24 Hours in Salzburg

Prior to our trip to Salzburg, I didn’t know too much about the city, but I knew it was a place we needed to squeeze in, even if it were just for a day. We arrived via bus from Munich at the main train station and hopped in a cab to take us to our incredible home for the evening, Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron.

After checking in, our first stop was at Cafe Sacher (which sits in the Sacher Hotel) for lunch, and to try the famous Sacher Torte (a delicious and rich chocolate cake dessert)! I opted for a Chicken Caesar Salad and my mom went with the more traditional, Wiener Schnitzel. Both of us cleared our plates pretty quickly, but in usual fashion, saved some room for dessert.

sacher cafe

What’s really cool about the famous Sacher Torte is that it was a unique dessert created in 1832 for Prince Wenzel von Metternich of Vienna and his guests, by a 16-year old apprentice, after the head chef had fallen ill. It was so well received that after finishing his chef training, the 16-year old, Franz Sacher later went on to open his own shop, and years later, his son carried out his legacy by opening Hotel Sacher in 1876. Fast forward to today, the recipe for the original Sacher Torte is under lock and key (kind of like the secret Coca-Cola recipe). With the exception of one or two people, nobody knows the recipe in its entirety, which makes it even more special!

Post-lunch we walked across the bridge into “Old Salzburg,” where many shops, restaurants, and Christmas market tents were set up. Here, we made a stop at the Visitor’s Center and picked up our Visit Salzburg cards, which provided free access to many of the city’s attractions, including bus lines!

salzburg new town

We spent some time touring “Mozart’s Birthplace,” and his childhood home, which was really neat to see! His first piano was on display – from the 1750s! “Mozart’s Residence,” where he spent his time later in life is also open for tours in “New Town Salzburg,” but unfortunately we didn’t have a chance to stop there. If you didn’t guess, Mozart is HUGE in Salzburg. After all, how many places can tout such a prominent musician?!

salzburg christmas market

As the sun was starting to set, we trekked over toward the Salzburg Cathedral, where the Christmas markets were in full swing, and made our way to Fortress Hohensalzburg, full of history, and you’ll get (hands down) the BEST view of Salzburg. Construction on the fortress began in 1077 and over the years, more and more was added to the land atop the hill atop Salzburg.

We received admission with our Visit Salzburg cards, and also were able to get to the head of the line for the funicular, which zipped us up to the top of the hill to start exploring!

fortress hohensalzburgsalzburg funicular

When we stepped out to see the view from above, we found it was nothing short of breathtaking! Salzburg isn’t a big city by any means, but there’s no doubt that it’s a beautiful one. From above the city, we could pinpoint locations we’d run around to earlier in the day, admire the gorgeous mountain views surrounding us, and see the glimmering Christmas lights at the markets below us. In my opinion, sunset is the time of day you want to be here. Not only will you be able to take in the view in the daylight, but once the sun sets, you can see the city lights below!

salzburg with mom

beautiful salzburg

After taking a million photos, we joined one of the audio tours being given at the Fortress. It was a little tough seeing some of the things being spoken about at times since everyone would shuffle over at the same time in each of the rooms we were in, but it was very educational, and crazy to think that people stood where we were standing so long ago!

fortress rohensalzburg hohensalzburg

As the Fortress started closing up, we made our way back to ground-level to scope out the Christmas markets and shops scattered throughout “Old Town.” I loved finding something new at every turn, and finding a few hidden gems tucked away down side alleys!

salzburg lights

The activity I was most excited about during our day in Salzburg was the Krampus Run. I learned about the legend of Krampus a few months before our trip and then found out a movie was being made in the U.S. about it! Basically Krampus is St. Nicholas (Santa’s) counterpart, who “takes care of” the bad kids, while Santa rewards the good. Let’s just say I’m sure there were ZERO bad kids growing up in the regions where this guy existed, because HOLY CREEPINESS.

So, the Krampus Run. Salzburg has a few of them during the Christmas season and the square is completely packed with people excited to observe. Basically, it’s a play where St. Nicholas and Krampus come together to determine whether or not you’ve been good or bad and then give gifts accordingly. The entire play was in German so we only understood a few words here and there, but it was totally worth freezing for, because post-play, the Krampus’ came out.

st nicholas day salzburg

It wasn’t quite what I was expecting, hearing “run,” but what we gathered from watching was that there were several Krampus clubs in and around Salzburg, and each one had their own look for Krampus. They all come out dragging whips and chains (in true Krampus form) and actually hit you with them if they’ve determined you’ve been bad. Some were midly creepy (like the one that kept coming after my mom and I), and others were downright terrifying!

