In Austria, Salzburg is known as the rain capital. We receive an average of 1,185 millimeters (46.7 inches) of precipitation per year or in other words 140 days of rain. Summers are often marked by thunderstorms and winters it sometimes snows, while springs and autumns are marked by a distinctly different type of rain.

In spring and summer, we more often get what is known as Salzburg string rain, “Salzburger Schnürlregen”. Small drops of rain can fall permanently over a period of time, or even continuously for days. So what should you do if your stay in Salzburg coincides with a period of that dreaded Salzburg rain? Do not worry! I am here to give you ideas on what to do in Salzburg when it rains.

Get a Salzburg card!

The Salzburg card includes most of the paid attractions in the city of Salzburg and even in the surroundings. As you can imagine, museums are a good idea in bad weather in Salzburg. Salzburg is small, therefore, you never walk more than 1-5 minutes from one place to the other. Museums include Mozart’s birthplace, the Salzburg Museum, Domquartier, the museum of Modern Art, the Hohensalzburg fortress, and more and all of them are included in a €30,- (in 2022) Salzburg Card.

Here is an article about all the sights included in the Salzburg Card and another article about why the Salzburg Card is worth buying.

Buy a Salzburg Card in Salzburg when it rains!

Hellbrunn palace and Untersberg cable car are two of the best places included in the Salzburg Card. In the rain, at least when it’s cold, Hellbrunn Palace is not a great place to visit because the trick fountains are the main attraction and you might get wet. With the Untersberg cable car, it depends on the season. Untersberg is not great in bad weather since the views would be blocked, however, you might be able to experience snow in spring or autumn when it’s not yet or not anymore snowing in the valley.

Explore Salzburg’s Museums in the Rain

As mentioned in the last point about the Salzburg Card and as you can imagine, museums are a good idea in Salzburg when it rains. Here are the best museums to visit in Salzburg when it rains:

  • Domquartier: Domquartier opened its doors in 2013 as a modern history museum. It’s in the old residence of the archbishops on the main square, residence square. The museum began as the archbishop’s art collection, which is now part of the museum in addition to the archbishop’s staterooms, a chamber of wonders, and parts of the cathedral and the monastery of Saint Peter’s that you would otherwise not have access to.
  • Salzburg Museum: The Salzburg Museum is a history museum founded in the 19th century. It is situated directly across the square from the aforementioned Domquartier, and their themes are similar. The Salzburg museum tells the story of Salzburg on several floors.
  • The Hohensalzburg Fortress: The Hohensalzburg fortress is not only the landmark of Salzburg but one of the three must-see sights of Salzburg. It’s the best-preserved fortress in Europe but it’s much more than just a building. The fortress has several museums, two restaurants, a church, and more, but the best feature is the views. While the views might be obstructed when it rains in Salzburg, the fortress is close enough to the old town to always have stunning views, and a rainy day can even add to Salzburg’s medieval charm.
  • Mozart’s Birthplace: While slightly overrated, the birthplace of Mozart is the most famous sight in Salzburg besides the fortress and it’s included in the Salzburg Card. Therefore, if you get a Salzburg Card, the birthplace is a must, especially on a rainy day. If you do not get a Salzburg Card, you might get more value from the Domquartier and Salzburg museum depending on your interests.
  • Mozart’s Residence: Mozart’s residence is very similar to his birthplace. The residence is the place where Mozart moved to when he was 17 years old. Same as at the birthplace, there is no original furniture, some original items like letters and souvenirs, and information about Mozart. The residence is of course also included in the Salzburg Card. If you don’t get a Salzburg Card and would like to visit both, the residence and the birthplace, there is a combination ticket for a reduced price.
  • Haus der Natur: The natural science museum is a highlight for kids but still very interesting for adults. The dinosaurs at the entrance, the sharks in the aquarium, and even the full-blown space station are some of my fondest childhood memories. Parts of Haus der nature are exactly as they were when I was a kid while other parts like the science museum are brand new.
  • Toy Museum Salzburg: The museum is obviously for kids but the same as with the natural science museum, adults, at least young at heart adults, turn out to be equally interested. The toy museum and the Haus der Natur are hands down the best activities with kids in Salzburg when it rains. Here are a few more ideas on things to do with kids in Salzburg.
  • The Christmas Museum: We have some of the most traditional Christmas customs in Austria. Even though the Christmas Museum at Mozartsquare was only established in 2014, the private exhibits it houses was collected over a 40-year period by one individual.
  • The Museum of Modern art: The museum of modernity is a matter of taste. From my experience, most travelers could do without it but if you are into modern art and especially if you have a Salzburg Card, go for it! Even if you are not into modern art and have a Salzburg Card, you can still take the elevator up Mönchsberg mountain and into the museums to admire the view.

