Mozart’s birthplace, the city of music, and the host of the world’s largest classical music festival, as well as home to Europe’s best-preserved medieval fortress, it may seem impossible to experience Salzburg from top to bottom in only one day. But while one day in Salzburg may not be enough to see and do everything the city has to offer, it is certainly possible to see all the essentials in Salzburg in 24 hours.
I have been working as a Rikscha Driver and in Hostels for years before I founded the Free Walking Tour Salzburg in 2018. Considering many backpackers only stay one night in Salzburg, the question of what to see in Salzburg in one day was baked into the job. Thus, this itinerary for 24 hours in Salzburg has been in the works for a decade. Now that your time is limited let’s get right into our one day in Salzburg.
Is One Day in Salzburg enough?
Salzburg can be seen in one day, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t more to see and do in Salzburg. The purpose of this 24 hour Salzburg travel itinerary is to show you how to make the most of your time if you have a limited amount. As a result, you’ll get to see the city’s Old Town in all its glory.
In case you are still on the fence on how long to stay in Salzburg, check out the Free Walking Tours guide on how long to stay in Salzburg!
Considerations when in Salzburg for One Day
Using this Itinerary for Salzburg in 24 hours, you won’t miss any of the essentials. However, there will be considerations depending on your individual interests and conditions. You could even visit the essentials in Salzburg in less than 24 hours. So, you can choose what activities and attractions you wish to pursue further in your one-day stay in Salzburg.
Should you get a 24-hour Salzburg Card?
You should get a Salzburg Card, as soon as you visit two museums or more. Let’s say it’s your desire to see the inside of Mozart’s birthplace and take the funicular to the fortress. The fortress is €16,30 and the birthplace is €12,-. The Salzburg Card is €27,- or €30,-, depending on the season. Therefore, you would pay less or the same, if you purchase a Salzburg Card instead of paying individual entrance fees.
Should you take the Untersberg Cable Car when in Salzburg for a Day?
The Untersberg Cable car is one of the best things you can do with a Salzburg Card. The trip to the Untersberg Cable Car from Salzburg will take you about half a day. However, if you would like to get to the top of a mountain during your 24 hours in Salzburg, go for it! You can manage to see the sights in our one-day itinerary for Salzburg in half a day and after lunch takes bus 25 to the cable car.
HINT: The Untersberg Cable Car and bus 25 alone make the Salzburg Card worth buying. In this article, you can find out why. Get your Salzburg Card online and enter the museums, even if only for a moment when you roam around in the morning before you take the cable car. They are all included.
Should you enter the Hohensalzburg Fortress, if you have one day in Salzburg?
When you only have one day in Salzburg, you have to make some decisions. You can’t do everything in Salzburg in one day, but the fortress is a good choice. In my opinion, it is a must to see the city from above and the fortress offers some of the best views of the city.
I would recommend the fortress if you are only paying for one attraction in Salzburg. If you are visiting a second attraction such as Mozart’s birthplace, it is again worth buying a Salzburg Card.
Should you include the Original Sound of Music Tour in your One Day Salzburg Itinerary?
There are die-hard fans whose entire purpose of spending a day in Salzburg is to see The Sound of Music filming locations. For Austrians, this is hard to understand since most of them have not seen the film, but I am half-Dutch and fully understand if the film is close to your heart.
As with the Untersberg Cable Car, the Sound of Music Tour will take you half a day. Therefore, it is possible to include it in your one-day itinerary for Salzburg. There is original Sound of Music tours in the morning and in the afternoon, so just like with the Untersberg Cable Car, you can see the city in the morning and head for the Sound of Music Tour after lunch. Here you can book the Sound of Music Tour.
Can you take a Day Trip during your Salzburg One Day Visit?
What a strange question you might think. But apart from the “Sound of Music” hype, the Sound of Music Tour is actually a good way to make a day trip in half a day, as it takes you into the lake district. But if you do not care about the movie, you could also spend the afternoon of your day in Salzburg taking the Salt Mine Tour, the Bavarian Mountain Tour, or the Lakes and Mountains Tour by the same company.
