9 Things to do in Salzburg, Austria
Salzburg and its surrounding are an area of immense natural beauty, versatility and steep in history. Bordering with Germany and sharing the mountains of the Alpine region, its located in a region that caters for a variety of activities: summer, spring or winter. The Edelweiss meadows and high mountain lakes, hilltop castles and turf-roofed timber cabins – life is beautiful here, it’s the home of Mozart, Maria von Trapp and its Baroque architecture.
1. Visit the home of Mozart
Mozart was born in Salzburg in 1756, and the musician’s birthplace at Getreidegasse 9 is now a museum filled with Mozartabilia, including his first miniature violin and a lock of his hair. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart can be found everywhere along the state capital’s cobbled strrets. You visit his family home on Makartplatz, snap selfies with his statue in front of the cathedral, and take home the delicious Mozartkugel chocolates as souvenirs. Better still, catch a concert at The Mozarteum, one of the world’s most well-known conservatories, where student prodigies from around the globe stage concerts in the magnificent Great Hall.
2. Go on a hike
Criss-crossed by hiking trails linking more than 550 Alpine huts – where you can stop for meals, or even stay the night – Salzburg side of the Alps and it surround hills are hill walker’s promised land. In Pongau, the Salzburger Almenweg trail is a 350km waymarked route.
Sounds too much like hard work? You can instead, take advantage of Salzburg’s extensive summer-lift network: head up by cable car for easy walks back downhill with dramatic Alpine views. The same trails also make for spectacular mountain biking, whether through the pine forest of the Hohe Tauern or following the ancient hoof tracks of gold prospectors’ horses on the Via Aurea.
3. Enjoy its baroque beauty
Squeezed between the banks of the Salzach river and an 11th-century clifftop fortress, the city of Salzburg is a tangle of baroque domes and cobbled alleys, with an old town that looks virtually unchanged since Mozart lived here some 250 years ago.
Along with excellent food and world-class arts, the city has manicured parks, a magnificent cathedral, concert theatres galore, and the renowned Residenzgalerie, filled with Old Masters.
4. Re-lived the Sound of Music
The famous 1965 movie put Salzburg and Austria on the map in 1965. Almost all the original filming locations can be visited today, including Mirabellgarten (the settings for ‘Do Re Mi’) and Schloss Leopoldskron (aka Villa Trapp), both in the city of Salzburg itself. Just outside town, Schloss Hellbrun is home to the movie’s ‘Sixteen Going On Seventeen’ pavilion. Deep in the Salzburgerland Alps, Untersberg is where Maria famously sang ‘The Hills Are Alive’, and the church at Mondsee is where she later married Baron von Trapp.
5. Learn about the city’s history
Salzburgerland’s wealth was built on salt, a priceless commodity in the early Middle Ages, and the castles offer an exhilarating echo of those times today.
Looming high above Salzburg City, 900-year-old Hohensalzburg is one of the best-preserved castles in Europe. Walk or take the funicular up for mighty views over the city’s spires and mountain backdrop.
Perched high on a rock overlooking the Salzach valley, Hohenwerfen castle featured as Schloss Adler in 1968 film, Where Eagles Dare, and is perhaps the most impressive of a string of Disney-like castles in Salzburg countryside that also includes Mauterndoft, Klammstein, Goldegg and Golling.
6. Cycle the whole city
Filled with riverbank paths and lakeside loops, forest tracks and mountain climbs, Salzburg cries out to be discovered by bike. More than 30 cycle routes cover a total of 2,000km – from the epic two-weeks 450km Mozart Cycle Path, looping from Salzburg City into Bavaria, down to easy half-day trundles round lakes, parks and forests.
Take to the Tauern Cycle Path at Austria’s highest cataracts, the Krimml waterfalls, then follow two of Salzburgs’s largest rivers, the Saalach and Salzach, passing through the Hohe Tauern Mountains, with more than 100 natural wonders, excursion destinations, hotels and inns along its roughly 300km path.
7. Take time out for beauty treatment
Alpine air and mineral thermal springs have made Salzburg thermal spas world renown with holidays makers for centuries – emperors came here for them in the 1400s. Rich in radon, the 26c waters rise from thousands of feet below, and are said to help with rheumatic pain and skin allergies, respiratory diseases and damaged nerves.
In Bad Hofgastein, you can soak in Austria’s first thermal swimming lake while gazing up at the Hohe Tauern mountains. Elsewhere in the region, six thermal spas offer everything from Ayurvedic treatments and body wraps to steam baths, pine saunas and fun flumes.
8. Swim in its lakes
Salzburg and its surroundings is a mosaic of sparkling lakes with mountain summits reflected in their waters. Prebersee and Reedsee, in the Lungau area, and Harrbergsee and Seewaldsee, in the Tennengau area (only 30 minutes from Salzburg City), all offer glorious views and blissful swimming in crystal-clear waters.
Later, climb or dive to the plateau above Jägersee for sweeping views over one of the largest mountain lakes in the eastern Alps, then carry on to Kleinarl for rest and refreshment at one its many mountain huts.
Salzburg’s countryside is also home to some of the most photogenic golf courses on the planet. Tee off in Fuschlsee, home to one of the oldest golf courses in Austria, or play on the lower slopes of Untersberg, just outside Salzburg city.
9. Do a brewery tour
Salzburg is Austria’s capital of beer, with 11 breweries, some dating back to the 15th century, dotted cross the province. Still using methods passed down through generations, these offer excellent beer tours, with tastings at journey’s end.
Prefer to sample them in the wild? It’s hard to beat the hip terrace bars along the Salzach river, looking back over the city’s rooftops to the castle.