I’ve been to South Tyrol plenty of times now, sometimes for a few days on a stopover to Italy, other times as a whole holiday. Although I still have to discover many more places, here are my recommendations if you’re passing by.
Where to stay in and around Merano
Depending on what you’re looking out for, there are plenty of options to chose: from bespoke design hotels in the quaint village of Merano, to modest and quiet mountain lodges on top of the mountains.
Miramonti Boutique Hotel
On the more glamorous side is the outrageously beautiful Miramonti boutique hotel. If the generous spa and the infinity pool with a view over the valley don’t convince you, the fine dining restaurant and the rooms will.
MIRAMONTI BOUTIQUE HOTEL, St. Kathreinstraße, 14, 39010 Hafling, Bozen, Italien
Prennanger Mountain Lodge
Like the Schatzerhütte in Brixen, the Prennanger Mountain Lodge is the perfect cross of Alpine traditions and modern designs. The rooms are furnished in bright oak wood, with spacious balconies to sit and relax on, while the 3 course dinners are fresher and lighter than the typical mountain faire. All in all, Prennanger is simple, but heartwarming and well designed. It’s located perfectly in the Harzer Wandergebirge, a dream destination for hiking and paragliding.
PRENNANGER MOUNTAIN LODGE, Frazione Talle Di Sopra 67, 39017 Scena BZ, Italien
Muchele Design Hotel
The family behind the Muchele design hotel elegantly and effortlessly combines traditional elements with modern interior design. The result is not only nice to look at, but astoundingly comfortable. The heavy, rich and saturated fabrics of Italian furniture brand Moroso are a dream to drown in. The hotel’s pool and famous tennis court make it a perfect stop-over for an active wellness holiday.
WELLNESS HOTEL MUCHELE, Via Maier, 1, 39014 Postal BZ, Italien
The Bergmann Villa is right in the middle of the old town of Merano and a great option if you like to stay in your own apartment. Although basic, it has all the amenities one could wish for, with the extra bonus of being close to all the bars, restaurants and the spa of the city.
VILLA BERGMANN SUITES, Hallergasse, 36, 39012 Meran, Bozen, Italien
Where to eat in and around Merano
Knödel, Schüttelbrot, Kaiserschmarren – South Tyrol is foodie heaven, and rightly so! But Merano can do a lot more than just rustic mountain fare. Many talented chefs have settled in this part of the Alps to serve excellent food, from Italian classics to experimental fine dining.
L’Alessandra is one of the best Italian restaurants in Merano and (according to the locals) where locals flock to on the weekend for their share of pasta. The quirky and almost stereotypical Italian owner will talk to you in grumpy Italian jokes that you won’t understand, but the food – mostly seafood pastas or fish of any variation – will make up for it again. Try the Vongole, it’s heavenly.
Restaurant L’Alessandra, Kasernenstraße, 7, 39012 Meran, Bozen, Italien
The Waldbichl guest house is run by three charming sisters, who will feed you with some of the best Knödel I’ve had in my life. It’s hard to describe what makes South Tyrolean Knödel the best dumplings that this planet has to offer, so I’ll just refer to Waldbichl as the benchmark of Knödel quality. They are oily and heavy, and meant to keep you warm through a cold Alpine night. But do trust me, with the right amount of wine to wash them down with, they’re also an excellent choice for a light summer lunch.
Gasthof Waldbichl, Aschler-Weg, 11, 39010 Vöran, Bozen, Italien
There are two pizza joints around Merano who’ve made a name for themselves, and their are each on the polar opposite spectrum of pizza. At 357, an offshoot of the famous Michelin star restaurant Sissy, chef Andreo Fenoglio serves “new” pizza with eccentric styles and rich flavors. They are good, but far away from what I’d call a great pizza. At Pirri, the lifestyle is rather low-key, the ambience – a typical family restaurant – a bit shoddy, but their basic pizza is better than the best I’ve ever had in Berlin. No, you don’t have to eat pizza when you’re in Meran, but if you have to, then choose Pirri.
