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Courtesy Tourismus Salzburg

Surrounded by a spectacular landscape of lakes and mountains and divided by the clear turquoise waters of the Salzach River, Salzburg is a baroque jewel on the northern boundary of the Alps. Shaped as much by its natural setting as by industrious human creativity, the city is a delightful mixture of old and new. Its lofty past easily blends with a lively present: monuments and modern works of art sit side-by-side; 600-year-old restaurants serve modern cuisine. Wandering along its narrow streets that lead to spacious squares, it is easy to feel the same inspiration as the prince-archbishops who created the magnificent churches and palaces. Every summer, the Salzburg Festival, often described as the most important music festival in the world, presents operas, concerts and plays, but music and cultural events can be found throughout the city year-round.

Cheat Sheet

Lay of the Land

The Old Town lies on the left bank of the Salzach River. This is where most of the historic sites are found, including the Residenzplatz, an incredible Baroque square, the Salzburg Cathedral and the Festival Theater, which stands on the 17th-century foundations of the court’s stables. The whole thing is presided over by Festung Hohensalzburg, the city’s towering landmark and Central Europe’s largest intact fortress.

  • Driving Time from Vienna: 2h45min
  • Driving Time from Munich: 1h30min
  • High-Speed Train From Vienna: 2h30min

When to Go

Every summer, the Baroque city of Salzburg comes alive with opera, music and theater during the multi-week Salzburg Festival. Hotels and restaurants book up fast during this time, so it pays to be an early planner. The city is also beautiful in the late spring and fall. Wintertime Salzburg is far less busy and the pre-holiday season is the epitome of Austrian Gemütlichkeit, with Christmas markets and decorations illuminating the old-world streets.

Getting Around

The Old Town is best explored on foot, as driving in the narrow streets (many of which are one-way or even pedestrian-only) can be a nightmare. If you are based outside of the city center, biking is also a nice way to get around.

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Beyond… Salzburg

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