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Salzburg was the first place that I visited and lived internationally. The city and surroundings were so beautiful and so magical that I go back and visit almost every year. Known worldwide as the set of the classic movie The Sound of Music, Salzburg is filled with towering mountains and lush gardens, breathtaking churches and cathedrals, and historical sites dating back to the year 696. For all of the best things to see and do, check out my ultimate solo female travel guide to Salzburg below!
Related: See where Salzburg lands on my list of the top 12 solo travel destinations in Europe!
Mirabell Palace (Schloss Mirabell) & Mirabell Gardens
Mirabell Gardens is one of the first places I visited in Salzburg and a dream-come-true for any lover of The Sound of Music. The gardens are a beautiful place to relax in the city center and should be on every solo female travel guide to Salzburg. While the gardens are beautiful at any time of day, make sure to visit when the sun is low in the sky in the evening. This way, you won’t have to deal with most of the tour groups at the height of the day, and the angle of the sun casts such a beautiful glow. At night, the large fountain lights up with all sorts of fun colors, too.
The grounds, together with the palace, are part of the Historic Center of the City of Salzburg UNESCO World Heritage Site. Make sure to see both, especially the wedding hall on the second floor of the palace. Some call it the most beautiful wedding hall in all of Europe!
The Old Town (Altstadt)
The Altstadt, or the “old town,” is the heart of the city. Lined with colorful buildings and shops, this part of town is an essential part of any solo female travel guide to Salzburg. When many people were illiterate, shopkeepers hung metal pictures above their storefronts. This told passersby what the shop sold, and many of these signs can still be seen today. Don’t forget to stop by a café to eat some world-famous Sacher Torte or munch on a cone of Eis (ice cream) – my friends and I were obsessed with it.
The Church District
Though most of the Austrian population doesn’t regularly practice anymore, the country’s foundations are based in Christianity. The church district of Salzburg is evidence of this. This large collection of cathedrals and churches range from gothic to baroque to rococo in style. Whether you’re religious or not, you’ll need to sit in the pews for a moment to really appreciate the sight. The sheer beauty of these churches is why the Church District should be on every solo female travel guide to Salzburg.
Start at Salzburg Cathedral, simply known as “Dom” to locals, located on Domplatz. Work your way northwest through the city from there. Search for Salzburg Cathedral on Google maps to find its precise location and the location of other churches and cathedrals surrounding.
High Salzburg Fortress (Festung Hohensalzburg)
No one successfully attacked the city of Salzburg during medieval times thanks to this formidable-looking fortress. Perched atop the Festungsberg, the fortress served as both barracks and prison while guaranteeing the safety of archbishops. It is currently the largest completely preserved castle in all of central Europe.
How to get there: You can either take a 7 euro funicular to the top or take the steep climb by foot. What you choose will depend on how much time you have and how ambitious you’re feeling. The funicular is located behind St. Peter’s bakery on Kapitelplatz, called the “Festungsbahn Salzburg” on Google maps. If walking, follow the winding Festungsgasse from the base of the funicular up the mountain to the gate of the fortress.
This hike along the rim of the Mönchsberg is one of the best ways to see the entire city of Salzburg. Be prepared for some tiring climbs, but the nature and the view are well worth it.
How to get there: The hike can be accessed via stairs or elevator near the horse arena and outside of the Kavernen 1595 event center. Search for “Mönchsbergaufzug” (“Mönchsberg elevator”) on Google maps to find the precise access point.
Hellbrunn Palace (Schloss Hellbrunn) & The Sound of Music Gazebo
Just south of the city is Hellbrunn Palace. Hellbrunn is a beautiful villa completed in 1619 by the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg. On the grounds, you’ll find rich green lawns, sculpted bushes and shrubs, and “trick” fountains. For lovers of The Sound of Music, the gazebo used for some of the outdoor scenes in the film is also located on the grounds! However, it’s locked, and you’ll need to know a guide to unlock it for you (luckily our wonderful guide, Andreas, had a key!). Even if you can’t get in, it’s still an exciting piece to see in real life for true fans.
How to get there: Take Bus 25 from the city center and you’ll arrive within 15 minutes.
Leopoldskron Palace (Schloss Leopoldskron)
Schloss Leopoldskron on Leopoldskron Lake (Leopoldskroner Weiher) is another gorgeous locale for any nature lover. Though this grand building used to be a palace, it’s now a hotel. Some may recognize it as the location where the children were filmed falling out of the boat in The Sound of Music. For this reason, Leopoldskron Palace should make it on every solo female travel guide to Salzburg. Take a relaxing stroll and breathe in the salty alpine air as you meander around the lake and take in the view.
How to get there: Take Bus 22 for about 8 minutes from Ferdinand-Hanusch-Platz (Franz-Josef-Kai) to Firmianstrasse. There, you can walk on a gravel trail around the lake.
A famous pilgrimage site for many Catholics since the 17th century, the church and meadows at Maria Plain are a peaceful sight to behold just northeast of Salzburg. Take a moment to rest and reflect within the Basilica. Then frolic and spin in the lush green fields like Maria from The Sound of Music! The view of the city and the surrounding mountains is breathtaking and is sure to give you a unique view that most visitors don’t see.
How to get there: Take O-Bus 6 for approximately 13 minutes from Theatergasse to Plainbrücke.
Kapuzinerberg Monastery (Kapuzinerkloster)
Next, check out Kapuzinerberg, which arguably has the best view over the city. Find the steep paved road that winds up from Linzergasse and trek up to see the monastery and surrounding views. As goes with most hikes in Salzburg, it may be a little tiring, but the view is well worth it!
