Are you visiting Austria and considering planning a 2 to 3 days in Salzburg itinerary? Well, look no further.
Located in the west of Austria not far from the German city of Munich, Salzburg has been a popular place for visitors for decades and is famous for being the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the setting of the 1965 film The Sound of Music. However, Salzburg has much more to offer than simply these two facets.
If you’re considering a visit to this pretty, compact and historic city, planning out the perfect Salzburg itinerary is essential to maximising the time you will spend there. For such a small city, there really is a lot to do and you’re sure to quickly fall in love with this beautiful town.
So if you’re wondering what to do in Salzburg, then you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re planning a short city break or visiting as part of a longer Central European itinerary, you’re sure to love your time spent in the city of Mozart.
How Many Days in Salzburg?
Before I jump into the details of this Salzburg itinerary, you’re likely wondering how many days to spend in Salzburg. As I’ve mentioned previously, there are plenty of things to do in the city, however, it is also quite compact and many simply opt for a Salzburg day trip from cities like Vienna or Munich. While this is certainly doable, you will get much more out of the city if you spend a bit more time there.
Ideally, you want to try and spend at least 2 days in Salzburg, if possible. This will give you enough time to both see the main sites while also visiting some museums, taking in a concert and simply allowing you to enjoy the city at a more leisurely pace.
If you have even more time to devote, then consider spending 3 days in Salzburg. This will allow you to visit some areas that lie a bit outside of the city centre, whether that be some historic castles, ice caves, alpine lakes, waterfalls and more. The countryside in this part of Austria is some of the most beautiful in Europe and really worth visiting.
No matter how long you choose to spend in this historic city, you’re sure to quickly fall in love.
Getting To & Around Salzburg
Another important topic to discuss before jumping into the details of this 2-3 days in Salzburg itinerary is how to get to and around the city. Salzburg is a major metropolitan area in Austra and is also quite popular with tourism, so this isn’t a difficult city to reach by any means.
Depending on where you are coming from, there are a number of ways to reach Salzburg. There are numerous direct trains and buses from cities like Munich and Vienna and you can even easily reach the city from Prague or elsewhere in neighbouring countries. You can browse train schedules here.
Many visitors to Salzburg will also arrive by car, especially if they’re on an extended road trip through Austria.
While you certainly don’t need your own vehicle to get around the centre of Salzburg (this would actually be massively inconvenient), having a car can be quite beneficial if you plan to spend 3 days in Salzburg and are going to do a day trip or two as this will give you quite a bit of flexibility. If you choose to rent a car, you can browse deals here.
Once in Salzburg, you’ll find that the best way to navigate the city is on foot. Salzburg is very compact and you can pretty much walk from one end of the city centre to the other in about 15-20 minutes. And, besides the area around the fortress and Monchsberg, the city is quite flat so it isn’t too difficult to plan to traverse everything on your own two feet.
2 to 3 Day Salzburg Itinerarary
Day 1 – Main Sites & Fortress
The first day of this Salzburg itinerary takes you by the main sites of the city. Though Salzburg is quite small and compact, make sure to wear some good walking shoes today as you will be covering quite a bit of ground!
Coffee at Cafe Bazar
Begin your day at a classic Austrian cafe along the River Salzach — the Cafe Bazar.
Though cafe culture may be more associated with a city like Vienna rather than Salzburg, the tradition is actually quite pervasive throughout Austria and it’s something you can experience in cities throughout the country whether you find yourself in Linz or Graz or Salzburg or Vienna. But if you want to get a true Austro-Hungarian cafe experience in Salzburg, Cafe Bazar is really a great place to do it.
Here you can get classic Italian espresso drinks like a cappuccino or a macchiato or you can be a bit more local and get a traditional Austrian coffee, such as a kliener brauner (a shot of espresso served with milk). This is also a good place for breakfast should that be what you’re after.
After you’re sufficiently caffeinated, take a stroll across the river to explore the historic centre of Salzburg and take in one of its most iconic streets – Getreidegasse. Winding through the beautiful baroque architecture, this is the high street of central Salzburg and comes with international shopping options along with a number of historic sites to see.
For instance, while you see how the shopfronts of McDonald’s or an H&M have been seamlessly incorporated into the aesthetic of this street, you can also wander by the birthplace of one Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Salzburg’s most famous resident.
