Welcome to this guide on things to do in Merano, Italy.
Merano is one of the main centers of South Tyrol, based in the Trentino Alto Adige region, in the province of Bolzano, north of Italy.
It’s also called the ‘pearl of South Tyrol‘ and it’s quite popular for the Christmas Markets, attracting visitors from all over Europe.
Merano is a great starting point to reach the best ski slopes, go trekking and soak in all the beauty of the wonderful natural landscapes around this area.
Table of Contents
Things to do in Merano
Merano offers a wide range of things to see and do. Starting from architectural and historical attractions such as castles, towers and museums based in the heart of the alpine town.
Learn all about the best things to do in Merano and how to get there, below.
Is Merano worth visiting?
- Since the second half of the 19th century, Merano has been an important health and holiday resort, thanks to its mild climate, the quality of the air and its thermal waters. Since 2005 you access the Merano Thermal Baths, located on the banks of the Passirio river. The perfect place where to relax and unwind after a long day of trekking.
- Merano’s surrounding area is packed with paths and walks accessible directly from the city center . The hiking trails wind for 18 kilometers, can be used all year round. Among the most known and popular routes we find the Tappeiner walk, also known as the ‘Sissi path’, and the numerous paths of the canals, the ‘Waalwege’, with easy walks for the family, and challenging multi-day mountain hikes. Breathtaking views of the Dolomites are guaranteed!
- Merano’s cuisine is a mix of Alpine and Mediterranean recipes. Among the best products you can taste here, there are: the trout of the Passirio river, top quality cured meats and among all the famous speck, a wide variety of fresh and aged cheeses the ‘canederli‘, traditional alpine dumplings. To conclude, a must-eat sweet food is the apple strudel and the Kaiserschmarrn, the ‘sweet omelette of the Emperor’.
How to get to Merano italy?
The closest airport to Merano is the Bolzano/Bozen (BZO) which is 19Km away from the town. It’s a small airport and the airline flying here is SkyAlps.
Bolzano is connected to some cities in Germany like Hamburg and Berlin, Billung in Denmark, Antwerp in Belgium during winter time and Copenhagen.
You can also reach the airport from Italian cities like Lamezia Terme in Calabria and Brindisi in Puglia. The other closest airports are Venice Treviso, Verona, Venice and Milan Bergamo.
From these airports or if coming from other parts of northern Italy, you’ll drive or get a train. For most travelers hiring a car is the best way to arrive as it gives you chance to explore nearby nature or go hiking outside Merano.
You can also get there by train from different cities, but it will require some changes. The city from where you can change train to Merano is Bolzano.
The best city to start your journey (that’s also served by an international airport) is Verona, from where you can get a train to Bolzano and change just once to get to Merano.
7 Things to do in Merano
Merano is a town, therefore you won’t need more than a day to visit its historical city centre, but if you start adding a few more attractions based just outside it and go hiking, it would be better to spend a night or two.
Here you can find a list of 7 things to do in Merano that will make you fall in love with this enchanting town in the mountains.
In the heart of the historical city center, one of the first things to do in Merano is a walk along via dei Portici, or ‘Laubengasse’. This road, divided in two, is one of the oldest in the town, with around 800 years of history.
One part is towards the mountain and is known as ‘Portici di Montagna’ (mountain porticoes) and another part is towards the Passirio river and is known as ‘Portici d’Acqua’ (water porticoes).
The porticoes were built in the Middle Ages when the city was born and via dei Portici is 400 meters long, the longest porticoed street in the Tyrol region. On the ground floor, you can now find a lot of shops, bars and restaurants.
On the upper floors, there are houses dating back to different centuries. If you’re looking for a cozy place to stay just in the middle of via dei Portici, we recommend the spacious flats Augustiner in Meran.
River Passirio Promenade
The river Passirio promenade develops along the bank of the Passirio river, from the Ponte della Posta to the Ponte del Teatro.
It is the most popular walk in town, shaded by trees and by the Kurhaus, a symbol of the thermal Merano and venue of congresses, music and cultural events, built-in 1874.
