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10 things to do and see in Salzburg

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10 things to do and see in Salzburg

Salzburg is a charming and seductive city like few others. It looks like a fairy-tale city: placed on the banks of the Salzach River, among stunning mountains and not far from the paradise of Salzkammergut. From the top of the Mönchsberg,the Hohensalzburg fortress stands on the roofs of the old town (Altstadt), small architectural jewel embellished with squares, palaces and churches declared in 1997 a World Heritage Site.

Between XVI and XVII century the small town was transformed in the beautiful city of today thanks to  three princes-bishops, art and Italy lovers. Walking through the cobbled streets of the center, the ancient Austrian town reveals all its treasures: historic buildings such as the imposing Cathedral; magnificent monuments like the Mirabell Palace with its beautiful gardens, the sumptuous episcopal palace; picturesque streets from wrought iron signs; fantastic pastry shops and elegant cafés.

Salzburg is also known as a city of music, particularly as birthplace of Mozart, which is the main protagonist of the famous Salzburg Festival, an event that attracts lovers of orchestral music, theater and opera from around the world. The city offers thousands of events throughout the year – the Easter Festival, the Advent songs, the week of Mozart – and is rich of cultural institutions (theaters, concert halls, galleries, museums) .

Salzburg is also one of the favorite destinations for those who enjoy the Christmas markets. The Christmas carols, the  smell of roasted almonds, decorated squares enchant visitors with a joyous and traditional atmosphere.

In this page we suggest you 10 things to do and see absolutely during your holiday in Salzburg.

If you are looking for a hotel in Salzburg , we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 130 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Hellbrunn Castle in Salzburg

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In 1612 the Archbishop-Prince Marcus Sitticus commissioned the architect Santino Solari to build a summer residence in Italian style at the foot of Mount Hellbrunn, near Salzburg. Few years later it was built a beautiful suburban villa surrounded by a large park, still considered one of the finest Renaissance buildings.

Hellbrunn Castle in Salzburg
Hellbrunn Castle in Salzburg

The richest springs of the mountain used in a smart way, gave a unique feature to the sumptuous home making it a magical place made up of spectacular fountains, mysterious caves, mechanical games and attractive gardens. Since over four centuries, the Hellbrunn castle is famous for the Wasserspiele (fountains of the palace gardens) designed by the archbishop. The castle was also the place of great festivities, celebrations and cultural events of all kinds while the “Stone Theatre” (the oldest outdoor theatre in Europe) housed above all pastoralexhibitions. During the guided tour, including some amazing water features we suggest you to see: the hydraulic theatre (1749-52) in which about two hundred characters move thanks to the force of the water with the sound of an organ in a building; Neptune or rain cave covered with a mosaic of pebbles and shells; the Octagon with walls and ceiling with frescoes and trompe-l’oeil by Donato Mascagni (1615).

Where: Fürstenweg
How to get there: by Bus (line 25) from the station or city center
When:
Water games and Castle: 29 to 31 March, April, October, until November 4: 9 am – 4.30 pm; May, June, September: 9 am – 5.30 pm ; July, August: 9 am 6 pm*; July, August: guided tours at 7, 8, 9 pm* guided tours every half hour. Duration: waterworks 40 min., The castle 30 min.
Ticket:
Water games (guided tour), Castle (visit with audio guide): Adults € 9.50; Children (4-18 years); Students € 6.50. Groups of at least 20 adults € 7.50; family ticket (2 adults and 2 children) € 24.00. Free admission with the Salzburg Card. Free entrance to the park and orangery. Dogs € 2.00.

Salzburg Cathedral

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Salzburg Cathedral is the most important religious building in the city. The octagonal dome, the twin towers and the elegant marble façade of Untersberg adorned with statues of bishops and saints, characterize the monumental construction.

