What are the five best things to see and do in Salzburg?

Joseph Reaney

Salzburg may only be Austria’s fourth-largest city, but there are still plenty of things to see and do here, including these five recommended activities from our Forbes Travel Guide editors:
 
1. Climb up to Hohensalzburg Castle. One of the largest castles in Europe, Hohensalzburg Castle is one of the top highlights of Old Town. It’s a spectacular medieval fortress with even more spectacular views of the city landscape.
 
2. Explore Mirabell Gardens. The Baroque-style Mirabell Palace is one of Salzburg’s main sights, but it’s the geometrically arranged gardens that will really catch your eye. Look out for the famous horse fountain — that’s where Maria and the children danced as they sang “Do-Re-Mi” in The Sound of Music.
 
3. Visit Mozart’s birthplace. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg, and memorials to the famous composer can be found throughout the city. Be sure to visit his former home in the city center.
 
4. Catch a classical concert. If you’d rather listen to Mozart’s legacy, you can hear his work being performed in one of the city’s many music venues — or come for the annual Salzburg Festival, which is held every summer for five weeks.
 
5. Head to the Alps. If not the music, then the hills are certainly alive with chirping birds, icy fresh air and spectacular panoramas — and they’re just a quick trip away from Salzburg’s city center.

  • On September 5, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What are the five best day trips from Salzburg?

    If you’ve seen it all in Salzburg and are ready for a change of scenery, there’s plenty more to see just outside the city. These are our Forbes Travel Guide editors’ five favorite day trips:
     
    1. Salt mines. The nearby salt mines at Bad Dürrnberg have been used to extract white gold since Celtic times, so it offers a fascinating look back at subterranean history. It also has some thrills and spills, with rides on the mining trolley, speedy slides between levels and an archaeological kids’ playground.
     
    2. Oberndorf. It may only be a small city, but Oberndorf has a spot in history as the place where the popular Christmas hymn “Silent Night” was composed and first performed. You can visit the Museum and Chapel of Silent Night to learn the full story.
     
    3. The Eagle’s Nest. Once the mountaintop chalet of Adolf Hitler, today the Eagle’s Nest is a restaurant with an outdoor beer garden that also doubles as a great jumping-off point for hikers.
     
    4. Salzburger Freilichtmuseum. Lying in the shadow of dramatic Untersberg mountain, this is an open-air folk museum that’s home to 60 farmhouses, barns, cabins and mills that are populated with traditional rural costumes, arts and crafts, working tools and even vehicles.
     
    5. The Great Outdoors. Salzburg is surrounded on every side by natural beauty, so make the most of it by perhaps hiking up to the lofty mountain of Untersberg or dropping down to the lakeside town of Salzkammergut.
  • On September 5, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What is the best thing to bring home from Salzburg?

    From music to Mozartkugeln, here are our Forbes Travel Guide editors’ five favorite things to bring home from Salzburg:
     
    1. Mozart’s music. It’s impossible to spend any time in Salzburg without gaining a greater appreciation for the work of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, so something bearing his name always makes a good souvenir. Look past the tacky teddy bears and sickly chocolate liqueurs and instead take home some sheet music.
     
    2. Traditional costume. You may find little practical use for them back home, but Salzburg’s traditional costumes are unique items that will always remind you of your visit. Pop into local stores to pick up a flowing dirndl dress or smart walkjanker top.
     
    3. Huetschenreuter Bell. This traditional porcelain bell has been made for centuries, and every year there is a brand new design for Salzburgerland — that means you won’t just get a lovely souvenir, but also an everlasting reminder of exactly when you were last in Salzburg.
     
    4. Mozartkugeln. In English this means “Mozart balls,” which are delicious marzipan-and-chocolate confections that are just waiting to be packaged up and taken home.
     
    5. Swarovski diamonds. The famed jewelry company originated just a little ways west of the city, so one of its gems makes for a sparkling local souvenir.
  • On September 5, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What are the five best Salzburg food experiences?

    When it comes to main meals Salzburg offers much the same as any Austrian town: schnitzel and spätzle. When it comes to sweet treats, however, this city has a culinary heritage all of its own. Here are five food experiences our Forbes Travel Guide editors feel you must have while in Salzburg:
     
    1. Salzburger Nockerl. This is the city’s favorite dessert and is kind of like a sweet soufflé, but with the texture of dumplings. Ingredients include egg yolk, egg whites, flour, sugar, salt, vanilla, milk and raisins.
     
    2. Bierkuchen. Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of the German language may be surprised at the name, but bierkuchen (beer cake) delivers exactly what it promises — soft yet firm cake made with cherries, raisins and a healthy dose of pale ale.
     
