Salzburg being such a small city is the perfect place to explore on foot. Due to the fact that the city's tourist popularity only took off in the late 19th century, the magnificent baroque architecture and the incredible natural environment was left preserved and without huge areas of modernization. This makes it a dream for photographers and Instagrammers alike. The pastel colours, many in millennial pink, are like a baroque Candy-land. The greenspace in the city provides some incredible views which blend the natural and the man made. I've provided a Google map to all the different locations and put them in an easy to follow sequence so you can actually use this guide as a walking tour as well!
No matter what time of the year it is, Mirabell Gardens and Palace are one of the most colourful and scenic places in Salzburg. Standing at the top of the stairs, at the entrance to the Pegasusbrunnen or Pegasus Fountain (marked on the map) you have one of the most unimaginable views across the gardens and up towards the Salzburg Fortress. The gardens are immensely peaceful and definitely my favourite spot to spend the morning wandering with a cup of coffee.
The garden’s floral design changes throughout the year to reflect seasonal colours and local flora. They always make for super bright and colourful pictures. Early in the morning is one of the best times to go since it's nice and quiet and the sunrise looks awesome over the greenery.
Next be sure to get a shot running down the iconic tree lined archway which was used in the film, ‘The Sound of Music’. In the winter the leaves don't create the same sort of canopy effect so it's best to visit the garden outside wintertime. And don’t worry - no one will mind if you sing a few tunes along the way.
Walking down from the Mirabell Gardens, head towards the Salzach River. From this northern point, you have a beautiful view of the entirety of the city, capped with the towering Hohensalzburg fortress atop the Festungsberg hill. I was lucky enough to catch this view at sunset when the lights of the city were just starting to bloom but during the early morning the peaceful vista is just as awe-inspiring.
Continuing down the riverbank stop for a look at Hotel Sacher, one of the many pristine baroque buildings along the riverside. These pastel, candy coloured buildings are as stunning now as they were a hundred years ago when they were first built. The trees popping up beside the river look almost like toys, they are so perfectly trimmed.
Waling east along the riverbank, you’ll come upon the love lock encrusted Makartsteg bridge. Thousands of love locks now cover the bridge and while some other cities have tried to stop this ritual, Salzburg embraces it fully! Get a snap of your love lock on the bridge for something even more personal.
Head towards the Museum of Modern Art by taking the Monchsberg lift to the top of Mönchsberg Mountain. From this little mountain on the side of the city you can walk along the terrace to view some of the most incredible views across Salzburg’s historic district. There really is nothing like this vantage point. Even on a rainy day, grab your umbrella and make the trek up here, it’s not to be missed.
Karajan Square & the “Horse Pond”
Take a walk down the hill from Monchsberg and take a quick stop at Karajan Square and the “Horse Pond”. This pond with it’s evocative statue of the horse and rider and set of frescos was used as a set in ‘The Sound of Music’. The square was built in 1603 in honour of the prince’s horses who used to be washed in this fountain after any parades. Today the fountain is a popular spot to get a photo beside your favourite horse.
Getreidegasse is the bustling heart of the old city. While the shops which line the street are now fairly international and ubiquitous, looks past the brands and find the hidden gens. Traditional inns and unique businesses steeped in history are still to be found here today. But what makes this street a favourite with photographers are the artistic wrought iron guild signs which hang above unusual doorways.
Through-Houses of the Getreidegasse
The Through-houses of Getreidegasse are arcade passageways which connect the Getreidegasse to University Square. Inside these passageways are some incredible hidden galleries and one-of-a-kind shops. The layered shop canopies piled against bright green flower boxes and colourful window awnings makes for the perfect photo!
University Square was, and still is, the site of a farmers market which dates back to 1857. Today the square is an adorable little getaway from the tourist rush with some amazing 14th century burgher houses. The designs around the window sills are stunning and now matter the weather outside, look bright and cherry.
#9 Getreidegasse marks Mozart’s Birthplace. The bright yellow building is unmissable! Mozart was born here in 1756 and lived here for the first 17 years. It was where his musical talent began and was fostered. Today it houses a wonderful museum but it simply stunning to look at from the outside. The yellow is so bright it appears like a shining sun against the rest of the plain buildings.
This spot on Sigmund-Haffner-Gass is great for a photos since you can capture the beautifully framed scene of the Old City Hall clock tower in between the baroque burgher row on either side. Since this street is also slightly less touristy it is often much less crowded than Getreidegasse and your shots will be more free of human clutter.