Pizza PIrri, Romastraße, 90, 39014 Burgstall, Bozen, Italien
The Gompm Alm will take you as close to fine dining as it can get with Alpine classics. Knödel reloaded, you could say. The prices and the service reflect the quality, which has nothing to do with a regular visit at the Alm (which, remember, used to be nothing but a shelter between hikes). We had the gourmet breakfast while we were there, which is highly recommended if you have a couple of hours to spare and really want to experience some of the best ingredients of South Tyrol.
Gompm Alm, Via Orbetal, 19, 39017 Talle di Sopra, Scena BZ, Italien
Local and seasonal is the motto in South Tyrol, and at Miil, it is brought to perfection. Small but enticing dishes are served in a quaint and earthly restaurant in Lana, with a wonderful pairing of South Tyrol wines and with interesting variations of the typical Alpine ingredients. A menu at Miil is a culinary journey through South Tyrol and highly recommended for an affordable, but high quality dining experience.
Restaurant Miil, Gampenstrasse 1, 39010 Cermes BZ, Italien
What to do in and around Merano
From spa visits to drawn out hiking sessions, there are endless options for spending your days in Merano (and none of them include going to a museum, yay). Here are the things that I’ve tried and tested so far.
Admittedly, I didn’t go paragliding in Merano this time, but I did on my first trip to South Tyrol. It was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life and much less frightening than I had initially thought. You can go paragliding in the Passaiertal if you want to try it out – trust me, you’ll never forget it.
Tandemclub Ilfinger, http://tandemclub.it/
Meran Winery tour and tasting
Not every wine tasting takes you through dusty old cellars: The Burggräfen Kellerei of Meran is the high-tech rendition of the traditional wine-making culture. The panoramic vinoteque not only offers an individual degustation of the new vintages and selected wines, but also a breathtaking view at 360° over Meran and its surrounding vineyards. The “cellar” of the winery is a feat of design: gigantic barrels covered in sleek chrome, pitch black tunnels hulled in neon lights, secret doorways and meetings rooms down in the basement. If this sleek winery hasn’t been used yet as a scenery for a blockbuster movie, it soon will.
Kellerei Meran Burggräfler, Kellereistraße, 9, 39020 Marling, Bozen, Italien
Tarzaning (and canyoning)
Tarzaning is exactly what it sounds like: climbing, abseiling, ziplining, and jumping between high trees and rocky caves. If your fear of heights is a disability you can’t ignore, then choose canyoning – which is the equivalent of Tarzaning, but in the waters of the beautiful stream.
Action Pur im Passaiertal, Jaufenstrasse 18, 39010 St. Martin i.P.
There are a few trails that should be interesting for any visitors who’re planning to hike. I love to hike for food, so a trip up (and back down) to the Gompm Alm is exactly the right amount of athleticism that I can take. If you’d rather go for a longer trip, try the Meraner Höhenweg from Pfelders, a picturesque Alpine town where no cars are allowed. There’s not a lot of tourism here, but you can use the village as entry gate to get to 3000m in the Ötztaler Alpen.
Merano is famous for being a spa town (or also known as “Kurort” in German) for its mild and sunny Mediterranean micro-climate. It is no wonder, then, that one of the most incredible public spas I’ve ever seen is right here in the middle of the town. With over 20 outdoor and indoor pools, steam baths, saunas and massages, you can spend a whole day in pure bliss and serenity.
But being so close to nature and spending it in a pool feels wrong. The artificial lake “Naturbad Gargazon”, on the other hand, is a promising feat of architecture and design. The idea is to bathe in nature and foregoing any use of chemical cleaners (like chlorine). The water is pristine, crystal clear and not just a place for people: the lake is a fully functioning ecosystem, just like the pond in your backyard. The naturally clean water is the result of a combination of water plants, phytoplankton and zooplankton, a water exchange system based on plant filters, mechanical maintenance and nursing means. The natural bath Gargazon follows the South Tyrolean ideal of easily achievable and sustainable high quality products.
Naturbad Gargazon, Bahnhofstraße, 37, 39010 Gargazon, Bozen, Italien
My trips to Merano were limited in time and research, but if you want to know more things about the region and where to go, what to do and where to sleep while you’re there, I highly recommend Josef. This special regional guide is enlightening and very well designed, and just one more high quality product born in South Tyrol.