The Sound of Music: Movie Moments in Salzburg

Updated August 13, 2020.

So, why did I choose the Year of Movie Moments for this year’s blog theme? Because of The Sound of Music, of course! We stayed at the Trapp Family Lodge last year, and the idea came to me—staying there was like a movie moment! So what could be better than actually visiting their homeland, Salzburg, Austria? Create your own Sound of Music movie moments while you’re there!

*Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning that when you click the link to purchase on Amazon, you are supporting my small business at no additional cost to you!

That mountain at the top left is Schafberg, the location of the famous “The Hills are Alive” opening scene and the children’s day out when they learn to sing from the movie!
More here: Top 10 Sound of Music Sites in Salzburg

The Storyline

Okay, if you’re the only person on the planet who’s never seen The Sound of Music, here’s a quick synopsis. Most importantly, however, is to understand that this musical was based on a true story!

Maria is a postulant at Nonnberg Abbey in Salzburg, but the nuns are not quite sure she’s cut out for life there. So they give her a temporary job taking care of a widowed naval captain’s seven children! Hilarity ensues as Maria beats the kids at their own mischievous games and teaches them shenanigans of her own. Their father is shocked and angry… until he hears them sing!

As you might have predicted, and to the children’s delight, Maria and the Captain fall in love and get married! And it all happens just in time for World War II to come to Austria. The whole family has to make their way to Switzerland so that Captain von Trapp can avoid being forced into service on the side of the Nazis. Will they make it? You’ll have to watch the movie (and climb every mountain!) to find out.

These are the trees the von Trapp children were hanging off of while their father and the Baroness were driving to the von Trapp villa! They have grown a bit in the last 50 years!
Keep reading: What to Know Before You Visit Salzburg

The Sites

Because The Sound of Music is based on a true story, those places in the movie are real—and you can visit them!

Mirabell Gardens

You’ll see these gardens in the iconic “Do Re Mi” song and dance routine in the film, and you can visit for free! You’ll recognize many spots like the ivy tunnel, the fountain, and of course, the steps where the famous three-octave “Do” that Maria pulls off perfectly at the end of the song! I suggest going in the morning because it got a little crowded in the afternoon!


Schloss Leopoldskron

The tour guide we hired took us to Leopoldskron, which is one of the houses used as the von Trapp villa in the movie. It’s a hotel and event space now, but we got a beautiful view from the opposite side of its manmade lake (the same one the von Trapp children and Maria fell into in the movie when they all met the Baroness for the first time).

Lovers at Leopoldskron
Okay, here’s a good shot that’s not obscured by our kissy faces!

Nonnberg Abbey

You will certainly recognize this one for its red dome (all the others are copper-green!), but the inside will look a little different than it did at Maria and Georg’s wedding in the movie! Nonnberg Abbey has been around since the year 714 A.D. The only wedding that has ever taken place here was the von Trapp wedding. Not many nuns get married. It was a special occasion!

Nonnberg Abbey and its iconic red dome.
Nonnberg Abbey from the Inside

St. Michael’s Basilica in Mondsee

Lucky for us, our tour included a quick trip to Mondsee, where we visited St. Michael’s Basilica, the stand-in for Nonnberg Abbey since the Mother Abbess did not want any filming to happen inside their church.

St. Michael’s Basilica from the outside.
St. Michael’s Basilica from the inside.
Need more? Check out my Austria Page!

Have Your Own Sound of Music Movie Moments

Salzburg is perhaps the best place in the world to have your own movie moments! It really does look like the movie scenes, and you have to see it to believe it! Here are some of my favorite real-life movie moments from gorgeous Salzburg!

Eat Schnitzel with Noodles

Well, okay, so you may not be able to find it with noodles! It will more likely come with potatoes (spaetzle, if you’re lucky). But seriously, you should eat the schnitzel. There’s a reason why the dish made its way into the “Favorite Things” sing for a reason!

The best schnitzel ever, from the Sacher Grill!

And Don’t Skip the Crisp Apple Strudel

You will have no problem finding apple strudel (or apfelstrudel) in and around Salzburg. But may I recommend the warm vanilla sauce? It’s one of my favorite things now!

Apple Strudel from Cafe Braun Bakery in nearby Mondsee!
Read on: What to Eat in Salzburg

Waltz at the Famous Gazebo

Funny story: the real gazebo used in the film used to be at Leopoldskron, which was used as the back facade of the von Trapp villa in the movie. But eventually so many people were trespassing to get inside and get photos with it, the gazebo was moved to Hellbrunn Palace. But it was vandalized, so a replica was built in the early 1990s. Oh, but the story’s not done there. A few years after the replica was unveiled, a 90-year-old woman decided to dance around on the benches inside just like Liesl in the movie. And, of course, she fell and broke her hip!

All that to say, you can still visit the gazebo, but you will not be able to go inside. Unless, of course, you want to have an event inside, but that comes at a cost!

Don’t miss the gazebo! But keep the dancing to outside!
Read next: The Most Romantic Travel Experiences

Take a Sound of Music Tour

The best way to experience The Sound of Music and all the sites is to take a tour! You will need a car to see them all yourself, but you can also take a private tour or a bus tour with about 60 other Sound of Music superfans! You’ll see the filming locations, some of the real locations that inspired the movie, and hear all kinds of fun anecdotes!

For example, the 90-year-old woman at Hellbunn is not the only one who broke a bone at the gazebo… so did Charmaine Carr, the actress who played Liesl, broke her ankle during filming!

The beauty from the film is real!

Have Your Own Movie Night

Whip up some fondue, apfelstrudel (apple strudel), and schnitzel with noodle, then settle in for the night, because this movie is about four hours long! But it’s well worth the time, as you’ll notice while you sing along with every single song. You can buy the DVD or Blu-ray or rent it on Amazon, both at this link*!

Real life or movie set? Yes!

Get the Books!

Remember I mentioned the movie (and before that, the play) is based on a true story? Well you can get all the real details and more in the books written by and about the family! Here are some of the top sellers*:

Want more? Check out What to Know Before You Visit Salzburg! Can’t make it to Austria? You can visit with the von Trapp descendants at their lodge in Stowe, Vermont! Check out Staying at the Trapp Family Lodge, 10 Active Things to Do at the Trapp Family Lodge, and What to Eat in Stowe!

Want more movie destination guides? Check out my 2019: Year of Movie Moments Page!

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4 responses to “The Sound of Music: Movie Moments in Salzburg”

  1. The do-re-mi song is probably my favorite in the whole movie, and the 3-octave finish gives me chills every time. A few years ago, Sing-Along Sound of Music came to an arts theater in my area. Predictably, I loved it and would go again in a heartbeat. The husband came along, somewhat reluctantly, but he ended up really enjoying it. Have you done this? It’s fabulous!

    1. quickwhittravel Avatar

      I haven’t done a song-a-long, but that sounds like so much fun!

  2. That staircase photo is the best!

    1. quickwhittravel Avatar

      Thank you! I was not leaving without it!

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