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Top 5 Musical Adventures in Salzburg, Austria

Situated in the north of Austria close to the German border, the UNESCO World Heritage listed city of Salzburg has a rich musical history. It’s the birthplace of Mozart, and visitors to the city can visit both the house where he was bornand the apartment where he lived as an adult and wrote some of his most famous works. Salzburg has been a destination for music lovers for centuries; after World War I, the city launched an arts festival as a celebration of peace. For six weeks each summer, with the stunning Baroque architecture of the town as a backdrop, the city becomes a stage for plays, concerts, and opera performances, many of which take place in Salzburg’s world-famous theaters and concert halls.

Mozart’s apartment – the small house where he wrote The Magic Flute (left). Mozart’s house (right) Photos by Lucy Morgan.

One of Salzburg’s slightly less highbrow but still extremely popular musical associations is The Sound of Music, the 1965 film starring Julie Andrews. This musical masterpiece follows the story of a young nun, Maria, who is sent to help a handsome widower with his very large family. Set in the city of Salzburg and showcasing its surrounding lakes and mountains, the film became a global success—the love story, unforgettable songs, and beautiful film locations have captivated movie-goers and made it a true generational classic.

The gazebo featured in The Sound of Music. Photo by Lucy Morgan.

Next year will mark the 60th anniversary of the heartwarming romantic film, so here are five ways to enjoy Salzburg inspired by The Sound of Music. Prepare to experience this historic part of Austria, singing as you go.

Mirabell gardens. Photo by Lucy Morgan.

Take a luxury coach tour through the countryside to discover stunning film locations.

Climb aboard a comfortable coach in downtown Salzburg in the company of a knowledgeable guide. Embark on afour-hour journey through the city and countryside around Salzburg to explore some of the most famous locations used in the movie. Visit the gazebo, located in the garden of the imposing Hellbrunn Palace, which was the site of the “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” duet. The tour passes through some extraordinary vistas—think clear lakes and soaring mountains—on the way to a fairytale town, Mondsee, which was the film location for Maria and Captain Von Trapp’s wedding. End the tour back in the city center at the beautiful Mirabell Palace and Gardens, where Maria teaches the Von Trapp children to sing “Do Re Mi.”

Mondsee church, where Maria and Captain von Trapp marry (top). Sound of Music coach tour (bottom). Photos by Lucy Morgan.

During the coach journey, join in the fun and sing along to some of the most famous songs (music and lyrics provided). If your voice gets tired, check out the onboard bar serving soft drinks, beer, and sparkling wine.

Learn to make one of Maria’s favorite things—a crisp apple strudel—at an Austrian cooking class.

Put on an apron, roll up your sleeves, and learn to make some of Salzburg’s famous culinary treats. Named after the national flower of Austria (and another iconic song from the film), Edelweiss cooking school hosts fun and informative English-language cooking lessons. Work with paper-thin pastry, sliced apples, raisins, and spices to create the dessert that Maria put on the map in “My Favorite Things,” Austria’s delicious crisp apple strudel. Under the tutelage of a trained chef and working in pairs, students learn the art of making this famous pastry along with another local specialty, the Salzburger Nockerl, a soufflé-like confection. After all that delicate pastry work, sit down to a lunch of goulash, a traditional meat stew, followed by the chance to taste the cooking class creations as they emerge fresh from the oven.

Cycle path. Photo by Lucy Morgan.

Follow the cast’s example and take a bike ride through stunning scenery.

Although Salzburg is surrounded by high snow-capped mountains, the city itself is surprisingly accommodating for cyclists. The many safe and flat paths make biking an excellent form of transportation to get around the city. In the movie, Maria and the children take a bike ride around a lake—consider that your inspiration to explore the broad and beautiful Salzach, a river flanked by peaceful shaded bike paths, sometimes shared with pedestrians and the occasional motor vehicle. Take it easy on an e-bike, or keep it old-school on a traditional bike at your choice of bike rental locations

Mozart bridge. Photo by Lucy Morgan.

Don’t forget to cross the river via the stunning Art Nouveau metal Mozart Bridge, featured in the movie when Maria and the children make their way to Mirabell Gardens. 

Salzburger Heimatwerk. Photos courtesy of Salzburger Heimatwerk.

Get into character at a fashion atelier that preserves the art of Dirndl making.

“Girls in white dresses, with blue satin sashes” trills Maria as she vocalizes her now-iconic list of favorite things, which includes one of the most beautiful crafts in Salzburgerland region: needlework. The best place to see examples of it is Salzburger Heimatwerk, located in Residenzplatz in the heart of the historic old town.

This is a workshop and boutique that preserves the historic art of Dirndl-making—think traditional bodices, skirts, blouses, and aprons, hand-finished and suitable for social occasions. In an upstairs studio, expert tailors restore vintage garments as well as hand-stitch and embroider bespoke pieces to create fabric works of art. These stunning outfits have a high price tag but are classics that will last a lifetime. There’s a section featuring traditional deerskin Lederhosen and tailored jackets, too.

Aerial views od Salzburg. Photos by Tiffany Chuang (left), and Josh Hild (right).

Enjoy one of Salzburg’s heritage treasures—the Marionette theater—for a truly unique Sound of Music experience.

One of the most joyful scenes in the movie is when Maria and the children stage a puppet performance involving goats and yodeling to entertain Captain Von Trapp and his guests. Marionette theater, also known as puppet theater, has been listed as part of Salzburg’s intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO, recognizing its important place in the city. 

Salzburg general view. Photo by Lucy Morgan.

Within Salzburg’s famous fortress, there’s an excellent museum documenting the art of puppetry. But for a true Sound of Music experience, visit the stunning Marionette Theatre in the town center and take in a puppet stage version of the musical. Traditional puppets have 12 strings to allow for a great range of lifelike movement and expression, and puppeteers manipulate the models from a platform six feet above the theater stage as the puppets perform to an audience.

Sound of Music film location lake. Photo by Lucy Morgan.

Pro tips for your visit: Book your stay in a former palace right in the center of town, and invest in a Salzburg card to enjoy free transportation and entrance to Salzburg’s must-see attractions.

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