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Salzburg Family Holidays & Breaks

The city of SalzburgThe city of Salzburg© Austrian National Tourist Office/ Weinhaeupl W
Eating in the SalzburgerlandEating in the Salzburgerland© Austrian National Tourist Office/ Peter Rigaud
Farming in the SalzburgerlandFarming in the Salzburgerland© Austrian National Tourist Office/ Peter Rigaud
Snowy landscapeSnowy landscape© Austrian National Tourist Office/ Peter Burgstaller
The city of SalzburgThe city of Salzburg© Austrian National Tourist Office/ Popp Hackner
Flying Time 2hrs
Carbon Footprint 0.96 CO2
Timezone GMT +1
Currency Euro



Salzburg is one of the most beautiful cities not only in Austria but in Europe as a whole – a mass of cathedrals and tiny streets, with the magnificent medieval Hohensalzburg fortress looming over all. It’s as wonderful when snow carpets the ancient squares as when wildflowers cover the slopes of the surrounding mountains. 

To make it idyllic as a destination for family holidays, there are various other attractions within a short bus-ride of the city, while the wider draws of the Salzburgerland region – castles, lakes, mountains, waterfalls, caves – can be explored by car. There's year-round skiing in Kaprun, and everywhere is full of sweet music, whether it’s Mozart (born in Salzburg) or The Sound of Music (filmed in the region).

Things to do with kids in Salzburg and the Salzburgerland

Explore Salzburg. Everything is clustered around the River Salzach, with the ornate Old Town on one side, the marginally less old New Town on the other, book-ended by two mini-mountains, the Mönchsberg and Kapuzinerburg. Start with the fortress Hohensalzburg, taking the near-vertical funicular up the rock face. Youngsters love climbing the pile of cannonballs, seeing the torture chamber and scaling the tower. Then walk along the Mönchsberg ridge, clambering over ancient fortifications, looking down on a magical townscape that enthrals children with its clusters of ancient, extravagant buildings. Other musts on family holidays are Mozart’s Birthplace, with instruments dating from his days as a child prodigy, the cathedral (Dom), St Peter's Abbey, and the colourful Getreidegasse shopping street. 

The Sound of Music settings are everywhere – not least the fountains and steps of Salzburg’s Mirabell Gardens. (A coach tour also gets you to settings out in the Salzkammergut lake district; see below). On the city outskirts, Hellbrunn Palace has amazing 400-year-old trick fountains where children adore getting soaked, as well as large, grassy grounds, a chunky adventure playground and a neighbouring zoo.

Venture into the great outdoors, which is is all around – hire bikes from Salzburg’s riverside kiosk for an easy ride along riverbank paths, or walk up the Kapuzinerburg, watching out for chamois. Within an hour of the city there are the staggering Eisriesenwelt ice caves and close to that the mountain-top Hohenwerfen fortress, the Salzwelten salt mines (where kids whoop as they whoosh down the slide that miners once used to get to work), the Untersberg, a mountain with a cable-car and hikes over to Germany, Krimml Falls, Europe’s highest waterfall, plus many other peaks, mountain railways, lakes and walks.

Ski. In winter, Salzburgerland is a ski paradise. Ski Amadé (named after Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) unites 25 resorts in five regions with 860km of piste on one lift pass, with nothing more than an hour from the city. There's also year-yound skiing at Kaprun, and other major resorts such as Saalbach-Hinterglemm and Kitzbühel (in the Tirol) are close by. Note that the Salzburgh Snow Shuttle bus runs to a different resort each day of the week, allowing you to comfortably stay in the city and still ski.

Delve into the lovely Salzkammergut, to see Sound of Music locations (see above) but also to swim in, or ice-skate on, picturesque Lake Wolfgang. 


Wiener Schnitzel (thinly sliced veal or pork, breaded and fried) is a favourite on family holidays, as are the giant cakes in the seemingly endless supply of cafés. Food here is good and wholesome – as in the rest of Austria, it’s based on local and often organic produce, including mountain lamb, fish from the lakes and plenty of pork. 

Salzburg’s Green Market (Grüner Markt; Mon–Sat) is a great place for cheeses, giant pretzels and freshly grilled sausages. Salzburg Nockerl, a towering soufflé, brown and crispy on top and drenched in icing sugar, is the city’s most famous dessert.

Don’t miss the Mozart Dinner Concert (including a children’s menu) in a hall in Stiftskeller St Peter, Europe’s oldest restaurant, dating back to 803 – musicians and singers in period dress perform between courses.

When to go to Salzburg and the Salzburgerland

Summer is fantastic and can be very hot, but be prepared for sudden rainstorms. The rest of the year can also be very pleasant, too, as Salzburg sits at the edge of the mountains rather than in them. 

The month before Christmas is magical for family holidays or breaks, with Salzburg hosting a stockingful of Advent markets – the massive Christkindlmarkt outside the cathedral (the Dom), one in the fortress, and another in the courtyard of Hellbrunn Palace.


Austria is not the cheapest of destinations for family holidays, but package deals can make ski trips affordable. In addition, flights to Salzburger can be very cheap, and there are some great accommodation deals to be had, while eating in traditional rural Gasthöfe, especially at lunch, can save you money.

By Nick Dalton

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