We were travelling across southern Austria and northern Italy, criss-crossing the border, and my sister had joined us for this part of the trip. We were staying in Innsbruck and had 2 days to make our way to Switzerland. I decided that we could make a day trip to Salzburg to surprise my sister, as we are long-time 'Sound of Music' fans. Our Mum is a Rogers and Hammerstein musical devotee and we grew up listening to the records and watching the movies. I think 'The Sound of Music' is everyone's favourite.
I checked the train timetables and told her there was a big day coming, finally revealing our destination the night before. The weather gods were smiling down on us- in fact it was a hot 31 degrees C!
Recognize this scene?
Arriving in Salzburg Salzburg Hauptbahnhof (main station) is, as you would expect, quite large. It was easy to find the left luggage room - just follow the signs. There were bathrooms right next to the locker room, so we could pack our day packs, freshen up and get moving!
To make the best of your day, ensure you have an interactive map on your device or a printed map with the sites clearly marked. The map below will give you some idea of the proximity of all the sites: there is a decent amount of walking involved but it's well within the capabilities of anyone who can manage to walk a few blocks and up a few flights of stairs!
The first stop was Mirabell Palace and Gardens, which contain at least five recognizable film locations from the 'Do-Re-Mi' sequence. As you can see on the map below, each location is numbered:
We spent at least an hour in these pretty gardens, and it was such fun to happen upon all these features! The gardens themselves are not overly-large, so it's relatively easy to find all the sites.
To see more sites you must cross the river (Salzach) and head up towards the castle (Fortress Hohensalzburg). Why not take the same bridge that Maria and the children crossed- the Mozartsteg?! This will take you through the Altstadt (Old Town) and use your map to find the Residenzplatz. Here you will recognoize the fountain from 'I Have Confidence' plus it's the square you see the Nazi soldiers march across just after the wedding scene.
(Close, but not the exact place!)
Heading west, we caught glimpses of the cliff face into which the arches were built, as seen in the background of the music festival scenes. This is now enclosed into what is called the Festspielhäuser, and if you go to the left of the building you will find the Toscaninihof. This is also recognizable as the place where the children exited the stage after the rehearsal with Max.
We climbed the stairs from the Toscaninihof which took us up to the higher level close to the castle, then we made our way along the road to the Festungsgasse. This winds its way under the funicular and eventually becomes the Nunnberggasse, which then rounds a bend and goes under an archway. When you reach this archway, you know you are nearly there!
Walk on and the scene opens up to that of the convent gates (yes, they are still exactly the same!), and familiar buildings in the background, as seen in the photo above.
You can go through the convent gates and enter the beautiful church- the Stiftskirche Nonnberg. Look at the gates into the grave areas at the side of the church and you will see the inspiration behind the scene of the family's hiding places when they were trying to escape the Nazis. This scene was actually filmed on a Hollywood set.
We were thrilled to see this area, especially noting the same iron gates into the convent, and as we were leaving a nun was also leaving! We retraced our steps around the Nonnberggasse and found a stairway back down to the river level, and from there it was easy to find our way back across the water and to the station.
It was a long day but it was well worth going out of our way to see the sites. My sister and I have re-watched the movie since that day, and seing the same scenery certainly added a whole new dimension! As we had use-it-or-lose-it Eurail passes and packed our own lunches, the day cost us almost nothing: just the luggage locker fees! In contrast to the costly organized tours we had no time limit at each place and didn't have to vie for photo spots. The bus tours usually take you out to the scene of the mansion and the lake, but we were happy to miss these.
Hope this helps you plan an amazing day out in Salzburg!