The Perfect Salzburg in One Day Itinerary – Ideas for One Day in Salzburg
Here is an overview of what is included in our plan for one day in Salzburg:
- Mirabell Gardens & Mirabell Palace
- Traditional Austrian Cafe for Breakfast (optional)
- Getreidegasse (shopping street) & Mozart’s Birthplace
- University Church: Marvel at Baroque Architecture
- Festival District & Concert Hall (Festspielhaus)
- Saint Peter’s Monastery: The Origin of Salzburg
- Salzburg Cathedral (Salzburger Dom)
- Hohensalzburg Fortress (outside and/or inside)
- Residence Square (the main square of the old town)
- Mozart Square & Mozart Statue
- Seeing the City from above (at least once)
- Culinary Recommendations from Mozart Chocolate to Street Food
One Day in Salzburg: Things to do in Salzburg in One Day
1. Start at the Mirabell Gardens
Mirabell Gardens is the best place to start exploring Salzburg in most cases. That’s where all my private walking tours start. Mirabell square is a hub for public transport. If you arrive in Salzburg by bus, train or plane, you will always get to either Mirabell square or the train station and the train station is only 5 minutes walking from Mirabell.
Mirabell Gardens is also the boundary of the old town on the right side of the river. Therefore, we can follow a perfect path straight through the garden before we cross the river and dive deeper into what’s considered the actual old town.
Begin your exploration of Mirabell Garden at the Pegasus fountain in front of the Do-Re-Mi Steps next to the palace and head to the other end. In case you want to take a closer look at the garden, make sure to check out our ultimate guide to the Mirabell Gardens.
2. Cake for Breakfast at Cafe Bazar (optional)
In case you have not had breakfast yet, it’s time for cake. Just kidding. Cafe Bazar is my favorite Austrian coffee house in Salzburg. Bazar can be found by leaving Mirabell Garden heading toward Makartplatz, where you can gaze at Mozart’s residence on the opposite side of the street before turning right after Landestheater and heading toward the river.
Before reaching the banks of the river you find Hotel Sacher on the lefthand side. Hotel Sacher is the inventor of the Sachertorte, the most famous Austrian Cake, and would also be a breakfast option but I personally prefer Cafe Bazar which is the oriental building right next to Hotel Sacher.
The best Austrian Coffee Houses are not about the best coffee and not about affordable breakfast either but about the atmosphere. If you would really like to have cake for breakfast, they are about that too but real breakfast consists of something like bread rolls and jam.
If you find the waiters in traditional Austrian coffeehouses rude and wonder why that is, here is an answer and an explanation of what these coffeehouses are anyway all about.
3. Stroll down Getreidegasse and see Mozart’s Birthplace
You cross the Salzach river via Feingoldsteg (formerly Makartsteg), the love lock bridge of Salzburg, from Mirabell Garden and Makart Square (or from your breakfast at Cafe Bazar). Once you are on the other side of the river, you should search for a passage between the buildings (Durchhäuser) and walkthrough.
That’s how you reach Getreidegasse.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on Getreidegasse, Salzburg’s most famous street, and Mozart’s birthplace is one of the most popular Salzburg attractions. Stroll down Getreidegasse until you find a yellow building with an Austrian flag on the right-hand side. It is also easy to spot in the high season because plenty of tourists take pictures of it.
Unless you purchase a Salzburg Card, you don’t need to see the interior of Mozart’s birthplace, if you have only one day in Salzburg. If you purchase a Salzburg Card, go for it! It’s included.
4. University Church: Marvel at Baroque Architecture
During the daytime, you will find Grünmarkt behind the buildings in Getreidegasse and Mozart’s birthplace. It is a farmers’ market but nothing specOn the square behind Mozart’s birthplace is the University church, which is a stunning example of baroque architecture. Make sure to have a look inside!
5. Visit the Festival District and see the Concert Hall
Behind the University Church, you find the Festival District. While the festival district is inconspicuous and never crowded outside of the festival, the Concert Hall (Festspielhaus) is where the world’s largest festival of classical music takes place every year for six weeks in summer.
The concert hall was also used for the Sound of Music movie’s Edelweiss song. That’s right, it’s right at the end of the movie before the Trapp family escapes, but the only way you can see the actual place without attending a concert is to take the 2 pm guided tour of the concert hall.
6. Saint Peter’s Monastery: The Origin of Salzburg
Another corner away is Saint Peter’s monastery which dates back to the year 696, to the founding of Salzburg. Saint Rupert founded the monastery and the city of Salzburg in 696. Not only is Salzburg Austria’s oldest city but Saint Peter’s monastery is the german-speaking region’s oldest monastery. During your visit to Saint Peter’s, you should look inside the church as well as walk through the cemetery.
Although you may recognize the cemetery from the Sound of Music when the Trapp family is hiding behind the graves, Hollywood was not allowed to shoot at the cemetery, so you actually see a Hollywood set in the movie.
