Salzburg’s municipal area has already been populated since the Neolithic Age. But it first achieved relevance about 2,000 years ago as a Roman camp called Juvavum. The protected site between the city’s mountains and the Salzach River provided protection against enemies at the junction of several trade routes. But the city experienced its first stage of brilliance in the Middle Ages through the salt trade. The wealth and the archbishops were to characterise the entire region from now on, and to lead to a revival of art and music. This wealth is visible to this day.
The most important highlights at a glance
Large portions of the Old Town belong to the UNESCO World Heritage Site. A walk in the city will bring you to some of the most beautiful sights, which you absolutely should not miss out on during a day trip to Salzburg:
- Hohensalzburg Fortress sits enthroned above the city and is visible from a great distance. The first way up to the fortress should be by foot or via the fortress funicular. The perfect overview and a tremendous panorama in all directions await you in the largest completely preserved castle in Central Europe. You can also explore the lavish rooms during a guided tour, learn something in the museums, enjoy a meal with a view over the city or attend one of the fortress concerts.
- Salzburg Cathedral will take your breath away from outside as well as from inside. It is one of the largest domed structures north of the Alps, with room for up to 10,000 visitors, and features the tombs of archbishops in the crypt as well as several organs and a nave with a height of 32 metres. You inevitably ask the question as to how people were able to build something like this. Incidentally, parts of the newly established DomQuartier (Cathedral Quarter) are located on the upper floors.
- Other churches in the Old Town: But the manner in which such a large number of impressive church formidable churches are standing next to each other here is also impressive. Right next to the cathedral is the ornate baroque St. Peter’s Church, the cavernous Franciscan Church and the city’s second large domed structure, the Collegiate Church. But you can also pay a visit to Nonnberg Abbey, the Holy Trinity Church (near Mirabellplatz) or the Mülln Church, which features one of the nicest beer gardens in the adjacent abbey brewery.
- Mirabell Gardens and Mirabell Palace are located on the other side of the Salzach River. The archbishops of Salzburg created a unique domicile here, with a dwarf garden, hedge maze, fountains, statues and a superb view of the cathedral and fortress.
- Getreidegasse is a lane featuring many iron signs, passages and historic buildings, and is famous as the centre of former trade. Mozart’s birthplace as well as numerous boutiques and cafes is also located here.
Located just outside the city …
- Hellbrunn Palace and Park: You can reach one of the most beautiful places in Austria with bus no. 25 or by foot via Hellbrunner Allee. Hellbrunn Palace and its trick fountains from the 17th century should be on any holiday agenda. The trick fountains involve fun and a chance to cool off on hot summer days – partly more than many would prefer …
- But the huge park with the Hellbrunn cliffs – on which the Monatsschlössel (“Little Month Palace”) thrones and on whose back side the monumental Steintheater (Stone Theatre) is located – also invite visitors to enjoy a walk. Families with children are recommended to visit the charming zoo right next door.
- The Untersberg: The local mountain popular among residents of Salzburg just teems with myths of kings, ravens, battles and dwarves. The ascent with the Untersberg cable car is included in the 24-hour Salzburg Card, which you receive within the scope of the SalzburgerLand Card. The view of nearby and distant mountain peaks as well as the view over Salzburg is tremendous.
- Hangar-7: Fans of aviation and the cosmos from Red Bull can ride with bus no. 2 out to the airport and feel as if they are in seventh heaven at Hangar-7. From the stratospheric jump capsule via Formula 1 racing cars to helicopters and aircraft, Red Bull chief Didi Mateschitz has fulfilled a personal dream here. Flights of culinary fancy all the way up into the stratosphere are likewise possible at the Ikarus restaurant.
Lengthened coffee and apple strudel – coffeehouse culture in Salzburg
After so much sightseeing you deserve a break, and this can easily turn out to be a bit more leisurely in Austria. You can sit in one of the many coffeehouses, take a newspaper from rack, order a Verlängerter (lengthened coffee: mocha or espresso prepared with double amount of water) with apple strudel or Sacher torte and completely disregard the time for a start.
Explore Salzburg’s city mountains
You can carry on after you feel invigorated. How would you like to take an excursion in natural surroundings? Two hills –Mönchsberg and Kapuzinerberg – are located in the middle of the city, and in their forests you hardly feel as if you are no longer in the city. Even a herd of chamois lives on the Kapuzinerberg. Maybe because of the good view…
Other highlights during a holiday in the City of Salzburg
- Salzburg’ most famous son has left his traces behind. Learn more about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
- Many museums in the federal province are found in the capital.
- From the Salzburg Festival to many other cultural highlights, Salzburg has quite a few things to offer throughout the year.
- The alternative music and art scene in the Salzach City is also impressive.
The 24-hour Salzburg Card
TOP Tip: The Salzburg Card offers free entrance to Salzburg’s museums and attractions, free rides on the Salzach boat, the fortress tram and the Untersberg cable-car, as well as free use of public transport. Owners of a Salzburg Card also receive numerous discounts for concerts, theatre visits or excursion destinations in the area.
Salzburg has also conquered Hollywood with the “The Sound of Music“. The film, awarded with five Oscars, was filmed in the city of Salzburg and its immediate surroundings. The filming locations can still be visited today.