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.
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
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
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.
I also like the ballroom/reception area with its fancy twisting columns.
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.
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
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.
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:
- What to See at the Musei Capitolini in Rome
- Should You Buy A Paris Museum Pass?
- Exploring the Wieliczka Salt Mine
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