Are you going to South Tyrol? We’ll tell you how to get there and what to do in the Bolzano area, assuming you’re not up to winter madness ;)
We recently showed you an interesting way to spend a vacation in South Tyrol – we wrote about Roter Hahn-affiliated agritourism farms , their offerings and diversity. We spent here just a few days, but we would love to stay longer, because the area has many interesting places to offer, and we were left quite unsatisfied (unfortunately, the number of vacation days severely limits our trips ;-)). You can come here and simply spend a few days in agritourism, taking care of the animals, observing life on the farm, helping the hosts with chores, or relaxing in wellness. We, however, do not like to sit too long in one place and eagerly set off each day to see the most interesting corners in the area.
We spent the night in the village of Barbiano (Barbian in German) and this was our base camp. We had a beautiful view of the entire valley from here, with Bolzano in the forefront. We moved everywhere with a rented car, and about what our trip was like and what problem we had with the car we write at the bottom, because it is more important to show you what interesting things to do in the area, and then we will figure out how to get here ;)
We describe below the places we saw during these few days – there will be scenic views, mountain serpentines, city sightseeing, active recreation and…. four seasons! Yes, against all odds, all the photos you’ll see in the post were taken during one short trip: we had beautiful sunshine and more than 20 degrees, thunderstorms, rains and even snow and temperatures close to zero. Of course, one has to take into account temperature changes and different weather conditions when the altitude changes significantly in mountainous areas, but here, even at similar altitudes, the weather was very variable.
And we write about the weather for a reason. Well, South Tyrol is considered a very sunny place and, as you can read in many articles, the sun shines here for 300 days a year. So much theory :-) This year is giving us a hard time and we are pretty unlucky when it comes to weather on trips. We had hoped for guaranteed weather in this sunny place, but our “luck” took a turn for the worse again and we just happened to hit a few days of inclement weather. Even our landlady was surprised, because rains on May Day are found here, but not for days on end. According to her, it generally rains until noon, and the second half of the day is sunny…. However, there is nothing to complain about. For the trip we took both warmer and lighter clothes, plus a rain kit, so no weather was terrible enough for us to give up on our plans (we only slightly modified them ;)).
If you are planning a trip to South Tyrol and are looking for accommodation, pay special attention to the altitude of the property you are looking for. It is probably not a discovery that the higher the temperatures are lower? While we were in the Bolzano area, we were able to see this from a distance: well, more or less from an altitude of 1,000 m.a.s.l., the snow line began, and we were happy to find that our lodging was more or less at 900 m.a.s.l.
But let’s get back to what to see in the area….
Table of contents
Bolzano and the cable car
Let’s start with a tour of the region’s largest city, Bolzano, which dates back to the Middle Ages.
At the insistence of Christine, who hosted us, we went to Bolzano…. by cable car! Instead of driving the car down the serpentines and then climbing back up, we decided to make the drive to the city more interesting. The train station is located in Soprabolzano, and getting there anyway can be a challenge (or better call it an adventure). Leaving aside the issue of serpentines and precipices just off the road, to which we are already accustomed (at least in Madeira or Tenerife), the worst part was passing other cars. Roads on mountain slopes are often very narrow, so you have to be vigilant and often pull over or pass to fit a car coming from the opposite direction.
If driving through narrow streets by car doesn’t turn you on, you can also get to Soprabolzano by vintage train, which pulls up right under the cable car to Bolzano :)
Once we reached the village of Soprabolzano, we started looking for a parking lot where we could leave the car. The problem was not paid parking lots, but parking lots with time limits. At these closest stations, the car can stand for a maximum of 60 minutes, so we had to look for another place. We finally managed to park a little farther away, but in a covered place, which turned out to be quite an important aspect, because the moment we parked it started to sprinkle :)
However, we were not discouraged – after a quick walk we reached the train station, where we immediately, without any queues, boarded the carriage. They are large, accommodating a dozen people, and we had no problem with a stroller either. The route seems long, but it passed very quickly for us – we focused on the mountain views and the numerous wineries scattered on the slopes of the mountain.
