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14 Fantastic Things to do in Bolzano for a Fun Day

The fantastic little town of Bolzano is hidden deep in the Italian Alps in the region known as South Tyrol. It is a shame that the city is often overlooked as people go on holiday to the nearby Verona and Lake Garda. 

If you are open to trying something a little different and heading to a place that is not nearly as overrun with tourists as many of Italy’s hotspots but that will still offer you a similar experience, this guide to the best things to do in Bolzano will help you get the most out of your visit. We have tried to cover all budget sizes and have included many free and frugal alternatives to the pricier suggestions. 

No matter your budget, you will have a wonderful time in Bolzano by incorporating some of the following activities and sites in your itinerary. 

1. Bolzano Christmas Market

Bolzano Christmas Market
Credit: E55Evu/Depositphotos

Who doesn’t love a Christmas market? All those lovely present ideas and seasonal scents and flavors to try. Bolzano Christmas Market, first set up in 1991, is the most significant and oldest in Italy. It runs from the first weekend after Advent to January 6th and features a mammoth 80 stalls throughout Piazza Walther. You’ll find fantastic Christmas items like felt work, wood carvings, straw stars, tree baubles, and tasty delights like delicious liqueurs, Schuttelbrot flat-bread, and Speck cured ham. If that isn’t enough, a strong smell of cinnamon and mulled wine fills the air as you walk around the stalls. 

2. Funivia del Renon

The Funivia del Renon, or the Bolzano cable car, is another of those must-do things when you are in the area. The cable car takes you 4,541 meters up through breathtaking forestry and countryside into the mountainous community of Sopra Bolzano. Although it only lasts 11 minutes, it is more than worth it. While the lower station sits in Bolzano city center at 274 ASL, the final destination at the top sits at an incredible 1222m ASL. 

From the top, you can enjoy the awe-inspiring views. There’s a light gauge railway up there that allows you to visit nearby villages such as Collalbo, Costalovara, and Renon. 

3. Ristorante Castel Flavon 

There are many great Bolzano restaurants that you should try, depending on how long you are there. However, if you are only there for a day or two, the best of the Bolzano restaurants is undoubtedly the Ristorante Castel Flavon. Found in Bolzano’s south, the restaurant may feel a little out of the city center, but trust us, it is worth it. Just ensure you book well before going to ensure you are satisfied. Housed within the grounds and courtyard of an old castle, this offers the perfect setting for a beautiful meal and is an exceptional example of world-class Italian cuisine. We can’t recommend this eatery enough for anyone looking for a taste of Bolzano. 

4. Le Fantasy – La Tradizione dell’Arte

Many people will read this and wonder, “Is Bolzano expensive?” The truth is, compared to other cities and towns in Italy, thanks to its high inflation rate, Bolzano is one of the most expensive in the country. That doesn’t mean you can’t go there on a tight budget and have a great time, because you can. But if you have the funds and are looking for the best restaurants in Bolzano, Le Fantasy – La Tradizione dell’Arte is a beautiful place to book a table.

Many online reviews rate this establishment highly for its relaxed atmosphere, impeccable customer service, and mouthwatering menu. Fantasy by name, fantasy by experience. Some of the best Italian food and tasty sweets you are ever likely to try can be found here. 

5. South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology 

Situated in the town center, the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology is one of the best things to do in Bolzano. A stunning building in its own right, it’s the exhibition you will want to check out, among the best is undoubtedly the famous Frozen Fritz–Otzi. This exhibition is about a frozen corpse found in the Italian Alps, which is said to be as old as 5,300 years old. Some exhibits and displays focus on Otzi and discuss how the Italian Alps may have looked several thousand years ago. You can also learn more about life for people back then and how they survived. 

This is an excellent place for children, too.

6. Alla Baita – Drink Food and Sound

If there is one type of Italian food you should try while there, it is pizza. There are many fab restaurants in Bolzano that feature pizza on their menu, but if you are looking for the best pizza in Bolzano, you must visit Alla Baita – Drink Food and Sound. Here, you will find affordable and delicious pizzas presented beautifully at your table by a team of staff members who genuinely love their job. 

The atmosphere is vibrant and a lot of fun. Make room for some of the tasty sides and puddings they have on their menu throughout the year. 

7. Puez-Geisler Nature Park

Puez-Geisler Nature Park
Credit: leonid_tit

If you are a fan of the great outdoors and looking for the best hikes from Bolzano, you should spend some time at Puez-Geisler Nature Park. Although it is a little out of the way from Bolzano, at roughly one hour’s drive, this protected area features two stunning mountains, Odle and Puez, meaning there are plenty of hiking opportunities. For all your hard work on the different trails and pathways, you are rewarded with traditional Alpine scenery dense with immaculate forests and pastures on the edge of the mountains. 

8. Piazza Walther

Piazza Walther
Credit: saiko3p

There is a reason why Piazza Walther is mentioned on so many lists of the best things to do around Bolzano – it is the city’s main square and extremely beautiful. Some important historical buildings and monuments are found in the center of Bolzano. To the south of the square, you will find the spectacular Duomo di Bolzano, while in the center of the square, you will see the stunning little romantic fountain.

There are usually several markets in the square and smaller independent stalls close to the existing shops, so a lot of bargain hunting and window shopping can be done here when you are not enjoying the remarkable architecture.