Salzburg Cathedral
Salzburg Cathedral

Founded in 767 by Bishop Virgil in honour of saints Rupert and Virgil (the patrons of the region), the cathedral was repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt, enlarged and modified. Its actual shape is the work of Italian Santino Solari, who made the first sacred baroque building. Severely damaged by the bombs of World War II, the church returned to his splendour in 1959 thanks to the restoration work. The great interior has a single nave with four chapels decorated with stucco and paintings. Beautiful polychrome decorations of the dome with scenes from the life and Passion of Christ, and the Altarpiece of the Resurrection of Mascagni. There is a magnificent main organ, surrounded by angels with musical instruments and the Romanesque font (1321) where Mozart was baptized. The crypt contains the tombs of the archbishops-principles and the remains of pre-existing buildings. Every year since 1920, during the opening of the Salzburg Festival, the Cathedral is the backdrop to the representation of the drama “Jedermann” while during the Christmas season becomes an evocative stage for the Advent songs

Where: Domplatz
How to get there: Subway: NevskyProspekt Station; pl. VosstanjaMayakovskaya; pl. Alexandra Nevskogo.
When: January, February, November: Monday-Saturday 8 am – 5 pm  hours, Sundays and weekdays from 1 – 5 pm; March, April, October, December: Monday-Saturday 8 am – 6 pm  hours, Sundays and weekdays from  1 – 6 pm ; May to September: Monday-Saturday  8 am – 7 pm , Sundays and weekdays 1 – 7 pm
Ticket: Free entrance. (During the Mass you cannot visit it)

Hohensalzburg Fortress in Salzburg

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From the top of the Mönchsberg ,the fortress ofHohensalzburg dominates the Altsdat, the oldest part of the city. Besides being one of the most famous emblems of Salzburg, the medieval military complex  is also one of the largest and best preserved fortresses in Europe.

Hohensalzburg Fortress in Salzburg
Hohensalzburg Fortress in Salzburg

Built in XI century by Archbishop Gebhart during the conflict between the Papacy and the Emperor, the fortress was expanded by Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach, to represent the power of the prince-bishops of Salzburg. So the arsenal, the granary, the warehouses, the church and the great towers, made the stronghold a kind small town where lived the ecclesiastical princes. The fortress  today hosts two museums (Puppet Museum and Fortress Museum) and major events such as the Fortress Concerts and Summer Academy, Art Academy held in summer.

The most interesting parts of the fortress are the rooms of the principles, among which the late Gothic “GoldeneStube”, the gold room, and “GoldeneSaal”, the golden hall, with a ceiling decoration imitating the starry sky. Do not miss, within the Trompeterturm (Tower trumpeter), the sixteenth-century pipe organ called “SalzburgerStier” (Bull Salzburg), because the initial and final agreements imitate the moo of a bull, used in the past to announce the opening and closing of the fortress gates.

Where: Mönchsberg
How to get there: From the city center (Festungsgasse): by feet (walking time 15 min.) Or by funicular railway
When:
January-April, October-December: 9.30 am -5 pm *; May to September: 9 am – 7 pm *; Easter and Advent weekends: 9.30 am – 6 pm  *; December 24: last entrance 2 pm  * Last admission into the internal spaces 30 min. before closing time
Ticket: “FestungsCARD” (Combined ticket: ascent and descent by funicular, courtyards, towers, halls of the archbishops, Museums. Visit with audio guide in 9 languages: tour through the interior (gallery spaces, torture chamber, tower lookout, “Salzburg Bull” – cylinder member). adults € 11.00, children (6-14 years) € 6.30; groups of 10 adults or more € 10.10; Groups of at least 10 children and teens (6-19 years) € 5.80; Families € 25.50. Ticket WITHOUT funicular: adults € 7.80, Children (6-15 years) € 4.40, Groups of 10 adults € 6.90; Groups of 10 children and adolescents (6-19 years) € 4.10; Families € 17.70. Free entrance with Salzburg Card.

The Residenz in Salzburg

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The Residenz is one of the most important historical buildings of the city, symbol of the power of the Prince Archbishops of Salzburg.

The Residenz in Salzburg
The Residenz in Salzburg

The palace was built between 1596 and 1619 by Prince Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau and enlarged in 1788-92. The magnificent building was the urban residence and the place of representation of the powerful archbishops until the early nineteenth century, when Salzburg became part of the Habsburg empire.

