Thinking about experiencing winter in Salzburg Austria? This guide will tell you everything you need to know for the perfect trip to Salzburg in winter.
The Austrian city of Salzburg is one of Europe’s most magical winter destinations. It’s full of festive sparkle, the sweet smell of mulled wine drifts through the streets and a light dusting of snow coats the rooftop.
Salzburg in winter is a bit like a fairytale- atmospheric Christmas Markets, picturesque traditional streets with warm, seasonal lights, cosy cafes, classical music concerts and plenty of places to visit.
Visiting Salzburg in winter is the perfect pre-holiday treat or a way to experience the city without the crowds during the rest of the season.
Keep reading for everything you need to know about Salzburg Austria in winter, including where to stay, the top things to do and our recommendations for the best eats and tips for visiting.
*This ‘ Salzburg in winter ’ guide contains affiliate links meaning I might make a small profit if you choose to book at no extra cost to you. This helps me to keep providing you with top-quality content for free.
Why Visit Salzburg in the Winter?
Is Salzburg worth visiting? Yes, Salzburg is one of the best places to visit in Austria and a popular destination at Christmas time.
Winter is one of the most magical times to visit the Austrian city of Salzburg. During this time you’ll be able to see the city with a unique blend of enchanting landscapes, cultural festivities, and a vibrant, festive atmosphere.
With its snowy charm and picturesque vistas, especially on crisp, clear mornings, Salzburg in winter has a cosy allure that’s difficult to beat.
Its classical music heritage, cultural activities and Christmas markets mean it’s a great place to visit in Austria in winter.
Yes, it’s cold and the days are short but that leaves plenty of time to sip hot chocolate in cafes and cozy up by the fire at your hotel.
The Weather in Salzburg in Winter
Located in the heart of the Austrian Alps, Salzburg transforms into a winter wonderland during the winter months. Generally, you can expect temperatures to plummet and snowfall to blanket the picturesque city.
The winter climate in Salzburg is characterized by its chilly yet enchanting ambience, with temperatures often hovering between -1°C to 4°C (30°F to 39°F) during the day, and occasionally dropping below freezing at night.
Salzburg in the winter experiences frequent snowfall, creating a postcard-perfect landscape that beckons visitors to explore its historic streets, festive markets, and stunning natural surroundings.
Whether indulging in its magical Christmas markets, engaging in winter sports in the surrounding mountains or simply revelling in the city’s magical atmosphere, Salzburg’s winter weather sets the scene for an unforgettable Christmas season escape.
Weather in Salzburg in December
Average High: 4°C (39°F)
Average Low: -2°C (28°F)
Precipitation: 120mm of rain (16 days), snow is expected.
Winter descends on Salzburg in December, as the picturesque landscape is adorned with glistening snow and the festive spirit of the holiday season. Salzburg December weather is generally cold, overcast and snowy.
Temperatures dip down and hover just above and below freezing and snowfall is common at this time, especially in the hills surrounding the city.
The magical Christkindlmarkt, or Christmas market, in Salzburg’s Old Town comes alive with the aroma of roasted chestnuts and traditional Glühwein (mulled wine), while the resonating melodies of traditional carols add a warm, nostalgic touch to the crisp air.
Salzburg at Christmas is a really magical, yet cold time to visit the city.
Weather in Salzburg in January
Average High: 3°C (37°F)
Average Low: -4°C (24°F)
Precipitation: 116mm of rain (16 days), snow frequent
Winter continues in Salzburg in January. January is Salzburg’s coldest time of the year and also one of the quietest, when visiting after Christmas and New Year.
You’ll find Salzburg covered in a blanket of snow on most days and the days will be cold. There are quite a few rainy days in January so expect potential overcast conditions during your stay.
Amidst the wintry charm, visitors can partake in a variety of seasonal activities, from exhilarating skiing adventures in the nearby Alps ski resorts to savoring delectable local delicacies in cozy, candle-lit taverns.
