The American musical film The Sound of Music from 1965 has made people fall in love with the unforgettable Austrian Alp for years. Are you one of those people who want to run freely in the Alpine nature and sing aloud like in the musical? Or maybe you are just interested in Salzburg as a travel destination? Whatever the reason is, this ultimate travel guide to Salzburg from the point of view of The Sound of Music will tell you everything you need to know.
The Sound of Music Ultimate Travel Guide, Salzburg, Austria
Salzburg, the Capital of Salzburg
Salzburg is the capital of the federal state of Salzburg. The city of about 150 887 inhabitants, is located north of the Alps and has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. It’s best known as the setting of the Sound of Music but there are also many other activities you can experience. Let’s start this guide talking about these before we focus on the Sound of the Music side of this town.
Mozart, the golden boy of Salzburg
In addition to being the city of the Sound of Music, Salzburg is also the hometown of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. These two are the things mentioned in every Salzburg guide. You can visit Mozart’s home, birthplace, and museum dedicated to him. Born in January 1756, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart showed his musical talent at a very young age. He is the composer of more than 600 works and is Austria’s most known classical musician in the whole world. The famous “Mozartkugel”, a small confection made of pistachio marzipan and nougat covered with dark chocolate, was named after this prodigal child. And believe me, they are delicious.
The Festung Hohensalzburg is the most famous landmark of Salzburg. This 900-year-old castle stands on a hill above the city. You can reach the top with the funicular railway and it takes almost a full day to see the whole fort and the area surrounding it. You can walk around the small alleys and enjoy the view overlooking the city. The Fortress Museum, the Marionette Museum, and The Golden Hall are the most important rooms to see in the castle. The Golden Hall is known for the concerts, mostly playing Mozart, while the Fortress Museum gives you a better perspective of the city and its history. Getting to know more of the history will also help you to better understand the world and time of the Sound of Music.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Salzburg is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage destination. Walking around the narrow streets will allow you to explore and discover the beauty of the Baroque architecture and the fresh alpine air will invigorate you, making it an unforgettable experience. You can visit small shops, cafes, and restaurants. The Sound of Music guided tours offered, take you to the different shooting locations of this unforgettable movie.
The Sound of Music
The Sound of Music movie, partly filmed in Salzburg, is based on the true story of the von Trapp family. The film is about a young woman, Maria, wanting to become a nun, but who is sent to assist the widower Captain von Trapp and his 7 children just before the war. Then they fall in love and marry but have to flee the country to escape the Nazi regime. During eleven weeks of filming, 250 crew members got the real Austrian Alpine experience. After its release, the movie got more attention than anyone had expected. Watching the film before traveling to Salzburg is a great experience to share with the family and it will give you an insight into historic Austria and see the authentic scenery of Salzburg.
Visiting The Sound of Music film scenes locations
Most of the interior scenes were filmed in the USA but outside scenes were made in Austria and most of them in Salzburg. Some scenes were shot in the center, but there are other film set locations outside of Salzburg.
Here is a list of these locations of The Sound of Music:
Built-in 1606, the Mirabell Palace and its gardens (CLICK) play an important role in the movie. Don’t miss dancing around the Pegasus Fountain like Maria and the kids in the scene where they sing the Do Re Mi song. The Mirabell Palace is also listed as a UNESCO cultural heritage attraction. The whole garden is symmetrically and mathematically designed so it’s quite fitting that in the movie the actors use the steps as musical notes.
The Nonnberg Convent was the home of Maria before she was sent to look after the children of Captain von Trapp and his family. Nowadays it’s one of the important tourist destinations in Salzburg and the home of nuns that sing every morning at 6.45 am. The Nonnberg is the oldest German-speaking nunnery and has a long tradition. It’s also an important part of the city’s history and a UNESCO Heritage site.
It wouldn’t be possible to write a travel guide about the Sound of Music without mentioning the Leopoldskron Palace. This palace was used for outside shots of the home of the von Trapp family. Even now you can see the villa from the lakeside but because it is privately owned, it is not possible to visit it.
