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I have watched The Sound of Music a million times with my mom growing up and it’s one of those movies that has had a special place in my heart because my mom loved it so much. We would always sing the songs together with my siblings and I have such fond memories from that time. I’m not even the type that likes musicals but The Sound of Music is a classic and the only exception. Although I watched this movie countless number of times, I never realized it was based in Salzburg until I was visiting Vienna.
Salzburg is a 3-hour drive from Vienna and as soon as I found out that there were tours that offered day trips to the city where The Sound of Music was filmed, I knew I had to go. This particular tour I went on even provided an iPad with Sound of Music loaded onto it so that we could watch it again if we wanted to (or watch it for the first time).
I booked my tour through Viator.com and I swear by this company. I have booked numerous tours with them like the Three Countries in One Day Tour in Barcelona and the Post Communism Tour in Bratislava, which were both such memorable tours. The cost was $209 per person for a 12-hour tour starting at 7:30 AM and returning to Vienna at 7:30 PM. $209 may seem a bit expensive for some people, but I think it’s totally worth it. Here’s 9 reasons why:
You get two wonderful tour guides
There are 4 stops on the way to Salzburg
You have a friendly driver
It’s a small tour (my tour had only 7 people)
You get to ride on a comfy mini bus
They provide iPads on the bus with Sound of Music loaded accompanied with comfy headphones
You learn so much history and culture about Vienna, Salzburg and about Austria in general
You get to see The Sound of Music filming locations
They provide free wifi on the bus
As I mentioned, the tour started at 7:30 AM and we met our tour guide in front of the Vienna Tourism Office which was only a 5-minute walk from the hotel we were staying at, Grand Hotel Wien. Our tour guide, who was also our bus driver, greeted us and explained what to expect on the lovely tour.
Before we arrived in Salzburg, we made a few stops along the way. Our first stop was at a restaurant called Landzeit, which was a rest stop. This was the cutest rest stop I have ever seen. We stopped here for about an hour or so to have breakfast. Everything on the menu looked so delicious and their breakfast buffet looked amazing as well. I ordered the waffles and my friend, Wes, ordered the bacon and eggs skillet. Both dishes were were delightful and everyone else’s dishes looked wonderful as well.
Next, we made our way to Lake Attersee, a beautiful lake where Vienna’s most famous artist, Gustav Klimt, would come for the summer and decompress. He loved this lake so much that more than 45 of his pictures depict scenes from this area The lake is 11 miles long and the deepest point is 170 meters but on average it’s 90 meters deep. It has a beautiful turquoise color that reminded me of Lake Louise and Moraine Lake in Canada. We only stopped by here for about 10 minutes but I wish we could have stayed here a little longer because every spot of this lake was so picturesque. I could have spent at least an hour here admiring the views.
As we made our way to our next stop, passing by more stunning lakes and mountains, our tour guide pointed out some of the locations The Sound of Music was filmed like the opening scene on the hills and the wedding scene of Maria and Captain Von Trapp.
Our next stop was Wolfgang Lake Village. This was a cute little village with some historical significance. One being that this was the village where Mozart’s mother used to live and he would come and visit her often. His sister used to live here as well. What a lot of people don’t know is that the sister was just as gifted as Mozart was. They played the piano together and went to concerts often but when she turned 16 years old, the family decided that it was too dangerous for her to travel all the time in the horse carriage, so she settled in Wolfgang Lake Village. She ended up marrying the mayor of the town.
We were able to explore the little town for about 30 minutes and some notable things in the village were Austria’s most expensive private boarding school costing 50,000 Euros per year, the cemetery where some of Mozart’s family is buried, and an old restaurant from 1618.
Unfortunately, a lot of the shops were closed because it was a holiday but it was also a good thing because there weren’t that many tourists in town.
After we explored the village, we made our way to Salzburg and passed by the headquarters of Red Bull. I actually didn’t know Red Bull was started by an Austrian and learned that the owner of the company, Dietrich Mateschitz, didn’t actually invent the drink. The drink was made by a man named Chaleo Yoovidhya in Thailand and Mateschitz brought it back to Austria selling it as a sports drink. Yoovidhya owns 49% of the company and his son owns 2%. I love that Mateschitz didn’t just steal the drink and has an awesome moral compass. It made me really respect the Austrians.
Finally, we reached Salzburg, home of the beloved Sound of Music film. Salzburg is known to be one of the best preserved old cities in the world and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. It used to be a country until it merged with Austria in the early 1800s. Salzburg translates as “salt castle” and it is very rich from the salt mines. Historically, it was very valuable and at one point it was worth more than gold.
Salzburg is known for The Sound of Music and salt mines but it’s also known to be the home of Mozart. There are two museums here dedicated to him and both museums are the actual buildings Mozart used to live in. The yellow house is where Mozart was born and the pink house is where Mozart moved to when he was a teenager.
We met with our Salzburg tour guide, Antonio, and he showed us around the city for about 50 minutes. Along with telling us the history of Salzburg, he also pointed out all the spots The Sound of Music was filmed. I noticed a few spots from watching the movie again on the bus and it was so exciting! I never thought I’d be in the same exact spot where Maria and the kids were singing and dancing.
There is a lot of history in Austria including the oldest restaurant in Europe from 1800 AC…but there seems to be a conflict here with Madrid claiming the oldest restaurant. I’m not exactly sure which one is older but an old restaurant from 1800 is super impressive to me.
One of the most unique things about Salzburg is their shopping street. All the stores are required to have an iron sign as it’s part of tradition. People couldn’t read back in the 1100s and 1200s, so there were iron signs placed in front of the stores with a symbol. This is the only McDonalds in the world to have an iron sign and not the big plastic yellow arch.
After the tour, we were free to roam around for a little over 2 hours. I spent most of my time taking pictures at The Sound of Music locations and wandering around the market trying different samples of foods. We wanted to eat in one of the oldest cafes or restaurants but everything was so packed and chaotic. It was much easier to find something at one of the food stands.
I also stopped by the salt store to buy some salt rub for bathing. I bought some for myself but mostly wanted to get something for my mom here since she loves to take baths and she would be thrilled to know that the salt rub came from the city of The Sound of Music!
The way back to Vienna took about 3 hours and our tour guided pointed out that our journey is nothing compared to Mozart traveling for 3 days in a horse carriage. Fun fact: Mozart died at the age of 37 and someone made a calculation that Mozart spent 10 years of his life traveling in a horse carriage.
The 3-hour ride back to Vienna went by really fast. A lot of us watched The Sound of Music again to see which spots we saw from the movie. I didn’t realize that the garden tunnel was one of them until after I took the picture and watched the movie again. I loved that garden area so much.
We got back to Vienna at 7:30 PM as scheduled and said good bye to our wonderful tour guide. I’m terrible and forgot his name but I have a feeling that all the guides on this tour are terrific.
This was one of the best tours I’ve taken and I highly recommend it, not only for the Sound of Music fans but also for the picturesque city itself. There’s just so much beauty in Austria and Salzburg is definitely a city you need to visit while in the country. I had to cut my time short in Vienna but it was totally worth it to me. I only wish I could have visited with my mom.
Also, fun fact: you can actually stay in the house the Trapp family used to lived in! It’s about 4 km from the center of Salzburg and the family lived here from 1923 to 1938. During WWII, it was occupied by the Nazis and Heinrich Himmler used it as his summer occupation. Finally in 1947, the Missionaries bought the villa from the Trapp family. What a history!