If you have only one day to visit Salzburg, I recommend that you get up early: there’s a lot to see and you’ll enjoy it especially if you’re a bit of history buff.

The city is incredibly beautiful, so picturesque and very well-placed if you later decide to head into the alpine Tyrol region in Austria.  In fact, Salzburg is an ideal launch point to start any journey into the Alps.

Below I’ve listed the top three things that I recommend you go and see.

It’s a little bit of a tight squeeze to see everything but once you get there, you’ll notice that Salzburg isn’t particularly big and especially since all the places I’ve listed are very centrally located.

Of course, you can easily get overwhelmed with so much to see so if you want to take things bit easier, the best thing to do is simply choose two out of the three locations that I’ve listed below.

Mozart’s Birthplace

Undoubtedly, one of Salzburg’s highlights has to the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  The illustrious king of classical music was born in 1756 in the Hagenauer House which can be found on “Getreidegasse” which is Salzburg’s main high street.

Today, Mozart’s birthplace is one of the most visited museums in Austria, and not least because it’s very comprehensive but not too overwhelming.  The family of Salzburg’s most famous boy lived on the third floor of this house for 26 years and Mozart spent his childhood there with Nannerl, his sister and his parents Leopold and Anna Maria.  In 1773, they settled in the Mozart Residence, which can be found on the “Makartplatz” square.

Hohensalzburg Fortress

The Hohensalzburg Fortress is probably the most important tourist attraction to visit in Salzburg: Hohensalzburg Fortress is the largest and best-preserved fortress in Europe.  Construction began in 1077 and over time, it has been expanded and renovated to include towers, walls and trenches.

But it was in the 15th century that the fortress underwent a real rejuvenation, when Prince Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach decorated it in an impressive way with touches of late Gothic style.

There’s a funicular that takes you to the top so you can avoid the steep walk and there are several museums across the whole complex.  The view from the top is spectacular and overlooks the whole city.  They also hold classical concerts in the evenings but get your tickets as quickly as possible because it’s very popular and gets booked out easily, especially during the summer.

Mirabell Palace

The Mirabell Palace is a mythical tourist stopover in Salzburg.  It’s a baroque building, built in 1606 for Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau, Prince and Archbishop of Salzburg.  Apparently, the goal was to impress his lover, Salome Alt and to be honest, he did a superb job!

It has magnificent gardens and is now the official seat of the Mayor of Salzburg.  The marble room is worth a visit, and a large state room that will leave you speechless.

It’s definitely worth visiting the palace and its gardens and on occasion you’ll come across live music because it is here that some of the scenes from the classic movie ‘The Sound of Music’ were shot.  In addition to the marble hall, it is said that Mozart played with his sister, and today they have a variety of delightful concerts and orchestras playing in the spring and summer (but again, you’ll need to book in advance due to popular demand).

Practical Traveling Tips

As you can imagine, Salzburg is not the cheapest of places so if you’re looking for hotels, you need to book well in advance.  But there are much cheaper alternatives outside of the main city and the local transportation is excellent and very reasonably priced.  And there are even a few campsites dotted around the city if you’re looking for low-budget alternatives.

At the time of writing this article, if you’re travelling from the UK and despite Brexit, I honestly can’t see there being any major complications in terms of visas.  And for the moment, if you’re travelling from the US, since Austria is part of the European Union, you don’t need a visa providing your trip is for leisure or for short business trips and, for 90 days or less.  However, things are going to change since starting 1 January 2021 the European Union is introducing it’s ETIAS visa exemption programme.