Salzburg’s Old Town is the historical and navigational heart of the city, a maze of medieval streets stretching along the banks of the Salzach River. The birthplace of Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Salzburg’s atmospheric Altstadt is preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage site and overlooked by the hilltop Hohensalzburg Fortress.
A Salzburg city tour typically begins in the Old Town to explore the city’s baroque architecture and rich cultural heritage. A popular choice is to combine a walking tour of the Old Town with a sightseeing cruise along the Salzach River or a visit to nearby attractions such as Hellbrunn Palace (Schloss Hellbrunn), Leopoldskron Palace (Schloss Leopoldskron), or the Mirabell Garden (Mirabellgarten).
Day trips to Salzburg are also possible from Vienna or Munich, Germany, often including a drive through the scenic Austrian lakes region, famous as a filming location for The Sound of Music.
Things to Know Before You Go
Most of Salzburg’s Old Town is pedestrianized.
There are free Wi-Fi spots located around the Altstadt.
Most of the attractions in Salzburg’s Old Town are wheelchair accessible, but some of the narrow cobbled streets might be tricky to navigate.
How to Get There
Salzburg’s Old Town is just south of the main train station, about a 20-minute walk or a 10-minute taxi ride away. The Altstadt spans the Salzach River, and though city buses are available, the district itself is best explored on foot. Most of Salzburg’s main attractions, hotels, and restaurants are located here.
When to Get There
Lively at all times of the day, Salzburg’s historical center is busiest during the peak summer months of July and August. During that time, attractions such as the Hohensalzburg Fortress can feel crowded, and it’s best to make an early start. Alternatively, visit during the festive season, when Salzburg’s Cathedral Square (Domplatz) hosts one of Austria’s best Christmas markets.
Highlights of Salzburg Old Town
The hilltop Hohensalzburg Fortress offers a spectacular view over Salzburg. Many other Altstadt highlights are close together, including lively Kapitelplatz, the baroque Prince-Bishops’ Palace (Salzburg Residenz), Salzburg Cathedral, the Benedictine monastery of St. Peter’s Abbey, and the University Church (Kollegienkirche). Among the Old Town’s most popular sights is the Mozart Geburtshaus (Mozart’s Birthplace), a museum of the composer’s early life. It’s on Getreidegasse, the Altstadt’s elegant main shopping street, where many storefronts retain their original hanging wrought-iron signs.