What to do in Salzburg in winter

Although Vienna is a must-visit in Austria, Salzburg is a lot more charming, magical and a stunning city, much smaller in size than Vienna. A trip to Salzburg in winter means crisp chilly nights, snow-covered roofs, magical Christmas markets and the lovely smell of Gluhwein that'll pull you towards it. This is also the city where Mozart was born and it is clear of how proud they're of their heritage! Not only are the two houses that he lived in converted into museums, there are several Mozart concerts that take place throughout the city. And of course, there are the Mozart chocolates (pistachio marzipan balls in dark chocolate), which are not tough to find.

Salzburg is also where a lot of scenes from Sound of Music were shot and if you're a fan, you'll find tour companies organising the Sound of Music Trail Tour which will take you to some of the locations where the movie was shot. Nestled between snow-capped hills on three sides, Salzburg in winter looks absolutely remarkable, especially with the streets lit up during Christmas season.

Salzburg in winter

Recommended hotel stay in Salzburg: Hotel Imlauer and Brau


Hohensalzburg Fortress

Towering over the city, Hohensalzburg Fortress is hard to miss. Located on the top of a cliff in the backdrop of the city of Salzburg, you can either walk up to this medieval castle or take the funicular. The view from the top of the entire city is priceless! Inside the castle, you can opt for a 30-minute audio tour and visit the dungeons, staterooms, the courtyard and the compound. During the winter months, there is usually also a Christmas market held in the courtyard. However, when I visited, this entire area was under restoration so there was no Christmas market. There were cafés selling Gluhwein and tasty Christmas treats, with a view of the snow-covered city below.

There are several things to explore inside the fortress – a museum of puppetry, museum of the city and a chapel.

View from Hohensalzburg Castle

Hohensalzburg Castle


Old Town

The historic centre of Salzburg, also known as Salzburg Altstadt, is the best place to spend a few hours to soak in the lovely atmosphere of this birth city of Mozart. Against the backdrop of the surrounding hills, the old town is home to several monuments which are baroque architectural icons. The Alstadt is also a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, with its cobbled stone streets, cathedrals, domes and open areas. Most of the tourist attractions within Salzburg can be found here and during the winter months, this is where two of the biggest and most important Christmas markets of Salzburg are set up.

The monuments of the most historical and architectural importance here include St Peter’s Abbey, cemetery and catacombs, Nonnberg monastery, Kapitelplatz, an art piece with a large golden sphere holding a man on the top, and Salzburger Dome Cathedral. Apart from that, you will find several cafes and restaurants, and boutiques lining the narrow streets lit up beautifully during the evenings.

Old Town, Salzburg


Salzburg Cathedral

If you’re visiting Salzburg in winter, you’re likely to see the largest and most happening Christmas market of this city in front of the Salzburg Cathedral. Although the stunning architecture of the cathedral pales in front of the colourful and bright Christmas market, which clearly steals the show, the building stands tall in the backdrop, creating the perfect setting. Entrance to the cathedral is free of charge and a must do because it' is as lovely from the inside as it is from the outside.

Salzburg in winter
Dom Cathedral


Residenzplatz

Residenzplatz is located bang in the centre of the Old Town and forms the soul of the Altstadt area. A fountain decorated with sculptures is eminent here and during the summer, many concerts are held here. During winter, there’s yet another popular Christmas market held here. If you’re visiting Salzburg in winter, you will find the liveliest atmosphere here, especially in the evenings. Two palaces, significant of Baroque and Medieval architecture surround the area and you can visit the palaces and enjoy a self-guided audio tour if you’re interested.

