Salzburg is beautiful. There is something about being surrounded by interesting architecture and a backdrop of picturesque, somewhat snow-covered, mountains that leaves you with a feeling of contentment and wonder. We were in Munich and decided to spend one day in Salzburg because 1.) I could tick Austria off my list of countries visited and 2.) Sound of Music, obviously. The hills are alive, etc. Salzburg is right on the border, which makes it only a one and a half hour train journey from Munich and tickets aren’t terribly expensive. I’m sure they are even cheaper if you don’t spontaneously book your tickets the night before and are a bit more flexible with timings. As it is, we were on the clock and had seven hours to see EVERYTHING. Quite a tall order. So if you are looking for things to do in Salzburg, here’s everything we managed to see and do in those seven hours…
Mirabell Palace and Gardens
First stop, Mirabell Palace and Gardens. This is the garden and steps in which the Von Trapp children and Maria dance around singing Do-Ri-Me in The Sound of Music. I bet it looks beautiful in summer with all the flowers in full bloom; if you watch the movie you can see it definitely does. That said it was still lovely especially as the sun was out and of course, we got to stand on the iconic steps. It is free to visit, you just walk straight in and it’s only a short walk from the main station. You’ll know you’ve found it because there are a lot of tour buses parked outside, which results in many large group tours inside the gardens.
We didn’t stay here too long, just long enough to have a nice wander around the garden and reminisce the scenes from The Sound of Music (make sure you run up and down the stairs too!). Then we headed toward the River Salzach, crossed one of the many pretty bridges and…well got distracted because Blaze wanted tea from a cute little cafe next to the bridge. Turns out at over €4 for a small cup of tea in a polystyrene cup to go, it was the most expensive cup of tea ever! Walking along the river in the sunshine with the skyline of the city and the mountains in the background was beautiful and I was a little sad that we eventually had to veer off the river path to head further into town.
Mozart’s Birthplace and Museum
Getting to Mozart’s birthplace felt like Googlemaps was taking us through a confusing maze of Christmas markets, ordinary markets, people and relatively narrow streets but we got there. I wanted to find it just so I can now say, “I have been to the place where Mozart was born” and I can. I cannot, however, say I have been inside the museum… Tickets for the Museum are €10 and €14 if you want to go to the living space too. According to reviews, there isn’t much inside so I didn’t want to spend this money as we were trying to do Salzburg on a budget (excluding the aforementioned expensive tea!)
Once you’re in the vicinity, it’s easy to spot due to it’s bright yellow exterior. The reason you cannot see the bottom in the second photo is due to the fact that below the museum IS NOW A SPAR SUPERMARKET. No joke. Just read the reviews spattering the internet, so much for honouring Mozart.
Residenzplatz and Salzburger Weihnachtmuseum
Residenzplatz and the fountain within it feature in The Sound of Music when Maria is singing ‘I Have Confidence’ so we headed there next. As it was December, it was filled with Christmas market, thus saving the Austrian people from my running around singing whilst swinging my pretend carpet bag. Oh well, next time.
In the corner of Residenzplatz is Salzburger Weihnachtsmuseum (Salzburg Christmas Museum). It’s €6 to get in and is much bigger than I thought it would be. At the top of the stairs there is a Father Christmas on one side and a Christmas tree in the other framing the doorway. It’s split into two separate rooms and explains the history of Christmas, including a giant advent calendar, small scale models of markets and presents. It pretty much covers everything you would associate with Christmas and worth the small entrance fee. If you only have one day in Salzburg and aren’t a massive fan of Christmas then you could probably skip this but I love Christmas so had to visit!
Our second to last stop, and by far the one that took the longest to explore was Hohensalzburg Fortress. It is Salzburg’s most famous landmark and the largest completely preserved castle in central Europe. We were advised by a friend to allow three hours but you could easily spend much longer than that. If you are trying to do Salzburg in a day, you’ll have to dedicate a big chunk of that day to this. You can walk up the steep hill to get to the structure or buy your fortress ticket with a funicular ride. We opted for the later and I must say, the “castle lift” ride is extremely fast, a bit of a shame as you don’t have time to truly appreciate the ascending and descending views but good if heights freak you out a bit. The standard ticket includes access to all museums, which are jam packed with Austrian history and there’s even a small Christmas market in the middle of the fortress but by far the best reason to go up there is the stunning views.
Stift Nonnberg – Nonnberg Priory
Last thing on our whistle stop tour was the Convent used in ‘The Sound of Music’ as the exterior of the Abbey. Unfortunately it was closed so we couldn’t look inside but you can definitely recognise those famous exterior metal gates.
Extra Info if you’re planning a Munich to Salzburg Day Trip:
- Trains from Munich to Salzburg leave from Marienplatz station and run relatively regularly.
- The journey takes around 1.5 – 2 hours and the trains are clean and comfortable.
- We booked our tickets through Go Euro but there are other companies you can use too.
- The main train station in Salzburg is relatively central so you don’t have to worry about being miles from where you want to be.
- There are a plethora of Sound of Music tours, ranging from bus tours to cycling tours. When you come out of the station, you’ll see a load of Sound of Music tour buses. They will take you to all the places used in the movie, including ones a little further out. We didn’t chose this as we were under time restraints but if the main thing you want to see is filming locations then go for it.
- We walked everywhere in Salzburg and didn’t use public transport. I found it quite easy to navigate and walk around from the train station so you could do the centre of town without using buses etc.
I loved Salzburg. Its buildings and architecture are both fascinating and impressive especially in the beautiful Austrian sunshine. I wish we had had more time to explore rather than a rather rushed walking tour of the main sights but I am glad we made the spontaneous decision to visit this wonderful city. If you’re looking for day trips from Munich or wondering whether one day in Salzburg is enough, you may not manage to see everything but you should definitely pay this lovely city a visit.
Want to make a note of what to do in Salzburg in one day? Why not pin this for later?