It’s the setting for a hit musical and bursting with cultural significance and charm; the Austrian city of Salzburg is a brilliant place to visit.
The hills are alive with the sound of music – though you already knew that – and the streets hum with intrigue, with medieval and baroque architecture nestled side by side and the Alps outlined in the distance.
The city borders Germany and is also famous for another musical moment – it was the birthplace of virtuoso composer Mozart.
With palaces, castles and a historic centre, combined with a modern Neustatt across the river, there’s plenty to do for those of all tastes, from shopping and fine dining to learning more about the region’s history in Salzburg’s many museums.
If you find that you’ve seen all there is in the main city, why not head further afield on one of these excellent day trips?
The mountain town of Hallstatt appears on all the lists of best places to visit from Salzburg, and even on the drive there you will begin to see why.
You’ll zip past mountain lakes in Austria’s answer to the Lake District, before arriving at the pretty town centre.
There’s lots on offer once you get there – head off on a train ride up the mountain for still better views, wander along the shores of the lake, visit the waterfall at Mullbach, or take a tour around the Beinhaus, with its display of eerie painted skulls.
If you have time, you can also stop at St. Gilgen, where Mozart’s mother was born.
Recommended tour: Half-Day Tour to Hallstatt from Salzburg
2. Eagle’s Nest
For a taste of the more unsavoury side of history, Eagle’s Nest is an intriguing place to visit.
Known for being the place where Adolf Hitler spent his summers, it is incongruously beautiful, despite this unfortunate claim to fame.
You’ll be treated to spectacular views over the peaks of the Bavarian Alps and the drive to get there is stunning too, with the road hugging the Konigsee River.
Keep your camera at the ready; you won’t want to miss capturing these incredible views.
Suggested tour: Eagle’s Nest and Berchtesgaden Tour from Salzburg
3. Salzkammergut region
Surely one of the prettiest areas in the whole country, the Salzkammergut region is a must for any bucket list from Salzburg.
Head into the hills to recreate those opening scenes from The Sound of Music, and marvel at just how verdant and fresh the surroundings are.
Around the same place are manifold other sights of interest, including the Castle of Huttenstein, the Moon Lake and the town church famed for hosting the Sound of Music wedding.
It’s a magical place; full of glacier lakes and with snowy mountains as a backdrop, it’s a definite must-visit.
Available tour: Salzkammergut Mountain: Mountains & Lakes from Salzburg
You can hardly plan a trip to Austria without putting in a stop at its picturesque capital, Vienna.
It’s the largest city in the country, as well as being its economic, political and cultural centre.
As such, there’s plenty to keep even the fussiest day tripper happy, from beautiful baroque buildings and excellent museums and art galleries to tranquil city parks and gardens.
It is variously referred to as the City of Music or the City of Dreams, because of the influence of the famous psychotherapist Sigmund Freud.
A worthy place to visit.
Berchtesgaden is yet another stunningly beautiful natural attraction, simply adding to the hordes that are scattered generously around the Salzburg area.
To get there, you’ll trundle past the Salzach River and the Konigsee – two sparkling bodies of water – before arriving up at the peak of the visit, 1000-meters above sea level.
Breathe in that fresh mountain air – you don’t get that just anywhere.
Take in the views and let your heart soar with the birds before you head down to the city again.
Suggested tour: Bavaria: Tour of Salt Mine and Berchtesgaden
The Konigsee – the King’s Lake – is surely one of the prettiest lakes in Germany, and has even been given that title by some.
Located across the border in Bavaria, this place really does feel like a postcard, with tranquil mirrored water backgrounded by trees giving way to snow-dusted mountain peaks.
Take a stroll around the water’s edge and perhaps pack a picnic if you want to eat your lunch with a fantastic view.
And definitely don’t forget the camera.
7. Ramsau am Dachstein
For a day trip with a difference, if you’re visiting in winter, visit Ramsau am Dachstein for a real-life sleigh ride.
To get there, you’ll pass along many popular ski destinations through the Salzach valley.
The town itself is very picturesque and charming, but when everything is carpeted in a thick, muffled layer of snow, the scene transforms to nothing short of magical.
