If you want to feel like a princess for a few days, then there's no better city in Europe to visit than Salzburg!

Here, you'll find everything to feel like the main character in your own Disney movie. From a fairytale castle up on a mountain to a magical and charming historic old town, not to mention plenty of churches and great shopping opportunities at every corner.

The centre of Salzburg is a UNESCO World Heritage site and rightly so, it is absolutely stunning! It's one of the most beautiful cities in Austria and, personally, one of my absolute favorites. The city is divided by the Salzach River, and each side of town has its own unique character that you'll love exploring.

Salzburg city is perfectly situated just a short train ride away from Munich or Vienna, making it absolutely perfect for a weekend getaway. On top of that, it's super close to the Alps, too, so you can go hiking in the summer or hit the ski slopes in the winter.

To help you decide where to stay in Salzburg, I've come up with my favorite neighborhoods, hotels, activities, and also written out a 3-day/weekend itinerary for Salzburg.

The best areas to stay in Salzburg

East side of Salzburg

The east side of Salzburg is awesome if you're into enjoying some of the most luxurious hostels, love nightlife, or if you're on a budget and prefer more affordable areas. Here you'll find the New Town, the Mirabell Palace, and Elisabeth-Vorstadt, which is right by the main train station.

FYI: The Salzburg main train station is where you will arrive when you come to Salzburg from Munich or Vienna via train.

West side of Salzburg

On the other side of the Salzach River, you'll find the best areas for couples, families, or if you're here for the first time and want to do some sightseeing and shopping. The Old Town and Maxglan are both right here and are also super close to the Salzburg Airport, in case you'll be arriving by plane.

1. Where to stay in Salzburg for first-timers & shopping: Old Town (Altstadt)

If you're visiting Salzburg for the first time, Altstadt, or Old Town, is hands down the best place to stay.

You'll find most of the tourist attractions right here in Old Town, like Fortress Hohensalzburg, Salzburg Cathedral, DomQuartier, and other historic buildings. Plus, staying here means you'll have easy access to plenty of fantastic Salzburg hotels, great restaurants, bars, and shops.

It's located on the left bank of the Salzach River, which many, myself included, consider to be the top area to stay in Salzburg, Austria.

Best area for:

  • First-timers

  • Shopping

  • Central location

  • Sightseeing

Things to see & do in Old Town

If you're staying in Old Town, sightseeing should definitely be on your list, and a great place to start is the Salzburg Cathedral. This elegant 17th-century Baroque cathedral has a bright white marble exterior with green domes that really stand out on Salzburg's city skyline.

You definitely don't want to miss Mozart's birthplace at Getreidegasse 9! This iconic three-story house is where Mozart was born and spent his teenage years. Step inside, and you'll discover a fascinating museum showcasing memorabilia from the life of this incredible composer. It's a must-visit for any music lover!

Plan your visit for July and August to experience the Salzburg Festival, a prestigious event that stands as one of the most important celebrations of opera, music, and drama in the world.

Best hotels to stay in Old Town

($$$) Hotel Goldener Hirsch

This traditional luxury hotel is located in the famous Getreidegasse in a historic 15th-century building, it offers classic Austrian-style rooms with antiques and handmade furniture, free WiFi, and dining options including Austrian and international cuisine at Restaurant Goldener Hirsch and traditional Salzburg dishes at Restaurant Herzl.

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Where to stay in Salzburg

($$) Hotel Elefant

Hotel Elefant is perfect for travelers who want to stay in the city centre but don't want to break the bank! It's an affordable and comfortable option with friendly service, and it is only a five-minute walk from Mozart's birthplace and Salzburg Cathedral.

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($) Stadtalm Naturfreundehaus

Stadtalm Naturfreundehaus is the best budget hotel in Old Town Salzburg! It's clean, comfortable, and cozy, and it's situated on top of Mönchsberg mountain in the center of the city.

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2. Where to stay in Salzburg for nightlife: New Town (Neustadt)

The New Town is actually just a short walk across from the Old Town, on the other side of the beautiful Salzach River. It might be called New Town, but hey, we're in Europe here! So, even though it's relatively new compared to the Old Town, the New Town is still quite an old district in Salzburg.

