As the home of both Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and The Sound of Music, Salzburg, Austria is an incredible destination for both amateur and experienced travellers. Although Salzburg has contributed a lot to film and music culture worldwide, this magnificent Austrian city has even more to offer.
With picturesque views of the Central Eastern Alps, Salzburg provides an opportunity for a scenic, relaxing, and luxurious getaway. With stunning Baroque architecture and an iconic medieval fortress, there’s a ton of culture to explore that will leave you with a rich understanding of the city.
Salzburg is a small city with a population of only 150,000, making it a peaceful place to travel to while getting a taste of local life. While often overlooked by travellers in Western Europe, this is definitely a city that warrants a visit.
We all deserve a bit of indulgence from time to time, so why not treat yourself to an extravagant stay in Salzburg? Follow this Salzburg travel guide to discover how you can make your experience there as luxurious as possible.
This guide is perfect for those who are travelling to Salzburg on a luxury. We will show you what to do in Salzburg, where to stay, what to eat and how to get around, whether it’s a weekend in Salzburg or a long term stay.
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Table of Contents
The best time to visit Salzburg
While there’s never a bad time to visit Salzburg, certain seasons can make your trip extra special.
The festivities around Christmas and the New Year make winter the ideal time to visit. Salzburg becomes a snowy winter wonderland, and the infamous Christmas markets are always memorable.
Summer is also a popular time to visit because of the enjoyable warm weather. The renowned Salzburg Festival is held during the summertime, so book a trip during July or August to check out all of the music and drama events taking place. The shoulder months of May and September are also good if you want comfortable temperatures without the busy crowds.
How to get around Salzburg
Book your private airport arrival and departure transfers in advance using a site like Viator. Why not start and end your trip in comfort, with one less thing to worry about? A private, round-trip transfer also means skipping the long taxi lines. Be greeted upon arrival by your driver and met at your hotel lobby when it’s time to leave.
The public transport system is eco-friendly, clean and reliable. It can get you just about anywhere in the Salzburg city centre if you don’t feel like booking a taxi or are only travelling a short distance. The English-language app qando Salzburg makes the trolley buses easy to figure out by providing real-time schedule information.
Another mode of transport to remember is the Festungsbahn, a mountain cable car. If you wish to reach the Hohensalzburg Fortress on top of the Festungsberg mountain, a ride on the Festungsbahn takes only a minute.
What to expect in Salzburg
Due to Salzburg’s close proximity to Germany, the Austro-Bavarian dialect of German is spoken throughout the city. However, the majority of the locals can speak English fluently, particularly the younger student population.
Like all of Austria, Salzburg uses the euro. Check before leaving any tips, since service charges are usually added to the final bill at restaurants. For excellent service, five to 10% is ideal to leave a waiter or waitress. Many hotels often include service charges as well, but you can tip porters one or two euro per bag, and cleaning staff one or two euro per night. While this is not necessary, it is always appreciated. It’s also common to round up the fare when catching a taxi.
Luxury things to do in Salzburg
You deserve for your time in Salzburg to be as pleasant and lavish as possible! Here are a few suggestions on things to do in Salzburg that’ll have you feeling both luxurious and well-cultured.
Take time out at the spa
Why not start your time in Salzburg with some relaxation and pampering? Your first option is Aqua Salza in Golling. Although it’s close to the city, the surrounding mountains create a dream-like spa setting. Leave the world behind with a soak in the pools or a steam in the sauna. There are beauty and wellness packages available too that’ll have you refreshed for your next few days of sightseeing.
Alternatively, you can head to Therme Bad Vigaun, a half an hour south of the city centre. The thermal spa waters here are full of minerals to restore your health. After soaking in the bubbling pools, you can take an aroma steam bath or wander the surrounding gardens.
Attend a concert at Hohensalzburg Fortress
Throughout the year, numerous performances are held almost daily inside Hohensalzburg Fortress. During December, there are special Advent and Christmas concerts that run during both lunch and dinner. Built atop the Festungsberg hill in 1077, the Hohensalzburg Fortress is an iconic part of the city’s identity, and no trip to Salzburg is complete without a visit.
