The Complete Guide to Salzburg Cards – Why the Salzburg Card is Worth Buying
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The Salzburg Card allows you admission to most of the attractions in Salzburg at a fixed price. There are 24 hours, 48 hours, and 72 hour Salzburg cards, allowing you free admission within those timeframes. You can visit all the museums, head out to Hellbrunn Palace where the trick fountains are, and take a river cruise and a cable car to the peak of Untersberg.
It also includes buses to these places and public transport in the city center.
The city center, however, is walkable and you will only need bus number 25 for the Cable Car and Hellbrunn.
Is the Salzburg Card worth buying?
Provided you have time, and you want to visit at least two attractions that otherwise require an entrance fee, it is worth buying the card. It is the best deal you can get and by far the best city card I have seen anywhere. Right now it’s €29,- for a 24-hour card from May till November and €26,- in winter. If you only visit the fortress and Mozart‘s birthplace, you are almost there. So you get lots of entrances as a free extra if you get the card instead of paying single tickets. Furthermore, you can often skip the lines by just scanning your card.
Is the Salzburg Card really worth buying?
Well, the Untersberg Cable Car, for example, is €25,- for a return ticket. It’s included in a €29,- Card and it includes bus number 25 to get there. Meaning even if you only do the Cable Car, it’s cheaper to get the Card. With the Card, however, you also visit Hellbrunn palace, the trick fountains and the Salzburg Zoo if you wish to. It’s on the way of bus number 25.
Then you get back to the city and take the funicular to the fortress, visit Mozarts birthplace and Mozart’s residence, the Salzburg Museum and Domquartier, take a tour in the concert hall, take an elevator up to the museum of Modern art and a cruise ship along the Salzach river. All for the same price, the Cable Car would cost without the Card.
Sounds too good to be true, right? It sounds like I Am advertising the card, right? I am not. I am just a fan of it and would recommend it to everyone. I could sell them and get a 10% commission, but that’s not the reason I want you to buy one. I want you to buy a Salzburg card to make the most out of your stay in Salzburg.
When not to buy the Salzburg card?
If you don’t have time because you already have other plans, if you only spend a few hours in the city or if you don’t want to spend any money at all. It is fine to walk Salzburg for a few hours to see the main sights, and even if you stay for days, you can still find things you can do for free. The city is small, and there is enough to see entering none of the paid sights.
If you only do one thing in Salzburg, make it the fortress! And if you only do the fortress, you don’t need the card. If you don’t want to pay for the fortress either, go after closing time. Read our guide on things to do for free for more information on that. But if you do pay for the fortress and one more activity and you have a little extra time, it is again already worth getting the card. Think about it!
What does the Salzburg Card include?
The Salzburg Card includes all the highlights of the city. I will provide you with a list of things to do with the Salzburg Card from the most recommended to the least recommended. This list changes according to interests, and with a 72-hour card, you have more time even to do things I am not mentioning in this list.
In this article, I assume that your time is limited, and I don’t include all that there is. If you’re going to make your plan, you will get an informative brochure when you purchase the Salzburg Card. This list reflects my preferences and expertise.
#1 Hohensalzburg Fortress
If you only visit one sight, make it this one. The view is spectacular. From the old town of Salzburg, you can’t see the alps because there is Mönchsberg, one of the house mountains, in between. From the fortress, however, you see not only the city from above, but on the southern side, you have an impressive panoramic view.
There are museums like a string puppet museum, the fortress museum and the Rainer museum, an audio-guided tour up a tower, a church, a restaurant, and several viewpoints. You can spend a while at the fortress and should visit the museums, especially the audio-guided one, because that’s the only way to get up one of the towers.
However, it is mainly about the view, in my opinion. If you want to get into the fortress without visiting the museums and without a Salzburg card, read this post to find out how. The staterooms require an extra fee if you arrive after 11 am. My recommendation is to skip them, but if you want to see them, go before 11 am or pay the extra few euros.
With the Salzburg Card, you can skip the line at the funicular by scanning your card. The audio-guided tour to the tower is included in the card.
