Welcome to Salzburg! Complete with a one-thousand-year-old castle, mountains upon mountains upon mountains, and a sparkling turquoise river dividing the old town and new, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a fairy tale as soon as you’ve arrived. This quaint Austrian city boasts the filming locations for The Sound of Music, the house where Mozart himself was born, and nature like you wouldn’t believe.
Only have 24 hours to see this magical place? Check out the perfect 24-hour itinerary to make the most of your day in Salzburg below.
1) START YOUR DAY AT CAFÉ FINGERLOS
Austrians are known for their deluxe breakfasts, and there’s no better place than Fingerlos to see what makes them so special. If the weather is warm, grab a seat at the sidewalk café, and sit back and watch the locals walk by as you sip your cappuccino and munch on your freshly-baked rolls.
Before you leave, make sure to go inside and look at the cakes on display. Austrians love their Kaffee and Kuchen (coffee and cake), and Fingerlos has some of the best available. Even if breakfast is a bit too early for cakes, you’ll definitely want to go take a peek – they are beautiful!
2) STROLL THROUGH MIRABELL GARDENS
After you finish your breakfast, head across the street to Mirabell Gardens. Built-in the seventeenth century, these Baroque-style gardens are a must-see on your day in Salzburg.
Make sure to enter the gardens through the small park right next to Kongresshaus (a tall building with flags next to it, up the street from Fingerlos). Keep walking until you see the rod iron gates on your left, and prepare to be amazed. The view that awaits you – the gardens with the mighty Festung Hohensalzburg Castle behind them – is enough to make your jaw drop. Take a look and enjoy.
For you Sound of Music fans, the steps where you now are standing are the exact steps where Maria and the children jump up and down at the end of the Do-Re-Mi song in the film. An excellent place for a photo op!
Mirabell Gardens is also home to other filming locations from this song: the two fountains, the leaf-covered tunnel, and the statues of the men with one arm over their heads at the entrance on the opposite side also make an appearance in the famous movie. Perfect place to recreate some movie scenes!
Even if you’re not a Sound of Music fan, the gardens themselves are gorgeous to behold. Complete with a rose garden, the two central gardens, and an upper garden with cute little statues, strolling through these beautiful grounds will bring a smile to your face. Many Austrians get married here, and you can definitely see why!
3) CLIMB A MINI-MOUNTAIN
The best views of Salzburg are from above, and luckily there is a small “mountain” in the city that you can go up in about ten minutes. Head over to the Franziskustor Gate on Linzergasse Street, and you will find a stone archway entrance to Kaupzinerberg Mountain, named after the Capuchin Abbey situated up top.
The climb is steep but short, and once you’re up there, I promise you’ll forget any huffing and puffing that was previously required. The views of the Alps, the castle, and the town itself are absolutely breathtaking, and there’s something to be said about being in an oasis of nature in the middle of the city.
4) EAT THE WORLD’S BEST BOSNA
Lunchtime! If you want to eat like a local, you’ll have to try a bosna – one of the Austrians’ favorite foods.
What is a bosna, you ask? It’s a grilled bratwurst with onions, fresh parsley, and your choice of sauce. And it is delicious. While you can get bosna at most little sausage stands throughout the city, one location is known for being the best. And if you’re only in Salzburg for one day, then why not try the best? It’s time to head to the famous Balkan Grill.
Cross the river to the Altstadt, or the old-town, on any one of the bridges. But I would recommend crossing on the bridge covered with all the locks.
Why locks? A few years ago, couples in love started the tradition of writing their names or initials on small locks and clipping them to the bridge, throwing away the key as a sign of their love. What started out as a few locks here and there has turned into the entire bridge being laden with locks, making a beautiful collection of symbols of love (My husband and I added our own lock before we moved away from Austria in 2014, but we have since forgotten where we put it! If any of you find a lock with Katie and Markus written on it, then let us know!).
Once across the river, make your way to Getreidegasse Street and you’ll find the famous Balkan Grill in a small tunneled alleyway off to the side. There will almost always be a line, but I promise it’s worth the wait. Grab your bosna (I like mine with ketchup) and enjoy!
(If you’re a vegetarian, a quick and easy vegetarian lunch is available at Indigo – also right in the area!)
