Cruises to Linz (Salzburg)

102 Reviews
Linz (Salzburg) (Photo:canadastock/Shutterstock)

About Cruising to Linz (Salzburg)

For river cruise operators, Linz is used mainly as a waypoint from which shore excursions set off to other, grander locales like Salzburg, Austria or Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic. And while the city is more of a place of work than a place to visit, it is a counterpoint to many other stops on a typical Austria cruise itinerary. A quick tour through town (there really doesn't need to be any other kind) can provide relief for anyone suffering from "quaint European village fatigue syndrome."

Linz is the third-largest city in Austria, with a population of 190,000 inhabitants; it's also the capital to the state of Upper Austria. Once known as the country's center of industry (and hometown of Hitler), Linz is making a name for itself in the world of computer art and digital design. When you dock there, you will likely notice sculptures along the water's edge and a modern building with glowing LED lights, which is the Ars Electronica Center, a museum and development facility for new media arts. Also directly across from your ship will be Brucknerhaus -- named after composer Anton Bruckner -- a famous concert hall and home to the Bruckner Orchestra. The rising fortunes of Linz were officially recognized when the city was made a European Capital of Culture in 2009.

Many cruise lines dock in Linz and offer shore excursions to nearby Salzburg, a couple hours away by bus. Salzburg is set in the forested foothills north of the Alps mountain range, and the Salzach River divides the city. The northeastern half of the city is the new town -- mostly businesses and transport links -- and the southwestern bank of the river is home to the charming Altstadt (Old Town) with its baroque churches and one of Europe's oldest medieval fortresses. Salzburg's Old Town was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997.

Home to Mozart, Haydn and setting of "The Sound of Music," Salzburg is a wildly popular stop for music-lovers of all kinds and tourists of all ages. In fact, the city gets 8 million visitors a year, an estimated 300,000 of which visit Salzburg each year simply because it's so prominently featured in the film musical "The Sound of Music."

So soak it all in and sing it out loud while you're in town. Walk the Getreidegasse, a busy shopping street, and happen upon the house at number 9, where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born. Pace the gardens of Mirabell Palace; "Do-Re-Mi" was sung on its steps. During the holiday season, enjoy the festivities and decorations of Salzburg's impressive Christkindlmarkt (Christmas market), and if you feel like singing a carol, the lyrics to "Silent Night" were written here, as well.

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More about Linz (Salzburg)

Why Cruise to Linz (Salzburg)?

Pros:

Linz's architectural draws include Linz Castle and Neuer Dom, Austria's biggest church

Cons:

There's not much to see in Linz compared to nearby must-visit destinations of Salzburg (a two-hour drive)

Bottom Line:

Linz is a great base for excursions to Salzburg or the Austrian Lake District

Linz (Salzburg) Cruise Port Facilities?

There is no cruise terminal, but downtown Linz is easily walkable (or cyclable) from the Donaupark where you're docked. It's a gentle 10-minute walk into the Hauptplatz (main square), where there are banks and ATMs. The tourist information center is here, as well. (Hauptplatz 1, 4020 Linz, Austria; +43 732 7070 2009; open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.) Many river cruise ships offer free Wi-Fi onboard as do many cafes in Linz.

If you decide to stick around in Linz and want to see some of the sights, a Linz Card (www.linztourismus.at/linzcard/) is available from the tourist information center on the Hauptplatz. The City Ticket will gain you access to several of the city's attractions for one price (about EUR20 per person), and you'll get a restaurant voucher, to boot. On the "for free" list are a number of museums, and there are discounted entries to a number of other spots including the Botanical Gardens. (Roseggerstrasse 20-22, Linz; open 8 a.m. to dusk, daily, closed from December 24 through January 6) A sightseeing tour of the city on the Linz City Express Train is also included.

One of the top two architectural stops in Linz is Linz Castle and its museum. (Schlossberg 1, Linz; open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, until 9 p.m. Thursday, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday) A castle was first documented on the site as early as the eighth century. The current castle was built in 1477 by Emperor Friedrich III, went through various redesigns and expansions, and was restored following World War II. It contains permanent art exhibitions, showcasing the region's art from the Middle Ages to the present day as well as weaponry and other collections.