Weather in Salzburg in February
Average High: 6°C (42°F)
Average Low: -2°C (28°F)
Precipitation: 115mm of rain (14 days), snow expected
In February, Salzburg continues to exude a captivating wintry charm, as the cityscape remains adorned with a pristine layer of snow, creating a postcard-perfect setting straight out of a fairy tale.
Salzburg temperatures in February hover between -2°C to 6°C, maintain a refreshing crispness in the air, and the surrounding peaks continue to be covered by a beautiful blanket of snow.
February is the best time for a winter sports vacation to Salzburg or to enjoy the city at its quietest time, full of wintery magic and charm.
Best Things to Do in Salzburg in Winter
There are many great attractions to make the most of in Salzburg in the winter. Let’s dive into what to do in Salzburg during the cold and crisp winter months.
Watch the sunrise from Basteiweg near Kapuzinerkloster Monastery
One of the best views in Salzburg is from the gardens surrounding Kapuzinerkloster. The gardens here are quite rustic and wild and the Basteiweg is a path that runs on the outer side of the old Capucin monastery.
The path follows the old fortified walls and here you’ll see some of the best views of Salzburg and Hohensalzburg Fortress. Find it on Google Maps here.
The path itself isn’t the most scenic in the wintertime and it can get a bit muddy, but the views from here are incredible, especially for sunrise. You’ll also find a lot of local dog walkers along the path early in the morning.
Wrap up warm and see Salzburg at its most beautiful time.
Then Take Photos on Imbergstiege
This spot is a bit of a hidden gem in Salzburg and it’s one of the best viewpoints in the city. If you’re making your way up to Basteiweg and Kapuzinerkloster Monastery then you might be led up Salzburg’s back alleys to this steep yet picturesque staircase.
Access the staircase from this point, climb to the top and you’ll be treated to some beautifully unique views of Salzburg. It’s easily one of the best hidden photo spots in Salzburg.
Visit the Salzburg Christmas Markets
Salzburg’s Christmas markets are one of the best things to do in Salzburg in December. Much like the festive German Christmas markets, Salzburg’s Christmas markets too are filled with beautiful, seasonal crafts, gifts and treats.
There are many different Christmas markets all around the city, pockets of festive cheer where you can stop for a local snack, some steaming gluhwein and punch and listen to a local choir singing ‘Silent Night’.
Salzburg’s Christmas markets open at the beginning of December and run until Christmas. A few will remain open until the beginning of January.
Make sure to visit the markets both during the day and at night to get the best of both worlds- fewer crowds during the day and festive lights and a buzzing atmosphere at night.
Here are the best Christmas markets in Salzburg to visit:
Salzburg Christkindlmarkt– Salzburg’s main Christmas Market is also one of the oldest in Europe. You’ll find it just outside the beautiful Salzburg Cathedral. Here you’ll find wooden huts selling a variety of festive items like clothing, candles and Christmas decorations as well as plenty of stalls with gluhwein and treats like roasted chestnuts. This is one of the best Christmas markets in Salzburg.
Mirabellplatz Christmas Market – A small, local Christmas market close to Mirabell Gardens. It’s perfect for a quick Christmas shop before grabbing some gluhwein and heading to the gardens for an afternoon stroll.
Hellbrunner Adventzauber– One of the smaller Christmas markets of Salzburg, particularly great for kids. Located in the Hellbrunn courtyard.
Hohensalzburg Fortress Christmas Market – In the courtyard of Hohensalzburg Fortress you’ll also find a lovely little Christmas market full of festive market stalls and events like a Krampus parade and children’s workshops.
Visiting Salzburg for Christmas markets is definitely a real highlight of any Salzburg Austria winter itinerary.
Stroll through the Altstadt
Altstadt simply translates as ‘Old Town’ and Salzburg’s is extremely picturesque. Walking around Salzburg Old Town in winter you’ll find colorful, beautiful buildings decorated with lights, beautiful, upscale store windows, bustling cafes, clock towers and the occasional church spire.
