Although there is much to be seen in the city of Salzburg, its quaint size means that it makes a great base for taking day trips and exploring the surrounding areas. From a village so picturesque that the Chinese made a replica version, to some of the world’s largest ice caves, here are our picks for the best day trips to take from Salzburg.
Winter View of Hallstatt | © Dzerkach Viktar/Shutterstock
UNESCO-protected Hallstatt is widely considered to be one of Austria’s most quaint destinations, a town so picture perfect that the Chinese created a replica. The combination of perfectly preserved 16th-century gabled houses and the surrounding countryside is very pleasing to the eye – it is guaranteed to make visitors extremely snap-happy. Up until the 19th century, Hallstatt was accessible only on foot or by boat, meaning that its pristine appearance and old-style vibe remained intact. However, since transport to and from the town drastically improved, it has become one of the country’s most-visited tourist destinations, with fans flocking from all over the world to admire its antiquated Austrian charms. To reach Hallstatt from Salzburg, take the number 150 bus, the river ferry or the train from the central station.
Berchtesgaden Salt Mine
Steinsalz in einer Salzhöhle bei Hallstatt
Buried under Salzburg’s (salz translates to mean salt and burg to castle) mountains are chasms filled with shimmering white gold – and everyone’s favourite flavour enhancer. This unusual attraction is located around one and a half hours out of the city, and close by aforementioned Hallstatt. Salt mining is crucial to this area and began way back in the 6th century BC. The guided tour of the mine takes you through a staggering 13 kilometres of a total of 65 kilometres of tunnels. As well as salt, other precious stones including gold, coral and amber have also been discovered here.
Spa Trips and Zell am See
A group enjoys a game of volleyball on the beach at the lake | Courtesy of the Austrian Tourist Board
Taking a trip to a spa in Austria is always a good idea, but the Tauern is a particularly convenient choice as you can also explore the nearby Zell am See-Kaprun, a quaint village boasting beautiful scenery, including a lake with pristine beaches. The four-star spa resort at Tauern features a ‘water world’ spread over more than 20,000 square metres, and facilities including a variety of saunas, 15 treatment rooms, 11 swimming pools and steam rooms, and an on-site restaurant serving exceptional regional cuisine. Alternatively, if you’re wanting something a little closer to the city, consider the spa at the Gussnorg Hotel.
Summer day trips
View of the lake in the summer | Courtesy of the Austrian Tourist Board
During the summer, temperatures in Salzburg can creep up to up to around 40 degrees, therefore you may find yourself yearning for a dip in cold water. Lake Fuschlsee is located just 20 minutes from the city and is a wonderful place to spend the day if the weather outside is scorching. Amazingly, the water is of such pure quality that it passes the Austrian standards for drinking and the shores around the lake are also popular hiking tracks. Other options include Lake Hintersee, which requires a slightly longer drive. Largely a local hangout, the public beaches and bathing pools are never overly crowded.
Panorama view of Munich city center showing the City Hall and the Frauenkirche | © Mapics/Shutterstock
A 90-minute drive will take you to the Bavarian city of Munich. Perhaps an ambitious day trip, but nonetheless a worthy choice. Trains cost around just 20 euros and take you straight into the heart of the city. Check out our guide to the best things to do while you’re there.
Ice Caves at Werden
A tour inside the massive ice cave | Courtesy of the Austrian Tourist Board
This subterranean phenomenon is a sight to behold. The ice caves at Werden, located roughly an hour outside the city centre, are one of Austria’s most impressive natural wonders. It’s an underground ice palace comprised of around 25 miles of interweaving passageways and intimidating organically formed structures. Guided tours take place between May and October. Read more about their history here.