Our first stop, Innsbruck, is tucked in a lush valley enveloped by towering mountains. It's heaven for anyone who loves the great outdoors, with fantastic skiing in winter and a huge range of activities in the warmer months.
We stayed in the beautiful village of Igls, one of a chain of fairytale-like villages that are so picturesque it's hard to believe. The grass is the richest green, the houses and 'farms' are typical chalet-style and all around, the snow-tipped mountains spike up into the bluest of blue sky.
In spring and summer, cable cars carry tourists who want to see the incredible views and hikers who energetically head up into the mountains every weekend. We rode the Patscherkofel cable car up to the Schutzhhaus (1964 metres) and then hiked around the mountain on the Jochleitensteig trail, deviating on a narrow track to a typical wooden hut, where we had lunch. The hike was fantastic, with the vegetation green and the views amazing, disconcertingly so in some places, where the narrow track dropped down and was covered in snow. Even my six-year-old son, Alex, was so taken with the exciting track and the astounding views that he didn't complain about being tired once.
We checked out the other range as well, catching the cable car up to the Seegrube station, which has a restaurant with amazing views over Innsbruck, then onto the next car which carries you way, way up to Hafelekarhaus, an amazing 2269 metres high. Further down the mountain, the kids had a ball at the Alpine Zoo, which has a good collection of alpine animals. Highlights for the kids were the wolf, lynx, the bear and the mountain goats.
We also visited the Bergisel - the ski jump used in the Winter Olympics in 1964 and '76, saw the bobsled run, which operates in summer and is a real blast, and had a lovely time wandering around Innsbruck's old town, with one of the highlights being the Volksmuseum.
The hills are definitely alive with the sound of music around Salzburg, and for lovers of that wonderful family movie, it's almost a pilgrimage.
This city is certainly one of the most beautiful in the world, with its historic castle lording it over the old town and its cobbled streets. We purchased a Salzburg card for each of us, which gave us free admission to the city's attractions for the time we were there, and headed straight up the funicular to the Hohensalzburg fortress, which dates back to 1077. The views from the castle walls are fantastic, and the museum enthralled the kids, with knights in armour, ancient weapons and cannons a real hit.
Hellbrun Palace is a great place to spend half a day or a whole day, with the highlight being its water fountains. The ruler who built the palace, Markus Sitticus, had a weird sense of humour, and hid water jets all over the place that squirted his guests. He even had jets hidden in the seats at the dining table. You'll be surprised to see the rotunda, where Leisl and Ralph sang "I am Sixteen Going on Seventeen" at Hellbrun as well.
Another Sound of Music thing to do is to book in for the Sound of Music Dinner Show at the Sternbrau Dinner Theatre. The excellent cast sing all the songs from the musical, and kids are sometimes invited to join them on stage. It's good clean fun.
Salzburg is also home to Mozart, and older kids will appreciate looking through the house in which he was born in 1756. Situated on the Getreidegasse, which has to be the most stunning street in Europe, Mozart's Geburtshaus (birth house), shows how the family lived and has plenty of Mozart memorabilia.