Whether you’ve picked Salzburg as a quick weekend getaway or for a week-long city break, there’s no doubt you’re in for a treat. This pretty city is brimming with architectural gems – it’s rich in history and it boasts a wide array of museums, ranging from the world-renowned to the downright quirky. But would you have expected anything less from the birthplace of Mozart, the backdrop to the Sound of Music, and the home of Redbull? Probably not. So, make sure these 10 museums in Salzburg are a part of your itinerary to get the best (and the strangest) out of this great city.
1. Mozart’s Birthplace: A Salzburg must-see
About Mozart’s Birthplace
If you’re curious about the life and times of the world’s most famous composer, Salzburg is the perfect place to start your learning. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg in 1756 – and you can actually visit the house he was born in. Featuring a treasure trove of original instruments owned and played by Mozart, as well as portraits of the entire Mozart family, the house at Getreidegasse number 9 is open to the public all year round.
Highlights at Mozart’s Birthplace
Of course, the historical instruments played by Mozart himself, such as the clavichord and the violin, are a special sight to behold. So make sure you don’t miss these two items. The former of the two is a small, rectangular keyboard that was a popular instrument in private homes during the 17th and 18th centuries – likely because it was considerably smaller than a pianoforte.
Hidden gems at Mozart’s Birthplace
Don’t be surprised (or offended!) by the small supermarket inside the building. There actually was a grocery store inside the house when Mozart lived there in the 1700s! Today, the supermarket is kitted out with scrumptious regional snacks and treats, including the famous Augustiner beer and Mozart Balls – truffle-like confections made with pistachio marzipan and nougat and covered in dark chocolate. Make sure you leave the museum via the supermarket to fortify yourself for your next activity of the day.
Mozart’s Birthplace address
Getreidegasse 9, 5020 Salzburg, Austria.
What’s nearby Mozart’s Birthplace
Mozart’s birthplace is located in Salzburg Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city of Salzburg was once a very religious one, so there’s no shortage of ornate cathedral spires and Baroque-clad church facades upon which to feast your eyes. When you’re done poring over a bounty of artifacts from Mozart’s childhood, have a wander around the Old Town and take in some of the sights before you look for more museums in Salzburg.
2. Mozart’s Residence: Arguably the most famous Salzburg attraction
About Mozart’s Residence
There’s more than one of Mozart’s homes to visit in Salzburg. The genius behind the ‘Overture’ in The Marriage Of Figaro was born in the house at Getreidegasse number 9 and lived there until he was 17 years old. But by that time, the three-room apartment he and his family lived in was too small to comfortably accommodate them all. A 17-year-old Mozart had to share a room with his 22-year-old sister. So, they relocated to a house known as the Dance Master’s House. In 1996, the Dance Master’s House was converted into a museum, and today, you’ll find it filled with artifacts and mementos of the Mozart family.
Highlights at Mozart’s Residence
The museum at Mozart’s birthplace may have the master composer’s clavichord and violin, but the museum at Mozart’s Residence has his pianoforte. Just imagine setting your eyes on the very instrument on which Mozart composed the symphonies and concertos that we all absentmindedly hum today. Can’t quite picture it? Well, you’ll just have to go there then.
Hidden gems at Mozart’s Residence
Don’t pass up on the chance to listen to some Mozart while you’re visiting the museums in Salzburg. There are some 3,500 recordings of Mozart’s work available to listen to throughout Mozart’s Residence. So, get up close and personal with this musical great through his original scores and interpretations of his most famous pieces.
Mozart’s Residence address
Makartplatz 8, 5020 Salzburg, Austria.
What’s nearby Mozart’s Residence
Mozart’s Residence is just a five-minute walk away from another famous Salzburg attraction: Mirabell Palace and Gardens. Once you’ve had your fill of classical music, head on over to this Baroque beauty. Today the palace is known for being one of the most beautiful wedding venues, but back in Mozart’s time, the banquet hall was used for concerts – including some played by Mozart and a few of his family members.
