Unveiling the best Christmas markets in Salzburg is a quest undertaken by every eager traveler preparing to visit the Austrian city for the holiday season.
Renowned as the birthplace of Mozart and the iconic backdrop for “The Sound of Music,” Salzburg boasts an exquisite Altstadt (Old Town), a marvel of baroque architecture, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, adorned with ornate wrought iron guild signs embellishing its facades.
Though a year-round gem, Salzburg truly shines during the holiday season, with a number of magical Christmas markets and quintessential festive activities that make Salzburg feel like a real-life winter wonderland.
Salzburg, which is set against the picturesque backdrop of the snow-draped Alps, resonates with an innate festive spirit. Being the birthplace of the cherished Christmas hymn, Silent Night, and housing a captivating Christmas museum alongside several enchanting Christmas markets, Salzburg exudes the essence of a genuine winter wonderland.
Here are the best Christmas markets and festive activities in Salzburg during the holiday season.
Christkindlmarkt at Domplatz
Salzburg boasts several enchanting Christmas markets, but none rival the popularity of the Christkindlmarkt at the iconic Dom and Residenzplatz, also known as Cathedral Square.
This iconic Christmas market, nestled in the heart of the city’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town, is steeped in historical significance, ranking as one of the world’s oldest Advent markets.
This extraordinary market is adorned with meticulously crafted lighting that illuminates around 100 traditional huts. These huts offer a treasure trove of traditional Christmas tree ornaments, artisanal handicrafts, delectable Austrian delicacies, and aromatic gluhwein. Additionally, a daily schedule brims with diverse activities, including entertainment for children, choral concerts, and vibrant parades.
Christkindlmarkt at Domplatz is open from November 21, 2023 – January 1, 2024.
Experience the enchanting allure of Hellbrunn Advent Magic, a must-visit Christmas market located at Schloss Hellbrunn. Adorned with 700 conifer trees bedecked in 10,000 vibrant red Christmas balls and twinkling lights, the palace grounds exude a mesmerizing glow, creating a warm and inviting festive atmosphere.
The palace’s facade features a colossal Advent calendar, featuring 24 beautifully transformed windows. Marvel at the grandeur of Hellbrunn’s iconic trick fountains and be captivated by the 25-foot Christmas angel, a dazzling centerpiece of the festive celebrations.
The market’s array of huts offers delectable delicacies and exquisite crafts, while the open water garden invites visitors to wander amidst ambient lighting, past baroque grottos, and the magical “Sternweiher” (star pond).
Family-friendly attractions include a petting zoo and the Winter Fairy-Tale train, ensuring a delightful experience for younger visitors. Access to this wondrous event is priced at €7.00 per person, inclusive of a complimentary hot drink, with free admission for children under 6.
Schloss Hellbrunn, situated on the outskirts of Salzburg, is easily accessible via bus 25 from the city center, a 20-minute journey costing approximately €3. For added convenience, the Hop On-Hop Off tourist bus conveniently stops at the palace grounds, offering a seamless transportation option, which is how I made my way there!
Hellbrunner Advent Magic is open November 23 – December 24, 2023
Fortress Hohensalzburg (Salzburg Fortress) Christmas market
At Salzburg’s pinnacle and a top tourist spot, discover the enchanting Christmas market at Salzburg’s iconic Fortress Hohensalzburg. A symbol of Salzburg’s heritage, transforms into a delightful Advent market, offering delectable treats, unique gifts, and breathtaking panoramic views.
The path leading to the fortress twinkles with over a hundred traditional Herrnhut stars, setting a magical tone. Once inside the castle courtyard, visitors are greeted with an assortment of local crafts, unique gift ideas, and savory Salzburg specialties.
Upon reaching the castle courtyard, you’ll discover a diverse array of locally crafted arts, creative gift ideas, and delectable Salzburg specialties. Locals, too, make it a yearly tradition to savor the Old Town’s luminous Christmas lights while sipping on steaming mulled wine.
Don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in the unique fresh tarte flambée, baked in centuries-old wood-burning ovens at the historic Fortress bakery. Families will be delighted by the market’s varied activities.
Admission to the castle courtyard Christmas market is free (mention “Advent Market” at the cash desks), and for a fee, you can ascend via the fortress railway to partake in the festive magic.
Fortress Hohensalzburg Christmas market is open November 24 – December 24, 2023.
Mirabellplatz Christmas Market
Discover the intimate allure of the Mirabellplatz Christmas market. This quaint Christmas market is a much-loved local gem, which offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of larger markets, is celebrated for its serene ambiance and iconic stalls brimming with a tempting array of festive delicacies, spiced mulled wine, and artistically adorned huts showcasing unique wares.
