Salzburg, the Austrian city flanked by Germany’s border in the middle of the towering peaks of the alps. Salzburg resembles a town from a childhood fairy-tale, filled with architecture from the medieval and baroque period, magnificent tree-canopied squares and the distant shadows of the surrounding mountains.
Salzburg is an ideal destination for a two-day getaway as the historic centre is small and compact and easy to explore on foot. The city is divided in two by the Salzach River with the historic centre, called Altstadt which means “Old City” in Austrian on one bank; and the more modern part of the city called Neustadt, meaning “New City” on the other bank.
The historic city is recognised as a UNESCO heritage site and upon setting foot on the cobbled streets of the old town you’ll immediately realise why; the beautiful architecture features well-preserved spires and domes that will whisk you away to another time in history. Everything is picture perfect.
It’s also famous for culture, arts and music, being the birthplace of its most beloved celebrity, Mozart. Nowadays, it hosts an annual music and drama festival in the month of July which has been held every year in the city since 1920!
Aside from culture and arts, the city boasts spectacular nature in its surrounds and the nearby alps even appeared as the backdrop to the cult classic film, “The Sound of Music”. There’s plenty on offer for those who want to walk and explore the countryside or even visit the alps during a longer stay. However, as we only have two days in Salzburg, we will give you a guide on how to make the most of your time there.
So without further ado, let’s start exploring Salzburg!
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How to get to Salzburg
Salzburg’s airport is the W.A. Mozart Airport and there are budget flights coming into Salzburg from Europe with carriers such as Ryanair or Easyjet. The airport is just 4km from the city and there is a regular shuttle bus running every 10 to 20 minutes to the historic centre. The ticket costs €2.50 for a one-way journey. Alternatively, a taxi will set you back approximately €16 to €20 for the 15 minute journey.
If you intend to visit Salzburg by train there is a central station called Salzburg Hauptbahnhof just 20 minutes on foot from the historic centre.
For two days the Salzburg Card is invaluable, you can purchase a card for either 24 hours or 48 hours that includes all public transport and entry into all the main attractions of the city including the funicular, cable car and panorama boat trip. Prices start at €26.
The best time to visit Salzburg
Salzburg has excellent weather in the summertime, however, larger crowds and higher prices on accommodation also go hand-in-hand with this peak tourist season. Visitors flock to Salzburg in July for the annual historic Salzburg festival so this is probably the period to avoid if you want to skip the crowds and chaos.
May is an excellent time to visit as early spring is a little bit chilly and September and October bring good weather, lower prices and less tourists but remember to pack layers and warm clothes just in case.
Whenever you decide to visit you can always partake in a local tradition: the first Thursday of every month is a special day for residents of Salzburg, they celebrate Lederhosen Thursday and locals wear Lederhosen and Dirndl and heads to the location specified on their founder’s website and buses are organised departing every hour to and from the location. People get together, have a drink and wear typical Austrian costume and if you want to experience the local vibes, rent a costume and head to the festival.
Where to stay in Salzburg
Salzburg has hotels that ooze style and charisma, here are some of the best on offer. Airbnb is also a great option for short and long term stays:
Cool Mama Hotel – This hip and fashionable hotel has a trendy, hipster vibe, situated in a skyscraper with a glass façade, one of the few tall buildings in the city. Cool Mama boasts one of the coolest terraces and spectacular views which you can enjoy whilst sipping on a cocktail. The hotel is within walking distance to the old city and is highly-recommended by visitors for its central location. The contemporary rooms have modern mod cons including LED rain showers, widescreen TVs and the hotel has an excellent restaurant on site. Prices start at €106 per night for a double room.
ArtHOTEL Blaue Gans – This charming hotel is built in a 14th century stone building on Salzburg’s iconic Getreidegasse shopping street and is ideal if you’re visiting during the July Salzburg Festival, being just minutes away from the Festival Hall. During the festival, the hotel hosts concerts in the stylish on-site bar. The rooms have all the mod cons and the hotel is fashionably decorated with over 100 pieces of modern art. There is an restaurant on site serving up delicious Austrian cuisine and prices start from €200 per night for a double.
