Sofia De Vera combines a heartfelt passion for cinema with over 15 years of critiquing for esteemed film publications, wielding academic credentials from the University of Southern California and New York University, to serve as your personal guide through the enchanting worlds of film and television.
Today we are going to talk about some great movies set in Austria. And when compiling such a list two titles immediately come to mind. Arguably the most globally famous film that was shot in Austria, The Sound Of Music (1965), Carol Reed’s and Graham Greene’s Oscar-winning film, The Third Man (1949).
While those and a lot of other classic films were shot in Austria back in the day, the last few years locations like Salzburg, Vienna, and the Alps have again attracted various Hollywood productions. While dramatic natural filming locations like Hawaii, New Zealand, and Australia have long tempted directors, Austria is currently expericing a film renaissance of its own.
Filled with gloriously picturesque Alpine towns like Hallstatt, Imperial marvels like Schönbrunn Palace, and the many (many, many) wonders of Vienna we can’t say we are surprised. And for those who can’t travel to Austria currently – or are considering a trip there – these movies set in Austria will provide the perfect that sublime dose of wanderlust that comes with travel via cinema.
With so many great classic and blockbuster films set here, however, just be sure not to overdose with an all weekend Netflix binge. Or do – we always thought moderation was overrated anyway.
So off we go with our list of ten (actually thirteen) movies set in Austria…
Wondering where to watch? It depends on where you live in the world and which streaming services you have. We link to the streaming service we watch on in each case - be it Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, or elsewhere.
You can get one month free of Amazon Prime (or a 6-month trial for students) of Amazon Prime and also get immediate access to FREE Two Day shipping, Amazon Video, and Music. While you won't be charged for your free trial, you'll be upgraded to a paid membership plan automatically at the end of the trial period - though if you have already binged all these, you could just cancel before the trial ends.
Apple TV+ also has a one-week trial, and Hulu has a one-month trial (which can be bundled with Disney!). Another option might be using a VPN to access Netflix titles locked to other regions. Netflix is now available in more than 190 countries worldwide and each country has a different library and availability. US Netflix is (understandably) one of the best.
While we wish everything could just be in one place - for now, it seems these are the best streaming platforms to watch on.
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is an American film directed by Christopher McQuarrie and starring Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg and Rebecca Ferguson. The film is the fifth in the franchise of films based on the television series of the same name.
The film once again revolves around secret agent Ethan Hunt (Cruise) who is out in the cold after the disbandment of the IMF. But soon a new threat called the Syndicate emerges. This is a network of highly skilled operatives that want to establish a new world order via an escalating series of terrorist attacks. Faced with what may be the most impossible mission yet, Ethan gathers his team and joins forces with disavowed British agent Ilsa Faust (Ferguson) to counterstrike against the Syndicate.
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation takes place in many locations around the world, like England, Washington DC, Kuala Lumpur, and yes; Vienna. The Vienna scenes take place, and were shot at the Vienna State Opera, wherein the movie the Chancellor of Austria is attending a performance of Turandot.
The shooting of these scenes was quite a challenge. The Opernring, which is a section of the Vienna Ring Road, a circular grand boulevard that serves as a ring road around the historic Innere Stadt (Inner Town) district of Vienna, had to be closed down for both traffic and public transport for four nights, from sunset till sunrise.
Some streets next to the State Opera also had to be closed for shooting. The production was supported by Film Location Austria (FISA), which offers formal filming incentives of up to 25% for shoots that spend at least five days on location in Austria.
While the State Opera was the only Austrian location used, it put a big spotlight on it globally. And it was so gloriously showcased that it earned Rogue Nation a spot as one of the best movies filmed in Austria.
Spectre is an American film and the twenty-fourth film in the James Bond series. It was directed by Sam Mendes and stars Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, and Christoph Waltz. A cryptic message from his past sends James Bond (Craig) on a rogue mission to Mexico City where he meets the beautiful and forbidden widow of an infamous criminal. Bond infiltrates a secret meeting and learns of the existence of the sinister organization named Spectre.
As is usual in James Bond films, Spectre takes the viewer through a lot of cities in different countries. Shooting for these movies was done in the United Kingdom, Italy, Morocco, Mexico, and of course Austria, which we will be focusing on for this article. In the movie Bond follows his old adversary, Mr. White, across Europe to Austria, and the towering snowy Austrian landscapes featured in that section of the film are enough to make us want to book a ticket. It is also nice to see Switzerland does not have a monopoly on evil villain mountain hideouts.
