An old market town lying in a broad valley formed by the Saalbach River, Saalfelden is set against a background of towering mountains in the Middle Pinzgau. This is a good center for exploring the Steinernes Meer, or Sea of Stone, a limestone plateau with underground rivers and caverns that the Austrian government has turned into a nature reserve. Saalfelden lies 64km (40 miles) south of Salzburg and 399km (248 miles) southwest of Vienna.
Although Saalfelden is primarily a summer resort, winter-sports areas in the mountains are within easy reach. The town has a Pfarrkirche (Parish Church) with a Gothic crypt beneath the choir and a late-Gothic triptych in the presbytery.
At Ritzen Castle (tel. 06582/72759), which dates from 1563, the Heimatmuseum is devoted to life in the Pinzgau region. Here you'll see a rich collection of Christmas cribs by artist Xandl Schläffer. Another hall displays pictures and ecclesiastic art along with exhibits tracing the geology of Saalfelden, a peasant's room from the 1700s, an open-hearth kitchen, native handicrafts, and various documents on the history of the area. Admission is 3.30€ ($5.30) for adults and 1€ ($1.60) for children. It's open from June 16 to September 15 Tuesday to Friday from 10am to noon and 2 to 5pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 5pm; off-season, it's open Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday from 2 to 4pm and is closed in March, April, and November.