A Complete Salzburg Winter Guide from Christmas Markets to Mozart
If you love the charm of Austrian towns, surrounded by breathtaking views while exploring the history at a leisurely pace, combined with enchanting Christmas Markets, you must consider this Salzburg winter guide for a perfect destination.
Visiting Salzburg during winter means crisp chilly nights exploring Salzburg Christmas Markets while drinking Glühwein, and discovering Mozart’s birthplace, and exploring medieval castles while listening to O Sound of Music. Everything is special about Salzburg in winter.
The name Salzburg means “salt fortress”, and it was used as a salt mine for thousands of years. This is how the city started as a powerful trading city.
In 1997, Salzburg became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its famous baroque architecture that remains in original condition, even after surviving World War II with very little damage, it includes one of Europe’s largest intact medieval fortresses.
Salzburg is a compact city, nestled in the foothills of the Alps, with a perfect blend of incredible history, rich culture and several Sound of Music sites to explore and enjoy as a day trip or as a vacation destination.
In this Salzburg Winter Guide you can find things to do, the best Salzburg winter actitivities, what Salzburg Christmas Markets to visit, how to explore the city and the highlights of Salzburg in winter.
I hope you enjoy it and safe travels!
BONUS RESOURCES: In this Salzburg Winter Guide you can find all the best tips and practical information you need for your visit. At the end you can find a bonus section for all the RESOURCES you need to plan and book your trip to Salzburg in winter, and to make your experience as easy, safe and fun as possible.
Salzburg Winter Travel Guide - PIN IT FOR LATER!
Winter in Salzburg: Orientation and Map
Winter in Salzburg is magical and a must place to visit with easy access from many places in Europe. It is only 3 hours driving distance from Vienna, located on the border with Germany, at the foot of the Alps.
Salzburg is the largest city in the area, and it makes a great place to visit and also, a great option for a base if you have more time to explore other places in Austria, such as Haldstatt and Berchtesgaden.
- FLY: You can choose to fly direct to Salzburg W.A. Mozard Airport (SZG), which is only 4km from the city center.
- TRAIN: A trip by train is also very popular, and you will arrive at the Hauptbahnhof Station.
- CAR: Driving is easy and the best way explore the area, here are the location from the major cities:
⇒ From Vienna (Austria): 296 km (184 miles) – 3:00 hours
⇒ From Munich (Germany): 144.5 km (90 miles) – 1:30 hour
⇒ From Venice (Italy): 446 km (277 miles) – 4:50 hours
⇒ From Prague (Czech Republic): 374 km (232 miles) – 4:16 hours
You don’t need a car or public transportation to explore Salzburg, as the city is very compact and you can explore by foot. But if your hotel is outside the town center, there is a trolley and bus system that serves the city. You can make the most of Salzburg winter Christmas Markets and the festive atmosphere of the city center.
Salzburg Winter Weather
Winter in Salzburg is cold!
The average daytime temperatures in winter ranges from 3°C to 6°C (37°F to 43°F).
The temperatures at night drop and the average ranges between -4°C to -2°C (25°F to 28°).
But don’t let the cold temperatures intimidate you. The city has a fairy tale setting during winter time, with the snow capping the building and the Alps, and the festive, crisp and chilly air.
There are always plenty of options to grab a coffee or Gluhwein to help you to keep warm.
Keep in mind in the winter in Salzburg, the daylight is reduced with the sunrise around 7:00 am and sunset around 4:00 pm.
Best Salzburg Winter Activities
STROLL AROUND THE OLD TOWN
If you are visiting Salzburg in winter, you will have the chance to see that the lanes and alleys of Salzburg’s Old Town are particularly charming during the Christmas season. In particular the shops of the Getreidegasse and the Goldgasse are often beautifully decorated.
The Old Town has a lovely atmosphere, surrounded by the Alps and with baroque architecture.
The Alstadt is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, with its cute stone streets, cathedrals and domes, and during winter its here that you can also find the most important Christmas Market in Salzburg.