St. Peter’s Cemetery & Catacombs
You will surely remember this scene. It’s often called the most exciting scene of the movie where the family hides in the cemetery to escape the soldiers on their way to freedom. The cemetery and the catacombs are located next to St. Peter’s Church. The area around St. Peter’s is the oldest district in Salzburg and the cemetery has many well-known locals buried there.
Going to the catacombs is one of the most interesting attractions in Salzburg. The caves are early Christian catacombs and the entrance is next to the grave of Mozart’s sister Maria Anna called “Nannerl”. There, you can also visit the Gertrauden Chapel and Maximus Chapel. The cemetery is one of the oldest in the world and is still in use. It is also kept in good shape and sometimes if you are lucky your visit might fall on a less crowded day and you get to see the garden and tombs in a more quiet set of mind.
Residence Square & Karajan Square
The Residenz Fountain on Residence Square is located in the historic center of Salzburg and was one of the shooting sites of the movie, picturing Maria and the children riding through the city in a horse carriage. Another place they visit in this scene is the Karajan Square and its “Horse Pond”.
The Summer Riding School, built into the Mönchsberg, was the location, where towards the end of the movie the music competition took place. There the whole family performed their folk song, saying farewell to the public and escaping through the catacombs. Today, this place is a concert venue and can take about 1500 guests. It’s Salzburg’s main concert hall.
Salzburg Music Festival
The Salzburg Music Festival is a popular annual event and for several weeks in the summer, the city becomes the fulcrum of the cultural world, welcoming top international opera singers, conductors, and other prominent VIPs of the political and economic stage. Maria and the family took part in the Salzburg Music Festival, originally in 1936 and the movie scene was also shot at this location. And even if you are not visiting the city during this festival, there are many other musical and Sound of Music events all year round.
The Mondsee gothic Cathedral, situated about 24 kilometers away from Salzburg is well known for being the monastery where Maria and the Captain got married. It’s a very popular destination amongst the most passionate fans and is part of the guided Sound of Music tour.
Hohenwerfen Castle and the meadow scene
This is another movie set location outside of Salzburg. The Hohenwerfen Fortress is situated about 40 kilometers from Salzburg and is the scenery where Maria sings the Do Re Mi song between the Alps. Visiting the meadow and having Hohenwerfen castle behind you is a dream come true and recreates this feeling of happiness by singing and dancing yourself. The Hohenwerfen Fortress has been everything from a castle to prison since its building in the 11th century. Nowadays it is used as an event space. To get to the meadow you have to do some research online and have a car or be ready to walk a lot.
The original von Trapp villa
This attraction won’t be familiar to you from the movie. It’s the original home or the real von Trapp family. It has been turned into a hotel, so you can make your movie holiday perfect by staying there. Built-in 1863, it belonged to the von Trapp family between 1923 and 1938. There are many memories from that time and the owners don’t want the place to be just a normal hotel as they want to introduce visitors to the life of the famous von Trapps. Remembering the scenes of the Sound of Music and visiting this villa will compensate for the lack of inside movie sets in Salzburg.
The Sound of Music Tour
Maybe the best way to start the Sound of Music trip in Salzburg is by taking an official tour. You can take the hop-on-hop-off bus or ready-made tour. Both are good ways to experience the most important “Sound of Music” destinations in Salzburg and its surroundings. This will be a better option than visiting the film locations on your own.
When booking your tour, check out online as much as possible before picking out a package as there are many companies offering different tours. Two companies even claim to be the original tour. Keep in mind that all inside scenes from the movie were filmed in Hollywood.
Visiting Salzburg is a rewarding experience for movie lovers, but also for those travelers who just want to enjoy authentic alpine scenery. You can spend days in the city or easily take day trips from other cities around Austria. For example, a train journey from Vienna only takes about 2 and half hours and the tickets are affordable.
The Sound of Music Movie Trailer: