Salzburg Travel Guide

Overview

City of Salzburg, Austria.
City of Salzburg, Austria. © Thomas Pintaric

Until 1816, Salzburg was a city-state, independent of the Habsburgs and ruled by powerful prince-archbishops. It is situated on the northern border of Austria in a picturesque setting surrounded by mountains, 70 miles (113km) southeast of Munich.

Famously Mozart's birthplace, the city celebrates its most famous son during the Salzburg Festival, which presents world-class performances of opera, drama and concerts each summer. Even those not particularly interested in music will find it difficult to ignore Mozart's influence: his image is on every postcard and chocolate box, and both his birthplace and family home are now museums offering detailed insight into his life and work.

The city is also the hometown of Baroque, and the south side of the river is a beautiful Baroque sprawl of charming churches, squares, houses and fountains. The original buildings were cleared in the late 1500s by Prince Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau in order to create a 'German Rome' in his vision.

All the main sights are within walking distance of the spacious old city (Altstadt), which is now largely pedestrianised. A few miles to the south of the city are the historic towns of Hallein and Werfen and to the west are the lakes of Salzberger, which are especially worth visiting during the spring and summer when the wildflowers are out.

Much like its cousin Vienna, Salzburg is a city rich in the heritage of classical music. Aside from indulging in the dramatic arts and old world soundscapes, visitors will revel in its refined architecture and its gorgeous natural surrounds.