Culture: A Bad Tourist’s Take on Salzburg

Just checking to see if The Hills Are Alive…


With the rare opportunity of having the house to myself, rather than host wild Bavarian parties, I opted to invite my mum and brother to come and stay. Being a host is always a little bit stressful, especially when short notice and temperamental weather conditions battle against your chances of a good time.

Our original plans of going to the Alps looked unlikely due to predicted rainfall, so instead, a rather rushed plan to travel to Salzburg was initiated. Luckily getting there was quite easy. Germany has a scheme where you can buy group tickets (it cost us €10, but it really depends on size of group) to travel as much as you like around a particular district. Despite Salzburg being just outside of Bavaria, it’s still included in the deal. So at about 8am we took a direct train to Salzburg. It’s famous for a few reasons, primarily being the birthplace of the one and only Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and officially one of the most well-maintained old Baroque cities in northern Austria. Last, but certainly not least (and my favourite reason to visit), was that The Sound of Music, the 1965 musical starring Christopher Plummer and Dame Julie Andrews, was filmed in and around the city!

It took about two hours to get there from Munich, and as we headed there I realised I had no idea what to expect. We had researched nothing other than the transport; just travelling with the hope that the city alone would be enough to entertain us. I have done this a few times before and it’s always worked out.

A look up at the white castle.

A look up at the white castle.

In the distance I could see a castle of sorts that looked vaguely familiar, but it really was in the distance. After a little debate and uncertainty, we soon mapped out our walk. We headed towards the old city centre across the river, hoping there some of that Warner Bros. magic would be bouncing about. The journey was an experience itself: an urban place, loud traffic and unfriendly pedestrian passages. It wasn’t until we had walked for about 20 minutes that the place started looking like it was worth the visit. The architecture gradually became more impressive as some usually large buildings popped up in and amongst their less-interesting counterparts. Then after being led through a high-topped maze of grey square buildings for what felt like an hour, we finally came into the clearing; the river. It was there that the beauty of the city finally came to be realised. It was all on the other side of the river.

An impressive landscape (hard to capture on iPhone) lay before us. After taking a few shameless selfies on the bridge we finally decided to cross it. We were now in the old town. This meant towering crooked buildings, small streets, no cars:- this is what I came for. By now we had already seen some rather pricey Sound of Music tours, and gathered that some of the more prominent sites from the film were a drive away.

The water fountain was the first thing I recognised from The Sound of Music film.

The water fountain was the first thing I recognised from The Sound of Music film.

Not up for spending around €50, each we decided to take our chances on foot. To start nothing that I saw reminded me of the film, the streets were so narrow, bending, and from what I could remember it was well spaced-out in the film. Beautiful as the streets were, my eyes were kept peeled looking for anything resembling the musical.

Soon enough small bits and pieces were recognisable. It was all at the back, despite the cramped beginning the old town was rather spacious further back. The really odd thing about the town was the size of some of the buildings. Once over the river, the majority of Salzburg was small and all confined together but then — BOOM — suddenly a huge building that you might not expect to see in the biggest cities, whoever designed these was definitely a dreamer.

Being a vegan, finding good places to eat in old archaic towns is fun. Feeling sentimental, we chose a very timeworn restaurant right in the heart of Salzburg. With a lot of negotiation I finally ordered myself salad and chips, whilst the others had more traditional Bavarian dishes. Mine was okay, not much room to go wrong. My brother tried the infamous Schnitzel which after tasting he compared to “cheap chicken bites”. It’s fair to say everyone was sourly disappointed with their food.


Dominating the Salzburg skyline is the Hohensalzburg Castle. It sits way above the rest of the town. It was built in the 1070s and is still in very good condition today. Now for a fair price you can take a tram up to the top giving spanning views across the whole city (as pictured above) and beautiful landscape that encircle it. All in all it was a great day out considering it was rushed. I definitely wouldn’t recommend it for children, as there’s not a lot to keep them busy. All the shops were much the same; most of them split down the middle with one half selling a collection of Mozart bric-a-brac, the other Sound of Music memorabilia. If, like me, you’re a lover of The Sound of Music, then the city will excite you. Even those not interested in the musical would enjoy the beautiful scenery on the drive around. The highlight for me was visiting the hoffgartens where Fräulein Maria taught the children how to sing with “Do Re Mi” in the film. It’s very much the same as it was back then, and seeing it all was a little bit of Maria magic.