Salzburg, Austria at Christmas time is a winter wonderland fairytale. Salzburg’s beautifully preserved baroque buildings dusted with snow and twinkling Christmas lights cascading along puts the Salzburg Christmas Markets in league of their own.
For any Christmas lover, Salzburg is a bucket list holiday destination not to be missed. This guide covers everything you need for your Christmas Market trip to Salzburg with the dates and times, locations and helpful tips to allow you to fully embrace the magic of the Salzburg Christmas Markets.
** This guide has been updated with 2023 dates! **
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Salzburg Christmas Market Dates
The Christmas season starts early in Salzburg – typically around the middle of November. Consequently, with their early start, I recommend Americans consider visiting during the Thanksgiving holiday to avoid the busy December crowds.
The Salzburg Christmas Markets are open this year from November 23, 2023 – January 1, 2024. I would recommend avoiding visiting on Christmas day, or right before, because most restaurants close for the holidays.
The Market times are from 10am to 8:30pm – with longer opening hours on Saturday. You view the special holiday hours here. Salzburg does have a few Advent Markets that are only open Friday – Sunday on the weekends during Advent.
Why the Salzburg Christmas Markets
Salzburg is an incredibly romantic city with centuries old architecture surrounded by the snow-covered Alps making it the perfect backdrop for any Christmas festivities. The city is rich in history and culture.
Did you know that the main Salzburg Christmas Market is one of the oldest Christmas markets in the world? The Salzburg Christkindlmarkt dates back to the 15th century, and is still in its original place in front of the Cathedral of Salzburg.
Salzburg has a rich music history. The world’s most famous Christmas carol, Silent Night, was written in a village just outside of Salzburg. Today, Silent Night has been translated into at least 300 languages and was even designated by UNESCO as a treasured item of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The Best 2023 Salzburg Christmas Markets
- Dates: Nov 23, 2023 – January 1, 2024
- Opening Hours: Mon-Thur 10 am-8:30 pm; Fri 10 am-9pm; Sat 9 am-9 pm; Sunday 9am-830pm
- Address: Altstadt, Salzburg 5020 Salzburg, Austria
The crown jewel of Salzburg is the beautiful Salzburg Christkindlmarkt. Located in the heart of the city in Cathedral Square in front of the Salzburg Cathedral, this Christmas market is the largest and most photographed in the city.
You won’t have trouble finding delicious Austrian treats to eat, or handicrafts to purchase. My favorite part of the Salzburg Christkindlmarkt are the beautiful strands of twinkling Christmas lights strung above you that give the illusion of stars twinkling.
The Salzburg Christkindlmarkt has the best lineup of events. They have daily readings of Christmas stories for children, parades, guided Christmas tours and choral concerts. The concerts are truly spectacular! We saw several concerts throughout the day in front of the cathedral.
- Dates: November 23, 2023 – December 24, 2023
- Opening Hours: Tuesday – Friday 1-8pm; Saturday – Sunday 10 am-8 pm; Closed Monday
- Address: Hellbrunn Courtyard Fürstenweg 37, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
You can find this beautiful market, Hellbrunner Adventzauber (Advent Magic), inside the palace courtyard of Schloss Hellbrunn. You’ll need to hop on a short bus ride to get here – but it’s worth it! You’ll step inside the palace gardens and be greeted with a pathway of over 700 christmas trees lining the entrance decorated with over 10,000 Christmas ornaments. One look and the name “Advent Magic” couldn’t be more perfect.
This Christmas market is perfect for kids! Children can visit a petting zoo, grill sausages over a campfire, and send their wish list to Santa at the Christmas Post Office. Every Saturday and Sunday you can experience the beauty of the palace park on a horse-drawn carriage ride. Tickets for the horse-drawn carriages are available at the box office at the eastern gate for only 4 EUR per person. For more information on all their events visit their website here.
Entrance Fee: Until 7pm 6 EUR per person and after 7pm 4 EUR per person.Your entry ticket includes a glass of glühwein (mulled wine), hot punch, or children’s punch.
How to Get There: The market is a short 20 minute direct bus ride from Salzburg city center. Take bus 25 from Salzburg city centre and hop off at the Hellbrunn stop.