Café Tomaselli’s stunning green and white striped umbrella’s and bright fuchsia flowers set against the pale yellow building facade is one of the most picturesque views in Salzburg. The cafe is the oldest in the city, and was one of the local haunts of artists and writers during the 18th century, including Mozart himself. Today it’s a wonderful place for a photo and cup of coffee. Although the prices might be slightly inflated you’re paying for the history and incredible location.
The Alter Markt is the location of the oldest weekly market in Europe. During the winter, the Christmas market lights up the square with fairy lights and the sights and smells of Winter Yule. Throughout the rest of the year the square is equally as charming. The baroque burghers' houses with their remarkable pastel facades make for incredible pictures. Stop by the octagonal fountain of St. Florian von Lorch which stands in the centre of the square. It was built in 1685 and if you look closely you can make out of the coat of arms of Salzburg carved onto the column.
Fountains in Residenzplatz Square
Salzburg has no shortage of squares, in fact there are five of them throughout the city. But the largest of all the squares is Residence Square. Residence sqaure is named after the Royal Residences which once were located beside this public area. But the real draw to this place is the incredible baroque horse fountain. Once more this fountain was used in the film ‘The Sound of Music‘. The fountain is truly awesome, it contains four snorting horses springing out from a large pile of rocks. Three giants stand on top of the rocks and carry a scalloped basin where three dolphins hold a final basin where King Triton sits, water shooting from his conch-shell trumpet. It’s an awe inspiring piece of art work and makes for an incredible shot.
Waagplatz is right beside the more popular Mozart Square. In the 15th century this square was used as a hay and bread market. Due the the working class majority, this was also where the first pub in the city was established. Today, this square is a favourite with photographers due to the bright orange building with blue shudders and views of the Old Town Hall Tower.
Domplatz is the location of Salzburg Cathedral. Standing in the square you have the most incredible views of the double, onion domes of the Cathedral. Standing in front of the Cathedral is a large ‘Marian Statue’, which features the figure of the Virgin Mary atop, enthroned on a mountain of clouds made of Untersberg marble and a globe.
If you have the time to see the interior of the Salzburg Cathedral, be sure to come inside to view the remarkable baroque, painted dome. Not only are the frescoes painted on the dome wonderfully detailed but the colours remain in the pale hues of baroque pastel which makes it even more appealing for modern photographers.
St. Petere’s Catacombs
It might seem macabre but the catacombs of St. Peter’s in Salzburg have some of the best view over the bright green copper domes of the surrounding churches as well as a view out over parts of the old city. The catacombs were built out of the side of the rocks of Mönchsberg and date all the way back to the 1100s. They are a treat to climb and study but once at the top you can look out and the view below.
Kapitelplatz or Chapter Square
The old Kapitelplatz or Chapter Square was once the location of a large monastery but after its dissolution in the 1800’s it was transformed into a public square. The views up towards the fortress are outstanding but what makes the square even more interesting is the enormous golden globe and over sized chess set. After snapping a few photos, don’t be shy to play a few games in the square since the pieces are there for locals and visitors alike to play a few games together.
From the top of the Hohensalzburg Fortress, you have best view down across the city. Hiking to the top of one of the towers also gets parts of the fortress in your shot as well. The contrast of the bright white exterior against the blue and green landscape makes for a stunning shot! The fortress itself is a wonderful piece of Salzburg’s history and a great place to explore.
Staatsbrücke is another one of Salzburg’s iconic bridges. This bridge is the most prominent since it connects the Old Town to the City Hall and the Linzergasse area. Standing on the bridge looking out to the west you can see all the pastel coloured houses of the Old Town, as well as the bright orange face of the Town Hall Clock Tower. The Austrian flag which blows in the bridge is a beautiful addition to any shot!
Across the city, there is a semi-secret walkway nicknamed “The Dark Staircase” which leads down from the Kapuzinerkloster Monastery. Along this path there are several small lookouts over the city which really do provide some of the most incredible views. This view from the north side of the city is markedly different than the south, so if you have the chance to visit both, don’t miss out.
St. Sebastian’s Church
Late Baroque St. Sebastian’s Church, with its striking onion-dome tower and Italian Camposanto (holy field), is the final resting place of some of Salzburg's elite personalities. The magnificent sepulchers and striking archways make it a photographers delight as well as a somber place to reflect on life.
If you're willing to travel a little outside the city, the brilliant golden facades of Hellbrunn Palace are one of the most incredible places to visit for photography. The bright yellow paint against the green gardens and surrounding forest makes for unimaginable pictures. The palace itself is also a wonderful place to visit with trick water fountains designed in the 1600's by the prince-archbishop of Salzburg to entertain and amuse his guests. The palace also contains the famous glass gazebo where the duet between Fritz and Liesl as well as the song between Maria and Captain both were shot for the film, you know it…‘The Sound of Music’.