Coming from a musical background (on both sides of my family), the Sound of Music and Mozart, while vastly different, were both right up my alley. I grew up watching the Sound of Music. It’s one of my absolute favorite movies and I still watch it every year at Christmas.
Mozart is one of the greatest composers of all time and I auditioned with a movement from one of his pieces, Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto (in A major), for several competitions in high school. We won’t talk about how long that took to learn. I was far from the best clarinet player, but I am proud of that accomplishment!
So…all that to say when I got the opportunity to travel to Austria a month ago, I was ready for all things music! 🎼🎹🎵🎶
Vienna to Salzburg
We chose to do a day trip from Vienna to Salzburg with Vienna à la carte that encompassed these two musical interests. It was a long day that began early and ended late, but it was one that put a smile on my face the entire time!
We were picked up from the city center in a black Mercedes mini-bus. The groups are small (ours was 6 people and max is 8) and our guide, Fleming (from Denmark), was extremely friendly and quite accommodating. After explaining how the day would go, we set off for the journey.
On the way there, we stopped for breakfast at a place with a spread of options. The food was good but it was fairly expensive for what you got. After breakfast, we drove through Linz, where Hitler grew up and Fleming told us a lot of history about Hitler I didn’t know.
Attersee (English: Atter Lake) was our first stop was in the Lake District. The largest lake in its region and the third-largest in Austria, Lake Attersee is 19 km (11.8 miles) long by 3.5 km (2.1 miles) wide and has an average depth of 85 meters (279 feet).
This is one of the diving docks and swimming areas we saw; however, it isn’t until the end of June or first of July that the lake is warm enough for swimming.
We then drove by Mondsee (English: Moon Lake) but didn’t stop here. Lake Mondsee gets its name from its crescent shape which can be seen from aerial views. The church where Capt von Trapp and Maria got married is located in this area.
Fun Fact: It’s Austria’s largest privately owned lake and is currently for sale. 12 million Euros which only gets you the water as the property all around the lake is sold. I can’t imagine why it’s still for sale!
The third lake, Wolfgangsee (English: Lake Wolfgang) was my favorite. The picturesque lake is 10.5 km (6.5 miles) long and the Salzkammergut mountain range provides its dramatic backdrop.
Can you imagine swimming with these beautiful mountains behind you?
Fun Fact: The town is promoted by the Wolfgangsee Tourist Board as the “Wolfgang Village” but Mozart never visited St. Gilgen. It is, however, the birthplace of his mother. In addition, his grandfather worked in St. Gilgen and his sister lived there after getting married.
On the way out of town, we stopped for this beautiful overlook of St Gilgen and Wolfgangsee. It was in the opening scene of the Sound of Music!
When we reached Salzburg, Fleming introduced us to Naomi who would guide us on our 90-minute walking tour of the city. There is SO much history in Salzburg in addition to Mozart and the von Trapp family. And interestingly enough, its Baroque architecture is what made it a UNESCO World Culture Heritage site in 1997.
Naomi told us so much about all aspects of Salzburg’s history, but I must admit…when she asked if any of us had heard of the “little movie filmed here” I got really excited!
And, about five minutes later…
We were standing here at the gate and famous steps of the Mirabelle Gardens where Maria and the children sang “Do-Re-Mi”.
Remember this pegasus fountain in the gardens? Then sing with me “the first three notes just happen to be…Do-Re-Mi”!
The tree-lined walk where the children are making airplanes with their arms while singing “Do-Re-Mi!
Looking back on the Mirabelle Palace and the entrance to the gardens
Fun Fact: See Hotel Bristol on the left (backwards)? This is where makeup was done for the movie and where the nuns stayed. Christopher Plummer (Captain von Trapp) also stayed here and could allegedly be found playing the piano a lot of nights in the hotel!
I found Salzburg’s love lock bridge! Named for Historicist painter and Salzburg native Hans Makart, the Makartsteg Bridge is located in the city center and crosses the Salzach River.
