The Salzach rises in the Kitzbühel Alps, specifically in the area of the "Salzachgeier" at approx. 2300 metres above sea level, north of the Gerlos Pass. After approx. 226 kilometres, it feeds into the Inn at Marktl, the birthplace of Pope Benedict XVI.
In the section between Bergheim (near Salzburg) and Marktl, it forms the border between Germany and Austria. The Salzach was hugely important to Burghausen in the salt-trading area from the 14th century. Duties on the salt were collected here by the Duke's customs officers, and the salt was either transferred onto wagons or continued its journey towards Passau by water.