Salzburg, Austria is a beautiful place to visit, whether you come for the winter skiing in the Alps, or you visit in the summer to rummage through the traditional markets for antiques. It is a great city to explore for all ages. Music has put Salzburg on the map for many generations, from Mozart 300 years ago with his operas and classical music, to Rogers and Hammerstein with their Sound of Music Broadway hit. Whether you wish to stay in the city for a couple of days, or you’re just there for a day trip, Salzburg has a lot to offer for the entire family. Here are our favorite family friendly spots to discover on your next vacation.
Salzburg’s Mozart TrailSalzburg is the birthplace of the iconic composer Mozart. For those interested in his life and works you can spend at least an hour listening to a handheld guide and explore his birthplace along the trail. The part of the audio tour that our kids loved was listening to Mozart’s music. Not far from the trail is one of Mozart’s residences, sadly destroyed during WWII and reconstructed later. It is still worth a visit, especially if you have the Salzburg card. In the birth house, you can find documents detailing his early life, so if you’re a music buff or a fan of the composer this is a must see! For that perfect selfie with Mozart, stop by the Mozart Platz and photograph yourself with the composer’s statue from different angles. Make sure you don’t leave the city without trying the famous Marzipan chocolates named after the Salzburg’s beloved prodigy.
Mirabell Garden and ParkThis location was made famous by the Sound of Music movie, as the scene for the song “Do Re Mi” was filmed in its gardens. The palace, originally called Altenau Palace, was commissioned by Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau who presented it to his wife Salome Alt as a token of his love in 1606. It was renamed Mirabell by Wolf’s successor, Markus Sittikus von Hohenems, and the palace itself was also redesigned from 1721-1727. It is thanks to designer Lukas von Hildebrant that we have the palace as it is today; Hildebrant was the one who was able to integrate the individual buildings into a self-contained complex. Now the gardens of the palace are the real must see with iconic images such as the Pegasus Fountain installed by Kaspar Gras and the four groups of statues around the fountain that represent the four elements and were designed by Ottavio Mosto. Also, you have to stop by the Hedge Theater and visit the Dwarf Garden where you can see misshapen creatures made from white marble.
Hohensalzburg FortressThe Hohensalzburg Fortress rests atop of Festungerg, a small hill in Salzburg. This fortress was commissioned and began construction in 1077 by the command of Archbishop Gebhart von Salzburg. Gebhart decided to build it as a precaution due to an ongoing confrontation between the Pope and the Emperor who disagreed with each other about who should be the one to appoint the bishops. As a result, Gebhart maintained his loyalty to the Pope and ultimately sided with him. Thus the creation of the Hohensalzburg Fortress commenced. The fortress is considered one of the best preserved of its kind in Europe and is an iconic landmark of Austria with its towers peaking out high above the city’s skyline. The interior is richly decorated with intricate Gothic wood carvings and decorative paintings decorating the Golden Hall and the Golden Chamber. It is an informative place to visit for a couple of hours.
Haus der Natur MuseumWhat better place to spend a chilly afternoon than in a warm museum? The Haus der Natur Museum is Salzburg’s Natural History Museum. It holds all aspects of nature such as a science center, aquarium and even a reptile zoo. The aquarium is considered to be one of the best in Central Europe with high standards of maintenance. It is famous for its vast collection of Mediterranean species and tropical corals. The museum also has a 10,000-liter tank that is home to seawater sharks which you can see feeding every Monday. The reptile zoo is an extensive collection of lizards, snakes, and amphibians. There is also a hands-on section that allows kids to do experiments in science and engineering. It is a nicely organized museum with five floors, making it easy to find the exhibits.
Salzburger FreilichtmuseumThe Salzburger Freilictmuseum is an open aired museum where you can walk around and explore collections of farmhouses and pieces of folk art from all around the province of Salzburg. Located within the community of Groβgmain, there are about 60 farmhouses as well as traditional barns, skilled worker’s houses, mills, fields and orchards still in use, and mountain cabins. The whole museum spans over 500 years of folk art and architectural tradition of rural Salzburg and also has exhibits that display folk dance and musical performances.
Spielzeugmuseum (Toy Museum)Less of a museum and more of a kid’s playground, this is an ideal place to take young kids. There are some historical displays, but the location also provides great fantasy and imagination spots for kids to play. They have toys dating back to the 1600s. This museum is part of the Salzburg card. Before you leave town, make sure you take your kids to experience a slice of Sacher Torte at the Hotel Sacher. Here, you can not only discover old fashioned ruins but also enjoy a slice of Sacher Tore chocolate cake and some hot chocolate.
Autism Travel Tips:
- If possible, take the funicular for the Hohensalzburg Fortress. There is a guided tour on the funicular. It can be rather pricey, around 12 euros a person.
- Get the Salzburg city card to skip the lines. Some places, like the Mozart Trail, are free with the Salzburg card.
- Be aware that some of the signs in the local museums might be in German with no available English. Download a translator app on your phone to facilitate in explaining the exhibits to your kids.
- Go early to most places to avoid the crowds.