No visit to Austria is complete without a stop in the beautiful city of Salzburg.
Located just across the border from Germany, the city is the birthplace of Mozart, the setting of The sound of music and a hub of Austrian art and culture. Austria’s fourth-largest city is also one of the most walkable, with a quaint charm that makes it feel more like a friendly city than a bustling one. To reach areas outside the historic center, a network of buses and trollybuses are easy to navigate, with cycling also an ever attractive mode of transport. And hard to resist a ride in a traditional horse-drawn carriage.
However you want to explore the city, here’s everything you need to know to get around Salzburg.
Take advantage of the excellent bus and trolleybus network…
Punctual, clean and with their own dedicated lanes, buses and trolleybuses are a great way to get around Salzburg, especially if you want to venture out of the city center to sights like Schloss Hellbrunn or Salzburg Zoo, both located south of the city.
Since buses and trolleybuses run until 1am on weekdays and 3am on weekends, they can be a good option for getting home after dinner or a few drinks without having to take a taxi. Bus stops dot the city, with fares starting at €2 (USD 2). Bus travel is free with a Salzburg Card (more info below).
Lines 1 and 4 circle Altstadt’s old town and tickets can be purchased at a tobacconist or ticket machine. These tickets must be validated once on the bus. You can also buy tickets from the bus driver for a little more. The main city bus stop is located just outside the Hauptbahnhopf (train station).
…or do as the locals do and hop on a bike
With over 180 km (112 miles) of bike paths throughout the city, Salzburg is quickly becoming known for this environmentally friendly mode of travel. Locking up your bike in town is easy and the majority of routes take you through parks and off-road areas, allowing novice cyclists to enjoy safe cycling.
The compact city is easy to navigate on two wheels, and a bike ride is a great day out. A particularly popular route takes cyclists on a leisurely route along the banks of the Salzach River to Schloss Hellbrunn, one of the city’s most popular sights. The river routes themselves are relatively easy to navigate; those looking for something more adventurous can head to trails in mountainous areas outside of town, such as those in Gaisberg.
Many hotels in the city rent bicycles for the day at a reasonable rate, and some even lend them to guests for free. Many bike rental programs are also offered, such as ListNRide, which allows travelers to rent bikes from locals for just €7 ($7.50) per day. With plenty of trails and parks to enjoy, a bike rental is one of the most attractive options for exploring Salzburg, especially during the summer months.
Taxis are reasonable and reliable (but you won’t really need them)
If you’re traveling with a lot of heavy luggage, taxis, which can be found around all tourist hotspots and shopping areas, might be of interest to you. Hailing a ride in town isn’t easy, as they aren’t allowed to stop in certain areas (like in front of shops or bus stops); it is easier to call the popular 8111 or use the Taxi 8111 – Salzburg Taxi app.
Although Salzburg has Uber, wait times are often long and it’s much more popular to use local taxis and public transport as they are so reliable. Payments can be made in cash or by card, with a starting fare of €3.50 ($3.70) for pre-booked taxis. At night, the starting fare drops to €4.50 ($4.80), but it might be worth it if you’ve been out with friends and want to get home without multiple stops on the night bus.
As the city center is mostly pedestrian, taxis will have to drop you off somewhere in the ring around the old town. For example, if you’re hoping to see Mozart’s birthplace, you’ll probably need to be dropped off at Sigmundstor, Austria’s oldest road tunnel and now the eastern entrance to the pedestrianized part of town, then walk 10 minutes to to your destination.
A cab (horse drawn Hackney coach) is a great way to see the old town
Hop in a cab if you’re feeling extra fancy. These horse-drawn carriages are a popular (if slightly whimsical) way for tourists to see the sights of the Old City. Horse-drawn carriages can be hired at Residenzplatz in the Old Town from 10:00; they cost €52 ($55) for a short 25-minute tour, including sights like Cathedral Square and Alter Markt. A longer 50-minute tour costs €104 (US$110) and takes in the newer areas of the city as well as historic areas. Even though these rides are a splurge, they provide an enjoyable way to enjoy the charm of the city, especially for beginners.
No reservation is required. The guides are experienced and knowledgeable, giving you information for your money during the ride. fiakers are available all year round, although we can’t really recommend taking an open-air carriage ride in the rain.
Save money by getting a Salzburg Card
For unlimited use of public transport, buy a Salzburg Card. Available for 24, 48 or 72 hours, the card allows its holder access to a number of major sites and museums, such as Schloss Hellbrunn (which normally costs €13.50/$14.30 for adults) and DomQuartier Salzburg (regular admission €13/$13.80). ). For the price of admission to just a few museums, the Salzburg Card grants access to a plethora of them, with adult prices starting at €27 (US$28) in winter and €30 (US$31) in summer.
Public transport is also included in the ticket price, including bus, train and bus taxi, on several lines throughout the city. All in all, if you’re planning on visiting a few museums, taking the bus home after a night out, and visiting somewhere like Mozart’s birthplace, the Salzburg Card could save you a lot in just a few days.
Why walking is my favorite way to get around Salzburg
You feel like you can see everything on foot in Salzburg. While the weather always plays a key role, the fresh air from the Alps makes strolling through the old town a pleasure in summer. In winter, when locals prepare for outdoor Christmas markets and events to celebrate the season, cold conditions can make exploring the city on foot quick but still enticing.
The New Town is connected to the Old Town by a variety of pedestrian bridges, making the city extremely accessible. The Aldstadt itself is home to many of the city’s sights within walking distance of each other in a completely car-free zone. Just a few easily walkable kilometers from each other are sights such as Mozart’s birthplace on the beautiful pedestrian street Getreidgasse; Saint-Pierre Abbey, cemetery and catacombs; and the fortress of Hohensalzburg. Then there’s the old town itself, a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with stunning cathedrals, Baroque details and buildings that look like they’ve been untouched for centuries. What could be better than on foot to enjoy a city of architecture and museums?
Accessible transport in Salzburg
Thanks to the compactness of the city, Salzburg is one of the most accessible cities in Europe for people in wheelchairs and with reduced mobility who want to go sightseeing. The town is largely flat, with evenly laid cobblestones and no cars are allowed in the old town, making it easy to get around. Many walking tours cater to people with reduced mobility, and many popular tourist sites are wheelchair accessible with barrier-free entrances. The city also has many wheelchair accessible hotels and restaurants, catering to anyone who needs extra access and disabled toilets.
Most public transport in Salzburg accommodates wheelchair users with low-access doors and ramps, meaning that with a little foresight you can easily get out of the historic center. Downloading the Salzburgermobil app is the perfect way to plan, as it shows all nearby transport options, including those with additional access for people with reduced mobility. Discounts are also available for those with additional needs. Keep in mind that public transport does not pass through the city centre, so people with reduced mobility will have to find their own way around the old town.
How to get to Salzburg from Vienna
From Vienna, ÖBB high-speed trains connect all cities in two and a half hours, with fares as low as €20 ($21.50). Austria’s rail network is one of the most reliable in Europe.
Buses from Vienna to Salzburg run several times a day and take around two and a half hours. Tickets can be purchased online from €42 ($45) and most services have no stops, taking you directly from town to town.
Although there are no direct flight connections to Vienna, Salzburg Airport (just 4 km/2.5 miles outside the city) has flights to and from many European countries. Buses from the airport to the city center are cheap and frequent, stopping in the city center and surrounding areas, making it extremely easy for travelers to find their hotel.