This side of town is pretty lively, especially in the evening, making it perfect if you're up for diving into Salzburg's nightlife. You'll come across plenty of restaurants with outdoor seating areas, which are awesome for enjoying a delicious dinner and some drinks on a warm summer night.

Best area for:

  • Couples

  • Nightlife

  • Dinner dates

  • Centrally located

Things to see & do in New Town

This part of town offers a modern atmosphere, yet it still retains its charm with quaint streets waiting to be explored. In Old Town, you can find Mozart's birthplace, and here in New Town, you'll come across the place where he lived.

While he may not have been born in this house, he certainly resided here from 1773 to 1787. It's affectionately known as the “Dance Master's House” (Tanzmeisterhaus in German) and boasts a spacious eight-bedroom apartment.

The best way to discover the major attractions in both Old Town & New Town and learn about Mozart and the city's history is by joining a walking tour.

If you're up for grabbing a drink at night, I've got an awesome spot to recommend: the Havana. They've got amazing cocktails and tasty snacks and play some cool laid-back Latin tunes. It's the perfect place to kick off the night!

Best hotels to stay in New Town

($$$) Sheraton Grand Salzburg

Sheraton Grand Salzburg is a 5-star luxury hotel located right in the heart of New Town. It's perfect for all of you who want to be just steps away from all the nightlife and entertainment that this district has to offer.

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($$) Hyperion Hotel Salzburg

My favorite mid-range hotel in New Town Salzburg is Hyperion Hotel Salzburg. It's modern, clean and chic, and it is situated close to plenty of bars and restaurants.

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Where to stay in Salzburg

($) Hotel IMLAUER & Bräu

If you are looking for something a little more affordable, check out Hotel IMLAUER & Bräu. This budget hotel is situated in the center of New Town Salzburg and offers traditional rooms with a modern twist at great prices. Just 9 minutes walk from Mozart’s Birthplace.

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3. Where to stay in Salzburg for families & couples: Maxglan District

Maxglan is the perfect area for you if you want to be close to the city center, but not necessarily right in the middle. It's a more residential area located just outside of Old Town, yet still within walking distance of all the central neighborhoods.

Here in Maxglan, you'll also find plenty of budget-friendly hotel options, which is great if you're planning to come with your entire family and require multiple hotel rooms.

Lastly, it's conveniently located near Salzburg Airport, making it a breeze to arrive in Salzburg and head straight to the hotel.

Best area for:

  • Families

  • Couples

  • Close proximity to the airport

  • Local vibes

  • Best cheap hotels

Things to see & do in Maxglan

One of my all-time favorite things to do in Maxglan revolves around a company that's got its headquarters just outside of Salzburg: Redbull! Here in Maxglan, you can check out the amazing Redbull hangar-7. It's a stunning building made of glass and steel, and it's packed with all things Redbull – from Formula 1 cars to stunt planes and helicopters!

Best hotels to stay in Maxglan

($$$) Villa Ceconi

Villa Ceconi is one of the best Salzburg hotels in the Maxglan district. It's perfect for couples and families who want to be close to the airport but not too far away from all the attractions of Salzburg city center.

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($$) Hotel Max 70

Another great mid range hotel in Salzburg is Hotel Max 70. It's clean, modern and comfortable, and it offers a great outdoor seating area, perfect for breakfast.

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Where to stay in Salzburg

($) Hotel Das Junior by MAX 70

For any budget travelers, Hotel Das Junior by MAX 70 is a great option. This hotel has simple yet comfortable rooms, and it's super affordable!

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4. Where to stay in Salzburg for luxury: Near Mirabell Palace

If you're looking to be in the midst of all the luxury hotels and upscale boutiques in Salzburg, then staying near the Mirabell Palace and Gardens is your best bet! This charming historic building is located right in the heart of the city.

And surrounded by all kinds of luxury stores that are perfect for those who want to shop till they drop!

Best area for:

  • Shopping

  • Couples & romance

  • Luxurious hotels

Things to see & do near Mirabell Palace

Obviously, you gotta check out the Mirabell Palace and its gorgeous gardens when you're in the area. It's not just one of the top things to do in Salzburg's New Town but in the whole city! This fancy 17th-century palace has tons of ornamental gardens with cool sculptures and fountains. And inside, it's all about luxury with amazing artwork and antique furniture. No wonder they still use it for concerts and dances!

