Discovering Salzburg: Sound of Music Bicycle Tour

With the Sound of Music.

You know, that movie from the 60’s with Julie Andrews?

Yep. That one.

I am obsessed. So completely, totally obsessed and I don’t care what anyone has to say. The Sound of Music is my favorite movie of all time, so this semester I HAD to go to Salzburg. The train from Paris took about 8 hours total (with a change in Zurich, Switzerland), but it passed by quickly because the view was so beautiful. Just absolutely gorgeous. I could have stared out the window like on a sad music video and been content the whole time, but I edited photos and watched the Sound of Music. Cheesy, I know. And I may have shed a few symbolic tears, but it was a big moment for me, ok?

To put everyone on the same page, the movie the Sound of Music is loosely based on the story of the Austrian family, the Von Trapps, around the time of Hitler’s rise in Austria. The Von Trapps lived in Salzburg, so the movie was filmed there.

Even though Salzburg isn’t known only for the Sound of Music, the movie alone brings in around 300,000 tourists every year!

Because I’m a nut, I went on a Sound of Music bicycle tour. Yes, those exist. And yes, I had the time of my life. Our tour guide even had a mini speaker that blasted the soundtrack! It was so funny to see all the locals watch at us from afar with puzzled expressions, but as we got closer and they recognized the music, they would all smile.

bicycles from Maria's Bike Tour

view from Sound of Music bike tour

Sound of Music bike tour


Let’s start at the very beginning.


I stole that joke from my tour guide.

Pferdeschwemme Fountain

Ok. This fountain is super cool for a few reasons. Number one – it’s in a couple random shots in the movie. Number two – the fountain was built to work as essentially a carwash for carriages. A carriagewash, maybe? But it’s big enough for the carriages to comfortably take a lap around the fountain and wash off wheels and horses’ feet.

Pferdeschwemme Fountain in Salzburg, Austria

Residenz Square

20th Century Fox initially tried to get permission from Salzburg city officials to put up the Nazi flags in the town square for a few scenes and the city obviously said no. But here’s where it gets juicy – the studio threatened to use actual footage of the Nazis taking over Salzburg, so the city was pretty much cornered into allowing it.

However, the people living in Salzburg had no idea what was happening. They didn’t know about the film because 20th Century Fox tried to keep it on the hush-hush. They just woke up one morning, about twenty years after WWII with Nazi flags hanging everywhere. Can you imagine the panic that would have caused?

Residenz Square in Salzburg, Austria

Leopold Palace

Fun fact: Hollywood is tricksy. But then again, you probably already knew that.

I’ll lay it out for you:

One house was used as the Von Trapp’s house exterior.

A Different house was used for the terrace and the view of the lake.

And all interior scenes were shot in a studio.

Tricksy, no? But this is beautiful just the same. This is where Maria and the kiddos fall out of the boat right before they meet Baroness Schraeder for the first time. (I told you, I’m obsessed.)

Leopold Palace in Salzburg, Austria

Frohnberg Palace

This was originally built as a countryside palace for the prince archbishops of Salzburg, but served as the exterior for the Von Trapp’s house.

What is it used for now, might you ask?

Good question. It’s a university specializing in music. When I was there I could hear students practicing the violin and the cello. Pretty cool stuff. Stay is school, kids.

Frohnberg Palace in Salzburg, Austria

Frohnberg Palace in Salzburg, Austria

“16 Going on 17” Pavilion

Proof I’m alive and well. (Hey mom!)

Sound of Music 16 going on 17 pavilion

The famous “16, Going on 17” scene was filmed here and the actress who played Leisl slid into the glass and sliced her foot open during filming. On the old VHS version of the movie, you can see in some shots her foot covered in bandages. Talk about dedication!

But here’s what I don’t understand completely.

The studio built this pavilion specifically for the movie, yet when it came time to shoot their fancy dancing moves, the pavilion wasn’t big enough for the choreography, so a large replica was built in Hollywood.

I dunno, I just find that a bit ironic.

Mirabell Palace

Boom shakalaka.

The grand daddy-o of Salzburg. This is where the big wigs stay when they come to town and you bet your bottom dollar Julie Andrews was here fifty years ago.

So Mirabell Palace was built by (like everything else in Salzburg) an archbishop and is now owned by the city, but the gardens are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Also Julie Andrews hit a ridiculously high note here, and it should be commemorated because she can do no wrong in my eyes.

Mirabell Palace

If you ever want to race your brothers or sisters, here’s the place to do it.

Mirabell Palace

But really…

Salzburg is STUNNING.

view of estate and mountains in Salzburg, Austria

Pretzels are yummy in my tummy.

pretzels in Salzburg, Austria market

And I didn’t want to leave.

panoramic view of Salzburg, Austria

Have you ever been to a movie’s filming locations?


Discovering Salzburg: Sound of Music Bike Tour The Katie Baker