Salzburg, a small city in Austria, has long been famed for Mozart, The Sound of Music, and its one of a kind landscapes – snow-capped peaks, lush rolling hills, formidable clifftop fortress, and Baroque-style structures. Though considered as a small city, Salzburg is incredibly diverse. If you’re a first-time visitor, with only 3 days, planning the trip and narrowing down the itinerary can be a daunting task. Our 3-day suggested itinerary showcases the best of the city and what are the things you can accomplish in 3 days (this could be a great add-on to any trip to Vienna). You can absolutely make any changes you like, to adapt the tour to your preferences.
Things to know before traveling to Salzburg, Austria:
Language – The official language of Austria is German, which is spoken by about 98% of the population. Most Austrians speak English, so you can absolutely get by without speaking the German language. Slovenian, Croatian and Hungarian are the other official languages of the country. Like in other countries, do not expect everyone to speak English so, speaking at least some German phrases or attempting to learn is greatly appreciated by the locals.
Etiquette – The Austrians are warm, family oriented and very welcoming to foreign visitors. However, it’s important to remember some do’s and don’ts to enjoy a faux pas free journey. Greetings for both men and women are a simple handshake, direct eye contact and an appropriate greeting depending on time of the day. Always greet with titles unless you’re on familiar terms with them or until your Austrian friend suggests otherwise. Another important thing to remember is that most Austrians are Roman Catholics, so behave respectfully inside the churches.
Currency exchange – Austria uses Euros, the same currency now used by most European Union countries with the exception of Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Poland, Denmark, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Prior to traveling, you can buy some euros (enough for one day or whatever your preference) and then exchange your money in the banks to get the best rates. You can also use the Bankomat (ATM), exchange bureaus which can be found at the airports, major railways stations and in other tourist areas.
Getting around – Salzburg can be easily explored on foot or on a bicycle. You can either bike on your own or you can join one of the guided biking tours offered in the city. Also, traveling using public transportation is relatively easy as all roads are well-maintained and the public transport system is one of Europe’s finest. If you see yourself primarily taking public transportation, then you may get around using a 24-hour ticket, an integrated transport smart card, which provides unlimited bus and tram travel within the city. You can purchase this ticket at a nearby Tabak (tobacconists) stand or directly from the driver.
Where to stay – There are many types of holiday accommodation in Salzburg, from luxury hotels to cheap accommodation like youth hostels and bed and breakfast. There are also plenty of apartment rentals if you prefer the comfort and convenience of having your own place with cooking facilities. The most frequent question from first time travelers is, “What’s the best area to stay in when visiting Salzburg?” Without a doubt, the best area to stay in is the historic center of Salzburg (also known as Aldstadt) to get easy access to most attractions and to get more hotel options. Mülln and Nonntal are also excellent neighborhoods for either a quick weekend getaway or a longer visit in the city.
Hotels to consider in Salzburg:
Detailed itinerary: 3 days in the Baroque city of Salzburg, Austria
Today is spent learning all about the Old Town of Salzburg. Travel to your chosen accommodation where you will be staying for three days. Get settled and spend the morning in your hotel to recover from jet lag. If you are stressed out, or simply needing a place where you can recharge and enjoy some downtime, then have some coffee and cakes at 220 GRAD (Chiemseegasse 5).
Start your tour at the Hohensalzburg Castle, the imposing castle atop the Festungsberg. Considered as Europe’s biggest fortification, it features multiple courtyards, apartments, towers, and the Fortress Museum. To get there, you can either walk, or take the fortress funicular. We suggest the latter so you can enjoy the fantastic view of Salzburg’s Old Town.
In the afternoon, enjoy the scenery, the music and the history as you do your own tour of The Sound of Music shooting locations. Trace the footsteps of the Trapp family, whose story became one of the biggest Hollywood musicals of all time.
In the evening, get a taste of Salzburg’s nightlife at Augustiner Braustubl or Murphy’s Law Irish Pub. You may also watch the Little Puppet Show at the Salzburg Marionette Theater. One of the best first-class marionette theaters in the world and the oldest, this cultural extravagance offers unique premiers each day ranging from the works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, The Nutcracker and The Sound of Music. Tickets for the show is money well spent, we assure you.
If you are a catholic and your second day happens to be on a Sunday, rise early and head to Salzburg Cathedral (Dom du Salzburg) to attend a celebration of the Mass. Situated on the Domplatz, the cathedral features early Baroque-style dome and two towers which dates back to the early 17th century. Non-catholic visitors may also visit the church to see its impressive interior furnishings and paintings. If you happen to be here from June to September, you can witness the organ recital performed every Wednesday and Sunday, which has been a tradition for over 600 years. After the mass, grab some breakfast at Fingerlos Restaurant (Franz-Josef-Strasse 9). They serve the best coffee in town and some hearty dishes.
After breakfast, join a group tour or do a DIY-style Mozart Tour. On this morning, track the footsteps of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and learn about the city’s love for arts, and in particular with music. Some noteworthy stops of this tour include the Getreidegasse (where Mozart’s Birthplace is located), the Mozart Residence on Makartplatz, the Mozarteum (University of Music), and the beautiful Mirabell Palace.
In the the afternoon, walk along the shopping streets of the Old Town. Salzburg is known as a shopping paradise, although it mainly targets high-end customers. If you’re on a luxury holiday, then you’ll be amazed of the number of international designer stores that you will find in the city. If you’re on a budget, then try the shopping street of Linzergasse. While you shop/window shop, do not miss to try the famous “Original Salzburger Mozartkugel.”
On day 3, spend the rest of your day checking out some attractions in the scenic town that you might have missed. You may also wake up early and embark on one of the most interesting day trips out of Salzburg by heading to Hallstatt Village (Hallstatt means salt settlement), a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Hallstatt-Dachstein alpine region. Known for its salt production, Hallstatt is continuously gaining reputation as a tourist destination because of its awe-inspiring landscapes. A day trip may not be worth the effort considering time and comfort, so it is recommended to spend at least two days in the village However, if you are short on time and would like to go back to Salzburg before the day ends, then you can definitely make the most of this day trip.
Have you been to Salzburg or anywhere else in Austria? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.
Featured image: Beautiful view of Salzburg skyline with Festung Hohensalzburg and Salzach river (Kanuman / Shutterstock.com)