Essential Experiences: Touring the sets and the inspirations of The Sound of Music in Salzburg, Austria

A fan of The Sound of Music since childhood, I have fond memories of watching the classic 1965 movie musical with my family. Then, when I got older, I watched it with my friends. Even now, I manage the yearly screening on TV. So it was definitely a dream come true for me to head to Salzburg, Austria and visit the sets and inspirations behind the film.

For those who have lived under a rock and are unfamiliar with the story of the beloved musical (spoilers ahead…), The Sound of Music is about a Nun (played iconically in the original film by Julie Andrews), who leaves a convent to become a Governess to seven children of a Naval officer widower in Austria during World War II. In short: the Nun and the Naval officer sing, dance, fall in love and escape the Nazi’s and go to Switzerland.

There are a number of tours that are offered in Salzburg, but THIS is the half day tour I took through Panorama Tours. And for a fan like myself, it was everything I hoped it could be and more…

We started at the Mirabell Gardens, where the scene for the song “Do-Re-Mi” was filmed. Remember Maria and the kids running through the garden? The vines, up & down the steps, the Pegasus Fountain, the statue whose head they tapped… it’s all still there – and it was so much fun doing all that, sans the singing of course. Though you’re surely welcome to do so.

Next we went to Leopoldskron Palace with its beautiful surrounding lake. This was where the famous boating scene was filmed. And apparently you could see the Captain’s backyard and private palace gardens, but I couldn’t get close enough to see much for myself.

We hopped back in our tour bus and headed straight to Hellbrunn Palace and the famous Gazebo. Remember the song “16 going on 17” (and the kissing scene of Maria and the Captain)? That’s the Gazebo. The one that stands in Hellbrunn Palace was rebuilt especially for fans like myself.

Because it is still an active women’s convent, we drove as slowly as we could past Nonnberg Abbey, as we were not allowed to stop. After the tour you are can walk up to the front gate of their Gothic Church or visit a church service. I’m disappointed I didn’t do that, but I was bound for a train to Vienna. Notably, Nonnberg Abbey was where the “real” Maria was a novice and also got married to Baron von Trapp.

After almost an hour of driving we arrived at the Salzburg Lake District Area where we had a wonderful view of St Gilgen and Lake Wolfgang.

The final stop was the Mondsee Wedding Chapel where the scene of the wedding was filmed. The chapel is spectacular and right on cue, the bells started ringing.

This was such a fun tour made even better with the hilarious tour guide, a born entertainer and a lover of music theatre! If you’re a fan of The Sound of Music, then no trip to Austria is complete without ticketing this experience off your bucket list. There are many tours of the Sound of Music, but HERE is the link to the tour that I took.

In the words of the Von Trapps “So long, Farewell, Auf wiedersehen adieu”…

Sofie Kim hosts Summerteeth which is part of the AU Podcast Network. You can listen to her latest episode which accompanies this article – about musicals and, in particular, The Sound of Music – HERE.

The author covered all costs for this trip.