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9 Essential Tips for Visiting the Salzburg Christmas Markets

It’s the most wonderful time of year! Especially when you spend it in Austria’s romantic city, Salzburg and pay a visit to their famous Christmas markets. The picturesque city on the edge of the Alps, dominated by a grand clifftop fortress is also the birthplace of Mozart and home to The Sound of Music. 

Salzburg Christmas market

view of the Salzburg Christmas Market

The hills were definitely alive with the sound of clinking glühweins and twinkling lights when we visited for a weekend full of Christmas Markets.

view of the decorated sternbrau in Salzburg Christmas Markets

Salzburg in December

The Salzburg Christmas Market dates back to the fifteenth century and is one of the world’s oldest Advent markets. An incredible destination all year round, during the run-up to Christmas the charm of the holiday season takes over Salzburg’s old city with Christkindlmarkt.

view of the decor and huts in Salzburg Christmas Markets

Embellished with festive lights, decorations and crammed full of traditional stalls selling seasonal treats and handicrafts.  Our short two-night city break definitely put Christmas into our step! Being such a compact city it was the perfect place to experience Advent Austrian style with the family. Here are my top tips to make the most from a whistle-stop trip to the Salzburg Christmas markets.

Wrap up warm!

two children walking down the streets in the middle of Salzburg

Perhaps stating the obvious, but Christmas markets are all held outdoors and involve a lot of time in the wintry cold. To minimise the cranky levels from little ones and big ones (I hate the cold), layers are your best friends. Don’t forget the winter wardrobe essentials: scarf, hat and gloves. Trust me, you’ll be out for hours perusing the wonderful stalls and nobody likes frozen earlobes or fingertips.

Cash is king

view of family looking at the stall in Salzburg Christmas Markets

Just like the three kings be sure to travel with gold – Although Euros will do in this instance. Unless you’re at a large company stall, cash is typically the only form of accepted payment. Most of the stalls are temporary wooden huts, so if you don’t want to miss out on buying exciting treats leave the plastic for cash machine top-ups.

Shop wisely

wooden christmas drummer

Wandering around the cute wooden chalets adorned with twinkling fairy lights, you’ll be overwhelmed with the festive goodies on offer. I’m the worst with buyer’s regret, so make sure you take time to browse.

violin christmas tree decor

From adorable wooden carvings, baubles galore, pretty candle holders and cosy hats and gloves you’ll be completely spoilt and confused with choice.

Bring your appetite

view of a food stall at Salzburg Christmas Markets

The aroma of Christmas cookies, toasted almonds and roasted chestnuts will tempt you as you wander through the markets. The amount of food on offer is quite overwhelming. From delicious bowls of Kaiserschmarrn, a traditional Austrian dessert of shredded pancakes to ginormous pretzels covered in everything from swiss cheese to chocolate. The aim of the game here is overindulgence – Christmas only comes once a year after all.

view of counter selling stollen. at Salzburg Christmas Markets

The pretty gingerbreads and fancy chocolates also make great presents to bring back home for friends and family. A lovely way to give them a taste of your travels

Glühwein and Hot Chocolate all the way

view of blue mug with Salzburg Christkind markt

Sip on some steaming mugs of glühwein. The famous warm sweet mulled wine is a staple of the season. Boiled with cinnamon, cloves, oranges and spices, it’s the perfect way to keep warm whilst browsing the markets. Traditionally made with red wine, we found some white wine versions too. For the younger members, the hot chocolates are not to be missed. Topped with lashings of delicious cream, even I succumbed to a couple of mugs of chocolatey nectar.

children saying cheers with blue mugs

The glühwein and hot chocolate are served in custom mugs, customers pay a deposit of a few euros on their first purchase. Once devoured, you can either return the mug when you’re finished and get your money back or forfeit your deposit and keep the mugs as a souvenir. Although be wary of people asking to collect your mug, it’s only a scam to keep your money.

Go earlier in the season!

view as you walk through the salzburg market

Christmas markets are a BIG thing all over Europe, so plan to visit early in the season. The Salzburg Christmas Market starts in late November, it worked well for us to arrive early in the season, avoiding the crazy overcrowding. It makes a more pleasant trip all around, especially if you have kids in tow.

Pack lightly

Let’s be honest the whole point of this trip is to visit Christmas Markets, shopping is inevitable. Make sure you leave room in your suitcase for all the goodies you’ll be bringing back for yourself, family and friends.

sima holding bag of blue Mozart chocolates in front of furst shop

A visit to Salzburg isn’t complete without buying the famous Mozart chocolates. The original pistachio marzipan balls covered in dark chocolate have been handmade daily since 1890 in the tiny Konditorei Fürst shop in Alter Markt. You will see many different versions around town with red wrappers, but you can easily spot the originals with their blue and silver wrappers.

