Take a Bike Tour of Salzburg
Goodness knows what the people of Salzburg made of my family and I careering round their city on bikes, singing Edelweiss at the tops of our voices. But Salzburg is intrinsically linked with The Sound Of Music and The Fraulein Maria bike tour is possibly the most memorable way to immerse yourself in it. To be honest, it wasn't really music and we didn't quite make it up into the hills, but the streets were definitely alive with the sound of our hollering.
Salzburg is a gorgeous city, and there is much to do - from visiting the Hohensalzburg castle, to Mozart Geburtshaus (Mozart's birthplace), not to mention the wonderful Salzburg Festival - an international arts festival - that takes place each summer. This year's includes Mozart's Don Giovanni and Shakespeare's The Tempest.
But yes, I confess, it was the Fraulein Maria tour that was the highlight of my trip. Along with our friends and their children, all on bikes named after characters in the film (mine was Baroness Schraeder), we followed our guide to 20 iconic locations where the much-loved musical was filmed, including the entrance to the abbey where the children fin Maria; the fountain in the Mirabell Gardens where they learn Do-Re-Mi; and the old grain store that served as a stage for the folk festival (now an opera house) where they sing their final Edelweiss. In just over three hours, our tour took in every hot spot. And best of all, our guide's bike had a portable CD player, blaring out the soundtrack, while ours had a lyric book stuck on the front, so we could sing along as we rode.
To further prove our enthusiasm, me, my husband and our three children turned up wearing head scarves and lederhosen that I'd made out of green damask curtain material. Our guide looked slightly taken aback, but I simply didn't believe her when she told me no-one else had ever dressed up on one of her tours before.
If you prefer to travel out of the saddle, Salzburg is easy to get around with a really good bus system. Some of the fanciest hotels are in the old town or close to the Mirabell Palace, but there's a wide range of choice. Villa Trapp - the original home of the Von Trapp family, kept in period style - is further out, but looks like a great place to stay. We stayed in Der Salzburger Hof - cheery and conveniently close to the station with big family-sized rooms and kitsch murals.
For a special night out, there are plenty of upmarket Tyrolean restaurants to choose from. Restaurant Herzl or the opulent St Peter Stiftskeller are both well known for rustic Austrian food (stews, bratwrusts and sauerkraut) and traditional decor. But travelling as a family, we often found it easier to eat on the go, buying pretzels from market stalls, or eating delicious schnitzel in a traditional bar in the Old Town.
For a weekend, it's easy to fly direct to Salzburg in under two hours, but we tried a radical alternative - interrailing. Don't assume it's just for backpackers. Salzburg was in fact our third stop on a grand train journey that started in King's cross and ended in the Greek island (via Paris, then overnight to Munich, on to Salzburg, Innsbruck, then taking the scenic route through the mountains to Venice and down to Ancona to get the ferry to Corfu). It's become much easier since my student days when I interrailed to Hungary and Romania - there's now a really easy app (RailPlanner) you can you use to help you plan it. The downside was the cheery chaos of getting two families, six kids and 10 suitcases on and off each train. The upside was plenty of time to sew those lederhosen.