Christmas Market on Mirabellplatz
- Dates: Nov 23 – Dec 24, 2023
- Opening Hours: Sun – Thur 10 am – 8 pm; Fri – Sat 10 am – 9 pm; 24 December: 10 am – 3 pm
- Address: Mirabellplatz, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
This is the perfect market to escape the big crowds, and enjoy a cozy charming Christmas market. It’s centrally located just in front of Mirabell Palace in the heart of Salzburg. You’ll recognize the Mirabell Gardens nearby as the first place where Maria and the von Trapp kids first sang “Do-Re-Mi” in the Sound of Music! This market is a local favorite for its low crowds and delicious glühwein.
If you’re taking the train, this market will be on your way to the train station. This market is a local favorite for its low crowds and delicious glühwein. Enjoy a glühwein and browse the stalls before heading back on the train.
Stern Advent and Winter Market
- Dates: November 23, 2023 – January 6, 2024
- Opening Hours: Sun – Thur 10:30 am – 7 pm; Fri – Sat 10:30 am – 8 pm;
- Address: Getreidegasse 34 / Griesgasse 23 5020 Salzburg
Tucked away in a tunnel right off the main shopping street, Getreidegasse, is the Stern Christmas Market. This gorgeous Christmas market is actually a beer garden in the summer, and during winter it’s transformed into a winter wonderland!
I loved the authentic arts and crafts this market had for purchase. Be sure to hold off any purchases until you visit this market and see what they have to offer! The Stern Advent Market is decorated with a large nativity in the middle with cozy spots to relax and enjoy a glühwein.
These were my top Christmas Markets when I visited Salzburg. However, because I visited during the opening week, the other Advent Markets (including the market at Fortress Hohensalzburg) were not open yet. Meanwhile, if you visit during the prime Advent season, I highly recommend exploring the other Advent Markets found here and on the map below.
What to Eat and Drink at the Salzburg Christmas Markets
You cannot go too far without smelling whiffs of the hot cinnamon-dusted glühwein (mulled wine) and fresh apple strudel coming from the Salzburg Christmas Markets. Save room for these Austrian sweet and savory specialties unique to Salzburg!
Kaiserschmarrn are pancakes served in small pieces made with rum, raisins, and sugar. They’re served warm and dusted with powdered sugar topped on top of pan-fried roasted plums. It’s best paired with a mug of glühwein.
A Bosna is an Austrain sausage sandwich originating in Salzburg. The standard Bosna is two brat wurst (sausages) in a white bread bun, with onions, a sauce combining mustard, ketchup, and curry powder. On a chilly winter night there’s no better taste!
You can find Bosnas at the Salzburg Christmas markets. If you don’t end up trying one at the Christmas Markets, have a Bosna at Balkan Grill Water. A small walk-up stand off the main shopping street in the old town that has been in business for over 30 years!
If you love macaroni and cheese just wait until you try käsespätzle. Made with eggs noodles, covered in cheese and topped with fried onions, this is the perfect comfort food dish!
The “Original” Mozart Balls
Mozart Balls are small, round chocolates made of pistachio, marzipan and nougat that are covered with dark chocolate. However, beware of the “fake” Mozart Balls you’ll see wrapped in gold and red foil. The originals are sold from Fürst and wrapped in blue and silver foil. You can find Fürst Mozart Balls at the Christmas markets in Salzburg, or you can stop in one of their stores in the old town. They’re the perfect gift to bring back home!
No Christmas Market is complete without trying glühwein. Every Christmas market has their own take on their glühwein recipe, and it’s fun to sample a few different styles. Also, if you see an opportunity to add a mozart ball with your glühwein – don’t pass that up!
Each market has its own signature ceramic mug, which you can return after drinking in exchange for your deposit (typically around 3 – 5 euros), or keep as a souvenir. My advice would be to keep a few of your favorite mugs. They’re a really nice souvenir and not expensive.
What to Buy at the Salzburg Christmas Markets
Bring the scent of Salzburg home with one of these small dried spice bouquets made from cloves, cinnamon, and star anise. You can find them sold as small bouquets, or ornaments you can hang from your tree. I’ve never seen these sold at any other Christmas market and they’re unique to Salzburg.
If you love candles you’ll appreciate the beautiful handmade beeswax candles and beeswax ornaments. Beeswax candles are healthier than normal candles and they have the ability to purity the air when you burn them.
Ornaments are small and easy to pack. I love the ornaments on my tree as a memory of the time spent at the Christmas Markets in Salzburg.