#2 Untersberg Cable Car
This activity alone makes it worth getting the Salzburg card. The Cable car would cost you €25,- without the card. Bus number 25 from Mirabellplatz takes you to the cable car, it’s included in the card, and its last stop is in front of the cable car. Buses run every 20 minutes and stop right in front of the cable car, so it is as easy as it could be.
The cable car takes you up to 1776 meters/5826 feet above sea level. If the conditions are right, you can see to the other side of the lake district and far into Germany. There are two restaurants with good Austrian food, and there is an easy 30 minutes hike to the top of the mountain on the Austrian side, the Salzburger Hochthron, with 1852 meters.
Even if not required because it’s straightforward, here is a detailed guide on how to get to the Untersberg Cable Car.
With the Salzburg Card, you can skip the line at the cable car by scanning your card. Know that there is maintenance work twice a year, once in spring and once in autumn, and that the Cable Car is closed during these times. Check beforehand if it is operating while you are in Salzburg!
#3 Hellbrunn Palace and Trick Fountains (Zoo and folklore museum optional)
Hellbrunn Palace and the trick fountains are on the same bus as the cable car, bus number 25. For efficiency, I would recommend you visit Hellbrunn on your way back from the cable car. More on the efficient use of the Salzburg card below. The trick fountains are only open in summer. A visit to Hellbrunn is recommended anyway, but I only consider it a must if the trick fountains are operating.
The card includes the guided tour you need to access the trick fountains.
To be honest, I thought the fountains are for children until I visited them for the first time. They have a fascinating history and are a lot of fun. You have to join a guided tour to access the trick fountains. Their guides are knowledgeable and entertaining. Be prepared to get wet. There is no way to predict where the water comes from.
The museum in the castle is good. You get an audio guide and get to understand what the castle was. Don’t miss that. The museum is also open in winter. Furthermore, there is a park you should look at. In the park, there is a folklore museum, the yellow building on the hill, and on the other side of the hill, there is the Salzburg Zoo. The Zoo and the folklore museum are a preference, I would say. If you go to the folklore museum, you can take some stairs a little further up to get a view to the city.
#4 Concert Hall Tour
There is only one tour to the Concert Halls at 2 pm every day. The Salzburg Festival is one of the main topics in Salzburg; however, without explanation, you won’t notice it. The tour is included, and the guides are fantastic. You get to see the old summer horse riding school from the inside. One scene from the sound of music. You also get to see either the big or the small concert hall and learn a lot in those 50 minutes. Everyone should join one of these tours when it is anyway included in the card.
The card includes the guided tour, the only way to see the concert hall without attending a concert.
#5 Mozart Birthplace
The birthplace is one of the main sights in Salzburg. Seeing it from the outside while strolling through Getreidegasse is enough if you are not interested in Mozart’s history. It’s information, no original furniture. Some paintings and some leftovers and in the high season many people visiting. But. You already know the deal. It’s all included, so you want to do everything you can.
If you would like to know more about the Birthplace, here is an article about Mozart’s birth.
#6 Mozart Residence
The same goes for Mozarts Residence. The history of the house is fascinating. Half of it got damaged during world war II and rebuilt in 1996. A Japanese insurance company mainly financed the reconstruction. Between the “Mozart Wohnhaus” sign and the Austrian flag, you can see a white line. That’s where the original house ends and the reconstruction starts. Otherwise, there are letters the Mozart family wrote, pieces of Mozart, instruments, and other legacies. Go there. It’s free with the card.
Domquartier is my favorite history museum in Salzburg. It opened in 2014. Together with the Salzburg Museum, it’s the main place to learn about Salzburg’s history. With Domquartier, it’s worth visiting even if you are not into museums. Your walk begins in the old residence but leads from the staterooms to parts of the cathedral that would otherwise not be accessible. It leads you to the western gallery where the big organ is and from there to parts of Saint Peters monastery before you get back to the old residence. So even if you are not into museums, go there and walk the building!
The audio guide in Domquartier is included in the Salzburg Card. It’s especially nice to explore the staterooms and learn about the art on the ceiling.
#8 Salzburg Museum and Panorama Museum
The Salzburg Museum is equally worth visiting as Domquartier. There is an audio guide, and if you want to go deep, borrow it, and take your time.