The other architectural draw is the Mariendom, also known as the Neuer Dom (New Cathedral), the biggest church in Austria. (Herrenstrasse 26, Linz; open Monday to Saturday 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.) Construction on the New Cathedral began in the mid-19th century and the church was completed in 1924. In addition to a stadium-like capacity of 20,000, the church is a neo-Gothic wonder of soaring spires, buttresses and stained-glass windows.

Good to Know?

Linz is very safe, particularly in the main tourist areas, but as you would in any sizable city, beware of pickpockets, and always keep your belongings safe. Taking a few common sense precautions should be all you need to do to stay safe. Avoid carrying around large amounts of money or wearing flashy jewelry. Keep a close eye on valuables in crowded, public areas, as these are the places where pickpockets generally operate.

Emergency phone numbers in Linz (or anywhere in Austria) are: 133 for the police, 122 for the fire department and 144 for an ambulance. The European Mobile Emergency number is 112 from any mobile phone.

Getting Around?

On foot: It's a short, approximately 10-minute stroll up a green, rolling bank into Linz's Hauptplatz, or Main Square.

By bike: The commute into Linz is even shorter if your river cruise ship offers bicycles for use. You can easily get around and see the town's sights in an hour or so.

Taxi: As ships dock alongside a public park, if you'd like to take a taxi, it's best to have the ship's front desk make the arrangements for you.

Bus: Shore excursion options from Linz to Salzburg or the Austrian Lake District will be via bus transfer, in most cases. It's about two hours to Salzburg; the Lake District is slightly shorter.

Train: Linz does have a train station, and there are trains to Salzburg from Linz. The trip takes about an hour, but with the location of the station in Linz being a 20 to 30 minute walk from the docking spot, and the station in Salzburg being in the new town rather than the tourist draw of the old town, you're probably better off taking the bus tour provided by the cruise line.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

As a part of the European Union, Austria uses the euro. Visit oanda.com for up-to-the-minute exchange rates. Oanda also has a nice "cheat sheet" conversion chart that fits neatly into a wallet.

ATMs, readily available throughout Linz and Salzburg, tend to be the least expensive way to obtain local currency as well as the easiest, given that many are open 24 hours. Banking hours vary, but most banks in Austria will be open between 8 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., and between 1:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m., Mondays to Fridays, with some staying open later. As in any city, there are currency exchange offices that charge a commission for transactions. All major credit cards are accepted.

Language?

German is the local language, but English is widely understood and spoken in much of Austria. A few handy phrases in German will always enamor you to the locals, though, so try these:

Hello: Hallo (HAL-oh) or Gruss Gott (GROOS got)

Good afternoon: Guten Tag (GOO-ten tahg)

Please / Thank you: Bitte / Danke (BIT-tuh / DAHN-kuh)

Yes / No: Ja / Nein (yah / nine)

Excuse me: Entschuldigen Sie (ent-SHOOL-de-gen zee)

Beer: Bier (beer)

Where You're Docked?

Cruise ships dock alongside a riverside park in Linz called Donaupark, just a short walk or cycle ride from the Hauptplatz (city center).


Linz (Salzburg) Cruise Reviews
As expected, the Salzburg option was the most popular excursion. Salzburg is pretty and you get a good (2+ hours) of free time to explore the city, but man the Salzburg core is packed with people. This is also a LONGRead More
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riverbird
Took the optional excursion to Cesky Krumlov in Czechia and learned a lot about life behind the Iron Curtain. Had time to explore the Linz market when we returned.Read More
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nightfly27
Linz is a city and not as appealing as the other stops on the cruise. We had previously been to Salzburg, so we chose to go to on the Cseky Krumlov tour about an hour away. Lovely UNESCO town and worth the trip.Read More
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Msplt767
We left Linz and headed straight for Cesky Krumlov. Highly recommend the trip there!Read More
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Kookles

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