Salzburg Austria

Munich to Salzburg Day Trip

Both Munich, the capital of Bavaria, and Salzburg, home of Mozart and several Sound of Music sites, are great cities to visit in Europe. Both cities offer a great variety of cultural and historical sites to visit and played an important role throughout the history of the region. The good news is that there is a great road and train connection between Munich and Salzburg with regular high-speed trains leaving in both directions. If you are staying a couple of days in Munich, it is worth visiting Salzburg from Munich as a day trip or a weekend trip.

In addition to being the birthplace of Mozart, Salzburg is also known for being the main filming location of “The Sound of Music” movie. So the city is all about music and culture … and the Mozart Kugeln (layered chocolate balls). Those yummy chocolate balls with the portrait of Mozart are sold all over the historic part of the city.

I have been to Salzburg 3 times already and must admit that it is one of my favorite cities in Europe. It has a unique charm and romantic atmosphere: horse carriages everywhere, fairytale castles, royal palaces, and of course the famous Sachartorte (Austrian chocolate cake). Let’s dive deep into how to get to Salzburg from Munich (train, bus, car, or a tour) and how to maximize your time to see the best of Salzburg in one day.

Horse Carriage in Salzburg
Salzburg Main Square

How Far is Salzburg from Munich?

Salzburg is located about 150 kilometers (93 miles) from Munich just across the German border. 

This means it is about 2 hours drive by car, or 1 h and 30 minutes drive by speed train from Munich Main Train Station (Hauptbahnhof). Surprisingly it will take you almost the same time to get to Salzburg by car vs by train.

Getting From Munch to Salzburg

There are 4 ways to get to Salzburg from Munich:

Option 1: Train (regional or high-speed)
Option 2: Bus
Option 3: Car or Rideshare
Option 4: Organized Tour

Each option has its pros and cons which will be discussed below.

Important Note! Although both Austria and Germany are in the Schengen Zone, which means there are no official passport controls at the border crossing, I highly recommend carrying your international passport or EU ID Card (Ausweis) with you. In recent years, due to illegal migration, there are now checkpoints at the Austrian-German border where they might ask you to show your travel documents.

Panoramic View of Salzburg

Munich to Salzburg by Train

There are both regional (RB / BRB / M) and high-speed trains (RJ / RJX / ICE) connecting Salzburg with Munich. Regional trains take a bit longer 1 h 45 minutes versus 1 h 30 minutes by highspeed trains. The time difference is not big enough to justify paying almost double or more for a high-speed train ticket in my opinion. 

The train connection between Munich and Salzburg is very good. Direct trains go from Munich Main Train Station (Hauptbahnhof) to Salzburg every 30 minutes and regional trains go every hour. 

Regional Train from Munich to Salzburg

Buying Train Tickets

The cheapest and the most convenient option to buy a train ticket from Munich to Salzburg is buying the Bavarian Regional Day Ticket or the so-called Bayern Ticket. Don’t let the name confuse you. Although the Bayern Ticket is used mostly for traveling around Bavaria for one whole day by all means of transportation (except the high-speed trains and private buses), you can also travel with it to some Austrian cities close to the German border. Luckily Salzburg is included in this list allowing a budget-friendly visit from Germany. 

Bayern Ticket can be used by a group of up to 5 people. Children under 14 can travel free of charge. You can check the train schedule and buy the Bayern Ticket online using the DBB App. Here is the ticket price breakdown by number of passengers sharing the ticket:

1 Person    29  Euros
2 Persons  39  Euros
3 Persons  49  Euros
4 Persons  59  Euros
5 Persons  69  Euros

Salzburg Central Train Station
Salzburg Central Train Station

Important Note! You need to write down the names of all the passengers traveling with you on the ticket and validate it (only for paper tickets). They will check.

Munich to Salzburg by Bus

If for some reason no regional trains are going from Munich to Salzburg (e.g. strikes, maintenance, etc.), you can travel to Salzburg by bus. FixBus is a well-known bus company in Europe providing budget-friendly transportation between major European cities. The bus ride between Munich and Salzburg takes approximately 2 hours. The ticket price depends on the demand and time of the day (usually more expensive on weekends and during the day). You can get your bus ticket as cheap as 16 euros one way but make sure to book it online at least a couple of days in advance. Please note that buses to Salzburg usually leave from Munich Central Bus Station (ZOB). You have to be there at least 15 minutes before the departure. If you don’t have your ID with you they will not allow you to board the bus, so make sure to bring your travel documents. 

Important Note! A residency permit or Blue Card is not considered an official travel document. Once my friend was not allowed to get into the bus with me to go to Austria with her German residency permit. If you don’t have an EU ID (Ausweis) you should take your international passport and visa.