3. Hellbrunn Palace: For lovers of luxury
About Hellbrunn Palace
If you’re a lover and appreciator of the finer things in life, then the concept behind the 400-year-old Hellbrunn Palace is sure to tickle your fancy. The Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg, Markus Sittikus von Hohenems, had this opulent palace built to be his summer residence or ‘pleasure palace’. Designed to be the perfect setting for extravagant banquets and balls, international receptions, and other social gatherings for the elites of the time, Hellbrunn Palace is nothing short of luxurious. Back in the 17th and 18th centuries, you could probably only enjoy this beautiful space if your wardrobe included a crown, but today it’s a famous wedding venue and one of the must-see museums in Salzburg for all.
Highlights at Hellbrunn Palace
Inside the palace, you’ll find plush rooms with all the Baroque fixings and trimmings you could possibly want. But outside the palace is where the real treasures lie. Step out into the gardens and visit the Trick Fountains, which the Archbishop would use to unexpectedly use to drench his guests. And don’t miss the open-air theatre that the Archbishop had constructed out of an old stone quarry – it’s the oldest open-air theatre in Europe and is almost entirely housed in the side of Hellbrunn Mountain.
Hidden gems at Hellbrunn Palace
Remember that scene in The Sound of Music where Liesl and Rolf take refuge from the rain in a glass gazebo after crooning “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” to each other? And remember how you spent hours constructing your own elaborate dance that included leaps across white benches in a glass gazebo? Now’s your chance to live out your dreams! Although the Leopoldskron Palace was featured as the Von Trapp house in the film, the famous glass gazebo was reconstructed in Hellbrunn Palace’s gardens. And whether or not you’ve seen the film, that lovely little glasshouse is a sight to behold.
Hellbrunn Palace address
Fürstenweg 37, 5020 Salzburg, Austria.
What’s nearby Hellbrunn Palace
Fancy a trip to the zoo while you’re in the neighborhood? In between discovering museums in Salzburg, don’t miss the Salzburg Zoo! It’s just around the corner from the palace is home to 1,500 animals from lions to penguins. So if you’ve got kids in tow, make this a stop on your Salzburg tour.
4. Museum of Natural History and Technology: A local favourite
About the Museum of Natural History and Technology
If you haven’t come to Salzburg purely to soak up all things Mozart and The Sound of Music, you’ll be pleased to see this entry on the list of museums in Salzburg. From life-size dinosaur models and a space travel exhibit to an interactive exhibition about the human body and a full-on aquarium and zoo, Salzburg’s Museum of Natural History and Technology (aka the House of Nature) is a dream for science and nature lovers.
Highlights at the Museum of Natural History and Technology
If science is what you came for, you cannot miss out on the Science Centre in this Salzburg museum. Get in touch with your inner Galileo or Newton and play around with the interactive experiments, which include a hydraulic lift and water experiments area. There’s also an acoustics room where kids and adults alike can explore the weird and wonderful powers of sound. And just in case you hadn’t had enough Mozart already, the Feel Mozart exhibit allows you to walk on a giant violin and literally feel the vibrations of the composer’s music.
And finally, if you’re looking for an excuse to let out a good long scream of frustration about the fact that your partner is still hogging the hydraulic lift, the screaming cabin will let you do just that – while measuring the volume of your voice!
Insider tips for the Museum of Natural History and Technology
If you happen to be in Salzburg on a Monday, you may be able to join a telescopic star tour with the museum’s observatory. A treat for astronomy fanatics and amateur stargazers alike, the observatory has two telescopes that it uses for research and for public guided tours. If you’re keen to do a little stargazing on your Salzburg vacation, make sure you register for a tour in advance to avoid disappointment. And bear in mind, that the possibility of a tour is weather dependent.
Museum of Natural History and Technology address
Museumsplatz 5, 5020 Salzburg, Austria.
