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The 15 best things to do in Salzburg

Most famous by ‘The Sound of Music,’ the best things to do in Salzburg include fine art destinations and vast beer halls

Samantha Priestley
Written by
Tristan Parker
&
Samantha Priestley
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For many people, Austria equals Vienna or hitting the slopes out in the Alps, but tackling the best things to do in Salzburg will highlight a quiet treasure when it comes to European cities. Salzburg is an energetic and friendly place, filled with history, culture and a surprisingly rich food and drink scene. 

Here, you’ll find everything from vast beer halls filled with hearty Austrian fare to sleek cocktail bars and a clutch of Michelin-starred restaurants. The town is also surrounded by some truly incredible scenery, which you can gaze at from a few choice spots on the edges of the city, or by making a short journey into the surrounding Alpine countryside. Here are the best things to do in Salzburg. 

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Samantha Priestly is a UK-based writer who travels extensively in Salzburg. At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelinesThis guide includes affiliate links, which have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, see our affiliate guidelines

Best things to do in Salzburg

1. Mirabell Palace

Mirabell Palace is a grand palace surrounded by lush, colourful gardens that also happens to be where some big scenes from ‘The Sound of Music’ were filmed, including the famous ‘Do-Re-Mi’ number. After visiting, take time to wander around the ridiculously pretty gardens and admire the lavish baroque architecture of the palace. It’s a romantic and beautiful setting.

Why go? To run around the fountain like the von Trapp children, belting out ‘Doe, a deer, a female deer’ – don’t pretend you’re not going to. 

2. Augustiner Braü

As a traditional old beer house, Augustiner Brau brews its beer using a recipe perfected by the monks who founded the brewery in 1621. Served in traditional steins, the beer is tapped from wooden barrels, something you don’t often see anymore. It’s lively and loud and there’s a huge beer garden for drinking al fresco in summer. Bar snacks are served from food hall type kiosks. 

Why go? For an authentic Austrian beer experience, complete with hefty steins that hold a lot of beer. 

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3. Hangar7

What is it? A super-slick aircraft hangar owned by Red Bull co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz, full of eye-popping architecture and all kinds of full-throttle fun. Located at Salzburg Airport.

Why go? Definitely not just for aviation addicts, this giant glass dome has all sorts going on inside, from showy aircraft owned by the ‘Flying Bulls’ fleet to art exhibitions to Formula 1 cars to high-end culinary adventures at Ikarus (a restaurant led by a different top chef each month), plus two fancy cocktail bars.

4. 220 Grad

220 Grad is a modern coffee and brunch spot with its own in-house roastery. There’s a small lunch and brunch menu, plus some excellent cakes. But most people come here for the coffee, which is some of the best in town. Located in the old town, but with an ultra modern vibe, this café brings coffee house culture in Salzburg right up to date. The coffee you taste is also available to buy and take home with you.

Why go? To enjoy quality coffee in a modern café and roastery where all the cool Austrians go.

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5. Balkan Grill Walter

At this take-away sausage shop in the old town, it’s a simple yet perfect affair. Visitors walk up to the window, order a hot dog, and walk away happy. Prices are very reasonable for a superior hot dog sausage in Salzburg, and it’s a memorable experience, but it’s popular so expect to queue. The options are short, but you can’t go wrong with Balkan Grill Water’s original Bosna Sausage Sandwich. Perfect for grabbing lunch on the go.

Why go? For a unique hot dog in Salzburg, and to experience the secret spices in these now famous hot dogs.

6. St Peter’s Abbey and Catacombs

Not only is St Peter’s Abbey itself free to enter and an interesting place to have a mooch about in, the graveyard that accompanies it is the oldest graveyard in Salzburg and it feels kinda creepy. Many of the graves are overgrown with moss and weather beaten, so they’re hard to read, but head down into the catacombs and you’ll really get a sense of the dead here. Located at the grave of Mozart’s sister, Namnnerl, most people miss this, meaning you could have them to yourself.

Why go? To get totally creeped out and to see how the important people of Salzburg were once buried.

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7. Stiftsbackerei St. Peter

Set in a charming location next to a water mill, this is the oldest bakery in Salzburg and still bakes organic bread just as it always has. The bread runs out fast here, so Stiftsbackerei sticks to the old rule of selling some of the loaves only to children, otherwise they’d never keep up with demand. The sourdough is especially good, but every loaf and roll here is baked with love and stays fresh longer than you’d expect.

Why go? For traditionally baked bread in a historic setting, and for a peek into the bakehouse where the magic happens.

8. Green Garden

Not into wiener schnitzel or had your fill of all those heavy dumplings? Head to Green Garden for a healthy and memorable meat-free meal. There’s a small globe-spanning menu, including vegan burgers, Indian thalis, tarte flambée, and beetroot medallions with miso. Drinks include vegan wines, speciality gins and prosecco cocktails.

Why go? For a top quality vegan meal. Salzburg has a few vegan eateries, but this is one of the best.  

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9. Darwin’s Bar

This cosy bar in the new town, close to the river, is an especially good spot for cocktails with a laid back atmosphere. There’s plenty of outdoor seating on fine days, and it’s a nice place to stop for a coffee during the day. There is a small food menu too, but most people come to Darwin’s for the great cocktails. The mixologists will recommend cocktails to you and mix you up their favourites.

Why go? For the tasty drinks and the relaxed vibe. Sit back and make your way through the cocktail menu.

10. Rudolf Budja Gallery

The Rudolf Budja Gallery isn’t just another gallery, it feels like you’re viewing a private collection in someone’s home. Salzburg has galleries showing art of all kinds, but mostly classical and fine art. This is a great alternative to the regular galleries, especially if you’re into modern art exhibitions. You can catch work by Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, Margherita Marzotto, Keith Haring or street artist Shepard Fairey.

Why go? To discover local artists, both long gone, and young and making art today. The gallery makes a point of championing new artists from Salzburg.

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