Salzburg. It also includes time for you to explore Salzburg on your own before heading back to Vienna.

Book Now: Day Tour of Salzburg from Vienna

Take the Train from Vienna

The train is a great way to get from Vienna to Salzburg. Trains leave from the main Hauptbahnhof in Vienna and arrive at the main station in Salzburg, an easy 20-minute walk from the historic center.

The train from Vienna to Salzburg takes 2 ½ hours each way on most trains, though there are also regional trains that take over 4 hours for the same journey.

The trains are clean and comfortable, have wifi, and usually do not include seat reservations. Book your journey online with Trainline then activate a mobile ticket on your phone right before you board the train.

Make sure to book tickets in advance! We waited until a few days before we wanted to visit and found that the tickets were really expensive. Book 7-10 out and the prices are much more reasonable. These are not changeable tickets, so you’ll need to stick to the train times you choose when you book the ticket.

Book Now: Train Ticket from Vienna to Salzburg

Take the Bus from Vienna to Salzburg

Buses between Vienna and Salzburg leave about twice per hour. The total travel time is 2 1/2 hours. Buses depart from either Westbanhof or Hutteldorf and arrive in Salzburg at the corner of Lastenstrasse at the backside of the main train station. Unlike train prices, the bus prices are rather fixed, so you won’t need to book far in advance to get the best deal. The bus is also a great alternative if you find that last-minute train tickets are expensive.

Book Now: Bus Ticket from Vienna to Salzburg

How Long Do I Need in Salzburg?

While you can see a lot in Salzburg in one day, you’ll have to pick and choose activities, and you can’t do everything in one day. We recommend having at least one overnight in Salzburg so that you feel less rushed during your visit.

If you choose to visit Salzburg on a day trip, try to get as early a train as you can so that you can maximize your time. We visited from Vienna, so the long train times made it difficult to fit in as many activities as we would have liked.

While Salzburg makes a great day trip destination, we would love to return to Salzburg and stay a week, perhaps incorporating trips to the surrounding towns, including picturesque Hallstatt.

Snow capped Alps as seen from the Nonnberg Abby on a day trip to Salzburg

Where to Stay in Salzburg

While we love a day trip to Salzburg, If you have time to spend the night, you’ll take the pressure off your itinerary, and be able to wander the streets at a slower pace, soaking up the atmosphere.

Because the old town of Salzburg is so compact and walkable, there are a limited number of hotels available, and they can get quite expensive. Book as far ahead as possible to have the best selection.

Best Budget Hotel: JUFA Hotel Salzburg City

The JUFA hotel is on the same side of the river as Old Town but about a 15-minute walk from the Residenzplatz. You’ll find modern decor with a pop of color, comfortable beds, and a cafe on site. A great hearty breakfast, easy parking, and a play area for the kids are some of the things reviewers love most about this hotel. Rooms are spacious, some family rooms include bunk beds.

Check Availability: JUFA Hotel

Best Central Hotel: Star Inn Hotel Premium Salzburg Gablerbräu

If being right in the center of all the action is important to you, we recommend the Star Inn Hotel. The Star Inn has a fantastic location just off Linzergasse, the main pedestrian shopping street on the north side of the river. There are tons of cafes and restaurants here, plus you are a four-minute walk across the river to Mozart’s birth house. Due to its location in the old town, the rooms here are smaller- their largest room is two double beds. Location is the main attraction here.

Check Availability: Star Inn Hotel

FAO: Day Trip to Salzburg

Is One Day in Salzburg Enough?

One day is barely enough! We recommend at least two days, though it makes a great day trip if you get an early train and are willing to pick which activities interest you most.

What is the Best Time of Year to Visit Salzburg Austria?

The best time to visit Salzburg, Austria is in the Spring, when everything is green, and the weather is good for wandering around, but the summer crowds haven’t arrived.

The other best time to visit Salzburg is during the holiday season, to explore the Christmas markets and enjoy Salzburg with all the holiday lights.

We visited in January when it was cold, the fountains were turned off, the tram to the fortress wasn’t running and the Christmas markets had been taken down. The upside to this time of year is that it wasn’t at all crowded, and the ice skating was still open! We didn’t have to wait for any attractions or wait to sit down at any restaurants.

Is Salzburg in Germany or Austria?

Salzburg is in Austria, very close to the German border. The best place to stay if you’re planning to take a day trip to Salzburg is Munich, which is only a 1 1/2-hour train ride away.

Did Mozart Live in Salzburg, Austria?

Yes! Mozart was born, baptized, and lived in Salzburg with his family for much of his life. You can visit two of the houses he lived in, as well as the famous Mozart statue in Mozartplatz. Don’t forget to eat a few famous Mozart Chocolates as well!

What is the name of the Castle in Salzburg, Austria?

The castle in Salzburg, Austria is called the Fortress Hohensalzburg. It towers above the city of Salzburg, you can see it from the river, and from many locations in town. It is the largest fully preserved castle in Central Europe.

Is Salzburg, Austria Walkable?

Yes, Salzburg is very walkable. There are buses and trams that run throughout town, but we found everything we were interested in was an easy walk. From the train station to the center of town is about a 20-minute walk. The center of Salzburg is flat, then the walk up to the fortress is quite steep, but you can take a tram if you wish.

What is the Oldest Restaurant in Salzburg, Austria?

The oldest restaurant in Salzburg is St. Peter Stiftskulinarium, located in St, Peters Abby, which is believed to have been in operation since 803, making in the oldest restaurant in the world. Both Christopher Colombus and Mozart are said to have eaten here.

Was The Sound of Music Filmed in Salzburg, Austria?

Yes! Many of the scenes from The Sound of Music were filmed in Salzburg. From Mirabel Palace Gardens to the fountain in the Residenzplatz, you’ll see a lot of Salzburg in the film.

What River Runs Through Salzburg, Austria?

The river that runs through Salzburg is called the Salzach River.

What Language is Spoken in Salzburg, Austria?

German is spoken in Salzburg, Austria, which is located very close to the German border. The currency is the Euro, and credit cards are accepted almost everywhere.

What Mountains are in Salzburg, Austria?

The mountains around Salzburg are the Salzkammergut Mountains, part of the northern Alps.

There You Have It: One Day in Salzburg

Salzburg makes a wonderful day trip from Munich or Vienna. We’ve covered what to see in Salzburg in one day, as well as things to do in Salzburg if you have more time. You’ll experience the old town with its picturesque buildings and guild signs, see many of the Sound of Music film locations, and explore an old fortress, all while strolling delightful cobblestone streets. A day trip to Salzburg will leave you wanting to spend more time in this delightful Austrian town!

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