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Hohensalzburg Fortress Tour: Visiting This Historic Castle

Austria is a beautiful Central European country with an impressive array of magnificent palaces and castles to be found. The Hohensalzburg Fortress is one of the many splendid castles that has been preserved for tourists to enjoy. 

In Austria’s historic town of Salzburg, this imposing fortress offers breathtaking sights of the city and sweeping views of the surrounding countryside.

About the Fortress of Hohensalzburg

Aerial View of Hohensalzburg Fortress
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The historic town is a jackpot of medieval and baroque architecture, with the Fortress of Hohensalzburg sitting atop the appropriately named Festungberg (Fortress Mountain) as the city’s crowning glory.

Aside from being a (literally) unmissable sight in town, the castle is perhaps the most famous and scenic tourist attraction to add to your Salzburg tour itinerary and is one of the best castles in Austria. The building of the fortification was prompted by the Prince-Archbishops of Salzburg in 1077 during the reign of the Holy Roman Empire.

The fortress is approximately 250 meters long and approximately 150 meters wide, making it among the largest medieval castles in Europe. The castle’s interior is as stunning as its immaculate exterior. It also houses a fascinating collection of historical artifacts that tell the fascinating story of the fortress and of Salzburglarge.

Hohensalzburg Fortress Tour | Visiting the Castle [4K UHD]

A visit to this near the 1,000-year-old castle is one of the most incredible things to do while in town and essential for any visitor to the beautiful, historic town of Salzburg. 

How to get to Hohensalzburg Fortress

Hohensalzburg Fortress Near the City Proper

Because the Hohensalzburg Fortress is perched atop a giant hill, towering over the city’s old town at the height of 199 meters, it’s pretty easy to find, and there are two simple ways to reach it. Walking up the Festungberg or by taking the funicular.

Walking to Hohensalzburg Castle is best if you are looking for a challenge, want to see some sights, and soak up Salzburg’s wonderful atmosphere. It’s a steep 15-minute walk from the city center and easily reached if you follow the signs from Kapitelplatz to the fortress.

Can’t wait fifteen minutes to see the largest fully preserved fortress? Take a one-minute journey in a funicular. The funicular train scales the Festungsgasse from the Kapitelplatz and carries you right into the castle, and this one has been running since the late 19th Century.

It’s a more convenient way to reach the attraction, but it can be crowded, and the lines do get quite long. It is preferable to arrive early to avoid long queues.

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Cost and Hours of Operation

The fortress is open throughout the year, and thanks to the Fortress Funicular, it has been accessible by foot and public transport since 1892.

Basic ticket

Including ascent and descent by Fortress funicular, Tour, Fortress Museum, Rainer Regimental Museum, Marionette Museum, Arsenal exhibition, and Alm passage exhibition. You can book your ticket in advance through GetYourGuide, so you’ll have mobile access for your visit.

  • Adults € 13.30
  • Children (6-14 years) € 7.60
  • Families € 33.60
  • People with disabilities greater than 50% € 12.20
  • Groups (of 10 adults or more) per person € 12.20
  • Groups (of 10 children/youths or more 6-19 years) per person € 7.00
  • Dogs are free!

Footpath

Only available at the “Sperrbogen” (entrance gate to the fortress grounds) Entrance courtyards and observation tower, ride down on the funicular included.

  • Adults € 10.30
  • Children (6-14 years) € 5.90
  • Families € 26.00
  • Groups (of 10 adults or more) per person € 9.50
  • Groups (of 10 children/youths or more 6-19 years) per person € 5.40
  • Dogs are free!
  • All-inclusive ticket
  • Incl. ascent and descent by Fortress funicular

Princes’ golden chamber in the main castle and the Magic Theater, tour, Rainer Regimental Museum, Marionette Museum, Arsenal exhibition, Alm passage exhibition.

  • Adults € 16.60
  • Children (6-14 years) € 9.50
  • Families € 42.00
  • People with disabilities greater than 50% € 15.30
  • Groups (of 10 adults or more) per person € 15.30
  • Groups (of 10 children/youths or more 6-19 years) per person € 8.80
  • Dogs are free! Many barks of approval!

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Best Guided Tours of Hohensalzburg Fortress

Aerial View of Salzburg, Austria
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Hohensalzburg Fortress is one of the most fascinating historical landmarks in Austria and the best way to learn more about it is through a variety of tours, including audio tours, available for visitors. The audio tours are also available in 8 languages; English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Russian, Italian, and Arabic.