It’s a very atmospheric place to walk through and given the town’s small size, it won’t take long.
One of the most important and picturesque streets is Getreidegasse. In winter you’ll find it full of Christmas lights with shoppers strolling up and down.
In the Old Town, you’ll find many of Salzburg’s highlights in this guide as well as some top restaurants and cafes you can’t help but pop into.
Visit the Hohensalzburg Fortress and Stay for Sunset
In the early afternoon, a couple of hours before sunset, head up to the Hohensalzburg Fortress. You’ll no doubt have seen this magnificent stronghold sitting high above the city while exploring.
Constructed in the 11th century, this imposing medieval fortress boasts an impressive ensemble of towers, bastions, and courtyards, showcasing a remarkable fusion of Romanesque and Gothic design elements.
Its massive walls, which have withstood the test of time, serve as a testament to the strategic significance the fortress held in protecting the city and its residents.
When visiting you’ll be able to explore its historic chambers, and labyrinth passageways and visit the small exhibition space here too.
As you can imagine, the fortress has the best views down over Salzburg as well as the surrounding countryside on the opposite side. It’s the best spot for sunset too, so if it looks like you might have a good one, make sure to time your visit for sunset.
To get up to the Hohensalzburg Fortress, you can walk, or take the Festungsbahn, a mountainside cable car that leads up to the large fortress.
Visit Mozart’s Birthplace and Residence
Salzburg’s most famous export is easily Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and there’s no avoiding his legacy when in Salzburg. If you’re a fan of classical music or want to learn more about his life and work, then one of the best things to do in Salzburg is to visit Mozart’s birthplace and residence.
There are two significant Mozart locations to visit in Salzburg; his birthplace (Mozart Geburtshaus) and his residence- where he lived with his family during his teenage years.
Both Mozart’s Birthplace and Mozart’s Residence are included in the Salzburg Card- each as one separate admission-, so if you’re planning to get one, visiting at least one Mozart location might be worth it. More on the Salzburg Card below.
Explore the Sound of Music Filming Locations
Along with Mozart, Salzburg is also, -of course- famous for the Sound of Music. Much of the famous movie musical was filmed in and around Salzburg and during your winter stay you can visit many of the filming locations.
Some of them are easy to access such as Mirabell Gardens but others are outside the city and unless you have a car, they can be difficult to get to.
To make things easier, there are several different Sound of Music Tours available in Salzburg. Joining one of these excellent tours will save you a lot of time and research so they are a great idea.
This Original Sound of Music Tour is the best Sound of Music tour in Salzburg that’s super fun too.
Visit Salzburg DomQuartier
Salzburg’s DomQuartier is a unique museum complex that seamlessly integrates the city’s cathedral, the Residenz palace, and the Benedictine monastery of St. Peter. It offers visitors a comprehensive journey through the region’s history, art, and religious significance.
Visiting the DomQuartier you’ll be able to explore the opulent staterooms, exquisite art collections, and ornate chapels, immersing yourself in the lavish lifestyle of Salzburg’s former archbishops and the vibrant cultural tapestry that defines the city’s identity.
Entrance to Salzburg DomQuartier is included in the Salzburg Card.
Pop into Salzburg Cathedral
If you’re planning to visit DomQuartier you’ll already have a very privileged peek into the Cathedral from its upper balcony but if not, it’s worth paying a few euros for a glimpse into the city’s Baroque masterpiece. Salzburg Cathedral is one of the most popular places to visit in Salzburg.
Dedicated to Saint Rupert and Saint Vergilius, the cathedral boasts a magnificent façade adorned with intricate sculptures and elegant domes that dominate the skyline.
Inside, visitors are awed by the cathedral’s opulent interior, featuring awe-inspiring frescoes, elaborate altar pieces, and ornate chapels. It’s definitely worth a quick look and a wander.
Make the most of Winterfest
Winterfest is a brilliant arts festival that generally runs from late November until the beginning of January in cultural locations around Salzburg. When visiting during December, make sure not to miss out on some of these unique city events.