Best hotels to stay near Mirabell Palace

($$$) Hotel Sacher Salzburg

Hotel Sacher Salzburg is hands down the ultimate and best luxury hotel in Salzburg. It's got super fancy rooms, an awesome restaurant, and it's right by the Salzach River.

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Where to stay in Salzburg

($$) Mozart's Garden Villa

If you are staying with a larger group, then Mozart Garden Villa is perfect. This city villa, with terrace and garden views, offers two bedrooms and a kitchen. Furthermore, It is located within walking distance of the Mirabell Palace.

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($) Hotel am Mirabellplatz

A little more affordable yet still luxurious option is Hotel am Mirabellplatz. It's located in a 17th-century building that used to be the residence of Archbishop Paris Lodron. This hotel offers all the fancy amenities you'd expect from a 4-star place!

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5. Where to stay in Salzburg on a budget: Elisabeth-Vorstadt

Right on the northern edge of the Old Town lies the neighborhood of Elisabeth-Vorstadt. It's mainly a bustling residential area in Salzburg, but it's my top choice if you're looking for a reasonably priced hotel.

Staying here means you'll have easy access to the attractions of the Old Town, such as the Mozart museum, just a few minutes walk away.

Elisabeth-Vorstadt is also where you'll find the main train station in Salzburg, making it super easy to hop on a train to Munich or Vienna!

Best area for:

  • Affordable accommodation

  • Cheap eats

  • Day trips

Things to see & do in Elisabeth-Vorstadt

If you're staying a bit outside of the Old Town and New Town but still want to soak up some local culture, a popular thing to do is join a Sound of Music tour through Salzburg. On the tour, you'll get to visit iconic filming locations from the movie and also learn some cool facts about Salzburg's history.

If you're as crazy about that movie as many of my friends, then there's probably nothing cooler than actually going to check out some of the real spots where it was filmed! To me (as a German, not an Austrian), I actually didn't know the film until I was an adult and moved abroad. Unfortunately, it does perpetuate stereotypes about Austrian history, culture, and traditions, and I know many Austrians who would prefer to distance themselves from the reinforced clichés of lederhosen-clad men and dirndl-wearing women. The film is a 1960s Hollywood production, so this is an American movie, not an Austrian one, just something to keep in mind.

Best hotels to stay in Elisabeth Vorstadt

($$$) Hotel Scherer

Hotel Scherer is perfect for budget travelers looking for luxury! This hotel offers elegant rooms including a flat-screen TV, as well as an awesome breakfast buffet and offers bike rental.

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($$) Parkhotel Brunauer

Parkhotel Brunauer is a great mid range hotel in Elisabeth-Vorstadt. It's a small and cozy hotel with friendly staff, and it is close to the University and the Salzburg main train station (Hauptbahnhof).

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($) Motel One Salzburg-Mirabell

Generally, you cannot fault Motel One in many cities for a budget stay and Motel One Salzburg-Mirabell has to be the best budget hotel in Salzburg. It's modern, comfortable and great value for money! Plus, it's within walking distance of all the tourist attractions.

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The Ultimate 3-day Salzburg Itinerary

Having recently visited Salzburg, in this 3-day itinerary, I will guide you through the must-see attractions and iconic landmarks, as well as hidden gems of this enchanting Austrian city.

Get ready to explore Mozart's birthplace, the historic Mirabell Palace, with its extensive gardens, and dive into the charm of Salzburg's Old Town.

Day 1: Explore Old Town

Morning

Start your day at Mozart’s Birthplace, where the renowned composer was born and raised. This museum offers a glimpse into his early life and prodigious career.

Then, visit Mozart’s Residence, where he lived from 1773 to 1787. This museum is filled with mementos from his life and works. Explore the six informative rooms in this historic building.

Once you've delved into the enchanting world of musical history, take a relaxed stroll to the Mirabell Palace, which is only 5 minutes away. Its breathtaking gardens have been honored as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, you can wander through the gardens and take a break from a whole morning of sightseeing and history.

