Merano Italy

Discover Sissi’s Favorite Spa Town: 2 Itineraries With The Best Things to Do in Merano, South Tyrol



Nestled in Northern Italy’s South Tyrol region, close to the Austrian border, lies the captivating spa town of Merano. Known for its mild climate, picturesque mountain setting, and restorative thermal waters, Meran charmed 19th century European aristocracy and still enchants visitors today.

Once the favored retreat of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, affectionately called “Sissi,” Merano remains a place to relax, restore, and immerse in nature. Beyond the cozy cafes and historic sites lies a wealth of scenic walking trails, gardens, and cable car rides revealing breathtaking Alpine vistas.

This article offers two fabulous itineraries for experiencing the best of Merano and its surroundings, whether you seek a peaceful day strolling through town and castle gardens or a more adventurous hike along mountain paths. Read on to discover why Sissi called this little slice of the Italian Alps her favorite place to escape.

Where is Merano Italy?

The Thermal Town of Merano is located in the region of Trentino Alto Adige, Italy’s northernmost region, at the borders with Austria. 

It’s often referred to as Meran South Tyrol, not as Merano Trentino, because it’s located in the northern half of the region, in the province of Bolzano – also referred to as South Tyrol, or Sudtirol in German and Alto Adige in Italian.

This peaceful city has a town feel but is the second largest one in South Tyrol, after Bolzano. It’s also just a 30-minute drive or 40-minute train ride from the capital.

Merano city centre

Is Merano Italy worth visiting?

While we are still at the beginning of this article, which means I haven’t had the chance to show you what this city has to offer, I am positive that by just looking at the pictures you’ll want to visit this enchanting place.

Whether you just want to thick another city off your Italian list or are fascinated with a specific aspect of this destination, here are three main reasons to visit Merano:

  1. Merano is a city with a tranquil soul; that’s why it feels like a town. No surprise Princess Sissi claimed it as her favorite town to rest, relax, and be in nature.
  1. Merano has different sides to it that can appeal to different interests:
    1. the scenic promenades, gardens, and hiking trails for nature lovers, 
    2. the charming historic center with beautiful cafes for city lovers,
    3. the castles for anyone in history,
    4. the thermal towns for those looking to relax,
    5. and the cable car excursions for those who want to venture out.
  1. Merano is also a delicious place to be because its Alpine-Mediterranean Cuisine has a strong Austriac influence, especially when it comes to desserts.

In this article, I will give you two full-day itineraries to inspire your visit to this beautiful Alpine city. So if you aren’t sure whether Merano is worth a visit, wait till you see those.

What is the history of Merano?

Merano boasts an ancient history, with evidence of Roman settlements in the area dating back to the Castrum Maiense. In the 13th century, it gained city status as “Mairania,” marking the origins of its historic center. The Roman fortified settlement, known as “Castrum Maiense,” evolved into the Maia district. 

Merano was first mentioned in 857 and flourished under the counts of Tyrol in the 1200s, officially becoming a city in the 13th century. However, its economic significance diminished when the Tyrolean counts relocated to Innsbruck in 1420. It regained prominence during the Tyrolean Liberation Wars of 1809, led by Andreas Hofer. 

Merano’s history as a vital climatic resort emerged in the 19th century when Empress Elisabeth of Austria and the European nobility chose it for their health retreats. This era witnessed the construction of elegant hotels and iconic Art Nouveau buildings like the Pavillon des Fleurs, Kurhaus, and Puccini Theater. 

Despite a slowdown in the economy between the World Wars, Merano experienced a resurgence in the 1970s, reclaiming its status as a spa town and city of gardens. Notable features include the enchanting Gardens of Castel Trauttmansdorff and the rejuvenating Terme Merano.

If you are a history lover and want to know every detail of Merano’s development into its current state, you can find the full timeline from 3000 B.C. on the Merano Local Council’s website.

Sissi statue in Merano

Sissi in Merano

Thanks to Empress Elisabeth of Austria, affectionately known as Sissi, Merano became the possibly most famous climatic resort in all of Europe by the end of the 19th century. Sissi first visited Merano in 1870 with her daughters, Gisela and the ailing two-year-old Valerie, who suffered from a pulmonary disease and found relief in Merano’s invigorating air

They stayed at Castel Trauttmansdorff, where all the rooms were restored and redecorated for their comfort. As Valerie recovered, Viennese newspapers began praising the town’s mild and healthy climate, sparking a Merano boom

In September 1889, eight months after the death of Crown Prince Rudolf, Sissi returned to Castel Trauttmansdorff. During this visit, now known as “the woman in black,” Elisabeth rarely left the castle. 

Today, Castel Trauttmansdorff stands as a museum (Touriseum) illustrating 200 years of Tyrolean tourism. The gardens host the “Trono di Sissi”, a three-meter marble seat erected in 1908 in her honor. 

The Sissi Trail and Summer Walk, starting from the castle, offer a journey through 11 stops, unveiling historical sites in Merano. Terme Merano provides a “Sissi bath” inspired by her alleged daily milk baths, and Bagni Egart in Parcines, once frequented by Sissi, is now the Imperial-regal Bad Egart Museum. 

