The city of Salzburg is a true gem of Central Europe and wonderful place to visit with kids. Famous for being the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and a major setting for the 1960s film The Sound of Music, the city has something to offer everyone. We stopped in Salzburg on our way from Vienna to Munich. After visiting the bustling Austrian capital, it was a nice change of pace.
Getting to Salzburg via Train
While there are plenty of ways to get to Salzburg, our preferred mode of transportation in Europe is always the train. Trains, especially in this part of the continent, are extremely efficient and comfortable. The train station is located just to the north of the city center. I recommend purchasing the Salzburg Card at the station TI (tourist information office) as the public bus is included. The main bus terminal is located directly in front of the train station. There are lots of different bus lines that leave from this stop, so be sure you know which bus will take you where you want to go.
Many cities across Europe offer a city pass that gives you access to various attractions, museums, and sometimes transportation at a discount. Not every card is worth the price depending on your itinerary, so make sure you do your research. However, the Salzburg Card is one of the best values that we have found. It covers all of the major sites, river cruise, and public transportation (including the Untersberg gondola and funicular to Hohensalzburg Fortress). If you are traveling with small children (ages 4 to 6 years old), check to see whether the places you are planning to visit offer free entrance before buying the card.
Where to Stay
The city center of Salzburg is very walkable. You’ll be able to reach all of the major sites on foot (except for the Day 2 itinerary). I recommend staying close to the river. This will place you within 10-15 minutes from every major point on this itinerary. Most of the major attractions are on the south side of the river in the historic city center (Altstadt). We stayed on the north side of the river near Mirabell Palace in the charming Hotel Stadkrug. If you decide to stay further from the city center, be sure to take advantage of the bus transportation included with your Salzburg Card.
Day 1 Itinerary
The most iconic landmark in Salzburg is the Hohensalzburg Fortress standing watch over the city. The fortress, perched on the hill, is easily accessible via the Festungsberg funicular. We visited the fortress first thing in the morning and found the grounds and museum fairly empty.
Explore Altstadt (Oldtown Salzburg)
After visiting the fortress, we rode the funicular back down and spent some time wandering the streets of Altstadt (Oldtown Salzburg). There are plenty of restaurants and shops in this part of the city.
Next, we visited Residenzplatz to check out the fountain and grab a quick bite to eat. The fountain, located in the middle of the square, is one of the largest baroque fountains in Central Europe.
Adjacent to Residenzplatz is the Salzburg Cathedral. The cathedral is famous for being the location where Mozart was baptized. Stop in and check out the amazing architecture and paintings through the cathedral.
Mozart Birthplace and Museum
Mozart’s birthplace and museum is a must see if you are visiting Salzburg. However, I’m not going to lie and say this was the most exciting place to visit. There is a good chance that most kids will be a little bored here (unless of course they’re some kind of musical prodigy). I recommend visiting the museum after taking a break for lunch to allow the kids to let out some energy. It’s a pretty small place, so you won’t spend a lot of time here.
I recommend giving the kids some background on Mozart before the trip. Purchase a book that you and your child can read together (like Who Was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart?). You can also find a selection of classical music on the seat-back entertainment center on the plane.
Mirabell Palace and Gardens
We visited the Mirabell Palace and Gardens during the summer. The gardens were beautiful and full of color. I’ve read that the grounds are underwhelming during the winter, so you might want to swap this itinerary item for another indoor activity (perhaps the Salzburg Museum) if visiting in the off season.
Day 2 Itinerary
Untersberg Mountain and Gondola
Untersberg Mountain is the prominent peak just south of Salzburg. The mountaintop can be reach via a 10-minute gondola ride. It’s not often that you can find such breathtaking views with the kids in tow.
Hellbrunn Palace and Trick Fountains
We’ve truly saved the best for last here. The trick fountains of Hellbrunn Palace were the highlight of our visit to Salzburg. In fact, I rank this as one of the most kid-friendly activities in all our trips to Europe.
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