The lake surrounded by mountains Bond crosses by boat is Lake Altaussee, located at the spa town Altaussee in the district of Liezen, beneath the Loser Plateau. Later on, Bond visits the Hoffler Klinik, which is actually the five-star hotel Das Central, located atop the Gaislachkogel in Sölden. It has to be one of the most iconic James Bond filming locations you can actually visit and stay at (except maybe Skyfall in Scotland…)! In the last Austrian scenes of the film Bond’s aircraft crashes through a wooden hut in Obertilliach, a municipality in the district of Lienz, in the state of Tyrol.
If you are in the area and want to visit the hut don’t bother, because it was built specifically for the film and is no longer there.
The Three Musketeers is an Austrian-American action/comedy film directed by Stephen Herek and written by David Loughery. It stars Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland, Chris O’Donnell and Rebecca De Mornay.
The film is somewhat based on the novel Les Trois Mousquetaires by Alexandre Dumas published in 1844. The movie tells the story of D’Artagnan (O’Donnell) who travels to Paris hoping to become one of the French king’s elite bodyguards called musketeers. Once he arrives however he discovers that the corps has been disbanded by a conniving Cardinal who secretly hopes to usurp the throne. But three other musketeers refuse to lay down their weapons and continue to protect their king. D’Artagnan joins with these rogues to expose Richelieu’s plot against the crown.
The Three Musketeers was shot mainly in Austria, with some additional shooting being done in Cornwall, a small village in the United Kingdom. The film opens with the evil Cardinal Richelieu arriving at the ‘Parisian’ dungeons by boat on an underground lake. This was filmed at the Seegrotte, the underground lake in Hinterbrühl, southwest of Vienna that you can visit on a day trip.
Other Austrian locations that can be seen in the movie are the Hofburg Palace (Neue Burg), located in Vienna’s city center, The Musketeer’s headquarters which was actually Petronell castle, a castle located in Petronell-Carnuntum, Windmühle Retz, the only fully functional windmill left in Austria and the small village Perchtoldsdorf, located in the Austrian state of Lower Austria, which in the movie stood in for Paris.
Season of the Witch is an American supernatural adventure film directed by Dominic Sena and starring Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman. The film is about a knight named Behman (Cage), whose faith is broken by many years of fighting in the Crusades when he decides to return to Europe. Once there he finds it ravaged by the Black Plague.
A dying cardinal orders Behman and his friend, Felson (Perlman), to transport an accused witch to a remote abbey, where monks will take away her powers and end the pestilence. As Behman and five comrades start their dangerous journey, they come to realize that the prisoner is no ordinary girl, and dark evil forces await at the destination.
Season of the Witch was shot on location in Austria, Croatia, and Hungary. The production crew went on a tour of Europe searching for the perfect locations and one of the key issues was to find a suitable medieval castle. Ultimately they chose the fairytale-like Austrian Kreuzenstein castle, located about 20 km north from Vienna, above the Danube Valley.
The shooting was also done at Loser Mountain, which is among the most prominent landmarks of the Ausseerland. Locally it is also known as the Ausseer Ohrwaschl (Aussee Ear) because of its shape. Other Austrian locations include the Totes Gebirge, a group of mountains that are part of the Northern Limestone Alps, the Seewaldsee lake, Innsbruck, a medieval city in southwestern Austria, and in Salzburg, the fourth-largest city in Austria.
A Dangerous Method is a historical film directed by David Cronenberg and starring Michael Fassbender, Viggo Mortensen, and Keira Knightley. The movie is set in 1904 where a Russian woman named Sabina Spielrein (Knightley) arrives at Carl Jung’s (Fassbender) clinic, seeking treatment for hysteria.
Jung is eager to test Sigmund Freud’s (Mortensen) theories on Sabina and is able to successfully treat her. Jung and Sabina meet Freud in person two years later, and Jung takes over the treatment of Otto Gross, whose influence leads Jung to begin an affair with Sabina, which leads to a rift with Freud.
A Dangerous Method was largely shot on location in Vienna at places like the Belvedere Castle and Sigmund Freud’s actual house, which is today the Sigmund Freud Museum. Even Freud’s real desk was used for the film. Jung used to work and study on the shores of Lake Zürichsee, but when filming there turned out to be impossible because of the modern architecture, the production decided to shoot those scenes at Lake Bodensee instead.
