Exploring the Salzburg City Center

salzburg city center from bridge
Posted by on July 28, 2014

Salzburg City Center

The Gothic art and Baroque City Center of Salzburg is not only the birthplace of Mozart and the Sound of Music, but also a happening place for religious buildings and modern art and one Hell(brunn) of a palace.

salzburg city center from hohensalzburg

My first visit to the city was a rainy mess, and consisted largely of  a longer than normal visit to the Mozart House and quite a lot of coffee and sketching from the rooftop terrace of the Hotel Stein. Instead of frolicking in the fields a la Von Trapp, it was all about one last melange before leaving the country.

vienna melange coffee in salzburg

It was with some anticipation, then, that I agreed to head BACK to Salzburg for another one-day pass through town to take some photos for GetYourGuide. As much as I enjoyed my first drizzly wander through the old churches and cemeteries and up the hill that towers over Salzburg (and which is itself crowned by the Hohensalzburg Fortress, which supposedly functions now as cheap student housing!) I was excited to get back to the town with some chance of seeing it in sunshine!

salzburg city center at dusk

salzburg castle and old town

It felt, to be honest, like an entirely different town. Rather than empty streets on a dreary day, my second visit was very much crowds and sunshine and the sounds of music (see what I did there?) ringing through the streets. Though I was in town during the Salzburg Festival, I didn’t stay late enough to actually catch any official performances. What I did find, however, was any number of street performers on busy corners and in quiet courtyards throughout the town.

hidden courtyard in salzburg

Being mid-summer and mid-festival, there were of course plenty of crowds and frankly I think as an experience I enjoyed being there more in rainy October than sunny July. From a photography perspective, however, I think sunshine sells the city. It took some patience to get a clear shot of city center favorites like the Mirabell Gardens, to be sure.

salzburg mirabell gardens

Even on the more recent trip there were still plenty of quiet corner to be sought. Simply turning left where everyone else turns right is, as always, one of the easiest ways to carve out your own personal discoveries in a well trodden tourist town.

streets of upper salzburg

Unlike my first visit through I didn’t have time to ride out from the Salzburg City Center towards the Leopoldskron Palace behind the city proper and the Hellbrunn further away. These were definitely flying visits on that first round, without even making the time to go in and see the ‘Trick Fountains’ and wander the gardens properly. There were coffee shops to be explored back in the center, after all, and I didn’t want to delay them too long!

salzburg leopold palace

salzburg hellbrunn palace

 I suppose, then, I’ll just have to find another excuse to get back to Salzburg and Austria. Perhaps for a little longer next time!


I visited Salzburg as part of a trip while I was working with GetYourGuide to take photos of the Salzburg City Tour.

For the historic city center itself there is very little reason to take a guided tour, but if you want to get to the outskirts in a hurry to see the palaces then it might be worth your while. If you have more time to play with in Salzburg then the City Card is probably a good value if you want to visit several museums and use public transport.

If you do plan to stick around a while, there are plenty of cheap hostels in Salzburg as well as proper hotels. I stayed at the Holiday Inn – Salzburg which, if you’re a fan of IHG points, can be a decent deal and is just far removed enough from the city center to not be surrounded by tourist traffic.

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