5) WANDER THE ALTSTADT
Bosna in hand, it’s now time to explore the Altstadt itself. Getreidegasse is the main shopping street in Salzburg, and if you need any souvenirs, then this is the place to stop.
You will also see Mozart’s Geburtshaus – the house where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born – right in the middle of this street. You can go in and visit for a small fee if you are a fan of the famous composer. But make sure to finish your bosna first!
As you make your way deeper into the Altstadt, check out the smallest building in Europe on Alter Markt Square (to the right of Café Tomaselli), the life-size chessboard on Kapitelplatz Square, and the statue of Mozart on – you guessed it – Mozartplatz Square.
And if you need even more Mozart in your life, then make sure to taste the city’s famous Mozartkugeln (Mozart Balls), available at any souvenir shop. Yes, Salzburg is so proud of being the birthplace of Mozart that they made chocolates out of him. With marzipan filling.
6) STEP BACK IN TIME WITH A VISIT TO SALZBURG’S FAMOUS CASTLE
Festung Hohensalzburg is the landmark for which Salzburg is known, and no trip to the city would be complete without a visit to this eleventh-century castle. If you’re feeling up to a bit of exercise, you can climb the hill up to the very top.
It’s only about a twenty-minute climb, but, like Kapuzinerberg, it’s very steep, so make sure to wear your walking shoes. For those of you who feel like you’ve done enough exercise for one day, you can also take the Festungsbahn, or cable car, all the way up to the top. Just make sure to buy a ticket at the bottom!
Once at the castle, you can purchase a ticket for a guided audio tour and explore the inner rooms. And when you’re finished, make sure to spend some time walking around the castle grounds – the view of the Alps is incredible.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can then explore Monchsberg Mountain (the mountain the castle is on). I’d recommend making your way along the back of the mountain, all the way across to the other side (perhaps about a 20-minute walk), until you reach the Stadtalm – a cute little restaurant with amazing views of the castle and the foothills of the Alps. Sit back, relax, and enjoy a refreshing drink while you gaze out at the breathtaking city below. You can even see Kapuzinberg Mountain across the way.
7) TASTE THE BEST FRIED CHICKEN IN AUSTRIA AT BÄRENWIRT
Bärenwirt Restaurant, founded in 1663 (!), has made it their mission to create Austria’s best-fried chicken (or Backhendl, as the Austrians say), and in my opinion, they have definitely succeeded. I can guarantee that you have never tasted fried chicken like Bärenwirt’s, and you won’t want to leave Salzburg without a meal at this famous restaurant.
Word of Advice: Be sure to make a reservation. Word has gotten out in the last few years about how good the restaurant is, and you want to be able to get a table. If you can, ask for a seat outside in their garden. With a view of the river and the mountains, it’s quite a relaxing atmosphere to enjoy that mouth-watering fried chicken.
Not a fried chicken fan? Bärenwirt also has a number of other local Austrian dishes, all of which are incredibly delicious. My second favorite is Kasnocken – an Austrian version of macaroni and cheese in a pan, but much better than anything you can even imagine. As the Austrians say, Mahlzeit (enjoy your meal)!
8) CELEBRATE YOUR SUCCESSFUL DAY WITH A BEER AT SALZBURG’S MOST POPULAR BEER GARDEN
Augustinerbräu, or Müllnerbräu as the locals call it, is one of the most famous beer gardens in all of Austria. Founded in 1621, this prominent beer hall is a great place to end your day.
Grab a large or a small krug (beer mug) off the shelf, wash it in the fountain, and stand in line with the locals to order your drink. You can either get a standard beer or, if you’re looking for something lighter, try a Radler – a beer with lemonade. Then make your way out into the enormous beer garden and enjoy!
If it’s too cold to sit outside, then no worries – just take a seat in one of the giant beer halls available indoors. See all those little signs on the walls above your table? Those are signs for Austrian Stammtisches – groups of friends who gather at that particular table at a certain time each week. And who knows – maybe you now love Salzburg so much that you’ll make your own Stammtisch there one day!
And there you have it – a fun-filled day in Salzburg! I hope that you enjoyed your time in this fairy-tale city and that you loved all the food, history, and views as much as I do. Until next time – auf Wiedersehen!
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