The Perfect Day Trip to Salzburg from Vienna

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by Maggie Turansky


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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!

Here we 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 during your time in 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 from Vienna, and this is by bus, train, personal vehicle or organised tour.

By Tour

If you would rather take the planning and stress out of your day trip 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.

This full-day tour is for a maximum of eight participants and includes stops at the beautiful village of St Gilgen and the alpine lake Wolfgansee before continuing to Salzburg. It includes a stop at Mozart’s Birthplace and has a large Sound of Music focus including several stops relating to the 1965 film.

This small-group tour also will include Sound of Music stops but will give you time to explore Salzburg on your own. 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 in Salzburg proper.

Finally, if you prefer more privacy during your day in Salzburg, you can organise a private tour.

Mirabell Gardens & Hohensalzburg Fortress
Mirabell Gardens & Hohensalzburg Fortress

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 schedules here.

Waiting at Vienna Train Station
Waiting at Vienna Train Station

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. You can view the latest schedules and prices here.

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. Y

You can, though, take the opportunity to stop in several 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 compare prices for car hire across major car rental companies.

Wolfgangsee
Wolfgangsee

Salzburg Day Trip 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.

Iconic archway featured in The Sound of Music in Mirabell Gardens
Iconic archway featured in The Sound of Music in Mirabell Gardens

Getreidegasse

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.

Getreidegasse - one of Salzburg's iconic streets
Getreidegasse

Salzburg Cathedral

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.

Inside the Salzburg Cathedral
Inside the Salzburg Cathedral

Residenzplatz

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.

Mozart Statue
Mozart Statue

Hohensalzburg Fortress

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.

Hohensalzburg Fortress
Hohensalzburg Fortress

Augustiner Brau

Your final stop on your Salzburg day trip 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.

Augustiner Brau
Augustiner Brau

Where to Stay in Vienna

Motel One Wien – Hauptbahnhof — A mid-range hotel that has a few different double rooms to choose from. It is located close to public transport links and has a bar on site.

Hotel Brauhof Wien — A great 4-star hotel that is within walking distance of the main train station. They offer single rooms, double rooms and apartments making it suitable for different group sizes.

Hostel Ruthensteiner — A cosy hostel that has great facilities including a kitchen to cook your own meals, a bar to meet other travellers and are lovely garden to relax in.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Vienna hotels!

Beautiful views of Salzburg from the River Salzach
Beautiful views of Salzburg from the River Salzach

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 trip to Salzburg? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!

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Maggie is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from the US, she has lived in five different countries and has travelled to dozens more, both solo and with her partner, Michael. She particularly loves exploring Spain and spending time in the Caucasus and the Baltics. Read more about Maggie

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