Residenzplatz


Mirabell Palace

Unfortunately, I did not find the palaces of Salzburg as impressive as those of Vienna, although the town itself is a lot more charming. Mirabell Palace, one of the popular ones to visit in Salzburg, has beautiful gardens, although the architecture itself isn’t half as impressive as most other castles and forts. It does, however, have an amazing sculpture collection, which is one of the impressive features here. During the winter months, the gardens are likely to be covered with snow, taking away the beauty of the perfectly manicured plants and bushes and thus, Mirabell Palace is not one of my favourite places to visit in Salzburg in winter. However, it palace was featured in the famous movie Sound of Music, making for an interesting place to visit and explore, for the movie fans. Also, during the winter months, a rather small and cosy Christmas market can be found right outside the palace.


Hellbrun Palace

About 20 min from the town centre is this 400-year old palace that is not as majestic and attractive as a building as most other palaces in Austria or even Salzburg, however, the Trick Fountains and the Advent Market here in the winter definitely make it a great place to visit. The effects on the Trick Fountains are really unique and spellbinding, with its hidden water jets and water-powered figures.

The courtyard, where the Advent Market is held every year, provides a very romantic setting. The most intriguing part is that the windows of the palace are transformed into an advent calendar. The path leading to the trick fountains is lit with atmospheric lighting and a tall Christmas angel greets you near the grottos.


Mozart's Birthplace

One of the most popular museums to be visited in Salzburg in winter is Mozart’s Birthplace. A yellow building in Mozartplatz stands out and draws attention to the house where Mozart was born and lived during his formative years. You can tour the original rooms inside the house, with the furniture that dates to the 18th century and peek into original documents, letters and memorabilia from Mozart’s life. Mozart’s own violin and clavichord can also be found here.


Day trip to Hallstatt

This trip will be one you will not regret. A fairy-tale town, hidden away amidst mountains, around a gorgeous lake, Hallstatt is a sleepy village which has all ingredients for a romantic vacation. If you're looking to spend some time far away from all semblance of city life, in a charming place which is probably the most scenic place you'll see in Austria, a trip to Hallstatt is just what you need!

Salzburg in winter

Read my detailed post on a Day trip to Hallstatt from Salzburg.


Day trip to St Gilgen & St Wolfgang

Both St Gilgen and St Wolfgang are picturesque lakeside towns, situated in the idyllic countryside in Austria, not very far from Salzburg. If you're visiting Salzburg in winter, you must make it to these two not only for the lovely Christmas markets that are held here but also because of the authentic feel of charming Austrian villages that these two places offer.

St Gilgen

St Wolfgang

Read in detail my post on a Day-trip to St Wolfgang from Salzburg.


Lake Konigsee & Salt Mine Tour

Hardly 20 kms away from Salzburg is the famous Berchtesgaden salt mine. Here you can embark on a very adventurous tour into the very depths of the mountains! You will be dressed in overalls and taken in a miner's train into the mountains. Here, you will be explained, through gigantic 3D displays, the process of salt mining and the history associated with the place. A spectacular miner's slide and ferry across the underground lake are the highlights of this 1-hour guided tour.

After the tour, you can spend some time exploring the little quaint town of Berchtesgaden, where you can have lunch. Unfortunately, during the winter months, the iconic Eagle's Nest (Hitler's Mountain Retreat) is closed. However, you can visit Lake Konigsee, which hasn't yet frozen in the months of November - December. The town Konigsee is the access point to the lake and here you can find several restaurants and souvenir shops. You also have ferries and boats which can be used by the tourists to explore the area and tour the lake.


Visiting Vienna? Read about What to do in Vienna in winter.

127 thoughts on “What to do in Salzburg in winter”

  1. We’ve been to Salzburg quite a few times in the summer and the winter, very different but still very pretty. We were also fortunate to attend a wedding in St Gilgen and then take a boat across the lake to the White Horse Inn in St Wolfgang afterwards.

  2. I have heard so much about Salzburg and seen many beautiful pics too but this is the first time i am seeing Salzburg in winter and i must say WOW. The quaint little town is so charming and has lit up beautifully. I never thought of visiting this side of the world in winters due to obvious cold but you seem to have changed my mind.

