How To Do A Vienna to Salzburg Day Trip
Are you in Vienna Austria for a few days? Why not consider a Vienna to Salzburg day trip since you are here?
While Vienna is a beautiful and modern city, Salzburg offers a different experience just 2.5 hours away!
Our guess is that you have visited the famous sights in Vienna, such as the Vienna State Opera House, the markets, and the Danube, and now have the free time to consider a day trip without a tour guide.
Think perfectly textured mountains, alpine adventures and the Sound of Music. Mozart’s birthplace is sure to leave you spellbound.
As perhaps the second most famous city in Austria, we feel that it is underrated and should be on traveller’s radar more often.
The views are gorgeous, you are never far away from nature, and the food is delectable.
This is one of the best day trips from Vienna!
So read more to find out more about how to take a Vienna to Salzburg day trip, how to get from Vienna to Salzburg, and what you can do while spending the day in Salzburg.
What's covered in this post
- How To Do A Vienna to Salzburg Day Trip
- A little bit about Salzburg first
- How to get from Vienna to Salzburg
- What to do in Salzburg in one day?
- Final thoughts about day trip to Salzburg
- Logistics before visiting Austria
A little bit about Salzburg first
Salzburg is the fourth largest city in Austria, and is well known for its Baroque architecture in the Old Town as well as the genius composer, Mozart.
It was inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list in 1996.
Thankfully, there was little damage during the World War and now we are treated to some of the best preserved buildings anywhere.
Maybe a slightly less known fact is that Red Bull, the energy drink, originates from here.
Its owner built a unique hangar just behind the airport that has become well known for its style, Flying Bulls aircraft and has enriched the entire city.
If you intend to travel on to Germany, this will be a great jump off point as it is only 3km from the German border, with Munich less than 2 hours away from Salzburg.
Check out the nearby city of Bratislava too!
How to get from Vienna to Salzburg
There are many options to get from Vienna to Salzburg, and by far the easiest way is to take the train.
We will also cover a few other options in case you don’t wish to consider trains or simply have Siderodromophobia.
We don’t judge, we give you options.
Distance from Vienna to Salzburg
The distance from Vienna to Salzburg is 252 kilometres if you draw a straight line between the 2 cities.
On public transport or roads, you should expect it be 300 odd kilometres.
Taking a train is for us the best and most convenient way to get from Vienna to Salzburg.
The trains are comfortable and starts running early in the morning before the sun is up and doesn’t rest till midnight.
Not to mention the price is reasonable too.
Depending on the train line you take, you may get a chance to see the beautiful countryside of Austria, and reach your destination is about 2.5 hours.
From the capital Vienna, there are 2 train line options for you to utilise.
First option is to use the public train operator, OBB.
The train departs from the Wien HBF, and you can buy the tickets either online or at the station.
We prefer the online option it is hassle free and eco friendly too.
When selecting your tickets, you will notice tickets marked as “Sparschiene”.
These means that they are meant for day trips within Austria, and are typically discounted tickets.
They run on the regular Railjet, which means extra stops, and can be as low as 19 Euros, but that also means increased travel times.
We suggest choosing the mid priced ticket which is around 39.90 euros and takes slightly shorter than 3 hours for one way.
As a reference, a ticket on the RJX, or the Railjet Xpress, will costs you 55.60 Euros from Vienna to Salzburg, and the return ticket is the same price.
Our advice is to book as early as you can so that you can get lower prices and be flexible with travel times.
Second option is to use WestBahn, which is a private rail operator that plies the route from Vienna to Salzburg too.
Their trains are newer and certainly more comfortable than from OBB, and prices are quite competitive.
Their trains depart from a few stations in Vienna:
- Wien HBF
- Wien Huttledorf
- Wien Miedling
- Wien Mitte
- Wien Praterstern
- Wien Quartier Belvedere
- Wien Rennweg
- Wien Westbahnhof
While booking on the WestBahn website, you will notice a few options besides the standard price of 33.50 Euros.
Be sure to try a few booking dates, from advanced to last minute as different offers gives different discounts.
Light snacks and drinks are available for purchase onboard.
Yes it is possible to fly between Vienna and Salzburg, and in fact there are at least 3 flights that does this route.
Return prices will be in the 150 to 200 Euros range and flight times are 50 minutes.
Check out the flight timings and book cheap tickets from Skyscanner.
Don’t forget to factor in check in times and the distance from the city to the airports. Trains send you from one city centre to another!
If you are only exploring a day trip, this might not be the most efficient method.
We love having road trips, especially those that are relatively stress free and takes us through the calm countryside and offers views during the ride.
If you decide to hire a car rental, this will be what to expect.
Road conditions in Austria are excellent and driving gives you an opportunity to veer off the main road and visit some smaller districts such as the Salzkammergut.
This is where you can check out the awesome Lake Fuschlsee and the neighbouring town of St Gilgen.
Major car rental companies are found in both cities. Find a car here.
The only downside of this option would be the high cost of rental and parking.
