Salzburg City Guide

Salzburg in Austria is a city literally brimming with history and culture, most famously for its great musical heritage and favourite son, Mozart. Everybody who visits Salzburg will encounter the Mozart connection. You can’t really get away from it. Mozart Square stands in the centre of Salzburg, with a memorial to the composer, and you can also visit the house Mozart was born in, now a packed museum with articles like the composer’s violin and personal letters on show. The busy street where this house stands is also a thriving shopping mile, which can be extremely busy in high season. The Mozart connection around the city continues to include the Mozart family tomb, which can be seen in St Sebastian’s Church. You can even, if you fancy, experience a recital in this church in the evening, giving those real Mozart fans a feeling of truly experiencing the Mozart buzz in Salzburg to its full effect.


But Mozart aside, Salzburg has some impressive sights, including Residenz Castle. This building has undergone some changes since it first appeared in around 1120, when it was built as the official home of the archbishop of Salzburg. Since then the building has altered dramatically, although the original is still under all those changes somewhere. The building can be toured today, maintained as a museum, and a separate art gallery, housing some important Baroque works of art, which is also part of this historic building.


Another important historical sight in Salzburg is St Peter’s Abbey, which is also a building to have seen significant changes over the years. St Peter’s abbey is thought to have been built after the death of St Rupert, but a fire in around 1127 forced a re-build and only the original ground floor of the western tower is still visible.


The buildings, churches and museums in the city can take up plenty of your time and provide a visitor with much to think about, but in Salzburg you are never far from a musical experience, and if you are a fan of the Sound of Music there is a tour in Salzburg which will delight you. Of course if you are already a big fan of the musical you probably won’t need to be told which scenes took place where in Salzburg, but for those visitors new to The Sound of Music, one of these organised tours will answer any questions you might have. This tour has become increasingly popular with tourists, as it takes in the locations of the film and ties in exactly with what happened where. The sound track to the film will undoubtedly be played while you travel and your guide will explain the points of interest. It is a delightful tour even if you aren’t that big a fan and will show off some great locations, such as Mirabell Gradens and Leopoldskron Palace. If you don’t fancy the tour, the locations are still worth a visit on their own and stand up as great sights without the added connection of The Sound of Music.


For those travellers who have done the sights already or are looking for some time to experience the culture first hand, Austrian beer gardens can be one of the most exciting places to be while in Salzburg. These purpose built gardens and terraces are almost always nicely shaded by large chestnut trees and contain an atmosphere you really won’t find anywhere else. This tradition is over 3000 years old and is still going strong today. If you get the chance to go to one of these beer gardens, of which there are quite a few in Salzburg, you will understand why it is such a popular pass time. In addition to this you could also visit and tour the breweries in Salzburg, some of which are private breweries and still brew their own beers, complete with secret recipes.


Much of the sightseeing and the beer garden culture in particular takes place in the summer months in Austria when the streets can be full, but Salzburg is a year round destination with a variety of activities and events taking place throughout the year. Although it is obviously a fairly busy time for Salzburg, one of the best time to visit is at Christmas or just before when the city becomes one huge celebration and gives itself over to the festive season in a really big way. The streets in the centre of Salzburg are already pretty and fascinating to walk along, but in December there is an added magic to them that you won’t find in many other cities. Being the city where Silent Night was composed, Salzburg has an affinity with this time of year and manages to make you feel as if you are stepping back in time and experiencing a traditional Austrian Christmas. The famous Christmas market is a must and you could quite easily do the bulk of your gift shopping there. It’s a leisurely way to shop with street sellers offering mulled wine and gingerbread as you browse the stalls.


But whatever the season, if you have the time and the inclination there is a more unusual sight in this area for visitors to see. If you want to travel a little further a field, there are other attractions in the surrounding area of Austria that are interesting, if a little disturbing sometimes. Eagles Nest, Hitler’s former dwelling, is open to the public, but you won’t find any reference to the dictator there. Understandably this is done purposefully to stop any kind of ‘shrine’ being made of the building by those who would seek to do so, resulting in a house whose history we all know, but won’t see a hint of while looking around. It is a curious place then, impressive as it is, with stunning views, but holding the knowledge that this building was where the nazi party held their meetings.


There are other reasons to venture away from the city for a while though. The lakes and mountains of Austria are beautiful, with the expected chocolate box scenery, peace and quiet and amazing walks through pretty little villages. A trip into the Bavarian mountains is also an enjoyable excursion, even if only for the black forest gateaux that is served everywhere.


Salzburg and the surrounding area has much for a visitor to see and experience, year round and catering to many tastes and expectations. It’s a diverse city, with much more than a love of music under its hat.



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