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Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg is a city in central Austria, near the German (Bavarian) border with a population of some 150,000 in 2013. If you have seen the movie The Sound of Music, you may think you know all there is to see in Salzburg. Admittedly, it is difficult not to spontaneously burst into song when you're walking along the Salzach River, or climbing up to the Hohensalzburg fortress which looms over the city. But there is a lot more to this compact, courtly city than Julie Andrews.

Art lovers call Salzburg the Golden City of High Baroque; historians refer to it as the Florence of the North or the German Rome; and, of course, music lovers know it as the birthplace of one of the world's most beloved composers, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-91). If the young Mozart was the boy wonder of 18th-century Europe and Salzburg did him no particular honor in his lifetime, it is making up for it now. Since 1920 the world-famous Salzburger Festspiele (Salzburg Festival), the third-oldest on the continent, have honored "Wolferl" with performances of his works by the world's greatest musicians.

Weather in Salzburg

Salzburg has a moderate climate making it a relatively comfortable temperature all throughout the year.  It is a rainy place, though, so travelers should plan on having at least a few wet days during any Salzburg vacation.  The driest months of the year are December and January, which average approximately six days of rain each.  Though they have less rain, these months are likely to be snowy.  In fact, snow starts falling in Salzburg in November and continues through April.  Average low temperatures during the coldest months are in the mid-twenties.

The summer in Salzburg is considered very nice, with the hottest days averaging only seventy five degrees.  As late as May and as early as September, the average high temperature is below seventy.  The summer is generally rainy; June is the month with the most rain.  It is not uncommon for nearly half of the days of June to be rainy days.  The months surrounding that generally have approximately one third rainy days.  The rain is usually an intermittent rain and is not generally a bother after initial adjustment to the wet climate.

The best times to visit Salzburg is in September and October, when summer crowds have tapered off and you can enjoy the beautifully pruned gardens in comfortable temperatures for less. Although the hills begin to sing and bloom in spring, March and April are still a bit chilly. And summer's gorgeous weather brings increased traffic and temperatures. Winter, though not unbearably cold, will encourage brisk walks through the few gardens that are open. And you'll be right at home if you're a skier, as the surrounding mountains receive lots of snow. Whenever you go, bring an umbrella as precipitation is common throughout the year.

What to see in Salzburg

  • Salzburg attractions - It is the playful lightness that makes Salzburg, the miniature metropolis, so distinctive. The enchanting silhouette of the Fortress, Cathedral and church steeples in this baroque city north of the Alps. So beautiful that it is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site. So famous that its attractions are among the most famous in the world.
  • Charismatic companions - Most of the sights can be seen on a stroll through Salzburg's historic city center:  the Residence, the Carillon, the Cathedral, the Franciscan Church,  Mozart Square, the Horse Pond, Hofstallgasse, Hohensalzburg Fortress, St. Peter's Monastery. The spirit of days gone past can be felt at every turn:  the ages have left their mark on the churches, towers, façades, balustrades and galleries. Even the street names commemorate the people and events that shaped its history.
  • Palaces and parks - A number of palaces in the city and its vicinity beckon invitingly: Mirabell Palace, whose Marble Hall is used for wedding ceremonies, and the Mirabell Gardens, one of the most spectacular photo scenes in Salzburg. Hellbrunn Palace to the south of the city is known for its wondrous trick fountains in the summer and its charming Christmas market in the winter. Klessheim Palace in Wals, Leopoldskron Palace and Aigen Palace and its park are worth a trip into the countryside.
  • Museums and exhibitions - A host of outstanding galleries and museums such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Rupertinum, Mozart's Birthplace, the Mozart Residence, Salzburg Museum, the Cathedral Museum, the Baroque Museum and the Toy Museum invite visitors to a lazy afternoon of browsing. Precious objects of art, modern works of art and the occasional bizarre exhibit are there to admire and appreciate.
  • Salzburg perspectives - Whether you decide to explore Salzburg on foot, by horse-drawn carriage, on a cruise, by bike or by bus, alone or with a Salzburg guide – the city reveals its beauty from many different perspectives.
  • Climb the Kapuzinerberg or Mönchsberg for a stunning view of the city on the river with its characteristic architecture, colorful façades and tin roofs and beyond to the Gaisberg and Untersberg. Explore the surrounding towns and countryside on one of the many sightseeing tours.

