The first thing you think of when you hear of Salzburg is Mozart and the Sound of Music, but what if I told you that Salzburg is also home to some of the most beautiful sunsets on Earth.
Due to Salzburg’s perfect synergy between nature and city, the sun sets early in the winter behind Mönchsberg mountain which makes it less ideal, but in spring, summer, and early autumn, the sun sets behind the German border, where its flat surface illuminates the sky in varying hues.
In this article, I will reveal all the best sunset spots in Salzburg, the Salzburg sunset timing, and tips on how to capture the best sunsets in Salzburg.
Kapuzinerberg, one of Salzburg’s two city mountains, is the best sunset spot, but Mönchsberg, the other city mountain across the Salzach river, the Hohensalzburg Fortress, and a number of other famous sights in Salzburg’s old town are also prime spots for spectacular sunsets.
The Salzburg Sunset Timing
In summer the days in Salzburg are long and in winter they are incredibly short. The longest day is the 21st of June. At that time of the year, the sun sets around 10 pm and sunsets take long. The Salzburg Sunset times during the shorter days of the year are between 4 pm and 6 pm but there are other problems with the sunsets in Salzburg in winter.
The problem in winter is that the sun sets behind Mönchsberg mountain which makes for a less impressive sunset due to fewer colors and clouds.
The best sunsets in Salzburg are happening from April to October.
The 3 Best Places to See the Sunset in Salzburg
I present you with the 3 best places for sunsets in Salzburg because you can only see one sunset per day and most people don’t stay in Salzburg for more than a few days. There would be many more places for a great sunset, especially in the old town and along the river. For more photography spots in Salzburg, please refer to this list of the best Salzburg Photo Spots.
#1 The Best Sunset in Salzburg from Kapuzinerberg Viewpoint
In my opinion, and in the opinion of many Salzburg locals, the Kapuzinerberg mountain is the best place to watch the sunset in Salzburg. There are two reasons for this. One is that Kapuzinerberg is at a distance from the left side of the Salzach river where most of the city’s highlights are. That makes for the best panoramic view of the old town. The other is that on Kapuzinerberg, other than on Mönchsberg mountain on the opposite side of the river, you are facing the setting sun.
To get to Kapuzinerberg you climb the 261 steps of the “Imbergstiege” staircase. At the end of Imbergstiege, you have a choice to make. The best view of the old town on the other side of the river can be had if you take the few steps to the right at the end of Imbergstiege. You can see more of the new part of town but also more of the Salzburg Sunset if you continue straight for 30 meters and choose the sunset spot on your left. The latter option to see the sunset in Salzburg is more popular among locals.
In spring and summer, dozens of people crowd the viewing platform in front of the Capuchin monastery but not because of over-tourism. In most cases, it is not tourists but Salzburg’s young people who hang out and have a drink and a chat. While you can head to Kapuzinerberg to see more of the city and take some pictures, you can also join the locals by picking up a can of Stiegl beer from the supermarket and then end the evening with a stroll and watching the best sunset in Salzburg.
BONUS TIP: Kapuzinerberg is also a favorite recreational area of some locals, including me. If you wish to hike Kapuzinerberg, venture into the forest behind the viewpoint and the monastery! Only trees and forest paths can be seen here, along with a few viewpoints, but you’ll feel like you’re completely out of the city. Read this article on the Free Walking Tour Blog for more information about hiking in the city of Salzburg.
#2 The Hohensalzburg Fortress for your Sunset in Salzburg
Atop 500 meters of altitude, the Hohensalzburg Fortress is not only one of Salzburg’s 3 best sights, but also one of the best sunset spots in Salzburg. There is an entrance fee to the Hohensalzburg fortress, and depending on the season, it closes sometime between 5 pm and 8 pm. If it closes at 8 pm, you might wonder how to catch the Salzburg sunset from the fortress in summer at 10 pm.