  3. That looks really lovely! I think Salzburg looks maybe even more magical in winter 🙂 I should come soon and maybe even visit Königsee and Hallstadt directly! 🙂

  4. Salzburg is such a exotic place to me, a Southeast Asian boy. I’d love to travel there one day. This place seems to have everything resembling a peaceful Europe.

  5. Winter experience in Salzburg seems really good. I was there early spring-late winter, couldn’t experience either. 😀 Snow covered places have a charm of its own. Mirabell Palace looks so good.

  6. Salzburg in winter looks amazing! I always feel that visiting a smaller city rather than the more famous cities, gives you a true reflection on the country and locals. As a traveler, we always look to get into the local culture, food and experiences and Salzburg seems ideal for this! Great post!

    1. Thanks Yeshi, and I agree, that’s why I love visiting the smaller cities more than the large ones 🙂

  7. From your photos I see, winter in Salzburg gives it a different look. Especially during Christmas time. We were there last summer and the place was teeming with people. Old town looks so deserted and much more attractive.

  8. We would love to take our kids to Salzburg and experience the hometown of Mozart firsthand. It looks very special in the winter. I have to admit, the cathedral, palaces, and castles give me a severe case of wanderlust.

  9. While visiting Vienna in Austria, I had the option of heading to Salzburg, but I chose Prague instead. I don’t regret it though, but from your post, Salzburg is gorgeous in its own way. Lake Konigsee is so stunning, I would love to visit here one day. Apart from the palaces, Austrian mountains are a beauty. You clicked Austria in gorgeous photographs.

  10. Coming from a tropical country, this one really looks like a dream for me! It’s so magical, as if Im reading a storybook! I wish I could go visit Salzburg soon!

    1. I live in a pretty warm country myself (UAE) and that’s why the idea of experiencing a white Christmas really appealed to me!

  11. It’s really funny reading this in Summer – it’s sooo hot, so I got all dreamy looking at these pictures making the beautiful city of Salzburg a real winter wonderland 😉 Although Salzburg can be an alluring summer destination, too, it certainly is even more mesmerizing covered in snow.

    1. I am sure it’s equally charming in the summer. I’d love to visit during warmer months, just to see how different it is!

  12. Just got back from my European adventure a couple of weeks ago and I was supposed to go to Austria from Munich but we decided we didn’t have the time in the end! And now I regret not going to Salzburg when it was so close! I have heard the Old Town is stunning! Next time…

  13. European cities look so magical in the snow, don’t they? Austria is a country I have always wanted to visit…maybe someday when I can afford to. Salzburg is beautiful; I love the architecture. And Hallstatt is so gorgeous it looks straight out of a fairytale. Thanks for this detailed guide!

  14. You had me at Marzipan balls! Thanks for this very detailed post. I would have to agree with you Salzburg is definitely magical in the winter and definitely more to it than visiting the sound of music movie sets or cathedrals. Your pictures of Lake Konigsee & Salt Mine Tour look like they are out of a story book!

    1. Unfortunately, we couldn’t make it to Eagle’s Nest as it is closed in winter, there’s too much snow to get there. But the drive to the lake near it was totally magical.

  15. Salzburg is the first not-so-popular ‘foreign’ city (i.e not NY, London etc) that I came to know of! I found a travel guide in an old book store! I’m still yet to see the city!!!
    I really hope to visit later this year or early next year. Good to know that the place can be seen even in winter. Hallstatt is just fascinating…

  16. Salzburg in winter really does have the look and feel of a winter wonderland to it. your opening line of magical and a stunning city, – I don’t think you could say it any better, and so many great things to see and experience, the fortress must have been a great experience as well as the little markets, the stunning setting though feels like it should belong in a fairytale. I know I say this on a lot of your posts but this is another I must experience 😀

  17. We’ve visited Salzburg in the summer a couple times and it’s been fabulous. Your beautiful photos make me want to see it in the winter with all the pretty snow!

