Ski slopes and Mediterranean flair, rustic villages and Italian chic, rugged peaks and fertile valleys. Whether you are looking for a family holiday, winter sports or wine-tasting, South Tyrol brings everything together in an area of 7,400 square kilometers and caters to every taste and every season. Here you can experience modern lifestyle alongside old city centers with regional charm. The northernmost province of Italy mirrors Austrian life and culture.
South Tyrol: Most important places and regions at a glance
Südtirol © Schloss Hotel Korb
Vinschgau: hiking paradise, picturesque places and rafting
Below the Reschen Pass lies the Vinschgau, the high valley of the Adige with its rugged beauty. Between the Ötztaler Alps and the Ortler Alps are beautiful hiking trails such as the Vinschger Höhenweg (Alta Via della Val Venosta), which is 108 kilometers in total. In between, picturesque villages and fortresses invite you to explore or take a rest; the Adige is perfect for rafting enthusiasts.
Easy hiking & wildlife: From the source of the Adige river to Juval Castle, the best way to get to know this region is along the Vinscher Höhenweg, otherwise known as the Alta Via della Val Venosta hiking trail (108 km, spread over several stages). In the Stelvio National Park, the highest pass of the Alps awaits, which is nearly 2,800 meters. Here you might be greeted by a marmot, while badgers, weasels, owls, stone eagles and other inhabitants of the mountain world reward the watchful observer – it is a popular destination for animal photographers.
Extreme mountaineering: The highest peak in South Tyrol at almost 4,000 meters above sea level, the Ortler is notorious in the mountaineering scene. But beware, the routes to the summit require more than slip-resistant shoes; the icy north face is the largest of its kind in the eastern Alps. A meander along the numerous hiking trails that overlook high plains, pastures and flower meadows is much more pleasant.
Rafting & skiing (in summer): In a rubber dinghy through frothing tides, adventure enthusiasts will enjoy a rafting trip on the Adige. There are different routes (for example, between Göflan and Latsch), but depending on the situation at different seasons, it is best to ask the tour operators first. The glacier of the Stelvio Pass is also a popular ski and snowboarding area in summer. Visitors who prefers winter holidays can go to one of the other five ski areas in the Vinschgau, for example the Tarscheralm near Latsch.
Picturesque towns: Glurns is a historic gem and the smallest town in South Tyrol with only 870 inhabitants, a medieval city wall and three well-preserved city gates. The surrounding area around Laas is famous for its citrus fruit. In protected areas, the Vinschger Mirabelle plums flourish, which are processed to make countless specialties, from jam to Marillenknödel (Mirabelle dumplings).
Castles, fortresses and art treasures: Churburg Castle (in Schludern), the castles surrounding the town of Laces or the castle of Obermontani, where a manuscript of the Nibelungenlied was found - battlements and towers can be found almost everywhere in the Vinschgau Valley. Many of the sights include special treasures such as the permanent exhibition "Via Claudia Augusta" in the Castle of Kastellbell. The exhibits show the history of the ancient imperial Roman road connecting the Italian Po valley to the southern German Danube Valley. Castle Juval, the residence of Reinhold Messner, is also partially open to the public. Some of the art collections of the record-breaking mountaineer are housed here in the "Messner Mountain Museum" (part of the MMM), including an extensive Tibetan collection.
Archeology: A trip to the archeoParc in Schnals is a must. At the archaeological open-air museum, visitors can immerse themselves in the lifestyle of the people during Ötzis’ times. The mummified man from the ice was found in the Schnalstaler Glacier in 1991 and has enjoyed worldwide fame since. However, Ötzi himself is on display in the South Tyrolean Archeology Museum in Bolzano.
Merano: Fruit plantations, mountain lakes & family holidays
The idyllic countryside of the Merano region offers plenty of space for guests of all ages. The centerpiece is the nature park Texelgruppe, whose secluded pathways, picturesque villages and clear mountain lakes entice visitors away from the madding crowd. Mild climate allow tropical fruits to thrive in many places, whereas the menus of the local farmers’ taverns reflect the diversity of the regional Mediterranean cuisine.
Family hikes and traditional gifts: The area around Merano is the perfect place to cook up a plan so that the entire family will enjoy a hike. For example, regional organizers offer hay or herb tours and walking tours with fairytale themes (enquire at the tourist office or hotel). As an interlude, the traditional courtyard inns and taverns are ideal spots to enjoy a glass of red wine. At the restaurants, Mediterranean cuisine meets traditional Tyrolean dishes: antipasti and steamed noodles are a match made in heaven here.