The thing about the Hohensalzburg Fortress is that the big gate and the ticket office close at the official closing time. Museums close as well, but the building and the viewpoints remain open, and there is a small door inside the big gate that can only be opened from inside.
Therefore, after the closing time, you couldn’t enter anymore, but if you enter before the fortress closes, you can stay as long as you want and watch an amazing sunset in Salzburg. That also means that most in June and July, when days are long, most of the tourists will be gone by the time the sun sets behind Salzburg.
The fortress boasts three main viewing platforms. Two of them face the old town, while one faces the mountains in the south. The latter is more impressive, but the platforms facing the city are better for sunsets, so you should make sure to explore all of them. You should also make sure to check out this guide if you are generally interested in visiting the Hohensalzburg Fortress as a tourist attraction in Salzburg.
#3 The Sunset in Salzburg on a Hike on Mönchsberg
While Kapuzinerberg offers the best sunset in Salzburg and the fortress combines sightseeing with equally great sunsets from an even higher altitude in an epic building, Mönchsberg gives you the chance to get lots of different perspectives of Salzburg when the sun is setting. Mönchsberg surrounds the left side of the old town of Salzburg like a wall.
From the fortress to the Salzburg Cathedral and the University Church, most of Salzburg’s architectural highlights can be found on the left bank of the river. The left side of the river is the face of Salzburg but on Mönchsberg you are closer to the highlights and get more different perspectives instead of a panoramic view like on Kapuzinerberg. Mönchsberg is, therefore, predestined for a sightseeing hike.
On Mönchsberg you walk around the old town from the fortress to the other end in Mülln. That’s what I usually do. However, for the sunset in Salzburg, the opposite works better. As you walk towards the fortress, you are walking away from the sun. Walking away from the fortress, you would be facing the sun.
That’s the disadvantage of Salzburg sunsets on Mönchsberg. Almost everywhere on Mönchsberg, you do not face the sun during sunset, but instead, the buildings upon which the shade settles. Although beautiful, that is not exactly watching the sunset.
That is why walking along Mönchsberg, away from the fortress, makes sense. If you do so, make sure not to start at the fortress but at Nonnberg Abbey, at the very end of the mountain.
The fortress on the other hand makes sense for the sunset in Salzburg if you want to end your hike at the fortress to watch the sunset. While walking along Mönchsberg, you can see several viewpoints. You shouldn’t miss any of these during your sunset hike:
- Humbold Terrasse: Humbold Terrasse is a cliff accessible via one-way stairs. This is one of my favorite viewpoints in Salzburg so don’t miss it. Since you will have to return the same way, it is easy to miss.
- Museum of Modern Art (Winkler Terrasse): The Museum of Modern Art is where many of the postcard photos of Salzburg were taken. It’s not only an option for your Salzburg sunset hike along Mönchsberg but the museum has an elevator that would take you to the viewpoint effortlessly.
- Bürgerwehr Fortification: Bürgerwehr was part of the city defenses. The wall nowadays houses the Stadtalm restaurant which, while modestly priced, is one of, if not the restaurant with the best view in Salzburg.
- Richterhöhe Viewing Platform: Richterhöhe is a rather hidden viewpoint on Mönchsberg. Make sure not to miss it!
- Lodronbogen/Schartentor: That’s the crossing where you would have to decide whether you continue along Mönchsberg or head to the fortress on the footpath.
- Nonnberg Abbey: Make sure to walk around the Abbey buildings to the entrance of the church. That’s where you find the stunning views.
Bonus Tip: Hike Mönchsberg in the Morning
Since you are facing away from the sun during sunset on Mönchsberg and the sun hides behind the mountain, the opposite is of course true to sunrise. Getting up at 5 am in summer may be difficult, but if you’re an early riser, you’ll definitely be rewarded. Hike Mönchsberg at that ungodly hour in the morning and you will get rewarded every step along the way. Plus, if you are a photographer you get unique images since 99% of the other people are not willing to get up at that time.