The Sound of Music Tour in Salzburg


Our guide is not a big fan of the suspension of disbelief.

“So this is where Maria was singing in the mountains,” he tells us. We are up high in the Alps of St. Gilgen, above Salzburg, and the tour bus has been alive with the sounds of the The Sound of Music. We’re all in the right frame of mind to imagine Maria spinning through the fields. Come to think of it, we’re in a frame of mind to spin through the fields ourselves, then go racing back to town. But our guide is focusing on practicalities. The problem, he tells us, is one of logistics: From here to the abbey where Maria was late for Mass is miles away. If she started running down the hill in the morning, perhaps she’d make it back by dinner time, but only if she was a very good runner. He shakes his head at the shenanigans of film producers.

In Your Bucket Because…

  • You’ve seen the movie 100 times and know all the songs by heart.
  • It’s a fun reminiscence of the film, and a well-rounded introduction to Salzburg.
  • Good for families and gals on girlfriend getaways.

When we return to town, the scenes of the children singing “Do-Re-Mi” in various places around town elicits a similar shake of the head. Impossible to be dancing in all those places in the space of one song.

Salzburg and the Von Trapps

“The hills are alive…”

It’s a fair question to wonder whether to America visitors, Salzburg is best known as the home of Mozart or the home of the Von Trapps. The 1965 movie, based on the life of the real Maria Von Trapp and her dashing captain, has put the lakes and castles and mountains and churches of the Autrrian city firmly on the American mental map. About Mozart in Salzburg,  we know very little except that he was born here. Some of us may have visited his birth house, or bought confections with his name on the wrappers, or even attended the Marionette Theater, which performs charming versions of Mozart operas. But we don’t associate the man with the place.

About the Von Trapps we all seem to know a great deal more: Look! That’s where the children fells into the water. There’s their palatial home, where Maria and the Captain danced in the courtyard!  And here’s the where the children sang and danced around the fountain.

Major Sites on the Sound of Music Tour

Movie setting for the “Sound of Music”

The Sound of Music tour takes about four hours, and it’s not only full of nuggets of trivia about the making of the film; it’s also an introduction to some of the main toruist arttractions in and around Salzburg. The ride up to St. Gilgen in the Salzkammergut  is spectacular (as you might exepct, considering what the beginning of the movie looks like).

The tour visits the 18th century Mirabell Gardens (“Do Re Mi”),  the Leopoldskron Castle (where the kids fell in the lake), and the 11th-Century Hohensalzburg Castle, which looms over the cityscape from all directions. At the Nonnberg Abbey, the relationship between real life and the movie is solid enough to satisfy even our guide: This is, in fact, the abbey where the real Maria served as a novice. However, he can’t help pointing out that though she was in fact married here, the movie version of the wedding actually took place in the Mondsee Cathedral.

The tour ends with one more nugget of information. “You know the last scene, where they are escaping over the mountains?” our guide says. “Well, if they keep walking in that direction, they will end up in Germany.


Panorama Tours operates what it calls “The Original Sound of Music Tour.” This was the company that shuttled the actual cast around 40 years ago when the movie was made. The tour is  good value at about $50 US, jam packed with information and sites to visit. It’s a good choice for families, but you might want to download the movie and have your kids watch it the night before the tour so they know what’s going on.

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