Some of the iconic monuments of the Salzburg Old Town are St Peter’s Abbey, cemetery and catacombs, the Nonnberg monastery, Kapitelplatz which is an art piece with a large golden sphere holding a man on the top and the Salzburger Dome Cathedral.
Besides all the history you can also find several cafés, restaurants, and boutiques on the narrow streets decorated with Christmas lights making the evenings look even more inviting to continue exploring.
VISIT THE HOHENSALZBURG FORTRESS
The Hohensalzburg fortress was built in 1077, and it was one of Europe’s largest castles at that time, and it is actually the largest preserved castle in central Europe. This fortress was built to protect the archbishops and the principality from any possible attacks.
This is one of the top attractions in Salzburg, so try to get here early, at the opening time and you will avoid waiting in line and avoid the big crowds.
There are 2 ways to get to the fortress – One option is to ride the funicular, and the other is to walk up the steep path that leads to the entrance.
Once you make it to the fortress, you can find a couple of small museums and rooms that you can tour. But the best part of visiting the fortress, are the views from the top, where you have the best views of Salzburg and also, the countryside.
The whole tour takes about 1 hour, and if you choose to walk up to the fortress, the way back is so rewarding because of the views and scenic walk.
RESIDENZPLATZ - THE MAIN SQUARE IN SALZBURG
There are many squares in Salzburg, but Residenplatz is the largest and most popular.
It is sourrounded by the Salzburg Cathedral, the Panorama Museum and the Residenz Gallery. Also, it features the a large, stunning fountain in the center of the square. Be prepared to face the crowds, though, as a lot of people choose to visit Salzburg in winter.
GO ICE SKATING ON MOZART SQUARE DURING SALZBURG WINTER
Winter in Salzburg offers so many awesome options for extra activities, including ice skating in Mozart Square.
You can rent a pair of skates and enjoy the magical Christmas spirit and snowy weather.
VISIT THE SALZBURG CATHEDRAL
The Salzburg Cathedral was built in 774 and it was completely rebuilt several times, and it is where Mozart was baptized in 1756. It is an incredible Baroque architecture, with stunning carved details and murals.
The Cathedral is located in the center of the town so it is impossible to miss, and if you are visiting Salzburg in winter, here is where you can find the largest Christmas Market in Salzburg.
To visit is free, but it is encouraged to give some donation.
MOZART BIRTHPLACE MUSEUM
One of the most famous citizens of Salzburg is Mozart, and you can visit Mozart’s Birthplace Museum.
You can tour the house that Wolfgang Amadéus Mozart was born on January 27, 1756 and is today one of the most frequently visited museums in the world.
The house has three-stories of exhibitions about all the details of Mozart’s life, and the tour takes approximately one hour and costs $14.00 per person.
GO ON THE SOUND OF MUSIC TOUR
If you are a movie lover you have probably seen and know Salzburg as the city of The Sound of Music movie from 1965.
You can take the half-day tour, which starts in the section of Salzkammergut, part of the Austrian Alps, which is a stunning place and also, a UNESCO world heritage site.
Along the tour you will have the chance to learn more about Salzburg, some of the famous locations where the movie was filmed, and learn more about the famous Von Trapp family.
ENJOY CHRISTMAS IN SALZBURG
When I travel to a new place, one of my favorite things to do is to experience the local culture, and Salzburg in winter offers a perfect opportunity. You can go to the Salzburger Adventsingen, a traditional play in which local children sing in local dialects and put on a nativity play.
You can also visit the Nativity Scenes, the stable of Bethlehem that is normally displayed as an Alpine cabin with the Holy Family carved in wood. Or you can check out the Salzburger Heimatwerk, a culture and traditions association for events typical for the region.
MUST EAT LEBKUCHEN AND DRINK GLUHWEIN AT SALZBURG CHRISTMAS MARKET
Another great experience if you are visiting Salzburg in winter is to try the traditional Austrian Christmas cookies and pastries, which often become real competition for the best ones in the city. The Christmas Markets and bakeries around the town offer a large variety of them for you to choose from.
