Things To Do In Salzburg With Kids
Last Updated: March 27, 2018
Salzburg was the first stop on our grand European trip in 2016. While I temporarily joined a family of three with a grade schooler in tow, we spent four days there before leaving to explore the rest of Europe. Growing up in Dresden I had always heard a lot about Salzburg and was excited to visit the City of Mozart once again. Salzburg is a popular destination for families and there are far more than what I have mentioned below. So we found plenty of things to do in Salzburg with kids.
This fourth-largest city in Austria has a long-standing spot in European history. The first settlements dated back to the 5th century BC, while Salzburg gained its name in the 8th century, which literally means “Salt Castle”. Salzburg charmingness and elegance has been described by far better writers and poets than I. So rather than talk about the architectures and cobble-stoned streets, I’m going to show you how you can spend a weekend in Salzburg with family.
Getting To And Around Salzburg with Kids
There are plenty of transport options in the city. During my last trip there I planned my Salzburg itinerary considering the fact that I flew into Salzburg W.A. Mozart International Airport. Once you there you can get to Salzburg by car or bus (No. 2, 10, 27). When in the city you can easily get around by walking or S-Bahn (metro). Taxis are also plentiful. The Old Town is pedestrianized so you probably won’t encounter too many cars there. I’ve been to Salzburg many times and I still prefer to get around it on foot and by S-Bahn.
Salzburg Old Town (Altstadt)
I felt our visit to Salzburg Old Town was like walking back into the Middle Ages. With pedestrian-oriented streets, Mozart’s birthplace and a lot of restaurants with kid-friendly food, this UNESCO was a highlight of our Salzburg itinerary. Altstadt attracts a lot of tourists seeking its sublime medieval charm, spectacular views of green mountains, and wide boulevards on the other side of the river Salzach.
Out of all the places I visited in Austria, this city is my favorite. We spent hours roaming the streets of the Salzburg. Just exploring by foot around the old town is just an astonishing experience. All major tourist attractions are no more than 10 minutes walking distance. And, while the Old Town can get packed with tourists, they don’t deter from the many sites in the city. Make this place a stop on your Salzburg itinerary.
Hohensalzburg Castle (Festung Hohensalzburg)
Hohensalzburg Fortress sits on top of a hill overlooking the Old Town quarter. Wherever you are in Salzburg, you can see the fortress from almost anywhere in the city and with 900 years of history behind it, it is listed among the best-preserved fortress in central Europe.
It was once a symbol of the power of the Prince-Archbishops who ruled over Salzburg for centuries. Today, it is open to the public, welcoming visitors year round. If you’re in Salzburg for a family weekend, chances are that Hohensalzburg Castle will be on your bucket list. Take the Festunsbhan (funicular), which departs from the Festungsgasse to get up there or you can also walk up to the fortress if you’d like. Once in the fortress, you will discover a marionette display and a torture chamber that is really cool!
From the top of the fortress, there are spectacular views over the Austrian countryside. So I did some awesome landscape photos. There are several restaurants in the fortress to grab a bite with family. If you want to introduce kids to classical music, go to an evening Fortress Concert with the music of Mozart. While I love the classical music we skipped the concert because we were on a tight budget. There is also a museum of Puppets and Marionettes in the “Fürstenkeller” (“Prince′s basement”).
Hangar 7 Aircraft Museum
Located in an intricate steel and glass dome at the Salzburg airport, the Hangar 7 aircraft museum is home to historic airplanes, helicopters, motorbikes, and Formula One race cars from the Red Bull and Torro Rosso teams. The hangar is a cool place to visit with kids for free.
After stepping inside this splendid museum, we were really impressed by the futuristic architecture and 1:1 models of polished Mitchell B-25 bomber, P-38 Lightning, and BO 105s helicopter. Apart from the museum, there are also a lounge, a bar overlooking the airport runway, Michelin-starred restaurant and a gift shop.
Hellbrunn Palace (Schloss Hellbrunn)
This impressive baroque palace was the summer residence of Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg. Built between 1613-1619 by Markus Sittikus, it features a lavishly decorated interior and a water-powered theater. The palace is also surrounded by gardens that were used a venue for extravagant parties, concerts and theater performances.
On a hot summer day, the Schloss Hellbrun fountains is something that makes kids happy. This particular Prince-Archbishop had a rather peculiar sense of humor. The hidden fountains surprise and spray guests while they take part on the tour like they did four centuries ago. In the Schloss Hellbrunn grounds, there is also the famous gazebo you have probably seen in The Sound of Music film. While the gazebo is free, you have to pay extra for going on a tour.
