I Did It…I Went On The Sound Of Music Tour In Salzburg

I Did It…I Went On The Sound Of Music Tour In Salzburg

Last Updated on September 9, 2020

10 years ago on my first visit to Salzburg, I saw a lot of advertisements for something called the Original Sound of Music Tour. It was about some movie and I hadn’t seen that movie so didn’t give it a second thought.

10 years later, I still hadn’t seen the movie. To rectify that and see what the fuss was all about before my second visit, I decided to check into a hostel that played the movie EVERY NIGHT and then go on the Sound of Music tour.

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So That’s Where I Know All These Songs From

Some things are so pervasive in popular culture that you are exposed to it without even being aware. It does make sense that since The Sound of Music film is a musical, a lot of the songs are popular enough that I must have heard it at some point in my life.

Like the ‘Do, a deer, a female deer….Re…a drop of golden sun…”


“So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night…”

and of course, more recently because of Ariana Grande:

“Raindrops on roses, and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens….”

Sure…those are a few of my favorite things too.

I Actually Liked The Movie

I’m not surprised. I have a not-so-secret love for musicals. I exercise to the soundtrack from ‘Les Miserables’ and ‘Mammia Mia’ and simp to the soundtrack of ‘Miss Saigon’ and ‘Parade’.

I watched ‘The Sound Of Music’ for the first time that first night at the Yoho Hostel in Salzburg and enjoyed it. I was glad because I was going on the Original Sound Of Music Tour the next morning and I was told there would be a sing-a-long.

On The Sound Of Music Bus With Ivo & Nicole

When Hollywood came to Salzburg to film scenes for the movie in 1964, Kleinbusse am Mirabellplatz provided 6 buses to transport the crew of 250 around Salzburg. After the film premiered in 1965 and became the biggest grossing musical of all time, people starting coming to Salzburg to check out the locations for themselves.

That same companies that provided the buses knew all the locations and became Panorama Tours to offer visitors a way to see the locations from the movie. We boarded their bus at 9:15 am near Mirabell Gardens and were greeted by Nicole, our guide, who’s from Seattle but lives in Salzburg.

Our driver is Ivo, who’s been with the company for over 30 years. We were in good hands, he says, as he takes his hands and eyes off the wheels and turns to greet us. It’s a rehearsed stunt and I wasn’t worried about being in any danger.

Two Halves To Make One House

Our first stop was Leopoldskron Palace, where most of the lake scenes in the movie was filmed. On the way, Nicole gives us an introduction to some movie and interesting facts about the filming. On the road with the Untersberg mountain the distance (where they filmed the opening musical sequence and the closing escaping over the mountain scene), we learned the Julie Andrews almost didn’t sign on to the movie because she felt her caretaker character was too similar to that of  Mary Poppins, which she just finished filming, but had yet to premier.

She was convinced it would be different and the rest is history. For most, Julie Andrews IS the ‘Sound of Music’. Her portrayal of Maria Von Trapp is one of the reasons that the film is so beloved world wide. Our bus, which wasn’t as full as usual on the account of the winter season, was a hot pot of visitors from all over the globe.

We park and get off at the Leopoldskroner Weiher lake with the Palace sitting across on the other side.

Here, we learn that the scenes at house in the movie were filmed in 3 different locations. The external back terrace of the house was filmed here at Leopoldskron Palace with the lake as the backdrop. The interiors were filmed on set in Hollywood, and the exterior of the front gates was filmed Schloss Frohnburg.

We head to this location next and pass through Hellbrunner Allee, the green lane where Maria is seen getting off the bus to the Von Trapp Villa.

This clever use of multiple locations and angles is done multiple times in the movie to allow them to make certain locations even more picturesque than it already was.

The Nonnberg Abbey where Maria lives does not overlook Salzburg, but editing made it look that way by using a scene shot across the city at a different location.

16 Going On 17

After some time at each location, we head to Schloss Hellbrun where a number of the singing scenes were filmed. Here, we also head to the location of the famous Gazebo, where Liesl sings her famous ’16 Going On 17′ tune. It isn’t the original location of the gazebo, but it was moved here when the people who bought the property that included the gazebo started getting a lot of unwanted visitors.

Side Note: I was humming this song for the next week. It’s too damn catchy.

Unsurprisingly, we learn that the interior gazebo scene was actually filmed in a fake gazebo set. This was clear because the gazebo is a lot smaller than the space that Liesl and her shy suitor was dancing and singing in. That set was actually a half gazebo to allow for the cameras and lights placements. Oh, the deception magic of filmmaking.

Mountains and Mondsee

We settle back onto the warm bus for a 45 minute ride to Mondsee, to the church where the wedding scene of the movie was filmed. Ivo is going through the soundtrack and indeed, a sing-a-long does happen with Nicole leading it. I was wondering whether I should have been surprised that most of the bus knows all the words to the songs.

We didn’t have a full bus, but the sing-a-long was lively enough. I wonder what a full bus would song like, especially if it’s buffered by die-hard fans.

We get to Mondsee by way of St. Gilgen with a beautiful lookout over Wolfgangsee lake. The snowscape is beautiful and I’m really enjoying the crisp winter air.

At the church, we are given about an hour to explore the town. The church is very bright and ornate and you can see why it was chosen for the wedding scene. Visiting in the daytime, it looks completely different from that darker scene, but it’s the same place.

So Long, Farewell

The town of Mondsee is cute and I head into one of the shops to buy some pressed edelweiss flowers. Apparently, these durable flowers grow at high altitude in pretty rough conditions and it’s illegal to pick them in Austria. Lucky for us, there’s a local woman here who’s figured out how to grow it on her on at lower altitude.

We continue the sing-a-long back into town finishing with, of course, “So Long, Farewell.” I enjoyed the tour and if you’re a fan of The Sound Of Music, it’s a great way to see a bunch of locations from the movies in a few hours.

Was this on your list? Need some more ideas, check out my own personal bucket list and get out there.


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