It has the perfect architecture for the period because of its history as a cultural hub and being one of the largest bodies of freshwater in Europe. Other Austrian locations that were used in the movie were Café Sperl located in Vienna and Mölker Bastion, a bastion of the former Vienna city fortifications which existed from 1531 to 1871.
Large portions of the film were also shot in various locations and film studios in Germany – but we think it would be unfair to the Austrians to consider it a movie filmed in Germany.
Before Sunrise is a romantic drama film directed by Richard Linklater and co-written by Linklater and Kim Krizan, starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. The film revolves around the American Jesse (Hawke) who is on his way by train to Vienna when he meets Celine (Delpy), a student returning to Paris.
A series of long conversations forge a surprising connection between them, and Jesse convinces Celine to get off the train with him in Vienna. Jesse’s flight to the United States departs the next morning and because he has no money for lodging, he and Celine wander the city together, taking in the experiences of both Vienna and each other. As the night progresses, their newly found bond make separating in the morning a difficult choice.
A long list of Vienna landmarks can be seen in this film, to many to list them all actually, so we will focus on the main ones. The starting point for Jesse’s and Celine’s Viennese night is the Wien Westbahnhof (Vienna West Station). At one point they visit the poignant Friedhof der Namenlosen (Cemetery of the Nameless), a small graveyard in which unidentified bodies retrieved from the Danube Canal were buried between the years 1900 and 1935.
The duo later ride one of Vienna’s most famous attractions, The Giant Ferris Wheel called Wiener Riesenrad, located at the western end of Prater Park. Some scenes were shot at Maria am Gestade, a 15th-century Gothic church, and at Teuchtler Schallplattenhandlung, a well-stocked record store.
As stated these are only a few of the many Vienna locations which can be seen throughout the film. And if you do plan on visit some, or all of them, you will find out a lot of these locations are not as near to each other, or easily reachable as the movie suggests. Still, much like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in Chicago, many like to recreate their own tour of Vienna based around the film and this is something I would certainly recommend.
The Sissi Trilogy is a series of three films by Austrian director Ernst Marischka. The films are a romanticized version of the life of Empress Elisabeth of Austria and Hungary who lived between 1837 – 1898).
The trilogy consists of the following films: Sissi (1955), Sissi – Die junge Kaiserin (1957) and Sissi – Schicksalsjahre einer Kaiserin (1957). The films are among some of the most-watched German-language films of all time. In German-speaking regions, 20 to 25 million people came to see the films in the cinema. The films were the breakthrough success for lead actress Romy Schneider who played the title role.
Large parts of all three movies were shot in Austria, and a lot of Austrian landmarks can be spotted throughout the films. Among them are Schloss Fuschl, a castle near Salzburg, Schönbrunn Palace (beautiful spring) a former summer residence located in Hietzing, Vienna, Saint Michael’s Church, one of the oldest churches in Vienna, Innsbruck, a medieval city in southwestern Austria, and the Rosenhügel film studios located in Vienna.
Some scenes of the first movie in the trilogy were also shot in Venice, Italy.
Woman in Gold is a British-American drama film directed by Simon Curtis and starring Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds and Daniel Brühl. The film had its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2015.
The movie tells the true story of Jewish Maria Altmann (Mirren) who had to flee to the United States after the Nazis had occupied her hometown Vienna in 1938. About 50 years later, in the 1990s, Altmann lives a simple life as a widowed shopkeeper in Cheviot Hills, Los Angeles. When her sister passes away she discovers several letters about the five beautiful paintings her wealthy Jewish family once owned and that were stolen by the Nazis.
One of the paintings shows Altmann’s aunt Adele Bloch-Bauer, also known as ‘The Woman in Gold’, painted by the famous Viennese artist Gustav Klimt. Altmann decides she wants to get back what is rightfully hers and remind the people of today of the horrendous injustices that the European Jews suffered under the Nazis. She hires a young lawyer and family friend Randy Schoenberg (Reynolds) to try to get the paintings back.
The film is set, and was shot, in both Los Angeles and Vienna. A lot of Vienna landmarks can be spotted in the film, among them The Giant Ferris Wheel called Wiener Riesenrad, St. Ulrichsplatz, Hotel Sacher, Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna’s City Hall, Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial, and the Vienna State Opera.