Hotel & Villa Auersperg – This hotel is right in the heart of Salzburg and has been run by the same family for three generation. The historic centre is only 15 minutes by foot and the hotel is ideal for couples on a romantic getaway, surrounded by gardens, the hotel has a full spa service and roof terrace. Bicycles are available for rent at the hotel and prices include a hearty breakfast that caters to all dietary needs. The hotel also provides biweekly yoga lessons at an additional cost. Experience your stay in the lap of luxury for only €203 per night for a double room.
Hotel Stein – This adult-only hotel is perfect for couples after a romantic getaway and is highly-rated for its central location, right on the riverbank of the Salzach River and a short walk to the historic centre. The building itself is a medieval structure and the hotel offers incredible panoramic vistas and mountain views. Rooms are decorated in contemporary and classical style and lamps are made from hand-blown glass. The restaurant in the hotel has won awards and they have an incredibly breakfast for an additional cost. The on-site spa is also available for guests with an additional cost and there is a gym and sauna. Prices start at €213 for a double room.
Hotel Schloss Mönchstein – This luxury five-star hotel is perched atop the Mönchsberg hill right in the heart of Salzburg and is set amidst manicured gardens. It boasts fantastic views and facilities which include an outdoor hot tub, spa, steam room and swimming pool. Each regal room is decorated with a touch of luxury, filled with antiques. You can even indulge in a luxurious soak in the marble bathroom in each room. They provide a warm welcome and you receive a fruit basket, drink and homemade cake upon your arrival. The traditional cuisine served in the hotel restaurant has won awards. The best thing is the location, the historic centre is just 7 minutes’ walk away and there is a quirky hotel lift in the style of “Grand Hotel Budapest” which is built into the mountain itself and takes guests up and down. Prices start from €590 for an executive double room.
Salzburg in Two Days
The best thing about Salzburg is that everywhere is easy to reach on foot, making it a superb and walkable city to explore in 48 hours.
Start your day right with a delicious breakfast to keep you fuelled on your wanders, head to Café Glockenspiel at Mozartplatz, a historic café that was established in 1925 and serves up delicious flaky pastries and coffee. If you’re lucky you can enjoy your breakfast outdoors whilst people watching in the beautiful square.
Next, head to the iconic Festungsberg Fortress that overlooks the city from on top of a mountain and dates back over 900 years, it’s one of Europe’s oldest castles! You can go up either by foot or taking the cable car which is one of the perks of your Salzburg Card. Don’t miss out on the cable car, because even though it only takes 60 seconds to ascend to the top, you are rewarded with incredible views on the way up. From the top you can enjoy the spectacular views before heading down into the city and even visit inside the fortress.
After a visit to the fortress you can head to the Mozart Geburtshaus Museum, celebrating Salzburg’s most famous celebrity, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The museum is housed in his childhood home on Getreidgasse and is a popular tourist destination. The ticket costs €10 per person and will give you access to his family home and antiques that include his very first violin.
Grab a lunch at the stylish Café Wernbacher which will make you feel as if you’ve stepped into the 1950s. This restaurant is not so well-known to tourists but it fills up with locals during the weekdays where you can enjoy a two-course fixed price menu for only €8.80 or order off the menu. The fare is traditional Austrian cuisine and on sunny days you can eat outdoors on their terrace.
After lunch, walk off that Schnitzel with a stroll to Augustiner Bräu, which will help you burn off some of those calories. The beer hall is off the beaten track for tourists and is a great place to enjoy the local beers, there is an outdoor area sheltered by trees and in warmer months local families enjoying a picnic outdoors and some locally-brewed beers. We highly recommend a visit as it’s a part of the local tradition and you can feel just like a Salzburger.
