The city of Salzburg can be explored in a day or two, but its surroundings are beautiful and worth taking the time to see. In this article, I will therefore introduce you to the 3 best day trips from Salzburg. You can take many more day trips from Salzburg, but these are the three most popular, and they are all very different, so taking them all would be worthwhile.
1. Day Trip from Salzburg to Hallstatt
You have probably heard about Hallstatt. Due to social media, Hallstatt became one of Austria’s most popular places. Many travelers’ bucket lists include taking a selfie with Hallstatt in the background of a selfie, a tiny village on the shores of the Hallstättersee lake. During your day trip from Salzburg, you might want to take a boat ride, take a tour of the Hallstatt salt mines, or see the ossuary. But is it really worth taking a day trip from Salzburg to Hallstatt and what is it like?
Is Hallstatt worth seeing?
Hallstatt is not only the most popular day trip from Salzburg but one of the most popular places in Austria overall. As a result, it is extremely touristy. In high season, the one street that makes up the village center is just packed with people. That’s not just edgy for visitors. It’s no secret that some locals are incredibly annoyed by the crowds, while others have figured out how to make a profit and that’s what Hallstatt is about.
In spite of that, Hallstatt is worth a visit if it’s on your bucket list. It’s similar to other places in Austria and especially in the Salzkammergut lake district. Hallstatt is a cute lakeside village with mountains in the background, but just a bit more. A little bit cutesier, a little bit quainter, a little bit more impressive and picturesque. Hallstatt has the oldest salt mine in the world and unique architecture. If you can live with the fact that it is also an overcrowded tourist trap, it is absolutely worth visiting Hallstatt.
How to get to Hallstatt on a Day Trip from Salzburg
If you have a car at your disposal, you can greatly enhance your trip to Hallstatt? Why is that? Because Hallstatt is located on the other end of the lake district from Salzburg and you pass one cute lakeside town after the other. Traveling by car allows you to stop in places like St. Gilgen, St. Wolfgang, and Bad Ischl which are almost as nice as Hallstatt.
Most travelers, however, arrive in Hallstatt by public transport from Salzburg. Public transport from Salzburg to Hallstatt is also convenient for a day trip but it almost takes you 3 hours to get there. As you ride the number 150 bus from Salzburg to Bad Ischl, you are passing the beautiful Lake District scenery before you either change to the train to Hallstatt station where you will take a boat to the village of Hallstatt, or change to a direct bus from Bad Ischl to Hallstatt. Here is an article on the Free Tour Blog that gives you detailed instructions on how to get from Salzburg to Hallstatt on a day trip.
2. Day Trip from Salzburg to Berchtesgaden
Berchtesgaden is located across the border in Bavaria, Germany. The German border is only 5 kilometers from Salzburg. Berchtesgaden is my favorite day trip destination from Salzburg. But it’s not only one of the best day trips from Salzburg and in Austria but Germans have been telling me, that it’s known as one of the most beautiful places in all of Germany. On a day trip to Berchtesgaden, there are two major things to do. One is visiting Königssee (kings lake) and the other is visiting Hitlers Eagles Nest.
Visiting Lake Königssee on a Day Trip from Salzburg
A Twitter user once called King’s Lake the Bavarian Fjord, and I think that’s the best possible nickname for it. A day visit to King’s Lake from Salzburg might leave you thinking you’re in Norway. It is impossible to walk around the lake because the mountains are too close to the shore. Therefore, you take a boat across to St. Bartholomä. On these boat trips, trumpets are played, whose sound resonates off the mountain walls.
For those who don’t want to spend money on a boat trip, you could go on a circular route around Malerwinkel. The name translates to “Malerwinkel” meaning “painter’s point.” This point gives you a glimpse of the lake without taking the boat but I would recommend the boat to get to the other side. Read this article, for detailed instructions on how to take a day trip from Salzburg to kings lake.
Visiting the Eagles Nest on a Day Trip from Salzburg
Hitler’s Kehlsteinhaus was built in 1938 for Hitlers 50th birthday. Atop the mountain Kehlstein, 1700 meters above sea level, overlooks Berchtesgaden. The only way to get to this historic artifact of the second world war is by shuttle bus and an elevator or a three-hour hike. The Eagles Nest is a great day trip idea from Salzburg when the weather is nice because the views are mindblowing. When the weather is bad, I would go for the aforementioned Königssee instead. In case you are into hiking, here is an article on how to hike the Eagle’s Nest instead of taking the shuttle bus.
