"In Salzburg I don’t know who I am," wrote Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1778. The city has no such doubt. Mozart is its favourite son and the trail that takes in his birthplace, family residence, Mozart Square and St. Sebastian's Church, where some of the Mozarts, although not Wolfgang, are buried, is a tourist draw. Just as popular are Sound of Music tours, which take in the locations from the film, including Mirabell Gardens, Nonnberg Abbey, Leopoldskron Palace and Hellbrunn Palace.
Perched on the border between Austria and Germany, Salzburg is divided by the River Salzach. On one side is the Unesco-listed Old Town, the Hohensalzburg, the Residenz, 17th-century Baroque cathedral, and Getreidegasse, one of Salzburg's oldest shopping streets.
New, or newer Salzburg, is on the other side of the river. This is where most of the hotels and the Mirabell Palace are.
Cheap flights to Salzburg touch down at Salzburg Airport and tourism is a joined-up affair. The Salzburg Card includes free admission to all the city's attractions and free public transport, while the Salzburg Super Ski Card covers more than 20 ski areas.
Search and compare: cheap flights to Salzburg
Nestled in the Alps, Salzburg has a continental climate with four distinct seasons. Summers are warm and humid. June through August temperatures are in the 20s (Celsius), and it rains frequently and hard. Winter days are often overcast, and the temperature hovers around the freezing point, staying cold enough for lots of snow. Spring and autumn are delightful. April and May are in the teens, as are September and October.
When to fly to Salzburg
Salzburg is busy year-round and does not have an off season. Spring and summer draw the biggest crowds. From mid-July through to August the city is jam-packed with visitors coming to the Salzburg Festival.
The Advent season runs from the end of November through Christmas and is becoming a more and more popular time to visit.
The Christmas and New Year’s holiday season brings many foreign visitors and Viennese to the ski slopes. The crowds return again over the Easter holiday.
As there is no real off season, Salzburg flights and hotel rates tend to be on the high side year-round. You may, however, find restaurants less crowded and possibly a reduced hotel rate in May, early June, September, and October.
Getting around Salzburg
Most of Salzburg’s sights are close to one another, so setting out on foot is a great way to explore the city. If you’re still suffering from jet lag, you can always hop on one of the buses or trains covering the city and outlying towns.
Salzburg insider information
- The Hohensalzburg Castle dates from the 11th century. The fully preserved fortress is the largest in central Europe and looks down upon the Old Town and the Salzach River valley. If you don't fancy walking up the hill to visit the castle, a funicular railway runs from the Old Town.
- In St Peter’s cemetery there is a grave with seven crosses. According to legend, this is the tomb of Sebastian Stumpfegger who is said to have murdered his seven wives by tickling them to death.
- Salzburg's most famous shopping district is the Getreidegasse. The area has lots of shops – jewellery, clothes, perfume – passageways and courtyards and the Mozart Museum is here too.
- The Salzburg Festival, held during July and August, and the Salzburg Easter Festival continues Salzburg’s famous link with music.
- The Mirabell Garden. Also the Zwerglgarten (“the garden of the dwarves”) with its statues of gnomes. It was built during the reign of Prince Archbishop Franz Anton Harrach in 1715.
- How do you solve a problem like Maria? Take a tour of the locations used in The Sound of Music.