The promenade is dotted by beautiful Art Nouveau buildings and small flower gardens, some of them planted with tall palm trees.
Here you can also find the great sign of Merano, that visitors like taking pictures of. The Lungopassirio promenade is one of the oldest in the whole town, dating back to the 19th century.
The Terme di Merano is one of the largest spas in Italy and a tourist resort for tourists coming from all over the country.
The spa center is particularly famous because Elizabeth of Bavaria, better known as Princess Sissi, used to spend her time here during her stay at the Trauttmansdorff Castle to carry out thermal treatments.
In total there are 15 indoor and 10 outdoor swimming pools, saunas with outdoor areas and an exclusive wellness area with some relaxation areas.
There are different wellness packages you can choose from, like the ‘brunch and terme’ or the ‘aperitivo and terme’ one!
The normal day pass for the thermal baths for an adult costs 23,50 euros and 15,50 euros for children aged 4-14. Learn more about the Merano Terme offer, from their website.
Castel Trauttmansdorff and Gardens
Trauttmansdorff Castle is one of the other things to do in Merano that you can’t miss. Located a few kilometers from the city center, you can reach it within a 45-minute walk. It’s existed since the 14th century when it was known as Neuberg.
The name changed when the Count of Styria Joseph von Trauttmansdorff bought in 1846, making several changes and expansions with the addition of large gardens and neo-Gothic elements. The castle is the first neo-Gothic structure in Tyrol.
Today, there is also the Touriseum, the tourism museum, that covers 250 years of this region’s tourism history.
Since 2001 the surrounding gardens have been opened as a botanical garden divided into natural landscapes and thematic areas to exhibit plants from all over the world. There’s an area dedicated to South Tyrol’s flora.
The Steinach quarter is the oldest district of Merano, and extends between Porta Passiria and Piazza Duomo. It’s a bit run-down area, but that’s where its charm lies on too.
Here you can spot old shop signs where the houses’ plaster is peeling. This area of Merano was built in the 12th century and is characterized by narrow streets that pass between tall buildings in the South Tyrolean style.
Here is also the Santer Klause restaurant, and the court of Merano used to gather here from the early Middle Ages. There are two streets, the ‘Passeirer Gasse’, with ancient buildings, and the ‘Hallergasse’ with both modern and old buildings.
The Tappeiner Walk is a 6 kilometers pedestrian path that owes its name to the botanist Franz Tappeiner, who wanted it, so his patients can walk along it.
It runs along Monte Benedetto da Quarazze up to Castel San Zeno. Reaching it is simple thanks to several routes completed completely on foot.
During the walk, you can enjoy panoramic views of snow-capped mountains and local and foreign trees like the domestic pines, Himalayan cedars, olive trees, eucalyptus, magnolia and bamboo. One of the best route you can take is the one that leads from the Powder Tower to the historical city centre.
The Powder Tower is one of the main attractions and the best things to do in Merano, and that’s because of the incredible panorama you can admire from the top of it.
The tower is an ancient Roman structure 28 meters high built on a rock and used as a viewing platform that can be reached by climbing the modern staircase.
In the past it was used as watchtower and during the Middle Ages, the walls have been reinforced.
From the top of it, it’s possible to enjoy a wonderful view over the whole city, the well-preserved city walls of the ancient city and the Val d’Adige surrounded by the peaks of the Tessa mountain range.
Things to do in Merano
This is a list of some of the best things to do in Merano that we hope can come in handy when visiting it.
The lovely town nestled between the mountains is a great escape from visiting bigger cities in Italy.
If you’re looking for a place where to unwind and reconnect with nature surrounded by mountains, then you should definitely visit Merano.
For extra inspiration on how to spend 2 weeks in Italy from north to south and how to not miss all the best this country has to offer, read our blog.
Dear responsible traveler: This post may contain affiliate links, which means, if you click through and make a purchase, book a tour or a hotel, we may earn a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you. Your support means a lot and helps us to maintain the quality of this site.