Let’s get one thing clear: Salzburg is a stunning city break destination on its own. The UNESCO-listed historic center is a photogenic dream, the local chocolate treats and cosy cafes are hard to resist, and the cityscape views from the castle can’t get any more impressive. In my opinion, it’s one of the prettiest and most charming medium-sized cities in Europe. Phew, I’m glad I got that off my chest. But Salzburg is more than just a city. Salzburg, or rather Salzburgerland, is one of the most ideal regions in Central Europe for nature lovers and adventurers alike. Thinking about exploring more of this idyllic corner in Austria? Well, what a coincidence! You’ve come to the right place: I’m sharing the five best day trips from Salzburg in summer.
1. Explore Salzkammergut: Go on a day trip from Salzburg to Lake Fuschl
One of the nicest summer destinations for a day trip from Salzburg is the beautiful Lake Fuschl (Fuschlsee). The lake usually isn’t too crowded, which is a big plus. Once you lay eyes on this crystal-clear, azure-coloured lake, you’ll want to instantly put on your bikini or swimming trunks and dive in like you were a dolphin in a human costume all along. If you’re not much of a swimmer, you can also go canoeing, standup paddleboarding or sunbathing near the edges of the lake. Just don’t forget to bring your sunscreen and flamingo-shaped floaty.
The best place to chill by the lake is Fuschl am See. This is a little town where you’ll find a small beach and amenities, benches, restaurants and hotels. Lake Fuschl is part of the Salzkammergut region, known for its majestic Alpine lakes and landscapes. If you have access to a (rental) car, I definitely recommend a full day to have a swim, take some photos for your feed, drive around, and just explore the area.
Should you include Hallstatt on your day trip to Salzkammergut?
Another iconic town that is part of the same Salzkammergut area is Hallstatt. This historic little town is beloved for its pastel-coloured houses and – compared to Lake Fuschl – equally azure-coloured Hallstätter See (Lake Hallstatt). So, should it be one of your day trips from Salzburg? Well, you’ll have to be OK with sharing your space with crowds of other tourists. But if you can handle that, it might still be a bucket list item worth ticking off.
If you’re dependent on public transport, Hallstatt is a bit far in terms of day trips from Salzburg. From Salzburg city, it will take you almost three hours by train. However, by car, it takes you about 1.5 hours, which is doable. From Lake Fuschl, it will only take you about an hour by car to get to Hallstatt, so it’s possible to combine these two gorgeous locations in Salzkammergut on your day trip from Salzburg.
2. Go mountain biking or hiking on the Faistenauer Schafberg
It’s not just the lakes in the Salzkammergut region that you’ll want to see. If you’re up for a bit of active exploration, make sure to plan a hiking or mountain biking session to the top of the Faistenauer Schafberg (1559 m). Again, Fuschl am See is an excellent town to start off your route and head towards the mountain. You’ll pass forests, adorable herds of cows and sheep, and incredible panorama vistas of the surrounding landscape. And make sure to pause at the Lanznhütte for a traditional Austrian lunch.
If a mountain biking session sounds like a cool idea, I recommend booking Franz from eBike-Academy Salzburg as your tour guide. Trust me, an e-bike makes climbing a mountain a lot more doable if you’re not extremely fit (like yours truly). Just be aware: Franz WILL try to feed you some local schnapps when you stop for lunch.
3. For the adventurers: try canyoning in Ebenau
You may not associate Central Europe with treacherous canyons, but believe me: they’re there. Salzburgerland has got a few you’ll want to see with your own eyes. If you’re a nature lover AND you’re up for a more adventurous day trip, you should try canyoning in the area around Ebenau. Here, there’s a stretch of canyon where even beginners can try their hand at jumping (10 meters max), swimming, climbing, and sliding through the rocky landscape. I should know, because I actually decided to go for it! My verdict: I think it was one of the coolest things I have ever attempted, even with zero prior experience and a fairly clumsy disposition (I can’t eat without spilling something on my clothes).
In other words, there were (many) moments where I elegantly slid down the slippery rocks like a slick little slug in my wetsuit. However, I also jumped from a 5.5 meter rock into the water and managed to survive without a scratch. Can you believe it? I’ve rarely felt more like an actual badass. Except not so much when I tried to swim. The special wetsuit makes you float to the surface and I couldn’t make any movements without rolling over. But hey, you won’t have to worry about drowning and it’ll make you giggle like a goat! I joined a little group via the canyoning guides at Hotel Obermayr, in case you’re also interested in seeing the canyons of Salzburg up close.
4. Plan a day trip from Salzburg to Lake Wolfgang and Zwölferhorn
Another great location to combine a beautiful azure-coloured Salzkammergut lake with a day of hiking is Zwölferhorn mountain (1522 m). From Sankt Gilgen village, you can take the Zwölferhorn Seilbahn (cable railway) to the top and enjoy a 1.5 to 2 hour hike down the mountain. From the summit, you’ll have an excellent view of Lake Wolfgang (Wolfgang See). Similarly, you can decide to switch things around, climb up and take the cable car to go back down. Whatever you do, make sure you bring enough snacks. Or maybe you shouldn’t bring any at all, because then you’ll have an excellent excuse to try the traditional goulash soup at Franzl’s Hütte am Zwölferhorn. From Salzburg city, it’s about a 30 minute drive to get to Sankt Gilgen.
5. City lover? Go on a day trip from Salzburg to Munich
If you’re less of a canyon critter or tree hugger and would love to visit another lovely city instead, this is one of the best day trips from Salzburg that I can think of: head to Munich. This German city in Bavaria is your best bet for another day full of historic sights, lively beer gardens, and friendly faces. It’s an easy to reach destination, yet a completely different cultural region, which makes it fun to add Munich as an extra trip to your itinerary. Whether by train or car, the trip from Salzburg city to Munich should normally take you less than two hours.
What about a day trip to Vienna?
If you’d like to see more cities in Austria instead, you might be thinking about a day trip to Vienna. The reason I don’t necessarily recommend a visit to Vienna as a day trip from Salzburg is because it will take you at least 2.5 hours to get there by train and around 3 by car. So, technically, it is possible. Just be prepared to spend a lot of time on the road and try to leave early in the morning. I do, however, fully recommend extending your time in Austria, if possible, so you can stay in Vienna for a few more days. Seriously, it’s one of the most amazing cities I’ve ever visited.
I visited Salzburg in collaboration with Salzburgerland Tourismus, Visit Salzburg and Fuschlseeregion. Thank you for the invitation!