I’ve been to both cities and I lived in Salzburg for three years.
Both cities are well worth a visit, and you could easily spend two weeks or more just seeing Vienna’s sights. Or you could easily spend a few days based in Salzburg, just to walk through the medieval old town, or doing daytrips to the lakes, mountains and other sights.
There’s probably more to do in Vienna, but it’s a big city, so it’s a lot harder to get a real feel for it. Salzburg, on the other hand, is smaller, much easier to manage, and it’s also near a lot more interesting countryside – hills, mountains, lakes etc. – than Vienna. Basically Vienna is a sprawling metropolis sitting on a flood plain.
I would urge you to spend at least a day in Salzburg. If you’re the kind of person who likes youth hostelling, there’s a great private youth hostel called the ‘YoHo’ there (Paracelsusstrasse 9, near the train station) – probably the best independent youth hostel in Europe. They show ‘The Sound of Music’ daily (the movie was filmed in and around Salzburg). They also run tours from the hostel to many of the nearby sights.
As far as sights, there’s Mozart’s birthplace, there are the salt mines from which Salzburg gets its name. There’s a huge castle – Hohensalzburg, the biggest and most fully-preserved fortification in Europe – perched on a rock outcropping which dominates the town. The town itself is a sight well worth seeing – it’s on a river and every building in the old town dates back centuries. There’s also the Augustine Monastery where the monks have been brewing beer for centuries – tourists and locals alike come to sample the beer in a traditional beer hall. Finally, there are many locations in and around town where the movie ‘The Sound of Music’ was filmed.
As I said, I lived in Salzburg for three years and I never got tired of it. It’s a beautiful town. If I were going on your trip, I’d skip Vienna altogether and leave it for another time. Salzburg is a town like Florence – an opportunity not to be missed.
I haven’t been to Vienna, but Salzburg is a neat city. There is Mozart’s birthplace and the house where he lived, a huge fortress that never fell by force, and if you like the Sound of Music you might want to do one of the Sound of Music tours in Salzburg. I thought Salzburg was well worth the visit.
My favorite stop in Vienna was the Hundertwasser Haus
Bratislava is also an interesting stop, 50 miles from Vienna.
I would reluctantly agree with Ian. Wait until you have more time in Vienna. 2.5 days in Vienna, or Salzberg is not near enough.. But if you do go to Vienna (Wien) Spend a day, I mean a whole day in the natural history museum (Naturhistorisches Museum Wien)
It is a must see, a brilliant museum.
Salzurg is such an amazing little town as well.
I´ve never been to Salzburg, but I visited Vienna few times (its very close to where I live) – but I think 2 days in Vienna are not enought…so better stay in Vienna and enjoy more 1 city than kind of “half-enjoy” both places.
And HIGLIGHS: Hofburg, Albertina, Hundertwasser…and many others..maybe Schonbrunn.
As most everyone has said, Vienna has so much to see! I am quite partial having lived there. I visited Salzburg for just one day. I got to see the basics, and went on the Sound of Music tour which went up in the mountains and things. I would say if you are traveling by foot, you might find yourself unable to see a lot of Salzburg. It is not so concentrated. In my opinion, that extra day if you have it would be better spent in Vienna.
Must sees: Schönbrunn, Hofburg (that’s where the art and natural science [among other] museums are), Hundertwasser Haus, Stephansdom, Staatsoper, Rathaus. If you follow the Ring you will stumble upon most of these places. Also, there are some very beautiful vineyards at the end of the green line (Hutteldorf). You can take a bus up the hill and then walk all the way down and it is great. I believe Beethoven’s house or some kind of tribute to him is up there as well. And, there is Cafe Einstein by the Rathaus. Loved having breakfast there. Unlimited lattes.
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