The sumptuous rooms (Prunkräume) of the baroque residence overlooking the beautiful Residenzplatz, reveal visitors great treasures such as paintings, monumental fireplaces, statues, crystal chandeliers, tapestries and frescos. Particularly interesting: a large living room (about 600 square meters) with a ceiling decorated with frescoes, now used as a concert hall; the Knights’ Hall with paintings by J.M. Rottmayr; the Audience Hall with astronomical clock; the Conference Hall where the young Mozart made several concerts. On the third floor of the Residenz there is the gallery with a collection of European paintings from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. The collection contains Dutch works of 1600, Italian Baroque works, the Austrian and French and especially Austrian paintings of the nineteenth century.

Where: Residenzplatz
How to get there: by feet in the old town centre
When: Tuesday – Sunday 10 am – 5 pm
Ticket: Combined ticket (Gallery and  Gala Hall ): Adults € 8.50; Children (6-14 years) € 2.70. Free entrance  with the Salzburg Card.

Mozart Places in Salzburg

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Salzburg is the birthplace of Mozart, the greatest genius of classical music of all time.

Mozart Places in Salzburg
Mozart Places in Salzburg

Even if he didn’t love his town, he is its most famous citizen and his presence can be felt everywhere. A square and a bridge were baptized with his name, to him was dedicated the Mozarteum, one of the most important music academies of Europe, cafes and restaurants have his name, there are delicious stuffed chocolate balls of marzipan (the famous “Mozartkugeln”, or the “Mozart balls”) with his name, souvenir shops have gadgets with his face. In Getreidegasse, in the heart of the city, there is the house where he was born and  spent the first 17 years of his life. The building turned into a museum in 1880 preserves on the third floor, portraits and family objects , official documents, personal belongings and some of the tools used by the composer (clavichord, grand piano, viola, violin concert and the small violin played by Amadeus child). In Makartplatz 8 is instead, the apartment in which the Mozart family moved in 1773 and where Amadeus lived  until 1780, when he moved to Vienna. The museum exhibition focuses on the life and works of the great musician that just within these walls composed the “Sheperd King” K. 208, “The Pretend Garden – Girl” K. 196 and “Idomeneo” K. 366.

Where: Getreidegasse 9; Makartplatz 8.
When: Every day from 9 am to 5.30 pm ; July and August from 9 am to 8 pm . Last admission 30 minutes before closing time
Ticket: (Combined ticket) Adults € 14.00; Children (6-14 years) € 5.00; Kids (15-18 years) € 6.00; students and senior citizens € 14.00. Free entrance with the Salzburg Card.

Christmas markets in Salzburg

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If you are looking for a city where the atmosphere of Christmas is magical, where lights and glittering decorations give it a special charm, where hundreds of stalls will invade the old town with their scents and flavours, then Salzburg is your ideal destination.

Christmas markets in Salzburg
Christmas markets in Salzburg

Every year during Advent time, the Austrian town is characterized by exciting live choirs, concerts, performances and above all, the traditional Christmas markets that for about a month color and enlightstreets and squares attracting thousands of visitors from around the world.

The SalzburgerChristkindlmarkt (Christ Child Market ) extending on Residence Square and Cathedral Square, is one of the oldest markets and one of the largest and most beautiful market in Europe. The wooden houses not only offer shopping opportunities (local  products, toys, Christmas ornaments) but they are also an opportunity to taste the sweets and traditional dishes like the “Jagatee”(black tea with” Obstler”or rum) or the fragrant mulled wine.

Also other markets scattered across the city and its surroundings offer moments of great joy and wonder. Do not miss: the charming Christmas market in the courtyard of Hohensalzburg Fortress which offers a breath-taking view of the illuminated city, the one that takes place in front of the Hellbrunn Palace, whose façade is transformed into a huge Advent calendar and finally, the small but popular market in Mirabell Square full of Christmas stalls.

The Music Festival in Salzburg

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For six weeks, the city of Mozart becomes the protagonist of one of the most prestigious cultural events in Europe: the Salzburg Festspiele, the music festival with a rich program of concerts, theatre and opera performances, staged in different parts of city (theatres, squares, concert halls, parks).