The night before we left my study program, my friends and I all went to the top of the Gaisberg to watch the sunset. The view of the Austrian Alps from the top of this mountain is indescribable! It’s a perfect way to see and remember just how beautiful Salzburgerland is. Don’t miss the timber playground on the way up to the top, too!
How to get there: Take Bus 151 from Mirabellplatz to Gaisbergspitze. The ride is about 30 minutes long.
Augustiner Brewery & Beer Garden
This old monastery-turned-brewery has been brewing beer since 1621. Known for creatively working around the rules of the Christian Church, its foundations in brewing began when ancient monks were required to fast for various religious reasons. Although they couldn’t eat, they could certainly drink! Because of this, Augistiner Bräu beer is rich and full-bodied. Get a stein filled directly from the barrel and some wurst (Austrian sausage) from one of the many food stalls within the old church. Then enjoy them out in the charming beer garden overlooking the city.
It’s surprising how few tourists are here considering how close this is to the funicular to the fortress. Just past the funicular and up a few stairs is Restaurant Stieglkeller, a traditional Austrian restaurant with one of the best views over Salzburg. Come for the food, and stay for the beer! This is definitely a local spot where you might find families dining together on a Sunday, dressed up in traditional tracht.
Gasthof Maria Plain Moßhammer
This is the perfect place to go after exploring the basilica and beautiful meadows at Maria Plain. Gasthof Maria Plain is a traditional Austrian guesthouse with a restaurant serving hearty Austrian meals. Try some delicious wiener schnitzel or goulash and you won’t be disappointed!
The Salzburg Schranne is a weekly market in front of St. Andrew’s Church that has been going for over 100 years. On every Thursday you can find delicious local products ranging from meats, to cheese, to flowers, and everything in between. This is a must-do on any solo female travel guide to Salzburg where you will find some delicious market food.
Grünmarkt at Universitätsplatz
This farmer’s market at the University Square will fill your belly with delicious sausages and pretzels. Generally, the food is cheap and you know it’s local. So this is a great way to experience some authentic Salzburg on a budget.
Wein & Co.
Wein & Co. is a classy little wine bar on the end of Linzergasse. It has a great selection of local and international wines, and best of all, it’s cheap! This is a great place to start your night out.
Soda Club is a small dance club – inside of the mountain! It’s actually built into the rock, giving a really cool cave feel inside. The cocktails are great and the dancing usually is, too.
Half Moon Club
Half Moon Club is another great venue to dance the night away. It’s on the same little corner plaza as Soda Club, making it easy to jump to after you’re done there.
Part church, part hostel/hotel, St. Sebastian is where I lived when I studied in Salzburg. It has an amazing location just off of Linzergasse and has a beautiful courtyard and church attached. Mozart’s parents are even buried in the courtyard cemetery between the hostel and the church! St. Sebastian is very clean and has a kitchen on each floor, great for cooking your own meals and saving money.
Holiday Inn Salzburg City is where I stayed with my parents when they visited Salzburg with me. It’s a great option if you want a hotel and a name that you can recognize and rely on. The location is also ideal close to the train station and Linzergasse. I was impressed with how beautiful and clean the rooms were.
There are so many cute guesthouses and bed and breakfasts in Salzburg, why not stay and get an authentic local experience? I recommend checking out Skyscanner hotels to find the best list of all of the bed and breakfasts available.
Airbnb is also a great option in a small city with limited real estate like Salzburg. An Airbnb will not only give you the opportunity to interact with locals but may also better ensure that you’re close to the city center.
Especially if you plan on seeing more of Austria or Europe, or want to get farther out into the countryside around Salzburg without the hassle of public transportation, renting a car could be advantageous. I suggest checking out Auto Europe for up to 30% off your rental car across Europe!
Salzburg is relatively small so it’s very walkable. Especially if you’re only staying in the center of the city, you’ll be able to get away with just walking, no problem.
Biking can be a quicker way to get around than walking in Salzburg, though not all paths will be open inside the old town because there are many long pedestrian-only streets. Look for a day-long rental at many of the bike rental shops around town.
For all of the places you can’t get to on foot, Salzburg and the surrounding area are well-connected by buses. The Salzburg transportation app can help you figure out what routes to take and where to catch the bus. It’s cheaper to buy tickets in advance at one of the “Trafiken” kiosks around the city. Just remember: if you book your ticket in advance, make sure to validate the ticket by getting it stamped by a machine on the vehicle that you board.
Related: Catching a flight, train, or bus elsewhere in Europe? Use Omio Travel and find domestic travel starting at just $6!
The Ultimate Solo Female Travel Guide to Salzburg: Authentic Experiences
Drink… Stiegl beer, Augustiner Bräu (beer), Grüner Veltliner (wine), Dunkles Hefeweizen (dark white beer), Weißer Spritzer (white spritzer; one part white wine, one part carbonized water), Marillenschnaps (apricot schnaps), Red Bull, cappuccino or any espresso drinks at one of the many cafes
Eat… Wurst (sausage), Sacher Torte, apfelstrudel (apple strudel), Wiener schnitzel (bread-crusted pork), goulash, brezel (soft pretzel), Salzburger Mozartkugel (marzipan and pistachio filling wrapped in nougat and dark chocolate)
Attend… St. Rupert’s fair, a traditional festival and carnival held near Dome Cathedral around Oktoberfest
Wear… Your finest lederhosen and dirndls as you take a stroll down Getreidegasse or through Mirabell Gardens
Enjoy… A hearty wiener schnitzel with a big stein of cold Stiegl beer
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