Undoubtedly when you visit Salzburg Austria, you will be doing something related to the Sound of Music. What about when you have exhausted all the Sound of Music related activities? There is so much more to Salzburg travel! Although a small city, there are plenty of things to do in Salzburg with kids (and kids at heart!). If you venture further afield for a day trip, there are even more ways to explore the surrounding countryside of Salzburg with children.
Things To Do in Salzburg With Kids
One of the best things to do in Salzburg is taking a funicular ride up and down to the Hohensalzburg fortress which perches on a mountain over the town. When you are in Salzburg with children, the fortress is an easy way to please the family.
Although the Hohensalzburg Fortress is the largest and best preserved in central Europe, much of the interior decor is missing due to the ravages of time. You won’t have to walk through room after room of artwork and furniture. There is both a marionette display and a torture museum which my kids found fascinating.
The Hohensalzburg Fortress was built in 1077 A.D. for the Prince Archbishops of Salzburg who had lots of money thanks to their control of the salt mines in the area which gave the city its name.
As you can imagine, lots of other people were eyeing up the Prince-Archbishops control of Salzburg and the source of their wealth. The Prince-Archbishops needed an impregnable fortress to send a “Don’t-even- think-about-it” message.
You hear about the fortress’ long history in the short audio guide tour and some of the exhibits.
From the top of the fortress there are panoramic views over the Austrian countryside. We had lunch at one of the restaurants in the fortress. The food was standard Austrian fare (schnitzel for the kids of course) but the view was spectacular.
The Hohensalzburg Fortress is open year-round for visitors.
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If you are a lover of Mozart’s music, you can enjoy an evening concert with dinner at the Hohensalzburg Fortress. The 3 course meal may be too much if you are in Salzburg with children (I know mine survived exclusively on a diet of schnitzel!). There is also an option to enjoy an evening concert with dinner at the Hohensalzburg Fortress.
My kids loved going up and down in the dinky little funicular up to the Hohensalzburg Fortress. If I had been a stricter mother, I would have made them walk down the hill because you then pass the gates of Nonnberg Abbey.
Having been established in the 8th century, Nonnberg Abbey is the longest continually-operating convent in the German world. You know it as the abbey where Maria von Trapp was a novice in the movie, Sound of Music. The Abbey’s church is open to visit during limited hours. The real Maria and Georg got married here in 1927 but the movie wedding scene was not filmed here.
Hanger 7 Aircraft Museum
Salzburg kids of all ages will love the Hangar 7 Aircraft Museum. Despite my lack of interest in motorised vehicles, even I was impressed!
We discovered that Dietrich Mateschitz, the man who owned Red Bull, the energy drink, is from Salzburg. He houses his collection of airplanes, racing cars and other big boy toys at Hanger 7 Aircraft Museum in the Salzburg Airport. This museum is very cool if you are looking for what to do in Salzburg on the non-traditional side.
NB –Although called an aircraft museum, there is so much more than aircraft at Hanger 7.
When you are as rich as Mr. Mateschitz, presumably you don’t like to be limited by mere words and titles.
The hanger itself is a gorgeous glass building which also has a lounge, outdoor cafe, bar, restaurant and a gift shop. My kids were duly impressed with all the toys on display.
My kids were even more impressed that Mr. Mateschitz kept his real airplanes (the ones for everyday use) in the hanger next door. We spent quite some time watching the workers move the machines around and “exercise” the planes.
Mr. Mateschitz lent a plane for the use of Maria von Trapp when the original von Trapp family home became a hotel in 2008. So, he does use his toys for philanthropy!
The Hanger 7 Aircraft Museum is free of charge and open daily.
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Schloss Hellbrunn is one of the fun historical places in Salzburg for children specifically because of its trick fountains. This palace was built by one of the Prince-Archbishops of Salzburg in the early 17th century by the same architect who built Salzburg Cathedral.
On a hot day, the Schloss Hellbrun water fountains is one of the best things to do in Salzburg. This particular Prince-Archbishop had a juvenile sense of humour and lots of money to indulge his whims. The palace grounds have grottos, fountains and even a water-powered theater.