I’ll admit, reading what I just wrote sounds incredibly odd, but it was probably a top three moment of our entire 10-day Europe trip. SO many deep belly laughs came out of this event, and no matter how strange, I think everyone needs to experience this!


The Krampus run seemed to end pretty abruptly, which we were sad about, but at the same time, we couldn’t wait to defrost. Fortunately, our last stop of the day wasn’t far at all, St. Peter Stiftskeller, the oldest restaurant in Europe! It was seriously the most magical restaurant I’ve ever been to. You can read all about our experience here.

st peter stiftskeller christmas

The next morning, we woke up to the most incredible view and explored the grounds of our hotel a bit (highlighted in this post), and then headed off to the station, where we were hopping a train to our next destination, Vienna!

salzburg hbf

Of course I was excited to visit all of the cities and countries on our itinerary, but Salzburg really exceeded my expectations in every way! This is one city I can’t wait to get back to!

I received a Visit Salzburg card for review purposes. All opinions are my own.
  • Wow! The architecture is gorgeous. That food looks delicious. It looks like you had a blast!

    Mikayla | A Seersucker State of Mind.

    • We so did, Mikayla! It blows my mind that buildings that old are still standing!!

  • This makes me want to go there, Germany is on my list and I didn’t get to go when I did Europe. Looks like y’all had a great time!

    • You definitely should! Especially if you’re able to make it to Germany. Both are incredible places!

  • Saltzburg looks amazing! As well as the food!


    • It is, Ashley! It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited, and unique for sure!

  • I loved Salzburg when I visited! Austria in general has a piece of my heart. :) Thanks for taking me back with your pictures!

    • Mine too, Crystal! I’d definitely love to explore the country more, especially in the Alps! So stunning!

  • I was lucky enough to visit Salzburg for a day while I was studying abroad. It’s such a beautiful city and your photos have me wanderlusting to go back! Sounds like you had a great time! Thanks for sharing!
    Peace, Sarah

    • It’s an incredibly beautiful city, Sarah! I definitely could’ve used some more time to explore! What was your favorite part?

  • That torte looks awesome, but so do the rest of your photos! I’m envious of your trip.

    • Thanks, Alanna! I hope you’re lining up some fun trips for the year yourself!

  • Salzburg was one of my favorite, most unexpected surprises in Europe. I loved, loved, loved the city and it looked like you had such a great time!

    • Exactly! I thought it would be awesome, of course, but wasn’t expecting that I’d end up loving it as much as I did!

  • I would love to visit Salzburg! It looks beautiful, plus I am obsessed with The Sound of Music and have been since I was little.

    • It’s so beautiful! If you’re a Sound of Music fan you definitely need to make a trip out there! I know there are quite a few tours for it and plenty of other things to check out as well!

  • I had no idea that the Sacher Torte was invented in Salzburg! I think that I thought it was French because I always get it at La Madeleine. I’m definitely getting a piece when we visit! And that Krampus run sounds so creepy! I’m kind of glad I won’t have the opportunity to be whipped by one lol

    • Well technically the torte was invented in Vienna, but the hotel/cafe is in both places :) It does sound like it’d come from elsewhere though! One of the locals told us the opposite side of where we were standing was the “safe” area where they wouldn’t get to you lol but we wanted to live dangerously :P

  • You have me wanting to go to Salzburg all over again! I’ve only been to Vienna and taken the train through Austria, but the country (and Sacher torte) are rank high on my list of favorite places :)

  • That one sunset picture you took is absolutely beautiful! How was it getting around? Were the locals nice?

    • Thanks, Kaitlyn! From the train/bus station and our hotel (just outside the city center), we used cabs. But once we were in the main area it was so easy to walk everywhere! The locals were pretty nice, we just had one bad encounter with a grumpy old lady at the Krampus run, haha. She seemed to lighten up though once the Krampus’ actually came out!

  • I love your city guides! Salzburg looks fun and beautiful, and you always have such delicious looking food :)

  • This looks like SUCH a fun city! I am so jealous that you are so well traveled! I can’t wait to see what your 2016 adventures will be.

    ​xx katie // a touch of teal