Mountains, orchards, vineyards: when we think of South Tyrol, these are probably the first images that spring to mind. But why should this be? In these eight towns and cities of South Tyrol can be sensed the Italian flavour that cannot be found in the more rural areas. This is where the best of two cultures comes together: the “vita italiana” and the “typically South Tyrolean”! The towns of South Tyrol are rich in history, culture and individuals - and they all have their own unique character.
Bozen – the dynamic.
The regional capital is loud, lively and diverse - the focal point for museums and attractions, as well as a mix of German and Italian culture. But that’s not all: nowadays South Tyrol’s largest city also has a multicultural feel to it. Bozen has long been more than just the home of a certain degree of autonomy - it is an international centre and attracts people from all over the world! The University is now one of the most popular in Europe, and no wonder: anyone experiencing the dynamism of Bozen is sure to return! There is the Archaeology Museum, where Ötzi, the world’s most famous mummy, lies, the Museion (Museum of Contemporary Art), the animated Fruit Market, the Mercantile Museum and the tourist magnet of the Waltherplatz with Bozen Cathedral – and plenty of other highlights besides! If you want to experience the city in the same way as its 100,000+ inhabitants, however, follow our personal recommendations: the Bozen arcades, the Lounge Exil Cafe, Maretsch Castle and a stroll along the Talfer Promenade!
Meran – the elegant.
Elegant and green, the spa town of Meran is a cultural and historical centre in the midst of a holiday region! Situated on the River Passer, the pretty old town with its impressive medieval structures, as well as the Belle Epoque charm of the Kurhaus and the Municipal Theatre, make it especially well-suited for exploring on foot: its extensive promenades, walking trails, spacious parks and numerous green areas all make Meran a wonderful place for all those seeking a sightseeing and walking experience, perhaps taking in the delicate structure of the Post Bridge. The Powder Tower stands at the end of the Tappeiner Promenade and provides a spectacular viewing platform, while the stylish Obermais district with its enchanting streets and fine villas is also worth a visit.
Brixen – the spiritual.
No matter where you go in the charming city of Brixen, this former bishopric is teeming with traces of the past: sacred works of art and buildings, such as the cathedral, the frescoes and the city walls are to be found at every step! But there is nothing “boring” or “old-fashioned” here - on the contrary, hardly any other city in South Tyrol has so many events to offer as Brixen! The University of Bozen too has a branch here, which is why so many young faces can be seen. Stufels, the original heart of Brixen, with its beautiful old houses (now with protected status) is well worth a visit, while the Pharmacy Museum shows visitors how pharmacology has changed and advanced. The Bishop’s Palace, the Hofburg, is one of the finest Renaissance buildings in Tyrol and a must-see for history buffs.
Bruneck – the active.
The beating heart of the Puster Valley, Bruneck is a thriving centre! Although one of South Tyrol’s smaller towns, there is always something going on here, especially when it comes to sports. No wonder – Bruneck lies at the foot of the mighty Kronplatz, one of the region’s most popular ski areas! There are numerous opportunities for other holiday activities in the area, with mountain biking, climbing, hiking, rafting or of course skiing: sports for all, in fact! Culturally too, the town has plenty to offer. There is the Messner Mountain Museum Ripa and the Messner Mountain Museum Kronplatz, while the Folklore Museum in nearby Dietenheim shows life as it was lived by the rural population. Traditional handicrafts, such as textile manufacturing, have also been a firm fixture in Bruneck for decades. It’s best to explore this relaxed locality on foot so as to experience the symbiosis of the modern and traditional in close-up!
Glurns - the medieval.
No description of Glurns is complete without a mention of whiskey, pears or the Middle Ages! Why so? With just 800 inhabitants, Glurns with its original medieval walls may be South Tyrol’s smallest city, but it still has lots to offer: its historic forest mill, numerous pear trees - the “Palabirne” pear is healthy and has an extremely intensive taste - a permanent exhibition dedicated to the Glurns-born artist Paul Flora and a contemporary art collection in the Glurns Art Point: while right outside the city walls, housed in a fine example of modern architecture, can be found the Puni whiskey distillery. This charming spot with its three gate towers has remained almost unchanged since the 16th century. Are you curious to discover more?
Leifers – the youthful.
It is hard to tell where Bozen ends and Leifers starts. Nevertheless the newest city in South Tyrol can boast a lively city life of its own, because nowhere else in South Tyrol is the melting pot of German and Italian cultures more apparent. And did you know that some 32,500 tonnes of apples are grown here each year? Given the vast numbers of apple trees it is easy to forget the city, but the Peterköfele chapel, located on a small wooded plateau above the city, along with the remains of the Liechtenstein Castle walls, is certainly worth a family outing.
Klausen – the romantic.
Klausen, once famed for its artistic revelry, retains traces of its romantic past. Not for nothing has the “City of Dürer” been named one of Italy’s most beautiful villages: Klausen offers picturesque alleyways, beautiful façades and a medieval atmosphere, all surrounded by chestnut groves and located at the foot of the imposing Säben Abbey! Romance here is almost kitsch – but only in the positive sense of the word! Branzoll Castle, looming over the town, also contributes to this impression. Nor should visitors miss the municipal museum, with the world-famous Treasure of Loreto, a collection of works by Spanish and Italian artists.
Sterzing – the northerner.
In this Alpine town whispers of yesteryear can be heard - Gothic, Medieval and even Baroque are all to be found here in the form of castles and fortresses. The 46-metre Zwölferturm Tower is the emblem of the city, while other attractions include the splendid interior of the town hall and Wolfsthurn Castle - the only (!) Baroque castle in South Tyrol, which is also home to the Hunting and Fishing Museum. And, while the town – once a stronghold of the medieval Fugger dynasty – is not especially large, it has an abundance of history, culture and leisure opportunities. The Rosskopf mountain, home to Italy’s longest toboggan run (9.6 km), also offers wonderful views over the most northerly city of South Tyrol.