Salzburg in 3 days: the perfect itinerary for your spring and summer break
3 days in Salzburg: what to do? What to visit? What to eat? This is my in-depth guide for you, with a surprise at the very end… if you wanna spend at least one day in Salzburg like a local! Enjoy!
Salzburg is one of the most well-preserved towns in Europe as declared by Unesco and is a jewel that’s hard not to love. Whether it’s for the chocolate or beer, nature or the relaxing, classical atmosphere, Salzburg has something for everybody. Ideal for a city break but also for a longer holiday in spring or summer, it allows you to combine many activities without rushing; it’s a small town, so if you need a place to unwind Salzburg is perfect.
A weekend or, even better, a long weekend gives you time to see Salzburg and get the most out of your trip.
That said, if you have more time you can always include Salzburg in a more comprehensive tour of Austria with a visit to Vienna as well: just remember that Vienna is bigger so you’ll spend more time in the city, while Salzburg is smaller and so offers more opportunities to explore the countryside and surrounding areas (which, for me, is a must when traveling). What is more, if you really want to have the full experience, having more time to devote to Salzburg will give you the opportunity to enjoy every single moment of the stunning natural environment.
But let’s assume you’ve got 3 days to visit Salzburg: this is my itinerary for you with suggestions on where to eat, things to do, accommodation and more. It’s strongly focused on food, drink, and nature which are the main elements in all of my trips.
I suggest you arrive the evening before, giving you three full days to discover the city, and leave later at night on the last day or early the day after, for the same reason; of course, this itinerary and schedule is just a suggestion and you can modify the order of the days, based on your needs (I mean, if you have a late flight the third day, I assume you won’t want to arrive at the airport all hot and bothered, so the best move would be to visit Salzburg city the last day of your stay).
3 days in Salzburg: itinerary, things to do, food to eat and suggestions for you
Day 1 – Salzburg
Salzburg is the city of Mozart’s birth and there are lots to remind you of him. But it’s also the city where the Oscar-winning movie The Sound of Music with Julie Andrews was filmed and to be honest, even if you’re not a fan of the musical, it’s hard not to fall in love with the many places used as locations.
The city is easy to visit on foot and I recommend you buy a Visitor Card which gives entry to museums, free public transportation including the elevator up to the hills: start your tour in Mirabelle Park and here I really should suggest you visit the Palace. In reality, in spring and summer, I always prefer to stay outside so I recommend you a stroll through the park which offers fantastic views and walks in beautiful surroundings. Take a picture, or a run run run (you got the quote, don’t you?), enjoy a cup of coffee in the adjacent coffee shop or walk around the park admiring the classical architecture: if you’re into art, go to the official website of Salzburg and you’ll find all the information you need.
From Mirabelle Park, you’ll be able to see the famous Bristol Hotel (its classical architecture is pretty stunning and the inside is so vintage you’ll end up having a coffee here as well or even a cocktail), Mozart’s birthplace and the Opera. A turn to the right will bring you to the Makartsteg Bridge, also known as the Love Locks Bridge: from here you have a view of the city and the Castle and on a sunny day, the colors are magical. Cross the bridge and you’ll be right in Salzburg City Centre: just wandering around is enough to make you fall in love with this town, with its old style plaques all over the place, cafes serving amazing coffee and cakes and Mozartballs everywhere. Two spots are worth a mention: the Mönchsberg and the Castle.
Both the Castle and the Mönchsberg will give you the opportunity to admire Salzburg from the top, but from two different perspectives: I loved both so highly recommend you visit each one and if you’re into photography, try to visit both or at least one of them at sunset.
Day 2 – Breweries
Beer is a big thing in Salzburg and if you really want to know more about this city, you really need to embrace the beer culture. I recommend you rent a car with a private driver for a day so you can organize your tour to as many breweries as you want without worrying about how much you drink (or you can also book a privately organized tour). The following are some of the breweries I recommend: there are way more than these, but time is a huge element to consider when brewery hopping because you don’t want to rush from one place to another.