If you’re a fan of “The Sound of Music,” you’ll instantly recognize the adjacent Mirabell Gardens, where Maria and the von Trapp children shared their joyous rendition of “Do-Re-Mi.”
Situated conveniently in the heart of Salzburg, the Mirabellplatz Christmas market provides easy access to public transportation, with the train station just a short stroll away.
The Mirabellplatz market is open from November 23 – December 24, 2023.
Festive Activities in (and Around) Salzburg
The Sound of Music Tour
One of the most delightful aspects of Salzburg is The Sound of Music tour. The tour, which is a must for visitors throughout the year, is exceptionally special during the Christmas season, as it captures the essence of the season while celebrating the timeless charm of The Sound of Music.
Retrace the steps of the von Trapp family as you explore various iconic locations from the beloved musical, including the renowned Christmas market destinations at Mirabell Gardens, Schloss Hellbrunn, the charming gazebo where the iconic scene of “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” was filmed, and the serene Lake Wolfgang.
As you embark on this memorable journey, you’ll witness the stunning hills of Salzburg coming alive with holiday spirit. Along the way, enjoy a delightful sing-along featuring beloved songs from the film, such as “Do-Re-Mi” and “My Favorite Things,” as you journey through the picturesque Austrian Lake District en route to Mondse where you can visit the cathedral immortalized as the setting for Maria and Captain von Trapp’s wedding.
Situated above a charming café in Altstadt, the Christmas Museum offers an ideal complement to a visit to the nearby Domplatz & Mirabellplatz Christmas markets in Salzburg. The Christmas Museum showcases an extensive collection of festive memorabilia carefully curated by Ursula Kloiber over five decades, from enchanting advent calendars to intricately crafted nutcrackers, Christmas tree ornaments, and hand-carved cradles. You can even step into a beautifully decorated Christmas-themed living room.
Open throughout the year, the Christmas Museum is a festive gem waiting to be explored no matter the season. Be sure to visit their website for current opening hours and additional details.
The Christmas season in Salzburg presents fantastic opportunities for a festive sleigh ride experience, echoing the enchanting scenes often celebrated in beloved Christmas melodies.
One such option is a full-day excursion that commences in Salzburg and meanders through the scenic Salzach River Valley, leading to the pretty mountain town of Ramsau, making it a perfect winter escapade.
Silent Night Village
Just a short distance from Salzburg lies Oberndorf, a picturesque town that exudes the festive spirit of the holiday season. This pretty yet unassuming destination holds a special place in Christmas history as the birthplace of the timeless carol “Silent Night,” first sung on Christmas Eve in 1818. Discover the Silent Night Chapel, which sits on the grounds of the former St. Nicholas Church, where the song debuted.
Also, explore the Silent Night Museum, housed in the old parsonage, boasts a range of multimedia experiences recounting the tale of composers Joseph Mohr and Franz Xaver Gruber, the legacy of St. Nicholas Church, and the origins of this beloved Christmas melody. For a unique and interactive experience, a karaoke station is available, allowing guests to add their personal touch to the timeless Christmas carol.
For a truly unforgettable Christmas Eve, you can join the special mass at the Silent Night Chapel. This heartwarming service is conducted in multiple languages and concludes with a mesmerizing rendition of “Silent Night,”
The Silent Night Chapel and museum welcome visitors year-round. For specific opening days and hours, please refer to the website for more information.
Salzburg, known for its musical heritage and as Mozart’s birthplace, is your ultimate destination for a holiday concert filled with the timeless melodies of the Austrian composer and his musical peers.
These extraordinary performances are set in historic, picturesque locations like Fortress Hohensalzburg and the illustrious Marble Hall of Marabell Palace, a stage once graced by Mozart himself. It’s the shining star atop your perfect Christmas celebration in Salzburg.
The Nutcracker at Salzburg Marionette Theater
Experience the enchantment of the holiday season with a mesmerizing performance of The Nutcracker at the celebrated Salzburg Marionette Theater. These captivating marionettes, expertly manipulated by skilled puppeteers utilizing a special 12-string technique, animate a range of fairytales, plays, musicals, and operas. Established in 1913, this historic theater stands as one of the world’s oldest marionette venues, and its unique puppeteering artistry has earned it a place on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List.
For details on show timings and ticket availability, please visit the website.
How to Get to Salzburg
Salzburg enjoys excellent accessibility through two major international airports: Mozart Airport in Salzburg and Munich Airport. For utmost convenience, Mozart Airport is located just a short distance from the city center. However, if you’re looking for budget-friendly options, Munich Airport typically offers more economical flights. You can easily reach Salzburg from Munich by train, with a travel time of approximately 1.5 to 2 hours, or by car. Salzburg’s centrally located Hauptbahnhof train station provides a hub for various domestic and international travel connections.
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Updated: Summer 2023