(hit play to the clip above to enjoy this with music!) Let me tell you about the Sound of Music Tour we put together when visiting Salzburg, Austria.
Sound of Music (1965) is definitely one of my all-time favorite movies! With a family with seven children, that portray the seven musical notes, it’s full of wonderful and cheerful songs! Even as I write this I’m getting all excited, and I could just spin around in my living room, singing out loud The hills are aliiiive with the sound of musiiiic! It’s such a great movie, if you haven’t seen it it’s a must (at least once per year!). It was chosen as the movie that should be broadcast after a nuclear attack, to raise the morale of the survivors, so you can just imagine how happy and uplifting it is!
So when we made plans to visit Salzburg, I was thrilled that I was going to see all the filming locations! I did my research thoroughly to prepare our own diy Sound of Music tour. And of course I watched the movie again. With my mother and sister! We sang together all the songs (of course we knew them by heart!), we laughed and cried with the Von Trapp family. It was wonderful!
Sound of Music tour – filming locations
Let me start with the fact that the movie was made after Maria Von Trapp’s memoirs and it’s a true story, although romanticized for the big screen. So filming in Salzburg is not a coincidence, it’s where the real facts took place.
Suggestions for accommodation in Salzburg. We chose to stay a bit further from the city, at Haus Amalia, in the heart of the mountains. I wrote about our experience here: Staying at Haus Amalia – Accommodation close to Salzburg. If you would prefer to stay at a hotel in Salzburg I made a selection of central hotels with very good reviews:
- Boutique/Lux: Arthotel Blaue Gans
- Medium budget: Apartments an der Salzach, Altstadt Hotel Hofwirt Salzburg, APT. STONE-LODGE
A lot of the scenes, especially the interior ones, were filmed in a Hollywood studio. But the exterior scenes are authentic and they were filmed in Austria. You can take an organized Sound of Music Tour, there are some available (see here or here). They take 4 hours, cost about €45 ($50) per person and also offer backstage information and the movie the soundtrack on the bus, besides presenting the filming locations. Or you can try a bike tour, it costs €30 ($37).
We thought the price was a bit steep, so we decided to go by ourselves in our car, to discover each spot. We too had the Sound of Music soundtrack, on a cd in the car, and we got to see everything in our own pace, without being surrounded by 30 other people.
DIY Sound of Music tour – In Salzburg
Mirabell Palace and Gardens
The Mirabell Palace and Gardens hosted the scenes for the Do-re-mi song!!! Maria and the children run through the ivy tunnel, climb on the fountains, and in the epic ending, they stand on the famous steps that become musical notes!! Yesss, I stood on those steps as well, you can’t imagine how thrilled I was! Even if the day was cloudy, it didn’t matter! Everywhere around there were people that sang and recreated scenes from the movie, it was an absolute joy!
The horse fountain (Pferdeschwemme)
Here is where Maria passes by with the children when they leave the Von Trapp residence to go and explore the town after she had made them play clothes out of drapes. In the 17th century, Pferdeschwemme was a place where you could go wash horses.
Mozart Bridge (Mozartsteg)
Maria and the children pass on this gorgeous bridge in the same scene from above, on My favorite things notes.
It’s a very beautiful square in Salzburg, which Maria passes through with the children.
This is the convent where Maria was a nun. The interiors and courtyard were filmed in Hollywood, but the gate that Maria passes through, while singing I have confidence is here, at the Nonnberg convent. Also at this gate, the children come asking for Maria, after she decides to leave the Von Trapp family. You have to climb a few steps to reach it, it’s on a hill below the fortress that dominates Salzburg’s skyline. But once you are there, believe me, you will enjoy seeing Salzburg from above, and all those elegant rooftops.
St Peter’s Cemetery (Petersfriedhof)
St Peter’s Cemetery, chosen as one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world, was a filming location for the scene at the end, when the Von Trapp family is hiding from the Nazis and Rolfe finds them. (Actually, I later found out that the scene was filmed in Hollywood, where they reconstructed St Peter’s Cemetery).
Rock Riding School (Felsenreitschule)
It’s a fabulous auditorium, here is where the festival at the end of the movie is held, when Captain Von Trapp sings a full of emotion Edelweiss, and all the family sings So Long, Farewell. I wanted to visit it so bad, but when we got there in the evening, there were a lot of elegantly dressed up people in front. There was about to be a show, so we couldn’t enter.
We went back the second day, but still couldn’t get in, because there is a certain visiting schedule. If you want to go, check the schedule here. It says that there are guided tours daily at 2 p.m., and the cost is €7 ($8.50). But the girl at the reception told us there are more daily tours, it’s best to go there directly and ask.
DIY Sound of Music tour – Around Salzburg
I am sixteen going to seventeen Pavilion
Our DIY Sound of Music Tour would, of course, include the most romantic pavilion in the world, where Liesl and Rolfe sing I am sixteen going to seventeen! How can you not get those teenage love goosebumps when you see this scene?! Of course, I took the opportunity and spun around like a princess!
The pavilion is not the one in the movie. Well, actually on the outside it is. But the inside scenes were filmed in a studio, in a much larger pavilion. Oh, and you can’t enter it, because there were a lot of incidents with tourists trying to jump around on the benches, like Liesl in the movie, and they decided to keep it closed for safety reasons.
How to get there: The Pavilion is at Hellbrunn Palace (it was donated by the filming crew to the city and it has been placed here). You can visit it for free since it’s at the entrance. But I recommend you also visit Hellbrunn, we had so much fun in the gardens 😉. And it’s included in the Salzburgcard.
The castle is now a fabulous 5-star hotel, and you can only visit it if you’re a guest. But you can see it from across the lake, from a nice and quiet park. We left the car at the park’s entrance and had a short walk, so we can see the castle better.
The outside scenes of the Von Trapp residence were filmed here, maybe you remember the moment when Maria and the children were in a boat and fell in the water. You can see the Pegas statues very clear from across the lake.
The Mondsee Cathedral is where the Captain and Maria got married. The moment when she enters the church with a huge white train and she climbs the steps to the Captain is unforgettable! Mondsee is about 30km away from Salzburg.
St Gilgen is a small town on the Wolgangsee Lake and it appears in the movie right at the beginning, filmed from the helicopter. It’s also about 30km away from Salzburg.
Afterthoughts on our DIY Sound of Music Tour
I absolutely loved it! And Alex now wants to see the movie as well! I think it’s fairly easy to do the Sound of Music tour on your own. Most of the filming locations are right in Salzburg, with a walkable distance between them. But some are further, and you need a car or a bus to get there. The bus network in Salzburg is pretty good, so don’t avoid using it.
For more information on each location, we found a useful resource here. We had the printed pages with us and read along on the spot.
We spent a day and a half in Salzburg and got to see everything we planned: the main attractions in the city, but also the Sound of Music tour ones. I marked on the map below all of the Sound of Music filming locations (in orange), along with other attractions you want to see when you go to Salzburg (in blue).
Happy Travels! And singing!
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