What to see in Salzburg, Austria
Top 10 Sights to See in Salzburg
1 – “The Sound of Music” is one reason to visit Salzburg. You can visit locations where they filmed, either creating your own treasure hunt or you can take an official tour. My suggestion… enjoy the city, see the sights, and when you get back home watch the movie again and you will find that you saw all of those places in the film!
2 – Hohensalzburg Fortress
This fortress is the castle that dominates the skyline above the city. The 900 year old fortress started as a sanctuary for archbishops, barracks, and a prison (all at different times of course). The fortress features a museum, small chapel, courtyards, and a Marionette museum (a small cave with a brief history and examples of marionettes which is fun for kids!). The fortress wall facing the city below provides a panoramic view.
How to get to the fortress? You can walk up the hill on a stone path or you can take the cable car. When you find the cable car entrance, the foot path is right next to it and continues up in a zig zag fashion. The cable car is included on the Salzburg Card so take advantage (the ride is literally 54 seconds), plus enjoy the ride! If you do not have the Salzburg card, there are a multitude of options for fortress tickets to include the cable car down only or up only (to see those options click here and scroll down for latest prices and hours). You should probably count on needing 2 to 3 hours to see the fortress (including getting there and back down to the town).
3 – St. Peter’s Monastery and Catacombs
If you have visited catacombs in other cities, these are different in that there are no skeletons. These catacombs date back to the 700’s and are more like caves, carved into the side of the rock. You can walk through the entire complex (just past the cemetery).
4 – Salzburg Cathedral
After the catacombs, you can walk right to Salzburg Cathedral which is on Cathedral Square. The Cathedral was rebuilt three times after three separate fires, you can see the dates on the iron gates: 774, 1628 and 1959.
5 – DomQuartier Salzburg
Right in front of the Salzburg Cathedral, the building complex known as the DomQuartier makes for an interesting visit that takes you through galleries, stately rooms, museums, art collections, terraces, and the Cathedral organ loft. Sounds like a lot? It is! Allow for at least 2 hours, and you can walk through at a good clip while still admiring everything. You are not required to go on a tour, and in fact most rooms have informational signs in multiple languages.
The DomQuartier dates back 400 years. The building complex acted as a residence for the prince-archbishops. You will walk through stately halls, see art galleries and eventually find yourself on an outdoor terrace with panoramic views of the city. From the terrace you re-enter the Cathedral and since you’ll be two stories up in the Organ Gallery you’ll have a stupendous view of the Cathedral. After the Organ Gallery is the Cathedral Museum.
Overall the DomQuartier is an impressive sight to walk through. The brochure for the complex states it so eloquently that I will simply quote that: “On a footprint of 15,000 square meters, 1,300 years of power; art and church history come to life in 2,000 artefacts – embedded within the unique architecture of the former prince-archbishops’ residential city.”
6 – Salzburg Museum
As the name suggests, this is a museum about the history of Salzburg. The fun thing about this museum is that the way it is organized, everyone in your group/family can pick a floor that interests them. For instance, there is a floor devoted to the world wars if you are a history buff, if you are a musician there is an entire section devoted to the history of Salzburg music history. There is a floor for art work from religious art to modern art. I actually ran out of time in this museum as it closes at 5pm, so pick your area of interest wisely or simply get there earlier than I did.
*Side note: You might notice that Salzburg has a plethora of shops with traditional Austrian clothing and even traditional clothing with a bit of a modern update (people do still wear these gorgeous and exquisitely made clothes). Via the courtyard of the Salzburg Museum is a store where you can buy fabric, trims, jackets, and even see the seamstresses working away.
6 – Monchsberglift and Museum of Modern Art
The Monchsberglift is actually a set of elevators that take you up through the rock and out onto a panoramic terrace where you get another amazing view of the city and the fortress. As an added bonus, you can also visit the Museum of Modern Art which is right at the top of the terrace. The Salzburg Card covers both of these!
7 – Mozart’s Birthplace
You can visit the home and museum – historical instruments, artefacts, documents, portraits, and more. Right below the museum is a shop selling food specialties of Salzburg.
8 – Getreidegasse
This is one of the main streets in the historical downtown (easily reached if you are crossing the pedestrian only bridge called Staatsbruke, and one block in from the bridge). The street is lined with charming homes, stores with whimsical signs, and passages with arcades and small courtyards that lead to other streets.
9 – Mirabell Palace and Gardens
The Mirabell Palace was built in 1606 by prince-archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau and only made available to the public in 1854. You really just need to take a stroll through the gardens, getting a view of the fortress in the distance and don’t forget to sing songs from “The Sound of Music” as you stroll.
10 – see the next blog post for more information on this last “must see sight.”