Mountain lakes: Further northwest, the ten lakes that make up the Sprons nestle in the massif of the Texel group, which at 2,500 meters are some of the highest mountains in the region. Only the very brave will dare to swim here due to cool water temperatures, but the surrounds offer beautiful hiking tours all year around – as well as the possibility to cool hot feet.
Larch forests: If you drive from Meran from the direction of Ultental, you will find a special natural monument after about 20 minutes. The "Ulter Urlärchen" near Sankt Gertraud (1.519 m asl) have been rooted in the region for nearly 1,000 years, making them one of the oldest conifers in Europe and declared a UNESCO World Heritage site for good reason.
Horse riding: Apart from the tourist magnet Merano there are other places worth visiting. For example, Hafling, home of the blond-haired Haflinger horses. The spa hotel MIRAMONTI Boutique Hotel is also located there. In the case of a guided excursion, even inexperienced riders can get along with the good-natured animals.
Eisacktal: Relaxed hiking, St. James’ Way, summer and winter sports
The Stubai Alps in the north, the Dolomites in the south - the Eisack Valley is a popular summer and winter sports resort. Cultural lovers conquer the numerous castles and fortresses; also the offer of leisure activities can be seen (tennis courts and golf courses).
Chestnut trees and hiking: Especially in the spring, when the trees are in full bloom, the Eisack Valley Chestnut Trail offers a special display for nature lovers. Whole chestnut trees line the 60 kilometer route, which has been rated with the difficulty level "easy". Those who can manage the entire route, go from Bressanone to Bolzano. The "Keschte" (chestnut) is a traditional nut here and is often the focus of special gourmet events (The Eisacktal chestnut week).
St. James’ Way: The South Tyrolean section of the Way of St. James is very abstemious. It runs from Lienz (East Tyrol) through the Wipptal up to the Brenner. In the Hospice of the Neustift Abbey, pilgrims are traditionally provided accommodation, meals and medical treatment.
Ski & Tobogganing: Ski- and snowboard fans will be happy on the slopes of the Wipptal (eg the Rosskopf ski area). It is also home to the longest toboggan run in Italy (almost 10 kilometers). If you prefer sitting in the sun, enjoy mulled wine in front of one of the rustic mountain hut stations.
Day Tourists, Culture & Sport in Sterzing: Despite its manageable size (about 6,000 inhabitants), the city of Sterzing in the Wipptal attracts many day tourists. In the former Fuggerstadt, the Middle Ages meets modernity, and the cultural and leisure offer is correspondingly wide. Whether culture (city and fishing museum, cinema, theater), sports (tennis, golf, climbing) or wellness (bathing area Balneum), there is variety for all weather conditions. If you want to stay longer than a day, you can stay at Steindl’s Boutiquehotel. The hotel impresses with its futuristic wooden façade made of sustainable spruce.
Medieval sightseeing & traditions: Those who like to visit fortresses, monasteries and castles can fill a whole holiday in the Eisacktal region. Traces of the Middle Ages can be found on almost every mountain dome (Schloss Rodenegg, Kloster Neustift, Reifenstein Castle). If you’re in the mood to try something different: many crafts companies offer exciting insights, for example the show dairy, Schaukäserei Drei Zinnen, in Toblach or various traditional wood carvings in Ortisei. There you will also find some original souvenirs.
South Tyrol South: viticulture, traditional village life and climbing sport
You can relax and unwind in the south of the region. On the slopes ripe vines, holidaymakers let their minds dangle, sightseeing here means peaceful contemplation of traditional goods. The sun-drenched lowlands, attracts above all rest-seeking and connoisseurs of the Italian lifestyle. In the rugged mountain ranges, on the other hand, adventure-loving guests can enjoy freeclimbing.
Lemon groves & wine routes: The name says it all: South Tyrol’s south is known for its extremely mild climate. In addition to Mediterranean fruits (lemons, figs), grapevines characterize the sun-drenched slopes. Along the South Tyrolean wine route, there are many opportunities for wine cellar tours and wine tasting. From Tramin, for example, the "Gewurztraminer", made from slightly reddish grapes. The village is also worth a visit because of its tranquil sights (Traminer Dorfmuseum, Rynnhof). Culinary tip for fall: after the vintage you meet the old custom of the "Törggelen" - nowadays chestnuts and other traditions are offered to guests accompanied by the wine of the new season.
Biking & bathing lakes: In the South Tyrolean lowland with its flowering meadows and fruit plantations you can go on beautiful walks and bike rides. A popular excursion destination is Lake Caldaro (Lake Kaltern). It is a good lake for swimming because of its water temperature, which is comparatively high for the Alps (up to 28 degrees in summer). It is also worthwhile to visit the Monitggler lakes or the Fennberger Lake.
Cliffs & Rock Climbing: Rough and with green vegetation, the mountains in the South of South Tyrol form an exciting contrast to its lovely valleys. Spectacular is the way through the Bletterbach gorge, the ice-aged glaciers have cut into the country (from Geoparc Aldein-Radein). The numerous climbing possibilities, some of which have been built (Marderwand near Kurtratsch, Hochseilgärten in Sarntal and Terlan), are also worth the hype.
Dolomites & Tauferer Ahrntal: High summits, farms & outdoor
Even the panorama is worth the trip. The famous mountain range of the southern limestone Alps awaits with awe-inspiring formations. For climbers and mountaineers, winter sports fans and hikers alike, this is one of the top destinations worldwide. In the north-west is the Tauferer Ahrntal, one of the largest lateral valleys of South Tyrol.
Wintersport & the largest alpine pasture in Europe: downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing and snowshoeing, or even a horse-drawn sleigh ride. All kinds of winter sports can be enjoyed in the Dolomites. World Cup air blows in the biathlon center of Antholz. The Alpe di Siusi, the largest alpine plateau in Europe, also attracts snowboarders and company in the winter. In the summer, lush meadows of gigantic proportions (almost 60 square kilometers) delight any hiker’s heart.
Ladin & wood carvings: If you are a real South Tyrolean in Alta Badia and the neighboring Val Gardena, you will notice a special feature. In addition to Italian and German, Ladin is represented here, a legacy of the Rater people. The Val Gardena woodcarving art has a long tradition, whose charming results can be admired and acquired in many localities.
Rafting & Place-Hopping: The river Ahr gave its name to this valley in the north-east of the Dolomites, an eldorado for rafting fans. If you prefer solid ground under your feet, walks through the nature park Rieserferner-Alm are a must. The localities scattered around the valley have a lot to offer (Prettau Show Mine, Taufers Castle, Dietenheim Folklore Museum, Mineral Museum in Steinhaus).
Bolzano: Historical walls & modern architecture
The capital of South Tyrol impresses with its contrasts. Embellishments of the old town meets the straightforwardness of modernity; in the restaurants, old Austrian desserts and Italian delights fight for first place. In the "Lauben, " a unique shopping mile is hidden away behind historical walls with neat arches.
Architectural contrasts & alpine panorama: tourists are mainly attracted to the winding streets of the old town with its historical buildings or to the cafes and restaurants around Waltherplatz, which was dedicated to South Tyrol’s minstrel Walther von der Vogelweide. A little way away, you can even stay in a real castle. The romantic Schloss Hotel Korb is located about 20 km from Bolzano on a hill with an impressive panorama view. In the Europa-Neustift district, the center of Italian Bolzano, however, modern buildings dominate. A meeting point for cultural lovers is the Cristallo Theater. The Alps panorama is also ubiquitous and easy to reach in Bozen. In front of the city, the Rittner cable car leads directly to the high plateau of the same name.
Shopping in a historic ambience & Milanese chic: You cannot miss a walk through the old town, The Boznerlauben, which was built in the 12th century by bishops, and now houses quaint bars, fine cafes and pretty shops. The latest fashion from Milan and Rome, Italian delicacies - some visitors leave it at windowshopping the expensive merchandise, others treat themselves to a luxury shopping or buy nice souvenirs. In the Merkantilmuseum (Silbergasse), anyone who wants to know more about the history of this traditionally rich shopping district can enlighten themselves.
Museums & Ötzi: The "Ötzi" in the Archeology Museum is a must-see for those interested in mummies, but the other six museums in Bolzano also have exciting exhibitions on offer. The origins of the South Tyrolean landscape is reconstructed in the Nature museum. In Bolzano, the Messner Mountain Museum has one of its five South Tyrolean locations. Tip: In the center of the old town is the small gallery (Piccola Galleria), in which predominantly regional artists exhibit their works (passage at the Old Town Hall 8). Museion also exhibits contemporary art.
