Visit Mozart’s Hometown: Salzburg
Salzburg is a medieval city full of classical music, rich history, and elegance. One of Austria’s most charming cities has been shared with the world through classical music and movies. Sitting on the western part of the country, close to Germany’s border, Salzburg is Europe’s oldest preserved ancient city.
I fell in love with the city and can’t wait to share all the highlights awaiting you in Salzburg. I recommend that your length of stay be between 2-3 nights. You can visit Salzburg in a day, but other sites to explore outside the city are worth including in your itinerary.
Summers are the peak season for Salzburg. Traveling in the spring or the fall is the best option to avoid crowds. We visited Salzburg in July, and it was a little crowded but not as bad as I thought it would be for the season. If traveling in the summer, be prepared to wait at restaurants, and if you plan to dine at a popular restaurant, it is best to make reservations.
So, without further ado, here is charming Salzburg.
As we stepped out of our hotel, we had the Salzach River running by with the Makartsteg pedestrian bridge nearby to offer you a scenic view. Take a walk up and down the Linzer Gasse, a pedestrian zone with boutiques and restaurants.
The Salzach River was used to transport salt from the nearby Salt Mines in the Dürnberg hill, where they had a large salt production operation. The salt was traded on the river in Salzburg, which contributed to the city’s growth and wealth.
Salzburg Old Town is listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage as a charming and hypnotic city. Within Old Town, you will find many major sites such as Salzburg Dom Cathedral, Hohensalzburg Fortress, St. Peter’s Monastery, and Mozart’s Birthplace.
The streets of Salzburg are tiny, but the two sides are lined with shops, cafes, and restaurants. If Christmas is your passion, you will find several holiday shops selling ornaments and figurines but be prepared to spend a little more than usual as prices are expensive.
The Getreidegass is the main street in Salzburg’s old town. It once served as the main street for trade, where locals built their taverns, breweries, and shops. Today, it is a famous shopping street filled with luxury goods and delicacies. This adorable street will take you back in time, making you feel a part of history.
One very noticeable landmark is the Rathaus (City Hall), with its bell tower standing tall. The building was originally a burgher house. Today it is still functioning as a government office.
St. Blaise’s Church
It was built in 1327 under Archbishop Frederick III’s supervision, who proposed a civic hospital offering shelter for the sick and ailing. The church clings to the face of the Mönchsberg Mountains. The church was consecrated to St. Blaise, known as a benefactor and patron saint of throat ailments. You will find the church at the end of Getreidegasse.
Horse Fountain (Pferdeschwemme)
This elaborate horse fountain was once used for watering and cleaning horses. The name (Pferdeschwemme) means horse waterhole located at Karajana Square, which is part of the Festival District.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the famous classical musician, was born in Salzburg in the house at the Getreidegasse in 1756. He lived in the house with his family until he was around 17 years old. Several musical instruments were on display, including one of Mozart’s youth violins.
- Hours: 9:00 – 17:30
- Admission: 12 EUR, Free admission with Salzburg Card
A side street from Getreidegass is the Grünmarkt near the Collegiate Church on University Square (Universitatsplatz). Here you will find stalls selling local products such as produce, cheese, bread, meats, sweets, and so much more.
- Hours: Mon. – Fri. 7:00 – 19:00, Sat. 7:00 – 15:00
- Another Salzburg Organic Farmer’s Market is open only on Fridays at Kajetanerplatz.
Residenzplatz (Residence Square)
West of the Residenz, where the prince archbishops held court and managed affairs for the country, is Residenzpaltz. Within Residenzplatz is the most beautiful fountain, decorated with horses, dolphins, giants, and is topped with a Triton shooting a jet of water from a conch shell. This fountain is the largest Baroque fountain in Central Europe. A popular location for concerts and other events, as well as Salzburg’s Christmas market.
- DomQuartier Tickets can be purchased for a guided tour to the Residenz State Rooms, Gallery, and the Cathedral.
Dedicated to Salzburg’s most famous resident, a statue of Mozart was unveiled in 1842. It is an excellent place to enjoy a beer or coffee while watching tourists. Sometimes you will find musicians performing, providing an added touch to the area. The location is here.