  18. I’ve been to Vienna, but I’ve always wanted to visit Salzburg! Being Canadian, I try and avoid the snow in winter but I think your photos have convinced me (especially those of the Old Town and of the lake) 😀

    1. Haha I am sure you get to see more than enough snow in Canada in winter, I can imagine you’d rather visit warmer places 🙂

  19. Salzburg looks amazing with its winter clothes on. There’s always something magical when traveling around Europe in the winter, isn’t there?

  20. So beautiful! I love the holidays and I agree with you that Salzburg is absolutely beautiful in the winter! So enchanting! I love your photos too! Great post! Cheers 🥂

  21. Your post on Salzburg is beautiful and very well worded. Congratulations! The pics are amazing and it looks like an exotic city to visit!
    The trip to St Wolfgang looks amazing and I would love to do it!

    1. I should’ve taken that tour too but I didn’t have the time. In hindsight, I feel bad that I missed it.

  22. Hallstatt looks like a real life Christmas card. I love the snow in Salzburg, but I would also love to visit the Eagle’s Nest. I don’t know how to choose. Perhaps I’ll just have to visit twice.

    1. You could visit both, on 2 different days, from Salzburg. Salzburg makes a good base for day trips 🙂

  23. Winter just brings so much romance (if you can brave the temperatures!) I would love to see the Christmas market and go when it is all covered in snow (with my toe warmers). I love your last photo with the mist and the lake, it is absolutely beautiful

  24. Wow! The place looks so dreamy and being a fan of winters, snow & heritage myself, I am gonna rock it when I visit Salzburg. View from Hohensalzburg Castle looks incredible so are the pictures of Hallstatt 🙂 Well written.

  25. Salzburg in the winter looks like a magical town. I love the view from Hohensalzburg Castle, so beautiful! Day trip to Hallstatt is definitely a must as well. Due to time limitation, I only went to Vienna but I’d love to visit Salzburg and Hallstatt on my next trip to Austria.

  26. I knew a lot of Sound of Music was filmed here but had no idea there were organised tours showing you some of the places! Now I definitely have to visit – I’m such a huge fan of the musical! You’re totally right that the palaces of Salzburg aren’t as impressive as in Vienna. Though I haven’t been to Salzburg yet, the ones I saw in Vienna just blew me away! And based on the photos and videos I’ve seen of the ones in Salzburg, though still quite impressive and beautiful, they don’t compare!

  27. What an amazing post about an equally amazing city. Austria as a country itself is so beautiful full of art and culture. From the snow peaked mountains to the historic cities. Thanks for sharing great tips and very handy will use when I travel to this beautiful city. The thing which catches my attention most is the famous Sound of Music 🎶 being shot extensively here Thanks for sharing a great post.

  28. I’m glad you mentioned Sound of Music here. I’ve never been to Saltzberg but as it’s one of my favourite childhood films I will always associate the two! It looks like a really quaint place to visit. The cathedral with all its Christmas decorations looks incredibly festive. I would love to visit Mozart’s birthplace. I also really like the sound of all those day trips. One to add to the list definitely!

  29. I’d never have thought to visit Salzburg in winter, but the scenery looks amazing in the snow. And of course it’s quieter and less expensive for hotel accommodationa as well. The Old Town looks glorious, I worry about slipping on snowy pavements but everything looks well-cleared in your photos.

    1. I was worried too about slipping but I did not face any issues at all! I loved every bit of my winter vacation in Austria 🙂

  30. Wow Hallstatt looks so dreamy in the winter!! It must be equally enchanting in the summer. I would love to visit Salzburg before Christmas – it is so decorative!

  31. You have created such a vivid image of Salzburg, that I feel like flying there right away! I had no idea that an iconic film like Sound Of Music was shot here. I would love to walk up to Hohensalzburg Fortress. The views are amazing from the Hohensalzburg Fortress. The old town looks so charming! A day trip to Hallstatt is the cherry on the cake. I am excited to visit it someday!