The oldest brewery in the city of Salzburg is also Austria’s largest private brewery, which is also considered to be the Salzburg beer: Stiegl. Old recipes are still used by Die WEISSE, Salzburg’s wheat beer brewery established in 1901.
The Trumer Privatbrauerei is a family business distinguished by especially creative beers and by its open fermentation process.
The Gusswerk brewery is the world’s first bio-dynamic brewery and produces a superb quality organic beer. Nature is also a great part of the Beers of Wilderness by Axel Kiesbye, owner of the Bierkulturhaus in Obertrum, flavored with mountain mint, juniper, and bird cherry.
If you’re into small breweries and perhaps you have a bit more time, you should visit S’Kloane Brauhaus in the city of Salzburg which specializes in wheat beer, the Raggei-Bräu in Anthering specialized in wheat, Kellerbier, Bock and special beers. Or also, Landgasthof Allerberger in Wals specialized in pale lager, wheat, and seasonal beers. The Isi-Bräu is known for the “Keller-Zwickl” while Zum Fassl in Grödig might be the smallest wheat beer-brewery in Salzburg with its 170-liter plant.
If you’re into pairing beer and food, these are some of the places where you can experience this. Every year, in fact, local beer restaurants are rewarded for being particularly attentive to the creation of traditional menus by using local and seasonal ingredients to be paired with local beer; if you’re visiting in 2018, these are the places that have won an award (I’ve put a star next to the one I loved the most):
- Fuxn – Salzburger Volkskultur**
- Die Weisse
- Stieglbrauerei zu Salzburg
- Beffa Bar
Day 3 – Nature
Wake up early in the morning and go explore the beautiful countryside around Salzburg. You can grab a bike, an e-bike or, if you’re more like me, walk and hike. There’s a huge amount of trails to choose from but for a taste of Austrian nature I recommend this (if you open the map, you’ll notice there are a lot of trails very close to Salzbug, ideal if you’ve a few days to spend here!)
On your way, your eyes will be surrounded by a beautiful landscape, with lakes, mountains, a Schloss, the zoo and more to discover while walking/biking/running..
Remember, your final goal is food: stay strong and don’t give up!
Once you reach the top, plan lunch at the Hofbräu Kaltenhausen, the country’s oldest brewery, established by Salzburg’s Prince Archbishops in 1475, and make sure you don’t leave without having tasted (at least) one local beer. Go back to Salzburg via the same path or by a different route.
Once back in town, grab a beer and some food at the Augustine brewery and sit outside in the largest beer garden. Barely 130 years young, the Augustiner Bräu is located in the monastery in Mülln, established in 1621. The beer is still crafted according to an old, well-guarded recipe, brewed in wooden barrels and served in traditional steins.
At this point, it all depends on your schedule but if you stay in town a walk in the city center in the evening is just what you need.
Food to eat in Salzburg
What to eat in Salzburg? I mean, what should you definitely eat during your stay in Salzburg? These are some of the dishes I highly recommend but I need to add something: here more than in many other places, trust the locals. Even if something doesn’t whet your appetite or you find it too heavy, you should still try it because you won’t regret your choice. Remember, the Sachertorte is not typical in Salzburg: you can, of course, find it (and there’s also the Sachertorte’s hotel and bakery, directly from Vienna) but it’s not something you have to eat here just because it’s typical.
These are some of the unmissable dishes when you’re in Salzburg:
The epitome of Austrian cuisine: a super big, battered, flattened, breaded, fried slab of tender veal served with potatoes, cranberry sauce and lemon. Easy peasy, one of the best dishes ever: no, fried veal is not just for kids, trust me!
Imagine a meringue and then delete this image from your mind. The Salzburger Nokerl is just something I don’t know how to describe. Imagine something extremely good and you’re almost there: sugar, a lot, eggs, a lot, and this says everything. The nokerl is traditionally served in the shape of three peaks which represents the three local mountains in Salzburg (Mönchsberg, Kapuzinerberg and, depending on who you are talking to, either the Rainberg or the Gaisberg) and it’s basically a feast for the eyes and happiness for the belly.
