Experiencing Outdoor Bolzano

Bolzano is likely most known for getting outside! Whether you want a simple stroll or an all-day hike, I’ve got a few suggestions for experiencing outdoor Bolzano.

Bolzano is likely most known for getting outside! Whether you want a simple stroll or an all-day hike, I've got a few suggestions for experiencing outdoor Bolzano.

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Nestled into a valley amongst the Dolomites, Bolzano is a much larger city than I’d initially expected. The city has its own airport and a large industrial area just outside of town. That being said, if you stay in the city center area your experience won’t be dampened by the industrial zone, but it was an unexpected part of driving into Bolzano.  

A sleepy mountain town it is not, but you can easily get out of the bustle on public transport or by driving 20 minutes up the mountain. We opted to stay in a tiny cluster of homes and farms – barely even a village – not far from one of the tiny towns. It was idyllic and perfect, with cows grazing around us, a medieval church tower in the distance, and glorious views of the sunset over Bolzano and the surrounding valley. 

Unlike Falcade, this part of the Dolomites is much more Alps-like: more rolling hills, green fields with farm animals and mountains in the distance. On some of our hikes we saw the epic craggy peaks in the distance that I now associate with the Dolomites, this part felt more like something out of the Sound of Music. 

Additionally, you can see the clear Austrian influence here: while the area is technically part of Italy, the region is very culturally Austrian. From the homes to the bilingual signs to the available food, it’s clear that the locals identify more with Austria than with Italy. It’s the first place in Italy that my (mediocre) Italian felt unappreciated or unhelpful; so I tried to stick mostly with English. 😉 

Getting Around

I touched briefly on this in my overview of Bolzano, but it is definitely worth it to purchase the Ritten Card. It provides free access to public transportation throughout the area, and this is the type of place you will want to use these.

Towns dot the mountainside, far enough that walking into town for dinner would be tough in both distance and precarious on the skinny winding roads shared with cars. But many of them are connected by a narrow-gauge train that runs every 20 minutes or so, making it so simple to get around and explore each spot! You can also hike from town to town and take the train back at the end of the day if that’s your speed too.

If you want to spend a day in outdoor Bolzano itself, there’s no need to drive in and pay for parking – just take the cable car! It leaves from Soprabolzano and gives a stunning overview of the Dolomites as it slowly lowers you into the valley.

Staying Outside Bolzano

We chose to stay in the most remote village we could find because we had a car and it guaranteed that quintessential mountain weekend feel. I loved our Airbnb and would definitely recommend you stay there if that’s what you’re looking for!

If you don’t have a car, it’s a bit remote. However, if you look for somewhere to stay in the smaller towns on the mountain just outside Bolzano, you can get the mountain experience without feeling stuck. I’d recommend looking in Soprabolzano or Collalbo.

Speaking of Soprabolzano, definitely plan to eat a meal at Babsi Pizzeria. With a massive pizza list and an excellent steak, this is the perfect meal after a day of hiking!

Views from our Airbnb!
The view from the edge of Soprabolzano

Hiking & Walking

One of the best parts of this area in summer and fall is hiking. The surrounding mountains are gorgeous with rolling hills in the foreground and massive mountains in the distance. It’s the kind of place that makes you want to get outside, especially when the leaves start to change! 

The best place to hike is up or down the Rittner Horn, or Corno del Renon. Take the bus or drive up to Tre Vie, then take the cable car up to the highest point possible. From there, you reach a ski center of sorts, where you can reach several hiking trails. 

We opted for the most direct route up the mountain – a straight trail up to the pinnacle. It only takes 20-30 minutes, but the altitude means even if you’re in shape you’ll need to either slow down or take breaks on the way up! 

Once you get there, take a short break in the lounge chairs outside the chalet. It’s even better with a cappuccino or beer and pastry treat from the kitchen! 

On the way down, try a longer trail – there are several options, but my favorite was the one that meanders down the mountain along the winter ski routes. It was grassy and sunny for us, but it’s easy to picture the snowy scene! 

There are also well-marked trails between most of the villages, offering a gorgeous view above Bolzano! So if you want to hike between towns and take a train back to your starting point, that’s pretty easy to do.

If you want more of a walk rather than a hike, the city has several paths that lead up the mountains straight from the city itself. These trails get steep fast, but it’s common for locals to take their daily walks up and down the trails as they meander up the beginning of the mountain here. You can also take a break at one of several vineyards or castles up the trails. It’s a great way to experience outdoor Bolzano without travelling far. We explored one called Passagiata Guncina, which begins on Via Michael Pacher.

Some trails begin right at the edge of the city!

If you’re headed to the Dolomites and want a mix of country and city time, this is the perfect area! Outdoor Bolzano offers great hiking, epic views, and idyllic towns just a few minutes outside the city!

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