Driving will likely take longer too, around 3.5 hours, but of course that is subject to road conditions.
Frankly, we are not too sure if there are any buses, and we can’t seem to find any bus options.
However, it is possible to book a bus ride through local tour agencies.
If you are unsure of how to plan and would like to have a guide to bring you around, this would be your top option.
The tour covers the Salzkammergut region as well.
What to do in Salzburg in one day?
We weren’t really sure what to expect of Salzburg since this city was not really on our radar previously.
However, after digging deeper and experiencing it for ourselves, we are convinced that this undiscovered gem is worth a visit anytime!
A day trip to Salzburg is a great way to familiarise yourself with this city that is surrounded by the Austrian Alps.
Pretty much anywhere you walk, you can catch a glimpse of the beautiful mountains protecting this city.
Since there is only one day in Salzburg, you will want to try to see the best sights as much as possible.
We found that the city is extremely walkable and nature is not far away too. Perfect for us!
This one day itinerary in Salzburg will be full of walking, so come in comfortable walking shoes!
One day in Salzburg: Mirabell Palace
Upon reaching Salzburg at the Main Train Station, take a short walk to Mirabell Palace.
Back in 1609, the prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich built this palace for this love, Salome Alt, and the name Mirabell is a portmanteau of the words “mirabile” which means admirable and “bella” which means beautiful in Italian.
It is free to enter, and inside you will find the Marble Hall, a grand hall that todays serves as a location for musical concerts. If you are keen on watching one, check out the schedule here.
The Mirabell Palace complex is rather small, but it does have some enviable art pieces for you to explore, and when you are finished with admiring them, walk towards the back area of the palace where you will find the Mirabell Gardens.
Although its size pales in comparison to the Schonbrunn in Vienna, it is a beautifully sculpted garden, and headlined by the Pegasus Fountain.
Take a moment to enjoy the lovely Mirabell Gardens and watch out for the following:
- Grand Fountain
- Hedge Theater
- Dwarf Garden
- Rose Garden
You should be able to complete this activity within 45 minutes.
Next stop will be at Linzer Gasse Platz, which is an easy 7 minutes stroll.
If you are interested in the history of Mozart (more so his father), you can stop by the Mozart Wohnhaus to see the museum.
We suppose this is really for fans of the musician, and there is an admission fee of 11 euros for adults.
Salzburg Day Trip: Linzer Gasse Platz and Steingasse
A lesser known square compared to Kapitelplatz in the old town, the Linzergasse is a shopping arcade that gives off a more relaxed vibe and is a great place to chill out with a coffee (or a beer) and people watch.
The crowds are lesser here but it is certainly not lacking in options when it comes to chill out spots..
Continue on the Steingasse, or otherwise known as Stone Street.
This cool back alley is home to many cute restaurants and cafes that are charging lower prices than those in the Old Town, so keep this spot in mind for lunch, after a good workout up Kapuzinerberg.
Day trip to Salzburg: Kapuzinerberg
Hiking up the Kapuzinerberg is an excellent workout. It is tough, but it is short!
Within a half hour walk up steps and slopes, you will be rewarded with a superb view of the old town and the Hohensalzburg Fortress (sometimes referred to the Salzburg Fortress).
Located on the top of the mountain is a monastery, the Capuchin Abbey, as well as the Imbergkirche church.
Peaceful and tranquil, sit at one of the benches of the lookout to catch your breath.
For the adventurous, after a short water break, make your way past the abbey towards the entrance of the hiking trails, where you will be greeted by the bust of Salzburg’s most famous son, Mozart.
Here, your options are plentiful.
Whichever way you choose, you should make your way to the Franziskischlössl, which used to be a defense tower, but today has become a hot spot for weddings and brunches due to the inn and restaurant in operation.
Getting up to Kapiznerberg:
We actually stumbled upon the stairway entrance along Stone Street, guided by a kind man whom we asked for directions on the streets.
Turns out his shop was located just 10 steps from the stairs and he led us there.
After some further research, we can share 2 different ways to head up:
- The Imbergstiege stairway (most likely route)
- Fürbergstraße (least likely route)
The Highlight: Salzburg Old Town
1.30pm, could be later if you hike through Kapuzinerberg. In that case, cater at least 2 hours to explore the mountain trails.
After recharging over lunch at one of the many excellent restaurants or cafes, it is time to walk over to the Old Town of Salzburg, or also known as the Historic Centre of the City of Salzburg, or simply Alstadt.
Take the Mozartsteg, a footbridge which appeared in the “Sound of Music”, across to the Old Town.
An alternative is the Love Bridge, but it gets really crowded and we don’t quite fancy the idea of securing locks on a bridge.
So much wastage and any idea where the keys go? That’s right. In the river, where they rust and contribute toxins.
Back to the Old Town. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a wonderful look into how city used to be, with picture perfect monuments such as the Salzburg Cathedral.
