Sound of Music Walking Tour of Salzburg: This is free because you do it yourself. Just have this page open on your phone (to make use of the film and song links) or print it out. Ideal for a one or two day stay in Salzburg.
All of the SOM locations I mention are free to enter.
Salzburg is a small city (see picture above) and you don’t really need to pay 50 euros for a coach tour to see some of the main locations for the film. The city is expensive, touristy and very busy in the summer (especially during the music festival), so you might want to save your cash for a cold beer late in the day.
See my Salzburg On The Cheap Travel Guide for further opportunities to save money (click here).
You can do my tour in one day, if you get up early, but you might want to spread it over two days and take in some other sights along the way. In the below I’ve also included the proximity of other Salzburg attractions to the SOM locations.
Some of the songs in the film have more Salzburg in them than others. A lot of the film was shot in Hollywood. For instance, the graveyard scene near the end…looks genuine, but filmed 6,000 miles away in California…as too with a lot of the interiors.
I’ve included links to the songs in the film that go with the locations, feel free to click the links and have a singalong when you get there. Apparently the locals don’t like you doing that, but don’t forget you’re paying them a small fortune for a beer and a light lunch…and the city’s Burgermeister doesn’t seem to be making much of an effort to get rid of the wasps in the summer.
Here’s the walk from north to south (handy if you are staying in the cheaper hotels near the station)…but do it any order you like. Use the map on your phone (apple maps, google maps etc.) to find routes to the reference points I mention.
ONE: MIRABELL GARDENS (north of the river, 15 minute walk from the train station). The archway entrance to the gardens is just past the Mirabell Palace (a civic building these days) on the main road, opposite the Mirabell Garage (use ‘5 Mirabellplatz’ on your phone). Free Entry.
This is one of the main locations for Do-Re-Mi (click here for song). The Mirabell Gardens sequence starts about a minute in to the video and after the carriage ride (more details about that later).
First up is the Pegasus (Flying Horse) Fountain (the cast march around the rim). You can have a go at stomping round it too, but the locals will probably shoot you. With your back to the café/shop you get roughly the same viewpoint in the film, Pegasus should be looking to the left.
Next up is the tunnel arch (it actually has a vine growing around it), that’s at the top left of the garden from where you are standing at the fountain. Have a go at singing and running up and down it, but get someone else to film you…otherwise you look like some sweaty marathon-runner doing a blog.
Then to the immediate left of the vine is the gateway with the two pointing figures (also the next shot in the video sequence. They made it easy for themselves to shift the cameras and crew).
Then we get a shot of them marching either side of a sculpture, which is meant to be a dwarf. This is in the Dwarf Garden. Indeed there is a whole garden of dwarfs, a lot more than seven, they were quite popular back in the day. This is opposite the Pegasus fountain, up some steps and on a raised area that juts out from the main gardens. The dwarf with the glasses (the one in the shot) is on its own on the left.
The step-dancing end shot of the song is at the gateway to the right of the Pegasus fountain (directly opposite the pointing figures gateway). So you turn left out of the jutty-out area with the short-sighted dwarf.
It’s here that you can do your Julie Andrews ‘right hand pointing up, left hand on head’ pose. Don’t ask a local to take a picture of you doing it. They’ll just glare at you.
TWO: RESIDENZPLATZ (south of the river, in the Altstadt (old town), a 15 minute walk if you go direct from Mirabell)…search ‘Residenzplatz’ on your phone map.
The walk from the Mirabell Gardens to Residenzplatz does give you an opportunity to mooch around the old town (once you cross the river) and see some other sights. If you want to do that, I’d suggest doing them in this order….
The Monchsberg Aufzug (Lift) (enter ‘13 Gstattengasse’ in your phone map). This whizzes you up to the top of the hill for a really spectacular view of the castle and old Salzburg (see pic below). The entrance to the lift at ground level says ‘Museum der Moderne’ and is like a grey-glass slab in the wall.
The Museum of Modern Art is also at the top. You can either buy a ticket just for going up and down (around 5 euros) or a combined ticket for the gallery at 15 euros. The gallery is an interesting piece of architecture internally and cool if it is a hot day.
Then (after coming back down)…
Getreidegasse….the famous touristy shopping street.
Mozart’s Birth Place (at 9 Getreidegasse)..either just look at it, to say you’ve been there, or pay to go in.
Museum Kunst der Verlorenen Generation…Museum of the Lost Generation…Sigmund-Haffner-Gasse 12…a brilliant little gallery about those that lost their artistic careers under the Nazis, or indeed their lives. See the pictures and please read the biographies in each room. These are those that could have been amongst the famous artists we all know now, but they never got the chance.
You could then have a quick look at Mozartplatz and Judengasse (the scene of the carriage ride at the beginning of the Do-Re-Mi video)…
…and then on to Residenzplatz (which is right next door to the above Mozartplatz).