  32. Salzburg looks and sounds so beautiful to visit during the winter – a magical place! I had no idea that this is Mozart’s birth place, and I love learning that the Alstadt has UNESCO World Cultural Heritage status. I absolutely love visiting places that have UNESCO status. Ohhh and to visit the Christmas markets of Salzburg and enjoy a delicious gluhwein while it’s cold.

  33. Ahh when I read the headline I wasn’t able to recall where have I heard this name before and then as I read through the post, the mention of The Sound of the Music rang that bell. Salzburg is definitely a wonderful place and I wish I can pack my bags and head to those snow capped mountains right away. You have literally given me a place to add to my bucket list

  34. You got me with the mention of Sound of Music. For that itself, I would like this place. The Xmas markets do. Look amazing but I loved the sights and the description of Hohensalzburg castle. I even like the sound of the trick fountains. Must be fun to see that

    1. The view from Hohensalzburg castle is amazing. Usually every year they have a Christmas market there as well but when I went, the castle was under refurbishment so we didn’t have one.

  35. This is a well detailed and fabulous post, awesome pictures too. I am planning a trip to Austria very soon, hopefully it materializes sometime this year, my primary destination of course is Vienna, but with this, seeing Salzburg has suddenly become a priority. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Vienna is a nice city but if you’re someone like me, who loves small, cozy and charming cities, then Salzburg is a definite yes.

  36. I’m in love with Salzburg! I visited in the summer and would love to return in the winter. Everything looks so magical all covered in snow. I also went to St. Gilgen in the summer – would love to see it all wintery, too as it’s so gorgeous!

  37. Visiting Christmas Markets in Europe is my absolute favorite thing to do in winter. The Salzburg one looks lovely! And I hadn’t realized the Sound of Music was filmed there. I’d love to take the tour to see some of the filming locations.

    1. I haven’t been to many Advent Markets but I was happy that I picked Austria (and specifically Salzburg) for my Christmas vacation last year!

  38. Just looking at the photos makes me think of cold Christmas nights. Living in a tropical country, it does look dreamlike to me. I absolutely love that movie, it was my childhood- Sound of Music. <3

    1. Unfortunately I did not have the time to go on the Sound of Music tour, I’m sure it would’ve been a great experience!

  39. Salzburg is part of our proposed itinerary across East Europe that we have chalked out many years ago but is yet to see the light of day. Of course the city has acquired iconic status because of the ‘Sound of Music”, and Mozart, but clearly there is so much more to it. The city seems to don a totally different and beautiful avatar in winter. Hallstatt is another enchanting place that we look forward to visiting apart from Innsbruck. In the meantime loved reading your post.

  40. Salzburg is really magical city and one of my favorite towns of Austria. I went to Salzburg during Easter time and I find every street with full of festivities and easter decorations. I did not go through St. Wolfgang but it looks amazing. Salzburg under snow looks stunning.

  41. Salzburg is looking like straight from the fairytale in winter. I would like to spend most time exploring the Hohensalzburg Fortress, look at that view from the top – woah! My nights would be set in the Old Town. The palaces and the cathedral look lovely – I wish to squeeze in all in a day or two. Hallstatt would definitely need one more day. There is St. Gilgen and St. Wolfgang as well and I cannot miss the Salt Mine tour. I guess 5 days in Salzburg would be fine, Medha?

    1. 5 should be enough Shreya 🙂 You could even spend a night in Hallstatt, instead of just doing a day trip!

  42. Austria is truly a perfect country to explore in the winter! I have only been to Vienna but you’ve inspired me to put Salzburg! Residenzplatz would be my dream for christmas market visits!

  43. Salzburg looks like a fairytale town in winter. Especially Lake Konigsee. I wanted to see Mozart’s birthplace for so long, but still didn’t make it there. I’d love traveling there at Christmas time.

