Austria’s romantic city of Salzburg looks gorgeous under her blanket of snow but can be bitterly cold in winter with temperatures dropping to around 15°C below freezing. However, skies are usually blue and sunny, so wrap up and embrace the city’s vibrant winter culture.
1. Classical Concerts
Appropriately for the birthplace of Mozart, classical concerts take place throughout Salzburg during the winter months, from small chamber-music recitals to full-blown orchestral blowouts at the Great Festival Hall by the Mozarteum Orchestra. Other venues include the castles at Hohensalzburg and Mirabell plus the Landestheater (state theater).
There are 22 ski areas within striking distance of Salzburg, all covered by one ski pass. The Gasteinertal ski area offers fun for families, black-run aficionados, and boarders in fresh powder at heights up to 8,850 feet (2,700 meters). Runs come from green to black, some with mogul fields, and all have plenty of pitstops for a rejuvenating glühwein.
3. Skating and Sleigh Riding
Salzburg takes to skating as soon as temperatures plummet; a temporary ice rink appears in Mozartplatz and there is a permanent indoor rink in the Volksgarten. Or take a horse-driven sleigh to see the sights in the snow.
4. Café Culture
Salzburg’s Aldstadt (Old Town) is brimming with enticing cafés, perfect for warming up over steaming cups of coffee piled high with whipped cream; glamorous Café Tomaselli has been going since 1703, Café Fürst is as renowned for its chocolate as its coffee, and Café Sacher sells original-recipe sachertorte at vastly inflated prices.
5. Climbing Kapuzinerberg
Walk up steep, tree-clad Kapuzinerberg from Linzergasse; it’s a heart-warming 250 steps but at the top there are breath-taking views over the photogenic Baroque domes, towers, and rooftops of Salzburg. Follow the Basteiweg hiking trail to the tower at Franziskischlössl; now a popular bar with a terrace on which to enjoy a stein of beer and admire the city below.
6. Saunas and Spas
In the mountains around Salzburg there are hundreds of spa complexes with their own hot springs, so brave the cold to swim outdoors in bubbling hot water when the temperatures are below zero. The thermal springs at Watzmann have a lazy river and water slides for kids to splash around in.
Contributed by Sasha Heseltine