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Best things to do in Salzburg

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Where in the world: Europe  /  Austria  /  Austrian Alps  /  Salzburg Region  /  Salzburg

Top 15 things to do in Salzburg

1. Schloss Hellbrunn

Built as a summer day residence for Markus Sittikus (who was both a prince and an archbishop), Schloss Hellbrunn is famous for its trick fountains. The palace was built from 1613 to 1619 as a place of celebration. Sittikus designed the fountains and water-powered figures in the palace's park to entertain and confuse his guests. The trick fountains spray at seemingly random moments, so be prepared to get a little bit wet. Visit the grottos to see representations of Greek mythology, and watch the water-powered show of Perseus freeing Andromeda and Apollo flaying Marsyas. Walk through the palace to get a feel for how the prince and his noble guests celebrated. The park was designed as a show of contrasts of light and dark, fire and water.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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2. Mirabell Palace

Built as a token of Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich's love for his mistress, Mirabell Palace is perhaps best known as the backdrop of "The Sound of Music." The former palace was built in 1606 and now houses the offices of the mayor and municipal council. The boxwood gardens contain mythology-themed statues from 1730, as well as four groups of sculptures representing the four elements. If you're a fan of "The Sound of Music," don't miss the horse fountain, where the von Trapp children sang "Do-Re-Mi." A stroll through the gardens will jog many memories from the film.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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3. Salzburg Cathedral

The site of religious worship for centuries, Salzburg Cathedral still contains the same baptismal font in which Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was baptized. The Baroque cathedral as it stands today was rebuilt in the 17th century, but a church had existed in this same spot since 774. Inside, visit the cathedral museum to see religious treasures, such as the Cross of St. Rupert and the Sacred Dove. Continue to the Cabinet of Curiosities for an exhibit of natural objects and artwork. This exhibit connects to the Long Gallery of St. Peter's Abbey, a 70 m (230 ft) corridor lined with paintings.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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4. Fortress Hohensalzburg

Perched atop a hill overlooking Salzburg, Fortress Hohensalzburg bears witness to more than 900 years of Austrian history, demonstrating the supreme power of the archbishops. Construction of this massive fortress began in the 11th century at the request of Archbishop Gebhard I of Helffenstein. The project continued over the centuries, finishing in 1501. Visit the regency rooms, torture chamber, illuminated lower church, and the fortress museum. At an altitude of 506 m (1,660 ft), the watchtower provides views of Salzburg. Purchase the Fortress Card to take advantage of the funicular ride up the steep hill, and delve deeper into the fortress' history with an audio guide.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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5. Mozarts Geburtshaus

Learn about the details of Mozart's childhood and his relationship with his family at Mozarts Geburtshaus. Exhibited instruments, documents, portraits, and family letters reveal his passionate interest in music--opera in particular. Start from the birth room on the third floor, where Mozart came into the world on January 27, 1756. Do not miss such rarities as his childhood violin or the clavichord upon which he composed "The Magic Flute." See the striking unfinished portrait of the composer that his brother-in-law painted two years before Mozart's death. Breathe in the atmosphere of the age on the first floor among original furniture from that time.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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6. Untersberg

Straddling the border between Germany and Austria, the summit of Untersberg offers spectacular views of Salzburg far below. The tabletop mountain has six different peaks with elevations ranging from 1,805 m (5,922 ft) to 1,973 m (6,473 ft). Take the cable car to 1,320 m (4,331 ft), or hike the well-marked trails to summit the mountain. Protected as a nature preserve, the mountain provides opportunities for outdoors activities, such as climbing and hiking. Follow the Nature-Quiz-Path to learn more about wildlife, mushrooms, minerals, and trees. Visit the ice cave at 1,570 m (5,151 ft), but dress warmly, as temperatures are below zero year-round.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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7. Salzburger Altstadt

Surrounded by Monchsberg fortress and with the Salzach River winding its way through this World Heritage Site, Salzburger Altstadt represents an architectural mix of buildings. The river splits the town into two halves connected by a series of bridges. The left bank of the Salzach, where Roman buildings once stood, is older. Most of the core is pedestrian-only, so enjoy a stroll through the historic town's many narrow streets. The city wears its history on its streets, with buildings from the Middle Ages, Romanesque, Baroque, and Renaissance periods. Visit the fountain in Residence Square, the city's most famous square, and Mozart Square, a hometown tribute to the classical music legend.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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8. Salzburg Museum