Here is our suggestion on the walking tour that you can take to explore the Old Town:
- Mozart Denkmal
- Salzburg Cathedral
- Hohensalzburg Fortress
- Petersfriedhof (St Peter’s Cemetery)
- Getreidegasse (famous shopping street and where Mozart’s house is)
- Augustiner Bräustübl Tavern and Brewery
Monument that is dedicated to the famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Courtyard dedicated to Mozart, where you can find his statue sitting proudly in the middle. Many restaurants and cafes here and if you are lucky, this is also a popular venue for outdoor performances.
The largest of the squares in Salzburg. Here is where you can have a complete view of the DomQuartier Museum, Salzburg Cathedral and several other historic buildings.
In our opinion, the centrepiece of Salzburg Old Town, this beautifully preserved grand cathedral was built in the 1600s and till today, its beauty shines through.
Before entering, check out the 4 huge statues on the facade of the building, representing the apostles Peter and Paul, and the two patron saints Virgil (who built the very first cathedral) and Rupert, the patron saint of Salzburg.
Make a donation at the entrance and wander inside to admire the impressive dome, the art work, and the organ where Mozart regularly played.
Next to Salzburg Cathedral is Kapitelplatz, the square famous for the man standing on the golden ball.
It is also here where you will find locals and passerby alike playing chess at the giant chess set in the square.
You will find the best street level views of the Hohensalzburg Fortress here too. Try out the ice cream shop at the corner of the square: delicious!
Sitting pretty on top of the Festungsberg is the emblem of Salzburg. Travellers from far and wide come here to admire the biggest preserved castle in Europe.
You can choose to take the funicular up, or if your knees are not crying out loud yet, you can walk pass the funicular ticket station and enjoy a steep but quiet walk up.
Ticket prices including a visit to the castle here.
Take note that if you choose to walk up, you can save a few dollars at the ticket gate.
Petersfriedhof (St Peter’s Cemetery)
After descending from the castle, take a short walk over to St Peter’s Cemetery. Amongst the buzz and lively squares lies this lovely and quaint spot.
The final resting place for a number of notable characters, it gives you a chance to pay your respects and take in the serene surroundings.
We urge you to be quiet and respectful during your visit and not become a typical tourist, talking at the top of their voices and busy snapping selfies.
We don’t really like shopping streets to be honest. And this street is pretty typical of the type tourists flock to, and we were right, it was crowded.
But we still made our way here to look closer at the iron “signboards” hanging over pedestrians’ heads.
We think they are pretty gorgeous.
And there is a supermarket here to buy some cheap beer too.
By the way, Mozart used to live on this street too, so that’s pretty cool too.
Augustiner Bräustübl Tavern and Brewery
For a self respecting beer lover, you must head over to the Augustiner.
While Austria is not the best known country for beer, it does have a strong culture here.
And Augustiner is in our opinion the best choice to experience that, more so that the other one in the Old Town, the one sitting atop the funicular ticket counters.
One part beer hall (suitable for winter we surmise), one part beer garden, the place is steep in history, still using the traditional wooden barrels to store its beer.
There is only one type of beer here, and while you can pay for table service, our advice is to have the whole experience. By that we mean:
- line up at the counter
- tell the cashier which size you want
- pay for it
- grab a mug
- wash at the fountain
- let the master fill your mug
- find a seat and enjoy
From the end of Getreidegasse, only a 15 minutes walk stands between you and the best spot in town for beer.
From the entrance, make your way through the doors and follow the noise. Very soon you will see the hall that leads you to the outdoor gardens.
Drinks are reasonably priced and you are free to bring your own food in as long as you purchase any drinks.
There are a number of stalls up in the beer hall as well as in the garden too, so that’s an option for you.
Make sure to use Google maps to guide you. Its located is a bit obscure and you might easily miss it.
Address: Lindhofstraße 7, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
With all the beer and food in your stomach, it is now time to bid Salzburg goodbye and head back to Vienna.
The Salzburg Central Train Station is a 20 minute walk away, a great way to burn off some calories.
Alternatively, head to the nearest train station, Salzburg Mülln-Altstadt, for a short ride to your destination.
Final thoughts about day trip to Salzburg
So there you go, a day trip of fun, food and drinks. Whether you use a walking tour or go about on your own, Salzburg is bound to leave a deep impression.
We hope this guide is useful to you, and do you have anything special to recommend too?
Do let us know your comments in the section down below!
Here are some other posts that will be interesting for you too:
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- Travel Destinations Guide
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Logistics before visiting Austria
Find cheap flights.
Air tickets are usually the bulk of your expenses. Set up an alert and snag cheap fares with Skyscanner.
Find the best accommodation.
Book a place ahead of time to get good rates. Booking.com has transparent fees and excellent rates.
Handy travel guide.
For the old school kid in you, get a travel guide book and get lost exploring the city.
You don’t need us to teach you to be a responsible adult, do you? Get a quote here.
Planned for you activities in Austria.
Need a guide to show you and your group around? Lots of operators here to choose from here. You know who they are and how they are reviewed.
More resources to help you.
All other useful travel resources we use when we book our trips.