A full day of shooting in the City Hall of Vienna where scenes from the Nazi era were shot proved to be quite the undertaking. Because the administration as well as the citizens had to be informed in detail and even done as properly as this, as you can imagine, was a very sensitive issue.
The scenes taking place at Vienna Airport were actually filmed in the United Kingdom inside Brighton City Airport, while other scenes were also shot in London.
The Third Man is a British film noir directed by Carol Reed and starring Joseph Cotten, Orson Welles, and Alida Valli. The screenplay was written by Graham Greene.
The film is about a third-rate American pulp novelist Holly Martins (Cotten) who arrives in post-war Vienna, where he has been promised a job by his old friend Harry Lime (Welles). But when he arrives Martins discovers that Lime was involved in a traffic accident and died. At the funeral, Martins learns his friend is not dead at all and another man is lying in the coffin.
The Third Man was shot during the late 1940s in Vienna, which is the capital of Austria. At that time Vienna looked pretty much as one would expect, having yet to rise from the ashes of aerial bombings and the 1945 battle to liberate the city. Most of the iconic locations from The Third Man still exist today, but a lot of them look very different now.
Many of Vienna’s famous landmarks appear throughout the film, though often in a very bad state as a result of the war. Some of these include a skeletal Stephansdom cathedral, still to be rebuilt after fire damage, the Beethoven statue, the Strauss memorial, The Giant Ferris Wheel called Wiener Riesenrad, the top of the parliament building, the Schönbrunn Palace, Upper Belvedere palace, and the Hoher Markt square with its distinctive Vermählungsbrunnen fountain.
The Reichsbrücke, which is German for ‘Imperial Bridge’, that can be spotted in the film, collapsed in 1976, luckily claiming only one life because it happened very early in the morning. The bridge was rebuild and opened again in 1980.
If you plan on visiting Vienna and some of these locations, there is an actual The Third Man tour. Unfortunately because of a certain global crisis that we won’t name, all tours have ceased at the moment and the current plan is for the tours to start up again in 2022.
The Sound of Music is a musical film directed by Robert Wise based on the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, starring Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer and Eleanor Parker.
The film was nominated for ten Academy Awards and won five, including those for best picture and best director. The story revolves around widower Captain Von Trapp, who runs his household near Salzburg as tightly as the naval ship he once led. This changes, however, when the new nanny Maria, who has failed as a nun, arrives.
She dances through the hills inspiring everyone to sing and to see beauty in the smallest things. When the captain throws a party to introduce his new fiancé, Maria knows for sure: a life as a nun is not intended for her. She marries the captain, but when the German / Nazi overlords want the captain back into military service, their newfound happiness is jeopardized.
The Sound of Music was shot in lots of real locations around Salzburg and on the 20th Century-Fox studios in Hollywood. The beautiful opening aerial shots are Salzburg’s Lake District, the Salzkammergut. The castles seen are Kloster Höglwörth, an old monastery on a peninsula in Höglwörther See, and Schloss Anif, located a few miles south of Salzburg. Other well-known landmarks that can be spotted in the movie are Mirabell Palace & Mirabell Garden. It’s in the garden where Maria and the children dance around the fountain singing ‘Do-Re-Mi’. The Pegasus fountain next to the 17th-century palace is also seen in the movie.
The Salzburg Residence Square is the heart of the old city center and it’s where Maria sings ‘I have confidence’ while on her way to the Trapp family home. The Baroque Frohnburg Palace is also featured in the film. It is where Maria arrives after dancing along the Hellbrunn Alley to meet the von Trapps for the first time.
There is an actual tour called ‘The Original Sound of Music Tour’ which takes tourists to all the settings of the movie but also to the main cultural attractions of the region. This tour was born when tourists in Salzburg first began asking about The Sound of Music locations after the movie’s release back in 1965. It’s a must-see for every The Sound of Music fanatic on vacation in Salzburg.
And with this famous addition, we will conclude our list of the best movies set in Austria. And we expect many more great films to be shot there in the future because the Austrian government has taken many measures to make sure their country is open for film productions. They want to be able to offer them as many opportunities as possible and understand how important cinema can be in inspired future travel plans.
This is something we understand well after compiling this list, and are already dreaming of staying in the old-world hotels of Vienna and hiking in Austria while singing to our heart’s content. We hope watching some of these great flicks will inspire you to one day make the trip to Austria and visit some of these famous locations or take the organized tours.
Watching some of these movies set in Austria will make sure you are halfway on your way there already.