Getreidegasse Salzburg
Getreidegasse Salzburg

Munich to Salzburg by Car

Traveling to Salzburg by car takes almost the same amount of time as by train (1.5 hours) but can take much longer if there is a traffic jam. I do not recommend taking a car for this journey unless you are planning to stay a couple of days in Salzburg and explore nearby towns and sites such as Berchtesgaden National Park or Werfen Ice Caves. The train connection between Munich and Salzburg is excellent and not too expensive so the car is usually not needed. That being said, the car gives you the flexibility to go anywhere anytime and some stops if you find something interesting along the way.

If you don’t have a car and don’t want to rent one, you can try ridesharing. BlaBla car is a very popular ridesharing service in Germany where you share the ride with someone who is traveling to the same destination as you. You pay a small amount to the person driving you to cover the fuel costs. I have used it multiple times to drive to Berlin since it was cheaper than the train but for Salzburg, you need to check and compare different options. 

Important Note! While roads in Germany including the highway are completely free, most of the roads in Austria are paid roads. That means you might need a Vignette if you are planning to drive further into Austria. You can buy it at any gas station along the border. Since the highway part from German border to Salzburg is very short, you don’t need to buy the Vignette. Alternatively, you can drive through Bundestrasse.

Salzburg Tour from Munich

The final option to get to Salzburg is taking an organized group tour or a private one if your budget allows. There are plenty of options to choose from. The most popular tours that I could recommend are:

Salzburg to Munich Sightseeing tour by train

Salzburg, St. Wolfgang and Salzkammergut 

The Sound of Music Tour from Munich

Getting Around Salzburg

Salzburg is much smaller than Munich and you easily can get around by foot. The main historic sights are located close to each other within walking distance. You can get to the historic center of Salzburg (Altstadt) from the train station (Hauptbahnhof) within 15-20 minutes. Alternatively, you can always use local buses and trams which will take you to any point in the city. Keep in mind, that your Bayern Ticket is not valid on Austrian buses and trains. You can easily buy your tickets on OBB vending machines, online, or directly on the bus. 

Things to Do in Salzburg in One Day

The name Salzburg means “salt fortress.” For thousands of years, salt has been mined from the area around Salzburg (mostly Hallstatt and Salzkammergut). This “white gold” made Salzburg a powerful trading city. 

The city is famous for its baroque architecture and medieval fortress. Luckily during WW II Salzburg was not damaged that much, so most of the buildings preserved their original form. Today Salzburg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site visited by thousands of tourists every year. Below you will find major attractions of Salzburg to see as a day trip from Munich.

Chapter Fountain, Kapitelplatz Salzburg
Chapter Fountain, Kapitelplatz Salzburg

Mirabell Palace and Gardens

Mirabell Palace with its beautiful gardens and other highlights such as the Donnerstiege, Marble Hall, Palace Chapel, and Pegasus Fountain is one of the most famous attractions in Salzburg.

Built in the 17th century, the palace is a masterpiece of Baroque architecture and together with Mirabell Gardens a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As a cherry on top, you can visit Mirabell Palace and its gardens completely free of charge!

The Marble Hall, is generally regarded as one of the “most beautiful wedding halls in the world”. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart used to play music here, so it has quite some history. Keep this in mind if you are searching for a unique and luxurious wedding venue.

For Sound of Music fans, Mirabell Gardens is not to be missed. The Pegasus Fountain is featured in the movie. This is where the children danced around the fountain and sang “Do Re Mi.”

Mirabell Gardens Salzburg
Mirabell Gardens Salzburg

Hohensalzburg Fortress

Hohensalzburg Fortress is the biggest fully preserved castle in Central Europe and one of the largest medieval castles in Europe. It sits on top of the Festungberg mountain at an altitude of 506 m and you can see it from almost everywhere in the city. The most beautiful views over the fortress are from the Mirabel Gardens and the hills on the opposite side of the Salzach River.

During the early 20th century it was used as a prison, holding Italian prisoners of war during World War I. Today it is a major tourist attraction.

There are two ways to get to the fortress: walk up by foot (approximately 30-40 minutes one way) or take a short ride on a funicular (Festungsbahn). To save some time and squeeze as much as possible in one short day in Salzburg, I recommend taking the funicular. If you have the Salzburg Card, the ride will be for free, otherwise, you will need to pay 14 euros for the return ticket (ascent and descent). On top of the hill in the backyard of the fortress, you will have the best panoramic views over Salzburg and the surrounding mountains. If you are not so much into castles and medieval architecture, alone the views are worth getting there.

Salzburg Austria
Hohensalzburg Fortress Viewpoint

Mozart Museum and House

If you are into classical music or play some instruments yourself, then visiting the Mozart house/museum should be part of your Salzburg Itinerary. It is literally where he grew up and learned how to play music. I used to play violin and piano in my school years including the masterpieces from Mozart, so for me, it was very impressive to see the original instruments he used to play with and some handwritten drafts of his compositions. 