The Hohensalzburg audio tour can be downloaded onto your phone or tablet for convenience and the possibility of taking the Hohensalzburg fortress self-guided route which allows you to explore at your own pace.

One of the best of these audio tours takes you on a virtual hike up to the fortress ramparts where you can get some amazing pictures of Salzburg and the surrounding natural beauty Austria is famous for, all while learning about these dense fortifications.

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History

Hohensalzburg Fortress

Hohensalzburg Fortress is an imposing medieval fortress that has stood watch over the Austrian city of Salzburg for nearly a millennium. In the US, we call something from the ’70s old!

The fortress of Hohensalzburg has a magnificent, imposing, unbreakable aesthetic, typical of a functional protective castle and the panoramic views from it aren’t just handy for keeping tabs on invaders, they are simply spectacular.

The name, Hohensalzburg, translates as “High Salt Mountain,” which is appropriate given that it is positioned atop the Festungsberg or “Fortress Mountain”, overlooking the salt mining city of Salzburg.  

The fortress is a sight to behold from a distance and is among the largest and most significant medieval fortifications in Central Europe that remain almost completely intact.

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When Was the Fortress Built?

Hohensalzburg Fortress Sitting Atop the Mountain
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The fortress was built in 1077 and served as a defensive fortification that has lasted centuries. Touched on earlier, the fortress was built under the command of Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach in 1077 and was constructed to help consolidate the Catholic Church’s grip on the wealthy town of Salzburg.

The fortress would soon become part of the town’s defenses against foreign invaders and attacks on trade routes from neighboring states. When it was first built, the humble castle consisted of a motte and bailey kept within a courtyard surrounded by wooden palisade walls.

The fortress slowly expanded over approximately 400 years until 1495 when von Helfestein’s far successor, Archbishop Leonhard von Keutschach, ordered drastic modifications, which resulted in the magnificent stronghold that we see today.  

Throughout its nearly 1,000-year existence, the fortress has only been assaulted once, during the German Peasants’ War. It was however surrendered to the French without a shot fired during the Napoleonic War of the Second Coalition.

Throughout history, Hohensalzburg Fortress has served as a stronghold, military barracks, jail, POW camp, as well as a temporary home for archbishops of Austria, Hungary, and the Holy Roman Empire. Hohensalzburg Fortress has been a popular tourist destination since the late 19th Century. It continues to be so today, with its doors accessible to the public and inviting visitors all year.

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What is the most convenient way to reach Hohensalzburg Fortress?

Old Town Salzburg from Hohensalzburg Fortress
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The easiest way to reach Hohensalzburg Fortress is by taking the tram, or “funicular”. Tram line 2 leaves from any of the stops and will take you right to Hohensalzburg Fortress.

You can also walk there if you want to, but it takes around 30 minutes and Hohensalzburg fortress is an uphill climb the whole way there! Taking a taxi will cost about 15 Euros while Uber cost around 10 Euros.

For locals, Hohensalzburg Fortress is one of their favorite attractions for its stunning view of Salzburg and the countryside, and its convenient distance from other tourist attractions, so renting a bike works well too! There are bike rental stations at West Railway Station where you can pick up a bike for 4 euros per day.

What to See While Visiting Hohensalzburg Fortress

Old Town Salzburg with Hohensalzburg Fortress in Forefront
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Hohensalzburg Fortress is one of the most important national historic landmarks in the city of Salzburg, and Austria as a whole. As a Catholic stronghold, defensive structure, and symbol of Austrian national pride, Hohensalzburg Fortress is one of the most significant and fascinating historical structures in Austria and Central Europe.

There’s little wonder then that the grand old building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2008.

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Visit the Hohensalzburg Fortress Museums

Cathedral on Hohensalzburg Fortress
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

There is a diverse assortment of artifacts and exhibits held in three museums at the fortress, each telling the story of the castle’s history as a residence for archbishops, an Austrian army barracks, a prison that housed Italian POWs in World War I, and later Austrian Nazi activists before Germany’s annexation of Austria in 1938, the damage she suffered in World War II, and everything else in-between.

The Fortress Museum

Uniforms on Display at Hohensalzburg Fortress
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The Fortress Museum contains historical exhibits centered on courtly life enjoyed by the prince-archbishops and the history of Hohensalzburg’s evolving construction. 

