Holiday in Alto Adige

Landscape and cultural contrasts keep the microcosm that is Alto Adige and the Dolomites alive, a land where the relationship with nature is an integral part of daily life and where life is still anchored to its genuine principles, first and foremost to food and wine.

The people of these valleys have a deep bond with tradition, but at the same time look to the future. A holiday in Alto Adige is an experience not to be missed with endless opportunities to enjoy outdoor sports like skiing, trekking, long walks, mountain biking and much more, surrounded by the magnificent panoramas and the valleys of the Dolomites. During a holiday in Alto Adige it's hard to get bored because there really is something for everyone, whether you want to get active or relax, at any time of year. The mild summers and snowy winters mean that the weather is always perfect for visiting these enchanting places. According to the famous architect Le Corbusier, the Dolomites are the most beautiful "construction" in the world. Indeed, "constructed" is the word that best describes them, since these imposing rock formations were formed over time by algae and petrified coral reefs. Their peaks are so beautiful and well known that they have been placed in the list of UNESCO world heritage sites. The Alto Adige is made up of six different regions, each with valleys, characteristics and personalities of their own, well worth experiencing and exploring at least once in a lifetime. We are talking about the Puster Valley Dolomites, Valle di Tures, the Eisack Valley, Merano, the Vinschgau Valley and Bolzano; now let's take a closer look.

The Puster Valley Dolomites offer long sunny days and short nights. The towns in the heart of the Puster Valley absolutely meet the demands of those who want tranquillity and to recharge their batteries or even opportunities to play a little bit of healthy sports. A can't miss, both from a natural and spiritual standpoint, the promenade of Lake Braies is the gem of the Dolomites. The eastern part of the circuit which follows the lake's shoreline can be explored along a path built with steps. Here you can rent boats to see the Croda del Becco wondrously reflected in the lake from even closer. The peaks which overshadow the landscape of the Alta Pusteria are among the most impressive of the Dolomites, with the extremely famous Tre Cime di Lavaredo and the largest natural sundial in the world. In the valley you will find the towns of Sesto, San Candido, Dobbiaco, Villabassa and Valle di Braies, known for their hospitality, and particularly popular with families. In the same region of the Dolomites, other points of interest include Alta Badia, the land of the Ladin people (the oldest population in the Alps) at the heart of the Dolomites, Gherdëina (Gröden in German) with the appeal of a valley that values sports, handicraft and local traditions (with the towns of Ortisei, Santa Cristina and Selva Gardena) and lastly, the Seiser Alm, with over 60 Alpine summer pastures and lodges which make up Europe's vastest alpine meadow, a half hour's drive from Bolzano.

A little further north, the Tures and Aurina Valleys offer the perfect setting for sports and relaxation. Their peaks are over 3000 m high, just asking to be climbed. At the top you can enjoy breathtaking views, surrounding yourself with nature. The mine in Predoi will take you back in time with its underground train. Above all, for wellness buffs don't miss the Puster Valley's bike trail in Brunico (where you can roam the mountains, fields, mountain pastures and woods) and Almweg 2000 in Casies, a long signposted path which enhances one of the most beautiful Alpine landscapes. The Casies Valley is renowned for its traditional, welcoming Alpine summer pastures. Nearby, the tranquil tourist town of Rasun will welcome you to the Anterselva Valley, a paradise for cross country skiers in search of tranquillity and relaxation. The cross country ski slopes in Anterselva are part of the Dolomiti NordicSki Consortium and cross a romantic frozen lake. For decades the Anterselva area has hosted the Biathlon World Cup, an event that has become a permanent fixture on the worldwide sports calendar. The lively centre of this valley is Brunico, where winter sports lovers have Plan de Corones right around the corner, Alto Adige's number one ski spot with over 100 km of slopes and the latest generation in ski lifts. As well as downhill skiing, you can also enjoy cross country skiing, skating and ski-touring; and after a day on the slopes there's nothing better than a visit to the wellness temple, Cron di Riscone. In the summer the area around the Dolomites is perfect for taking walks and climbing, while cyclists can enjoy both tranquil bike paths and tough downhill routes.