The Prince-Archibishop created trick fountains and water jets which when operational would spray his guests with water. He would stay dry, of course. All his guests would have to grin and bear it.
All of the mechanisms are operated by water-power pumped in from nearby Hellbrunn Mountain.
Schloss Hellbrunn is open daily from March to November. Christmas is a special time to visit Schloss Hellbrunn because it puts on a very pretty Christmas market.
In the Schloss Hellbrunn grounds, there is also the famous gazebo which was used in the movie The Sound of Music when the oldest daughter Liesl sneaks off to meet local boy, Franz, away from the watchful eye of her father.
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Schloss Hellbrunn is located in the outskirts of Salzburg and you can combine a visit to Schloss Hellbrunn with a boat ride of the River Salzach.
The Mirabell Palace and Gardens is one of the best places to visit in Salzburg. The palace and gardens were built by a Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg in 1606 for his mistress and baby-momma. Having produced 15 children for the Prince-Archbishop, I’d say she deserved the palace.
Today, the Mirabell Palace is used by the city government. You can hire out the the famous Marble Room (the former banquet hall of the Palace) for weddings. Mozart used to perform concerts in the Marble Room.
Want to experience the glamour of the Marble Room without getting married there? You can take in an evening concert in the Marble Room and be transported back to another time.
The gardens are extensive with a fountains, a rose garden and even a dwarf garden. There used to be 28 marble statues of dwarfs originally. In the 19th century, they got auctioned off and 15 marble dwarfs were returned to the garden in 1919. These dwarfs are among the quirker aspects of this city when you Salzburg with kids.
My children enjoyed wandering around the beautiful gardens. Of course, the Sound of Music had a famous musical scene set in the Mirabell Gardens as well when the von Trapp kids are relishing their new found freedom and singing Do-Re-Mi.
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You can take a tour of Mirabell Gardens and a visit up one of the 5 mountains of Salzburg to get a panoramic view of the city. Of course, you’ll be singing the songs from the Sound of Music along the way.
Old Town Salzburg or Altstadt is an enjoyable place to explore when you visit Salzburg. Old Salzburg city is pedestrianised which meant I could less vigilant with my children’s need to stand in the middle of the road and gape at things. Especially with kids Salzburg is an easy city for window-shopping and browsing. Of course, if you are in Salzburg with toddler in tow those cobblestones are a tripping hazard for unsteady feet.
Old Town Salzburg is a UNESCO World Heritage Center sandwiched between the Salzach river and the mountains. It’s got many beautiful buildings including many churches as well as the entrance to the funicular (or the road) to the Hohensalzburg Fortress.
We had a lovely meal at Europe’s oldest restaurant which has been serving customers since the 9th century. Don’t worry the food is modern so this is Olde World Salzburg for kids that they can enjoy.
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As well as historical buildings, there are a lot of stores and restaurants in the area as well that make Salzburg fun for kids to explore. Located so close to Italy, we found several excellent pizzerias in Salzburg city (for when your kids get tired of schnitzel). Among the places to visit in Salzburg, make sure you stop by one of the chocolate stores for a Mozart ball (little balls of chocolate with the likeness of Mozart’s face printed on the foil wrapper).
Exploring the Environs of Salzburg With Children
Berchtesgaden and the Bavarian Alps
Salzburg Austria, surrounded by lakes and mountains, is very near the border with Germany. We visited the beautiful town of Berchtesgaden on the German side of the Bavarian Alps. Berchtesgaden is only about 18 miles away from Salzburg.
Nazi Summer Camp
Hitler was a fan of the area. He had his summer residence a couple of miles away in the Obersalzberg region. The main Nazis also had homes nearby.
The architect of the Final Solution, Heinrich Himmler was not high enough in the Nazi pecking order to warrant a home in the Berchtesgaden compound. Himmler took over the family home of the von Trapps who found later fame in the Sound of Music.
Hitler’s former home was destroyed after World War II and no trace of it has been left. One of the other Nazi homes is now the location of the Kempinksi Hotel Berchtesgaden.
I was told that the Nazi homes were connected by tunnels that went for miles under the mountains. I chose not to tell my kids about the Nazi tunnels because I’m sure they would have wanted to check it out. I saw a sign for it on one of the buildings although I was under the impression that the tunnels were mostly closed.