Mozart himself moved to another residence across the river once he was older, however, both homes are available to visit if you should wish. If you do want to visit both of these museums, it can be worth purchasing the Salzburg Card, where entry is included in the price along with most other attractions in the city.
Once you’ve strolled through the main drag, head a bit further into the city centre and browse through the Grünmarkt – an open-air market that is in operation every day of the week except Sunday.
While this isn’t Salzburg’s main market (that takes place across the street from Mirabell Palace on Thursdays), it does have an array of interesting things to browse through and will allow you to pick up some unique souvenirs from local sources.
After browsing through the Grünmarkt, stroll over to the pivotal focal point of central Salzburg – its grand cathedral.
Salzburg was run by the Catholic Church until the early 19th Century and didn’t even become part of what is now modern Austria (then part of the Hapsburg empire) until 1816. Because of this, there are a number of grand Catholic churches dotted around Salzburg but there is one that stands above others — and that is the Salzburg Cathedral.
Entry into the Cathedral is free (though there is a stand at the entrance that will solicit donations — this is optional) and it is really worth going inside and taking in the grandiosity. Another interesting facet of the Cathedral are the entrances, of which there are three doors.
Above each door, there is a date. The first door the year 774 is inscribed above it, describing the year that the first cathedral was built at this site. The second has the year 1628, when the construction of the main cathedral was completed and the third has 1959, when the reconstruction of the cathedral was completed after having been bombed in the Second World War.
If the Salzburg Cathedral wasn’t enough for you to visit, head a few hundred metres away and visit the Kollegienkirche, or the Salzburg University Church.
This church is used mostly for a concert hall these days and is quite unique inside. Where the cathedral has classic frescos and stained glass, the Kollegienkirche is notable for its stark white interior, which is bright and incredibly beautiful.
Like the Cathedral, entry to this church is free of charge.
After taking in these amazing sites, find your way to Residenzplatz — Salzburg’s main square.
This large open area is where you will find a beautiful fountain surrounded by the former residence of the Archbishop of Salzburg (which houses a classical art museum), the Salzburg Museum, which is home to a number of historic artefacts from the city through the ages, and the Salzburg Glockenspiel, a belltower that plays songs three times per day.
Residenzplatz is also home to Salzburg’s biggest and most iconic Christmas market, Christkindlmarkt.
You can see all of these sites and more (along with gaining some important historical context) on the Salzburg Free Walking Tour. This tour runs daily and must be booked in advance. Though the tour is free of charge, it is customary to tip the guide at the end as this is how they make their living.
If the free walking tour doesn’t suit your schedule, there are also paid walking tours that run more frequently.
After all of this sightseeing, it’s likely that you’ve worked up quite the appetite. We recommend heading over to the nearby Mus Deli for some modern Austrian & European food at affordable prices. The menu is only in German, however, the staff speak English and will help you with what is on offer.
Now that you’ve refuelled after an eventful morning of sightseeing, it’s time to visit Salzburg’s most imposing and famous landmark — the Hohensalzburg Fortress.
Sat atop a hill overlooking the city, this is the most iconic part of the city’s skyline and it is considered to be one of the best-preserved fortresses of its kind in Europe.
You can access the fortress either via funicular or by walking up the hill and paying for entry at the top. Entry with the funicular costs €13.30 per person and without it it is €10.30. Because of all of the walking (and the hike as the next activity on this Salzburg itinerary), I would recommend spending the extra €3 in order to take the funicular. It is possible to pre-book tickets here.
The fortress consists of a number of different museums and viewpoints where you can learn about the history of this iconic fortification. There is also a marionette museum there which I found to be a bit creepy, but may be of interest to some.
Hike on Monchsberg
After visiting the fortress, take the time to explore the hill this beautiful building lies on (and get some iconic views, as well) – Monchsberg.
There is a network of hiking trails along Monchsberg that are all incredibly well maintained and popular for walkers to explore. We recommend walking on the trail in the direction of the Museum of Modern Art before heading down to the Augustiner Brau brewery (see the next stop on this Salzburg itinerary!).
If you’re looking for a great photo-op that includes both the city of Salzburg and amazing views of the fortress, take the time to stop outside of the Museum of Modern Art before continuing on.
The walking trail that I am recommending is well-maintained and relatively flat so it is really an easy hike until you reach your final destination (and comes with some beautiful views, as well).