Marionnette Museum

There’s more to see than just the castle’s history at this terrific place. This huge castle contains other gems. The Marionette Museum, often known as the “Salzburg Puppet Museum”, houses all kinds of unique puppets from the renowned Salzburg Marionette Theatre.

Rainer Regiment Museum

Medieval Armour on Display at Hohensalzburg Fortress
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The Rainer Regiment Museum provides information on Salzburg’s old resident infantry regiment that used the fortress as its barracks. The (Imperial and Royal) Infantry Regiment No. 59 “Archduke Rainer” (yes, European regiments do love their golden threads), named in honor of Austrian Archduke Rainer Ferdinand, was a regiment in Austrian and Austro-Hungarian service from 1692-1918.

The regiment fought in at least 9 wars and hundreds of engagements over its 236 years of service. These brilliant museums, are a great way to spend some leisure time and soak in some history while you’re at it. 

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Take in the Views of Old Town Salzburg from the Fortress

View of Old Town Salzburg from the Top of Hohensalzburg Fortress
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Other things worth seeing are the views. See what I did there? Hah! I did it again! Right, the views, the frankly life-changing views. Located on Festungburg’s summit, Hohensalzburg Fortress serves as the perfect viewing platform for visitors to take in unparalleled views of Salzburg and the surrounding countryside.

You can take photos of the beautiful rolling hills and mountains, or snap a pic with the old town views in the background. If you take a ride up to the stronghold on the glass funicular, you’ll have even more opportunities for fantastic photos as you climb. 

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Attend a Concert or One of the Many Cultural Events

Interior of Hohensalzburg Fortress
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Beyond the insane views and intriguing exhibits, there are numerous activities to enjoy during your visit. It is possible to have your own medieval adventure and live like a King or Queen (or Archduke and Archduchess if we’re getting technical) in the stronghold by staying the night in the Royal Apartments!

Additionally, numerous entertaining celebrations and events are commonly held in the castle, such as The Festungskonzerte, or the “Fortress Concert”,  where you may enjoy a superb meal and entertaining courtly music. Alternatively, attend the “Best of Mozart Concert” if you want to take in the sights with a dinner and some classical tunes.

This totally unique festival is hosted in the castle’s majestic Golden Hall, which sees a series of classical music performances staged throughout the year.

If you visit Hohensalzburg during December, you will have the opportunity to stroll through and select gifts from the magical Christmas Market, a must if you’re touring with kids.

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Other Things to do Near Hohensalzburg Fortress

In addition to providing its own terrific events, the fortress is a very convenient place for visitors to explore other sights in town. Salzburg CathedralMozart’s birthplace, and The Sound of Music tour spots are all a stone’s throw away. A scenic cruise on the Salzach River through the old town allows you to take in the splendor of Salzburg as well as the fortification. 

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Final Thoughts: Fortress Hohensalzburg

The Beauty of Hohensalzburg Fortress

Hohensalzburg Fortress is an unmissable sight to behold as you travel through the beautiful city of Salzburg. It is a masterclass in medieval and renaissance military architecture, home to spectacular interiors, enthralling exhibits, and historical significance, and hosts amazing views. 

Hohensalzburg Fortress provides a spectacular and magnificent tour you shouldn’t miss on your trip to Salzburg, Austria.

FAQ

What is the Hohensalzburg Fortress?

Hohensalzburg Fortress is the medieval fortress of Salzburg. The Hohensalzburg Fortress (German: Festung Hohensalzburg) is the only remaining medieval royal castle within the city limits of Salzburg Austria.

How do I find Hohensalzburg Fortress in Salzburg?

Go up Kalfaten or Lugeck, then follow the signposts for Hohensalzburg fortress (500M). If you are taking public transport to Hohensalzburg, take the 63A bus from Salzburg Rail station to Pöstlingberg. From here walk up Viaduktstrasse and turn right at Walchensee.

Where is Hohensalzburg castle in Austria?

Hohensalzburg Fortress is located on the mountain known as Festungsberg above Salzburg, Austria.

Why was Hohensalzburg castle constructed at the top of a hill?

Sound military thinking. Hills provide the best places to spot your enemy and the hardest places for your enemy to attack. There are two main events in the history of this wonderful destination in Austria that makes its mountain-top construction especially poignant.

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