Salzburg is an easy day trip from Vienna. On my first Salzburg day trip, I adhered to my typical travel M.O.: wander and get lost. But this second time, I wanted to be more intentional with my time. For one thing, this trip featured a special guest: my mom, who came all the way in from California. For another, Salzburg is full of things to do! And while my wandering gave me a good taste of the city, this time I wanted to really feast on all the charms this lovely place has to offer. Thus, a detailed Salzburg day trip itinerary, to keep us on track and give us our bearings.
Salzburg Day Trip Itinerary
Arrive from Vienna by train
Taking the train from Vienna to Salzburg is pretty painless. The “worst” part is that it the train takes nearly 3 hours from point A to B. But with Netflix or a good book, the ride is smooth. We took the train at roughly 8:00 am and arrived in Salzburg at 10:30.
Head into the city
We’d booked a strudel-making class in Salzburg, which began at 11:30. That left us with about an hour to whittle away once we’d arrived. My first thought was to do a bit of exploring in the Old City, but because the weather was threatening to rain, we devoted the bulk of our free time to exploring the Mirabell Gardens instead. The Mirabell Gardens are famous for their use as a shooting location in The Sound of Music (Do-Re-Mi). Beyond that, they’re a lush and lovely baroque garden experience, and a great introduction to the simple beauty of this city.
Take a cooking class
This wound up being one of my favorite things to do in Salzburg! Our instructor at the Edelweiss Cooking School taught us how to make Austria’s famous apple strudel. We also learned how to make Salzburger Nockerl (a local treat), and shared a delicious lunch of homemade goulash. The class runs about 90 minutes, which let us back out into the city around 1:00pm.
Explore Salzburg Altstadt
Salzburg’s Altstadt has a lot to offer, from historical treasures (the home and birthplace of Mozart!) to the many public art installations. We spent about an hour walking off all our strudel, poking into shops and taking plenty of photos of the quaint buildings and bridges.
Visit the Salzburg Dom
Sandwiched into our strolling was a visit to the Salzburg Cathedral. I’m not religious, but I love visiting the European cathedrals. The Salzburg Dom has always struck me with its pale beauty and immensity. The frescoes on the ceiling are particularly noteworthy.
Just a side note, that if you need a public restroom, there are a set (accessible for 50 euro cents) just outside the Dom, before you encounter the main square with the statue of the man on the golden ball.
Furnicular to the Fortress
The next stop on our Salzburg day trip itinerary actually wasn’t planned. I wanted to do a hike around the Mönschberg, one of Salzburg’s three mountains. But since it was very hot (that cloudy weather blew over!), we opted to take the furnicular up instead. The furnicular costs 12 euros per adult, and includes entrance to the Fortress high above. It also overshot our hike “trailhead”, so we opted to get our money’s worth around the Fortress before leaving the grounds. The views alone were worth it! You can also take the stairs up to the Fortress. However, it’s a pretty intense climb, so if the weather is warm or you’ve skipped the gym lately, maybe treat yourself to the easy way up.
Hike around the Mönschberg
The hike I was thinking of doing actually started about 200m below the Fortress, so mom and I took the stairs back down. (This was already pretty steep!) From there, we took a leisurely walk along the ridge, discovering private properties, public lands, and incredible views. The “hike”, which was all done on a paved road, took about 1.5-2 hours. By the end we were pretty hot and sweaty, but we were in luck because the trail ends at….
…a pretty little church at the foot of the hill annnnnnnd it’s associated brewery. We popped in to visit the Pfarrkirche Mülln, which though small, has an almost celestial feel to it. We entered the klosters (and connected brewery) through the back door, which gave us an interesting mini tour through the building. Downstairs, the brewery looks like a proper brauerei, with multiple stations for food. A dark wood beer hall occupies the main floor, while downstairs the room opens onto a massive beer garden. The perfect treat to end our hike!
Return to the train station
We wrapped our Salzburg day trip itinerary with a stroll along the Salzbach river, crossing back over the love lock bridge. On the far side is a little tribute to Mozart: several silver chairs arranged facing the river. We grabbed a seat and a bottle of water to hydrate a bit and enjoy the view and the sun. Then we walked back to the main station to grab our train back to Vienna.
If you’re interested in other day trips from Vienna, you can check out my Bratislava day trip itinerary here. And if you’re curious what the rest of our 7-day Vienna itinerary looked like, you can check it out here!