The Music Festival in Salzburg
The Music Festival in Salzburg

Every summer, between July and August, Salzburg becomes the most important international stage with great musicians, orchestra leader, singers and actors that make this festival a unique event with culture and entertainment. The writer Hugo von Hofmannsthal, the theatre director Max Reinhardt and the composer Richard Strauss in 1920 founded the Festival with the representation of the drama Jedermann, in the Cathedral Square.

Over the following years, the event was enriched with concerts and high-quality works. After a pause during the Second World War, in 1948, the Festival found its fame thanks to the work of Herbert von Karajan with which the festival became even more international. The latest editions of the Festival are characterized by the will to expand and modernize the program in order to attract also  a different kind audience.

MirabellCastle in Salzburg

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In 1606 Prince Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau built a castle for his mistress Salome Alt, whogave him 15 children. On the death of Wolf Dietrich, the Altenau Castel was renamed Mirabell castle by the will of Archbishop Markus Sitticus who succeeded him to death.

Mirabell Castle in Salzburg
Mirabell Castle in Salzburg

Completely rebuilt in Baroque style in 1721-27, destroyed by fire in 1818, the palace was rebuilt in a more sober style by Peter de Nobile, the court architect and director of the Viennese architecture school. Today the magnificent building houses the offices of the mayor and city council of Salzburg. The prestigious past can still be seen in some relics: the grand staircase and the Marble hall. The monumental staircase by Lukas von Hildebrandt with cherubs that adorn the imposing marble balustrade is one of the greatest treasures of the Palace. The sculptures in the niches are the masterpieces of the famous Georg Raphael Donner and are among the most beautiful sculptures of European Baroque. The magnificent Marmorsaal, former ballroom beautifully decorated with coloured stucco and gilding is now one of the most beautiful wedding halls in the world, as well as an excellent concert hall. The palace is famous, however, for its French gardens. Designed in 1690, the gardens have beautiful tree-lined streets, flowerbeds, statues and fountains decorated with sculptures. Do not miss the funny little men of stone symbolizing the trades, and Heckentheater (hedges theatre) built around 1717.

Where: Mirabellplatz
How to get there: by feet
When:
Marmorsaal: Monday, Wednesday and Thursday: 8 am -4 pm ; Tuesday and Friday: 1 – 6 pm .
The Grand staircase every 8am 6 pm .
Garden: daily from 6 am until sunset.
Heckentheater: closed during winter time
Ticket: free entrance

Things to eat in Salzburg

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The traditional Austrian and Bavarian cuisine has greatly influenced the cuisine of Salzburg, whose dishes, rich and hearty, well satisfy everybody

Things to eat in Salzburg
Things to eat in Salzburg

The meal usually begins with a soup of vegetables and/or meat followed by a meat dish such as fleischknodel (meatballs) or bierfleisch (beef stew with beer), or the classic boiled sausage with mustard. During the autumn people use to eat game, especially duck, pheasant and deer, cooked in every way.

We suggest you to try the Kaiserschmarrn, a type of crepe served with powdered sugar and apple juice and/or prune; the Bierkuchen, a cake made with beer, raisins, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and hazelnuts. Do not miss the famous Apfelstrudel (apple strudel) and the SalzburgerNockerl, a souffle covered with powdered sugar. Between drinks the most widespread beers  in the city are: the lager “Marzen”, the “Bockbier”, a very strong beer with about 10% alcohol and the “DunklesHefeweizen”, fruity flavour. Very popular, especially among young people, Red Bull, whose inventor, Dietrich Mateschitz, lives in Salzburg.

Where to sleep in Salzburg

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Salzburg has a good tourist offer, which turns out to be insufficient in two periods of the year: at Christmas, when the markets occupy every space of the city and the city is crowded  by tourists of all nations;in the summer, with the extraordinary Salzburg Festival, one of Europe’s most important cultural events.

Where to sleep in Salzburg
Where to sleep in Salzburg

Excluding these two periods, it’s easy to find rooms with affordable prices. The tourist accommodation is excellent, in line with the Austrian tradition. A 3-star hotel in the center, costs from 80 EUR per night, double occupancy.

If you are looking for a hotel in Salzburg, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 130 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com