Most of the events revolve around modern Circus shows and acrobatic performances which make a great alternative to Salzburg’s classical theme.
To see what’s on check the Winterfest website here.
Take a Stroll Around Mirabell Palace and Gardens
One of the Sound of Music filming locations, Mirabell Palace is an enchanting 17th Century Baroque Palace located in the center of Salzburg. Inside you’ll find elegant marble staircases, ornate frescoes, and sumptuously decorated halls.
You can also visit the Marble Hall, a great venue for classical music concerts.
Around the Palace building, you’ll find the meticulously manicured gardens, adorned with vibrant flower beds, grand fountains, and statues, creating a serene and picturesque setting.
Winter in Salzburg means you probably won’t want to spend too much time outside yet the garden looks beautiful in a blanket of snow.
Access to the garden is free – it’s actually one of the few free things to do in Salzburg – and it’s open from dawn till dusk.
Visit the Modern Art Museum
The Museum der Moderne Salzburg, or Modern Art Museum, is a dynamic hub for contemporary art in Salzburg.
Located on the Mönchsberg hill, this architectural gem offers not only a superb collection of modern and contemporary artworks but also stunning panoramic views of the city and surrounding mountain tops.
Its two branches, one in the Old Town and the other on Mönchsberg, feature an array of contemporary paintings, sculptures, photography, and multimedia installations by both local and international artists.
The museum’s commitment to showcasing innovative and thought-provoking exhibitions makes it a captivating destination for art enthusiasts, providing a vibrant and ever-evolving perspective on the artistic landscape in Salzburg and beyond. If you have time, it’s definitely worth a look.
Take a Look Around Rudolf Budja Gallery
Rudolf Budja Gallery is one of the best private, modern art galleries in the center of Salzburg. If you’re a fan of art or hidden gems in a city, make sure to swing by this small gallery to see what’s on.
They have ever-changing displays of modern local and international art in an atmospheric and very photogenic space.
Attend a Mozart Concert
Calling all classic music fans! Is there a better place to attend a Mozart concert than in the town of the composer’s birth? When enjoying winter in Salzburg, make sure to consider attending a Mozart Concert.
You’ll be able to listen to all his most popular compositions in a beautiful Baroque setting and even enjoy a classic dinner at the same time.
This Best of Mozart Concert also includes a VIP Dinner at Hohensalzburg Fortress. Make sure not to miss it.
Have a look at this Mozart Concert which takes place at the historical Marble Hall at Mirabell Palace.
Take a Day Trip to Hallstatt
Probably one of the most beautiful villages in Austria, Hallstatt is something out of a fairytale. This charming lakeside village is surrounded by high mountains and features cute gingerbread cabin-like buildings, and pointy spired churches.
Hallstatt is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it truly is the epitome of the term ‘postcard-perfect village’.
Hallstatt is incredibly peaceful, especially early in the day in the winter months when you can stroll along the lakeside promenade, see the majestic swans swimming in the lake and admire all the pastel-coloured houses.
Make sure to also pop into a cafe for a hot chocolate to warm up before walking around all the hidden paths in the village to find the best views.
While Hallstatt makes one of the most perfect day trips from Salzburg, I recommend staying the night for the ultimate wintry slow travel experience.
The Salzburg Card- Is it Worth it?
The Salzburg Card is a one-off purchase that grants you free access to many of Salzburg’s cultural sights and historic buildings and includes free public transport around the city.
The Salzburg card is available for 24, 48 or 72 hours and includes free entry to many spots in this guide including, Salzburg Museum, Mozart Residence, the Fortress Museum, Hohensalzburg Fortress, DomQuartier, Mozart’s Birthplace and Salzburg Christmas Museum.
You can also use the Salzburg Card on the Fortress Funicular and the Monchsberg Lift.
The 24 hour Salzburg Card starts at €27 per adult during the winter months. Considering that you can visit many different attractions in 24 hours this is definitely worth the spend.
