The Hills Are Alive (and filled with Mozartkugeln): Salzburg, Austria
Updated: Jul 19
As the world’s biggest Sound of Music fans growing up, both Allison and I felt this was the best part of our two week Europe tour. The best part is that while the movie was set in Austria, most Austrians have never seen the Sound of Music! I resisted the urge to sing while I was there, but I have to admit that it didn’t go as well as planned – oops!
We took a day trip to Salzburg during a four-day stay in Munich. The city is about two hours by train from Munich and is covered by the Bayern ticket – a great deal if you want to do some sightseeing in the region. A return ticket for two is €32, definitely cheaper than two separate return tickets!. You can get a Bayern ticket for groups of 1-5 ranging in price from €25-57. The ticket covers unlimited rail travel in Bavaria and selected routes into Austria from 9am-3am the next day. Due to its proximity to Munich, Salzburg is also covered by this ticket.
The views on the train of the German and Austrian countryside were breathtaking, especially with the Alps in the distance – definitely the kind of place I could see myself settling down someday! I love anywhere with some greenery and a mountain view. Salzburg itself looks like it is straight out of a storybook – easily one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been!
Our first stop in Salzburg was a walk through the Mirabell Gardens. You'll quickly recognize these gardens from the Do-Re-Mi scene in the movie. Maria takes the children through the gardens as they sing the song, skipping along the fountains and jumping up and down the stairs. Luckily, there were not too many other people in the gardens when we got there, so Allison and I took our time strolling around. We got some great photos and shamelessly tried to reenact some of our favorite scenes from the movie. This was a childhood favorite in our house - the one movie that got played on repeat and was often played out with our friends. I'm pretty sure I still know 95% of the words. Even if you're not a huge Sound of Music fan, you should still check out the Mirabell Gardens. It's a beautiful place to walk around and enjoy the sights and maybe even a picnic.
Next were stops at several of the cathedrals in the city center. Although not part of the Sound of Music, the Salzburg Cathedral was stunning – definitely featured on my list of favorite European cathedrals. The light blue and white color mixed with the murals made it unique compared with other cathedrals I’ve visited which are mostly stone. St. Peter’s Abbey Church and graveyard were next – respectively the inspiration for the church where Maria and Captain Von Trapp got married, and where they hid from the Nazis during their escape. After that was a hike to Nonnberg Abbey, where Maria lived before going to the Von Trapps, which is at the top of a hill in the center of the city and provided glorious views of the surrounding area.
As with most of my trips, food played a big part in our day in Salzburg. Allison’s highlight was the discovery of Mozartkugeln, a delicious truffle-like chocolate which has a pistachio nougat center, covered in hazelnut cream, and coated in chocolate. These candies sustained us through the rest of the day, and the rest of the trip (Allison even bought some more when she found them a couple of days later in Budapest!). It must be noted that the literal translates to Mozart balls, so you can only imagine the jokes that were made throughout the day! My highlight was finding a giant cheese-covered pretzel that was as big as my face. It made for a very suitable snack, and only set me back around €4!
After lunch, it was time for some shopping. Because it was Easter Monday, there were several markets going on in the main squares of the town – perfect for some local souvenir shopping! It was at one of these markets that I encountered a very wonderful thing – Austrian hats. If asked, Allison will tell you that I am the dorkiest person she knows (but in a good way, she assures me!) which meant it came as no surprise to her when I wanted one of these hats as a memento of the trip. Being the good sister that she is, she bought one for me as an early birthday present, and then put up with me as I proceeded to wear it the rest of the day; and on every travel day for the rest of the trip as it didn't fit in my backpack.
Our bonus find of the day was the Natural History Museum (Haus der Natur), which was very enjoyable. Plenty of hands-on exhibits for kids (and kids-at-heart), a reptile house, and an interesting exhibit on the human body – including reproduction. Europeans are much more open with their children about sex, which is something I definitely appreciate. Such a great find that we just happened to stumble upon. Tickets are €8.50 for adults, and €6 for kids, with discounts available for families, seniors, and students.
My favorite part about Salzburg was its location in the mountains, which meant that whenever you turned, there would be a view of them. It also definitely has a small-town feel to it, and the shop owners were all so nice – Austria definitely gets two thumbs up from me! I can't wait to return some day and see more of this lovely country.