This visit is a great option for those with kids, and of course particularly exciting if you’re there around Christmas time.
Recommend tour: From Salzburg: 8-Hour Tour with Horse-Drawn Sleigh Ride
Oberndorf is the home of the Christmas carol ‘Silent Night’, and this is the seed upon which much of its tourism is centred.
During your visit, you can learn about the creation and history of the song – its inception in 1818 in the St. Nicholas Church and its two creators.
You can also visit the chapel and the Silent Night Museum to learn more about the background of the area.
Again, this is a perfect day trip option for those visiting around the holiday season, though it’s interesting at any time of year.
Available tour: From Salzburg: “Silent Night” tour to Oberndorf
9. Werfen Ice Caves
The underground glacier world of the Werfen Ice Caves is completely unique.
It’s the world’s largest ice cave and the formations and features of this subterranean wonder are truly spectacular.
You’ll be escorted around by a knowledgeable guide, ready to inform you of the geological history of the place and explain how it formed.
Once you’ve had your fill of icy fun, head over to the nearby Hohenwerfen Castle – a perfectly preserved medieval structure – for some pictures and the chance to thaw out a little.
Available tour: Private Tour: Werfen World’s Largest Ice Caves
10. Lungau Ski Region
This region is well-known for skiing, so it wouldn’t be right to visit Salzburg without at least a quick stop off on the slopes.
Grab a day-pass and head up on the lifts to see the peaks of the mountains get closer and the towns and villages of the mountain area get smaller.
There are around 300-kilometers of ski slopes spread out across this ski region, so perhaps a little too much to be taking on in just a day, but you can certainly do your best.
Whizz down the mountain, spot the freshest powder and stop off at a café for the afternoon instalment of Gluhwein (mulled wine), to really warm yourself up.
Be warned, though, you may not want to hand your skis back at the end of the day.
The pretty city of Innsbruck certainly deserves a place on your list of spots to visit during your time in the region.
The red rooves of the city make a beautiful backdrop for the views on high, and the indomitable mountains are ever-present in the distance.
The most famous landmarks and sites of the city include the Golden Roof, the Folklore Museum and the Imperial palace.
If you’re up for something a little different, you can also visit the nearby Swarovski Crystal World to learn about the famous brand, its origins and designs.
It might surprise you to learn just how accessible the German city of Munich is from Salzburg, but in fact, it’s only around an hour and a half by train.
If you’re there around the time of the famous beer festival, Oktoberfest, then of course you should pay a visit, but Munich is worth the trip at any time of year.
As the former capital of Bavaria, Munich has a very particular feel to it, led by the beer hall culture.
There are plenty of sites to wander around too, including a couple of castles a little way outside the city.
13. Wolfgangsee and Schafberg railroad
Train enthusiasts rejoice, there’s a big opportunity here for you in the Schafberg railroad, and the rest of the family certainly won’t object to those views either.
This cog railway heads up the Schafberg Mountain and has been running since way back in 1893. At the top, you’ll be rewarded by some excellent fare at the Alpine Hut restaurant, and of course a picture-perfect panorama.
If you head back down to sea level, you should also take the time for a lakeside cruise in a spot that’s often missed by tourists.
You can visit the town of Saint Wolfgang, which is perched right in the middle of the water.
14. Hallein Salt Mine
A commonly explored part of this area’s history is its salt mining tradition, and Hallein is an excellent place to see this through.
You can take a wooden shaft slide to get down into the depths of the mine, and once you’re there, take a tour around the tunnels.
It’s a very interesting phenomenon to learn about, and certainly something a bit different from other day trip options.
15. Saalachtaler Naturgewalten
Despite the long and confusing-sounding name, the attraction of Saalachtaler Naturgewalten is simple: it’s a protected natural area, full of amazing sights such as caves, forests, gorges and waterfalls.
This is the perfect day trip option for nature lovers, and kids will have a lot of fun here too.
It’s a very well-maintained area, with wooden walkways connecting the different sections, allowing you to explore without fear of getting lost.