Located in front of the Domplatz is Salzburg’s Cathedral, adorned by three bronze gates representing the three divine virtues of faith, hope, and love. This Baroque-style Roman Catholic Church was founded in 774 and is one of Salzburg’s landmarks. The marble façade and large dome get your attention, but the interior is something that will take your breath away.
The cathedral was destroyed by fire but later rebuilt over time. At the entrance, you will see the numbers 774, 1628, and 1959 in memory of the cathedral’s three consecrations.
- Interesting Fact: Mozart was baptized here and played his first piano concert at six years old.
Mönchsberg Aufzug (Cable Car Lift)
A fun way to access the Fortress of Hohensalzburg is by riding the cable car lift. Once you step off the lift, you can walk to the Sky Space, a terrace overlooking Salzburg’s entire old town.
- Admission: One-way ticket is 2.70 EUR; Roundtrip is 4 EUR
It is noted as one of the largest fortresses in Europe, built to protect the Archbishop of Salzburg. After gazing out over the old town below from the terrace, we began to meander through the fort.
The castle’s interior is made up of rooms, cannons, towers, and a church. The Fortress was built in 1077 and gained its importance in 1500 under Archbishop Leonhard von Kreutschach.
Within the grounds of the Fortress is the Fortress Museum, torture chamber, the Tower, Marionette Museum, Golden Hall & Magical Theatre, and St. George Church.
- The Gothic St. George Church was first documented in 927 and later remodeled in Baroque style in the late 17th century. The patron St. George is depicted on the altarpiece in a fierce battle with a dragon.
St. George Church
- Marionette Museum is devoted to the art of marionette puppetry. In addition, Salzburg has a rich history in marionette theatre and offers performances to this day.
- Walk through the Liebesgrotte tunnel and kiss your loved one. It is believed that “one kiss inside the love grotto and your love will be everlasting,”
- The Fortress Museum documents the Fortress’s history, sharing the lifestyles of those who once lived here.
- Hours: Jan.-April: 9:30 AM-5 PM; May-Sept.: 9 AM-7 PM; Oct.-Dec.: 9:30 AM-5 PM
- Golden Hall & Magical Theatre will educate you on the life of Archbishop Leonhard von Kreutschach. Admission:12.60 EUR or 16.60 EUR (include funicular ride)
You can purchase a Basic Ticket that includes a roundtrip on the funicular and museums for 13 EUR. So, take the time to explore the former home of the royals, bishops, and military.
St. Peter’s Chapel, Cemetery & Catacombs
After visiting the Hohensalzburg Fortress, we walked to St. Peter’s Cemetery, the oldest cemeteries in the world. Here is the final resting place for many notables such as Santino Solari (designer and builder of Salzburg Cathedral), Mannerly Mozart (Mozart’s sister), and Michael Hayden (composer). The cemetery is decorated with iron sculptures and tombstones with colorful flowers planted.
Catacombs are carved into the rock of Mönchsberg and a small chapel believed to be of early Christian origin.
St. Peter’s Chapel, dating back to 1491, was founded by St. Rupert, making it one of the oldest monasteries in the German-speaking area.
Kapitelplatz (Chapter Square)
As you walk towards the Fortress, located near St. Peter’s Cemetery, is the Kapitelplatz. In one corner near a small bakery is an old watermill. Salzburg is home to the oldest water pipe tunnel in Central Europe. The water was piped from Lake Könnigsee to the city.
Things to do in Salzburg
Mirabell Palace and Gardens
The Sound of Music made Mirabell Palace and Gardens Salzburg’s top tourist attraction. In the movie, Maria and the von Trapp kids dance around its Pegasus Fountain, singing “Do-Re-Mi.” Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the baroque palace is easily one of the most stunning sites in Salzburg.
Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau built Mirabell Palace in 1606 to impress his beloved mistress Salome Alt. A daughter of a Jewish merchant is said to have had 15 children with the Prince! Soon the family’s life would be devastated when the Prince was overthrown and imprisoned, where he died in 1617.
The palace was renamed Mirabell by his nephew and successor, Markus Sittikus. Unfortunately, a devastating fire in 1818 destroyed much of the castle and the frescoes, but the marble staircase survived.