  44. I just have to get there for the Christmas Holidays. Visiting the markets is high on my list but many seem overwhelming with crowds and all. This scale appeals to me and I love that advent calendar in the windows. A trick fountain too?! So many treats.

    1. Salzburg’s markets are just perfect. They’re cozy, not too crowded and not too big either. It’s such a charming little town, with a vibe very different from that of the big city of Vienna.

  45. Oh, Salzburg just moved to the top of my bucket list! I would love to do a Sound of Music tour, and it just looks like a gorgeous place to visit in the winter. The snow makes it so magical!

  46. Ooh, I think wandering around the Altstadt would be simply magical, especially if there was snow on the ground. I’m a huge music fan, so fully immersing myself in Mozart history would be wonderful. Plus, it really wouldn’t matter which time of the year!

  47. Salzburg looks absolutely stunning in Winters. The sparkling sheet of snow covering everything around is simply a treat to the eyes. There are so many lovely places to visit. Hohensalzburg Castle as well as the Old Town look extremely fascinating, and so does the architecture of the Salzburg Cathedral and Hellbrun Palace. Everything around is simply magical and jaw dropping. Hopefully, I’ll visit Salzburg some day and enjoy these treats of nature myself.

  48. Gorgeous photos especially the last two one! I would prefer any place in summer rather than winter but after reading your post I think Salzburg doesnt seem so bad in winter! It must be magical to visit this city of Mozart right before Christmas for the christmas spirit! Its right next to where we live so I am sure we will visit one of these site one day! Particulary the Mirabell Palace because my daughters name is also Mirabelle!

  49. I am not a big city person myself, so smaller cities like Salzburg are where I enjoy visiting. I find it’s easier to get to know the city when it isn’t as big. The architecture and scenery here is amazing.

  50. I used to live in Zagreb, Croatia and have visited Salzburg which is only about 4 hour drive away.
    I must agree with you, Salzburg is more charming than Vienna.
    I wouldn’t mind to get married in Salzburg one day! 🙂

  51. For me Austria is one of the top places in Europe and I love it! They have amazing culture and towns. You have great tips for Salzburg – still didn’t reach it even it’s close to my home, maybe soon I hope 🙂

  52. Wow! I have never been to one of these old european cities and have always wanted to go in the winter. Thanks for sharing the experience, we’ll have to check it out.

    1. Austria is amazing, such a lovely combination of breathtaking landscapes, historical structures and charming towns. You should get there soon!

  53. Your snowy photos are beautiful. If we ever go for a skiing trip to Austria, may see Salzburg and Hallstatt in winter. Else they look like great destinations for exploring in summer as well.

  54. What a Winter Wonderland! Salzburg looks beautiful and there is so much to do even in the Winter months. Hallstatt is where you will find me.. I think I could just run away and go live there, it looks like an amazing place to explore. Nice Pics, very inviting.

  55. Salzburg looks delightful. I have friends who did the Sound of Music tour – what fun! I love the views from the Hohensalzburg Fortress, and a day trip to Hallstatt is obviously a good idea. The Advent Market also looks very cute!

  56. Salzburg is definitely on my list of places to visit and I like that you have suggested some other places to visit too. Hallstatt looks gorgeous and very photo worthy. I’d have to do the sound of music tour

  57. A friend of mine went to Salzburg a few years ago and did the Sound of Music tour. But your photos are so beautiful, I have never seen this side of the city before. It looks really charming. Would love to visit some day.

    1. It looks so different in the winter! Even I have seen pictures of Salzburg in summer, but I was pleasantly surprised with the snow-laden scenes!

  58. This sounds like such a beautiful adventure. I have wanted to see Salzburg and Haslstatt for a long time now. I must get them onto our bucket list! I will probably start singing Sound of Music tunes… 🙂

    1. They’re magical, both in the summer as well as the winter. Doesn’t matter what time of the year you go, but you must!

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