If you’re planning to spend one day in Salzburg, Austria, you’ll have to be selective about which attractions you visit. You won’t be able to hit everything, but you’ll get a great taste of what it has to offer. This itinerary features the top attractions and must sees in this gorgeous city. Whether you’re doing a day trip to Salzburg, stopping for a night or two on a road trip or train journey, or hopping off on a river cruise, this short itinerary for 1 day in Salzburg will help you plan the best visit possible.
Note: This itinerary for one day in Salzburg is best suited for summer as one of the attractions included closes for winter. I do suggest some alternatives along with it should you visit during those months.
Where to start your one day in Salzburg
Breakfast at Stiftsbäkerei St. Peter
I would start your morning with a light breakfast of pastries at the Stiftsbäkerei St. Peter, which claims to be the oldest bakery in the world. You can view the bakers using their traditional oven and purchase some of their famous bread.
St. Peter’s Abbey
From here, you can head right over to St. Peter’s Abbey, which is absolutely beautiful inside. Full of detailed paintings and ornate carvings, it’s a great example of historic European Catholic churches. You’re able to visit when it’s not being used for services, so I encourage you to pay it a quiet, respectful visit. If you really enjoy visiting churches like this, you may also want to check out the nearby Franciscan Church. It’s much less ornate, but its soaring columns and vaulted ceilings are incredible without the detailed decor you’ll find in a lot of other churches.
The Petersfriedhof cemetery, which is popular among tourists because of its role in The Sound of Music, is adjacent to the abbey. The movie wasn’t actually shot there, but the catacombs were replicated on a soundstage for filming. They’ll definitely look familiar if you’ve seen the movie. Walking through the historic cemetery will take you to the next stop on this itinerary.
Fortress Hohensalzburg towers high above the city and is one of the top places to visit. The most common way to reach the fortress castle is by funicular, which is an attraction in and of itself. As you rise up from the loading area in Salzburg’s Old Town, you’ll be treated to great views. Don’t worry if you can’t get a spot in the front though – the views from the fortress itself are even better. If you visit during warmer months, you can also choose to hike to the top, but the pathway is closed for winter.
Once at the top, you can explore historic rooms, learn about Hohensalzburg’s evolution through the centuries, see medieval torture devices, and more. You’ll also find a gift shop and restaurant at the top. Evening concerts are frequently offered as well. Don’t miss the view from the balcony overlooking Salzburg and the surrounding mountains. Find out more about the fortress here.
Once you finish your visit, you can ride the funicular back down. By now, you’re probably feeling hungry, so grab lunch at one of the many restaurants in old town. You’ll find plenty of options to choose from, including Austrian food and cuisines from other places around the world.
Afternoon in Salzburg
After eating, continue your 1 day in Salzburg itinerary by heading to the Residenzplatz. Here, you’ll find an enormous fountain with sculpted horses. Right next to it is the Salzburg Cathedral. You can also pop in there for a quick visit. The scale of this church is incredible and the height of the dome is super impressive.
While the rest of this itinerary is walkable, you’ll likely want to hop a bus to get to the next location. Schloss Hellbrunn is located a bit outside of the old town area, and with only one day in Salzburg, you’ll want to minimize your travel time. Hellbrunn is sometimes overlooked, but it was my favorite place on our whole visit. The palace’s gardens are full of elaborate water displays and trick fountains just waiting to squirt unsuspecting visitors. Tour guides walk you through so if you really want to stay dry, you should be able to get through with just a few sprinkles (you’ll still want to make sure your electronics and anything valuable are in a dry bag), but the fun is in getting wet. Unlike most palace visits with quiet strolls through stately hedges, Hellbrunn’s gardens are filled with the sounds of kids and adults squealing in delight or surprise. Because you’ll be getting wet, I would plan to do this in the afternoon when it’s typically at its hottest – those squirts from the fountains will feel great at this time of day. Find out more about the palace and its giggle-inducing gardens here.
The gardens close during winter, but during the holiday season, there is a Christmas market there. When Hellbrunn is closed, you could opt to tour the house where Mozart was born or visit the Mönchsburg art museum.
Once you take your bus back to the old town area, you can walk through the gardens of Mirabell Palace – these won’t get you wet unless it’s raining or snowing – that you may also recognize from The Sound of Music. You can tour certain parts of the palace, but most of it is used for city administration and is off limits to visitors. Depending on how quickly you’ve moved through the itinerary, you may have time to tour the house where Mozart was born. If not, you can pass by it and see the famous yellow building from the outside.
That’s a lot to fit into one day in Salzburg, but because most of the attractions are close together, you should be able to hit them all.
Check out these other posts about Austria:
- Skiing in the Alps at Hinterstoder, Austria
- Get the Best Views of Salzburg at Hohensalzburg Fortress
- The Hellbrunn Palace Trick Fountains are the Most Fun You’ll Have in Salzburg
- Your Guide to the Best Vienna Christmas Market
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