Afternoon

Grab some lunch, L'Osteria Salzburg serves tasty Italian pizzas and pasta dishes as well as a variety of salads if you're after something light and fresh.

Now, it's time to shop! The Old Town of Salzburg is a haven for shoppers. Wander along Getreidegasse, famous for its traditional shops and boutiques in charming old buildings. Don't forget to notice the ornate guild signs.

As the day winds down, treat yourself to a traditional Austrian meal at Baerenwirt. Try the classic Wiener Schnitzel or Tafelspitz, and finish with a slice of heavenly Sachertorte!

Day 2: Climb up to Fortress Hohensalzburg

Morning

Start your second day in Salzburg with a hearty Austrian breakfast at 220Grad Kaffeerösterei in Maxlan, or head to Kaffee-Alchemie if you're staying around Old Town.

Your main mission for today is to conquer Fortress Hohensalzburg, a stunning castle atop a hill with breathtaking views over the entire city. Choose to climb or take the funicular train (Festungsbahn). If you're adventurous, strap on comfortable shoes and enjoy the exciting climb. For a more relaxed journey, take the funicular train from the Old Town. Explore the castle's rooms, including the Golden Hall and Fortress Museum.

Buy your ticket to the fortress in advance to avoid queuing up.

Afternoon

Afterward, head to a local restaurant for lunch. I would highly recommend checking out one of the beer gardens. My favorite is Augustiner Braugasthof Krimpelstätter. Try the Käsespätzle, a delicious cheesy noodle dish.

Spend the evening strolling around the Old Town, taking a river cruise, or relaxing at a café.

Day 3: Day Trip to Fuschl Lake or Wolfgang Lake

Kickstart your day with a hearty breakfast at Afro Café. It's the perfect spot for people-watching while you enjoy a cup of coffee and a strudel, yum!

Now it's time to hit the road! Rent a car from one of the local companies downtown. I recommend “Sixt” or “Europcar”. Alternatively, I recommend booking your rental car with Discover Cars online, where you can compare the best deals, and you won't miss out on getting a car, which can happen in the busy summer months! Don't forget to pack your bathing suit and a picnic lunch.

Head out of Salzburg towards Fuschl Lake or Wolfgang Lake. Both offer breathtakingly beautiful scenic drives and are around 30-40 minutes away. Once you reach there, you’ll have an entire day to explore the lake of your choice!

Both lakes have stunning blue waters, are surrounded by mountains, and are perfect for stand-up paddleboarding. Seriously, you've gotta come here when you visit Salzburg.

Other day trips to take from Salzburg

There are plenty of great day trips to take from the city of Salzburg. Here are some of my recommendations for the most popular organised tours:

Where to stay in Salzburg – Frequently Asked Questions

📅 How many days should I stay in Salzburg?

This depends on your preferences and the type of traveler that you are! If you want to take it slow and explore Salzburg in-depth, then I would recommend staying for at least 3-4 days. But you can totally explore Salzburg on a weekend as well.

❓ Should I stay in Salzburg or Munich?

Salzburg is a great place to stay and explore! While Munich may be bigger, Salzburg has a unique charm that's worth experiencing. Plus, it's just an hour away from Munich by train, so you can always take a day trip there if you want.

💸 Is Salzburg expensive?

Let's be real, Salzburg is pretty pricey, especially when you compare it to other European cities. But hey, even here, you can keep it budget-friendly if you opt for hostels and stick to affordable eats outside of the touristy areas.

🚗 Do I need a car in Salzburg?

No, you don't need a car in Salzburg. The city center is quite compact and walkable. Plus it's well-connected by public transportation. If you plan to explore the nearby lakes or mountains, then renting a car could make sense unless you plan on joining an organised tour where transportation is included. Otherwise, it's easy to get around without one!

Where to stay in Salzburg – Final Words

Salzburg is one of the most beautiful cities in Austria, and it would be a shame to miss out on its charm. Whether you're looking for luxury or budget accommodations, there is an abundance of amazing places to stay in Salzburg! With all the incredible sights to explore and hearty Austrian food to try, it is, in my opinion, one of the coziest little towns in all of Europe.

I hope that my guide on where to stay in Salzburg helped you decide what area and hotel suits you best for your stay in Salzburg.

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