As a reward for all of the walking and hard work, end your hike at the Augustiner Brau brewery, a classic Austrian beer hall that is sure to give you an authentic Salzburger experience.
This beer hall has a number of different areas where you can enjoy a stein of freshly brewed beer and also a number of food stands where you can grab a snack or a meal (you are also welcome to bring your own food). If the weather is nice, we recommend finding a place in the larger beer garden.
When getting a beer, you can choose between 300ml, 500ml or 1-litre sizes. You pay for your beer at the counter, the cashier will give you a ticket, then you pick up your ceramic steins, rinse them out in the communal tap, and bring them to the barman where he will fill it up for you (in exchange for your ticket!). Make sure to follow the lead of the seasoned locals in front of you to pick up on the etiquette.
This is an excellent experience in Salzburg that I highly recommend.
After an exhausting day of seeing all of the sites, spend your evening taking in another thing that makes Salzburg famous — classical music! There are countless options to be able to take in a concert in Salzburg depending on which night you’re visiting and what you’re after. If you’re looking to books some tickets online, some options include this “Best of Mozart” concert at Hohensalzburg Fortress or this concert at Mirabell Palace.
Day 2 – Gardens, Palaces & Museums
If you’re spending 2 days in Salzburg, the second day is a bit more mellow than the first and will allow you to dig a bit deeper into the city and visit a few museums. We’d recommend looking into the Salzburg Card in order to save some money on entry into a number of museums and sites around the city.
If you happen to be starting the second day of your 2 or 3 days in Salzburg on a Thursday, then make sure to visit the Schrannemarkt.
I, personally, love visiting open-air markets wherever it is that I’m visiting and Salzburg is no different. Located across the street from Mirabell Palace, this market is massive and has countless stalls selling fresh, seasonal produce and local products.
This is an excellent place to pick up some fixings for a picnic later or even buy some gastronomical souvenirs to bring home.
Mirabell Palace & Gardens
If it’s not a Thursday or if markets don’t interest you, start your day at the Mirabell Palace & Gardens. Perhaps most famous as a filming location of The Sound of Music (notably in the “Do-Re-Mi” song), these gardens, in particular, are absolutely gorgeous and worth strolling in and enjoying for as long as you may fancy.
The palace itself is also open for visitors and is notable for its beautiful Marble Hall, which, prior to 2020, hosted over 1000 weddings each year. The palace (and gardens) are free to enter and you can visit the Marble Hall — it is located on the first floor and is behind a closed door (however, if it is unlocked you can enter so don’t be discouraged!).
This is a primary filming location of The Sound of Music but if you want to dive even more into the making of the film in Salzburg, you can book a Sound of Music tour that will take you by all of the filming locations and more!
Visit a Museum
After enjoying the Mirabell Palace and gardens, take the time to head to a museum or two to learn more about Salzburg, or its most famous resident — Mozart.
You can opt to head to the nearby Mozart House on the north side of the river or to his birthplace on Getreidegasse. Alternatively, visit the Salzburg Museum or even the Museum of Modern Art.
There are countless museums in the city that you could easily fill the entire day. If you plan to visit more than one of two of these museums along with the fortress, it can be really cost-effective to purchase the Salzburg Card which includes entry to a number of the city’s top paid attractions at a discounted rate.
You’ve likely worked up a bit of an appetite with your sightseeing for the day so take the time to have a quick lunch break at one of Salzburg’s great eateries.
If you’re looking for some international fare, we can recommend Xinchao, a Vietnamese place that has excellent bahn mi.
If you’re after Austrian Cuisine, Gasthaus Zwettler comes recommended, however, we did not eat here ourselves.
Cruise on the River Salzach
On day one of this Salzburg itinerary, you had the opportunity to see Salzburg from above on the view from Monchsberg. Now, it’s time to get a different (and slightly more relaxing) perspective of the city by going on a river cruise. There are lots of options to cruise up and down the Salzach, such as this 40-minute tour that leaves several times a day.
Sunset Hike up Kapuzinerberg
After a relaxing cruise along the Salzach, it’s time to get a bit active once more and hike up the other major hill dominating Salzburg’s skyline, Kapuzinberg.
This hill, located on the north side of the city, provides a different perspective and excellent views of the Hohensalzburg Fortress and the city below. If you want to get the best photos, head up there just before sunset in order to really see the city glow under the later afternoon sunshine.