Plan at least 45 minutes if you decide to go inside. Entrance is free with the Salzburg Card otherwise you will need to pay 12 euros.

Salzburg Cathedral and Residenz

Salzburg Cathedral was built in 774 and later rebuilt several times. An interesting fact about the Cathedral is that Mozart was baptized here in 1756. Salzburg Cathedral is located adjacent to Residenzplatz and Domplatz in the Old Town (Altstadt) in the middle of the city, so it’s hard to miss. The Salzburg Cathedral together with the Residenz and St. Peter’s Abbey are also known as DomQuartier. You can use one single ticket for 4 museums in DomQuartier. I recommend doing it only if you are staying more than one day in Salzburg, otherwise, you might not have the time to see all the museums. 

But what I do recommend doing as part of your day trip to Salzburg, is having a short stop at the cemetery at St. Peter’s Abbey…

Salzburg Cathedral and Residez
Salzburg Cathedral and Residez

The Main Square of Salzburg

Residenzplatz is the largest and the most beautiful square in Salzburg and features a large fountain in the center of the square. It borders the Salzburg Cathedral and DomQuartier, so you can visit both locations in one go. Residenzplatz in Salzburg is a Sound of Music site.

Salzburg Main Square
Salzburg Main Square

Dinner and Traditional Food to Try in Salzburg

For dinner, I highly recommend going to typical Austrian beer halls and restaurants to try traditional food from the region and drink locally brewed beer.

Braurestaurant IMLAUER – this is where we had our dinner. The food was great and the service as well. We chose this place, close to the Mirabell Palaces to try a typical dessert from Salzburg –  the Salzburger Nockerl and absolutely loved it.

Salzburger Nockerl
Salzburger Nockerl

The Augustiner Bräu Mülln –  this traditional Austrian beer garden is located in Mülln Kolster (Abbey) where monks still brew the beer according to traditional recipes from their ancestors. It is Austria’s largest beer garden where beer is sold in stone-made pitchers draught directly from wooden barrels.

Restaurant Esszimmer – the price range here is on the upper end, but this is expected in a Michelin-star restaurant with a local vibe. It also has many vegetarian options with great aesthetics.

If it is your first time in Austria then I highly recommend trying typical Austrian dishes such as Schnitzel (breaded thin layer of meat), Kaiserschmarrn (huge pancake with raisins and apple muss), Tiroler Gröstl (fried potatoes with bacon and an egg) and Strudel (layered sweet pastry). 

Should You Buy the Salzburg Card?

With the Salzburg Card, you get free admission to all museums in Salzburg and city attractions. It includes public transportation (except SBahn) including the rides on the Festungsbahn funicular (the funicular to Hohensalzburg) and the Untersberg Mountain Cable Car. The card is available for 24, 48, and 72 hours. More information can be found on the official website.

  • 24 hours: €27 (low season) / 31 (high season)
  • 48 hours: €35 (low season) / 40 (high season)
  • 72 hours: €40 (low season) / 46 (high season)

If you are only staying a few hours in Salzburg and planning to visit one or two museums, you might not be able to take advantage of the Salzburg card. However, if you are planning on taking the Untersberg Cable Car or Salzburg city cruise, it might be well worth it.

When to Go to Salzburg

Salzburg can be visited year-round. The high season (with most crowds) is between June and mid-September. December is also a very busy month for Salzburg because of its beautiful Christmas Markets where you can go shopping for Christmas souvenirs and try delicious Christmas food. If you want nice weather but fewer crowds, consider May, September, and October. 

Best Day Trips from Salzburg

If you are considering staying in Salzburg longer and wondering what else you could do there you will be surprised to know there are a lot of nice day trips you could within 1-2 hours distance from Salzburg.

The most popular day trip from Salzburg is visiting the Berchtesgaden National Park on the German Side and Lake Koenigssee.

St. Bartholomä church on lake königssee
St- Bartholomä Königssee

Werfen Ice Caves
Werfen Ice Caves also known as Eisriesenwelt, are the largest ice caves in the world just 50 minutes train ride away from Salzburg. You can visit Hohenwerfen fortress on the same day and have a nice small hike.

Werfen Ice Caves

Untersberg Mountain
If you want to see the Alps and try fresh Alpine milk with a view, then you should go to mountain Untersberg, the closest mountain to Salzburg. You can either hike up or take a cable car.

Some of the best ski resorts in Austria are located very close to Salzburg. So if you are into skiing and visiting Salzburg between November and April, you will have a great opportunity to try skiing in the Alps.

Hochzillertal Ski Resort in Austria

Hallstatt and Salzkammergut
Hallstadt is that famous Austrian town at a lake, you see all over the world on postcards advertising Austria. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a fairytale town. 

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