    3. Mozartkugeln. Yet another Salzburg item named after the famous composer, Mozartkugeln (Mozart balls) are actually extremely tasty — the perfect combination of chocolate and marzipan. You can buy the Mirabell brand in every grocery store, but we recommend trying the original version at Café Fürst.
     
    4. Kaiserschmarrn. Although eaten throughout Austria, this dessert of torn pieces of caramelized pancake sprinkled with icing sugar and smothered in hot plum compote is especially popular in Salzburg.
     
    5. Coffee. From the Melange to the Einspänner, the Grosser Brauner to the Verlängerter, caffeine-addicts are spoilt for choice in Salzburg.
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  • On September 5, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    Where is the best nightlife in Salzburg?

    It may seem like a quiet city by day, but Salzburg really comes alive at night. Old Town is filled with small, historic pubs, including several popular microbreweries, while livelier, more modern bars are situated on both banks of the river, on Rudolfskai and Giselakai. The big nightclubs, meanwhile, tend to be on the outskirts of the city, usually within shopping malls.
     
    Our Forbes Travel Guide editors feel the best way to spend an evening in this city of music, however, is to catch a live concert. There are classical performances taking place throughout the year in a variety of venues —  the most famous (and most exclusive) is probably the Marble Hall at Mirabell Palace. If classical music isn’t your thing, you can try the Shamrock Irish Pub for live Irish fiddlers; Rockhouse for late-night rock and metal bands; or Szene for everything from electro DJs to jazz jam sessions.
  • On September 5, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What is the best way to see Salzburg in one day?

    It may be a small city, but Salzburg is blessed with an abundance of interesting tourist tidbits — and you can only see so many in one day. However, if you focus your efforts around Old Town, you should be able to get a relatively good feel for the city.
     
    Our Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend starting your day by crisscrossing the Salzach River and strolling through Old Town’s charming lanes, narrow alleyways and sheltered piazzas, picking up a quick breakfast at a traditional bakery along the way. Spend the rest of the morning with a little more purpose by taking in a major Old Town sight or two, such as the Salzburger Cathedral, Mozart’s birthplace or Mirabell Palace.
     
    In the afternoon, head up to Hohensalzburg, the enormous medieval castle looming over the center, and spend two or three hours taking your audio tour around the fascinating exhibition. Afterwards hike up to the Kapuzinerberg hill, where you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the city.
     
    In the evening head back to Old Town for a traditional meal at Gasthof Wilder Mann, then spend the rest of the night drinking home-brewed beers with the locals at Augustiner Bräustuberl.
  • On September 5, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    Where is the best shopping in Salzburg?

    Salzburg has some wonderful shopping opportunities, from fabulous fashions to fresh farmers’ food. Check out these picks from our Forbes Travel Guide editors to ensure you get the best goods in town:
     
    1. Fashion. Although Salzburg is hardly known as one of Europe’s great fashion capitals, there are a surprising number of top international brands, chic designer boutiques, leather accessory shops and high-end jewelers throughout the Old City. For a true insight into local style, women should try a traditional dirndl (the historical costume of Alpine peasants made up of a bodice, blouse, full skirt and apron), while men can opt for lederhosen (short leather breeches).
     
    2. Souvenirs. Whether it’s novelty mugs, sweet liqueurs, tacky pencils or Christmas tree decorations, almost every Salzburg souvenir evokes the spirit of Mozart, but if you really want to celebrate the local maestro, how about a piece of his sheet music or an antique musical instrument? Aside from these, the best Salzburg souvenirs are probably the most temporary ones: You can find a wealth of edible delights in any of the city’s many bakeries, patisseries and confectioners.
     
    3. Markets. Salzburg has great markets for all seasons, with the likes of Grünmarkt and Schrannenmarkt selling farmers’ products, traditional clothes, arts and crafts, flowers and souvenirs throughout the year. It’s during the festive winter holiday season, however, that the city really switches into market mode, with the huge Christkindlmarkt and various other smaller markets offering gingerbread sweets, wooden toys, mulled wine and everything else needed to get into the holiday spirit.
  • On September 5, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What are the five best things to do with kids in Salzburg?

    With its medieval houses and classical music, Salzburg may seem like a strictly grown-up city on the surface, but scratch a little deeper and you’ll find a number of activities kids will love. Here are five that our Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend:
     
    1. Catch a puppet show. Salzburg’s Toy Museum holds Austria’s largest collection of European toys, as well as a number of hands-on exhibits. The highlight for most visitors, however, is the Kasperltheater (puppet show), which has been held here every Tuesday and Wednesday for the past 25 years.
     
    2. Take a trip to the zoo. A visit to Salzburg Zoo is guaranteed to keep the kids happy. Open 365 days a year and located about 15 minutes outside of town, the zoo has more than 800 animals, including some in a petting zoo.
     
