For those with limited time in Austria but who want to see more than one major city in the country, planning a day trip to Salzburg from Vienna can be an excellent option. Austria’s fourth-largest city is compact and easily navigable and the perfect destination for a single-day itinerary.
However, you can easily spend 2 or 3 days in Salzburg and, because of this, it can be hard to prioritise what to see if you only have one day to spend in this beautiful city.
This is not to say that a Salzburg day trip is a bad idea! Quite the contrary, travellers can see a good portion of the city in the confines of one day and this relieves that tough decision of whether Vienna or Salzburg is the right place for you to spend time in!
So if you’re planning a day trip to Salzburg from Vienna, you’ve come to the right place. Here I will outline all of the options on how to get to the city of Mozart and also what to do with your short time there to ensure you have an excellent visit.
How to Get from Vienna to Salzburg
Before we jump into what to do on a day trip to Salzburg, we need to discuss all of the best ways you can get to the city from Vienna. There are four main ways one can visit Salzburg, and this is by bus, train, personal vehicle or organised tour.
Vienna to Salzburg Tours
If you would rather take the planning and stress out of your day trip to Salzburg from Vienna and leave it in the hands of a professional, then going on a small-group tour from the Austrian capital is likely the best option for you. There are countless options available that you’re sure to find something that suits.
This full-day tour, for instance, is for a maximum of eight participants and includes stops at the beautiful village of St Gilgen and the alpine lake Wolfgansee before continuing onto Salzburg. It includes a stop at Mozart’s Birthplace, however, the tour definitely has a large Sound of Music focus and includes a number of stops relating to the 1965 film.
Another great option is this day tour of Salzburg which includes a stop in the town of Salzkammergut en route to Salzburg before arriving in the city. It also includes a number of great Sound of Music filming locations for those who are big Julie Andrews fans.
This small-group tour also will include Sound of Music stops but will give you time to explore Salzburg on your own, as well. This is especially good for those who want a bit more independence on their trip.
If you fancy a bit of nature, this full-day tour will take you to Mondsee lake before arriving into Salzburg proper.
And if you happen to be visiting around Christmastime and want to experience some of the best Christmas markets in Austria, then this Salzburg Christmas market tour is an excellent choice for you.
Vienna to Salzburg by Train
If you want to visit Salzburg independently, then going by train is generally the most popular and comfortable option. Because it is such a major city, there are countless train connections between Vienna and Salzburg each day.
The train journey takes about 2.5-3 hours each way and trains leave approximately every thirty minutes. Prices for trains can be a lot more affordable if booked in advance – you can check the latest prices and schedules here.
Vienna to Salzburg by Bus
If you want to get to Salzburg by public transit and are looking to save a bit of money, then the bus can be a good option.
The journey time is about the same as the train — about 2.5 hours — though not quite as comfortable. There are numerous connections between the two cities leaving daily.
Vienna to Salzburg by Car
If you have your own vehicle, you will have the most freedom when reaching Salzburg, however, a car isn’t really necessary when in either city itself. You can, though, take the opportunity to stop in a number of places outside of Salzburg at your own pace, such as lakes Mondsee and Wolfgansee.
If you want to rent a car while in Salzburg, we recommend browsing RentalCars.Com where you can find deals for a car hire from major car rental companies.
Day Trip to Salzburg from Vienna Itinerary
Mirabell Palace and Gardens
Make your first stop on your day trip to Salzburg from Vienna the beautiful Mirabell Palace and Gardens. Located just outside the city centre, this imposing palace and its grounds is famous for its inclusion in the movie The Sound of Music, however, it is worth visiting even if you’re not a huge fan of the Rogers and Hammerstein musical.
Known for its beautiful baroque architecture (a style found throughout the city of Salzburg), the Mirabell Palace itself is perhaps best known for the Marble Hall, a beautiful room that is known (pre-2020) to have hosted over 1,000 weddings each year.
The gardens are expansive and absolutely lovely to stroll through. They’re most famous for the “Do-Re-Mi” steps featured in The Sound of Music, however, a good portion of the gardens can be seen during that iconic song.
Entrance into both the gardens and palace are free of charge.
Crossing the river Salzach, it’s time to wander down Salzburg’s famous thoroughfare, Gettreidegasse. This street is pedestrianised for most of the day (vehicles are allowed in the mornings in order for shops and restaurants to receive deliveries etc).