Down in Bolzano, we were greeted by very different weather. Immediately some 10 degrees more, the sun, and the first thing we started doing was taking off our outer clothes.
From the train station we set off on foot to explore the capital of South Tyrol. We were more interested in seeing and getting a feel for the city than specific sights. Instead of rushing to the museum, we preferred to saunter along stalls overflowing with local wares, seek out Italian ice cream or sit in a cafe. We walked the cloisters, peeked at the store windows and soaked up the bustle at the restaurant tables. We didn’t get to see the city in full, as at one point a thunderstorm broke out and we were forced to stay under the cloisters (we especially recommend the Via dei Portici walk).
As for places of interest, you should definitely direct your steps to Piazza Walther and the cathedral(Duomo di Bolzano) located here. Looking at the cathedral with its soaring tower and ornate roof, it’s hard not to compare it to similar, albeit larger, structures like Vienna‘s Cathedral or St. Peter’s Church. Matthias in Budapest.
Have you ever heard of Ötzi? This is the famous Ice Man, or human remains found on the border of Italy and Germany. It is estimated that this man died around 3,300 BC! Based on the remains found, an incredible amount of facts have been established about what this individual’s life was like, what his health was like, what he ate (even his last meal was determined), his lifestyle, etc. It has also become a source of dispute between the two countries on whose border the remains were found. Eventually, the rights to the mummy were awarded to Italy, and so we can see it at the Archaeological Museum of Bolzano.
Staying on the theme of museums, on the outskirts of Bolzano, in the Sigmundskron Castle, is the main branch of the Reinhold Messner Museum of Mountaineering (a famous mountaineer and Himalayan). In this unit, the focus is on human relations in different cultures with the mountains.
Earth pyramids in Ritten
There are several places in South Tyrol where you can admire the earth pyramids, which are cone-shaped rock formations with rocks on their tops. Although they are shrouded in mystery and legend, their creation was a completely natural process, and several factors contributed simultaneously. Anyway, visitors to the pyramids may encounter such information boards describing the process of the earth pyramids on their way:
We went to the most popular pyramids, and it was by no means the popularity that was crucial, but their accessibility. The pyramids in question are located near the village of Longomoso, on the slope of Mount Ritten. You can already spot them from the road, but we encourage you to stop the car in the mentioned village and take a very short and easy walk to the viewpoint. It is located on the opposite side of the pyramids and can be reached by two paths. We walked from the village of Longomoso, and the entrance to the route starts right at Cafe Erdpyramiden.
As we mentioned, the route is easy, short and pleasant. It takes about 10 minutes one way, and the road is flat and wide enough that even with a stroller you can easily get there. We were only disturbed by the falling snow, which took away our hopes of seeing the pyramids.
Once we reached the vantage point, we could barely see the pyramids. Fortunately, it was enough to wait a while, and the sun began to slowly break through the layers of clouds and illuminate the famous spurs, which are about 30 meters high.
For those who are more demanding and hungry for mountain trails, as well as those traveling with children, we recommend the trail to the Barbiano Waterfall(Barbianer Wasserfälle). We spent the night in Barbiano and had a stone’s throw to it, yet we didn’t take the tour until the end of our stay, as we had been putting it off for better weather. Initially, the route is trivial, but after entering the forest, it becomes narrower, with rocks, roots, steps.
The trail climbs upwards and for people with little experience in battles (that’s about us ;-) ) it can be harder. Along the way, one passes various wooden elements attached to the stream to take advantage of the health benefits of soaking in cold mountain streams.
It took us about 20 minutes to reach the first close encounter with the waterfall, while walking slowly, stopping frequently for photos. The views were unearthly, and the weather was most good for us that day!
Fortunately, right at the waterfall, we were refreshed with cold water – extra caution is needed here, as the stones are very wet and slippery.
This is the so-called. lower waterfall. Continuing along the trail (another 20 minutes) you can still reach the upper waterfall.
The Dolomites tempt, fascinate and attract. So we couldn’t resist and had to move along the mountain serpentines.
We don’t consider ourselves mountain experts, it’s been a good few years since we conquered Polish peaks. Recently, we have been focusing more on valleys and trails that are also accessible to children. So from the beginning, we assumed that we would not hike in the mountains, but focus on admiring them from valleys and passes accessible by car or trekking routes that do not require much effort.
