Hollywood Trickery and The Sound of Music

Sound of Music Tour Salzburg

As my large brown bus whisked me through the Austrian countryside while  fellow bus riders were belting away songs from the Sound of Music, I could not helped but feel deceived, and I had been.

For years, I had pictured the town of Salzburg, Austria to be this magical place full of music and people twirling around in open fields while singing to the tune of The Sound of Music. I was disappointed to find however, that my dreams of the old city were filled with a lot of deceptive Hollywood movie tricks, in which Salzburg became a mix of the city itself, the neighboring countryside, and Hollywood film sets.


The Sound of Music Tour

The bus (Albus) – the original bus company used in the movie

I arrived to my bus location early on a very rainy Salzburg morning. I was greeted by the tour guide David, who introduced himself to everyone on the bus and explained that we would be on and off the bus for a period of four hours in both the city of Salzburg and in the outskirts of the city where different parts of the movie were shot.

David told us not to be disappointed with the rain as Salzburg is known for having many rainy days. He went on to say that Salzburg was so rainy that the shooting of the movie in Salzburg was originally scheduled to last six weeks but ended up taking an additional five weeks (for a total of 11 weeks) because of the rain.

Right on schedule, the bus pulled out of Mirabellplatz and headed through the city. David pointed out the different hotels that the cast had stayed at during their filming period. He also pointed out filming locations throughout the city such as the location of the Mozart Bridge (Mozartsteg Salzburg) which the children ran across while singing ‘Do-Re-Mi’, and the Nonnberg Abbey, the convent which Maria longed to be a part of.

Hollywood Trickery Fact #1: None of the convent scenes were shot inside of the actual convent. Every single shot was recreated and filmed in Hollywood!

Even the nuns look surprised! (Source)

We continued talking about the making of the movie and some of  the discrepancies that existed between the movie and the real Von Trapp family, whom the film had been made after.

When the real Maria Von Trapp had seen the movie for the first time, she stated that only about 80% of the events that occurred in the movie reflected the true story of what actually happened.

Hollywood Trickery Fact #2: The Von Trapp Family did not escape Austria over the mountains as portrayed in the movie.If they had in fact climbed the mountain that they did in the movie (Untersberg), they would have ended up in Germany, right into the hands of the Nazis.The real Von Trapps actually escaped via a train bound for Italy before traveling some more in Europe and then heading to the United States.

The escape scene at the end, which does not reflect reality

Our tour continued to the Hellbrunn Palace, where we got off of the bus and made our way to a tree-lined path. We were informed that this spot was where Maria sang the song ‘Confidence’ after she left the abbey on her way to the home of the Von Trapps.

We then walked through the main gates of the palace, where we came upon the gazebo that was (partially) used in the song ‘Sixteen Going on Seventeen‘ and ‘Something Good‘.

The lane used in the song ‘Confidence’

The gazebo used in the song ‘Sixteen Going On Seventeen’ (Rolf & Liesl) and ‘Something Good’ (Maria & the Baron)

We departed from the palace and made our way over to the Palace of Leopoldskron, where we looked at the lake that the children fell into in the movie and learned about how little Gretl nearly drowned during filming.

After leaving the lake, we headed into the mountains, while being instructed by David to sing along to the songs playing over the loudspeaker. The little boy behind me outshone everyone on the bus as he belted out each song word-by-word.

Throughout the tour, David provided us with hilarious commentary and made sure to let us know if we were not singing or yodeling loud enough.

We continued our procession through the mountain bound for Mondsee while passing the stunning Lake Wolfgang in the area of St. Gilgen. I made a mental note to myself to make sure to visit this beautiful lake on my next trip to Austria.

We finally arrived to the last stop on the trip: The Church of Mondsee, where Maria married the Baron.

The Church of Mondsee, where Baron and Maria married


The Sound of Music Tour: Review

Overall, I thought the tour was a lot of fun and singing along to the songs brought back great memories of my childhood.

I do wish there were different time options for the tour, as the four hours  I was on flew by rather quickly. I could have easily spent another four hours riding on the bus and seeing additional sights.

One fantasy that I have had for years has been to spin around on a mountain in a dirndl (traditional Austrian dress)…. unfortunately, there was to be no spinning for me during my entire trip.


Further Information

Cost: € 35,00 (adults), € 18,00 (children), and € 85,00 (Family of 4 – 2 children, 2 adults) and can either be booked online via the Gray Line website or purchased before boarding the bus in front of Mirabellplatz.


Disclaimer: The Salzburg Tourism Board provided me the ticket for this tour, however as always all thoughts, opinions, and yodeling are my own!



By | 2017-07-30T01:10:08+00:00 September 2nd, 2014|Salzburg|23 Comments
  • No spinning? Now I felt sure there would be someone up there renting out Maria costumes. What a shame, looks fun anyway.

  • Elena Sonnino

    Hollywood trickery or not, I would love to see Salzburg through the Sound of Music lens. 🙂 And my daughter would go crazy over the gazebo!

  • Matthew Hirtes

    Shamefully, I’ve never seen The Sound of Music in its entirety. But I’d love to visit Salzburg. Sounds magical.

    • Oh, you have to watch it! It is never too late 🙂

      • Matthew Hirtes

        OK, I will. Thanks for the tip.

  • Anne

    I am sixteen, going on seventeen…
    I have a billion songs stuck in my head now! Thanks…haha.
    I loved the Sound of Music growing up, too. And Salzburg is unexpectedly one of my favorite places in Europe, but I never took the tour. Thanks for taking me on it via your blog! 🙂

    • I know what you mean! So many great songs to sing from the movie. If you make it back to Salzburg, you should check it out!

  • Cassandra

    I would love to see these iconic sites, especially the Church of Mondsee!

    • The church was absolutely lovely; I cannot think of any other ones in the world that I have seen with a pink interior 😀

  • lindsaypunk

    This is my favorite movie of all time!! My first ever trip abroad was to Austria, and OF COURSE I took the SoM tour while I was there. I remember thinking how weird it was that scenes were shot disjointedly… e.g. they used one building for the back of the house, and a different one for the front. And the gazebo being plopped in some random place that wasn’t the houses backyard was strange. But I guess it’s not so surprising when you think about how most movies are filmed.

    I didn’t know that tidbit about how they didn’t actually flee over the mountain. Fun fact! Also a little jealous that you got to go inside the church – we didn’t stop there on my tour, 10 years ago 🙁

    • Yes! It was so interesting to learn so many details about the real facts of the movie. I am surprised they didn’t bring you to the church! Maybe something was happening then, like construction or something? 🙂

  • Anna Johnston

    What a fun experience & super interesting. Shame the tour didnt last long though. I’ve just found your blog, so can’t wait to read more.

  • I’m surprised to hear the time flew by so quickly. I would have thought four hours would feel long, but I’m glad it didn’t. I can’t deicde which of your stops would have meant the most to me. It’s so interesting to hear some of the tricks too.

  • PennyPincherJenny

    I remember the Sound of Music from when I was younger. What an amazing tour to get to go on I would love to see all of these places on the tour. I bet the singing was a ton of fun as well.

    • Yes Jenny, I was definitely thrilled to go on a tour where I could learn more about the movie that I grew up with!

  • Tiffany Cutcliff

    Wow- that tour looks amazing! I LOVE the Sound of Music. My mom and I just watched that movie together a few months ago. Thanks for giving such a great and detailed review! Looks amazing!

  • i have a best friend would literally spazz out to go on this tour! Its her favorite movie! Ok I gotta show this to her and we need to make a trip! Great review!

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