In October 2016, I finally made a trip to Salzburg happen. I had a wonderful time on my first visit, but I wanted to do something big for my 30th birthday, so I asked my sister to join me on a 10-day trip that included a Sound of Music tour with Panorama Tours. Both of us travelled most of our childhood, even living in the Philippines at one point, but this would be our first time travelling just the two of us. It would be my sister’s first trip to Europe, so it was really exciting.
After a delayed flight that lost us a day and a lot of sleep, we somehow were up at 7AM to get to the tour bus on time. We were pretty tired but when we reached the pick up point and saw that we had the same guide I had when I first visited in 2016, we knew for sure it was going to be an awesome day. If you ever want to experience The Sound of Music, please book your tour with Panorama Tours. Not only are you seeing great sites from the film, but you’re also learning tons of unknown secrets from when they were filming as well as wonderful guides. I have to say though, I don’t think you can get a better guide than David. He’s British and absolutely hilarious. Also, bring cash because they offer drinks (both alcoholic and non) on the bus. Look for a link at the bottom of this post to a map I created with all of these locations for you to explore!
The tour started as we left Salzburg’s Old City and headed for Leopoldskron Palace where they filmed many scenes (like the infamous scene of Maria falling out of the boat with the children) as the Von Trapp’s backyard. It’s quite beautiful to see this place with Nonnberg Abbey in the background (the abbey where the real Maria lived prior to moving to the Von Trapp’s home). After this visit, you’ll see the where they filmed the front of the Von Trapp house, as well as the long yellow wall Maria dances alongside as she sings “I Have Confidence.” You’ll see this on the short drive to Hellbrunn Palace where the famous gazebo (16 Going on 17, Something Good) stands. This is a great photo opportunity, but be quick because it usually gets pretty crowded at this site. There’s a nice little memorial for Charmian Carr, the actress who played Liesl Von Trapp. Keep this in mind if you’d like to bring some flowers to pay your respects! From this point, there’s quite a drive to the little town of Mondsee where they filmed the wedding.
This drive is full of beautiful scenery and you’ll most likely find yourself singing along to the soundtrack (no regrets). The tour takes you through the Salzburg Lake District, where you’ll see many shots from the film’s opening sequence. You’ll eventually stop in St. Gilgen for a “photo stop” where you can take in the stunning view. This is the moment you’ll realize you have fallen in love with Austria.
The last stop before heading back to Salzburg is the quiet little town of Mondsee. Like I said, this is where they filmed the wedding. Your guide will tell you a bunch of neat facts about filming this scene. Be respectful and quiet as you go inside the church and make sure to get some photos of the interior. Be quick as your time is limited in the town! Grab some Sound of Music souvenirs here as there is a much better selection than gifts you’ll find in Salzburg. If you don’t give yourself enough time to get a cappuccino and apple strudel at one of the cafes, you’ll be kicking yourself on the ride back.
The tour finally wraps up back in the Old City in Mirabell Gardens. This is where your guide sends you on your way to gallop through the gardens singing “Do Re Mi” (if you’re into that thing…I am). Here is where you’ll see most of the shots you remember from The Sound of Music. You can dance around the Pegasus fountain, run through the vined pathway, tap the heads of the garden gnomes, and finally, walk up the steps where Maria belts out her last note.
There are a lot of people who like to venture out on their own to discover things when they travel, but when it comes to a specific tour such as The Sound of Music, I can’t see myself experiencing it any other way than with Panorama Tours. There’s a lot of music and laughter and the staff are super friendly and charming. They show you most of the spots you’d want to see from the film that are accessible, but here is how you can get to a few other famous spots on your own.
1. View of Salzburg
The Sound of Music really put Salzburg on the map and it’s obvious why when you see that view behind Maria and the Von Trapp children as she begins to teach them music theory through the song “Do Re Mi.” Although I’m not sure how to get to this exact spot, to see this view you’ll want to walk along the road Gstättengasse until you reach MönchsbergAufzug Elevator Service. This takes you up to the Museum of Modern Art, where you can bypass the gallery and walk all over and get some spectacular views of Salzburg. Give yourself some time if you decide to go up here as the scenery is beautiful with the nature and viewpoints. Tip: Golden hour…
2. Mozartsteg Bridge
This bride is just north of Mozartplatz and is really easy to find.
3. Nonnberg Abbey
The tour can’t take you to the abbey where the real Maria Von Trapp lived at before moving in with the family, but if you can manage to climb several flights of stairs, then even being able to peek inside the convent’s gate will be worth it for any Sound of Music fan. Because this is still an operating nunnery, you aren’t allowed to go inside to look around. But again, at the very least, go up for the view and to touch the gate yourself.
4. Petersfriedhof Cemetery
You’ll find out why you can’t visit the cemetery in the movie when you take the tour (or do a proper Google search), but the scene where the family is hiding from the Nazis is based on this location. It’s absolutely beautiful and free to quietly roam through.
A historical landmark in Salzburg. Not only is it around the corner from the official Sound of Music store, but it’s also on the way to the Museum of Modern Art.
6. Großes Festspielhaus
This is the theatre where the Von Trapp family performed at the music festival. You can watch a performance or book a guided tour.
To view a maps of all these locations, download it here.
On my first trip to Salzburg, a happy accident occurred when I booked an AirBNB a literal 2 minute walk from where Maria Von Trapp lived as a nun and the gate where the children tried to talk to her during her short break from the family. I stayed there again this time and it couldn’t be more perfect. If you’d like to book it yourself, check it out here.
*In the photo above, the abbey’s gate is to the right and to the left, about 5-10 stairs down is the AirBNB, through the archway.
Have you ever been to Salzburg in Austria? Comment below or follow me on Instagram to share some of your own travel tips!