With an array of things to do in South Tyrol, a holiday here has something for everyone. Those who like an active holiday can go here to experience some of the spectacular Dolomites hiking trails and climbing enthusiasts will also get their money's worth. And if you’re looking for tranquillity and cultural sights, then you are also in the right place here: relax at the thermal baths in Merano, a popular spa town. And to top it off, the pleasant climate and tasty cuisine ensure South Tyrol has the perfect mix for a fantastic holiday.
South Tyrol is the northernmost province in Italy and borders Tyrol in Austria. Bolzano is the capital of this province.
The region has more than 500,000 inhabitants and three languages are spoken: Italian, German and Ladin, a language that is part of the Rhaeto-Romance subgroup.
South Tyrol is very mountainous because of its location in the Dolomites. In summer, the region is therefore very popular with people who love climbing or hiking in the Dolomites.
Besides Bolzano, Merano (or Meran) is also one of the most popular cities in the area.
South Tyrol Climate
South Tyrol has a maritime climate and a continental climate. In winter, the temperature is around zero degrees Celcius. In the summer months it is between 20 and 25 degrees. And of course it will be cooler when you’re hiking high up in the Dolomites. Winter brings a lot of snow to the region, making it an excellent area for skiing.
The mild climate means that the region is home to conifers as well as cacti, palm trees and olive trees.
The mild temperatures and the many hours of sunshine have made the area around Merano a popular destination as a health resort for centuries. Spa Merano was known for the healing properties of its air.
Travelling to South Tyrol
It is easy to get to South Tyrol by car, it is just over 1000 km from Amsterdam and Brussels.
It is also easy to reach South Tyrol by air. The choice of airports includes Innsbruck, Verona, Munich, Milan, or Venice.
Rent a car when you arrive so you can explore the region extensively.
Choose Bolzano as the final destination when travelling by train. There are direct trains from Munich to the capital of South Tyrol.
Staying in South Tyrol
Hotel in Schenna
As there is a lot to experience in and around Merano, it is best to look for a hotel in this region.
Hotel Hiburger in Schenna
When you stay at this luxurious 4-star hotel in Schenna you can just sense that it is run by a family. This Dolomites hotel is located in sun-drenched Schenna, a few kilometres Spa Merano.
From hotel Hilburger you can walk straight into the mountains or, if you prefer, the centre of cosy Schenna.
The hotel has an indoor and outdoor pool, a well-equipped wellness centre (so you don't even have to go to Merano) and an excellent restaurant. The rooms are spacious and comfortably furnished. You can enjoy beautiful views of the countryside and the Dolomites all around.
Holidays in South Tyrol
There are many things to do during your holiday in the Dolomites in South Tyrol. In addition to the Dolomites, there are the fantastic thermal baths in Spa Meran. So definitely spend a day in a Meran wellness centre. But be sure to visit some beautiful castles and other sights as well.
10 Best Things to do in South Tyrol
1. Dolomites hiking
There are 220 km of Dolomites hiking trails at different heights and levels of difficulty in the area around Schenna and Merano. There is also 180 km of marked cycle paths.
Meraner Höhenweg mountain hiking trail
This 100 km long trail is one of the most beautiful hiking trails in the Alps. Excellent for a multi-day hike, but you can also choose to hike only part of the route during a daytrip.
This Dolomites hike will take you around the Texelgruppe Nature Park. The area is rather bare on the north side, but there is much more vegetation on the south side.
To take the Meraner Höhenweg hike, follow the signs with number 24. Please note: this challenging hike is not for beginners.
Spronser Seen mountain hike
This walk will take you past the ten Spronser lakes. Walking experience and good fitness are indispensable for this Dolomites hike. Moreover, you should not be afraid of heights. But the view at the top is truly amazing.
From Taseralm to Ifingerhut
This hike is just over 8 km long. You climb from 800 metres to over 1800 metres so it is a tough climb. However, you should be able to complete it in 4 hours.
Follow the signs with number 18 from the mountain station of the Taser chairlift. You will walk through a beautiful, wooded area and will encounter some lodges for a short pit stop.
Obervinschgau is an hour's drive from Merano. It is the location for more than 100 km of hiking trails. Less experienced hikers and families will have a great day here, but even experienced hikers will be in their element. Children will undoubtedly have fun exploring the interactive nature installations you will encounter along the way.
Alta Badia Hike
Alta Badia is another starting point for a hike in the Dolomites. A walk through beautiful scenery will bring you from one picturesque village to the next. There are many Dolomites hiking options, from a leisurely walk to tough multi-day hikes.
As an added bonus: if you walk in Alta Badia during sunrise or sunset, you will witness a spectacular natural phenomenon: enrosadira or “alpen glow”. This phenomenon causes the mountains turn pale yellow, red and purple. Magnificent!
Gastronomes will also enjoy their time here, as they serve delicious dishes in the mountain lodges.
