Salzburg tour guides competent than others, or criminals?

Salzburg tour guides are criticized for poor behavior, creating a monopoly, and discouraging competition. Incidents leading to an unwelcoming atmosphere.

Salzburg tour guides are not nice. Every time I go to Salzburg with my guests, I think I have to suffocate in fear. Here is some background information on my nightmare.

I tried to write about it over the past four years and each time I had the next bad experience in this beautiful city, I made myself think, “This will get better”. But the truth is, there is a social problem here that many tend to hide.

The Salzburg guides, as well as those responsible in other European cities, have decided to introduce a monopoly on tour guides in their city. As an example I mention Rome, Florence or Vienna. Monopolies of this type have been known in Europe for many years. Monopolies are nothing new. The church also has a monopoly. She claims to have the only true God. It is the same with all monopolists, they claim to have “the best of the best” and close their eyes to the performance of their competitors and stagnate in their evolution.

Monopoly and quality?

In a monopoly, quality is not required. Freedom of the market and competition leads to better quality through the creative process required to reach and satisfy customers. Monopolists only control market prices. It is the same in Salzburg, it is really not about the customer, but about scaring off tourist guides from other areas because they believe that foreign tourist guides and tour guides are disputing their business. The added value that these provide, so that more guests visit the city, is ignored, which harms many traders and innkeepers.

In order to be able to bring guests from Munich to the city of Salzburg, I work about three months a year to get all the necessary papers for my license. I need the license to bring guests across a border in Europe. The WKS (Salzburg Chamber of Commerce) needs many months to process the permits. To be fair, they write that you can bring your guests to Salzburg after applying for a license on their internet platform.

Many may think that getting permission to bring guests to our neighboring country is only formal, but far from it, it is also about where you pay tax.

The different types of guided tours in Salzburg

If you book an official Salzburg tour guide, he or she can certainly tell you about the history and give you the date, names and historical facts. This is an official tour. People like me from abroad offer orientation tours. During the trip to Salzburg we will inform you about the same historical facts. If the guest wishes, we also give the date and name. Once in the city, we take the guests on a short path to a coordinated destination in the old town and usually combine the information given to you with a city map. Usually we pick up the guests after three hours and drive them back home.

Every foreign city guide or tour guide knows the visitors of his group and offers something accordingly. For example, I offer some entertainment through singing, some humor through my historical-based lectures, or I simply give shopping tips during the trip to Salzburg.

But do you really want to take a history class during your vacation?

I have my doubts.

Attracks on tourists

No joke! Yes it can happen. Residents of the city of Salzburg, individually or in groups, allow themselves to insult or snub people at random. I was often forced to apologize to my guests for the behavior of these people. But as I see it, rudeness is not a crime.

While visiting Salzburg, you can experience rude waiters, rude bus drivers, and rude citizens. That damages the good reputation of the city and gives the wrong picture of the locals, whom I appreciate very much. Many stores try to show customers that they are welcome with the best of service and also courtesy. Some shopkeepers expressly distance themselves from the monopoly of tourism, but fear consequences, as I have been told several times.

I finally went inside to order drinks at the bar. However, no one was working the bar either. I approached a female server inside the restaurant to ask about ordering a drink. She said “we are closing in a little while.” I asked “can I order a glass of wine?” No kidding, she looked me right in the eye and said “no,” straight up.

A rating feedback from JDM101 in TripAdvisor

Many guests report that they feel deceived by this city. Especially when you go there expecting to experience the atmosphere of a graceful Julie Andrews, singing and dancing with seven children around fountains, and experiencing a nightmare where an official Salzburg guide pokes at the guide for no reason.

The locals in Salzburg were the rudest when compared to all the places that we visited.

Patricia S. for TripAdvisor

Mafia behavior without consequences

Quite apart from the monopoly position and the public struggles with the Salzburg tourist guides, the lack of courtesy of the Salzburg guides makes it difficult for me to advertise Salzburg to guests. I made multiple offers of cooperation, in writing, orally, by telephone or in person. The answer was always the same, “No, we don’t cooperate.”

When the Salzburg tour guides see me or someone else with a group of guests, they loudly evoke terrible accusations such as “illegal workers”, “thieves from abroad” or even “shut up you fagot”, as in 2018 two elderly gentlemen in front of the Salzburg Cathedral shouted.

Homophobic insults are not uncommon in this city, as confirmed by There are European laws against verbal attacks, but they are hardly effective when the police refuse to work?

After my first such experience with the Salzburg guides, the second after the homophobic insult, I went to a police station and asked for help.

They checked me and my papers as if I was the culprit and not the victim. Of my three hours of free time in the city, I spent two at the police station with no results. That was a clear refusal to work. The next time I experienced this again, the police simply called the Salzburg tourist guide organization (Salzburger Guides) and reported that I had all my papers in order, but the incident was not passed on to the judicial authorities.

I went to the court on Rudolfsplatz and asked to file a complaint, but that was also refused on the grounds that they were not responsible and I was sent back to the police.

Salzburg goes to great lengths to keep bad reports from the press. No newspaper in the region has ever reported problems between Salzburg and foreign tour guides. I alone in my network I know more than twenty tour guides who have experienced the aggressiveness on their own loaf.

Recently a tourist on bus number 6 on a trip from the train station to the city asked me: “Do you know how to get to Mozart’s birthplace?”.

Since I’m always on duty, I kindly showed him the location on the map and offered him to follow my group, as we would pass near this address. No money deals, just a favor for someone in need, that’s how I saw my position as a helper. Suddenly one of the Salzburg tour guides jumped up from her seat on the bus, verbally attacked me and accused me of being a “foreign illegal worker”. She yelled several times that I don’t pay taxes (but she had a bag that was definitely Amazon. Amazon, which we all know they really don’t pay taxes). The whole discussion went down to the lowest level and the guest watched the events speechless. She did not care about the visitor to the city and refused to give me her name for my report. She must have known that she was behaving illegally.

Three years ago the chairman of the Salzburg Guides offered me to join their association after attending one of their seminars at a cost of 2,000 euros. I saw this as extortion of protection money and felt like a curb swallow working for a matchmaker.

Is Salzburg worth visiting?

Yes, I love this city and its past that connects it with Bavaria. But I disapprove of the attitude of the Salzburg guides and some citizens of the city towards foreign guides and guests.

However, enjoy the city and when you meet one of those rude Salzburg guides, just say “Julie, Julie, Julie” three times and dream about the sound of the Sound of Music.

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