We planned to drive to the Passo Gardena pass, where there are not only beautiful views, but also the start of many trekking routes. Climbing the serpentines, we arrived at ski resorts completely extinct, where all stores, hotels and service outlets were closed to the public. We could still see the snow-covered ski slopes and lifts, but none of them were operating anymore. Our car, by the way, was one of the few that ventured here, and, as it turned out later, it wasn’t just the end of the season that made traffic restricted.
When we reached Passo Gardena, it turned out that the road further on was closed and we had to turn back. Nothing but picturesque views! So many miles and climbing for nothing…. But nothing ;) We decided to go out at least for a while, throw snowballs at each other, take a few shots of the after all beautiful views and returned to the car. The vision of the drive so blinded us that we failed to see the beauty and harshness of the surrounding mountains. It was wonderful, but this is not the end of the hunt with the camera for the Dolomites.
As a consolation prize, we set off towards another pass – Passo Sella right on the border between South Tyrol and Trentino. Here, fortunately, we managed to get there without any obstacles, and along the way we had to pick our jaw up from the floor of the car every now and then ;-)
The Dolomites are electrifyingly impressive, especially those jagged mountain ridges. We couldn’t get enough of the view, and we have so many photos from each view that it’s hard to limit ourselves to just a few.
Be warned, the routes are very winding, plus the changes in altitude and pressure can make your head spin. If you have motion sickness it is worth taking medication with you.
How to get to Bolzano from Poland?
Finally, some more practical advice on how to easily reach Bolzano and South Tyrol from Poland. You can take a fairly long trip by car. From Lodz, navigation shows almost 12 hours, so it’s quite a trip. Fortunately, there are many interesting places along the way where you can stop for accommodation and rest.
We, however, decided to travel by plane. True, there is an airport in Bolzano, but it is a small regional port and there are no direct flights from Poland. So to get to Bolzano, you need to fly to, for example, Munich and from there by car to Italy. But wait! To fly to Germany to then drive such a distance still by car! Yes, and it is still one of the more convenient options. We chose Munich, because we can fly here directly from Lodz, and the tickets are not cosmically expensive. Other options include arriving in Italian destinations such as. Bergamo or Venice and further travel by car, which takes 2.5 – 3 hours (from Munich about 3.5 hours).
Surprisingly, the road from Munich went quite smoothly for us. Most of the road is highway, so you can speed along, but you also have to reckon with toll roads and the purchase of a vignette in Austria (although this one, compared to Polish highways, is mega cheap and can easily be bought at a gas station in a self-service machine).
In addition, you need to add the cost of renting a car. At the end of the day, everything, as always, is limited to choosing the most economical and comfortable route for yourself.
We booked the car as always through Rental Cars. This time, we were taking a much larger car for the first time, not only to accommodate our luggage, but also to comfortably fit two car seats in the back. We rented one locally and took one (a baby carrier) with us from Poland. We were very lucky, because the plane from Lodz was not 100% full so we even had a few seats to ourselves and were able to take a seat on board without a problem.
However, we were less fortunate when it came to the rental car. We were informed that we would get a class upgrade and a better vehicle, which we were initially very happy about. However, when we went to the parking lot to pick up the car, it turned out that we were given a large, seven-seat Ford Tourneo Connect….
The lady at the rental company was surprised when we announced that we would thank you for such an upgrade, though ;) In the end, we got a Ford S-Max, which enchanted us! The car in the richest version (including a heated steering wheel), incredibly roomy, only a little muddled…. But we drove it through the mountain serpentines without any problems.
We consider the topic as definitely endless! The Bolzano region has a lot more to offer, especially when it comes to active recreation. Especially since many routes are suitable for families with children, and some are even suitable for baby strollers!
So there’s no need to stock up on out-of-this-world gear or hiking carriers for the kids, because you can also enjoy amazing views, trails and just spend time together.
And time passes peacefully here and we already know that we definitely need to come back here :)
The entry was created in cooperation with the Roter Hahn organization.