2. Cycling in South Tyrol
South Tyrol guarantees fantastic cycling routes. Whether it is a relaxed ride with an e-bike or a difficult trek on a mountain bike, there is something to do in South Tyrol for every cyclist.
Val Pusteria Cycle Path
This road through Puster Valley is the connection between South Tyrol (Italy) and East Tyrol (Austria). You will cycle through picturesque villages with impressive mountains to the left and to the right. You can choose to cycle only part of the route, or you can do a multi-day cycling tour of the area. Another option is to cycle part of it and return to your starting place by train.
Val d'Ega Cycle Paths
Val d’Ega (Eggental) is located 20 minutes from Bolzano and 30 minutes from Merano. Here you will find kilometres-long cycling paths amid impressive mountains, fabulous lakes, and charming villages. There are lots of mountain lodges where you can enjoy a delicious lunch.
You can do a cycling trail with a guide, but it is also very easy to go out by yourself.
3. Paragliding in Merano
Have you always dreamed of soaring over mountain tops? There are several starting points for paragliding on the plateau above Merano. Contact one of the clubs in Schenna and book a tandem flight.
4. Golfing in Schenna and surrounding area
You will not find such a large concentration of golf courses anywhere else in Europe as here in the Schenna area. Golf school Passeier - Merano offers a variety of courses you can book. Beginners will learn the basics and more experienced golfers can refine their technique.
4. Taste the delicious cuisine of South Tyrol
South Tyrol is Austria with an Italian sauce. Mountain lodges are not the only place with lovely food; there are also many top restaurants that will serve you delicious dishes.
Try the Restaurant Hohenwart in Schenna, for example. They serve South Tyrolean and Italian dishes. And Castel Rundegg in Merano is also recommended.
A few more you shouldn't miss: Trattoria Flora, Hasen Jos, and Restaurant Sissi.
If you are near Merano in the autumn, you should definitely try “Törggelen”. Many places will provide the opportunity to taste roasted chestnuts and the first young wine. A true South Tyrolean tradition.
5. Tyrol Castle in Merano
Tyrol Castle or Schloss Tirol is one of the most important sights in Merano and therefore a must-see during your holiday in South Tyrol.
The construction of the castle, which coincidentally gave its name to the region, started in the 11th century. Over the next nine centuries, sections of it were regularly destroyed and added.
You can enjoy beautiful views of the region from the grounds.
There is a special programme for children, so you can be sure that they will enjoy themselves too.
6. Schenna Castle
Schenna Castle or Schloss Schenna was built around 1350 and is one of the most impressive castles in South Tyrol. That means this is another must-see during your holiday in the Dolomites.
The castle is still decorated with the original furniture and there are many paintings by famous painters from the region.
The chapel is Schenna's mausoleum. The special architecture and the abundant light make a visit to this neo-gothic chapel absolutely worthwhile.
7. Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle in Merano
Not only can you enjoy the abundant plants and flowers in this 12-hectare botanical garden, it also provides spectacular views of the region.
The grounds are divided into more than 80 gardens with plants from around the world. It is therefore one of the most important sights in Merano and one of the top things to do.
You will not only find plants and flowers, but also rabbits, goats, sheep, parrots, snakes, butterflies, and much more. If you are in Merano with kids, they will certainly appreciate this attraction.
8. Ötzi, the Iceman
Ötzi is the oldest human body ever found in Europe. He was discovered by chance in the Ötztal in 1991. The body was so well preserved that it was initially thought to be a missing skier. However, it later turned out to be the body of a man who lived more than 5,000 years ago.
Ötzi is located at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano. An absolute one of the top things to do in South Tyrol.
9. Messner Mountain Museum
The Messner Mountain Museum is spread over six different locations in Italy. It was founded by Reinhold Messner, a mountaineer. “Man's encounter with mountains” is the theme for the six museums.
One of the museums is in the Sigmundskron Castle in Bolzano. Here you will learn everything about geology, but also about the religious bond between people and mountains and about the history of mountain climbing.
10. Spa in Merano
Merano (or Meran) is known for its thermal baths and has been a real spa town since the 19th century. Empress Sisi came here from 1870 and other nobles quickly followed suit.
In Therme Meran you can treat yourself to a fantastic spa and wellness experience in a bright architectural cube of glass and steel. Of course it offers all the standard treatments, but you can also opt for a wine bath or sheep wool treatment. Or take a milk whey bath, just like Empress Sisi.
Thanks to its centuries-long tradition, the thermal baths of Merano are among the most important sights in this region. A day of wellness in a Spa in Merano should definitely be on the programme.
South Tyrol on the map
On this map you will find the most important cities from this blog post: Bolzano (Bozen), Schenna, and Merano (Meran)
Are you ready for a trip to South Tyrol? Did we miss some of the best things to do in South Tryol? And why would you go? Hiking in Dolomites, Spa in Merano or visit many of the things to do in Merano?
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