The Best Museums in Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg is steeped in history
Salzburg is steeped in history | © Harald Nachtmann / Getty Images
Paul Malone

When it comes to choosing which of Salzburg’s museums to visit, there are so many that it makes good sense to ask for expert local advice. Culture Trip has set out to do exactly that and speaks with Mag. Natalie Fuchs from the Salzburg Museum about some of her favourite museums and what makes a trip to the city so special.

There isn’t a street in Salzburg that isn’t steeped in history – from the magnificent Baroque architecture on every corner to the imposing Medieval fortress watching over the city. With so much history on offer, Culture Trip asks local expert Mag. Natalie Fuchs about her must-visit museums in the city.

“People are drawn to the city for many reasons – for its UNESCO World Heritage status, its beautiful architecture, the abundance of its cultural offerings, even its idyllic location,” Fuchs says.

Whatever your reason for visiting Salzburg, the following museum guide is bound to have something for you.

1. Salzburg Museum: The New Residential Palace (Neue Residenz)


Salzburg Museum Located in Neue Residenz
© PSI / Alamy Stock Photo

Just one of the six Salzburg Museum exhibition locations, the New Residential Palace (Neue Residenz) is a must-see for anyone wishing to discover the art and rich cultural history of this beautiful Baroque city. From Bronze Age salt mining artefacts unearthed in the surrounding mountains to rare musical instruments dating back to the 16th century, the permanent and special exhibitions here are on display in 3,000 square metres (32,292 square feet) of magnificently renovated space, incorporating multimedia for an immersive visitor experience. Don’t miss The Salzburg Myth on the second floor, which examines the idea of the 19th-century ‘Romantic Transfiguration’ of Salzburg and how it came to be known as The Festival City. Guided tours are available every Thursday at 6pm. “The New Residential Palace focusses not only on the history of the city but also on the artists who shaped it,” Fuchs says. “The museum is a special attraction for the locals – it’s a museum for the people where many events and discussions are held and a place where tourists also feel welcome.”

2. DomQuartier


LOWRES_00000076929_Winter-in-der-Stadt-Salzburg_Oesterreich-Werbung_Lisa-Eiersebner - Edited
© Öesterreich Werbung / Lisa Eiersebner

The impressive DomQuartier complex encompasses the Salzburg Cathedral and the Residenz (the former centre of the prince-archbishops’ power), which includes the Benedictine Monastery of St Peter’s. Touring the five museums here, visitors can marvel at the Italian-style Baroque features, with highlights including the staterooms of the Residenz, the Residenzgalerie, the Cathedral Museum and St Peter’s Museum. The current exhibition from the Rossacher Collection presents significant Roman Baroque artworks from artists such as Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Peter Paul Rubens. With five museums to explore over a 1.3-kilometre (0.8-mile) tour, be prepared with maps and audio guides available at the DomQuartier entrance.

3. Museum of Modern Art (Museum der Moderne)


Museum of Modern Art, Salzburg Austria.
© Glyn Thomas / Alamy Stock Photo

Dramatically set atop the sheer cliff of Mönchsberg overlooking Salzburg, the Museum of Modern Art (Museum der Moderne) is home to approximately 55,000 national and international artworks from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, with a focus on graphics and photography. With a second location (Rupertinum) nearby, the museum offers a continual and eclectic stream of unforgettable exhibitions for lovers of modern art. For students under the age of 26, don’t miss the Lazy Sunday Afternoon special at Mönchsberg, which costs just €2 (£1.70), including a free tour. “I enjoy going to the Museum of Modern Art,” says Fuchs. “On the one hand, I like the curatorial concepts of my colleagues on the mountain; on the other hand, the atmosphere is very nice.”

