This post is in partnership with Vienna à la carte. As always, all opinions and recommendations are my own. This post also contains affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure policy here.One of my bucket list items is to have my Julie Andrews moment on (what I call) the Sound of Music mountain in Austria. Yep. I want to twirl around on top of that mountain in the grassy field with my arms outstretched while singing “The hills are alive…with the sound of music”. While that didn’t happen on my recent trip to Austria (because it’s actually in Germany but more on that later), I did get to see some of the filming locations for the movie as well as the birthplace of Mozart on a day trip from Vienna to Salzburg.
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 the 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!
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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!
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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!
The Sound of Music: Fact vs Fiction (Life vs La-La-Land)
- Maria was raised as an atheist and it wasn’t until she went into a church while at a teacher’s conference that her position changed and led to her desire to be a nun. Instead of the concert she thought she was attending, it was mass and what the priest had to say resonated with Maria.
- Maria was originally sent from the abbey to be a tutor for only one of the children (also named Maria) who was bedridden with rheumatic fever.
- There were seven children when Maria came into the picture but she and Georg had three more together for a total of ten children. The film changed their names and genders.
- The von Trapp children weren’t as disciplined in the beginning as the movie portrayed. They were just as disorganized as most any other children. Captain von Trapp wasn’t as harsh and strict with them either although he did call them each by their own, unique whistle signal.
- Georg and Maria married at the abbey in 1927 and not Mondsee Cathedral in 1938 as in the film. He was 25 years her senior. Maria didn’t marry him because she was in love with him. She was in love with the children and said if he hadn’t asked her to marry him “and be a second mother to his children” she might not have accepted. She did later grow to love him very much.
- The mountain that Maria is twirling on in the opening of the movie is actually about 6 miles away in Germany, not Austria. It is now privately owned and the family doesn’t allow visitors (so I guess I’m not getting my moment on the mountain after all).
- Many of the interiors were filmed on a Hollywood soundstage including the convent interiors and the graveyard in the abbey where the family was discovered by Rolf.
- The family actually took a train from a station near their house with only their backpacks and didn’t hike over the Alps after a concert as shown in the movie. It was no secret they had plans to sing in America and they didn’t pretend to do anything. They just left. Left their friends, possessions, property and entire life to uphold their beliefs.
- They didn’t flee to Switzerland. Georg was born in Zadar which is now Croatia. Back then, it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and later it became part of Italy. This made Georg an Italian citizen and therefore his wife and children as well. So, they went from Austria to Italy where they asked their agent to provide transportation to the United States. They then went to Switzerland, France, and London before taking a boat over to the United States.
- The Trapp Family Singers toured in Europe and the United States.
- The family built a lodge in Vermont that they still own and operate today. Johannes von Trapp, the youngest of the ten children and the only one born in the United States is currently president of the lodge.
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…
Leave a Reply - I Love Comments!
Judy Howell says
Loved this post! Wish I had been with you!
I wish you had been too-you would have loved it! Thanks for reading! 🙂
SUMANTRA SINHA says
I am from India and grew up watching the movie. Your post makes a wonderful read and the photographs really took my breath away! The post is extremely informative and shows how much you must have loved this tour. I would be travelling in this part of the country later this year with a heart full of expectations and recreate a childhood dream.
Warm regards to you,
Hi Bambi-I hope you make it to Salzburg and get to live out your childhood dream! I also grew up watching it and loved getting to see all of the film locations! Thanks for reading! 🙂
Janiel Green says
Yep, I doubt anyone would want to buy the lake unless there is some kind of major cruising attraction or fishing there. Can’t believe it costs that much though. Loved the little tid bits about Mozart. I would have brought home half a bag of them, lol. LOOOOVED the fact vs fiction about the Von Trapp family as well. So interesting how much was changed in the name of Hollywood.
Hi Janiel-It was SOOO tempting to bring home a gazillion of those. They are quite yummy! Hollywood definitely spins a lot of things and I found it quite interesting as well. A couple of them I knew before this, but most I didn’t! Thanks for reading! 🙂
Juliann Jones says
Shoot!!! I wish you’d had your twirling Maria moment on the mountain! I can just picture it. There is a Von Trapp Lodge in Vermont near the mountains. You could try a knock-off version there… 🙂
I was in Vienna as a teenager and remember how beautiful it was. The architecture is stunning; so European. It’s a place I need to revisit and I think I’d do an organized tour like you did. I find those to be a great way to see a lot — especially if you have limited time.
Also, like you, I love seeing the love locks in various cities. I know they can be destructive, but they’re so pretty! Cincinnati has a designated spot on their Purple People Bridge now, too. We’re SO cosmopolitan! Haha
Hi Juliann-I wish I had gotten my moment too but your suggestion of re-creating it in Vermont is a fabulous idea actually! Yep, I like organized tours if you are limited on time or don’t want to rent a car, etc. Wow, Cincy is ON it! I have noted the Purple People Bridge because I will have to see that now. Thanks for reading! 🙂
Carol Colborn says
Although we took the train from Vienna to Salzburg, we did exactly the same thing! Loved the Sound of Music and Mozart, too!
Hi Carol-Didn’t you just love all the music history involved?? Thanks for reading! 🙂
The Travel Bunny says
I love the list of facts vs. fiction about The Sound of Music. I visited Salzburg when I was only 9 years old so I can’t remember most of the things you mentioned. I think I have to return, especially since another stop in Vienna would be lovely, too.
Hi Mirela-Thanks! The fact vs fiction box has been really popular and I’m glad you like it. I would definitely say another trip to both Salzburg and Vienna are in order! Thanks for reading! 🙂
This is such an interesting post. I had no idea that this area of Salzburg and the trip there could be so beautiful! I love the colours, especially the building of Mozarts birth place! Great photography, pinning this for when I head to Austria!