What’s nearby the Museum of Natural History and Technology
Pivot from science to art in one fell swoop by following up your trip to the House of Nature with a visit to Salzburg’s Museum of Modern Art. Alternatively, if you’ve had enough ‘museuming’ for one day, this particular museum is located pretty centrally. So you can opt to take a stroll along the Salzach river and stop for a snack at one of the canal-side restaurants or bars. Cafe Sacher is just across the river and serves up the Austrian delicacy Sacher-Torte, a chocolate sponge cake with apricot jam – the perfect post-museum snack.
5. Salzburg Museum Neue Residenz: One of the best Salzburg museums
About Salzburg Museum Neue Residenz
If history is your beat, this historic residence and its millennia-spanning collection of art, artifacts, and relics is a must for your list of museums in Salzburg to visit. The New Residential Palace was constructed over a period of 100 years in the 16th century. It’s known as the New Residential Palace as it was meant to replace the Archbishop’s old residence, however that residence ended up being maintained as well. In 2007, the city of Salzburg decided to house the Salzburg Museum in the Neue Residenz Palace.
Highlights at Salzburg Museum Neue Residenz
During your wander through the halls of the museum, make sure you don’t miss Salzburg’s carillon. The 35 bells that make up the carillon span three octaves and offer up familiar melodies from classic operas like The Magic Flute and Austrian folk songs like In einem kühlen Grunde every day. You can join a guided tour and climb the Carillon Tower, and enjoy a peek into the mechanics of the bells as well as a view of the city of Salzburg.
Hidden gems at Salzburg Museum Neue Residenz
The museum offers a great opportunity to see the oldest parts of the city of Salzburg with its Panorama Passage. This part of the museum houses items uncovered in excavations of the city, including a pottery kiln and painted walls that are estimated to be 2,000 years old.
Salzburg Museum Neue Residenz address
Mozartplatz 1, 5010 Salzburg.
What’s nearby Salzburg Museum Neue Residenz
Good news, you’re in the heart of Salzburg’s Old Town again. Around the corner, you’ll find the Dom of Salzburg, a 17th-century cathedral, and St. Peter’s Abbey, an old monastery with a legacy that stretches back to the 7th century. The museum is also close to another one of the many museums in Salzburg: the Panorama Museum, where you can enjoy gazing at a massive panoramic painting of Salzburg in 1829.
6. Folklore Museum (Volkskundemuseum): An alternative Salzburg attraction
About the Folklore Museum
Don’t be put off by the ten-minute walk up the hill from Hellbrunn Palace when considering whether or not to visit this museum in Salzburg. The Volkskunde Museum (Folkloremuseum) is a bright yellow treat at the top that offers amazing views of Hellbrunn Palace and Hohensalzburg Fortress. Plus, it’s a somewhat quirky insight into Austrian culture. The house, which actually looks a bit like a giant dollhouse, was built in 1615 for Archbishop Markus Sittikus, and it was constructed in just one month. It’s now home to furniture, religious trinkets, and exhibits focused on folk music and dance.
Highlights at the Folklore Museum
Inside the Folklore Museum, considered one of the top Salzburg attractions, you’re free to wander around the various exhibitions and brush up on your knowledge of popular Austrian customs. See what the rich and poor wore and the toys the kids played with over the centuries. Browse religious artifacts and spend some daydreamy moments imagining yourself in the beautiful Trachten (traditional costumes) worn in the Salzburg valley regions back in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Hidden gems at the Folklore Museum
Entry to this small museum is included in the price of the entry to Hellbrunn itself (and if you have a Salzburg card, it’s welcome here too). If you fancy some breezy bliss to follow your journey into Austrian folklore, the view from the nearby viewpoint by the Folklore Museum is breathtaking. Charge your phones and prepare to get snap-happy.
Folklore Museum address
Monatsschlössl, 5020 Salzburg, Austria, located in: Schlosspark von Hellbrunn.