- Hours: Mon., Wed., Thur. 8:00 – 16:00, Tue. And Fri. 13:00 – 16:00
Although the palace is impressive, you may find the lush gardens even more striking. The geometric form, typical for the Baroque, was designed by Johann Ernst von Thun in 1690. Numerous colorful gardens to explore and admire while walking the grounds of the palace.
Most highlighted gardens are near the Pegasus Fountain, featuring a sculpture of the famed horse. Most tourists love to take a selfie here because of the “Sound of Music” movie. The Rose Garden is a romantic spot to visit. One of the oldest gardens in Europe, which was established in 1715, is the Dwarf Garden.
- The gardens are open at 6:00 AM and are one of the best places to start your day with few crowds and a picturesque view. Entrance to the Mirabell Garden is free of charge. Open from 6 AM until dusk.
NEARBY PLACES TO VISIT
Schloss Leopoldskron (Chateau Leopoldskron)
The “Sound of Music” was filmed at the Schloss Leopoldskron, located approximately 4 km south of the city. The palace has hosted famous personalities such as Bavaria’s King Luis I or Max Reinhard, who once owned it.
Today the palace operates as a hotel, and the interior can only be seen if you are a guest at the hotel; otherwise, a drive-by is the only way to get a glimpse.
Once the residence of the archbishop Markus Sittikus is the Renaissance-style Hellbrunn Palace. Highlights of the palace are the unique humor the Prince had in designing the layout of the palace.
You will find trick fountains and water games that you won’t want to miss!
- Hours: Aug. 9:30-19:00, Sept. 9:30 – 18:30, Oct.- Nov. 9:30-17:30; 40-minute drive or take bus 25 from Rathaus.
- Admission: 10.50 EUR – includes water games and magic fountains
Visit the famous St. Michael Basilica, which is featured in “The Sound of Music” movie. Mondsee is located on Lake Mondsee with an adorable downtown. The houses are beautifully painted in bright colors. A guided day trip is offered from Salzburg.
St. Gilgen is a great place to visit and enjoy browsing the old town with local shops and restaurants. Here you can take the cable car ride up the Zwölferhorn Mountain. The view is spectacular!
In the hills of Austria are some of the oldest salt mines in the world. Hallein is genuinely one of the most spectacular areas in Europe, with its tranquil St. Wolfgang where you can find the “white gold” to the famous Romantik Hotel Im Weissen Rössl. Take the train ride into the mountain, where experienced miners guide you and explain the mining process.
HELPFUL TIPS AND TOURS
- Tourist Information: Salzburg Tourist offices can be found at Mozartplatz 5 and the train station.
- Purchase the Salzburg Card depending on your length of stay (24, 48, or 72 hours). The card can be used for public transportation in the city. Also, you can find some great itinerary ideas of things to do in Salzburg. The card’s benefits allow one-time admission to places such as Hohensalzburg Fortress, Hellbrunn Palace and Trick Fountain, Mozart’s Birthplace, the Museum of Modern Art, and more. Visit the website or stop at the central train station to make your purchase.
- Here is a trusted website with a large selection of TOURS AND TICKETS FOR ACTIVITIES IN SALZBURG.
- Take an Amadeus Cruise on the River Salzach. You will see the city from a different perspective and learn more about its history and highlights along the way.
PLACE TO EAT
Here are some great options of restaurants, coffee, or sweet shops. Visit the links to read reviews:
WHERE TO STAY
Depending on your budget, you will have many options in accommodations. Staying near the Old Town gave us easy and quick access to all the major attractions. Here are a few recommendations to consider:
- Hotel Stein, located along the Salzach River, offers easy access to the old town of Salzburg. A daily breakfast is included. It is an adult-only hotel.
- Hotel Villa Carlton, located next to the Mirabell Garden, near the Salzach River, only 15 min. walk to Old Town.
- Hotel Motel One is a 3-star hotel near the old town with a terrace overlooking the Fortress.
- Neutor Hotel is in the old town of Salzburg, 6-minute walk to the Getreidegasse and other attractions.
- Imlauer Hotel Pitter Salzburg is close to Mirabell Garden and the main train station. It is about a 15-minute walk to the old town.