Merano: spa, wellness & sissi flair
Nestled in the valley of the Texel Group, Meran is particularly well-known as a health resort. The spa, with its wide range of spa treatments, delights those in need of a spa treatment and ordinary holidaymakers alike. Sissi fans can look forward to the pomp and ceremony of Empress Elisabeth who is said to have liked Meran so much that she set up her holiday castle here.
Wellnesshotels & Sport: With its healing air and a mild climate, Meran is a health resort with everything that goes with it. You can indulge in numerous spa hotels, spas and beauty farms, enjoying the light Mediterranean cuisine. Meran’s thermal baths with 25 pools and eight saunas await you; the futuristic building alone is worth seeing. Sports fans will be drawn to the Meran Arena (indoor swimming, free-climbing, skating, ice hockey). If you prefer a bit more intimacy, make use of the spa area in your hotel. For example, the small Villa Eden Leading Health Spa in Merano has a wellness area with an indoor and outdoor swimming pool.
Horse racing: At the Pferderennplatz Mais, you can place your bets and enjoy special highlights such as the traditional Haflinger race (annually on Easter Monday).
Sissis Heritage & Modern Museums: Romanticists are drawn to the Trauttmansdorff Castle, the holiday residence at the time of the Empress Elisabeth (Sissi), where they can walk in her footsteps. It is located in a beautiful complex with wet terraced gardens that invite you to take a stroll in, and there are also pavilions designed by artists or a multimedia show (in a grotto) to admire. The castle was also home to the South Tyrolean National Museum of Tourism (Touriseum), which exhibits 200 years of tourism history. The Medieval atmosphere has been preserved in the castle (in the center of Merano).
Shopping & historic sightseeing: The old town lies between three venerable city gates. A shopping trip to Laubengasse (between Pfarrplatz to Kornplatz) is absolutely essential; photographers will draw inspiration from the winding buildings with their archways, bay windows and staircases. Afterwards, enjoy a latte macchiato in one of the many cafes.
Brixen: culture, sacred buildings and traditional surroundings
The third largest city in South Tyrol is located in the Eisacktal. Episcopal buildings and art treasures reveal themselves to culture lovers. The surrounding area with its mild climate and beautiful excursion destinations (Vahrner See, Kloster Neustift) is worth a stay.
Bishop’s Town & Sacred Art: The baroque heritage of the bishop’s town invites you to take part in one of the sightseeing tours in Bressanone. Sights to look forward to are the Brixner Cathedral with its cloister and the Hofburg with its diocesan museum, the sacred art of South Tyrol in 70 rooms, a crib collection, and parts of the Brixner cathedral treasure, amongst others. The Neustift monastery and, of course, the two leafy lanes (large and small arcades) are also worth a visit. If you are looking for something unique, you can visit the Pharmacy Museum, which provides more than 400 years of medical history.
Quaint villages and idyllic landscapes: Brixen’s surroundings with its vineyards and orchards are perfect to relax in after the hustle and bustle of the city. The surrounding municipalities also include the adjacent villages and hamlets on the Pfeffersberg, located on the west side of the Talkessel. The original charm of the localities can be explored on excursions and hikes (Afers, Sarns, Albeins, Elvas), but a visit to one of the traditional taverns and restaurants is an absolute must – the best time to go is in autumn for the "Törggelen" (traditional chestnut cuisine).
South Tyrol - good to know:
Trilingual: Italian, German, Ladin - the history of South Tyrol bequeathed three languages. Depending on where you are, one or the other language dominates, for example in tourist areas and in Grödnertal, Ladin is still predominantly spoken. The capital, Bolzano, for example, is divided into a chiefly German-speaking part and district, which is populated mainly by Italian-speaking inhabitants. And in remote hamlets or villages it may happen that you can only get by if you understand and speak Ladin.
Mountainous: The topography of Bozen will make sports enthusiasts’ hearts beat faster; the heights of many villages offer breathtaking views. Sometimes, this comes at a price. On short distances and hiking trails there are often big differences in altitude. Depending on your means of transport and the excursion destination, special considerations such as good braking, dizziness and appropriate footwear must be considered.
Year-round sporting destination: Two regions in one: depending on the season, South Tyrol has two very different faces. Some activities such as mountain hiking or rafting carry with them associated risks (snowmelt, extreme weather conditions) in certain months. Others are open at unusual times (summer skiing).