If you need to sit and rest, you can people-watch from one of the many cafes in this beautiful square. 

9. Skiing in Bolzano in Winter

We’ve already discussed the Bolzano Christmas market, an iconic town tradition. The town is even referred to as the Christmas capital of Italy. However, if you are looking for something more energetic and adventurous, skiing is one of the best things to do in Bolzano in winter. Bolzano is a great place to use as a base for your skiing adventures, and there are ski centers based in and around the Italian Alps. 

10. Bolzano Cathedral

Bolzano Cathedral
Credit: Milosk50/Depositphotos

Whether religious or just a lover of fine architecture and places of note, you should visit the Bolzano Cathedral. One of the top things to do in Bolzano is an impressive structure at the southwest corner of the main square. Gothic and Romanesque in design, it dates back to around the 14th and 15th centuries and features a majestic spire that stands 65 meters tall. 

The roof, extended between 1504 and 1519, has an intriguing covering of patterned tiles. 

Take time to appreciate the beautiful carved lion sculptures supporting its columns at the entrance and the exquisite fresco from 1475 of the Madonna and the bronze door. On the inside, you are treated to a Gothic pulpit carved from sandstone and sitting on a singular pillar, a polychrome marble altar with Baroque stylings alongside the Baroque chapel with a selection of frescoes dating back to the 18th century. 

11. Talavera Park

Although it is widely known as one of the most expensive towns in Italy, there are still plenty of great free things to do in Bolzano. Talavera Park is one in particular that you will enjoy with children of all ages or if you are just looking to escape the city vibes in other parts of the town. This vast city park has plenty of pathways to cycle or walk around, shaded areas to sit and relax, well-maintained kids’ playgrounds, and trampolines. 

There are many wonderful green spots where you can stop and have a picnic, and despite its popularity, it is spotless and tidy with very little to no litter around, even at busier points in the day. 

12. Monumento Della Vittoria (or Victory Monument)

Another of the top things to do in Bolzano is visit the imposing Victory Monument built in 1928 by Mussolini to highlight Sud Tirol, South Tyrol’s annexation by Italy following World War I. It is worth noting that Bolzano has a strong German-Italian fusion feel. While the monument may be dedicated to “Martyrs of World War I,” the fascist inscription and symbolism were very provocative for German-speaking residents. There are still controversies surrounding it today, which is why it is protected by fencing. 

13. Castel Tirolo 

One of the best places to go away from but nearby Bolzano is Castel Tirolo. To get there, you need to follow the 4km road from Porta Passiria in the nearby Merano that takes you through the dramatic natural beauty spot of Gilf Gorge, past the 12th and 13th century Castello San Zeno and up Monte Benedetto to Tirolo. 

You can take a 25-minute walk from the town past Castel Fontana and through another gorge to Castel Tirolo. This is a 12th-century castle that was the official residence of the Tirol counts. It is also home to one of the world’s oldest and best-preserved circular walls that was thought to have been built around 1100 AD. 

Within the castle, you will find the Regional Museum, which highlights the area’s history and the castle’s story, allowing a look at daily life during the Middle Ages. Perhaps the most significant and intriguing exhibit is the detailed timeline of events in Tyrol’s checkered history, separated into five and six-year segments. This features artifacts and photos from each period and is displayed on different levels that you can view as you climb the steps of the castle’s tower. 

14. Explore the Dolomites

The Dolomites
Credit: Dreamypixel/Depositphotos

When looking for great things to do around Bolzano, a day trip to the Dolomites should be on your list. Bolzano is a great place to use as a base camp for your adventures. The Dolomites are a stunning mountain group offering a different side to Italy that you won’t get anywhere else. Bordering Austria, they have their own unique cuisine, culture, and landscape. In the Dolomites, you can explore and

wonder at the jaggy and dramatic limestone peaks, paradisaic alpine meadows with cows grazing, and beautiful pristine rolling hills and flourishing olive trees. 

It is an experience for all five senses and one you will want to experience if you head to Bolzano this year. 

Final Thoughts

Even though it is criminally overlooked and undervalued in numerous travelogues and on travel sites, many top things to do in Bolzano will offer you a unique Italian experience. The town’s mixed German and Italian culture, the intimidating and stunning Dolomites that guard over the city in the distance, and the warmth the locals show to everyone are just a few of the great things that make this town a must-visit. 

Great food, fantastic architecture, a 5,300-year-old, stunningly preserved mummy named Otzi, and an addictively gentle and relaxed atmosphere are some of the many reasons those in the know cite for loving Bolzano. Although we have done our best to provide you with a great selection of things to do around Bolzano, we are sure we still need to include some items. If you think we have, please let us know in the comments below so we can continue to make this guide the best guide to things to do in Bolzano, no matter what time of the year you visit.

Originally Published on

Steve Cummings Journalist, Traveler, and Personal Finance Enthusiast

Steve Cummings is a traveler, writer, and personal finance enthusiasts that has taken an adventure to leave his home country to travel and live around the world with his family. Through many years of learning he seeks to help those to save more and travel better. He has been featured in MSN, The Associate Press Wire, and various other content outlets with his writing and publications through his website The Frugal Expat. In the last six years, He has traveled to all seven continents, over 30 different countries, and has lived abroad learning and teaching others about good financial habits and travel hacks.

As an ex-English Teacher, he hopes to provide good tips and education on money and travel to help people think outside the box and achieve the impossible.

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