In the chilly weather, nothing beats warming up with Gluhwein, also known as hot, spiced wine sold in the markets and throughout the city in the winter. Lebkuchen and gluhwein will have you singing Christmas carols in your head as you absorb the magical atmosphere.
GO SKIING DURING WINTER IN SALZBURG
Every winter, thousands of ski enthusiasts travel to Salzburg and other areas in the Alps to explore picturesque valleys with excellent slopes.
O skiing season varies slightly from year to year and among different areas, but generally it peaks between late December and early March.
You can also snowboard, ride a sled, go cross-country skiing or skating – winter sports are big in Salzburg.
Best Salzburg Christmas Markets
Visiting Salzburg during wintertime means the opportunity to enjoy the magical Christmas Markets.
Salzburg offers amazing places to visit such as medieval castles, museums, cathedrals, and a fortress, but it is during the winter when the city holds the magical Christkindlmarket (Christmas Markets), one of the oldest Advent markets in the world.
Check the best Salzburg Christmas Markets and make sure if you are visiting Salzburg during winter, you visit a couple of these fairy tale markets.
SALZBURG CHRISTMAS MARKET CHRISTKINDLMARKET AM DOMPLATZ
The Christkindlmarkt am Domplatz is the largest and most famous Christmas Market in Salzburg has been held at the Cathedral Square since 1974.
This famous Christmas Market draws countless visitors from all over the world every Christmas season and is also very popular with the locals. The traditional huts blend to create a unique atmosphere, along with specia lighting that stretches above the market like romantic stars across the night sky.
The organizers have also ensured that visitors are treated to a colorful daily events program that includes readings of Christmas stories for children, Krampus parades, guided Christmas tours, choral concerts, visits by the “Christ Child”, festive melodies performed from the surrounding towers, and so much more.
ADVENT MARKET IN THE HOHENSALZBURG FORTRESS COURTYARD
The Advent Market under the linden trees in the castle courtyard is not only the highest Salzburg Christmas Market, but also one of the most atmospheric.
The stalls offer a fine selection of Salzburg delicacies, local handicraft and gift ideas. In this market you can find local arts and crafts, very charming gifts and a great lively social interaction, besides great views of the city.
ADVENT MAGIC IN HELBRUNN
The Advent market right outside the city of Salzburg has always been a memorable experience for the young.
From mid-November the facade of the palace with 24 windows turns into a huge Advent calendar.
In front of the Hellbrunn Palace becomes a fairy tale forest with more than 400 conifers, decorated with 13,000 red Christmas baubles and fairy lights, which light up the entire area during night-time and create a very sepcial atmosphere.
SALZBURG CHRISTMAS MARKET ON MIRABELL SQUARE
If you are looking to experience a small Christmas market and avoid the big crowds, this is a perfect option.
The Salzburg Christmas Market on Mirabell Square offers a wide selection of delicious food, mulled wine, and many amazing artistically decorated huts with out-of-the-ordinary products.
It is also located at a perfect location for public transportation, as the bus stop and the parking garage are located just directly on the opposite side, and the train station is only a few minutes walk away.
Final thoughts to visit Salzburg in winter
Salzburg is a great place to visit all year long, but winter in Salzburg makes it even more special. From charming streets and cozy cafes, to visiting the iconic highlights including castles, and baroque buildings while surrounded by the Alps covered in snow immerses you in a wonderland.
There is plenty to do in Salzburg, but visiting Salzburg in winter is even more delightful, thanks to the Christmas Markets.
Salzburg is a very popular destination during the Christmas holiday, so be aware that hotels often charge peak season rates. Visiting Salzburg in winter, especially in December is a busy, but magical experience.
If you have more time during your visit, you can stay in Salzburg and take day trips to Berchtesgaden in Germany and Hallstatt in Austria.