One more thing is the Panorama. It has a separate entrance, so make sure not to miss it! The panorama painting shows you Salzburg and its surrounding from 1829 in a 25 meter long and 5-meter high 360-degree painting with the view from the fortress. What‘s fascinating about this painting is its history. There were no photographs yet, and the painter, after finishing, took his art in a horse carriage and toured Europe for ten years to introduce Salzburg to the world.
#9 Sound of Music World
This is for loyal fans. The Sound of music world only opened in 2018. When I heard that there is a museum about the movie, I didn’t expect much. I thought someone wants to make a quick buck, but after visiting, I can tell you it’s nice. There are interviews to watch and listen to and things to learn about our favorite movie and the real Trapp family. If you are into the Sound of Music, I would recommend going there.
The catacombs are at Saint Peter’s cemetery. I would recommend them for the view from the windows and for the experience of being in these caves. I would also recommend them because you will want to visit the cemetery at some point, anyways. And again. The catacombs are free with the card.
#11 River Cruise
The river cruise is fun. The captain is engaging and entertaining. When you get back to the old town, the boat dances to a waltz. During the ride, you get some information. However, Salzburg is small, and you are out of the old town in no time. There is not a lot to see along the river. But again. It’s free with the card, it’s fun and if you don’t have other plans, go for it!
The card includes the ticket for the cruise. You should get it sometime before you go on the boat. More about the best timing to get the ticket in the guide on efficient use below.
#12 Mönchsberglift and Museum of Modern Art
I don’t consider the museum a must, but the elevator is terrific because of the stunning view from the top. If you like modern art, visit the museum. If you want to take a picture or enjoy the night view, just take the elevator! The viewpoint is one of the best in the city, and the way to get there couldn’t be easier.
Here is an article, if you would really like to know about Modern Art in Salzburg.
#13 Haus der Natur
The house of nature, the natural science museum, is especially nice for children. It’s also nice because it’s old and has a long tradition. When I was a child, some parts of the museum already where the way they are nowadays, but they also added modern elements like the science center. I wouldn’t consider the museum a must, but if you are traveling with children or if you have enough time in the city and with the Salzburg card, it’s certainly recommended.
When can I skip the line? Where are the tours included?
Whenever you have to take a tour to enter a place like Hellbrunn or the concert halls, the tour is included. Fast track entry is included in all the places where it’s necessary. The funicular to the fortress is the only place that gets crowded enough to wait in line for and there you just scan your card and go. Don’t worry about these things too much. Once you have a schedule, you can go on autopilot.
There are 20% discounts for tours and other activities. You can find them on the backside of the brochure. However, they are not worth considering. They are also only valid during the time the Salzburg card is valid, and you have a lot of things to do for free, so I would recommend sticking to those.
Another possibility would be to try to purchase the ticket for whatever activity you are up to while your Salzburg card is valid even if the time of the activity is later. And it’s worth mentioning that it is up to the service provider if they accept your card for discounts after expiration. Just don’t use it for discounted activities during the time you have all these free activities.
Which public transport is included in the Salzburg card?
The Salzburg Card includes no trains and doesn’t include buses for day trips. It includes buses in the city center, but you do not need them. The only bus that included and necessary is number 25 to the Untersberg cable car and Hellbrunn Palace. The cable car is a must if it’s open and if you have a card and Hellbrunn is on the way so you should visit as well.
Other recommended sights included in the card are within walking distance. There are exceptions like the Stiegl brewery and Hangar 7, which you might want to check out, but they are not my favorites and are therefore not mentioned in this list. For more information, read our Salzburg public transport guide!
How much does a Salzburg Card cost?
|Salzburg Card Prices 2020||Adults||Children|
|Low Season: 1st November – 30th April|
|High Season: 1st May – 31st October|
There are 24 hours, 48 hours, and 72 hours of Salzburg cards available. As of now, 2020, the price for the 24-hour card is €29,- in summer and €26,- in winter. The prices increase by a euro or two every year. The 48-hour card is €38,- which is not a lot more and the 72-hour card is €44,-. More on which one to get in the next chapter. Now let‘s do the math. How much money can you save on a 24 hour Salzburg card in summer 2020?
