Salzburg offers art, culture, historical and modern sights, thrilling events, living tradition, pleasure, relaxation and great food – and nearly all within walking distance. These are all part of the multitude of options open to holidaymakers in Salzburg that guarantee an unforgettable city break at this world cultural heritage site. The city of Salzburg is a stage for over 4000 cultural events every year and is home to around 20 baroque period churches. Salzburg was added to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site list in 1997.
Best Time to Travel
The best time to visit Salzburg is from September to October when summer crowds have tapered off and you can enjoy the beautifully pruned gardens in comfortable temperatures. Although the hills begin to sing and bloom in spring, March and April are still a bit chilly. And summer's gorgeous weather brings increased traffic, temperatures and prices. Winter, though not unbearably cold, will encourage brisk walks through the few gardens that are open. And you'll be right at home if you're a skier, as the surrounding mountains welcome lots of snow. Whenever you go, bring an umbrella as precipitation is common throughout the year.
Public transportation is so efficient in Salzburg that buses and taxis get their own lanes, but we recommend getting around on foot or bike instead. Transportation fares are reasonable though no bargain. More to the point, the city is so small that it's easy to navigate without getting on a bus or tram. And you'll see more too.
Tram and Bus
Salzburg's trams and buses operate on the same ticket system. Tickets cost €2.10 for a single journey if purchased from the driver or €1.90 if you buy from a ticket machine or Tabak stand. If you do plan to use public transportation as a primary means of traversing the city, you can get a 24-hour ticket for €5 (for adults) and €2.50 (for children). The main bus station, Südtirolerplatz, is outside of the Hauptbahnhof. Buses 1 and 4 will take you to the ring around the Aldstadt. For more information, visit www.stadtbus.at (in German only).
Night buses run until 12:45 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights and connect with late Lokalbahn trains departing from the Hauptbahnhof.
Salzburg's bus taxis cost €3 per trip and run nightly along 12 fixed routes. Buses going to the western suburbs pick up at Hanuschplatz and those going to Right Bank pick up at Theatergasse. They operate from 11:30 p.m. until 1:30 a.m., and until 3 a.m. on weekends.
Bike and Foot
Unless you are staying somewhere out of the way or taking a trip out to the suburbs, buses and trams are unnecessary. Salzburg is the kind of city that really should be explored on foot. Take advantage of its compact size.
Bikes are another great way to go, and bike rentals are inexpensive. Most hotels rent bikes for around €7. Some even lend them out for free. There are bike lanes throughout the city, so cyclists can feel safe biking around. The surrounding beautiful trails and paths make biking very rewarding. With 150km of bike trails, you'll be at no loss of places to go.
Taxis are abundant and reliable in Salzburg, and are a good choice if you’re making your way back to your hotel at night. You’ll find them circling the Old Town; or, there is a taxi depot in front of the Hauptbahnhof. Depending on the company, meters start at €3.60 and charge €.90 per kilometer.
Altstadt Salzburg (Old Town)
From Universitätsplatz, a number of wonderful passages known as Durchhäuser weave northward to Getreidegasse, a busy pedestrian area lined with old merchant homes dating from the 15th to 18th centuries. Highlights of a walking tour of this Old Town area are its many wrought-iron shop and inn signs, its beautiful old courtyards, as well as numerous galleries, boutiques, workshops, and cafés. At the eastern end of Getreidegasse lies the Kranzlmarkt with the old Town Hall (Rathaus) surrounded by more old medieval houses, some as high as five stories. In the Old Market (Alter Markt) stands the 13th-century Court Pharmacy (Hofapotheke), while in the middle of the square is the 17th-century St. Florian's Fountain with its octagonal basin and an even older spiral grille from 1583.
Salzburg is dominated by the picturesque fortress of Hohensalzburg, on the southeastern summit of the Mönchsberg. The original castle was built in 1077, and much of what's seen today dates from the early 1500s. You can reach the castle by a pleasant 20-minute walk from the Old Town center or via a funicular railway from Festungsgasse. The approach to the fortress passes through a number of impressive arched defensive gateways under the 17th-century Fire Bastion to the Reisszug, a unique hoist dating from 1504 once used to haul supplies.
At the very heart of Salzburg's Old Town (Altstadt) on the left bank of the Salzach is the Residenzplatz, one of the city's largest squares and the best place from which to begin exploring the many tourist attractions this beautiful city has to offer. The square is also frequently used for concerts and celebrations such as public New Year's Eve parties and an excellent Christmas Market.
The Salzburg Residenz and the Residenzgalerie
Dominating the western side of Salzburg's Residenzplatz is the Residenz, the former palace of the city's once powerful Prince Bishops. Built between 1596 and 1619, this huge palace is laid out around three courtyards, with a large marble gateway added in 1710. Spectacular State Apartments are lavishly decorated in Late Baroque and Early Neoclassical style and with exquisite wall and ceiling paintings, rich stucco ornaments, and handsome fireplaces. Of particular note are the Knights' Hall (Rittersaal), the Conference Hall (Konferenzsaal), and the splendid Audience Hall (Audienzsaal) containing Flemish tapestries from the 1600s and fine Parisian furniture.
The house where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on January 27th, 1756, includes the rooms once occupied by the Mozart family and a museum displaying numerous interesting mementos, including the young Mozart's violin, portraits, and original scores of his compositions. Engaging exhibits introduce his family members and their life and explore his operatic works, with costumes, set designs, and models and excerpts from his operas. One room is furnished as it would have been in his time.
Salzburg's Festival Theaters
Salzburg has long been famous for its music festivals, as shown by the city's many historic theaters and concert halls. Collectively known as the Festival Theaters (Festspielhäuser), these buildings consist of the large Festspielhaus and the smaller Haus für Mozart, between which is a foyer with fine frescoes, and the Karl-Böhm Hall, used for exhibitions and receptions. It's in this building, decorated by superb 17th-century frescoes, that the famous Salzburg Festival has been held since 1925, a five-week-long summer event showcasing the best of European music and drama.
Hallein and the Celtic Museum
The old Celtic town of Hallein on the River Salzach, a ten-minute-drive from Salzburg city center, is one of the several interesting places to visit near Salzburg, for its picturesque narrow streets, gateways, and statues, as well as the historic homes built in typical Salzach style. Hallein is the birthplace of organist Franz Xaver Gruber, composer of Silent Night. It's also where you'll find the Celtic Museum (Keltenmuseum Hallein), one of the largest and most complete museums of Celtic art and history in all Europe. In a former 17th-century orphanage, this reconstructed Celtic farmstead includes buildings and tools used by Celt settlers, as well as an ancient burial chamber.