The Sound of Music is a classic for all the right reasons; it’s a gripping love story, it’s packed with some killer tracks and the leading lady is the Queen of Hollywood and an all time fan favourite, the lovely Julie Andrews. Consequently, any Eurotrip is incomplete without a detour to Salzburg, the movies’ primary filming location, and signing up for a Sound Of Music movie tour. Despite the fact the movie just celebrated it’s 50th anniversary, the legacy remains as strong as ever, and today the Salzburg tourism industry is booming! A quick Google will demonstrate there is a myriad of different companies and tours to choose from, so choosing the right tour can definitely be quite daunting. Luckily for you I’ve sussed out all of the options and figured out which is the only tour you should be joining during your stay!
BREAK IT DOWN FOR ME
There are 7 locations in and around Salzburg that you can visit which were featured in the feature film. Most of the tour options are either bus, walking or horse-drawn carriage tours (which I wouldn’t recommend for animal-rights reasons), with the bus companies definitely flooding the tourism market. However, the only tour you need to know about is Fraulein Maria’s Bicycle Tour, which, as the name implies, is the only bicycle tour of all 7 sights.
WHY IT ROCKS
There’s are multiple reasons why the bicycle tour is the best tour of Salzburg, but to keep this post succinct I’ll keep it to just these 6;
1. It delivers a true cultural experience. If you had the choice between seeing something incredible from behind a window, or standing right before it, which would you choose? Whilst the bus options do allow you to get off at times, you don’t get to experience the Salzburg stretched between the 7 sights. A bicycle tour doubles as both a Sound of Music Tour and an Austrian countryside tour by taking you through all aspects of Salzburg. You may even surprise yourself and find you liked the ride through the countryside more then some of the SOM destinations (I know I did!).
2. Burn fat not oil. Bikes = exercise = good for you! It’s not breaking news that exercise is extremely beneficial for you, a fact especially important when you’re on holiday and justifying the chocolate you had for breakfast is surprisingly easy. So, why not move your body and get some good endorphins flowing! Also, considering the amount of time you spent on a plane/train/bus making your way to Salzburg, you’re going to want to stretch out your legs and pump your lymphatic system— bikes are a great way to do this!
3. They’re fun! A bicycle tour is a true experience, in all aspects of that word. Whilst riding from one destination to the next, the tour guide blasts the soundtrack and everyone sings along as you’re riding down the quaint European streets. Yes, it’s as picture perfect as it sounds. Plus, if you go on a nice day, you actually get to experience the sunshine and soak up that raw Vitamin D, which no bus tour can provide.
4. No carbon emissions. It’s the small things that count! If there is ever an opportunity to reduce your carbon footprint on the environment, you should take it. Booking a bike tour is a great way to support a company that supports the environment.
5. The tour guides are excellently enthusiastic and equally informed. The tour covers the history of Salzburg, the story of the original Von Trapp family and background, filming and behind the scenes information on the movie itself.
6. It’s one of the cheapest tour options. Because you don’t have to pay for fuel or bus hire, the bike tour ends up being a lot cheaper then some of the more popular bus tours. Score!
Okay, let’s get to the good stuff. The tour kicks off in the center of Salzburg, just behind Mirabell Gardens. After being fitted to your bike (which are all named after the movie characters, it’s pretty cute), you set off through the streets of Salzburg, both enjoying the sights and learning of the history of the town. Your bike, along with having the cutest basket, is also fitted with a photo-book featuring stills from the movie, arranged in chronological order. This way, as you continue along the tour, you can compare what you’re seeing in real life with how it looked in the movie.
At each stop of the tour you guide offers information as to the history behind what you’re seeing, and the role that destination plays in the movie. In effect, the tour offers a broad picture of Salzburg and the movie, which truly allows you to appreciate this little slice of Austrian culture.
Halfway through the tour you stop in the center of town for a chance to grab some water and food, so I recommend to bring some cash with you. In the place where you’ll stop is the oldest bakery in Salzburg, which still operates using wood ovens. Not only is the bread ridiculously good (helped by this traditional cooking process) but they also have vegan options! I purchased a grain/cinnamon/bread roll thing, and liked it so much I went back for seconds (a constant theme in my life #noregrets).
Before the food stop the tour pauses every couple of minutes to cross roads or to talk about an attraction. After this pit stop you leave the center of Salzburg and head out to the country side to visit the facades of the Von Trapp house, Fraulein Maria’s Abbey and the Gazebo. This is the best part of the tour as you get stuck into some long cruises on the bike through the rolling Austrian countryside. With the Austrian Alps as the backdrop for your ride, it certainly is sight to remember.
The tour itself allows for plenty of photo opportunities at every stop, and the pace of the ride is gentle and calm, so it feels less as though your exercising, and more as though you’re having fun. The terrain is generally flat the entire way, apart from one hill which a lot of people choose to dismount and walk up (including me, again, #noshame). Plus, European bikes are different to road bikes, so even the worst terrain is made easy by the capable bike gears. If you’re worried your fitness is inadequate for this tour, be assured, it’s not.
▲ Wear shorts. Or a flowy skirt with bike shorts. Or pants. Or something that is bicycle appropriate. Because you’re going to be riding a bike, guys, and no short denim skirt is cut out for that shizz (common sense but yes people in my group struggled so I’m just helping yo out).
▲ Watch the movie the night before you go to get you excited for the tour! I suggested a similar tactic before visiting Auschwitz, and I’ll recommend it here again, because your enthusiasm during the tour is the difference between a good experience and a great one. And the best way to boost your enthusiasm? By re watching the movie! Like you need an excuse though, this is Julie Andrews we’re talking about.
▲ Be sure to bring cash – both for your food + drink pit stop and to pay for the tour (which is done afterwards).
▲ As a note, if you were expecting to ‘dance on the hills’, be aware that you can’t do that on this, or any, Salzburg tour. Most of the hills featured in the movie are actually in the South of Germany! Sneaky sneaky, Hollywood!
▲ Make sure you book online to reserve your spot on the tour, which can be done here!
▲ Cost: € 30.- per adult, € 18.- 13-18 years, €12.- under 12 years.
Over to you, have you ever visited Salzburg? If not, which scene in the movie would you like to visit most?