How to get to Berchtesgaden from Salzburg
Berchtesgaden is one of the cheaper day trips from Salzburg, despite crossing the border into Germany. That’s because you can buy a day-ticket from the bus drivers of bus 840, which includes the 840 bus from Salzburg to Berchtesgaden, the 838 bus from Berchtesgaden to the shuttle bus station for the Eagles Nest, and the 842 bus from Berchtesgaden to Königssee for as little as around 12 Euros. Thus, these 12 Euros could pay for your entire trip to Königssee if you don’t take the boat but only hike to Malerwinkel and your day trip to Eagles Nest if you hike the Eagles Nest instead of taking the shuttle bus.
If you take the day trip from Salzburg to Berchtesgaden, make sure to also check out the village of Berchtesgaden where you change buses to either Königssee or the Eagle’s Nest. You can visit either Königssee or the Eagles Nest during your day trip from Salzburg by public transportation. If you would like to fit both, you would have to travel by car or take an organized tour like this Super Saver tour one by Panorama tours. Here are detailed instructions on how to get to the Eagles Nest from Salzburg and how to get to Kings Lake from Salzburg on your own on day trips from Salzburg.
3. Day Trip from Salzburg to the Werfen Ice Caves
The Ice Caves in Werfen, located about an hour south of Salzburg, in the middle of the Alps, are the largest Ice Caves in the world. The Ice Caves are at an altitude of 1700 meters above sea level and can be reached on a day trip from Salzburg by train or car. To get to the Ice Caves, you take the direct train to Werfen, from the Werfen train station you take a shuttle bus to the visitors center, from the visitors center you hike for 20 minutes, take a cable car and hike for another 20 minutes to the entrance of the caves.
Werfen Ice Caves are therefore not only an impressive indoor activity when exploring the caves on a guided tour, but also a great way to experience nature and get an impression of the Austrian Alps on the way there.
What else is there to do on a Day Trip from Salzburg to Werfen
In addition to the Ice Caves, there is the Hohenwerfen fortress in Werfen and a meadow which has been advertised as the Sound of Music Meadow in recent years because it’s the meadow that was used at the beginning of the movie and at the beginning of the Do-Re-Mi song.
There is no need to visit the meadow or the fortress during a day trip from Salzburg, but if you are interested in fortresses or the Sound of Music, go for it! If the latter is true to you, read this article for more Sound of Music locations in and around Salzburg.
Other than that, there is nothing to see or do in the town of Werfen. That’s what makes the day trip to Werfen different from Berchtesgaden or the Salzkammergut Lake District where Hallstatt is located. There are lots of things to do and places to see around Berchtesgaden and in the Lake District but the main reason to visit Werfen is a visit to the largest Ice Cave in the world. Here is another article explaining in detail how to reach the Ice Caves on a day trip from Salzburg.
More great Day Trips from Salzburg
This list of day trips from Salzburg is far from complete but these are just the 3 best day trips from a popularity standpoint. The 3-day trips in this post are wildly popular and touristy, therefore, you would also have to look for other places, if you would prefer an off-the-beaten-path place. There are numerous other destinations, and even I, as a local and tour guide, haven’t been to them all. Here are just a few more suggestions for great day trips from Salzburg:
- Sankt Wolfgang: Wolfgangsee Lake is located in the lake district, just like Hallstatt. St. Wolfgang resembles Hallstatt in that it is a pleasant lakeside village with a mountain in the background. One of the greatest things about St. Wolfgang is that it has the Schafbergbahn, a cog railway that goes up the mountain to 1800 meters above sea level. This is one of my favorite things to do in the lake area. Furthermore, you can take a Boat Cruise to St Gilgen on Wolfgangsee Lake.
- Sankt Gilgen: Sankt Gilgen in the Lake District might be interesting since Sankt Gilgen is the first place on Wolfgangsee Lake when coming from Salzburg. At the Boat Dock in Sankt Gilgen, a Boat Ride is available to cross the lake to Sankt Wolfgang.
- Bad Ischl: Bad Ischl was the summer residence of the Habsburg emperor from the 19th century until the first world war. It’s located in the Lake District as well but there is no lake in Bad Ischl but rather interesting architecture, great pastries at Konditorei Zauner, and the emperor’s residence. Here is an article on all the best things to do in Bad Ischl.
- Munich: You may think that a day trip from Munich to Salzburg would be more appropriate, but in fact, Munich makes an excellent day trip destination from Salzburg. Munich is ten times bigger than Salzburg, but the old town in Munich is almost as compact as Salzburg’s old town, and I’ve taken a day trip to Munich myself several times. A day trip from Salzburg to Munich is best done in a group with the Bayernticket and alone with the Flixbus.
- Places in the Surroundings: Since Salzburg is small there are also many places in the surroundings that can be visited without taking a full-blown day trip. Places like the Stiegl Brewery, Hellbrunn Palace and the Hellbrunn Trick Fountains, Untersberg mountain, or Maria Plain where one of the best views in the surroundings of Salzburg would await you. In this article, you can read about the 7 best places to visit in the surroundings of Salzburg.