Salzburg Christmas Markets are one of my favorites. There are plenty of different markets tucked around the city, while Christkindlmarkt in Dom Square is the biggest and the oldest one. Each one has its own unique vibe and ambience. Thanks to numerous stalls draped with lights selling wood carvings and glass tree decorations, candleholders, and gingerbread biscuits, visiting Christmas Markets is an enriching experience for kids.
Ready to start planning your Salzburg winter itinerary? Stalls are set up in Salzburg from the end of November onwards. Don’t miss the side streets running off Getreidegasse street as well as behind the Mirabell Palace. If you’re looking for Christmas shopping on a budget, check out markets outside the historic center. For instance, villages of St Wolfgang and Strobl.
This toy museum possesses one of the largest collections in Austria. It gives a chance to learn how the toy-making industry evolved during the last 300 years. This place is home to a number of unique toys that you will hardly ever see in an ordinary toy shop.
Situated at Bürgerspitalgasse, this fabulous place is divided into two section. Museum section contains various historical displays of old toys and games, while the “hands-on” section is the place to have fun and learn step-by-step how an old shop looked and worked. They also have seasonal and special themed activities that keep kids entertained for hours.
Mirabell Palace and Gardens
The Mirabell Palace dates back to the early 1600’s and is one of the most popular wedding venues in the world. The reason we put Mirabell Palace on our Salzburg itinerary was the dwarf garden. Since I traveled in a group of four, the youngest team member Mia heard a lot about the marble dwarfs. Each of these dwarfs was made out of white marble and has a long history behind. The dwarf garden is among the quirkier things to do in Salzburg with kids.
I will be honest – I had no clue about the famous music scene set in the Mirabell Gardens until our trip there. The Pegasus Fountain is the focal point of the Do-Re-Mi song in the Sound of Music. The Mirabell Palace and Gardens are just great when it comes to classical statuary, formal parterres, and beautiful fountains. In summer the entire site may attract the crowds, but given the fact that the gardens are quite extensive, there is always a chance to find a quiet spot to relax.
Hallein Salt Mines and Celtic Village
Located about 10 km away from Salzburg, Hallein is home to salt mines that used to be a source of wealth for Prince-Archbishops. While kids need to be at least four years old to visit the mines, exploring them promises to be great fun.
Visiting the mines was a bit of a spontaneous decision. Because we didn’t do any research, we didn’t know quite what to expect. They say that the Salzwelten Hallein Salt mine is the oldest one in the world that allows visitors. While the Celts were the first to mine salt here, you will also find a Celtic Village (open-air museum) on the grounds that allows to experience Celtic history and culture.
We had a discount through our Salzburg Card, so it is wise to get one if you plan on going sightseeing in Salzburg too. We put white jumpsuits on over our clothes and hop on wooden slides that took us into the mine. These slides are a fascinating experience! As you explore the mines, you’ll learn that the slides were used by the miners to get deeper into the mountain. If you’re interested in learning more about the local culture, the Salt Mine guided tour is a great way to do just that.
Almost any Salzburg itinerary includes places that are about Mozart. Ours wasn’t an exception. We started our tour with the house on Getreidegasse where Mozart was born. This is perhaps, the most popular location in Salzburg.
Mozart’s birthplace has been turned into an engaging exhibit to get in touch with the maestro’s life and work. This tiny museum can be particularly interesting for kids. Because its exhibitions reveal Mozart’s early years, instruments and tells a bit about his family. Salzburg card covers both Mozart’s birthplace and residence and is great if you want to save money on sightseeing.
Of course, no trip to Salzburg is complete without trying some Mozart chocolate. With plenty of versions and cafes like Tomaselli where you can try them, the original pistachio marzipan balls are my favorite.
I am pretty sure that almost all local parents know the Hellbrunn Zoo, the oldest zoo in Austria. But when you pick things to do in Salzburg with kids the Hellbrunn Zoo doesn’t necessarily come to mind. Located near Hellbrunn Palace, Salzburg Zoo made keeping the animals in a habitat that is as near-natural as possible a high priority. The zoo is really clean and neat, and the animals are well treated.
The monkeys welcome you once in the zoo and we could have spent hours watching them. The zoo is a stroller-friendly and you can also grab a cart if you have kids in tow. As we were exploring it we noticed that there is always seating as well as tiny playgrounds between the enclosures. In some carnivore enclosures, the steel pipe was replaced by a glass wall, so one faces the lion eye to eye. If you getting around Salzburg by car, you can park it free of charge right in front of the zoo. Just be sure to validate a ticket at a vending machine next to the ticket office.
That was my list of things to do in Salzburg with kids. Did I miss something? Let me know in comments.