Day trips mean you can see all the best sights, and then zip back in the evening. You can do it all through ÖBB, Austria's national railway company. Here is a taste of the Austrian (and German!) destinations you can reach from Salzburg:
Read on for what's in store at each of these unique spots!
1. Innsbruck's striking architecture and alpine views
Innsbruck is a wonderful city close to Salzburg, offering the best of urban life in inspiring surroundings. Travel by train from Salzburg to Innsbruck in 2 hours. Once you arrive, see the Golden Roof, the city's most famous landmark. It's at the heart of Innsbruck's Old Town, and houses treasures collected across the centuries.
Innsbruck sits below the magnificent Nordkette (North Chain) mountain range, so there's plenty of incredible photo opportunities. For great views of the mountains, head up the Hungerburg Funicular. Starting just across the Inn River from the Old Town, this lift will bring you high into the mountains for unforgettable vistas of Innsbruck and its surroundings.
2. Zell am See's lakeside charm
How about a little rest and recreation in the Austrian Alps? Look no further than the town of Zell am See. Located on the shores of Lake Zell, this town is known for its year-round activities, including spas and ski slopes in the surrounding areas. Trains from Salzburg to Zell am See take as little as 1h 30m.
This small yet charming town features landmarks like the Romanesque St Hippolyte's Church and a number of hotels and resorts catering to all your wellness needs. Feel at ease with a refreshing spa treatment or yoga session. For something more active, hit the beaches for some volleyball or stand-up paddleboarding. The surrounding mountains, including the Schmittenhöhe, offer great skiing, mountain biking, and hiking options.
3. World War Two history and modern buildings in Linz
For another one of Austria's great cities, you can take trains from Salzburg to Linz in only 1h 10m. It features a number of impressive modern sights, including the spectacular Ars Electronica Center, the 'Museum of the Future'. Exploring the fascinating possibilities of the decades to come, its exhibitions cover space travel, AI, and self-driving cars. The Lentos Kunstmuseum sits facing the River Danube, with an impressive modern art collection.
If you're willing to travel a little out of the city, the Mauthausen Memorial is an important World War Two historic site. Formerly used as a concentration camp, today it stands as an important reminder of some of the most tragic events of the war. It features a visitor centre with information on the site, as well as self-guided audio tours.
4. Vienna's world-renowned music culture
Trains from Salzburg to Vienna take 2h 30m on the fastest services. You'll find yourself in Europe's home of classical music. Whether you're into seeing opera or not, the Staatsoper (State Opera House) is one of the world's most significant concert halls. It's well worth a look to admire its grand neoclassical design.
Also in Vienna, be sure to visit one of the classic opulent coffee houses. Enjoy a decadent cream cake and delicious coffee, perfect for refuelling as you explore this scenic city on foot. Don't miss landmarks such as Schönbrunn Palace. It harks back to the days of the Habsburg rulers and rivals the Versailles Palace in Paris for grandeur. The Butterfly House is another wonderful place to visit, calling itself a 'unique flying theatre'. Walk among the butterflies, including dazzling giant specimens.
5. Get a taste of small-town Austria in Gmunden
Gmunden, just an hour away by train, is one of the best examples of traditional Austria. It sits on the shores of the Traunsee, a dreamlike lake with breathtaking alpine surroundings. This is an incredible place for keen photographers to take incredible photos of Austria's natural beauty. The green surroundings of the lakeside and town centre make Gmunden a delightful place to explore by foot.
Schloss Ort (Ort Castle) is an island palace sitting in the Traunsee. Cross over a wooden bridge to enter the castle, and as you explore it you can just imagine living here when it was built in the 10th century. It houses a museum with exhibits on the castle and a superb restaurant where you can sit and enjoy the idyllic surroundings.
6. Munich, the best of Bavarian history
Crossing the border into neighbouring Germany is easy. Trains from Salzburg to Munich take 1h 50m. Long known for its industrial and technological might, Munich is also famed for its culture and quality of life. Munich's inner city area is home to many historic buildings that reflect its power and influence, including the Residenz palace and Frauenkirche cathedral. Wide avenues and expansive squares add to this grand feel.
For a look into Munich's royal past, visit Nymphenburg Palace. This huge complex is a former royal summer residence, built in perfect symmetry and offering huge, beautiful chambers to explore. Its gilded corridors feature stunning works of art covering the walls and ceilings. The English Garden is a huge urban park, perfect for summer strolls. There's a beer garden here, which is ideal for trying some Bavarian pints in the sunshine.
7. Step off the beaten track in Passau
This is another fantastic alternative destination in Germany. Trains from Salzburg to Passau take 2h 40m on the quickest routes. Passau sits right on the border with Austria, offering a traditional Old Town to explore by the river. Among the historic sites here is St Stephan's Cathedral, dating from the 17th century.
From almost anywhere in Passau, you'll be able to spot the Veste Oberhaus, a fortress built in the 1200s. It's built into the St Georgsberg mountain, with splendid views of this quaint corner of Germany. This is also an excellent place to try delicious authentic Bavarian cuisine. Dumplings, käsespätzle (noodles with cheese), potato salad, and giant pretzels are among the favourite foods enjoyed here. Enjoy your dishes with beer or Franconian wine.
Explore the many possibilities with day trips from Salzburg
When you travel by train from Salzburg, Austria's delights are at your doorstep. There are also fabulous nearby destinations in Germany, offering additional sights and hidden gems for your adventures. Train travel is an easy and efficient way to reach these destinations. Have a look on our site for great prices and special offers on these tantalising day trips from Salzburg.