Salzburg has shot up to the top of my list of favorite European cities, and the best way to see it is with the Salzburg Card! Today I’m giving a peek into what it covers and the best things to see with it.
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Nearly every major city has some kind of city card, and Salzburg is no exception. The question always remains: is it actually worth it?
Some are easy no’s: Berlin, for example, gets you free public transport and discounted entry into some museums, but not all, and not even the best ones unless you’re ready to shell out like crazy. It definitely doesn’t cover its own cost.
Others are maybe’s, like the Roma card: if you want to pack tons of art and history and culture into three days, then yes, worth it. But if you’re wanting to explore the city at a leisurely pace and you’ve done some of the classics in the city already, then maybe not.
But sometimes there are cards like the Salzburg card: not only does it include public transportation, but you get free entry into dozens of museums and discounted deals at others.
We bought a 72-hour Salburg card and used it a ton, including checking out spots we may have skipped otherwise. I’m so glad we did! Here are the spots we visited that were included in the Salzburg card price.
This DomQuartier is really about three museums in one, taking you through the former residence of the prince-archbishops of Salzburg, an art museum, and the cathedral in one. It might have been my favorite museum of Salzburg because it offered recreated rooms, both public and private, where the Bavarian rulers lived. The gorgeous rooms, already graced with intricately carved molding and elaborate ceiling murals, were full of Baroque furniture.
Like any good ruling family, they collected art, jewelry, and even exotic animal specimens, and much of their collection is on display throughout the museum. Whether you like architecture, religious relics, or paintings by Dutch masters, there is something for everyone here.
If you’re here during Christmas, I recommend going to DomQuartier in late afternoon, to see the Christmas markets from above as the sun sets. It’s lovely at any time, but when they turn on the twinkly lights it’s magical.
One of the great things about the Salzburg card is that it meant that it was easy to go check out the things that we weren’t sure we’d be interested in but are key in the history of Salzburg. Many people visit Salzburg because Mozart is from here, I get that. While I enjoy classical music, seeing Mozart’s Birthplace wasn’t a priority for me. But since entry was included, we checked it out!
The Mozart birthplace museum does a good job of teaching you about Mozart and his family in the building he was born in. It also has some great (small) recreations of scenes from his most famous operas on display.
The Hohensalzburg Fortress is the massive castle on the hill above Salzburg. You take the Festungsbahn – a funicular – up the mountain then have as much time as you want to explore the fortress compound.
The fortress has a lot to offer – you can spend a few hours up here exploring their several mini-museums scattered throughout the complex. Not to mention fabulous views on all sides, both of the city and of the surrounding countryside. There’s a museum of castle life, of construction and changes to the armaments, of war & military in Bavaria, of marionettes, and more. You can climb onto the roof of one of the towers, see the fortress’ chapel and if it’s December, find a Christmas market in the central square.
If you arrive before 11am, the Salzburg card gets you into the stateroom exhibit for free. So my advice is to go first thing and skip through the castle museum until you find that entrance, then circle back!
Just across the river from his birthplace stands Mozart’s Residence Museum. This one is also great if you’re a Mozart fan, and they also spend some time on the history of the building. This one was set up similarly to an apartment – and you could tell his family had come up in the world in the time since living in the home he was born in! In the evenings you can also catch concerts here.
While serious fans will still enjoy it, I preferred Mozart’s birthplace. If you only do one Mozart museum, do the birthplace.
Weihnactmuseum (Christmas Museum)
This little gem is the perfect example of something we probably wouldn’t have explored without the Salzburg Card. The Weihnactmuseum is a tiny museum, only about three rooms, telling the history of Christmas celebrations in Austria & southern Germany. One room tells the history of advent calendars and has a great collection of old school styles on display.
My favorite exhibit tells the history of Krampus, which my husband already knew and loved. An Austrian tradition, Krampus is St. Nicholas’ compatriot or evil counterpart, depending on who you ask. He comes around Christmas to the homes of bad children and beats, kidnaps, or eats them! Austrians don’t mess around with teaching their kids good behavior. 😉
There’s also a full living room scene showing the Austrian version of a classic Christmas morning setup, and dioramas of Christmas market stands. It was one of those places that were fun and a great way to spend an hour, but I probably wouldn’t have sprung for the 6€ entry if it wasn’t included. That’s the beauty of the Salzburg card!
Other Entries Worth Exploring
Because we visited Salzburg during their Christmas markets, we didn’t spend as much time as I usually do on museums and exploring the city. So there are so many other spots to see in the city I want to try next time!
- Hellbrun Palace: arguably one of the most famous buildings in Salzburg, it’s not open in winter so we couldn’t go. It’s also known for trick fountains, which spray you if you’re not paying attention!
- Salzach Cruise: River cruises always give a great way to get oriented to a city, and the card includes an hour tour boating along the river.
- Great panoramic views at the Untersberg cable car
- Catacombs at St. Peter’s Abbey
Depending on what your interests are, there’s also modern art, a toy museum, the zoo, an Austrian military history museum, and more!
The only significant thing that the Salzburg Card doesn’t help out with is Sound of Music tours. One of Salzburg’s claims to fame is much of the Sound of Music was filmed here, and there are tons of tours offered to see locations from iconic spots in the. We weren’t really interested in a tour, so we didn’t miss them.
Just a reminder, I’m not being paid to say this: I highly recommend the Salzburg card. You will definitely get your money’s worth!
Want more travel tips? Check out my travel page for advice on where to go, what to eat and how to maximize your travels!!