Head to the salt mines!

Salzburg is the best place for day trips in Austria but not every day trip is suitable for bad weather. The best bad weather day trip from Salzburg is the salt mines because the salt mines are an indoor activity. In the mine, you move underground. There are three salt mines within reach from Salzburg each of them with different features.

The easiest-to-reach salt mine is located across the German border in Berchtesgaden. How could Germany be the easiest to reach? Because there is a direct bus to Berchtesgaden from Salzburg which would be especially convenient when it rains in Salzburg.

My favorite salt mine is on Dürrnberg in Hallein. The salt mine in Hallein is less touristy than the other options but also less conveniently reached, in case you don’t have a car. To get to the salt mine in Hallein, you would first have to take a train or a bus to Hallein and then change to a bus to Bad Dürrnberg.

The salt mine in Hallstatt would only be interesting if Hallstatt is on your bucket list anyway. Hallstatt is the most touristy place in Austria and 3 hours by public transport from Salzburg. The price for the salt mine is double the price of the other mines while offering exactly the same experience. Hallstatt sometimes looks nice when it rains but sunshine is of course more convenient and comfortable.

Here is an article on the salt mines to help you plan and another article on how to get to Hallstatt.

Hangar 7

Hangar 7 is the private airplane collection of the founder of Red Bull. The Hangar is free to visit and can be reached by bus number 2 from Salzburg’s old town. Due to the fact that all airplanes, helicopters, and racing cars are displayed indoors, the Hangar is an excellent activity in Salzburg when it rains, but its course depends on your interests. Maybe a dinner at Ikarus, the most expensive restaurant in Salzburg, would impress your spouse if she doesn’t like cars and planes.

Explore Salzburg anyway

If none of the above appeals to you and you would rather just follow the plan, you may do so! Since the string rain in Salzburg is often only small drops and it usually isn’t windy, an umbrella and a rain jacket protect you well. In fact, most locals are not too bothered by the rain. We still go for walks and hikes and sightseeing, as long as we are not talking thunderstorms or pouring rain.

Famous coffee houses

If none of the above appeals to you and you don’t want to do as the locals do and explore anyway, you might want to indulge in another local activity and that is hanging out in a coffee house. Salzburg doesn’t have as many traditional coffee houses as for example Vienna but cafe Bazar and cafe Tomaselli are the most traditional and authentic when it comes to the Austrian coffee house atmosphere in Salzburg and are perfect places to hide and watch the raindrops down the window in Salzburg when it rains.

Austrian coffee houses traditionally were places for artists and intellectuals to hang out, discuss and write. Authentic Austrian coffee houses still keep up with this tradition. Even if most people don’t spend their time in coffee shops intellectualizing or creating art, these coffee shops are places to linger. They would never tell you to order more or to leave, no matter if you are there for hours and hours on end. Here is another article that helps you better understand Austrian coffee house culture.

Thermal spas

If hiding from the cold and wet in a coffee shop isn’t enough for you, I’ve got an idea to completely get away from the cold weather. There are plenty of wellness spots in the surroundings of Salzburg and even in the city center, you find a reasonably priced luxury sauna spa to spend a rainy day. The place in the city center is called Paracelsusbad and is located next to Mirabell garden, no more than 5-15 minutes from anywhere in the old town.

The Paracelsusbad has four saunas and a steam room but it is not the most comfortable place. I visit Paracelsusbad at least every other week and it’s great to relax for 3-4 hours but if you would like to fully drop out, you should leave the city to a place like Aqua Salza in Golling in the south of Salzburg or Rupertustherme across the border in Bad Reichenhall.

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