The Eisack Valley, south of Brennero, gets its name from the river that crosses it, the main tributary of the Adige. The three major cities are Bressanone, Vipiteno and Chiusa, today lively destinations full of fashionable shops, elegant cafés and precious cultural treasures. The steep slopes of the Eisack Valley are covered in apple orchards, vineyards and chestnut groves. Autumn is the season dedicated to an old rural tradition that originated precisely in this place: Törggelen, that is, going from farmstead to farmstead to taste the new wine and the typical dishes of this season. Exploring the valleys around the Eisack Valley will also be an experience you will never forget, with their little towns in close contact with nature, nestled in an Alpine setting that will win your heart. If you are in the area, you just have to go down the Sentiero del Castagno, a signposted trail that winds through colourful broadleaf forests, bright green fields and centuries-old chestnut groves, from Varna (near Bressanone) to Castel Roncolo (just north of Bolzano), via the Renon plateau. For those who love to cycle, the Brennero-Bolzano bike trail is remarkable. Exploring the Eisack Valley by bicycle means savouring the pleasure of pedalling in idyllic places. Along the bike trail in Brennero which from the Austrian border leads to Bolzano going through Vipiteno you will see softly rolling hills and many places rich with history and culture. Merano and the surrounding area is a place of palm and olive trees in the valley, and snow and ice in the mountains. The landscape around the charming city of hot springs won the heart of Princess Elizabeth of Austria, better known as Sissi. The nearby towns where the landscape distinguishes itself for its boundless vineyards and apple orchards offers countless opportunities for outdoor pursuits, especially excursions and walks down paths along the irrigation canals; in the bordering valleys, like Ultimo Valley and Passiria Valley, the scenery is entirely different and reveals ancient farmsteads which speak of centuries of tradition. The Alta Via di Merano is one of the most evocative excursion routes in all the Alps. The trail marks—so to speak—the border between the high-altitude climate of the Texel Group and the more Mediterranean one of the Adige river plain. Not far from Merano are the Gardens of Castel Trauttmansdorff, a botanical garden with ponds, tree-lined paths, flowers and plants from all over the world. Staying in Merano means always having something to do: the selection goes from Haflinger horse riding lessons (Easter) to the Grape Festival in October, from the Merano Music Weeks at the end of autumn to the Merano International WineFestival & Gourmet in November, up to the period of Advent in Merano.

In the valleys of Val Venosta the landscape is characterised by vast stretches of with apple trees and vineyards, while there are gardens and flowering apricot trees on the slopes. The paths along the old irrigation canals (in German, Waalwege), the mountain paths and the mountain bike trails in the Venosta Valley wind across a landscape rich in culture, with Romanesque chapels, monasteries and medieval castles. The inhabitants of Val Venosta are known for their creativity and inventiveness. It's no coincidence that the major artists and architects of Alto Adige come from this valley in the west. In this area you should definitely go see Monte Maria Abbey, the Benedictine convent in Burgusio located at the highest altitude in Europe. Dating back to the 12th century, for more than 800 years the Abbey was home to monks dedicated to the teachings of St. Benedict. In the old part of the convent some rooms have been outfitted as an exhibit that tells the story of the monks' daily life oriented around the motto "ora et labora". Glorenza, the smallest city of Alto Adige, the seven towers of Malles, the fort of Castel Coira in Sluderno and Stelvio National Park are the other irresistible cultural attractions in Alta Val Venosta. Crops, mountain farmsteads and settlements in the most unthinkable places are the signs of a proud and stubborn character. Just around the corner you'll find the Swiss canton of Graubünden and the Court of Appeals of Tyrol, which are proof of a common past among the two nations still visible today. To experience the nature of Alta Val Venosta from up close, all you have to do is walk leisurely down the old irrigation canals or go up high, admiring the Ortler Alps. Lastly, another place you can't miss is Curon, famous for its belltower immersed in the waters of Lake Resia, which has come to symbolise the Val Venosta. From Curon you can walk on the banks of the lake until you get to the San Valentino dam.

The last (but not the least) of the areas is Bolzano and surroundings. Two worlds collide in this, the province's major city: that of Germany and of Italy. They blend into a unique lifestyle that characterises the culture and daily life. The panorama of the surroundings and to the south of the major city is characterised by vineyards as far as the eye can see, overlooked by more than 200 ancient medieval villages, castles and ruins. Plateaus, mountain villages and broad valleys which reach altitudes above 1550 m offer a cool respite from summer heat. The southernmost part of Alto Adige is considered the "Mediterranean" area; it's no coincidence that its mild climate makes Lake Caldaro the warmest of all the Alps. This lake is a fascinating natural spectacle among vineyards and orchards. The Mediterranean flavour and the climatic conditions encourage guests to try all different kinds of activities. For example, abandon yourself to the sun on the banks of the lake for guaranteed relaxation. You'll find a small beach, formed out of the marsh, sacrificing a few rows of orchards and vineyards. The magical tranquillity of this small corner of paradise is only interrupted from time to time by the passing of a rowboat, sailboat or pedalo, and even more rarely by a surfboard. If you still don't know where starts to begin exploring South Tyrol, check out the holiday packages to Alto Adige and choose the place that best fits your needs.


Guide to Exploring Alto Adige - South Tyrol


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