Mountains, Castles and The Sound of Music – Day Trip to Werfen from Salzburg
When travelling to Austria, there are usually two popular places – Vienna and Salzburg. The latter is not only famous for its beautiful scenery but also for being the filming location of the movie “Sound of Music”.
When you prepare your trip to Salzburg, you will come across many websites advertising “Sound of Music Tours” taking you to all the locations of the movie. I came across one by accident – a beautiful spot overlooking the mountains and a castle. A scenery which is “just like in the movies” and I found out that The Sound of Music is not the only movie set in Werfen.
In this article I share my day in Werfen and my walk up the castle and to the Sound of Music Trail. I think it is a great alternative to the organized bus tours. Furthermore, I involved activities and sights for those in your travel group who are not only interested in the movie. Werfen is easily accessible from Salzburg and definitely worth a visit – even if you are not crazy about Sound of Music.
Austrians and “The Sound of Music”
Aired in 1964 and starring Julie Andrews, The Sound of Music is incredibly famous abroad. However, only a few Austrians have seen the movie. And when we do, we mostly end up not liking it because it sells a very stereotypical image of Austria. (I wrote about Austrians and their view on Sound of Music in my Monday Postcard #142.) Nevertheless, the tourism industry discovered the opportunity and has advertised Salzburg with the movie for decades.
I first saw the movie when a friend from New Zealand literally forced me to watch it. “Your name is like Liesl, you have to watch it.” Since then, whenever I come across Sound of Music, I share the pictures with her and many other international friends who love the movie.
What I Did on My Day in Werfen
As a child, I went to the Hohenwerfen Castle to watch the birds of prey show and visit the nearby limestone and ice cave (Eisriesenwelt).
On my most recent trip to Werfen, I went for a walk up to the castle. On my way down on the other side of the mountain, I decided to explore the village. When I checked the map, I discovered that I was relatively near to the “Sound of Music Trail”. I figured that I was already out exploring, why not check it out?
I walked up a steep road called “Schartenbergstraße” – I am from the flat part of Austria, locals probably hike up there effortlessly. It took me about 25 minutes to reach the plateau. Alternatively, you can also drive up there. There are spots on the side of the road where you can park your car. When I was there, it is very quiet. But I think this was due to travel bans. I guess in “non-Covid-19-times”, it can be quite crowded. Hence, I recommend parking in the village and walking up.
The walk up was very beautiful. It is through the forest and I passed by two small waterfalls and you can see the Hohenwerfen Castle most of the time. Just before you reach the Sound of Music viewing point, you can enter a small trail on the right which leads you to a small lake. I definitely recommend to check it out too.
Salzburgerland.com, a tourism websites, advertise an alternative trail:
- Head to the tourist office/Brennhof Werfen
- Start of the trail (entrance gate)
- Magic Cube
- Plateau next to pond where you will find benches to sit and relax
- Musical player roll
- Gschwandtanger: Plateau where the picnic scene from Sound of Music was filmed.
As I only discovered the Sound of Music viewing point by accident, I walked up along the road and not via this trail. I only discovered it when I did the research for this article. I guess this trail is even more scenic as you do not walk along the road.
The viewing point is up the Gschwandtanger and is surrounded by a fence which you cannot miss. It allows you beautiful views of the mountains, the Werfen village, the Hohenwerfen Castle and the Salzach River and Salzach Valley.
It is the place where two scenes were filmed: The first is when Maria von Trapp taught the children the “Do-Re-Mi” song. The second is the picnic scene. The location is frequently being referred to as the most famous of all the filming spots due to the scenic view with Hohenwerfen Castle and the mountains in the background.
Even though it is famous for Sound of Music, Werfen was also the host of another movie: In “Where Eagles Dare” (1968), Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton conquer the castle. Hohenwerfen Castle was called “Schloss Adler” in the movie.
Things to Do in Werfen in Addition to the Sound of Music Trail
May – September: daily, 9.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.
13 July – 14 August: daily, 9.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m.
1 October – 8 November: Tue – Sun, 9.30 a.m. – 4.00 p.m. (Mondays are closed, except holidays)
A regular ticket is EUR 16 (about USD 19) including the funicular ride.
Until end of September 2020, there is a promotional special: children can visit for free (2 children per adult)
Check the website for guided tours and falconry shows.
Due to Covid-19, masks have to be worn in indoor rooms and lifts.
Dogs are welcome on a leash.
The Eisriesenwelt is a limestone and ice cave which is really impressive.
The cave is currently closed, I will update the opening times as soon as it re-opens.
A regular ticket including the funicular is EUR 29 (about USD 34), cave access without funicular is EUR 14 (about USD 16), concessions available
If you come by car, there is a paved, toll-free access road leading to the parking area.
The town of Werfen is very beautiful and definitely worth exploring as well. In the centre there are some small shops. I really enjoyed the “typical” Alpine architecture and the beautiful gardens and flower décor. Visit the church and the small chapel.
Where is Werfen and How to Get There
Werfen is about an hour from Salzburg. Hence, it is perfect for a day trip. There are direct train connections from Salzburg Hauptbahnhof (the main train station). If you take a “REX”-train, it takes 40 minutes from Salzburg to Werfen, with the S-Bahn it takes 54 minutes. A return ticket is EUR 18 (about USD 21).
Map of My Walk in Werfen
My walk and all the sights and walking points are marked for you in my map below. I hope you enjoy the walk!
All information as of the date of publishing/updating and based on the personal visit of Elisabeth Steiger, the information available at the sights and the official websites of Hohenwerfen Castle, Eisriesenwelt, salzburgerland.com and OEBB (Austrian railway company). We cannot accept responsibility for the correctness or completeness of the data, or for ensuring that it is up to date. All recommendations are based on the personal experience of Elisabeth Steiger, no fees were received by the recommended places above.