Untersberg Cable car: €25,-
Day ticket for the bus: €6,-
Hohensalzburg Fortress: €12,90
Hellbrunn Palace and fountains: €12,50
Festival Halls Tour: €7,-
Mozart houses combi ticket: €18,-
Mönchsberg Elevator: €3,80
Salzach Cruise: €15,-
Salzburg Museum: €9,-
Total: €122,20 if you can manage to do all these things. In these calculations, I only included the things I consider essential to do with a Salzburg Card. Not the Museum of Modern Art, not the natural science museum and no Sound of Music world. With a 48 hour card, you can include these other sights and save even more.
There is no student discount on Salzburg cards, but tickets for children up to the age of 15 years are half price. You might have to go to the tourist information to purchase the children’s card. Children under the age of 6 get free admission to the museums anyway.
Where to buy a Salzburg Card?
If you are joining one of our free walking tours in Salzburg, you can ask your guide for a card. If it’s me, I have 24-hour cards in my backpack, but we are all independent, and others might not, but they are happy to point you to the next place where you can purchase one.
Don’t buy the Salzburg card online. There is no need to. Your hotel probably has Salzburg cards at the reception. They are the same price everywhere, so it doesn’t matter if you get them from the hotel or the tourist information. Also, they activate when you use them the first time, so it doesn’t matter when you buy them.
Some hotels only have 24-hour cards. In that case, go to the tourist information either at Mozart square or the train station. If you already know you will get the card, buy it when you arrive at the station. This way, you can use it early in the morning the next day when going to the cable car.
Should I get a 24h or a 48h Salzburg Card?
If you have the time to go for the 48-hour card, you should take it. 24 hour Salzburg Cards are fine if you don’t have more time, but you will have to skip some sights, and you will have to plan better. The 48-hour cards only cost €9,- more than the 24-hour card, so it is worth it if you have two days and you have planned nothing for your second day.
In case of time doesn’t matter for you, in case you are staying for many days, you can also get the 72-hour card. If time matters, however, rather than getting the 72-hour card, I would plan to see as much as you can within the 48-hour timeframe. Instead of spending three days with the Salzburg card, have a look at this article and plan a day trip for the third day.
How to activate the Salzburg card?
To validate the Salzburg Card, you have to fill in the fields on the back and use it. It activates once the museum scans the card. The reason you need to write your name, the date, and the time is that the buses don’t have a scanner, and the card is not transferable. Now there is a way to get free transport even with an expired card, but I will not point that out.
How long is the Salzburg Card valid?
The card is valid for 24, 48, or 72 hours from the moment you activate it to the same time the next day, the day after tomorrow, or even the day after that. So it doesn’t matter when you activate the card. It will not expire at the end of the day.
Can I use a Salzburg card for Hallstatt?
No! However, you get a 20% discount for the Salt Mines in Hallstatt, but it’s still not worth getting the card because it takes an entire day to go to Hallstatt. Don’t get a Salzburg card if you are planning to go to Hallstatt! Read this instead to find out how to best go to Hallstatt!
Does the Salzburg Card include the Sound of Music Tour?
The Salzburg Card doesn’t include the Sound of Music Tour. If you are really into the movie and want to join the Sound of Music Tour, read this!
Find out about the Salzburg Land Card!
For those of you staying in Salzburg and its surroundings for at least a week, the Salzburg Land card is interesting. “Land” meaning the state of Salzburg, the Salzburg Land card covers attractions all over the state of Salzburg. Attractions like spas, cable cars, and fortresses that would otherwise be expensive for a fixed price. You can get that card for either 6 or 12 days and save lots of money if you plan well.
Furthermore, you can choose if you want a 24 hour Salzburg card included in the Salzburg Land card or the toll for the Großglockner alpine street. I would go for the 24 hour Salzburg card. The toll is €36,50 per car at the moment, so if you are at least two persons, the toll is cheaper than the Salzburg card, and you will want to explore the city and its sights on one day during your stay anyways. More on that topic on the Salzburg Land Card website.
