Many summer mornings I got up at 5 am to hike one of the city mountains next to my house and take photos.

Yes, hiking in Salzburg city is so close.

In this article, I will present you with three hiking options in the center of Salzburg and provide all the information you need for a successful hike.

The Three City Mountains of Salzburg

Have you ever heard of Salzburger Nockerl? Salzburger Nockerl are a dessert.

What does a desert have to do with hiking in the city of Salzburg, you ask?

The dumplings are oven-baked egg white with sugar. When baking, they rise and form three mountains. These three mountains are a symbol of the three Salzburg city mountains. 

I hope you don’t have to think about this sweet delicacy throughout your hike now.

Back to the actual city mountains. They are:

  • Mönchsberg (Monks Mountain)
  • Kapuzinerberg (Capuchin Mountain)
  • Gaisberg

These three mountains are your options for hiking in the city of Salzburg. By hiking in the city I mean hiking without taking public transport to the starting point. Each of the three city mountains in Salzburg has its own difficulty and purpose.

Mönchsberg (Monks Mountain) – Easy Hiking in Salzburg City

In my opinion, you have to have seen the city of Salzburg from above at least once. It doesn’t matter whether it’s from the fortress, Kapuzinerberg, or Mönchsberg.

Nightview from Mönchsberg in Salzburg

Mönchsberg doesn’t only make sense for hiking in Salzburg but for sightseeing as well. That’s because it surrounds the old town on the left side of the Salzach river. From Mönchsberg you see the sights of Salzburg from up close, from above and from many angles.

The hike is easy and if you don’t actually want to hike uphill but only enjoy the view, you can even take an elevator up to the museum of modern art instead. 

There are many ways to Mönchsberg mountain, but only a few paths along the mountain. That’s because Mönchsberg is not what you would expect from a mountain. Mönchsberg is 500 meters long, but almost the same height over the entire length. Once you are on top of mount Mönchsberg almost the entire hike is flat.

Mönchsberg from the Hohensalzburg Fortress

In contrast to the other two city mountains in Salzburg, Mönchsberg doesn’t feel like you’re out of town. You are away from the action because you are a little higher and in comparison to the hustle and bustle of the old town, only a few walk on the Mönchsberg, but you are still in the middle of the city.

The most common ascent to Mönchsberg is the same path that leads to the fortress, even if the fortress is not officially on Mönchsberg but has its own mountain, Festungsberg (fortress mountain). To hike Mönchsberg you walk past the funicular and turn right at the next junction. After that, you continue straight all along the mount Mönchsberg.

The hiking path to the fortress

Other ways up to Mönchsberg can be found at the Nonnbergstiege (Nonnberg stairs) in Kaigasse, at the Clemens Holzmeister stairs behind the Concert Hall, at the Müllner Schanze on the other end of the mountain and with the Mönchsberg lift at the Museum of Modern Art. 

On top of Mönchsberg, everything is connected and you can hike all the way from the Nonnberg abbey to the church in Mülln. The entire hike takes less time than you would first assume. With no stops, you can walk the route in less than an hour. The distance is only 500 meters.

Old Lady on the Clemens Holzmeister stairs to Mönchsberg in Salzburg

The elevator up to the Museum of Modern Art can spare you the climb and would be a convenient way to only see the view in case you don’t have enough time or don’t want to hike. But the climb doesn’t take more than 5-10 minutes and the elevator would take you to the middle of the mountain. You would see more of the mountain by walking from one end to the other.

My preferred climb is the one from Müllner Schanze because you are on the other end of the old town walking towards the fortress and explore the whole mountain. As a starting point, it’s also ideal for walking towards the rising sun in the early morning. In the evening you could time your hike to arrive at the fortress just after closing time and therefore get in for free.

Fortress Hohensalzburg from the Hiking Path on Mönchsberg in Salzburg

As you have probably noticed, I like Mönchsberg. If I have motivated you enough and you need more information about the hike, here you find an article about Mönchsberg and the hike, another article about the fortress and an explanation of how to get in for free after closing time and here is one about my favorite photo spots in Salzburg, especially on Mönchsberg.

Kapuzinerberg (Capuchin Mountain) – Salzburgs Recreational Area

Salzburg is at an altitude of 424 meters and the top of the Kapuzinerberg is at 640 meters. That doesn’t sound like much, but even if the hike is easy and you are still in the center of Salzburg on Kapuzinerberg, you will feel like you’re in nature and away from civilization.

Hiker in the Forest on Capuchin Mountain in Salzburg

There are only three houses on the Capuchin Mountain. On your two-hour hike you will encounter a monastery, one private house, and an old fortress turned into a restaurant on while the starting point is only two minutes walking from the Free Walking Tour meeting point, one of the most central locations in Salzburg.

Most tourists climb Kapuzinerberg to take a panoramic picture or to see the sunset. Very few visitors explore the forest that lies behind the monastery. The reason is that it’s just forest but if you want to go hiking in Salzburg, the forest might be the reason to walk past the monastery.

And although a road leads to Kapuzinerberg, there is no effortless way up. No public transport, no elevator, and no cable car.

This makes the Capuchin mountain different from Mönchsberg on the other side of the river. It is also different because it feels like a mountain with a mountain top. At the top of Kapuzinerberg, there is a small fortress. It now houses a restaurant with strange opening hours. Nevertheless, it is one of my favorite restaurants in the city of Salzburg for the spectacular location and good food. If it is open when you are there, I recommend it.

There are two starting points for hiking on the Capuchin mountain. One is in Linzergasse and the other one is Imbergstiege (Imberg stairs) in Steingasse only about two minutes apart from each other. I love and recommend taking the stairs in Steingasse and going down the street in Linzergasse. Each of those options is different and you should experience both.

Photographer hiking Kapuzinerberg via the Imbergstiege in Salzburg

When you reach the top there are two platforms. The first one you reach after climbing the 261 stairs of Imbergstiege. At the end of the stairs, you find a few more steps to the right. Take these and you will get to the first platform and to one of the most famous panoramic views of the old town of Salzburg.

Hiking signposts on Kapuzinerberg

If you went straight ahead instead of taking the stairs to the right, you would have come to a second viewpoint from which you see the new part of town, all the way to the train station and into Germany.

The path from Linzergasse and Steingasse also meets there. Most of the tourists end their hike there when in reality it is just beginning. You can either walk along the city wall from the first viewpoint I mentioned or walk past the yellow building, the Capuchin monastery past the Mozart statue, and into the forest.

Woman walking on Capuchin mountain in Salzburg

I highly recommend the first option, the so-called Basteiweg along the city wall because you have many beautiful views on this hike, while on the second option you would only see the forest. You can and should take the forest path on the way down.

Although I go to Kapuzinerberg at least once a week, I still get lost sometimes and sometimes even find new ways. But that doesn’t matter. Each of the paths you can take leads you up or down. You can’t actually get lost up there.