Lebkuchen is a giant gingerbread cookie. You’ll find these everywhere across Europe in all sorts of shapes with different coloured icing and different sayings. They’re a great gift for kids!
Helpful Tips for the Salzburg Christmas Markets
- Gloves, hats, jackets, and warm shoes are essential when you’re planning to be outside most of the day. I would avoid bringing an umbrella because the markets can get so crowded umbrellas become frustrating to use. Wear a waterproof jacket, or hat instead.
- Most of the markets for larger purchases take credit cards, but still plan on having plenty of cash. It’s so much faster to use cash for small purchases. Bring a small purse for all the coins!
- If you want to avoid the crowds and take the best pictures go right when they open in the morning. The Christmas Markets are the busiest in the evening when the lights turn on.
- Consider skipping a meal and plan on eating at the Christmas markets one of your days!
Traveling to Salzburg
Salzburg is easily accessible by train from several major cities in Europe. Therefore, I recommend visiting another major European city for their Christmas Markets (such as Munch or Vienna) if time permits. If you take the train to Salzburg you’ll arrive at the Salzburg Hauptbahnhof Station.
- Vienna, Austria: 296 km (184 miles) – 3:00 hours
- Munich, Germany: 144.5 km (90 miles) – 1:30 hour
- Venice, Italy: 446 km (277 miles) – 4:50 hours
- Prague, Czech Republic: 374 km (232 miles) – 4:16 hours
Salzburg’s international airport (named after Mozart, naturally) is conveniently located just 4 km from the city! You’ll need to connect in a major European city to find available nonstop flights to Salzburg. The airport code is SVG
When to Visit Salzburg for Christmas Markets
The Christmas season in Salzburg kicks off the second to last week of November every year and runs through the end of December. In 2021, the opening day was Thursday, November 18. You’ll see the most crowds in December on weekends. I recommend visiting at the end of November.
How Much time to Spend in Salzburg for Christmas Markets
The big mistake most people make is just visiting Salzburg for one day. If you’re primarily visiting for the Christmas markets and a little sightseeing around the city I recommend 48-72 hours.
In 48-72 hours days you can visit all the best Christmas markets and have enough time to explore the city’s museums. In December you’ll have around 8.5 hours of daylight and less time to explore some of the main attractions before it gets dark.
Where to Stay in Salzburg
There’s a large selection of places to stay in Salzburg. However, plan on booking early if you’re visiting for the Christmas markets, especially on weekends. Below are my recommendations for budget, mid-range, and luxury hotel options.
Meininger Hotel – We stayed at the budget friendly Meininger Hotel in Salzburg. The Meininger Hotel was exactly what we needed when I visited Salzburg with a friend!! The Meininger Hotel is best described as an upscale hostel with the option of booking private rooms.
Guests have the option of booking shared dorms, or private rooms with a private bathroom. Furthermore, breakfast and free WiFi were both included. The location is around 1 mile from the city center with convenient access to public transportation next to the hotel, or the city center is a short taxi ride away.
numa l Mozart Rooms – A boutique style and chic hotel centrally located in the heart of Salzburg. The rooms are bright and beautifully decorated with a mix of retro and modern furniture.
The hotel is fully digital! Rather than worrying about a room key, or waiting to check-in you’re sent a code in advance to access the building and your room.
Hotel Elefant – Discover the perfect luxury escape just off the main shopping street in the heart of Salzburg. Hotel Elefant is in an historic location in one of the most ancient buildings of Salzburg. In addition, each of their rooms are individually decorated for comfort and style. Guests rave about the delicious breakfast and convenient location.
Best Restaurants in Salzburg
A cozy inn serving Austrian dishes made with top-quality and local ingredients in one of Salzburg oldest areas of the city. They’re famous for fried chicken, beef goulash with dumplings, and their locally-brewed beer from the Augustiner Kloster Mülln brewery next door. I tried the fried chicken here and it was delicious! You can make reservations in advance here.
One of Europe’s oldest restaurants dating back to 803 AD. During the Christmas season the restaurant transforms into a winter wonderland!
Don’t leave Salzburg without trying the dessert Nockerl! Stiftskeller St. Peter is makes the best Salzburger Nockerl in the city. It’s a light soufflé with a meringue topping served with a homemade berry cream. It’s typically a very large portion (enough for 3-4 people to share). You can make reservations here.