How to use the 24 hour Salzburg card most efficiently?
If you have a 48 hour or even a 72-hour card and enough time, you are not on a tight schedule, and you can roam. With the 24 hour card and only one or two nights in Salzburg, however, you might want to make the most out of it. Here I Am giving you instructions, a strategy, on how to do that.
Step 1 – Heading out to the Cable Car
Get bus number 25 before 8 am to catch the first cable car at 8.30 am in summer or at 9 am in winter. Most of the museums open at 9 am, but the buses already run early, that’s why the cable car is the first activity you want to do. It saves time.
Step 2 – Layover in Hellbrunn
On the way back from the Cable Car, get off at the stop called “Salzburg Schloss Hellbrunn” to go to the castle and the trick fountains.
Optional: If you visit the Zoo, which I only recommend with a 48h, a 72h card, with kids or because you are interested in Zoos, get off one stop earlier at “Zoo Salzburg”. It’s the same place as the castle so from the zoo you walk to the castle. After leaving the zoo, you can also check out the Monatsschlössel, the yellow building on the hill which houses the Folklore museum, before going to the castle.
Step 3 – Comeback and the Right Side of the River
When you are done in Hellbrunn, it’s time to retake bus 25 and come back to the city. Get off at the stop called “Theatergasse” to visit Mozart’s residence. The bus stops right in front of it. Mozarts residence is the only place included in the Salzburg card you visit on this side of the river.
Step 4 – Buy the Ticket, don’t take the Ride
Cross the river via Makartsteg, the “lock bridge”. On the other side of Makartsteg, there is the river cruise harbor on the right side. You don’t take the boat yet, but you reserve a ticket. In summer, you want to make sure you have a place booked. Pick the latest time possible. The museums are going to be closed after 5 pm, but the boat is still going.
Step 5 – The actual Oldtown
Depending on the time, you either visit Mozart’s birthplace in Getreidegasse or head straight to the concert hall to catch the 2 pm guided tour. If you need to take the 2 pm tour before, come back afterward to check out the birthplace.
Step 6 – Decisions
You can’t do it all with the 24-hour card. After the concert hall and Mozarts birthplace, you have the choice between the Salzburg museum and Domquartier, the two main historical museums which I like very much or you could visit some smaller places like the Sound of Music world, the catacombs or the Christmas museum. I would go with the two first mentioned museums. You can also try to spend minimum time in each of them and do them all.
Step 7 – The best for Last
The fortress is a must-do. I said it before. If there is only one sight you visit, make it the fortress. I would do it last, probably before the river cruise. Also because it stays open longer than other museums and even if it closes you can stay. Only the museums close, not the fortress itself. This last part very much depends on the season. In winter the museums inside the fortress also close at 5 pm so it doesn’t make much of a difference but in summer they close at 7 pm and you can go there after everything else is closed.
Step 8 – Finishing
The last river cruise in summer runs at 8 pm so ideally you have a ticket for the 8 pm river cruise and enjoy the ride. After that, you could still go to the Mönchsberglift, the elevator up to the museum of modern art. The museum will be closed, but the elevator operates until 9 pm or 11 pm depending on the time of the year. The top of Mönchsberg is one of the best places to enjoy the night view so give it a try if you still have energy left. It only takes 30 seconds by elevator.
Is there a difference between using the Salzburg Card in high or in low season?
As mentioned before. The plan, in particular the end of your busy Salzburg card day, depends very much on the season. In summer you can fit in more places than in winter because the fortress and the cruise are possible later in the day. This list also doesn’t include all the sights included in the card. It only consists of the sights I love the most. It might vary from person to person.
What if I arrive in Salzburg at noon and want to start right away?
That is even better. The cards are valid for 24 hours from the moment you activate them. It will be less exhausting for you to start at noon and make it for two half days. But the plan for most efficient use doesn’t change. You still take the bus to the cable car early in the morning.
I hope this guide is helpful to you. If you have any further questions, if anything is unclear or you have feedback that I could use to improve the information provided, please send me a message. I am happy to help, and you would help others because I will implement your question in this article.