For many travellers heading to the city of Salzburg during their European adventure, the decision has solely been made on the fact that this was the sole filming location (aside from Hollywood studios, as you will later figure out) for the world’s most renowned musical film, The Sound of Music.
So to decipher whether it is worth venturing to Salzburg for the sole purpose of partaking in the Sound of Music Tour, I did just that, headed off to the city of Salzburg to sing my way through the Austrian countryside to the soundtrack of TSOM and determine exactly what happens on The Sound of Music Tour.
Clearly I do not own this image. This image belongs to Hollywood, I just found it on the interwebs.
Which Tour Company Should I Choose?
First of all its worth noting that there are a number of groups who offer the Sound of Music tours – making it quite difficult and somewhat irritating to choose a tour company that you think will offer you ‘the best’ tour. It then of course becomes even more confusing when two of the tour companies on offer are both claiming they have ‘the Original’ Sound of Music tour – confusing much? As it turns out, Grayline offer THE Original Sound of Music Tour, as they first started the tours shortly after the film was released. They have a great knowledge of all film locations considering they were the transport company for all the actors on set way back when it was filmed. I’m glad we came to some kind of conclusion there.
Which Tour Should I Choose?
As if it couldn’t get any more confusing, there are then two tours to choose from: The Sound of Music Highlights tour and the Hop-on-hop-off Bus. Of course it depends on the individual, but I would highly recommend opting for the Highlights Tour if you want to gain an unprecedented amount of information on the film you would otherwise never know, from a knowledgable guide who could consider themselves an expert on the film, filming of the film, and all the filmy filmness. Seriously, they know their stuff.
How Much will it cost me, times, etc?
$43. The tour departs daily from the Mirabellgardens at 9:30am and 2:00pm – you must book in advance.
What Exactly Happens on the Sound of Music Tour?
Now to the important stuff.
Prior to the tour I didn’t really have any expectations. So long as I got to sing along to the soundtrack, venture into the Austrian countryside and see some of the filming locations, I was as happy as a kid on Christmas Eve. However some tour go-ers expect to see film sets or house interiors — not. going. to. happen.
All of the interior shots were filmed in a Hollywood studio. Most of the exterior shots were filmed in Salzburg city and surrounding areas. On the tour you will see most of these filming locations, however many of these are from afar. This is due to the fact that many filming locations were held on private property and avid fans cannot visit the properties on the tour or otherwise.
What you will see: The tour starts at the Mirabellgardens, one of the most recognisable filming locations on the tour. From there you will have a little city tour inside the vehicle, whereby your guide will point out the various filming locations in the city and describe each scene as they occur in the movie (there’s even a little trivia, mentions of bloopers, etc.). Then, the tour takes off to Hellbrunn Palace to see the gazebo where Liesl and Rolf sing “I am sixteen”. You can’ go inside the gazebo to reenact the film, but you can have a picture taken in front of it. From there, the tour goes to the two filming locations for the Vontrapp Family House: one palace used for the exterior shots and the other, Leopoldskron Palace, used for the lake shots. You will only be able to view the palace from the other side of the lake, as the property is privately owned (apparently linked to Harvard University, in case you’re at all interested).
From there you will pass back through the city to view (from inside the vehicle) Nonnberg Abbey. If you would like to return later and explore the Abbey in-depth, your guide will offer information for how to get there, etc. Then its off into the Austrian Countryside to the following locations: St Gilgen; Wolfgang Lake; and Mondsee Church where the wedding scene was filmed.
The tour ends here with 45-60 minutes free time to explore Mondsee (aka have a coffee and apple strudle, shop for some kitsch souveniers, and perhaps wander to the lake if there’s time).
Would I Recommend It?
Absolutely! For any fan of the film, the Sound of Music Tour is an absolute must. You won’t be disappointed with the selection of filming locations, but the best part of the tour was undeniably the insider knowledge gained from the tour guide.
World of Wanderlust was welcomed to Salzburg with the Salzburg Tourismus. As always my opinion is my own.