The Hills are Alive: Our Favorite “Sound of Music” Tours

Join your fellow fans in reliving your favorite film scenes on a special “Sound of Music” tour. Yes, it’s a thing, and we’ll bet we have one just for you.Read More

Caption: Climb every mountain on a Sound of Music Tour. (Source: iStock / bluejayphoto)

Do you long for a chance to stand on a green mountaintop, open your arms wide, breathe in that fresh Austrian air, and break into song? If the answer is “yes,” then you might consider joining your fellow superfans in reliving your favorite cinematic scenes on a special “Sound of Music” tour. Yes, it’s a thing, and we’ll bet there’s one just for you. Take a look at our favorite “Sound of Music” tours below that will fill your heart with joys that can only come from the lilting Maria and our favorite von Trapp family story.

Most guided tours start in Salzburg (where most of the story takes place) and include transportation to various locations made famous by the film. Dedicated bus tours will take you slightly farther afield for stops at the vast alpine meadows and villages that pop up throughout the film, while a bike or foot tour gives you the opportunity to spend more time at the major film locations in the city.

Panorama Tours (Tour Bus)

Panama Tours offers what they claim is the original “Sound of Music” Tour. We don’t know if that’s true, but they make sure you have a grand time, regardless. Pick up your air-conditioned coach at Mirabellplatz in downtown Salzburg and settle in for a 30-minute ride to your first stop, Lake Leopoldskron. There, you can get your first glimpse of the 18th-century white rococo Schloss Leopoldskron where the von Trapp children ran riot until Maria convinced them to sing instead.

The iconic Schloss Leopoldskron (Source: iStock / Krisztian Juhasz)
The iconic Schloss Leopoldskron (Source: iStock / Krisztian Juhasz)

The 4-hour guided tour includes a number of additional stops and fascinating tidbits of information about the film, the real von Trapp family, and the history of Salzburg. If that weren’t enough, clips of the film are shown on the bus and sing-a-longs are encouraged. In fact, seconds after we stopped at the Pegasus Fountain at Mirabell Garden, we broke out into “Do Re Mi” in spite of ourselves.

The original tour costs about €51 ($56), though if you really want to smell the edelweiss, go for a full “The Hills Are Alive in Salzburg” package tour for €195-290 ($215-320), depending on the season. In addition to the original tour, this includes a 2-night stay in Salzburg, daily buffet breakfast, a ticket to “The Sound of Music” at the Salzburg Marionette Theatre, a handful of souvenirs, and loads more opportunities to sing.

Civitatis Tours (Tour Bus)

Do "Do Re Mi" at Mirabell Gardens. (Source: iStock / slowcentury)
Do “Do Re Mi” at Mirabell Gardens. (Source: iStock / slowcentury)

Tours takes an alternate, but equally satisfying, route on its “Sound of Music” tour, starting in Mirabell Square with a spin around the adjoining Gardens, where notes of the aforementioned “Do Re Mi” are bound to be heard, regardless of time of day. There is ample time spent at Pegasus Fountain as well, should you wish to reenact the actual skip around the fountain edge.

Once through at least one cycle of “Do Re Mi,” a comfy tour bus will whisk you from central Salzburg out to Schloss Leopoldskron, and then to the historic Nonnberg Abbey. Significant to both the film and the real von Trapp family story, the Abbey has been in continual existence for over 1300 years. The convent buildings were rebuilt (after fire damage) several times, with the current complex dating from the early 16th century. At certain times of the day, you can actually hear the nuns currently in residence singing. The real Maria (Maria Augusta von Kutschera) presented herself here as a candidate for the novitiate of the Benedictine Sisterhood in the early 1920s.

Maria lived at the Nonnberg Abbey of the Benedictine Sisterhood. (Source: iStock / SteveDF)
Maria lived at the Nonnberg Abbey of the Benedictine Sisterhood. (Source: iStock / SteveDF)

Of course, one look at the courtyard where a handful of scenes were shot and you’ll be parroting the exasperated mezzo-soprano voices of the nuns trying to figure out how to solve a problem like “Maria.” If you forget the lyrics, your guide can help. Just go with it.

There are a handful of additional tour stops and singing is, of course, encouraged much of the time. Guides are exceptionally knowledgeable about the area, its history, and fun factoids about the “Sound of Music,” of course, so ask away. Tours run approximately 4 hours and cost €50 ($55). Private tours are also available, with pricing and timing available on request.

Fräulein Maria’s Bicycle Tours (Bicycle Tour)

If you’d rather do as Maria did and get around Salzburg by bike, Fräulein Maria’s Bicycle Tours has you covered. Tours run a leisurely 3-1/2 hours with plenty of time for breaks and Insta-stops at iconic locations like the Horse Pond, Residenz Square (where Maria convinces herself that “[She] has Confidence”), Frohnburg Castle, Hellbrun Avenue (where you can stick your legs out from the bike and reprise “Do Re Mi”), and Hellbrun Palace, where you can do your “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” routine at the gazebo. Bikes, helmets, and child seats are provided and lucky for us, we didn’t need to be particularly fit for this option. Whew. Prices run €35 ($39) for adults and €20-15 ($22-17) for children.

Hellbrun Palace, the film location of the von Trapp residence. (Source: iStock / kaipong)
Hellbrun Palace, the film location of the von Trapp residence. (Source: iStock / kaipong)

Big Boy Travel (Self-Guided Walking Tour)

Finally, if you prefer to see the sights on foot, many of them are in Old Town Salzburg and well within a few hours’ leisurely stroll. These are generally self-guided tours and easily navigable with a map. Big Boy Travel provides everything you’ll need for a day meandering around the von Trapp family haunts. Oh, and no one will notice if you spontaneously burst into a verse or two of “My Favorite Things”; we know from experience.

Regardless of your “Sound of Music” tour selection, be sure and stop now and then for a Kaffee and slice of Sachertorte, Austria’s famous apricot and chocolate cake, while in town. Café Sacher is one of our favorites and is the sister coffeehouse to the flagship in Vienna.