Did you know that Salzburg literally means Salt Fortress? In history, elements like gold and silver brought wealth to cities, but Salzburg’s wealth laid underground in their salt mines. This beautiful city filled with baroque architecture is always surprising me. I first went to experience what I saw in The Sound of Music growing up, but while there, I also learned that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is much more prominent in its history as it’s where he was born and lived. A piece of my heart will always be in Salzburg and after two visits, it truly feels like a home away from home for me.
Here is my guide to everything you should do while in Salzburg, whether you’re tight for time or have a few days to take it slow.
*All reviews from Google and all photos are from me unless noted otherwise.
Where to Eat
- Gasthaus Zwettler’s ($$$)
On my first night in Salzburg, we were walking through Mozartplatz and stumbled across this restaurant right around the corner. Gasthaus Zwettler‘s is an authentic Austrian restaurant, which includes traditional dishes such as knödel, spätzle, and of course, schnitzel. All the servers wore Lederhosen, which paired perfectly with the traditional decor. The food hit the spot and the beer was delicious.
Customer Reviews on Food and Service: Varies from extremely welcoming, to extremely unwelcoming.
Note: Closed on Mondays. Make reservations in advance. Bring cash.
- Braurestaurant IMLAUER ($$$)
After a stroll through Mirabellgarten (where your Sound of Music Tour will end), grab an Austrian dinner at Braurestaurant IMLAUER. The setting is more formal than Gasthaus Zwettler’s and the menu has a much larger selection. I found the employees to be very welcoming and kind and were very understanding when I needed assistance navigating the menu. I really enjoyed eating here, it was a great place to end the day!
Customer Reviews on Food and Service: Mostly wonderful! A manager responds to every review and they seem to take them quite seriously, even promising to report back to the chef if a customer found something wrong with a dish. To be honest, I had to stop scrolling through the reviews because it all sounded too delicious.
Note: Make sure to order yourself a pint of Stiegl, the beer of Salzburg.
- Restaurant Stieglkeller ($$$)
On our way back to the AirBNB, we were walking up the hill that Fortress Hohensalzburg sits on top of and noticed that even though it was late, we heard some laughter around the corner. We kept walking and (once again) stumbled upon Restaurant Stieglkeller. Now, I can’t vouch for the food or the service as it was late and the restaurant was nearly closed, but ending the night with a Steigl beer outside overlooking the Salzburg Cathedral is now one of my favourite memories. If you visit the website, you can see how perfect the view is, day or night. Make sure to create this memory for yourself when you visit!
Customer Reviews on Food and Service: Everyone seems to be on the same page on their experience with Restaurant Stieglkeller. Food and drink is great, but let’s talk about that view.
Note: Just go.
*Reviews from TripAdvisor
- Cafe Konditorei Fürst ($$$)
This little cafe tucked in the Old Town is famous for creating the Mozartkugel; a dark chocolate ball containing marzipan, pistachios, and nougat. The family business has more than 130 years of history and to this day, is owned by the great-great grandson of Paul Fürst, the creator of the Mozartkugel. Do not, I repeat, do not visit Salzburg without visiting this cafe and picking up a Mozartkugel. While you’re at it, find a seat, order a cappuccino and as many delicious pastries as your stomach can handle. Trust.
Customer Reviews on Food and Service: Reviews vary on service (popular opinion is unfriendly service…tip: kill ’em with kindness) but the reviews on food and drink are mostly A+
Note: Go in the morning to avoid lunch and afternoon rush. Also, take some pastries home with you to enjoy later 🙂
What to Do
- Mozarts Wohnhaus
Like I said earlier, Salzburg is the city of music as its famous for being the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Whether or not you’re a fan of Mozart or classical music, educating yourself on his story is fascinating. This museum is actually Mozart’s family home so it’s quite an experience to sit in his living room knowing that some of his first concertos were written and performed there. I highly believe in educating ourselves in the culture and history of places we visit, so take an hour to learn more about Salzburg’s most popular historical figure.
Tickets: Adults – €18 Children (6-14 years) €5
Note: Take your time and listen to the audio guide. Experiences like this (I believe) are important, so absorb and enjoy it! *Last admission is 5PM.
- Panorama Tours: Official Sound of Music Tour
Many people visit Salzburg, Austria because of their love for the Rogers & Hammerstein classic, The Sound of Music. I’ve written a comprehensive guide about this tour, so if you want to know more about it, read my blog post A Sound of Music Birthday.Panorama Tours offers plenty of tours that aren’t just SOM themed, so if you’re visiting Salzburg, please check out their packages!
Note: This tour is 4 hours long. Bring cash to purchase on board drinks such as wine, beer or even champagne! Depending on the time of year, mulled wine is also available! My kind of tour.
- Fortress Hohensalzburg
This fortress is something else and for obvious reasons, I find so much comfort in seeing it look over the small city. It’s one thing to look up at it while visiting, but I really suggest taking a couple of hours to go to the top and see the magnificent views of Salzburg and the Alps. Aside from the views, take some time to grab a bite to eat and learn the history behind the 11th-century fortress complex.
Tickets: Adults – €12.90+ Children (6-14 years) €7.40+
Note: Save some money by visiting before 10AM (purchase tickets online) and make sure to check out the Marionette Museum!
- Mirabell Garten
This garden is most famous for being the setting for the ending of Sound of Music’s Do Re Mi scene. It has a perfectly symmetrical view of the Hohensalzburg Fortress and is a beautiful garden to walk through and admire.
Note: This can get busy depending on the time of day and weather. This is the last stop where the Panorama SOM Tour ends so groups of people may join you all at once, depending on the time. If you come for photos, try to come before 9AM or be patient until the crowds clear out. Also, sing your Do Re Mi notes…everyone else will be.
- Mozart Live
If you visited Salzburg and didn’t see Mozart performed live, did you even go to Salzburg? Kidding. It’s not for everyone, but I certainly loved it! We saw a show that was about 45 minutes long in a very tiny and intimate venue performed by a man on an old piano. We started off our day with this right after grabbing a cappuccino and strudel at Cafe Konditorei Fürst! Visit the Tourist Information office in Mozartplatz to discover performances happening throughout the day that fits your schedule and budget best. If you are arriving in Salzburg, this is a great spot to go first to get an idea of what you’d like to do if you want more options.
Tickets: Prices vary
Note: Please be quiet and respectful of the performers.
Where to Stay
- AirBNB by Maria Von Trapp’s Abbey
I’ve never stayed at a hotel when I’m in Salzburg. On my first visit, it was a total fluke that the AirBNB we booked was only a 2-minute walk from Nonnberg Abbey, the same Abbey that the real Maria Von Trapp stayed at before becoming a caretaker for the Von Trapp children. The gate to the entrance was also used in a couple of scenes from the Sound of Music film. If you are staying in Salzburg because of your love Sound of Music, then this is a great place to stay. Plenty of space and Marco is a wonderful host!
Price: $135 CAD / $100 USD per night
Note: There’s a reason why no Sound of Music tours go up to this Abbey and that’s because a bus cannot reach it and if you are visiting by foot, there are plenty of stairs to climb. Keep this in mind if you have any issues with your legs.
Have you ever been to Salzburg? There’s so much more to do and see than what I’ve listed here. If you’ve ever been, please share your experience in the comments!