“Salzburg is like a dream,” I wrote on the postcard to my guy back home from Austria. I instantly got a crush walking around the small city, and it felt a little bit like I’d stepped back in time. Outside of my AirBnB I could hear someone expertly practicing their cello, baroque architecture fills the Old Town, and it’s easy to experience the city by foot or bike. Three days gave me enough time to experience Salzburg, but I certainly could have stayed longer!
It may be a small city, but don’t let that fool you—it’s easy to miss some really wonderful sights here. You can very well wander around the Old Town and be charmed by Salzburg, but there are a few gems in the city that you definitely should not miss.
Wander through Mirabell Gardens
I don’t think you’ve really experienced a garden until you’ve walked through Mirabell Gardens, attached to Mirabell Palace. This was located about a block away from the AirBnB I stayed in, and I stumbled upon it on my way to something else (which I promptly forgot about). It is too beautiful to even describe. Evidently some scenes from The Sound of Music were filmed here, so feel free to belt out Do-Re-Mi while you prance around the horse fountain.
Get tipsy at Stiegl-Brauerei
A little bit outside of the city center is the brewery for Stiegl beer—it’s walkable, but to pick up the pace either take the bus or rent a bike. They offer brewery tours and have an adorable outdoor patio for you to try whatever beer your little heart desires. I’m personally not so fascinated with the process of making beer as I am with drinking it, so I did the latter. Although it certainly had a number of tourists, it was a lovely place to relax and drink beer, plus the servers were incredibly kind and helpful. (ps with the Salzburg Card your tour is free)
See a marionette show
I learned two things at the Salzburg Marionette Theatre: (1) marionette dolls are actually quite creepy, but despite that (2) they put on quite a show! Because the facial expressions of the puppets never change, it can feel a little bit…unsettling to watch. But once you get used to it, it’s actually quite amazing to see how the puppeteers work their magic and how it translates on the stage. This is one of the oldest marionette theaters in the world and the show was fantastic, but I think my favorite part was seeing the curtain lift up and witnessing the puppeteers operate the marionette dolls during curtain call.
Get stunning views of Salzburg
If possible, I always like to go someplace in a destination that gives me a great view. For me in Salzburg, this was Festung Hohensalzburg. This fortress resides over the city and is visible from almost everywhere, and it allows you to see just how much bigger Salzburg is than just its Old Town. If you prefer to have a view with Festung Hohensalzburg in sight, then you’ll have a great vantage point at Mirabell Gardens or (if you’re feeling sporty) by hiking across the Mönchsberg or Kapuzinerberg.
Sit by the river Salzach
At any given time of the day (in the summer, at least), there will be people gathered by the water of the river Salzach. Grab yourself some cheese and crackers at the grocery store (the most common one there is SPAR Markt) or pick up some refreshing food at the Heart of Joy Cafe to enjoy by the water. Evenings here are especially beautiful. Even if you just enjoy a quick walk across the footbridge, it’s absolute perfection.
Bonus: try the schnapps at Sporer
For a local’s watering hole, go to Sporer. The family-run shop has been making its own liquor for over 100 years and offers an endless selection of schnapps and fine Austrian wines. The spirits here are phenomenal—I tried cherry schnapps (yum!), plum schnapps (yum!), and their version of Jaegermeister (NOPE). This is definitely a place where attempting some of the local language (like please and thank you) will go a long way, as they are a true local’s spot.
What would you be most excited to do in Salzburg, Austria?