Sitting at an altitude of 506 metres, the fortress is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe. This history and grandeur add to the unique atmosphere of the castle concerts, ensuring an evening to remember.
The Mozart Chamber Orchestra of Salzburg and the Salzburg Mozart Ensemble commonly play inside the Golden Hall and the Burgsaal, typically following a three-course meal. For the deluxe VIP experience, you can book a seat on the restaurant’s scenic terrace. From this spot, you can take in the stunning mountainous views while sipping on a glass of sparkling wine.
Experience the Christmas markets
One of the top things to do in Salzburg in winter is to visit the Christmas markets. The city’s many festive, historic markets throughout November and December draw in crowds for their romantic charm and joyful atmosphere. Even if you don’t intend on doing any shopping, the markets are ideal for drinking the famous mulled wine, meeting new people, and listening to the Christmas carollers.
Wondering which markets you should check out? The Christmas market in Cathedral Square is one of the oldest markets in the world, with its origins beginning all the way back in the 15th century. The current Christkindlmarkt has been running since 1974, and incorporates local folk customs, Krampus parades, and traditional tree decorations. Merry melodies can always be heard, from sing-along choirs to traditional wind music. While the market is most magical at nighttime, it’s always open by 10 in the morning.
Feel like visiting more than one market? Be sure to sample some goodies at the Weihnachtsmarkt by Mirabell Palace. This enchanting market offers winter tea, hot punch, gluhwein, roasted chestnuts, spiced biscuits, and numerous other Austrian holiday specialities.
You can also take a trip to the courtyard of Hohensalzburg Fortress. This Advent market specialises in arts and crafts, which could make some fantastic, unique gifts for your loved ones.
Visit the best museums
Salzburg has some superb museums and galleries that’ll entertain and educate you about the city’s history.
The Salzburg Museum at the Neue Residenz is the number one place to go, as it covers a wide variety of interests. The award-winning museum has many permanent exhibitions with interesting presentations. On the first floor, you can learn about the reigns of the city’s archbishops and their influence on art, science, literature and architecture. In the Mirror Hall on the second floor is a treasure chamber filled with archaeological artefacts from the Middle Ages.
Connected to the Salzburg Museum is the Panorama Passage, an underground path that’ll take you to the Panorama Museum. This spot has a fantastic 26-metre-wide painting of Salzburg by Johann Michael Sattler.
Next, pay a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site DomQuartier. This gorgeous Baroque complex is so much more than a museum. In fact, there are five museums in one. Start in the opulent state rooms of the Alte Residenz and wander through the Residenz Gallery. In the Cathedral Museum, view the organ loft and thousand-year-old art treasures. Make your way to Saint Peter’s Museum, featuring spiritual exhibitions inside the oldest German-speaking abbey. End the walking tour of DomQuartier with a viewing of the Rossacher Collection of Baroque art in the North Oratory.
Lastly, you’ll want to see Mozart’s Birthplace. The Hagenauer Haus on Getreidegasse showcases 18th-century life through its authentic furnishings. A few of Mozart’s own instruments are on display too, including a violin and clavichord.
Go on a sleigh ride
Looking for unique and luxury things to do in Salzburg in winter? Hop on a private horse-drawn carriage from Salzburg and go on a journey through the charming, snow-covered countryside. Private transfers to and from your accommodation are provided, as well as a cosy blanket to keep you warm. After your sleigh ride is complete, you can visit a traditional local bar for a hot drink.
Luxury hotels to stay at in Salzburg
Wondering where to stay in Salzburg? With the city split in two by the Salzach River, there are fantastic hotel options on either side. If you want to be walking distance from Salzburg’s best sites, anywhere in the Old Town is perfect to stay. Here are two luxury hotels in Salzburg to consider when booking your accommodation, Airbnb and is also a great option for luxury stays.