What to do in Salzburg

Would you rather live like a king or a world-renowned classical composer? If you choose the former, you'll find yourself at home in the Hellbrunn Palace, admiring furniture and the grounds, or in the Mirabell Gardens, perusing the flowers. If you prefer the artistic lifestyle, you'll enjoy touring the residences of Mozart and traversing the streets of Altstadt (Old Town), passing ancient marketplaces and restaurants on the way. Both the regal and the musical converge at the Salzburg Cathedral, the religious hub for centuries and a must-see for visitors.

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  • Around Fortress Hohensalzburg - According to a popular saying in Salzburg, "If you can see the fortress, it's just about to rain; if you can't see it, it's already raining." Fortunately there are plenty of days when spectacular views can be had of Salzburg and the surrounding countryside from the top of this castle.
  • North of the River Salzach - Across the River Salzach in the Neustadt (New Town) area of historic Salzburg, Mirabell Palace and Gardens, the Landestheater, the Mozart Residence and the Mozarteum, the Church of the Holy Trinity, and the Kapuzinerkloster perched atop the Kapuzinerberg are worth a visit as well as the celebrated Salzburg Marionette Theater. If you want to see the most delightful Mozart landmark in this section of town, the Zauberflötenhäuschen—the mouthful used to describe the little summerhouse where he finished composing The Magic Flute—can be viewed when concerts are scheduled in the adjacent Mozarteum.
  • The Altstadt - Intent on becoming a patron of the arts, the prince-archbishop Wolf-Dietrich lavished much of his wealth on rebuilding Salzburg into a beautiful and baroque city in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. In turn, his grand townscape came to inspire the young Joannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Amadeus (Theophilus) Mozart. In fact, by growing up in the center of the city and composing already at five years of age, Mozart set lovely Salzburg itself to music. He was perhaps the most purely Austrian of all composers, a singer of the smiling Salzburgian countryside, of the city's baroque architecture. So even if you're not lucky enough to snag a ticket to a performance of The Marriage of Figaro or Don Giovanni in the Haus für Mozart, you can still enjoy his melodies just by strolling through his streets.
Highlights on the calendar

The highlights include the Easter and Whitsun Festival, the Dialogs at the Mozarteum, the Jazz Festival, the Winterfest during Advent, the Marionette Theater, The Sound of Music, szene salzburg, ballet performances, Salzburg Street Theater, romantic Palace Concerts and the countless church concerts.
Whatever your inclination may be: discover the wonderful contrast of the old and the new in Salzburg. Day after day. Evening after evening.

Shopping in Salzburg

A unique shopping experience awaits you in Salzburg. A variety of shops can be found in the Old City – on Getreidegasse, Judengasse and in the traditional passageways – including long-established shops, international chains and small boutiques. It certainly pays to cast a glance in every passageway and even the narrowest of streets. It could be hiding a wonderful treasure.

Salzburg also has the most modern and attractive shopping center in the world: the award-winning Europark has 130 stores for endless shopping.

Tradition & quality
Salzburg's historic city center is a bustling place for encounters: people live and work in the Old City and many traditional manufacturers are located near Getreidegasse. Master bakers, furriers, liqueur producers, weavers, confectioners, tailors and many other craftsmen fill the narrow streets and romantic courtyards with life. Due to their rich heritage, many count among the city's attractions: the old archbishops' pharmacy on Alter Markt, the Holzermayr chocolate shop, St. Peter's bakery, Anton Koppenwallner's goldsmith's shop or the Schatz confectionery.