Check out this article about the Sound of Music Filming Locations in Salzburg if you would like to learn about all the locations that were used in the Sound of Music movie in Salzburg.
7. Salzburg Cathedral: The Heart of Salzburg
Just another corner away, you find the Salzburg Cathedral (Salzburger Dom). The Salzburg Cathedral was built in 774 but was damaged by fire at the end of the 16th century, and through reconstruction became the first baroque church of Austria. It is the seat of the archbishop of Salzburg, one of only two archbishops in Austria.
But there is even more to the Cathedral. It is the heart of Salzburg’s old town. Each year, events such as the Christmas market in December, Rupertikirtag in September, considered the most traditional folk festival in Austria, or the Jedermann theater, part of the Salzburg Festival, are held in front and around the cathedral.
The cathedral is a must-see during your one day in Salzburg. I once would have said it was a must to see the inside of the cathedral, but since the church began charging an entrance fee in 2021, the interior is no longer a must.
8. Hohensalzburg Fortress: Salzburg’s Landmark
The Hohensalzburg Fortress is Salzburg’s most prominent landmark and the city’s namesake. So far, we have seen it almost every step of the way. It’s up to you whether you want to see it from the inside. I enjoy visiting the Hohensalzburg Fortress most of all Salzburg’s sites. The interior looks like a small city with restaurants, a church, and a few museums and viewpoints.
To find out what you need to know before you go to the Hohensalzburg Fortress, read this article!
To see the essentials of the fortress takes you about two hours. The entrance fee in 2022 is €16,30 without the Salzburg Card. I recommend the fortress if you only pay for one attraction in Salzburg but if you are on a zero budget or have other plans for the afternoon, you can also safely skip it.
9. Residence Square: The Main Square of Salzburg
What you can not skip is residence square. The Residence Square is the main square of the old town where the two episcopal residences are located. Today, they house the two best history museums in town, instead of the archbishop. If you have a Salzburg Card and/or are a history buff, you might want to visit. In the middle of Residence Square, you find the largest baroque fountain north of the alps.
10. Commemorate Mozart at the Mozart Statue
Mozart Square is right around the corner from our previous stop. From Residence Square, you can actually see the Mozart statue. Mozart Square was erected to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Mozart’s death.
The erection of the statue also marked the beginning of the Mozart cult in Salzburg as well as the revival of classical music that still lasts today, which led to the Salzburg Festival and to Salzburg being nicknamed the city of music and the city of Mozart. Your one-day itinerary for Salzburg wouldn’t be complete without paying tribute to Mozart at the Mozart Statue.
11. Seeing the City from one of the City Mountains
Salzburg is surrounded by two small city mountains. In my opinion, every visitor to Salzburg should see the city from above at least once. Here are some options:
- If you visited the Hohensalzburg Fortress, you already visited one of the best viewpoints in Salzburg.
- On the left side of the river, Mönchsberg surrounds the old town like a wall. Mönchsberg is, therefore, an ideal location for sightseeing hikes and taking pictures. The hike takes about an hour and is incredibly easy since it’s flat once you reach the top. Here are some impressions from the hike and tips on landscape photography in Salzburg on the Free Walking Tour Blog.
- If you are not up for a hike, take the elevator to the Museum of Modern Art (Museum der Moderne). It only takes a minute and provides you with one of the best views on Mönchsberg mountain.
- Salzburg’s Kapuzinerberg, on the other hand, stands at a distance from the historic buildings on the left side of the river and therefore provides the best panorama of the city. Moreover, it’s a great place for escaping the city for a moment and a recreational area for the locals, if you hike further into the forest. Here is an article on city hiking in Salzburg including Kapuzinerberg and Mönchsberg.
What to Eat during your One Day Trip to Salzburg
Eating is not only a necessity but should be an essential part of the things to do in Salzburg in one day. Here are my top recommendations for food experiences:
Sausages or Bosna: The Best Austrian Fast Food
In addition to being the best Austrian fast food, sausages are essentially the only Austrian street food. Sausage stands are everywhere in Salzburg and most of them are good. Some of them only appear in the evening and are open until the early morning hours. If you would like to know everything there is to know about sausages in Austria, I would recommend reading this article about Austrian Street food on the Free Walking Tour Blog. TLDR.: Bosna at the Original Bosna stand is unique to Salzburg and my favorite sausages are at the Salzburg Grill Imbiss in Wiener Philharmoniker Gasse.