There are countless international shops on this street, along with Mozart’s Birthplace, which you can visit with an entry fee. It is worth considering purchasing the Salzburg Card if you plan to visit more than one museum during your day trip.
After strolling down Gettreidegasse, make your way to the beautiful Salzburg Cathedral. Salzburg was run by the Catholic church until the early 19th Century and, because of this, there are countless beautiful churches to see in the city. The most beautiful and imposing of which is the main cathedral.
You can visit the cathedral free of charge, though there is a donation booth where you can give money if you wish. This is by no means required for entry, however.
From the Cathedral, head over to Residenzplatz, which is the main square in Salzburg — and also home to the city’s main Christmas market.
The square is overlooked by the historic residence of the Archbishop of Salzburg on one side and the Salzburg Museum on the other. There is a clock tower called a glockenspiel outside of the Museum of Salzburg that goes off a couple of times per day and plays a number of familiar songs.
Directly adjacent to the Resizenzplatz is Mozart Square, which is a bit small and includes a statue of Salzburg’s most famous resident, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Don’t be fooled to think that this is an accurate depiction of the composer, however, as it makes him a lot taller and more handsome than he reportedly was in real life.
No Vienna to Salzburg day trip would be complete without visiting the city’s most famous attraction, the Hohensalzburg Fortress. Sat atop the city, this fortress is massive and is an iconic part of Salzburg’s skyline.
You can visit the fortress either by taking the funicular up or by hiking up the hill. Ticket prices are a bit cheaper if you opt to walk up, however, it is a steep walk and it can be worth splurging for the funicular. It is possible to pre-book tickets here.
Once in the fortress, there are a number of points of interest to see, including the Panorama Tower and the Marionette Museum. You will also get incredible views over the city and the surrounding Alps.
After visiting the fortress — if you have the time or fancy a bit more of a walk — take the time to walk along one of the many trails on Monchsberg, the hill that the fortress is situated on.
There are lots of walking trails here that can lead you to some beautiful viewpoints and even wind you all the way to our next stop on this Salzburg day trip itinerary.
Your final stop on your Salzburg day trip from Vienna is the Augustiner Brau brewery, a traditional Austrian brewery that is a fantastic experience indeed! This massive beer hall consists of thousands of seats and an expansive beer garden to enjoy the warmer months in.
You queue to pay for your beer (one kind available in 300ml, 500ml and 1-litre quantities), pick up a ceramic stein, wash it out at the communal taps and then bring your stein to the barman where he will fill up your beer.
You can opt to bring your own food here or purchase a snack or meal from one of the many food stands. This is a very popular place for locals and tourists alike to visit and people of all walks enjoy hanging out here.
It is truly an unforgettable place to visit in Salzburg and the perfect end to any day trip to this historic Austrian city.
Where to Stay in Salzburg
If you’ve decided to spend more than a day in Salzburg, then you’re going to need to find a great place to stay in Austria’s fourth-largest city. Fortunately, there are countless great accommodation options to choose from. If you’re wondering where to stay in Salzburg, then have a look at these suggestions:
Gästehaus im Priesterseminar – This guesthouse set in a beautiful baroque building in the centre of Salzburg, is an excellent option for those looking for a charming and comfortable stay on your trip to this lovely city. They have a number of great rooms available and a central location that will ensure you’re close to all of the action. Click here to see their availability
Boutique Hotel Auersperg – This family-run boutique hotel is a fantastic option if you’re looking for a luxury stay while in Austria’s fourth-largest city. Centrally located, this hotel has been run by the same family for generations and has countless amenities to offer guests. Click here to see their availability
Private Rental – If you want to feel like a local while in Salzburg, then a private apartment rental is a great choice for you. There are countless options available in the city, such as this bright central apartment that will suit all kinds of travellers. Click here to browse more Salzburg private rentals!
Yoho International Youth Hostel – This centrally-located hostel is a wonderful option if you’re visiting Salzburg on a budget or would like to enjoy a social atmosphere. They have both private and dorm rooms available and, for those who want it, a screening of “The Sound of Music” every evening. Click here to see their availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Salzburg hotels!
Planning the perfect day trip to Salzburg from Vienna does not have to be a difficult task, as this beautiful city is compact and easily explored within the confines of one day.
Are you planning a Salzburg day trip? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!