For those wanting to go slower (48 and 72 hours), you’ll get less value out of the card so it’s worth adding up the costs of the sites you want to visit and see if it’s worth the spend.
For those who are interested in visiting the city’s cultural sights and museums, especially over a 24-hour period, the Salzburg Card is definitely worth the spend.
It’s best to buy the Salzburg card online and the process is super easy. Buy yours here.
Where to Stay in Salzburg
There are many exquisite luxury and mid-range hotels in Salzburg. I recommend staying in the city center near the Old Town where everything is walkable. Here are some I recommend booking.
Hotel Sacher Salzburg – A classically designed, opulent, historical property right on the river in Central Salzburg. A must for those who really want to embody the city’s classical and traditional feel. It’s located just a short walk from everything. Book your stay here.
Hyperion Hotel Salzburg– For those after a more modern hotel stay, make sure not to miss this beautiful, newly renovated property right next to Mirabell Palace. Book your stay here.
Boutique Hotel Auersperg – Your boutique hotel option in Salzburg- Hotel Auersperg features chic, design-forward rooms, a gorgeous garden, attentive service and a fantastic breakfast- everything you need for a delightful short stay. Book your Stay here.
For more on where to stay, read Where to Stay in Salzburg Austria: Top Areas & Hotels
Where to Eat in Salzburg
Cafe Tomaselli– Popping into this historic cafe when in Salzburg for coffee, hot chocolate and some warm apple strudel is a must. Often frequented by Mozart, the cafe is a splendid spot to relax and watch the world go by. Their apple strudel is mighty good and so is their hot chocolate.
The Green Garden– This plant-based eatery is one of the best in the city.
Zwettler’s Wirtshaus – A rustic tavern serving traditional, down-to-earth Austrian fare. A must during your stay in Salzburg but make sure to reserve as it’s fairly small. Located in the city centre.
220GRAD – You’ll find this cafe in a number of locations around the city. Easily the best coffee in Salzburg and the hip locals know it too. Don’t miss it for your morning brew.
Hotel Stein Rooftop Bar– Whether you choose to stay here or not, their rooftop bar has some of the best views of Salzburg.
What to Pack for Salzburg in the Winter
Much like the rest of Central Europe in winter, Salzburg gets pretty chilly. When visiting Salzburg in the winter you’ll need to pack plenty of layers and warm clothes, especially if you plan to be outside exploring all day.
Salzburg has a good mix of outdoor and indoor attractions in the winter, meaning you can easily spend some time at a Christmas Market before heading into a museum to warm up a little.
Make sure to also bring an umbrella as precipitation in the winter months is frequent.
Top Tips Before Embarking on a Salzburg Winter Itinerary
↠ If you’re in Salzburg for 1 day, make sure to get a Salzburg Card to make the most of your time in the city and save some money on attractions at the same time.
↠ December is generally a very crowded and busy month as many visit Salzburg for Christmas. If visiting in December make sure to book your hotel well in advance and prepare for crowds. If you prefer to avoid Christmas in Salzburg and all its buzz, a visit in January or February is much quieter.
↠ The days in Salzburg in winter are short. Expect sunrise to be around 8 a.m. and sunset at 4 p.m. Due to this, you might want to visit some museums or do some indoor activities after dark.
↠ If you’re driving to Austria from another European country make sure your car has winter tires- they are obligatory in Austria in the winter months. It’s also a good idea to carry chains if the forecast predicts snow.
↠ If you’re driving in Austria you’ll also need to purchase a highway toll pass for the duration of your trip. You can do it online here. If you’re renting a car this may already be done for you but it’s worth checking with your rental company.
↠ Purchase data for Austria. Airalo’s Eurolink eSim works in Austria and everywhere else in the EU. It’s the best and easiest way to stay connected when travelling in Europe. Just make sure your phone is eSim compatible before purchasing.
Ready for your Salzburg winter trip? Have any questions or comments about your trip? Let me know in the box below.
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