The Sound of Music Tour of Salzburg, Austria

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If there’s anything that brings tourists in droves to beautiful Salzburg, Austria, it’s seeing the city where The Sound of Music is filmed.

Lots of sights from the movie are in the city — like the Mirabell Gardens, where the song “Do, Re, Mi” takes place — but for most of the sights, you need to join the tour with Panorama Tours.

I was happy to join this tour and made sure to wear my favorite twirling dress, imagining myself whirling around on top of a mountain like Julie Andrews!

The Sights

The tour began with seeing the von Trapp family’s house from the film.  Not a bad view, don’t you think?

Fun fact: The scene where the kids and Maria fell in the water had to be shot twice.  It was freezing cold and the kids were miserable, but the second take was good enough for the movie!

We saw the street where Maria ran up, singing, “I Have Confidence”…

And, of course, I had to pose at the gazebo!

Fun fact: the director loved the face of the actress who played Liesl so much, he cast her without knowing if she could sing or dance.  Luckily she could!

While in the movie (and in real life) Maria and the Captain were married at the Abbey where she was a nun, they filmed the wedding in a church in nearby Mondsee.  They did this because the Abbey was tiny and they wanted to get a dramatic camera shot.

Fun fact: you can get tiny Jagermeister bottles filled with holy water in exchange for a small donation.  Now THAT’S a gift for your Sound of Music-loving friends!

The Best Part

This wasn’t even a part of the movie, but it was my favorite part of the tour.  We stopped at Wolfgang Zee, an inconceivably gorgeous lake.

I could have stared at that lake for hours.

To see more lakes like this, visit the Salzkammergut region outside Salzburg.  I had hoped to see the town of Halstatt and more lakes, but the weather wasn’t very good, and after this view, I knew anything less than pristine weather wouldn’t measure up.

The Real Sound of Music

I love that The Sound of Music, one of the most romantic films ever, is based on a true story!  Maria came to the Trapp family when one of the children, also named Maria, was stricken with scarlet fever.

After Little Maria got better and it was time for Maria to leave, the children asked their father if he would like to marry her.  He supposed that he would.  They then asked Maria if she’d like to marry their father.  She supposed that she would.  And so they did.  The family, which had always been musical, began performing.

What I found most interesting is that Maria was raised to be a socialist and atheist.  Why would an atheist choose to become a nun?  For the music.  Becoming a nun was a way to live a life filled with music.

A few differences from the film: Maria and the Captain married in 1927, but didn’t escape the Nazis until 1938, after they had had two children together.  When they escaped, they didn’t climb over the mountains to Switzerland — they took a train to Italy, then traveled to France, England, and then America, where they toured as singers.

The family eventually settled in Stowe, Vermont, where Maria and the Captain’s youngest child, Johannes, runs the Trapp Family Lodge.  (Side note: my aunt lives in Stowe and knows Johannes.  Also, the landscape is beautifully mountainous — while not the Alps, it’s not a bad substitute!)

The Takeaway

If you grew up on The Sound of Music, you need to go on this tour.  It really moved me — far more than I expected it to.

The Sound of Music tour lasts about four hours and involves quite a bit of driving, including one hourlong haul.  During the drive, our guide played the music and led us in singalongs (though I do have to say that people didn’t join in much beyond “Do, Re, Mi” and “Sixteen Going on Seventeen”!)

The tour consisted of mostly Americans.  There isn’t a German version of The Sound of Music, so Germans and Austrians have no idea what the big deal is!

We had a very enthusiastic guide and driver who were both passionate about the region — and gave us a lesson in yodeling as well.  So many useful skills learned on this trip!The Sound of Music Tour, Salzburg, Austria | Adventurous Kate

I loved this tour — it was definitely worth it.

I received a complimentary Sound of Music Tour from Panorama Tours and Tourism Austria.  All opinions, as always, are my own.

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27 thoughts on “The Sound of Music Tour of Salzburg, Austria”

  1. I went on this same tour and loved it – interestingly enough I got some different information than you did. On our tour we were told the scene where Maria and the children fall in the water was only shot once b/c the youngest actress who played Gretl couldn’t swim and was absolutely terrified of the water. They were happy they got the scene in one shot. We were also told they couldn’t film the wedding in the Abby b/c they Abby wouldn’t allow it and that Maria was actually just hired as a tutor for one of the children. Were you told about Maria’s arrest when she got to America?