Now that you’ve spent a successful 2 days in Salzburg, reward yourself with a locally brewed beer! You’ve already been to Augustiner Brau so plan to go somewhere a bit more trendy this time, Die Wiesse.
This brewery has a number of locally brewed wheat beers on tap (some seasonal brews, as well). They have a large and inviting beer garden that is lovely to relax in on warm days and also have a full kitchen, so it’s a great place to grab dinner should you wish, as well.
Day 3 – Explore the Surrounding Area
If you are lucky enough to have 3 days in Salzburg, you can spend your third day going on a day trip somewhere in the surrounding area. Whether you’re looking for some outdoor adventures, beautiful natural wonders or historic castles, there are lots of options available.
Mondsee & Wolfgangsee
If you want to enjoy some tranquillity or watersports in an Alpine lake, then look no further than the lakes Mondsee and Wolfgangsee.
Both located not far from central Salzburg, these are easy to reach and are absolutely beautiful to visit. Mondsee is bigger and a bit more developed, with lots of watersports and lakeside pubs and restaurants available.
Wolfgangsee is a bit smaller and not quite as busy, however, the town of St Gilgen on the northwest end of the lake can get very popular with tourists. All in all, both lakes are very easy to visit from Salzburg either by car or public transport and are well worth it.
Mondsee and Wolfgangsee are excellent alternatives to the over-visited town of Hallstatt — especially the charming town of St Gilgen on Wolfgangsee.
Werfen Ice Caves & Hohenwerfen Castle
If you’re looking for something jaw-dropping and active, consider visiting the Werfen Ice Caves. Located in the town of Werfen about 40km south of Salzburg, these ice caves are truly spectacular.
They are only open from May through October and a general level of fitness is recommended if you’d like the visit these caves. They are accessed either by a panoramic cable car ride or a steep hike. You can buy tickets in advance online.
Nearby the ice caves lies Hohenwerfen Castle, a medieval castle sat atop an imposing peak overlooking the town of Werfen.
It is considered to be a sister castle to the Hohensalzburg Fortress and is also known as a filming location for the 1968 film Where Eagles Dare. Hohenwerfecn Castle can also be seen in the background during the beginning of the “Do-Re-Mi” scene in, of course, The Sound of Music.
Another excellent place to visit just outside of Salzburg (and actually included in the aforementioned Salzburg Card) is Schloss Hellbrun.
This palace is situated very close to central Salzburg and is a wonderful place to visit with children. Filled with beautiful fountains and grottos, you can wander through the water features and feel lost in a mystical world.
And finally, if you’re looking for a day of hiking, look no further than the Gollinger Waterfall. Located roughly 30km south of Salzburg, this waterfall is absolutely stunning and is accessible to see from a short hike from the car park.
You get a view of the waterfall almost instantly, however, there is a well-marked and maintained trail that you can take to see the waterfall from different vantage points (this will take about 30 minutes in total to hike).
If you want to go further, there are a number of different hiking trails of various lengths that you can embark on in this area, as well.
Where to Stay in Salzburg
Finding the perfect place to rest your head in this Austrian city is essential to making sure that you have the best possible Salzburg itinerary. There are countless great accommodation options available in Salzburg that can suit all kinds of travellers. So if you’re wondering where to stay in this lovely town, have a look at these suggestions:
Gästehaus im Priesterseminar – If your budget allows for a bit more than a hostel, then this guesthouse could be a great option. Centrally located in the heart of Salzburg, this beautiful baroque building offers a number of great rooms. Click here to see their availability
Boutique Hotel Auersperg – If you’re after a bit of luxury while in Salzburg, then look no further than this elegant hotel. Family-run for generations, this hotel is centrally located close to all of the city’s top attractions. they have a number of luxe rooms available and countless other amenities to ensure your stay is a great one. 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 – If you’re visiting Salzburg on a budget or are simply looking for a social atmosphere, then this centrally located hostel is a great option. 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 2 or 3 days in Salzburg itinerary can be an overwhelming task when you consider how much there is to do in this small city. However, if you plan your time well, you’re sure to get the most out of this beautiful and historic Austrian town.
Are you visiting Austria? Have you been planning a Salzburg itinerary? Let us know in the comments!