A little paradise is located in the northern part of Italy close to the Austrian border (north and east) and to the swiss border (west). South Tyrol is a stunning place with a versatile nature: mediterranean flair and palms on the one side and alpine mountains on the other side. South Tyrol is the perfect mixture of Austria and Italy, because here you can find the best of both of the countries. Hospitality, high class cuisine and the beautiful nature are the reasons why I’m a frequent guest in this region.
Good to know: South Tyrol used to be a part of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and became part of Italy after WW1. Thanks to the autonomy statute both of the languages, italian and German are considered as official languages. The people speak both of them fluently and most of them speak English as well.
There are some good and clean hostels in the cities, where you pay between 20 and 30 Euros per night, depending on the season. The high density of hotels, bed and breakfasts, holiday homes and will make it easy for you to find a place where to stay. If you are traveling alone I can recommend to stay at a hostel. If you are traveling with your family you’re might looking for more comfortable places and therefore I recommend you the other options. Camping is also popular in this region, the campsites are nice and clean and are located next to hotels with good infrastrucutre. Couchsurfing is not very popular, Airbnb has some great offers instead. You can find beautiful places in the best locations for good money.
The transport network in South Tyrol is pretty good and you can get around the region by bus and train. A ticket for the bus costs 1,50€ in the cities for one ride. If you travel from one city or village to the other you will pay more. You can buy the tickets from the bus driver. Most of the hotels will give you free tickets for the public transport.
There are also many taxis in South Tyrol, but they are pretty expensive. In the cities you will pay 10€ for only a few kilometers.
Arriving by train: trains from Germany, Austria, Southern Italy and other destinations stop at Bolzano.
Arriving by bus: Eurolines and Flixbus are a good choice for traveling to South Tyrol for good prices.
Arriving by plane: There is an airoport in Bolzano, but flights are not frequently. Closer airports are: Verona, Milano Bergamo, Milano Linate, Milano Malpensa, Innsbruck, Munich. From the airport you can take the train or travel by the airport shuttle Suedtirolbus.
I would recommend you visit South Tyrol even only for the food. The region offers you the best of the Austro-Hungarian and the Italian cuisine. You can find everything from pasta to pizza, from bread dumplings to “Kaiserschmarrn”, Tiramisù and apple strudel.
You can buy snacks, sandwiches, slices of pizza or sausages for already 3€. If you want to eat out at a restaurants you will pay between 15 and 20€ for a main course and drinks.
South Tyrol offers you plents of sights all over the country that are available for free. Parks, churches, public places and others are everywhere. You can visit museums for already 8€.
If you want to save money
Compared to other regions of Italy, South Tyrol has a pretty high standard which is visible in the higher prices. However, if you want to save some money I can recommend you to visit the region during the low season. Even if the high season lasts almost during the whole year, you can find some gaps between the end of February and the beginning of April or in September and the middle of November.
You can also buy food at the supermarket and cook for yourself, but there are so many delicious things that have to be discovered, that I would recommend you to try them by eating out. However, you can get your lunch at least a the supermarket and buy some “Speck, Kaminwurzn (dry sausages), Schüttelbrot (traditional dry bread), Vinschger Paarlbrot (fresh dark bread) and cheese” to make your own traditional snack for 10€.
Your “To do List” for South Tyrol
Merano is probably one of the most beautiful cities in the region. The city has been very popular since the time of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and used to be a place for vacation and recovery for the Kaiser and the nobilty. “Sisi” the famous empress used to stay at Merano for treatments and enjoyed the mild climate of the city. The place enchants with beautiful architecture, beautiful nature and a great flair.
The gardens of Trauttmansdorff
The botanical garden in Merano is one of the most popular destinations. On 12 hactare you can see flowers and cultured landscape from all over the world. The Touriseum, which is located next to the garden offers interesting information about the history of tourism in the region. During the summer, the botanical garden turns into a stage for international music artistis and you can enjoy great music in the middle of a fanstastic scenery.
Visit the Messner-Museums
Who doesn’t know the alpinist legend Reinhold Messner? One of the most popular South Tyroleans recently opened his sixth museum. In all of them you can learn about the history of the country and Reinhold Messner’s greatest passion: alpinism.
Don’t miss to visit some of the museums: Firmian, Corones, Dolomites, Juval, Ripa and Ortles. They are located all over the region and for sure there is one just next to your location.
Hike the mountains
South Tyrol is a paradise for hikers and there is no place in this region, where you can’t find hiking paths. From nice walking paths to challenging fixed rope routes you will find the best of everything.
Hiking is only one of the many activities you can do in South Tyrol. Walking, mountainbiking, climbing, jogging, swimming, skiing,bobsleigh, Yoga, sightseeing… the list of activities here is endless.
Visit Val Gardena and Alta Badia
Dramatic summits and stunning panorama views are just in front of you when visiting the places in val Gardena and Alta Badia. Every year this place turns into a stage for the best skiers in the world.
During the winter you can ski on the amazing 500 kilometers between Plan de Corones and Alta Badia. During the summer, this place turns into green meadows where you can hike and enjoy the stunning view.
Swimming in the lakes
In South Tyrol there are many lakes, such as the lake of Caldaro, Monticolo, Lago di Braies, Lago di Resia and many more. During the summer you can swim in many of the lakes and find a nice place to relax. The lake of Caldaro is also very popular during the summer, when international artists perform on the stages next to the lake.
Visit Ötzi Musem
One of the most famous mummies lies in the archeological museum of Bolzano. “Ötzi”, that’s how the man from the ice has been called, is around 5.200 years old. You can see the mummy in the museum and learn interesting facts about the people during the Neolithic and other historical ages.
Visit Bolzano and Bressanone
Bolzano, the capital of the region enchants with a mixture of alpine tradition and italian flair. Under the “Lauben”, the arches of the old town and the market in the center you can walk around and enjoy the great architecture. There are many museums where you can learn interesting facts about the country and the history.
Bressanone is only a few kilometers away from Bolzano and is a popular diocesan town since the middle ages. The architecture is fascinating.
Visit the christmas markets
In the winter time South Tyrol turns into a place like in a fairy tale. Every city opens christmas markets with lights, music and entertainment for children. Sweet scent of candy and hot wine punch is in the air and you can try the best of the local cuisine. The most popular markets are those in Merano and Bressanone. The markets open in the beginning of December and close in the beginning of January.
South Tyrol is one of the main exporting countries for apples. You can find huge fields with apple trees almost everywhere. In the spring, when the country is in bloom, a sweet scent covers the whole region and colors it in rose and white. Take a bike and drive along the paths through the fields and just enjoy the amazing scent of the blossoms.
South Tyrolean “Brettljause”
Don’t forget to have a real Brettljause just as the local people have it. It’s a late afternoon snack with Speck, Kaminwurzn, cheese, bread and pickles, great wine, apple juice or lemonade.
Some of the best wines in the world are from this region. You can find many wineries all over the region, most of them offer wine tasting where you can taste some of the best wines. Did you know, that Traminer is actually a local wine? The varietal is from a village called Tramin, just a few kilometers from Bolzano.