What’s nearby the Folklore Museum
If you’re here, you’re also on the grounds of the opulent, 400-year-old Hellbrunn Palace, as mentioned above. It’s easy to see both in one day – in fact, a trip to the Folklore Museum should take less than an hour, so you have plenty of time for both these museums in Salzburg.
7. Toy Museum ( Spielzeugmuseum): For the kids – and your inner child
About the Toy Museum
Let your children loose to play in the Spielzeugmuseum, or Toy Museum, located right in the center of Salzburg. This place is a blend of boredom-busting games for kids and nostalgia for grown-ups. It’s home to the largest collection of European toys in Austria (isn’t that technically a giant toy box?!). There are three floors and even more rooms to explore here, all hosting different exhibits that kids can touch and play with. Game of marbles, anyone?
Highlights at the Toy Museum
Young children seem to love running about the soft padded floor on the lower level, so you know where to go on a rainy day. In fact, you might have trouble convincing the little ones to leave each room to explore the next. The second floor is home to an interactive museum with special ‘older’ toys not intended for touching – but feel free set the little-uns loose again on the third floor, where the pretend kitchen will have them cooking up imaginary treats, and the racing cars will get them really revved up.
Insider tips for the Toy Museum
You might not want to head here during peak hours if you don’t have any children with you, as you’ll find yourself overrun by excitable little people playing on all the exhibits. As you might expect, the Toy Museum is largely geared towards entertaining small children, but by all means, poke your head in if you’re passing by. Especially if it’s raining.
Toy Museum address
Bürgerspitalgasse 2, 5020 Salzburg, Austria.
What’s nearby the Toy Museum
Being in central Salzburg, and close to Mozartplatz and Mirabell Palace, there are lots of things to do near the Toy Museum. Why not combine your visit with a wander around Mozartplatz? The famous statue of Mozart lures thousands of selfie-takers every day, all keen for a snap with Austria’s most famous composer. There’s also a cute little Christmas Museum close by, open all year round. Who’s to say you can’t have a slice of Santa in the spring? It’s your holiday after all.
8. Marionette Museum: For lovers of quirky museums
If creepy dolls in cool places are your thing, the Marionettenmuseum might just be your favorite discovery in Salzburg. Located in the vaulted former gun deck (Feuergang) of Hohensalzburg Fortress, the World of Marionettes exhibit comes to life among the stone arches and cobbled corners. The intricate details on the marionettes are incredible. Some look so lifelike you almost expect them to get up and start dancing for you. You’ll quickly learn they’re not toys, either. In Austria, marionettes are an artform.
Highlights at the Marionette Museum
You’ll find lots of historical puppets from the world-famous Salzburg Marionette Theatre in the Salzburg Marionette Museum. Papageno and Papagena from Mozart’s Magic Flute live here too, and there’s a stage dedicated to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, with a puppet… sorry, marionette, of the musical legend himself. The stage itself is a highlight, showing the farmers embroiled in the 1525 riot (see below).
Hidden gems at the Marionette Museum
If your marionette education feels complete after looking at their wooden ways and faces (pun intended) for half an hour or so, move on to the short animated movie about the peasants’ revolt back in 1524-1525. The revolt was a direct result of the increased taxes and duties on the German-speaking Central Europe-based serfs, who had zero legal rights and no opportunity to improve their living situations – an interesting bit of history to fill yourself in on while you’re here.
Marionette Museum address
Fortress Hohensalzburg, 5020 Salzburg, Austria.
What’s nearby the Marionette Museum
The World of Marionettes Museum is also located at the Salzburg Fortress, which you just cannot miss no matter how long you’re spending in Salzburg! Check it out first and then turn left up the stairs of the bell tower, then left again. The puppets… sorry… marionettes will be waiting for you on the right side.