Do I really have to describe pretzels to you? The perfect treat at any moment of the day, unmissable when you’re drinking a beer. Honestly, I could have lived on pretzels alone (and Mozartkugel, see below).
Every strudel you’ve eaten so far will be beaten by a real strudel from Austria: flaky, filled with apples, served with ice cream, vanilla sauce and/or cream.
Boiled beef, so tender that sometimes it’s also served already cut in strips. The broth is then used for Knödel.
They can be found everywhere, served as a main and also as a street food. The only thing you need to add is a splash of mustard (and a beer, just saying).
Mozartkugel: unmissable in Salzburg
In terms of food, there’s something you have to taste (and potentially become addicted to) in Salzburg: the Mozart Balls or Mozartkugel. If you’re thinking “this is just chocolate” you’re totally wrong: for me, Mozart balls are one of the most amazing treats you can have. Each and every Mozart ball contains a core of pistachio, marzipan, and nougat and is coated in dark chocolate. There are various brands competing in the market but Mirabell and Furst are the most famous and you need to taste both to decide which one you like most: both are coated in dark chocolate but the one used by Furst, in the silver package, is a bit sweeter and the one used by Mirabell is slightly bitter.
Like a local
On the first Thursday of every month, something special and at the same time traditional and super hipster happens in Salzburg: the Lederhosendonnerstag. In 2013, two guys started encouraging people to wear their Lederhosen and Dirndl (the traditional dresses, for men and women) not just for special occasions. They picked Thursday randomly and the project went viral. Every Thursday men and women dress in Lederhosen and Dirndl and once a month, everybody gets together for an after-work party in a secret location: but the funniest thing is that pretty much everybody is dressed in dirndl and lederhosen, the typical Austrian dresses. Wear the costumes the traditional way and if you’re a woman remember that yours will communicate to the males if you’re free or not: if it’s laced on the left, it means you’re single, if it’s on the right side it means you’re either married, engaged or you’ve someone in your life.
This is something only locals know but if you’re visiting Salzburg the first Thursday of the month, I suggest you take part in the Lederhosendonnerstag: go rent a traditional costume and make sure you head to the party. Of course, you will never look like a real Austrian (unless you’ve some Austrian, German or Eastern European blood in your veins!) but you’ll certainly have fun. A lot. You don’t need to drive yourself to the assigned location: a shared bus departs every hour to and from the place, to make sure people get home safely. Remember: it’s not a place where you go to get (totally) laid, it’s just a place where you have fun!
How to get to Salzburg
Salzburg has its own airport but only a few airlines go there and the prices are usually very high. Munich is a much better option: the choice of airlines flying to Munich is infinite and price wise it’s cheaper than Salzburg. From Munich, take the S-Ban to Munich Main Station and jump on a local or interregional train to Salzburg: in less than 2 hours you’ll arrive in Salzburg, right in the city center. You can also book your flight to Vienna and then go to Salzburg by train or even by car. If you’re coming from Eastern Europe or Northern Italy, the train is a better choice. In reality, it all depends on where you are departing from, your budget and time.
Where to stay in Salzburg
Salzburg is probably one of the few places with no shortage of accommodation. So it is said. I stayed at the Imlauer & Brau Hotel, very close to the train station and also to the city center: it offers basic but spacious rooms, an excellent location, breakfast included and there is also a restaurant/bar where you can eat or go for a beer. That said, depending on your budget and your needs, there really are a lot of places to choose from: have a look here to find inspiration and book.
If you’ve read all of my guide, you’re all set: you’re ready to book your city break to Salzburg or, why not, your holiday in the city!
[This Salzburg City Guide is the result of a trip sponsored by Visit Salzburg and Visit Austria. I’ve added a bit more information from my previous knowledge of the city. All the pictures have been taken, as usual, by Giuseppe].