Salzburg is one of our favorite cities to visit as it offers history, charm, and delicious food. This week, we have Julia Slatcher from Inspire World Travel sharing her thoughts on this stunning Austrian city. Let’s see her top things to do in Salzburg, Austria with kids.
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What to do in Salzburg with Kids
With a pretty castle on a hilltop, gorgeous gardens, a charming old part of town that winds around a scenic river, delicious food and a fun vibe to boot, Salzburg offers plenty for families to enjoy! It’s a must visit destination on any road trip through Austria and Switzerland.
Note: while Hohensalzburg Fortress provides a fabulous vantage point over the city that is worth the 20 minute climb or quick funicular ride, I don’t think it’s a crime to skip this particular castle – especially if you have others on your itinerary. So, with that out of the way, on to my top 5 recommendations for families in Salzburg!
The Sound of Music tour
Whether or not you choose to do a fun (albeit a little cheesy) Sound of Music tour, the musical is a must-watch before going to Salzburg. Watching movies set in your destinations is a great way to get the kids excited for the trip! If your kids are too young for the film, consider exposing them to the soundtrack and maybe even a children’s book version of the Von Trapp’s famous story. If you do not take a tour, you and your children can still easily enjoy many of the movie’s settings and filming locations, including the beautiful Mirabell Gardens, the “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” gazebo and St. Peter’s cemetery (“Petersfriedhof”) – all of which are free to enjoy and lovely in their own right!
The Trick Fountains of Schloss Hellbrunn
Hellbrunn is one of my favorite places for families in all of Europe! I went when I was 14 and was so excited to take my own children here – and they loved it even more than I had. The trick fountains are SO MUCH FUN (be sure your kids dress appropriately – they will get wet!) and are actually amazing feats of engineering.
These were built for an Archbishop with a wickedly delightful sense of humor, and most are hundreds of years old. After you laugh and shriek your way through the tour, you can stroll, picnic and play on the vast grounds surrounding the palace. The playground is terrific – and the aforementioned Sound of Music gazebo can also be found here.
The Salt Mines of Hallein
Just south of Salzburg – “Salt City” – the salt mines in Hallein are a great stop for families. Everyone dons provided coveralls and boards a little train to descend over 1000 feet down into the mines. Not surprisingly, salt has played an enormous role in Salzburg’s history, and the tour illuminates much of the intrigue that comes along with money and power over the years as well. What the kids will love are the slides, originally used by the miners to get down quickly to the levels below.
I know, I know… opera?!? really? (stay with me…) Salzburg’s rich musical history and modern-day celebrations make it a wonderful place to enhance your children’s (and your own) appreciation for this art form. Salzburg hosts several world-renowned music festivals, the main feature of which is the six week-long Salzburg Festival, which includes a Children’s Opera (get tickets early!).
My own children were a bit skeptical, especially because it was in German, but they truly loved it – and even laughed at the appropriate parts! The superior quality of the singing and the physicality of the acting (and, ok, the fact that it lasted only an hour) made it a magical experience for all of us. Almost as much fun was seeing the Salzburg locals in their finery: the men and boys sported lederhosen, and the women and girls looked beautiful in their dirndls. If you aren’t able to attend the official Children’s Opera during July or August, the Salzburg Marionette Theater is another lovely experience.
“WAIT, I thought this was Top 5 FAMILY Things To Do” you say? Yes, but in Austria, beer gardens ARE for families. The food is great, the vibe is relaxed and friendly, and locals mix easily with tourists. We loved the 400 year old Augustiner beer garden. It’s an inexpensive, very local way to end the day over some delicious schnitzel, pretzels, brats and, um, libation. Prost!
Julia Slatcher is a professional travel planner at Inspire World Travel. She has traveled extensively her whole life and loves sharing that passion with her husband and two sons. They recently lived for a year in Switzerland, where the boys attended local school in French (her blog about the experience can be found here). Julia loves nothing more than inspiring others to explore new places.