Souvenirs and memorabilia
Be sure not to overlook the coffeehouses on your tour of the city:  they are perfect for a quiet cup of coffee in between and also offer wonderful (and delicious) souvenirs to take back home to family and friends.

Business hours
Stores in Salzburg are usually open from Monday to Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Some already open at 8:00 a.m. or close for a 1 or 2-hour lunch break.  A few shops, such as souvenir shops, are also open on Sundays and holidays.
The shops at the Europark are open from Monday to Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., on Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

What to eat in Salzburg

  • Epicurean delights in Salzburg - Shady beer gardens, traditional coffeehouses, posh gourmet restaurants, trendy bars and cozy inns invite epicures to wine and dine in Salzburg. The rich diversity of restaurants in the city cater to the palate of gourmets, people with a sweet tooth and night owls alike.
  • Mozart is omnipresent - You shouldn't just order a cup of coffee in the city's renowned coffeehouses, such as the Café Tomaselli, the oldest café in Austria. Taste the difference between the different coffee variations such as Melange (a mix of frothed milk and steamed coffee), Grosser Brauner (a large cup of steamed black coffee), Verlängerter (a larger but weaker version of the Grosser Brauner, typically served with milk) or Einspänner (strong, black coffee served in a high glass with a dash of whipped cream). And be sure to try one of the delicious pastries: a piece of apple strudel, Esterhazy cake or Mozart gateau. The Mozartkugel is a popular Salzburg souvenir: the distinctive combination of marzipan and chocolate will melt in your mouth.
  • A variety of culinary delights - Epicures will face endless choices in Salzburg: the state of Salzburg has the highest concentration of gourmet restaurants in Austria. Many of these fine dining establishments are located in the city of Salzburg. Salzburg is also a trendsetter when it comes to organic food: nearly 38 % of the agricultural enterprises are organic farmers. Even the simpler restaurants serve fine delicacies from the Salzburg region.
  • Four extraordinary breweries in the city of Salzburg invite guests to enjoy a hearty snack in a convivial atmosphere. Favorite places to grab a bite in between are the delicatessen shops in Salzburg's Old City, the stands at the Green Market or one of the weekly farmers' markets on Mirabell Square or Papageno Square.
  • Precious moments - Salzburg features inviting bars and pubs, wine bars, specialty restaurants and international gastronomy as well as trendy bars and hot spots. The big advantage: they are all located a stone's throw from each other.
  • If you plan to spend an evening outside of the city, you'll find wonderful dining locales in Salzburg's environs, including the Schlosswirt in Anif, the award-winning Pfefferschiff Hallwang or the Romantikhotel Gmachl in Bergheim.
  • Restaurants throughout the state have joined forces under the "Salzburger Wirtshauskultur" (Culture of Salzburg Inns) brand, serving their guests typical regional foods and beverages.

Nightlife in Salzburg

Before you arrive in Salzburg, do some advance research to determine the city's music schedule for the time you will be there, and book reservations; if you'll be attending the summer Salzburg Festival, this is a must. After you arrive in the city, any office of the Salzburg Tourist Office and most hotel concierge desks can provide you with schedules for all the arts performances held year-round in Salzburg, and you can find listings in the daily newspaper, Salzburger Nachrichten.

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Map of Salzburg »

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St. Blasius Church is located in the very centre of the Old Town and this historical Gothic church is actually the oldest of its kind in the whole of Austria, dating as far back as the early part of the 14th century.
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Toy Museum
Founded in 1978, the Toy Museum has the largest collection in Austria of European toys.
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Getreidegasse street
Getreidegasse street
A long yet narrow street running parallel to the river in the centre of town, with lots of shops, famous for the old (or old-style) signs of profession outside each store.
History heritage
Old Town Hall
Old Town Hall
One of the most important and historic landmarks in central Salzburg, the Altes Rathaus was built at the turn of the 15th century and remains in remarkable condition.
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