Traditional Austrian Coffee House Culture
We mentioned traditional Austrian Coffee houses already at the beginning of our Salzburg one-day itinerary for breakfast. Cafe Tomaselli is another recommendation. Tomaselli is more touristy than Bazar but it’s also the oldest cafe in Salzburg. Even Mozart had his coffee there. One more coffee house suggestion, Konditorei Fürst, brings me to my next culinary recommendation.
Try the Original Mozart Chocolate
The Mozart Chocolate was invented by Konditorei Fürst for the 100th anniversary of Mozart’s death. A prize was awarded to Fürst for his invention, but that led to imitations. Nowadays there are more than 10 manufacturers in Salzburg but Fürst Mozart chocolate is still handmade and only sold by the Fürst shops in Salzburg. The original is pricey but worth trying when in Salzburg for a day. Read this article on the Free Walking Tour Blog to find out the truth about the Mozart chocolate.
Salzburg Nockerl: Salzburg-Style Souffle
Salzburger Nockerl is a sweet dessert that is specific to Salzburg. It’s kind of like a souffle. The form of the souffle is three hills, which represent the three city mountains in Salzburg. The Nockerl is made of egg and sugar. Sweet, fluffy, and heaven-sent, it is a great dish to indulge in while in Salzburg for a day, and the perfect way to end your meal. However, while I am from Salzburg, I have only eaten Salzburger Nockerl twice in my life. I like them but we don’t usually eat them. At least not regularly.
Augustinerbräu: Austria’s Largest Beer Hall
While Salzburg is Austria’s fourth-largest city it has the largest beer hall in Austria. The Müllnerbräu or Augustinerbräu features 1300 seats only in the garden and there are three beer halls inside. When you get there, you grab a mug, wash it and get the beer. But there is more than beer. The Augustinerbräu has a food court and the food court is a great way of trying different Austrian dishes. Especially if you are several people, you can order several portions of small dishes and share.
Where to Stay in Salzburg for a Day
With limited time you will want to stay in a central location, close to the old town. Most popular accommodation options are in the old town and within walking distance from the station but if you opt for certain budget accommodation options you might end up at the outskirts which could force you to use public transport and lose valuable time. That is not a problem if you are staying longer but with 24 hours in Salzburg, you will want to choose the location.
Here are some central hotels and hostels for every budget:
- If you are into luxury accommodation, the Hotel Sacher and the Hotel Bristol are not only the most central luxury hotels in Salzburg but they are more than mere accommodation. Their histories reach back into the 19th and while the five-star superior hotel Sacher spreads imperial charm, Hotel Bristol permeates the charm of the nobility of bygone times. During the filming of the Sound of Music, the actors stayed at Hotel Sacher, but Christopher Plummer stayed at Hotel Bristol because they had a piano and he wanted to play it. There is still a piano at the bar today.
- The Hotel Goldener Hirsch might be the right choice for you if you want a luxury hotel with a traditional Austrian touch. Due to its location next to Mozart’s birthplace on Getreidegasse, Goldener Hirsch will save you time during your one-day trip to Salzburg.
- The Hotel Blaue Gans is the neighbor of Goldener Hirsch but instead of traditional Austrian charm, Blaue Gans features boutique hotel-style while still being in the five-star luxury segment of hotels.
- The Arte Hotel Salzburg presents a more affordable boutique hotel option and maybe the most convenient accommodation if you only have one day in Salzburg. Located next to the station, only 36 meters from the train tracks on the way to the old town, you can’t find a more efficient location to explore Salzburg in 24 hours. Plus there is no breakfast location more stunning in Salzburg than on the 16th floor of the Arte Hotel.
- The Priesterseminar at Makartplatz is on the same square as Hotel Bristol yet presents a great budget accommodation in a most central location next to Mirabell Garden.
- Backpackers on a budget have two options: the Yoho Hostel (where I worked for eight years) and the A&O Hostel at the train station. The Yoho Hostel is located on the way from the train station to the old town and, therefore, is also ideal to drop your luggage on the way to Mirabell for a headstart.
Check out Booking.com for more accommodation options in Salzburg. Not only are they always offering the best rates, but their customer service is impeccable, too.
Getting around during your One Day in Salzburg
By far the best way of getting around Salzburg is on foot. None of the must-see sights of Salzburg are more than 10 minutes walking from each other. If you follow the above itinerary for 24 hours in Salzburg, they are not even 5 minutes apart.
Most of the old town is a pedestrian area anyway and even if there would be public transport to the major sights, waiting for the bus would take longer than walking to the next stop on your exploration.
If you also stick to one of the above places we recommend for staying with one day in Salzburg, you are good to walk anywhere to make the most of your 24 hours in Salzburg.