As the fourth-largest city in Austria, Salzburg is famous for having one of the best-preserved city centers north of the Alps. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the city is notable for its baroque architecture, stunning natural beauty, and as the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. But North American visitors are perhaps more likely to recognize this beautiful Austrian locale as the setting for the film, The Sound of Music.
Your River Cruise Ship Docks…
Salzburg is usually offered as an overland excursion, typically when your ship is docked in Passau, Germany or Linz, Austria, depending on the itinerary. Because of the relative distance to be traveled from either port to Salzburg by motorcoach, a day here will typically be listed as an optional excursion, and can carry an extra surcharge. But the price can be well worth it for those looking to stray further into the Austrian countryside.
When in Salzburg…
Although you could happily spend your time in Salzburg strolling around its historic streets and squares, we’ll get the obvious question out of the way first: yes, you can take a Sound of Music tour here. But be mindful of your time here: if you’re on an overland excursion, expect your day to be fairly full and regimented. Still, there’s plenty of diversions in the town itself that can be wandered to and from easily:
- Coffee! Beer! Glühwein! No visit to Salzburg would be complete without sampling some of Austria’s famous beers or sipping a delicious coffee in one of Salzburg’s many cafes. River cruisers visiting during late November and early to mid-December can’t go wrong with a glass of the local glühwein, or mulled wine.
- Schnitzel! Again, if your particular itinerary allows for it, find a restaurant that serves up traditional Austrian cuisine; you’ll be glad you did.
- Mozart…Balls? Inspired by the famous composer, these delicious chocolaty-treats were originally developed in Salzburg’s Café Furst, but today can be found in a wide variety of shops in several Austrian locales, including some grocery stores. Lest you burst into a shop and say, “I’m looking for your finest Mozart Balls”, they are also known as Mozartkugeln. (it may also be best to do this before the pint of Austrian beer.)
- Mozarts’ Birth House. If you’re still able to move under your own power after all that beer, schnitzel and chocolaty-goodness, why not head over to the birthplace of Salzburg’s most famous son, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart? Located on Getreidegasse 9, the house contains some fascinating memorabilia about the famous composer and his family, who resided here from 1747 to 1773.
- Schloss Hellbrunn. A very reasonable €8.50 gets you into the impressive Schloss Hellbrunn, a former summer palace surrounded by attractive gardens, cleverly designed fountains and even an on-site zoo. For families traveling to Salzburg, this is a must-see.
- The Toy Museum. Exactly like it sounds, the Toy Museum, or Spielzeugmuseum houses a remarkable collection of traditional Austrian and European toys, as well as a long-running puppet show performed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. At €2.50 for adults and €2 for the little ones, it’s a great stop on any family visit.
River Cruisers Should Know!
- You’ll find English and German spoken throughout Salzburg. It still pays to know some basic German phrases, but you’ll find locals to be welcoming and forthcoming to English-speaking visitors.
- The Euro is the official currency of Austria. Other currencies can be exchanged at major banks and financial institutions.
- You can expect to spend about two hours in each direction transferring between Salzburg and your ship.
- The traditional Christmas song, Silent Night, was first composed and performed in the nearby town of Oberndorf.