Salzburg’s beautiful baroque old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s easy to see why. Historic architecture, elegant gardens, and charming lanes hark back to the time when the city was a part of the Holy Roman Empire, ruled by archbishops and brought to life by the salt trade. As the city of Mozart, it’s only fitting that Salzburg has developed into a cultural capital defined by music, theater, and art. Beyond the city, a world of natural wonders awaits, with beautiful mountain scenery, crystal-clear lakes, outdoor sports, luxurious spas, and romantic retreats in the SalzburgerLand.


Photo By Kirk Fisher/Shutterstock


Food and drink to try in Salzburg

Salzburg’s dining scene includes an array of traditional regional offerings, including various schnitzels, sausages, and dumplings, often served in historic surroundings. There are also more innovative restaurants, such as Esszimmer, which has a more modern European menu. Salzburg is also Austria’s unofficial beer capital, with several breweries, including Augustiner Bräu and Stiegl. Many visitors associate the city with chocolate, cakes, and pastries, thanks to the pistachio- and marzipan-filled Mozartkugel, the delicious Sachertorte, and the simple, fluffy Salzburger Nockerl pastry that is found in almost every good café.

Culture in Salzburg

Salzburg is synonymous with culture, from Mozart to modern art. Traditional costumes and folk dance are also important aspects of the local culture, as seen during the Rupertikirtag Festival, a folkloric celebration of Austrian culture that is held over several days each September. Locals proudly sport their dirndls and lederhosen while engaging in various folk dances, demonstrating and exhibiting handcrafts, and, of course, drinking beer. Each square in the city features stalls with local food specialties, candies, Austrian wines, and handicrafts, and also has carnival rides.


What would Salzburg be without music? Visitors to the city can be found exploring the world of Mozart, from his birthplace to places he performed, as well as enjoying modern performances of his works. People also enjoy searching out scenes from The Sound of Music at Mirabell Palace and Gardens, Hellbrunn Palace, Leopoldskron Palace, or Nonnberg Abbey. There is also The Sound of Music Tour of the city and its surroundings. Of course, Salzburg has more to offer than music. Magnificent cathedrals, great shopping, a flourishing food scene, and the incredible natural features of the Alps make it an exciting destination.


From Mozart Week in late January to the last days of the Christmas markets in December, there is no shortage of events to celebrate in the city. None, however, is as world–renowned as The Salzburg Festival, officially inaugurated in 1920 but based on an earlier festival that focused on Mozart. Each summer, the city fills with the sounds of orchestral and chamber music, opera, theater, and readings during the five-week festival, which runs from late July through late August. The highlight is the yearly performance of Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s Everyman morality play, staged at the Domplatz with the landmark baroque cathedral as a backdrop.

Practical Information

Salzburg lies on the Austria-Germany border and is most easily reached by air via Munich Airport and the highly efficient rail lines. While summers are warm and inviting, the city is also beautiful and easy to explore under a blanket of snow. The old town is compact and best seen by foot. Rooms are hard to come by during the Salzburg Festival, so booking well in advance of late-summer visits is advised. Power in continental Europe is 220 volts, so visitors from North America will need a plug adapter and possibly a power converter. (Most electronics will do just fine with only the former.) Visas are not required for stays of less than three months. The official language is German and the currency is the euro.

Guide Editor

Read Before You Go
In this Austrian city, traditions include historic Christmas markets, delicious pastries, and some more unusual holiday festivities.
Resources to help plan your trip
Salzburg has no shortage of atmospheric restaurants and shady beer gardens serving hearty sausages, schnitzels, dumplings, and potato dishes. Don’t skip these classics, but do save room for new arrivals that offer more creative and modern cuisine.
To get to Salzburg, Austria while river cruising on the Danube, dock in Linz, and then head for the hills. Most river cruise companies provide all-day excursions to Salzburg, known as the film location for The Sound of Music. Highlights include: Salzburg’s Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a visit to Mozart’s birthplace, and exploring the Hohensalzburg Fortress just above the city center.
It’s true that Salzburg is indeed alive with the Sound of Music, from Mozart to the Von Trapps, but there’s much more to this regal city. Salzburg’s beautiful Baroque palaces, enchanting gardens, cozy cafés, and stunning views of the Alps keep visitors singing the praises of this stylish Austrian city. The natural wonders of the Salzburger Land provide the perfect Alpine contrast to Salzburg’s city life, where lakes and waterfalls accent the stunning mountain scenery.
Along with Vienna, Salzburg and the Alps are Austria’s top draws and the perfect place to spend the second half of a two week trip. Mozart’s Salzburg is adorned with beautiful gardens, a mighty fortress and great museums. Salzburg is the perfect gateway to the Austrian Alps, dotted with quaint villages like Hallstatt, pristine lakes and Austria’s most well known resorts, including the famous Kitzbühel. Trek through the Alps or just enjoy the views from cities like Salzburg and Innsbruck.
With its incredibly well-preserved old town, Salzburg can transport travelers back to the time of Mozart and the prince-archbishops. We’ve compiled our suggestions for the best ways to get to know the city and its elegant and relaxed atmosphere.
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.