4. Museum of Natural History and Technology (Haus der Natur)


Haus der Natur, Natural history and science musem, Altstadt, old town, Salzburg, Austria
© PE Forsberg / Alamy Stock Photo

The Museum of Natural History and Technology (Haus der Natur) is the perfect place for inquiring minds of any age. With a regional and international focus, the museum exhibitions encompass classical natural history, zoology and science. Permanent exhibits include the aquarium and reptile zoo, where you’ll find over 35 tanks displaying animals from around the world; an interactive science centre offering hands-on experiences to learn about everything from energy to the body and fitness; and a space exhibit offering glimpses of distant galaxies. The museum also runs the nearby VEGA Observatory, one of the most powerful publicly accessible observatories in Europe.

5. Toy Museum (Spielzeug Museum)


The Toy Museum in Salzburg in Austria.
© Brenda Kean / Alamy Stock Photo

The Toy Museum (Spielzeug Museum) is a special treat for young and young-at-heart visitors to Salzburg. In this world of play, the interactive exhibitions include antique model trains, a Carrera racing track, a labyrinth, a treasure chamber, a doll shop and so much more. The museum also houses an intriguing collection of antique playthings to set anyone’s imagination alight, a cinema and a children’s library. In addition to its permanent exhibitions, the museum holds special exhibitions, and admission prices start at €2 (£1.70) per child and €10 (£8.50) for the entire family, making it one of the best-value attractions in Salzburg. “The Toy Museum is another of my favourites,” says Fuchs. “The very young guests are introduced to the museum world in a very playful way. The children have fun discovering new things; they can look at historical toys and play with new toys.”

6. Hangar-7


Red Bulls Hanger-7
© Lucas Vallecillos / Alamy Stock Photo
Located next to Salzburg Airport, Hangar-7 houses an impressive collection of historical aircraft belonging to the Flying Red Bulls. Hangar-7 describes itself as “a home for planes, art lovers and architecture” and lies inside a magnificent glass-and-steel structure with two towers and lofty walkways. The exhibition also includes Formula 1 Grand Prix racing cars, motorbikes and the famous Red Bull Stratos capsule used by Felix Baumgartner for his historic stratosphere dive. Hangar-7 is also home to the Ikarus Restaurant, renowned for its international haute-cuisine culture and monthly celebrity chefs. What’s more, entry into Hangar-7 is free.

7. Mozart’s Birthplace

Memorial, Museum

Mozart’s Birthplace is reputedly one of the most visited museums in Austria, fascinating visitors with a first-hand experience of the home where the musical genius spent the first 17 years of his life. The Mozart family residence has been authentically reconstructed to include a collection of family items, letters and other memorabilia, and even Mozart’s violin and clavichord. For fans of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the museum offers an immersive insight into his short life (1756-1791) and prodigious musical accomplishments, comprising over 600 works. “Salzburg has many fascinating cultural events, including Mozart Week,” says Fuch (Mozart Week runs 23 January to 2 February 2020).

8. Mozart Residence


Mozart Residence museum
© Michael715 / Shutterstock

Having been partially destroyed in an air raid during World War II, the Mozart Residence on Makartplatz was carefully reconstructed and opened to the public as a museum in 1996. It was home to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart from 1773 until 1781 when he eventually moved to Vienna. The exhibition provides rich detail about the lives of the Mozart family, including original portraits, documents and musical instruments (including Mozart’s fortepiano). The Salzburg Mozarteum Foundation offers special exhibitions, concerts and talks at the Mozart Residence.

9. Fortress Hohensalzburg

Forest, Hill Station, Museum

Medieval fortress Hohensalzburg in Salzburg with city below and tourists gazing up on a cloudy day
© escapetheofficejob / Alamy Stock Photo
As the crown of Festungsberg, with breathtaking views of Salzburg and its surrounds, Fortress Hohensalzburg offers an unforgettable visitor experience. The fortress is also one of the largest Medieval castles in Europe, offering over 33,000 square metres (355,209 square feet) of exhibition space in 50 buildings. With a history dating back to 1077, the castle is a fascinating trove – containing Roman ruins, exhibits of courtly life, princely chambers, weapons and armour, torture instruments, military instruments, the very popular Marionette Museum and so much more. Although the fortress is accessible on foot, many visitors prefer to take the memorable ride on the fortress funicular. To save money and skip the queue, purchase tickets online.

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