Around 2 million Sound of Music fans from all over the world descend upon Salzburg every year to see the movie’s filming locations and soak up the classical music culture of the region. I was able to do so on The Original Sound of Music Tour in Salzburg, the same tour that Julie Andrews, the real Maria Trapp, actors from the film, and the real family members have gone on.
The tour picks guests up from hotels around the city and brings everyone to the tour bus – an unmissable vehicle plastered with photos of the cast of the movie. From there a guide, like my guide Naomi who was decked out in the traditional dirndl, greets guests and, once everyone is on board and the tour begins, points out significant landmarks on the way to the first stop, Schloss Leopoldskron.
Schloss Leopoldskron was used for exterior house scenes, but not as the facade. There were actually at least three houses that made up the Von Trapp manor as we see it in the film. To add to the confusion, the real Trapp manor still exists, but is now a boutique hotel. Schloss Leopoldskron, on the other hand, is a private event facility, so we could only admire it from the backyard lake.
From there we passed Frohnburg Palace, which was the house used as the front and back facades in the films. Then made our way to Hellbrunn Palace, the site of one of the film’s most famous landmarks–the gazebo from the song “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.” Even those who aren’t die-hard fans of the movie may remember this memorable moment in the film.
After a short drive to the lakeside town of Mondsee, during which we sang along with “Edelweiss” and other favorites from the movie, we arrived at Collegiate Church, where Maria and Captain Von Trapp are married on screen. Although the real-life couple was married at Nonnburg Abbey in Salzburg where Maria was a novice, the directors thought this cathedral would be more scenic. It doesn’t disappoint. Here we had time to explore the town and grab a bite to eat before heading back to Salzburg, where the tour ended at Mirabell Gardens, setting for the “Do Re Mi” scene.
The Sound of Music tour does have an innate cheesiness factor, but embrace it and you’ll soon be singing along with everyone else. The tours last around four hours. Beer, wine, water, and soda are sold on board the bus, and in Mondsee, you can grab a cheap sandwich or dine in one of the restaurants in the main square. While they don’t play each scene from the movie on the bus, they play every song and a documentary at the end.
The tour offers a good mix of facts from both the film and the real-life family. I highly recommend this tour for Sound of Music fans and neophytes alike.
- Caroline Eubanks