After having a beer and a stroll back into the city, stop into St. Peter’s Abbey and graveyard. This monastery was built in 696 and is one of Austria’s oldest historic monasteries. You can explore the historic and impressive church interior, as well as the oldest library in Austria, boasting over 100,000 volumes of historical works. One surprising attraction is the catacombs which are accessed via a staircase up into the cliffs, with views of the city for only €2 per person.
Have a dinner at St Peter Stiftskeller – Das Restaurant which is situated by the Abbey and is perhaps one of Salzburg’s oldest restaurants. Here you will dine in a Baroque hall at the Abbey whilst listening to Mozart’s operas and concerts live whilst enjoying a romantic candle-lit dinner. The Salzburger Nockerl is a dessert you must try, a light and fluffy soufflé. Dinners and concerts are held nightly and prices start at around €56 for a three-course meal or splash out and opt for the four-course meal at €93.
Start your day by visiting one of the most famous pastry and cake shops in Salzberg, dating back over 30 years. The bakery is called Schatz Konditorei and its situated on Getreidegasse, it’s tiny and very busy but it’s an ideal if tiny place to try local sweets, pastries cost only a tiny €2.50 and will set you up for the day.
After breakfast, a visit to the Salzburg Cathedral is on the agenda. The Baroque cathedral was originally established in 774 AD but was later reconstructed after being devastated by a fire in 842 AD. It also sustained heavy damage during bombings of World War II but it was restored over a lengthy period of time and returned to its former glory. Mozart was baptised within the cathedral and there is a font where he is commemorated. Admission is free.
Now it’s time to head down the Salzach River on a panorama cruise. The trip is free on your Salzburg Card! The perks of this card are neverending! You can take in the riverside scenery from the boat which starts from the centre of the Old City and heads towards Hellbrunn Palace.
The pleasure palace was constructed by the Prince Archbishop of Salzburg, Markus Sittikus von Hohenems, in 1613 to 1619 and is a stunning example of architecture, it is even connected to the city of Salzburg by a long alleyway. The interior frescoes were painted by an Italian artist called Arsenio Mascagni and depict life in the city in the 16th century. The pleasure gardens or “Ziergarten” consis of some ponds, trick fountains and beautifully manicured flowerbeds that are a delight to stroll around before returning to the city centre.
After a hearty lunch it’s time to explore the iconic shopping street called Getreidegasse, just a short walk from the river. This street is full of charming shops selling perfect souvenirs to bring back home after your trip to Salzburg. Afterwards, it’s dinnertime and you can take in the sunset from the IMLAUER Sky Bar on the rooftop of the IMLAUER Hotel. A meal for two starts from €39. The perfect ending to your 2 days in Salzburg.
Tours to do in Salzburg
If you want to enjoy a candle lit dinner within the Golden Hall of the 900 year old Fortress to the sounds of a Mozart Orchestra this is the tour for you. Dine in style whilst enjoying one of the most well-reknowned chamber orchestras in Salzburg. Prices start from €58 per person and includes the railway tickets to the Fortress, dinner and concert.
For die-hard fans of the film “The Sound of Music” you can join a coach tour which takes you through the city to visit movie locations with a backdrop of the soundtrack of the film, which you can sing along to. The tour shows you the best of Salzburg, and you can catch the local sights as well as visit the beautiful Lake District. Prices start at €45 per person.
Recommend budget tours in Salzburg
- The Original Sound of Music Tour in Salzburg
- Mozart Concert and Dinner in Baroque Hall of St Peter’s Abbey in Salzburg
- Fortress Hohensalzburg: Dinner and Mozart Concert in Salzburg
- Salzburg Super Saver: Original Sound of Music and Salt Mines Day Trip
- Salzburg: Mirabell Palace Classical Concert at the Marble Hall
- Hop-On Hop-Off City Tour Salzburg
- Grand Salzburg City Tour Including 24-Hour Salzburg Card
- Salzburg Combo: 48-Hour Salzburg Card, Mozart City Tour
- Hellbrunn Palace Visit And Old Town River Cruise in Salzburg 2pm
- Salzburg Historical Walking Tour