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Salzburg Family Holidays & Breaks

Llama-trekking in Zell-am-See. Llama-trekking in Zell-am-See. © www.zellamsee-kaprun.com
Snow fun in Kaprun.Snow fun in Kaprun.© www.zellamsee-kaprun.com
View over Salzburg.View over Salzburg.© Austrian National Tourist Office/ Weinhaeupl W
Picnicking on local produce in the Salzburgerland.Picnicking on local produce in the Salzburgerland.© Austrian National Tourist Office/ Peter Rigaud
A farm in the Salzburgerland.A farm in the Salzburgerland.© Austrian National Tourist Office/ Peter Rigaud
Eisenriesenwelt ice caves, Salzburgerland.Eisenriesenwelt ice caves, Salzburgerland.© Eisenriesenwelt.at
Frozen lake at Zell-am-See. Frozen lake at Zell-am-See. © www.zellamsee-kaprun.com
Flying Time 2hrs
Carbon Footprint 0.96 CO2
Timezone GMT +1
Currency Euro

Today

Overview

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. 

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 with its array of great things to do as a family, including a toy museum (Spielzeug Museum) and a natural history and technology museum (Haus der Natur). 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 Hohensalzburg fortress, taking the near-vertical funicular up the rock face. Kids 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 townscape that enthrals with its clusters of ancient, extravagant buildings. Other must-visits in Salzburg with your family are Mozart’s Birthplace, with instruments dating from his days as a child prodigy, the cathedral (Dom), St Peter's Abbey, and 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. Ski Amadé (named after Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) unites 25 resorts in Salzburgerland and four other regions with 860km of piste on one lift pass, none more than an hour from the city. There's also year-yound skiing at Kaprun, one of the few places on Earth where you can enjoy the slopes in the morning and relax by the pool or lake in temperatures of 26°C+ in the afternoon. Kaprun is a charming lakeside village, but the big draw Kitzsteinhorn glacier with its guaranteed snow. Two other areas are covered by the Europa Sport Region lift pass; all cater to beginners and advanced skiers, so a family of differing abilities can enjoy being in the same general area. Beginners can learn on the Lechnerberg slopes next to Kaprun, or there are gentle slopes on the glacier ideal for learning. For intermediates and advance skiers there’s a great range on both the glacier and the Schmittenhöhe slopes. Even if you don’t ski, check out the glacier – the gondola ride is spectacular. There’s also an indoor–outdoor pool, bowling, tobogganing and tennis. In summer, in addition to skiing, Kaprun offers gold-panning, kayaking, hiking, mountain-biking and swimming, making it one of the best summer resorts in Austria. 

Near Kaprun, the picture-postcard town of Zell-am-See is great for shopping and/or an evening out.  Don't miss a family trekking expedition with llamas or alpacas, with the option of staying the night in a cabin.

Other major ski 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.

If you're wondering where to go in Austria in summer, we highly recommend the lovely Salzkammergut, to see Sound of Music locations (see above) but also to swim in picturesque Lake Wolfgang. Or come in winter and ice-skate on it.

Eat

Wiener Schnitzel (thinly sliced veal or pork, breaded and fried) is a favourite with kids, 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. 

The Green Market (Grüner Markt; Mon–Sat) is a must when visiting Salzburg with kids, 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.

Cost

Austria is not the cheapest family destination, but flights to Salzburg can be very good value, and there are some great accommodation deals. Eating in traditional rural Gasthöfe, especially at lunch, can save money too. Package can make family ski holidays in Austria more affordable.

By Nick Dalton

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