Don’t just visit the markets

More things to do in Salzburg

With so much to see, I recommend you intersperse the various markets with different activities. When in Salzburg you definitely have to pay homage to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Born in the city in 1756, there are two different residences to visit.

view of the outside of Mozarts birthplace in salzburg

The first visit is Mozart’s Birthplace, an apartment in Getreidegasse, where you can see the room he was born, lived and worked. In 1773 the family moved from their cramped living conditions to a much grander property on Makartplatz now known as the Mozart Wohnhaus. With eight rooms and its own concert hall, this is where Mozart created most of his famous compositions and where you’ll see his original fortepiano.

outside covered in foliage of Cafe Tomaselli

We also indulged in hot chocolates and cake at Café Tomaselli, a regular haunt of the illustrious composer.

hot chocolate in a white mug on a table in cafe tomaselli

To complete our Mozart pilgrimage we booked a Mozart Dinner Concert at St. Peter Stiftskulinarium. Within the walls of St Peter’s Abbey it dates back to 803 AD and is the oldest restaurant in Central Europe – Even the Mozart family ate dinner here!

view of the outside of st Peter stiftskulinarium within the walls of st Peters abbey

The Baroque concert hall is lit by candlelight and you’re served a four-course meal in between watching performances from his greatest works. During Christmas, it’s extra magical with beautiful decorations, twinkling lights and an enormous Christmas tree.

violist along side the christmas tree in  the baroque concert hall

And you can’t forget the second famous thing to come out of Salzburg – The Sound of Music of course! We didn’t do the actual tour where you can Do-re-Mi thorough the film’s exterior scenes, but couldn’t resist a wander through Mirabell Gardens.

9 Essential Tips for visiting the Salzburg Christmas Markets

For spectacular views of the beautiful city of Salzburg, a ride up the funicular to Hohensalzburg Fortress is a must! There’s lots to do once you get up there, with a church, old houses, a restaurant, cafés and shops.

The Sphaera is a work of art in Salzburg on the Kapitelplatz
Overlooking the city of Salzburg from high

The Salzburg Christmas Markets runs from 22nd November to the 26th December 2019. It’s such a magical way to begin the festive season. If you have little ones it’s the perfect mini wintery city break.

travel toolkit to help plan your trip

Have you been to a European Christmas market? Which one is your favourite? Let me know in the comments box below.

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9 Essential Tips for visiting the Salzburg Christmas Markets

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14 Comments

  • Kathryn @TravelWithKat 17th December 2018 at 10:27 am

    Looks fabulous! I’d love to visit one day. Love your tips, especially “bring your appetite!”

  • Bejal 17th December 2018 at 3:58 pm

    OK well you know I’m sold and Salzburg is somewhere I will have to go. Love the mix of the Christmas markets as well as doing some traditional sight seeing and that Mozart concert looks and sounds like my kind of thing.Great tip about going early season, nothing worse than overcrowding whilst your picking gifts!

    • Sima Sthanakiya 18th December 2018 at 2:57 pm

      I’d love to go in Summer too and do my best Julie Andrews impression.

  • Angie 18th December 2018 at 10:05 am

    Oh t he Salzburg markets look gorgeous!

    • Sima Sthanakiya 18th December 2018 at 2:56 pm

      So pretty Angie. Highly reccommend.

  • Sammy Summers 19th December 2018 at 12:00 pm

    This just looked so so magical!!!!!

    • Sima Sthanakiya 19th December 2018 at 6:53 pm

      It really is Sammy. Love a Christmas Market.

  • Suzanne 19th December 2018 at 1:05 pm

    This looks like one of the best. I’ve not seen Salzburg in winter but it looks so pretty and loads to see and do apart from the markets. I love the angel wings on the trees.

    • Sima Sthanakiya 19th December 2018 at 6:54 pm

      It was gorgeous in winter. Love to go in Summer now, when the hills are alive.

    • Sima Sthanakiya 7th January 2019 at 10:09 am

      It was a beautiful market. Now I want to go in summer.

  • Laura 19th December 2018 at 1:14 pm

    It looks so beautiful and festive!

    • Sima Sthanakiya 19th December 2018 at 6:56 pm

      Lovely couple of days in Salzburg.

  • Dylan Jones 30th December 2018 at 4:02 pm

    Salzburg looks like a great city. Your photos of the market are wonderful and really make me want to visit.

    • Sima Sthanakiya 7th January 2019 at 10:03 am

      Thank you Dylan. I hope you do go. I want to visit in Summer now.

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