Discover the cultural history and legends of the city at Salzburg Museum. Housed within a restored 17th-century archbishop's guesthouse, the museum features two floors, the art hall that lies beneath the inner courtyard, and an underground passage with archeological displays that connects this with another museum. Exhibits on the first floor offer a glimpse into the lives, achievements, and legacies of the city's spiritual and secular leaders. The museum highlights include the furniture from the nearby palace, the earliest example of a bass clarinet, and the original manuscript of the largest-scale piece of Baroque music.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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9. Red Bull Hangar-7

Marvel at the collection of 25 historical airplanes, helicopters, motors, and Formula One racing cars at Red Bull Hangar-7. The "Flying Bulls", an association of pilots and mechanics, founded this multifunctional building in 1999. Have a coffee at the lounge next to a P-38 Lightning--Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's service airplane. Watch the sunset reflected in the wings of the Mitchell B-25 from the café. Dine at Ikarus--a Michelin-starred restaurant. You'll also see two BO 105s--the world's only civil helicopter licensed for aerobatics.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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10. Mozart Residence (Mozart Wohnhaus)

See Mozart Residence (Mozart Wohnhaus), where the famous composer and his family lived from 1773 to 1787--and where Mozart wrote his numerous pieces. Destroyed by a bomb in World War II, the home was reconstructed and opened for visitors in 1996. Explore the exhibits, walk where Mozart walked, and see a piano and a violin that he played. Learn about different phases of his life and work through photos, audio guides, displays, and letters written to and by Mozart. You'll also see the rooms of his father and sister, along with some personal effects.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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11. St. Peter's Abbey (Stift St. Peter)

At St. Peter's Abbey (Stift St. Peter), see how this medieval monastery served as the home to Benedictine monks for more than 1,000 years. Built about 696 CE, it lays claim to being the oldest monastery in the German-speaking world. St. Rupert founded the monastery at the site of a Late Antique church. Enter the abbey church to see how the Romanesque facade transforms into a Rococo interior. You can view the organs at which Mozart's wife, Constanze, sang at the premiere of his Great Mass in C Minor. Look for the rock tomb--the original tomb of St. Rupert--next to his altar. Check out the shrine under the main altar, which stores most of Rupert′s relics.
Suggested duration: 30 minutes
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12. Swarovski Kristallwelten, Wattens

Enter Swarovski Kristallwelten, an underground museum, through a hole in the hillside and step inside a massive crystalline theater. This attraction was created in 1995 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Swarovski crystal company. Designed by multimedia artist Andre Heller, the crystal museum encompasses art, music, dance, and literature into one overwhelming experience. "The Giant," a face landscaped on the hillside with crystals for eyes and a water fountain for a mouth, greets you as you approach the entrance of the museum.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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13. Mozartplatz

Situated in the center of the town's historical district, Mozartplatz is a good starting point for city tours and a must-visit for all fans of classical music. The 19th-century Mozart Monument with the bronze statue of the great composer serves as the focal point of the square, but a far more important attraction related to the famous boy genius is the house at No. 8, where Mozart's wife lived and died. Mozart's birthplace is just a couple of minutes' walk from the square. Salzburg Museum and the tourist information office are also found here.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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14. Melk Abbey, Melk

A famous monastic site, Melk Abbey contains the remains of several members of the first Austrian dynasty and the tomb of St. Coloman of Stockerau. This Benedictine abbey was founded in 1089, although the current Baroque building was built between 1702 and 1736. You can take time to appreciate the abbey's frescos by Johann Michael Rottmayr and browse the library of medieval manuscripts. Located above the town with a view of the Danube, the abbey is surrounded by a large park. Join a guided tour to learn about the abbey's history as a school for young monks.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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15. Petersfriedhof

Visit the catacombs embedded in the rock of the Festungsberg at Petersfriedhof, the oldest cemetery in the city. The oldest tombstone dates to 1288, but the catacombs most likely originate from the early Christian days. Walk through narrow passages, which probably served as hermitages and a burial site. Climb the staircase up to the two chapels. Enter the Maximus cave, the highest prayer room of the catacombs. Notice an arched grave that supposedly served as a stone bed. Between the two chapels, you can stand on a viewing platform with a small wooden bell tower. Many of the aristocratic families and notable people of Salzburg are buried here, including Mozart's sister, Nannerl, and Haydn's younger brother, Michael.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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