Hotel Sacher is where you’ll want to stay for the ultimate luxury experience. As the oldest hotel in Salzburg, it offers timeless elegance with both antique and modern furnishings. With a variety of deluxe and presidential suites, you’ll have many spacious and elegant rooms to choose from. As a member of the Leading Hotels of the World, every amenity and comfort you can think of will be provided to you here. Centrally located by the Salzach River, you won’t need to go far to see Salzburg’s top attractions.
Hotel Schloss Monchstein is another incredible 5-star accommodation on the opposite side of the river. With only 24 rooms inside this castle atop the Mönchsberg hill, Hotel Schloss offers a level of peace and privacy. Upon arrival, you’ll receive a welcome drink, a fruit basket, and a traditional Gugelhupf cake. If you’re eager to be pampered during your trip, you’ll absolutely love the spa facilities. Book yourself any of the various beauty and wellness treatments provided, then relax in the hotel sauna.
Luxury eats in Salzburg
Treating yourself to an extravagant meal is the ultimate way to take your holiday to the next level. Luckily, there are numerous fine dining options in Salzburg that won’t disappoint.
The Glass Garden is easily one of the best Salzburg restaurants. With toque-awarded international cuisine and a tasting menu available for the indecisive eaters, you can’t go wrong here. Atop Mönchsberg at Hotel Schloss, the magnificent views over the city make this restaurant the spot to go for the best lunch in Salzburg. Don’t forget to leave room for some delicious macarons and mini cakes.
Magazin is a Michelin-starred restaurant with spacious, modern interiors and an extensive wine list. Its location a little west of the Old Town means you’ll find more locals here than tourists. With dishes like rhubarb lava cake, chestnut soup and octopus with pumpkin, the unique menu will have you curious to try as many new and interesting dishes as you can.
Restaurant Esszimmer is fantastic for any gluten-free, vegetarian or lactose intolerant eaters that don’t want to miss out on an evening of upscale dining. Their passion for great food shows through the inventive flavour combinations and ingredients, and the attentive, helpful service will make your meal a memorable one. The staff will recommend the perfect drink to accompany your meal of choice, whether alcoholic or non-alcoholic.
Luxury tours to do in Salzburg
One of the most memorable adventures to go on in the Salzburg area is a private tour of the ice caves and salt mines. Combine three natural wonders in one nine-hour tour that includes a private travel guide, private transportation and hotel pickup for you and your travel companions.
Eisriesenwelt in the Hochkogel Mountain of the Alps is guaranteed to take your breath away. At over 42 kilometres, it’s the largest limestone and ice cave in the world and receives over 200,000 tourists per year. After the ice cave, you’ll head to the picturesque Golling Waterfall. Lastly, you’ll visit Hallein Salt Mine, the oldest underground salt mine in the world. Used by Celtic tribes over 7,000 years ago, the salt mine helped put the Salzburg area on the map and grow its economy.
Another unmissable tour is the Original Sound of Music Private Tour. Hop in your exclusive Mercedes-Benz E 220 or VW luxury minibus and pass by all the iconic filming locations. You’ll visit Mirabell Gardens, Nonnberg Abbey, and the wedding church in Mondsee, all while hearing the insider goss from your attentive Salzburg tour guide. You’ll also get a chance to see the stunning rivers and lakes of Salzkammergut in person. If you wish to keep the experience going, you can upgrade to a one-hour apple strudel cooking class.
Recommend luxury tours in Austria:
- Original Sound of Music Private Tour
- Salzburg Lake District and Hallstatt Private Tour from Salzburg with Luxury Car
- Private Full Day Original Sound of Music and Eagle’s Nest Tour
- Werfen World’s Largest Ice Caves and Golling Waterfalls Tour
- Private Eagles Nest and Berchtesgaden Tour
- Ice Caves, Waterfalls, and Salt Mines Private Tour from Salzburg
- Private Half Day Salzburg City Tour including Red Bull Hangar-7
- Salzburg City Tour – Private Tour All Inclusive
- The South of Austria – Private Salzburg Sightseeing Tour
- Private Tour: Salzburg Christmas Markets
- Private Horse-Drawn Sleigh Ride from Salzburg
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