It is also a film location as it is the footbridge that the children are skipping over (briefly) in the song “My Favorite Things”.
Views of Salzburg up and down the Salzach River
The locks give the bridge a lot of color and personality which is probably why I love finding them in every European city I visit.
The Makartsteg was prettiest though at twilight. It’s coming alive! Hmm…wonder if bridges here come alive with the sound of music like the hills do? 😁 Sorry, I had to! 😜
Mozart was born Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart on January 27, 1756, right up there. Right there on the third floor which is the second floor in this photo. His family resided here from 1747-1773.
The musical prodigy came into this world right here! Nevermind the fact that it was 263 years ago…don’t ruin it for me. I’m going back in the day. In my head. 🙃 The imagination is a powerful thing you know. 😉
So, it should come as no surprise that Salzburg is the only place in the world you can get the Original Mozartkugel (English: Mozart Ball). Visit Cafe Konditorei Fürst and try one of these silver-wrapped treats! While you can get them in other places in Austria, the original ones made from Fürst’s original recipe can only be found in Salzburg at his cafe which is currently owned by his great-great-grandson.
TIP: Be sure to buy some to bring home. I brought home a few…or 40. They make great gifts! But, if you are there in the summer, purchase their “cool bag”. It’s cheap and will ensure your little chocolate bonbons don’t melt in the heat!
While we’re hitting all things Mozart, don’t miss the Universität Mozarteum or University of Mozart. Located near the Mirabelle Gardens, it’s named after the man himself and (not surprisingly) specializes in music and the dramatic arts.
Yes! You can visit Nonnberg Abbey, the abbey where the real Maria von Trapp (as well as Julie Andrews in the film) went to become a nun! Founded between 713 and 715 AD, it’s the oldest continuously run nunnery in the world.
Right before we went in, we stopped to admire this view of the suburbs of Salzburg.
This is the entrance where the children come to the abbey to ask Maria to return home with them. It is also where the Nazis come looking for the family after they are discovered missing from the concert.
Excited, I headed inside the courtyard…
and walked down the gravel path with my mouth open. It was beautiful!
Gravesites in the courtyard
Although most of the convent interiors were recreated and filmed on a soundstage in Hollywood, this courtyard is where the scene was filmed when Maria was preparing to leave the convent.
Also in one of the convent’s courtyards is where the nuns sing “How do you solve a problem like Maria? How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?” As we find out, Maria was the answer, not the problem!
We were able to get inside the St John’s Chapel which is open to the public, but the interior of the abbey used in the film was constructed on a soundstage. It’s still beautiful and to me looks as though it might have served as inspiration for its Hollywood counterpart.
Left: Inside the Salzburg Cathedral Right: A view of Salzburg from the Festungsgasse alley
Left: Loved these cute apples in the market! Right: The Sphaera sculpture on Kapitelplatz
This is Residence Square and home of the famous Residence Fountain. This location was used in the film when Maria was singing “I Have Confidence In Me” and splashes the water in the fountain.
I realize in this photo you don’t see a fountain. That’s because we didn’t get to see the fountain. It’s here but covered up by the Christmas market.
Speaking of, Salzburg at Christmastime is absolutely beautiful!
On our three-hour drive back to Vienna, we watched The Sound of Music and enjoyed recognizing the locations in the movie that we had just witnessed in person!
We watched the film on the mini-bus’ overhead screen but we had the option to watch it on the iPads that were provided in each seatback pocket with free wifi and noise-canceling headphones to go with them.
When we got back into Vienna, Fleming dropped us off at our Airbnb which was very nice after a long day!
This is how I felt about the entire trip from Vienna to Salzburg. My heart was locked onto the color, scenery and music history!
Salzburg is only one of many day trip options. Had we had more time, I would have taken some of these day trips from Vienna too!
Are you a music fan? Have you been to Salzburg and seen any of these locations? Which one was your favorite? Please let me know below!
‘Til next time…