Residenzplatz doesn’t feature that much in SOM, but it is near the beginning of ‘I Have Confidence’ (which leads us on neatly on to part three of the walk). For the ‘I Have Confidence’ video click here.
In Residenzplatz is the fountain with the stone horse that Maria flicks water at (try it yourself). It’s about two minutes into the song.
It is also close to the cathedral if you wanted to pop in there.
THREE: HELLBRUNNER ALLEE to HELLBRUNN PALACE (south of the old town, and about an hour walk from there (but well worth it))
So this is the one you might want to save for your next day, it involves a four mile walk from the station area, or three miles from Residenzplatz…however it is a beautifully quiet and shady walk (mostly) and you get to see fields, hills and mountains (no lonely goatherds though…shot in the USA)….and you can get a bus back to town if your knees are crumbly.
Hellbrunner Allee is a pedestrian carriageway that was built in the 17th Century to connect the Hellbrunn Palace to the city. It is mostly used by locals for cycling and dog-walking these days. So be quiet and respectful, lest they set the hounds on you.
Finding the Allee is the tricky bit. Set your phone map for ‘Pädagogische Hochschule Salzburg’ and wend your way towards that. I’ve no idea what the building is, but it gets you where you want to go.
Just as the Pädagogische Hochschule appears on your left you’ll see a path ahead of you (called Freisaalweg) going through a fairly open green area with a few trees hiding some buildings on your left.
From here it’s a straight walk south all the way to the Hellbrunn Palace. Follow the path for about half a mile and you’ll know you’re going the right way when you see a little shrine on the right of the path (about the only shade on this part of the walk…take a hat).
Keep going straight on and then cross the road…you’re then at the beginning of Hellbrunner Allee (it’s got trees either side and looks more welcoming).
After about another three quarters of a mile you’ll see a yellow building with a yellow wall on your left (Schloss Frohnburg). This is what passed for the front door of the Von Trapps in the SOM and where Maria arrives at the end of ‘I Have Confidence’ to start work. She dances alongside the wall.
I think the building now has something to do with the university…I wandered in and did Maria’s little trip as she passed the rounded grassy area in the courtyard (apparently it was accidental, but looked good so they kept it in).
Here’s the song link again. Julie gets to Hellbrunner Allee around three minutes in. The Allee and the wall look pretty much as they did in the 1960s. The Schloss is a bit more rundown now. Students innit?
So after doing all your little high heel-clicks by the wall, you can carry on to the Hellbrunn Palace, which is about another mile further down the Allee.
When you get to the Palace Gardens entrance (which is free to enter) turn left through an arch and then you’ll immediately see the pavilion from ‘Sixteen Going on Seventeen’ (click here for that video). It is signposted if you can’t find it.
It’s the only thing I found in Salzburg that officially makes a big deal of the SOM. As the notice tells you, it was a prop made specifically for the film which the studio then donated to the city. It was originally placed in the background of another palace for the filming, but got moved here to keep it safe.
Spoiler Alert: the interior dance scenes were filmed in a much bigger gazebo in Hollywood….how else were you going to fit Rolf, Liesl AND a camera crew in there?
The Hellbrunn Palace doesn’t have anything else to do with the film, but is worth a visit for its trick fountains. The ticket office is in the palace courtyard (come back out from the pavilion and walk up the driveway to the big building, the office is on your left when you get there).
The fountains are worth seeing. You’ll have a guide to switch some of them on and an audio tour (the tours are timed but you’ll probably get on the next one. If not, have a beer in the café and wait 15 mins or so…try the beef soup with cheese dumpling).
The water-features (including the water driven animatronic theatre above) were built to amuse and surprise the guests of 17th century owner of the palace. The kids will like them (and the zoo is not far away either).
The ticket also gets you into the palace itself. It isn’t that big, but has beautifully decorated rooms. There is also a folk museum too.
To get back into town by bus. Exit the palace stairs and turn left (head behind the restaurant). Ignore the bus stop for the ‘Hop On-Hop Off’ (unless you have a ticket for that), instead turn left up the road and walk 150m up to the main road (it is signposted).
The number 25 bus stop is on your right on your side of the main road (Morzgerstrasse)….don’t cross the main road or you’ll be going the wrong way out of town. It costs around 5 euros to get back to the old town centre, or the train station.
They take cash on the buses in Salzburg, but down give them a 100 euro note or once again you’ll be glared at.
Incidentally, I wouldn’t try walking back from the Palace, especially if the sun is going down…the hills are alive you know.
If this walking tour has served you well then you can tip me by buying my latest book and leaving a wonderful review. A humorous history of art (just what the world has been waiting for). It will be FREE on kindle/digital if you have Kindle Unlimited.
For my other guides to Austria click here, for my guides to Germany click here.