    3. Attend a festival. Salzburg is a festival city, with something going on almost every week of the year. The biggest one is the Salzburg Festival, a vast celebration of classical music, opera and theater that has taken place for five weeks from July to August every year for almost a century.
     
    4. See Both “Salz” and “Burg.” Salzburg means “salt castle,” so once you have explored Hohensalzburg Castle in the Old Town you should head to the nearby salt mines at Bad Dürrnberg. The trip is perfect for kids 4 years old — they’ll love the mine trolley ride and running around in a Celtic playground.
     
    5. Explore Mozart’s birthplace. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was playing piano and violin almost from birth and composing music from the age of 5, so inspire your little ones by taking a trip to his childhood home.
  • On September 5, 2012
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What are the five best things to see and do in Salzburg?

    Salzburg may only be Austria’s fourth-largest city, but there are still plenty of things to see and do here, including these five recommended activities from our Forbes Travel Guide editors:
     
    1. Climb up to Hohensalzburg Castle. One of the largest castles in Europe, Hohensalzburg Castle is one of the top highlights of Old Town. It’s a spectacular medieval fortress with even more spectacular views of the city landscape.
     
    2. Explore Mirabell Gardens. The Baroque-style Mirabell Palace is one of Salzburg’s main sights, but it’s the geometrically arranged gardens that will really catch your eye. Look out for the famous horse fountain — that’s where Maria and the children danced as they sang “Do-Re-Mi” in The Sound of Music.
     
    3. Visit Mozart’s birthplace. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg, and memorials to the famous composer can be found throughout the city. Be sure to visit his former home in the city center.
     
    4. Catch a classical concert. If you’d rather listen to Mozart’s legacy, you can hear his work being performed in one of the city’s many music venues — or come for the annual Salzburg Festival, which is held every summer for five weeks.
     
    5. Head to the Alps. If not the music, then the hills are certainly alive with chirping birds, icy fresh air and spectacular panoramas — and they’re just a quick trip away from Salzburg’s city center.
  • On July 3, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Where are the five best places to eat in Salzburg?

    Salzburg has the highest concentration of gourmet restaurants in Austria. Here are five Forbes Travel Guide favorites:
     
    1. St. Peter Stiftskeller. The city’s oldest restaurant has played host to everyone from Charlemagne in 803 to the Mozart family in the 18th century, so a trip here can be as much a history lesson as it is a culinary experience. You won’t be disappointed by the cuisine, either, with dishes like goose-liver parfait with calvados sorbet.
     
    2. K&K Restaurant. With three floors serving different types of food — there’s a ground-floor bistro and the top level serves international cuisine — this historic Old Town restaurant has something for everyone.
     
    3. Magazin. Featuring a unique blend of award-winning cooking and a historic bunker setting, Magazin serves the best of new Austrian cuisine, which means old favorites with significantly more subtlety.
     
    4. Restaurant Ikarus. An integral part of Hangar 7,  the private airport hangar of Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz, Restaurant Ikarus hosts a different world-class guest chef each month, so no visit is ever the same.
     
    5. Gasthof Wilder Mann. It may not be the most high-end eating option in the city, but it’s one of the most authentically Austrian. Expect one-liter glasses of Stiegl beer, enormous bratwurst, and friendly staff dressed in traditional dirndl outfits.
  • On July 3, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    Which are the five best places to stay in Salzburg?

    Salzburg has an eclectic mix of high-end accommodations, including these picks from our Forbes Travel Guide editors for the five best places to stay:
     
    1. Schloss Fuschl. Built as the hunting lodge and summer residence of Salzburg’s archbishop in 1450, this luxurious lakeside castle hotel sits high up in the Alps. It offers more than 110 elegantly furnished rooms, 30 acres of surrounding greenery and a regal two-story Mozart Suite with a grand piano.
     
    2. Hotel Sacher Salzburg. Managing to be both in the center of the city and yet feel tucked away on the riverbank, Hotel Sacher Salzburg is renowned for its renovated suites, which are stocked with antiques and have views of the city or river; the service here is also tops. The hotel has hosted some of the city’s most prominent visitors over the years, from politicians and physicists to actors and aristocrats.
     
    3. Hotel Schloss Monchstein. You’ll be in a castle in the center of Salzburg when you stay at Hotel Schloss Monchstein. Dripping with romance, the guestrooms feature Old World décor and park or city views.
     
    4. ArtHotel Blaue Gans. Straying far from Salzburg’s more traditional hotels, ArtHotel Blaue Gans is an art-focused hotel with a modern edge. Look for marble floors and vaulted ceilings to mix with minimalist décor and flat-screen TVs.
     
    5. Romantik Hotel Gmachl. Founded by the first Gmachl back in 1334, this is the oldest family-run establishment in Austria. It features 35 luxurious rooms, a world-class restaurant and exclusive spa facilities — and it’s all just outside the city center.