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Located in north-western Austria near the German border, Salzburg is rich in cultural attractions, as well as its stunning natural backdrop of pristine lakes and mountains. Salzburg’s medieval old town is on the left bank of the Salzach River, opposite the New Town which was created during the 19th century. Home to the Salzburg Festival, the birthplace of Mozart and the location for the movie Sound of Music, Salzburg has long been a centre of art and culture with strong ties to Italy, as evidenced in its stunning Baroque architecture.
Here are 5 Salzburg attractions to visit during your stay.
Hohensalzburg Castle and the Altstadt
Head to Festungsgasse and take the glass funicular (Festungsbahn) or begin a 20-minute steep walk up the Festungsberg hill to reach Hohensalzburg Castle. There are more than 900 years of history to explore at this enigmatic citadel, strategically sited above the Altstadt. The largest preserved castle in Europe was the passion project of Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach who added to the original 1500’s structure. The fortress has courtyards, a museum and the famous Salzburg Bull organ among its many attractions. Pick up your audio guide and enjoy the stunning views over Salzburg and the surrounding mountains and forests, before heading down to explore the UNESCO-listed Altstadt. Salzburg’s 17th-century old town is a fascinating mix of café-lined cobbled streets and Baroque buildings wedged in between the River Salzach on one side and steep cliffs on the other. Sights include Salzburg Cathedral, the Dom Quarter museum complex and Mozart’s Birthplace.
Dedicated to the saints Rupert and Vergilius, Salzburg Cathedral was founded in 774, but today’s masterpiece of Baroque is the result of a 17th-century redesign by Prince-Bishop Wolf Dietrich who preferred the ornate Italian influence. Mozart was baptised here on 28 January 1756, and his bronze font is still in situ. He was the official court organist and was sufficiently inspired that he wrote much of his devotional music for the cathedral. The stuccoed, richly designed interior harks back to a golden age and is truly breathtaking. The cathedral’s green dome and twin towers are an iconic Salzburg landmark and provide the backdrop for the Christmas market as well as the yearly Jedermann production during the Salzburg Festival.
No visit to Salzburg would be complete without a visit to Mozart’s birthplace at Number 9 Getreidegasse. The boy genius and composer of classics such as The Marriage of Figaro spent the first 17 years of his life here before his family moved to the other side of the Salzach on Markatplatz Square. A combined ticket gives visitors entry to this second house. A must for Mozart fans, the museum contains portraits of the composer, family photos, letters, memorabilia and even his childhood violin and clavichord. Allow an hour or so to wander through the reconstructed apartments showing 18th-century life as it was in Mozart’s day.
Mirabell Palace and Gardens
The Baroque Mirabell Palace and Gardens are one of Salzburg’s most popular tourist attractions, mainly due to the fact it was the backdrop to the scene in the movie Sound of Music where the Von Trapp children sing Do-Re-Mi around the Pegasus fountain. A UNESCO-listed site, the Mirabell Palace once hosted concerts by Mozart and his family; today the Palace is home to the Mayor of Salzburg and regularly hosts weddings and cultural events. The Gardens were specifically designed to take in the vista of Salzburg Cathedral and the Fortress and are laid out in typical Baroque style. Look out for the famous Hedge Theatre, located in the western section, it hosts folk theatre and music events each summer.
Join a Sound of Music Tour
The 1965 movie Sound of Music, starring Julie Andrews, was filmed in and around Salzburg and became a massive worldwide hit, ensuring Salzburg’s place in celluloid history and guaranteeing its position as one of Europe’s most visited cities. To this day, legions of fans visit the movie’s locations, including the Mirabell Palace and Gardens, the Nonnberg Priory, St Peter’s Monastery and Catacombs, Karajan Square and the Horse Pond, among many others. The movie was based on the real-life story of the local Von Trapp Family who formed a choir and fled to America after WW2. There are multiple Sound of Music tours – take a coach, a carriage ride or even a rickshaw and visit the shoot locations.
Best time to visit Salzburg
If you can wait until autumn, the best time to visit Salzburg is generally September and October when there are fewer crowds and the sometimes overbearing summer heat has subsided. Spring, although sometimes chilly, is the best time to see the emerging blooms and attend the Salzburg Easter Festival. Summer is the true festival season when the Salzburg Festival is in full swing. Winter is perfect for skiers and those heading to the charming Christmas markets and festivals, with the first snowmaking its appearance in November.
Why Visit Salzburg
Nestled in the foothills of the Alps, Mozart’s hometown continues to attract visitors in their millions and rightly so. A UNESCO-listed old town boasting Baroque and medieval architecture alongside a world-class cultural and social scene makes for a seductive mix of old and new. Enjoy the myriad rustic bars and restaurants, the stunning mountain scenery and luxurious hotels and spas. Most of Salzburg’s attractions can be reached on foot but you can always take a romantic carriage ride to visit the sites. And if you’re a Sound of Music fan, you already know that Salzburg features highly on your bucket list.
AddressInnsbrucker Bundesstraße 95, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
Distance from Salzburg:
Salzburg Airport is a popular private jet destination in Austria. If you would like to book a private jet to or from Salzburg Airport, contact us for a quote.