Café Tomaselli is a chic traditional Vienna style coffeehouses (Wiener Kaffeehaus) in the center of Salzburg. They’re known for their incredible collection of cakes and coffee.
The cafe is still family owned and has the same traditional look and feel as it did 300 years ago. The interior is decorated with marble tables, wood paneling and 18th-century portraits. I recommend ordering any of the delicious cakes, tarts, or strudels from one of the “cake ladies” who visit your table with the dessert cart.
A local favorite walk-up window selling the best takeaway hot dog you’ll ever have! A bosna is a Salzburg speciality of 2 bratwurst sausages, onions, and a blend of curry powder and/or ketchup and mustard.
Other Things to Do in Salzburg in Winter
Walk through Mozart’s Childhood Home
It’s hard to miss the bright yellow No. 9 building on the main shopping street in Salzburg that was Mozart’s birthplace. The home has now been turned into a museum dedicated to sharing glimpses of his childhood. You can evens see his original musical instruments and memorabilia dating back to the 18th century.
Admission is €12 and gives visitors access to the museums and exhibits.
Learn the History of Salzburg on a Walking Tour
Discover Salzburg’s beauty and history on a walking tour from licensed local guides. I loved my experience with “Fairtours”.
Fairtours stands for the quality and fairness of tours they offer guests. As a result, their guides know where to find the best sights and have great local recommendations.
No reservation is necessary for a tour. Expect the tour to last around two hours. You’ll meet at Mirabell Palace main entrance, Mirabellplatz 4 (opposite the St. Andrew’s Church). The price is just €10 per person. You can contact them by email here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit the Salzburg Fortress
The Salzburg Fortress is one of the largest medieval castles in all of Europe. It sits on top of a mountain and is a beautiful focal point overlooking the city. During winter, I recommend you take the funicular up to the top (the ground can be slippery in rain or snow).
Once you reach the top, you can visit several museums and well preserved castle rooms around the large complex.
Entrance starts at €9.90 for a ‘Panorama ticket’ and increases up to €15.90 for an all-inclusive ticket. For example, basic admission to the castle gets you inside the vast inner courtyard and access to a number of wings that hold different museums, exhibits, and other historical areas to see. It also gets you a ride up and down on the funicular. However, on a clear day I would recommend you purchase the ticket that includes the Observation Tower. You can book tickets here.
See the Best Views of the City
From the top of the Winkler Terrace you’ll find the best panoramic views of the castle and all of Salzburg. To get here Gstättengasse street takes an elevator up to the museum. This is marked on Google Maps as “Lift up to the Modern Museum”. The viewing platform is through the glass doors as soon as you come out the elevator on your right.
Take a Apple Strudel Baking Class
Roll up your sleeves and learn the art of making this classic Austrian dessert from a local chef. I loved this AirBnb experience in one of the old houses carved into the stone cliffs under the Salzburg Castle.
You’ll make memories and learn a new skill as you practice the art of rolling and stretching out the strudel dough! While your strudel is in the oven you’ll learn how to make another popular Austrian Christmas cookie Vanilla Kipferl! A hot delicious goulash soup is also served for lunch before you did into your strudel.
Additionally, you’ll be given the recipes to take home with you along with plenty leftover apple strudel and Vanilla Kipferl! You can book this apple strudel baking class AirBnB Experience in the link here.
Sing along to the Sound of Music
Fans of the award-winning 1964 play the Sound of Music often have visiting Salzburg on their bucket list to see the filming locations and the city where the real Von Trapp family was from! To really immerse yourself into the history of the family and the iconic film, now is your chance to visit the filming locations!
From the gazebo sitting in the gardens at Schloss Hellbrunn to Nonnberg Abbey and the Mirabell Gardens, there are numerous places to follow the steps of the Trapp family!
If you want to see some of these sights and get a guided tour of the beautiful surrounding countryside – which also includes other filming locations in the movie – I recommend you book a bus tour here.
Christmas Markets in Salzburg – A Map!
Save this map of all the locations I listed above for quick reference before you visit Salzburg.
Final Thoughts on the Salzburg Christmas Markets
To sum it up, there’s no place in the world more picturesque and magical than the Salzburg Christmas Markets! Salzburg is the perfect romantic getaway for the holiday season. In just 72 hours, you can explore the history and culture of Salzburg with plenty of time to enjoy the Christmas Markets. I recommend visiting at the end of November as the perfect way to start your holiday season in an unforgettable way.
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