Although city passes are available for cities all over the world, not all are created equal. Price varies wildly, as do inclusions: you might have access to public transport, or not; you might be able to enter almost all of the city’s best attractions, or you might just get access to a few, or only get a discount. It’s important to make sure you’ll get your money’s worth before buying a city pass, and not just fork over your money because the advertising has convinced you it’s worthwhile. So, is a Salzburg Card worth its price?
The Salzburg Card varies in price depending on season and duration. It comes in denominations of 24, 36, and 72 hours, and is about 13% more expensive in summer. Public transport throughout the whole city is included in the pass, as is access to the main attractions: the fortress, Mozart’s house and birthplace, Hellbrunn palace, and the Salzburg museum — which was awarded best museum in Europe in 2009. Many other museums and art galleries are also included, as are (more surprisingly) a cruise on the river, a tour of Stiegl brewery with three 200ml beer tastings, and a ride on a cable car in the next town over.
Salzburg Card variations
As always with this kind of pass, whether it’s worth it to you depends on what you want to do. A 24-hour pass is €24 in winter or €27 in summer. This is relatively expensive, but if you were already planning on visiting the fortress and one other attraction, you’d be spending around €20 anyway, and buying a pass will allow you to visit a lot more than just two things.
Unfortunately, almost all of the attractions included in the card close at 5pm, so you’re very time-limited as to what you can see. However, if you start your pass at midday and visit as much as you can before closing time, you’ll still be able to visit more attractions the following morning — almost as if you have a two-day card. This way you can easily visit six or seven of the attractions, three each day.
If you want to visit more than six attractions, it’s worth considering the 48-hour card which, at €32/€36, is only €8 more than the 24-hour version — less than the price of many of the museums. However, if you’re considering the 48-hour card, you might as well get the 72-hour one for €37/€42. This works out at only €12-€14 per day, so you only have to do a couple of things each day to get your money’s worth, especially in winter. And it’s worth the extra few euros to take away the stress of trying to fit everything in.
There’s certainly enough to do to fill three days, especially if you take the cruise and go out to Grödig to ride the cable car. And you know that as soon as you have the pass, you’ll want to do everything possible with it!
On the whole, I’d say the Salzburg Card is reasonably priced and offers value for money if you want to do more than two of the major attractions. And if you’re in the city for three or more days, get the 72-hour card to give yourself more flexibility.
If you’re only in the city for a day on a very tight budget, though, and only want to see one or two things, you’d be better off just paying for the things you want to see — and don’t be swayed by the fact that public transport is included. That’s useful if you’re going to Hellbrunn or out to the cable car, but otherwise Salzburg is a compact city that’s easy to walk around — and it’s even better with a bike.
[box]This post was originally published in 2013, but prices are correct in May 2017.[/box]