    1. Wow, that’s crazy! Yes, they told us that Gretl was scared of the water and that Julie caught her each time, but they said they needed two takes — and the actress who played Liesl said so too on the video we watched afterward.

      I actually looked up more information on the Trapp family — Maria was hired to be a tutor to the older kids and to nurse little Maria. And NO! There was an arrest?!

      1. Seems like I got bunk information from my guide! I can’t remember the arrest details, I’ll have to find my journal when I go home. Something about lying about her age or name or something at Ellis island. Or maybe it was that the baby she had with the Baron was born in the US. I’ll have to look it up so I’m not making things up!!!

  2. I was in Salzburg for a travel competition and had to prance around the gazebo singing one of the song from the movie- embarrassing but a great time. I didn’t realize there was a full-fledged tour- thanks for the fun facts! Love that you dressed for the occasion, too. 🙂

  3. there actually is a German version of The Sound of Music. So we Germans and Austrians do know the story, but I have to agree, we do not understand what the big deal is. Sure, it is a moving story, but we have a lot of more moving stories here. Maybe it is the fact that the german version is not a musical it is more like a documentary that actually includes the real facts and not all the hollywood magic there is in the american version.

  4. I fully intend to take this tour someday and embarrass myself and my traveling companions by singing and frolicking at every opportunity. I was raised on the Sound of Music and have a deep and abiding love for it! Thanks for the great recap! 😀


    Now you have me singing at my desk.

  5. I have to tell my half sister about this – The Sound of Music is by far her favorite movie, and she lives in England, so she could conceivably pop over to Austria for a few days for this tour!

  6. Lovely post and the tour sounds great fun – however I think you got MOZART turning over in his grave there. Tourist flock to Salzburg because the city is Mozart’s birth town and the Salzburger Festspiele is one of the world’s most famous summer events when it comes to classical music:

    This said I love the Sound of Music too and yes obviously there is a German version of it, called ‘Meine Lieder, Meine Träume’ and it’s exactly the same film, just that it is dubbed. So nothing against Julie Andrew, she is fantastic, but hey – can anybody really compete with Amadeus Mozart?

    1. Katja, people SHOULD go to Salzburg for Mozart, and many people DO (myself included!) — but for the masses, The Sound of Music is the draw of Salzburg. 🙂 You’ll see more on Mozart in a few days!

      1. Kate, I guess it depends what masses you are talking about. Talking about tourism from European countries the masses flock to Salzburg because of MOZART, the same with Japan, massive Japanese tour groups in Salzburg because of the genius himself! But I agree, this may be different when it comes to the English language traveler.

        Looking forward to your Mozart post!

  7. I’m going to have to send this post to my former roommate. She LOVES the Sound of Music, and even lived in Salzburg for a year during college. She’s done this tour, of course, but she’ll be excited to see someone else so excited about it!

    I really need to make it here someday. I used to torture my family with the Sound of Music at least once a week when I was younger. It came right after my Wizard of Oz phase.

  8. The Sound of Music was the main reason I went to Salzburg, and it was totally worth it! Fun fact: my high school German teacher was the back-up for Liesl in the film and she was married in real life to Rolf!

  9. You are so lucky I wasn’t on that tour. I know every word of every song and the play by heart and as my embarrassed kids’ll tell you,I have no qualm about belting them out. What a blast!

  10. Bucket list. Best movie in the world, only seen it 100 times! Was lucky enough to visit some of the sites while I was in Austria but didn’t get around to doing the tour, will definitely do it next time though!

  11. traveled to salzburg once before and couldn’t convince my traveling mate to do this tour with me (though she still suffered since i randomly burst into songs from the movie throughout our trip)! definitely a must-see for my next trip. loved the city- so beautiful!

  12. I just learned from the comments that there was a a German version of that movie!! The first time I heard of it was when my English teacher in college (she was from the Boston area) brought the movie into class and made us watch it while she sang along to it. Nobody of us German girls got it 😀 But when Jess and I went to Salzburg, Jess was very excited and danced up and down the mountains 😉

  13. Oh we did the sound of music tour there for xmas a couple of years ago – it was amazing! Did they tell you that you couldn’t dance around inside the gazebo because some old lady broke her hip? That was what they told me when I asked why it was locked 🙁

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