This summer we finally did it. We went to South Tyrol. Visiting this region had been on our wishlist for so long and now the time had come! Before heading to this new place, I did some researching and made a list on what we could see and do.
We chose a lovely hotel in Naturno as our ‘home-base’. Not coincidentally, we knew that this hotel is located right in the middle of beautiful vineyards and apple orchards. It’s also very close to spa town Merano and capital city Bolzano. Because our family holidays are always built around the ‘double S’ ( Sightseeing and Swimming ), our temporary home abroad turned out to be a very good choice. We stayed at the 4 Sterne Superior Sonnenhof Family & Spa Resort, led by the lovely Brunner family. Recently they’ve added some real good features to their house. Big-time water fun is one of them. I will tell you more about it in one of my next posts!
What to explore and do in South Tyrol?
Due to high temperatures we didn’t do as much sightseeing as we had planned. But despite the heat, we still managed to get a pretty good first impression of the region. Curious what the boys and I have been doing in beautiful South Tyrol? Check our sightseeing tips below.
#1. Spa town Merano
Narrow streets, beautiful Belle Epoque arcades, decorated facades and a fine blend of unique and luxury shops, make Merano a lovely town to stroll through. The relaxed, southern atmosphere makes you feel at ease instantly. Merano is famous for its thermal baths and the botanical gardens of Trauttmansdorff. We didn’t visit the thermal baths because our hotel offers extensive wellness & spa facilities. But of course we went to Trauttmansdorff, will tell you more about it later on in this post.
We walked around a lot to soak up the atmosphere of this town. Even the boys loved it. When they finally had enough of it we went for ice cream at Wunderbar. On our way back to the car, we quickly glanced at the traditional beer garden Forst. The brewery is located in Merano and brews a very nice beer.
#2. The Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle
Empress Sissi loved to visit this castle and the gardens. I can imagine why she loved it so much, it’s a beautiful place. Inside the castle is a museum. For Sissi fans like me, some interesting items – like her umbrella and a letter to her husband Emperor Frans Josef I – are displayed. The botanical gardens are packed with herbs, plants and flowers from all over the world.
#3. Guided Apple Tour
This is fun and interesting to do, not only for kids. At the apple farm you discover the life cycle of the apple from blossom to harvest. We learned a lot about the history of the apple and its cultivation, care and varieties. At the apple farmer’s farm you can bite into the crisp, juicy apples during a short apple tasting. Did you know that every second apple harvested in Italy comes from South Tyrol? About 950,000 tons of apples are picked here every year.
#4. Bolzano. Schloss Maretsch, Ötzi and mustdo Ice-cream
Bolzano is surrounded by many castles and located in a broad valley. Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? We immediately got what we came for. The first castle loomed up when we parked the car; Schloss Maretsch, a beautiful one that goes back to the 13th century.
Feel the vibe
The best way to feel the vibe of a city is by walking around. Like in Merano we saw a lot of beautiful, colored facades and decorated balconies, it was busier here with tourists, but that didn’t affect the easy going vibe.
The Iceman Ötzi
After our daily ice-cream mustdo, we went to see Ötzi the Iceman. The boys were very excited to see this well-preserved relic from the late Stone Age. Obviously a lot of people were, the queue to get into the museum was quite long. Once inside it really proved worthwhile, such a cool museum. Did you know that besides Ötzi’s body they’ve also found his ax, clothes and backpack? They even know what he had for dinner, before he died. But the best feature was seeing Ötzi’s body with our own eyes. In a separate area of the museum, through a small window, we saw the Iceman in his refrigerated cell. It’s is not allowed to take pictures of him ( being that old had some impact on his looks ), but we did it anyway… sorry for the bad quality, we had to shoot it in a split second.
#5. Winery Terlan
Maybe not the first thing you think of when you’re on holiday with kids, but hey ..sometimes the boys just gotta do what mom and dad like to do. Being so close to one of the leading wine grower’s cooperatives in South Tyrol, we definitely wanted to visit Winery Terlan. At home we regularly open a fine bottle of this winery. Our fridge is pretty packed with the tasty whites Terlaner and Winkl. Every now and then we open the holy grail of this house: Quartz. Luckily it was on the wine list at our hotel, guess what we drank at dinner….
While we had a look inside the shop of the winery, the boys played hide and seek among the vines. This getaway for mom and dad turned out to be fun for them too!
We will be back!
Of course there is a lot more to see and do in South Tyrol. What we did was perfect to get a first impression. So good that we will be back. Definitely next summer, but hopefuly this winter already. Skiing in South Tyrol must be very tempting too….
Sources & more info