For my mom’s birthday, I decided to gift her with the Sound of Music bus tour. It was something she had told me she wanted to do, so Tim and I first thought about doing it on our own, but then in the end we decided to book the bus tour. Tim decided not to go with us today as he’s not a fan of the Sound of Music or bus tours. And honestly? I’m not really a fan of organised tours either. The last time I went on one was when I was visiting my friend in Germany and she had a lot of appointments one day, so she booked me on a tour out of Ramstein (her husband is USAF) and I hated it because it was designed for people who had never visited Germany and didn’t speak German. The Sound of Music Tour turned out to be fairly similar.
I booked the tour back in October through emailing the company and asking about available tours on the third (Mom’s birthday) because I knew I wanted to do it on her birthday. We reserved it at a cost of €42 per person. That’s A LOT of money for people who have mostly done things on a budget. But it was mom’s birthday. And I wasn’t going to send her on it by herself, so I had to book a ticket for myself too.
The tour takes four hours, and at first you think it’s pretty ambitious, considering the website lists 6 stops:
Except that it doesn’t actually have 6 stops. It has a “hey, here’s a drive past some of the lakes and oh, we’ll stop at this overlook for photos” kind of stop, 2 stops that were basically get off the bus and walk to see a single thing and then leave, and over an hour in Mondsee. We never saw Mirabell Gardens. The tour guide claimed that most of the city was shut that day for a bicycle race….except that Tim had just driven into the centre of Salzburg to drop us off an hour prior and there were NO road closures and NO diversions. We were told that due to this race, they were doing the tour “backwards” and we would hit the gardens at the end….but then we actually somehow managed to run out of time even though we had started the tour 15 minutes early.
I’m not entirely sure what the St Gilgen stop even was. I guess that was when we stopped at a scenic overlook over Wolfgangsee? The tour guide never said the words St Gilgen, so I’m not sure if we did this or what it was. We did drive through part of the lake district though (to get to Mondsee).
Our stop at Mondsee was largely unplanned. We were told how to find the basilica, but left to our own devices to get to it and walk around it or to explore Mondsee. I did wish we had more time in Mondsee only because I really only had time to walk to the basilica, walk around it, and walk back to the coach. I would have loved to have walked to the lake front.
Our next stop was Hellebrun Palace to see the iconic gazebo used in the ’16 going on 17′ song:
And the stop literally was a hop off the bus and a walk through the back gates of the palace gardens straight to the gazebo for a 10 minute photo shoot before returning to the bus for the drive to Leopoldskron.
Leopoldskron palace was used as the back of the Von Trapp home….sort of. They don’t show the bak of Leopoldskron, but we see the lion statues and the gate that opens up to the lake as seen in this scene:
So naturally, the tour takes us to the park on the opposite side of the lake so we can see those lion statues and the gate. Leopoldskron is now a hotel, so you probably could go there for a meal and then get to see the statues and gate up close.
And that was basically it! We then were vaguely shown the outside of Nonnberg (“see that red roof?”) before returning to Mirabellplatz and the end of the tour, where we were told we could freely roam Mirabell Gardens if we wanted (how nice of them, it’s FREE), but the tour was over. Mom and I wound up grabbing a tram to get a train to Pfarrwefen to meet Tim and go see our next accommodation.
Our tour guide was an older gentleman, and you could tell because his jokes seemed to be dating back to the 90s. He also definitely assumed that all of his patrons were American and were unfamiliar with Salzburg and Austria in general and he spent too much time telling us about the owner of Red Bull and the Red Bull Headquarters we drove past!
Value for Money
If all 6 stops were genuine stops, then this would be a great value for money as you get to visit 6 sites for €42, or €7 each. BUT Mirabell Gardens is free, you don’t get to see Nonnberg except as a drive-by, You aren’t even on the grounds of Leopoldskron, just across the lake from it in a park (free!), getting into the Basilica in Mondsee is free (they ask for a small donation), and you see St Gilgen as a drive-by. So essentially, you’ve paid €42 for admission to the grounds of Hellebrun palace and the bus ride itself. Oh, and it turns out you can visit the entire Hellebrun (so actually see the palace, trick fountains, AND gazebo) for €12,50 and it’s a short bus or boat ride from Salzburg (for €18!) if you don’t have a car. So…not worth it for anyone who knows German or at least can communicate in it or who is familiar with Salzburg. BUT if you aren’t comfortable with the German language or if it’s your first trip to Salzburg, this might be a great way to see some of the sites! However I will warn you that while this is a bus tour, there’s still a lot of walking involved as the coach parking area in Mondsee is a fairly long walk away from the basilica and the other two stops involve walking from a coach car park which isn’t directly on site. So if you were looking for something to do that didn’t involve a lot of walking, this wouldn’t be the tour for you.
You can watch my YouTube video of our tour here:
I promise it’s not 4 hours long!
Suffice it to say, while I enjoyed seeing the sites for the filming of Sound of Music, I did not enjoy this tour and I feel like Tim and I could have taken Mom to all these locations for a lot less than 84 euros.
Read about the full trip here as links are added as new posts and videos are posted.
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