Fortress Hohensalzburg: Salzburg’s Top Attraction

Visiting Fortress Hohensalzburg in Salzburg, Austria

While visiting Salzburg, it’s impossible to miss the imposing fortress Hohensalzburg high atop the hill looming over the city. It offers lots of great history, plus a killer view, so touring the fort should be on everyone’s itinerary when visiting Salzburg.

Salzburg, Austria at twilight

Things to do at the fort

First things first, let’s talk about that view. When you exit the inclined railway, head left to go to the “balcony” overlooking Salzburg. You’ll get the perfect panoramic view of the Salzach River winding its way through the city with the surrounding mountains in the background. It was gorgeous in the summer, and when we visited in the winter, the twilight view looked like it belonged on a Christmas card.

Touring Fortress Hohensalzburg

View from Fortress Hohensalzburg

The view from the top of the tower

We began our tour with the audio guide in the castle tour. This portion of the fort contains a set of dioramas that show how it evolved and got stronger and more complex over the years as different Bishops modified it.

You also get to climb to the top of one of the towers where a viewing deck offers a 360 degree view of the surrounding area. If the weather had been a little nicer, I would’ve spent a while up there enjoying it, but freezing rain with a side of wind gusts doesn’t really lend itself to a pleasant viewing experience.

The prince’s rooms

Prince's rooms at Fortress Hohensalzburg

The fancy heater

Every castle has to have a fancy area where the guy in charge lived. The actual quarters aren’t that big, but you do get to look at his bathroom.

Prince's bathroom at Hohensalzburg Fort

The royal potty

I also like the ballroom/reception area with its fancy twisting columns.

Ballroom at Fortress Hohensalzburg

Simple, but pretty

Military exhibit

Military exhibit at Fortress Hohensalzburg

There’s a pretty in-depth gallery on a particular Austrian regiment’s involvement in WWI. In one battle, they blew up the top of a mountain to crush the attacking Italians.

Torture museum

Torture mask at Fortress Hohensalzburg

This was the thing that excited my sister the most the first time we visited. It’s currently undergoing some renovations, so most of it was closed. It contains lots of fascinating and cringe-inducing instruments that were used to torture people.

World of Puppets exhibit

World of Puppets at Fortress Hohensalzburg

I’ve always found marionettes to be a little bit creepy, but I wandered into this exhibit anyway. It only takes a few minutes to walk through, and there are some fabulously detailed puppets on display. My favorite part was the sample one that you could play with to see how the limbs are moved. It’s not a must-see while visiting Fortress Hohensalzburg, but it’s worth taking a look.

Getting there

View from Fortress Hohensalzburg

Visitors can access the fort two different ways. The easiest is by riding the inclined railway to the top. It’s a quick ride, and if you’re lucky enough to get a spot in the front of the lowest car, you’ll be treated to a fantastic view of the city as you ascend.

Tickets can be purchased online in advance or at the ticket counter. Buying online will save you a few euros, so you should definitely take advantage of that. The tickets are dated, but not timed, so you don’t have to worry about locking yourself in to a set schedule. The ticket counter and entrance to the inclined railway are located on Festungstrasse near St. Peter’s Cemetery (which you may recognize from The Sound of Music.

Your other option is to walk. That’s free, but it seems like a pretty daunting climb.

Hours vary seasonally, but in general the fort opens at 9 or 9:30 and closes between 5pm and 7pm. Check their website for ticket sales and hours.

Looking for more things to do in Europe? Check out these posts:

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Fortress Hohensalzburg is one of the top attractions in Salzburg, Austria. Tours include a chance to see how the building evolved over the centuries. There is also a medieval torture museum, and you can't miss the incredible view of Salzburg from the top. #Salzburg | #Austria | Things to do in Salzburg | Things to do in Austria | #Hohensalzburg | #ThingsToDoInSalzburg

Fortress Hohensalzburg is one of the top attractions in Salzburg, Austria. Tours include a chance to see how the building evolved over the centuries. There is also a medieval torture museum, and you can't miss the incredible view of Salzburg from the top. #Salzburg | #Austria | Things to do in Salzburg | Things to do in Austria | #Hohensalzburg | #ThingsToDoInSalzburg

Kris's suitcase never rests. She's either traveling the United States for business or exploring somewhere exciting and new for vacation. She's a former Disney World Cast Member and loves writing about Disney parks almost as much as visiting them.


  • jin January 24, 2018 at 11:23 am Reply

    This is wonderful! I haven’t been back to Salzburg in over 20 years and would love to properly explore the city now that I’m older. I’m def going to check this fortress – it looks like it’s full of history and charm!

  • Annemarie January 24, 2018 at 11:29 am Reply

    I have been to the castle couple of times but don’t think I have made it into the museum. I only raced through to get up and see the sunset. So nice to finally take the time and see it – at least vicariously through your blog.

  • adela January 24, 2018 at 12:24 pm Reply

    The fortress looks so imposing and beautiful! I love castles and fortresses and would love to see it one day!

  • Sage January 24, 2018 at 12:27 pm Reply

    The royal potty! LOL. And I’m sorry, but that torture mask is sincerely creepy. Yikes! I enjoyed visiting the fortress via your words and photos!

  • Rosie Kerrigan January 24, 2018 at 12:33 pm Reply

    Ohh I’ve been to this castle quite a while back! The view was so incredible indeed, but I didn’t get a chance to see it at night. Loved your post, brought me back so many memories! <3

  • Kate January 24, 2018 at 12:47 pm Reply

    This castle looks very picturesque. I’ve wanted to go to austria for a while as a Sound of Music fan, did you prefer Salsburg or Vienna?

    • Kris January 24, 2018 at 12:52 pm Reply

      The two cities have very different feels. Vienna feels much more modern whereas Salzburg seems to have retained more historic charm. Vienna has more to do, but I think I prefer Salzburg for its atmosphere.

  • Jennifer January 24, 2018 at 5:22 pm Reply

    Austria is high on my bucket list! Even though Vienna is my priority, I’m also looking into exploring other cities. Thank you for the wealth of helpful information. I love going to museum and historical landmarks. The fortress looks awesome!

  • Samantha January 25, 2018 at 2:29 pm Reply

    This seems like a must while you’re in Salzburg. It gives you an incredible view of the city. There’s nothing I love more than an amazing viewpoint. Definitely bookmarking this for when i make it to Salzburg!

  • Felicia January 25, 2018 at 2:41 pm Reply

    Wow this is gorgeous!! I’ve only been in Austria for a short day but I would love to go back! Thank you for the amazing pictures and inspiration!

  • Allison January 25, 2018 at 5:27 pm Reply

    Well written. I thought you did great highlighting the place in different seasons, as well as, operating hours. Very informative. This place definitely looks like a whole days worth of entertainment.

  • Sarah January 26, 2018 at 3:03 am Reply

    This is beautiful! I feel like there are so many places I want to go, reading your blog just adds more to my list! Always thought of going to Austria but never heard of Hohensalzburg until now!

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