Singing Salzburg: The Original Sound of Music Tour in Salzburg - Is It Worth It?

By Elie - 3:13 PM

Hello blog space, I'm here to catch-up on my Salzburg adventures! So it's been a month since we visited and came back from the wonderful city, yet all I've talked about is the hostel we stayed at. Which is why I'm here to change history by sharing my experiences from...

The Original Sound of Music Tour in Salzburg.

That's right! If you didn't already know, The Sound of Music movie that was released in 1965 starring the late Christopher Plummer as Captain von Trapp and Julie Andrews as Maria was primarily shot around this Austrian city. It wasn't difficult to see why though, because Salzburg had so much in architecture and natural beauty to offer - and this tour was here to give the movie's fans a taste of what the artists enjoyed back in those years. 

And that's me. I'm a fan. Costing €60 per person (price as of October 2023) for a seat on the bus through the 4-hour tour, this experience aims to take the visitors through most of the filming locations along with fun facts sprinkled in along the way. Pick-ups are usually done from the square outside of Mirabell Gardens and would return to the same location after. 

But is the tour of the Original Sound of Music Tour in Salzburg worth it or can you simply hunt down the infamous filming locations yourself? Let's break it down to some pros and cons.


Visiting the infamous "Sixteen Going On Seventeen" gazebo

At the top of my pros list is definitely how you can visit most of the filming locations seamlessly. The tour guide would also provide really interesting facts at every stop - and sure, you could Google for these little things but there was just a much more magical feeling knowing these facts as you're staring at the location. For example, the gazebo that we see in "Sixteen Going On Seventeen" was originally located at the Leopoldskron Palace but the rude trespassing of unhinged tourists caused it to be moved to the Schloss Hellbrunn castle where it sits today. 

Unfortunately, the gazebo isn't open for visitors to enter but you're always welcome to take pictures from the outside. You could also drop by sans the tour group free of charge, but that does require you to take the public transport about 25 minutes out of the city centre of Salzburg and walk for about 10 to 15 minutes into the castle grounds after alighting. In comparison, the tour takes you right to the doorsteps of the castle and you simply walk 5 minutes from the parking to the gazebo.

A majestic view of the Leopoldskron Palace

Another example is when we visited the pond side of Leopoldskron Palace, albeit only being allowed to watch from afar. Real fans of the movie would recognize this location as the spot where the von Trapp children fell over into the waters while wearing their play clothes made of Maria's old curtains but it was also here that we learned how Julie Andrews' slip-and-fall shot in the movie was accidental. It really added to the scene though, and having an energetic tour guide tell us this as we stared at palace and pond made it so much better. 

Our biggest regret was not being able to find the same goat souvenir

The next best thing about joining The Original Sound of Music Tour in Salzburg was definitely the convenience that came with it. Because most filming locations are scattered far and wide, being a part of the tour meant you didn't have to wait on different public commutes or worry about missing connections. All that you need to do is make sure you remember the bus you came on and be back on the bus when you need to. 

The ride itself was also rather comfortable - we had visited Salzburg when it was surprisingly warm, and hopping on the air-conditioned coach gave us such relief each time. If there was one complaint however, is that you don't get a lot of leg space and this is coming from someone who's got really short legs so I can't imagine what it would be like for someone tall. 

Immaculate vibes! 

And finally, the last thing on my pros list is about the vibes on the coach. Given that anyone on the bus would be - to a certain degree - a fan of the movie, it's likely that you'll have lots of fun times singing along to the original Sound of Music soundtrack that they would play through the 4-hour tour. Our tour guide whose name I have unfortunately forgotten (but remember as a tall ginger man) was extremely energetic throughout and was as engaging as could be. The dynamics he had with our driver was also great and you could tell that he really enjoyed doing the tours, rather than treating it as another boring job.

That said, I do recommend you brush up on your Sound of Music knowledge before heading for the tour because it can really get you extra immersed in the experience, making The Original Sound of Music Tour in Salzburg quite worth it. 