If you have any comments, or questions about any places to visit Salzburg in winter, please let me know in the comments, and visit the section RESOURCES below for all the useful and practical information you need to visit Salzburg in witnertime.
GET SALZBURG CARD
If you are planning to visit and explore Salzburg, I recommend to buy the Salzburg Card before you start your exploration.
It gives you FREE, easy and fast access to the top things to do in Salzburg, such as the main tourist attractions, museums and public transport.
BEST TIME TO VISIT SALZBURG
Salzburg is a great destination all year long. If you don’t have the chance to visit Salzburg in winter time, here are a list of the highlights for each season:
- January and February: These months are cold, with temperatures at or below freezing, and if the cold doesn’t bother you and you love snow, it is a perfect time to visit.
- March – May: Easter is a popular time to visit Salzburg, with celebrations including a parade, concerts, and traditional markets. The weather can be unpredicatable.
- June – September: Summer brings the most festivals and tourists to Salzburg. The Salzburg Dult Fair in June and St. Rupert’s Day Fair in September are the most popular, with traditional food, folk dancing, and carnival rides.
- October – November: The shoulder season brings cool weather and autumn leaves. Though you won’t experience any major celebrations, you’ll be free to roam the city without the crowds.
- December: sees the old town decked out for Christmas, with holiday markets selling traditional crafts, food, and mulled wine.
WHERE TO EAT IN SALZBURG
There are plenty of great options to eat in Salzburg, and I have listed a couple of recommendations:
- Augustiner Braustuebl – It is one of the best options for dining in Salzburg. Here you can drink local brewed beer and dine on local cuisine.
- Barenwirt – If you want to try authentic Austrian food, this is the place. Must try the Brathedndl (fried chicken).
- Gasthaus Zwettlers – This is charming 160 year-old restaurant. The Kaiser Karl (local beer) is available in different types.
- Johanneskeller – A cozy place in the middle of old town and affordable with great atmosphere.
AUSTRIA GUIDE BOOK
Prepare in advance for your trip. Here are some of the excellent guide books that can help you to prepare for your trip to Salzburg:
WHERE TO STAY IN SALZBURG
The best option for accommodation is in the city center, as Salzburg city center is very compact and easy to explore by foot.
The most popular areas for accommodations are the Old Town or Altstadt, and you can find a wide range of accommodations for every budget, and with a very convenient distance to the major attractions.
TRAVEL INSURANCE FOR YOUR SALZBURG TRIP
Considering that anything can go wrong with any trip, we don’t want to risk the fun, right? Risks are of breaking down, loosing your luggage, or even worse, having an accident and get injured.
I recommend and also use reliable insurance through World Nomads. You can just do a quick quote below, and you will be surprised to find out how little it can cost, for the benefit you will get.
RENTING A CAR IN SALZBURG
Road trips are a great option, and actually, my favorite way to explore Europe. You get the chance to see and do a lot in a short period of time. Request a quote from a reliable source and compare the prices from different car rentals available.
Parking in Salzburg is easy, as the town has parking garages located just outside the old town. I parked at the Linzer Gasse Parking Garage and it is just a short walk down a pedestrian street.
BEST TOUR OPTIONS AT SALZBURG
There are plenty of awesome activities to explore around Salzburg in winter. I have selected some great options for top organized tour. Check my top picks for you:
Salzburg Hallein Salt Mine – This fascinating tour through the tunnels of the salt mine in Hallein will provide an unforgettable adventure for the whole family.
Salzburg 2.5 hour Walking Tour – If you don’t have much time to explore the city, this is a great option to explore the center of Salzburg, the New and Old Town and learn about diverse history.
Salzburg Private City Tour by car – This is a great option to visit the main sights of the city with the comfortable of a private car and guide.
Salzkammergut Mountain & Lakes from Salzburg – If you have more time to explore the city’s surroundings, this tour is highly recommended. You will visit the fascinating ancient mountain retreat of the Habsburg royalty.