9. Freilichtmuseum Salzburg (Salzburg Open Air Museum): A blast to the past
About Freilichtmuseum Museum
Welcome to the biggest museum in Salzburg, another key Salzburg attraction, and also your one-stop-shop for a full history lesson in bright, vivid details. The Salzburger Freilichtmuseum (Salzburg Open Air Museum) is a complex of 100 authentic historic buildings rebuilt on the museum grounds. School kids swell around each one in groups during the week to hear tales of historic farming, trades, rural crafts, and manufacturing. It’s six centuries of Salzburg in a scenic setting, plus a few welcome modern-day treats, like the ability to buy ice-cream.
Highlights at Salzburg Open Air Museum
Ever wanted to snoop inside an old Austrian farmhouse and learn how they baked a loaf of bread? How about sipping a real drink in a cozy tavern circa 1799? Let your imagination run wild at one of the best museums in Salzburg as you marvel at the humble, yet multi-layered and hectic lifestyle of the city’s citizens from days long gone. Kids especially will love a fun ride on the bright red steam engine, which chugs through the museum’s 50 hectares of woodland on a heritage railway line.
Insider tips for Salzburg Open Air Museum
Best to try and get to this must-see Salzburg attraction early if you want insta-worthy photos that make it look like you’re the only one sitting in the ancient tavern or on the steam train. Keep in mind however, you won’t find people in costumes like you’d find at other similar museums, and there’s not a lot of information about what you’re looking at either. If you go, go expecting a peaceful respite from central Salzburg, and a dreamy journey through traditional farm life from the 16th to 20th century, mostly fueled by your own imagination.
Salzburg Open Air Museum address
Hasenweg 1, 5084 Großgmain, Austria.
What’s nearby Salzburg Open Air Museum
There’s a cafe on-site, as well as lots of places for a picnic, plus a children’s playground. You’ll be surrounded by serene greenery and forest in this area just outside the city of Salzburg – so why not pack some sandwiches and enjoy a good family day trip out in nature?
10. Hohensalzburg Fortress: For the castle lovers
About Hohensalzburg Fortress
The imposing 11th-century castle complex known as Hohensalzburg Fortress is pretty much unmissable. In that, you really can’t avoid seeing it in Salzburg. Perched over 500 meters above the city, it’s one of the largest medieval castles in Europe, and the city’s pride and joy. With almost 1,000 years of history behind it, Hohensalzburg Fortress is definitely worth a visit. The castle-museum will give you the ins and outs of the fortress’ past: who lived in it, and who (gulp) died in it. The puppet museum features exhibits from the famous Salzburg Marionette Theatre (see above). You’ll also find the Rainer-Regiments Museum here, which will get you to grips with the area’s military history, and the former Salzburg Infantry Battalion.
Highlights at Hohensalzburg Fortress
There is so much to do up here, it’s hard to pick a highlight. Just be prepared to spend a good few hours soaking up the history before you head off to see more museums in Salzburg. Treat your ears to some medieval music, browse 15th-century weapons and armor, check out some cool medieval children’s games, and witness the Archduke’s Foot Regiment. Another highlight, once you’ve feasted on ancient Austria, is to take a seat on the cafe terrace and sip a coffee with some scenery. Who could ever get bored of looking at those mountains?
Insider tips at Hohensalzburg Fortress
Plan to get to Hohensalzburg Fortress quite early as the line for the funicular can get long. Thankfully, it’s a fast and scenic ride, and there are two funiculars so the line moves quickly. Alternatively you can walk up and enjoy the eye-popping panoramic views of Salzburg City and the surrounding majestic mountains. Don’t be surprised if songs from The Sound of Music keep popping into your head on the way up!
Hohensalzburg Fortress address
Mönchsberg 34, 5020 Salzburg, Austria.
What’s nearby Hohensalzburg Fortress
Being the highlight of Salzburg, there’s no shortage of things to do near the Hohensalzburg Fortress. In fact, stay put and enjoy a dinner concert in one of the gorgeous rooms. The Golden Hall and the gothic-style Heraldry Hall often host lavish dinners and concerts by the Mozart Chamber Orchestra Salzburg or the Salzburg Mozart Ensemble. And what better way to end a day of wandering around museums in Salzburg than with a lavish dinner and a concert?