The Nonnberg Abbey where Maria was supposedly studying to be a nun

Of course, not everything is sunshine and daffodils when it comes to being on a tour so let's discuss some of the cons with the first thing being that you won't be seeing "everything". Given that the tour has a stipulated timeframe, it's highly understandable that you'll be giving certain things a miss. The Nonnberg Abbey was one of the locations that we did not visit, but that could also be the fact that the abbey is still in fact still an existing monastery and not just a tourist location. 

Some locations may just be a drive-by spot, so you always have to be aware and ready to look out the window in a split second or you'll miss it. One such location was the The Baroque Frohnburg Palace that was used as the facade of the von Trapp family villa where you'll see Maria (Julie Andrews) singing "I Have Confidence" before walking into her new life as a governess. A friendly tip: I would say the left side of the coach is the better spot to sit on if you get to pick, because that's where you'll get most of the drive-by views!

The beautiful Mondsee Abbey

Still on the topic of time, it can sometimes feel like you're being herded like sheep because there's a lot to cover in not a lot of time. As we were nearing the end of the tour, we were taken to the town of Mondsee which was about 30 minutes outside of Salzburg. The reason for this visit was to look at the Mondsee Abbey where the marriage of Captain Georg (pronounced Gail) von Trapp and Maria supposedly took place in the movie, because the Nonnberg Abbey did not allow for filming.

Despite being driven all the way out here, we were only given approximately 20 minutes to look around the town and if you couple that with walking, waiting, and washroom break times, it's just very little to work with. Other stops such visiting the gazebo at the Schloss Hellbrunn had about 10 minutes allocated as well, so you really had to make full use of every second. We ended up not entering the Mondsee Abbey because we were quite hungry at this point and just quickly grabbed a strudel from the nearby cafe then ran right back to the bus to avoid being tardy. There were 2 girls who were in fact late to return and it was quite annoying.

Mirabell Gardens, where the iconic "Do, Re, Mi" song was filmed

Lastly, if there was a con to joining the tour is how it can be quite disorganised at pick-up. The tour offered two sessions a day: Once at 9AM and the other at 2PM. We had booked our tickets ahead of time online and were told to exchange our reservations for a physical ticket at the pick-up area, but when we tried to do that, another man told us we didn't need to. Instead, he just gave us a pass to indicate that we were in group A and told us to wait by the coach. 

At the time of boarding, however, the driver really didn't bother which group we belonged in and simply allowed anyone up the bus. It came to a point where we also didn't make the first bus (which perhaps was a blessing since our tour guide was amazing!) because it was too full and they only had one seat left when there were two of us. The coach also refused to leave until that 1 seat was filled, so there was just a lot of waiting going on in case there was a single traveler somehow. 

The same thing happened when the second coach came for us, so this time I made a conscious effort to tell them that there were TWO of us and we've waited since 1:45PM as stipulated on our reservations. In the end, my other half and I got lucky as we got to sit together for the duration of the tour, but there were two girls traveling together who had to be split up on the coach because there were just single seats left. So if you're thinking of going on the tour, be sure to be there early and make sure to tell the driver you're in a group!


A surprise stop at Lake Wolfgangsee

Lake Wolfgangsee

Now that we've gotten the pros and cons out of the way, do I actually think The Original Sound of Music Tour in Salzburg is worth it? To be honest, it definitely is worth it and I'll even sprinkle in some extra points if you're a fan. 

Despite the €60 price tag, it's good to remember that these filming locations can be set sprawling across different areas of the city - and at one point even out to a different city! You'll be surrounded by the good vibes of everyone who's just as excited to see the locations as you are, and the fun facts that you get from the tour guide does make it an exciting experience overall. 

Granted, I do think this is more of a one-time thing since you probably wouldn't do the tour again if you've already heard the lowdown to everything. But if you haven't already, I do recommend taking on the tour at least once...and be sure to brush up on your Sound of Music soundtrack knowledge cause you'll definitely need it! 

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