The Eagle’s Nest
The Eagle’s Nest was the 50th birthday present for Hitler from the Nazi party. It’s perched on top of a rocky outcrop and accessed by a 400 foot elevator shaft. Hitler used The Eagle’s Nest less than 20 times overall because he was paranoid about being trapped and killed in the elevator shaft.
Hitler was supposed to have both claustrophobia and a fear of heights. The Eagle’s Nest then was not the most well thought out gift!! Eva Braun, Hitler’s girlfriend, used the Eagles’ Nest much more than him.
Today the Eagle’s Nest is a restaurant. You can take a bus up to the Eagle’s Nest from Obersalzburg or hike for 2 hours like my son’s Boy Scout Troop did.
You can take a half-day tour of the Eagle’s Nest that goes directly from Salzburg.
Berchtesgaden is also a short ride away from Lake Konigsee, one of the most beautiful lakes in the area. It is part of the Berchtesgaden National Park and renowned for being super-clean. We had a wonderful day exploring Lake Konigsee and could easily have stayed longer.
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You can take a day tour of Berchtesgaden and Lake Konigssee that leave from Salzburg.
Salt Mines and Celtic Museum at Hallein
As you know by now, Salzburg was a very rich little city thanks to the access the Prince-Archbishops had to ‘white gold’. The Salt Mine at Hallein has guided tours of their salt mine which has been churning out salt for 7000 years.
Children need to be at least four years old to visit the mines. You don white jumpsuits and hop on a little train which takes you into the mine. Once inside the mine, you get around by either walking or going down one of the wooden slides. These slides were great fun! Miners used slides to get deeper into the mountain quickly. The miners had to walk back up to get out but luckily we did not have to. Inside the mine, there is an audiovisual program about mining which some adults might find cheesy. My kids liked it, cheesy or not.
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As part of the salt mines, they have established a Celtic Museum on the grounds showing how the Celts lived in the area. The Celts were the first to mine salt. Your entry into the salt mines includes a ticket to the Celtic Museum.
There are tours that explore the salt mines that leave from the center of Salzburg.
If you thought Salzburg was all about The Sound of Music and Mozart, these activities prove that there is plenty of history, museums and outdoor fun to keep a family happy and busy on a visit to Salzburg with kids.
We paid for all of the activities mentioned in this articles ourselves. This article does contain affiliate links which will provide us with a small commission should you click on them but at no cost to you.
Tips for Family Travel In and Near Salzburg Austria
Visiting Salzburg with kids is ideal because it is a compact city and easily walkable. We spent 2-3 hours on each of the activities within Salzburg.
With respect to what to do in Salzburg’s environs:
- Both the Berchtesgaden and the Salt Mines were part of day trips we took.
- We could easily have spent an entire day in Berchtesgaden exploring the town’s hiking trails and cute stores.
- As part of the trip to Berchtesgaden, we also went to the nearby Lake Konigsee for a few hours of hiking.
- We visited the Salt Mines as part of a tour to Hallstatt that we took. Hallstatt was very pretty and very crowded with tourists.
You also have the option of visiting Hallstatt from Salzburg without visiting the Salt Mines.
Good To Know Before You Go to Salzburg Austria:
We flew into Munich because the flights were more frequent and cheaper. There aren’t that many flight options into Salzburg Airport itself.
The drive from Munich Germany to Salzburg Austria is only about 70 miles. This trip to Salzburg takes less than 2 hours on the Autobahn.
We stayed in the historic centre of Salzburg at the Hotel Kasererbrau in a family suite which had two bedrooms and one bathroom. The hotel’s good value included a great location and a buffet breakfast.
Although located in a pedestrianised area, our taxi brought our bags to and from our hotel. I liked being in a pedestrianised area as well because then I could let the children explore the street more freely without fear of them getting run over by a car.
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We hired our rental car through Hertz which we had for the trip from Munich until Salzburg. My husband took the car to Munich when he went back to work in London. In Salzburg, we walked or used taxis. The children and I continued onwards to Vienna, and we thought the Austrian train service is excellent!
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