Hi Amber-Thanks so much! I knew Austria was beautiful, but I had no idea how beautiful Salzburg itself was. And the Mozart birthplace is interesting isn’t?? Thaks for reading and pinning! 🙂
Wow, you truly are a fan! I have seen the movie, but think I need a refresher. Austria is one of those countries I have not been to yet, a shame since I lived in France for 3 years and it is a short plane ride away – I always thought the mountains looked so beautiful! I have I had 12 million I would buy that lake!
Hi Andi! Haha, yes but that 12 million (Euros so that’s more in USD!) would ONLY get you the water! Wow, yes that’s a shame you haven’t been to Austria. I think a trip there is definitely in order! Thanks for reading! 🙂
Stunning images! When I was in Vienna last year we had to choice between Salzburg and Bratislava and we chose the latter, but this post makes me second guess my decision! The architecture is incredible and I´d love to visit Mozart´s home!
Hi Erica! Oh my goodness! We did the complete opposite…we were choosing between Salzburg and Bratislava and chose the former. Then we tried to fit Bratislava in with it but decided it needed its own time! Mozart’s home was so fun to see! Thanks for reading! 🙂
“How do you catch a cloud and pin it down…?” Oh my – this post was a delight to read as I too have seen the Sound of Music a zillion times! I am definitely going to have to follow in your footsteps and visit these iconic locations while eating a Mozart ball! Love the fact vs fiction part – who knew?!
Hi Alison–Right?? I didn’t know most of these facts either (a couple, but most-nope) and found them highly interesting. If you are AT ALL a SoM fan you HAVE to go to Salzburg!! Thanks for reading! 🙂
The area is beautiful! I used to go hiking for a week at Wolfgangsee in St.Wolfgang. Simply fantastic. The visit to the “Weisses Rössl” on Lake Wolfgangsee is one of them, not just the filming location for the film of the same name, but also a model for the operetta.
Hi Susanne-That’s actually cool to know, thank you and thanks for reading! 🙂
Laura Pedlar says
I am definitely planning a trip to Salzburg in the next couple of years so it was a great post to read. Beautifully put together. The tour sounds great and has shown me that there’s lots to do.
Hi Laura-Thank you so much, so happy you enjoyed it! Thanks for reading and I hope you get to Salzburg sooner than later! 🙂
Kevin | Caffeinated Excursions says
I did not know you were a clarinet player, but that must’ve made this such a personal experience given that you’ve learned a Mozart concerto! It looks like you had a lot of fun and learned and experienced so much in Salzburg!
Hi Kevin-I *was* a clarinet player! LOL! The last time I played was about 5 years ago and rusty don’t start to cover it! But it was a cool thing for me to see in person for sure! Thanks for reading! 🙂
This was such a fun post to read! I would absolutely love to take this tour. I thought I knew a lot about the movie but you had so many more details. It really was incredible to see the convent, the gate, the gardens that were in the movie. I love the tidbits of information you provided at the end. I had no idea the mountain was in Germany or that the Captain was Italian.
Hi Joanne-I thought I knew a lot about the movie too until I took the tour and did the research for this post. But the Captain wasn’t exactly Italian. He was born Croatian but it was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire which later became part of Italy. So by reciprocity, I guess he had Italian citizenship. Thanks for reading! 🙂
Love this! It’s crazy how close together everything in Europe is, isn’t it! We were in Vienna a couple years ago but sadly didn’t have time for a day trip to Salzburg. I’d love to do that next time though, and like you I’d want more time in Austria so I can have my Julie Andrews moment! (Also – that’s cool you played the clarinet.. I play the flute!)
Hi Sarah-That’s awesome, a fellow woodwind player! 😉 You have to go back to Austria and visit Salzburg next time! And yes there’s SO much in Europe SO close together! We aren’t used to that here in the US…thanks for reading! 🙂
Fred Rental says
Vienna is a great city. I was here a couple of months ago. there is an inexpensive kitchen and good conditions for renting a car
Hi Fred-I enjoyed Vienna too! Thanks for reading! 🙂
hedy See says
I would like to take this tour from Vienna to Salzburg.
My husband and I are going to Vienna and Salzburg early December. We would like to join the Vienna to Salzburg tour and be dropped off at Salzburg to stay another day to visit Halstatt.
May I know what tour you took? Thanks in advance
Hi Hedy-You will love Vienna in December. It’s so beautiful and so much fun! Look for more posts coming soon on that! In regards to which tour I took, it was with Vienna a la carte. The direct link is above in this post under the Vienna to Salzburg subheading-first sentence. I realized in checking it they changed their link so it was broken on my end. Thanks for alerting me to that! I have it fixed now and you can click on the exact tour! Thanks for reading! 🙂
Terri Miller says
Thanks for the info on Salzburg. I’m going to be in Vienna for Christmas and hope to do a day trip to Salzburg, however wondering if you could recommend any other tour companies with lower prices. And any good places you know of for Christmas dinner in Vienna?
Hi Terri-You will absolutely love Vienna and Salzburg at Christmas! Have a look at this one for Salzburg and definitely check out Hotel Sacher Vienna for Christmas dinner. The hotel is absolutely gorgeous at Christmas and is a great place to eat and to try the Original Sacher-Torte. I just published posts on the best cafes in Vienna and a Vienna photography guide you can check out. Also, look for a specific Christmas in Vienna post coming in the next couple of weeks. Hope this helps and that you have a great time. Let me know if you have any further questions and thanks for reading! 🙂