Merano’s association with Sissi remains a key element in its rich history, attracting visitors to relive the empress’s legacy.

Merano Itinerary 1: A Tranquil Sightseeing Day in this Alpine Town

This first itinerary is perfect for anyone who loves a good day of sightseeing and doesn’t mind walking. You’ll get to admire the views, see the historic center of Merano, and venture a little out in two different directions. However, I have given you all the information you need to make up your mind when it comes to duration and required effort for specific activities. You also have plenty of options to swap one activity for another.

Excluding the Tappeinerweg Trail at the end, this was my itinerary when I last visited Merano. I hope you can enjoy it as much as I did, but please wear comfortable shoes and clothing.

8:35 AM: Regional Train from Bolzano to Merano – duration 40 minutes.

Even if you are taking a day trip from a different city, I suggest you get to Merano by 9:30 latest since there’s a lot to see. 

Merano train station

9:15 AM: Arrive in Merano by train or car

Get a sense of the city with your Google Maps and open this article, unless you have a printed copy.

9:30 AM: Walk towards the Passer River (Fiume Passirio) & City Center

The walk only takes around 15 minutes.

You can either go through Corso della Liberta and admire the beautiful architecture, or you can proceed towards the Passirio River via Via Rezia and then take a left to walk along the Passer river. On Google Maps you can find it as Passeggiata lungo il Passirio or Passepromenade.

Ponte della Posta or Postbrucke bridge Merano
Postbrucke Merano

Theaterbrucke & Postbrucke Bridges

Along the Passirio path, you’ll find 5 different bridges where you can stop and take the beautiful views of the river and the surrounding mountains. The most impressive ones not to miss are:

  1. Theaterbrucke – a bridge with a green railing that takes its name from its proximity to Piazza Teatro, the square near the Puccini Theatre, and the latter.
  1. Postbrucke – a gorgeous white bridge that leads to Via Roma and the entrance to the old town as well as two famous walking paths loved by Sissi. 

Teatro Puccini Merano

While walking along the Passeier Promenade on your way from the train station, right after you go across the Theaterbrucke bridge you should also take the time to explore Piazza Teatro and the Puccini Theatre area. 

When I visited, the theater was completely shut for refurbishment and the facade was all covered in scaffolding. However, you might have more luck during your visit and maybe take a quick peek inside.

Kurhaus Merano
Kurhaus Merano

Kurhaus Merano

You can’t miss admiring this building, designed by Viennese Friedrich Ohmann, even if just from outside as you head towards the Winter Promenade. It’s the symbol of Merano as a spa town. Kurhaus means health resort in German.

Currently, the building is being used as a theater for concerts, banquets, seminars, and balls.

Unfortunately, you can only visit if there’s an event going on and the building is open to the public. Nonetheless, admiring it from the outside is something you shouldn’t miss.

Merano Promenade: Sissi Trails

Right after Postprucke, or Ponte della Posta, you have two beautiful and short walking trails to choose from. The one on the left is called “Passeggiata d’Inverno” or Winter Walk, because that path is more exposed to the sun, which as we know we all need more of during Winter. Whereas the one on the right side of the bridge is more shaded, and therefore more suitable for a Summer walk. That’s why they call it Summer Walk or in Italian “Passeggiata d’Estate”

If you only take one path, I would suggest the Winter Walk because of the stunning architecture and paintings on the walls of the Wandelhalle. However, each one takes around 15 minutes so you may want to do them both.

Sissi Statue Meran

If you choose not to walk along the Summer Trail, you still want to head towards the beginning of the trail so that you can admire the imposing Sissi Statue, built in honor of the Empress.

Passer river Merano
Ponte Romano Merano

Frainz Tappeiner Steg & Ponte Romano Merano Bridges

Whichever path you choose to take first, you can access these bridges from both sides. The first one, Franz Tappeiner Steg, makes the most scenic spot for a selfie or a group picture. The second, Ponte Romano, is a beautiful example of Roman architecture.

Once you are done with both paths or just one, head back to Postbrucke – the beautiful white bridge just a few minutes away.

11:00 AM: Brunch in Merano Old Town

If you are feeling peckish and want to head straight to have a warm or cold drink and a pastry, here are the two spots I suggest:

1. Caffè Aida Pasticceria

This one not only has a large variety of delicious tasting desserts influenced by Austria, but it’s a great one for people watching right next to San Nicolo Church.

2. Kuntino’s Cafe & Restaurant (check if open here)

This cafe belongs to one of the hotels listed below in my list of recommended accommodations. It’s located in a very historic street and building. The atmosphere inside is very contemporary, whereas outside you can immerse yourself in the historic setting while enjoying your choice of food and drinks and people-watching.

My husband and I had a drink and cake as a late breakfast but all the other food being served looked delicious. We chose a local fruit tart and a carrot cake, both very tasty.

Noon: Exploring Merano Old Town

After your indulgent one-hour break you should be fueled to keep walking. This time we’ll be doing a little more sightseeing. Feel free to do a spot of shopping too, if you don’t mind skipping on the castle or final hike.

In the map below, you can see all the main spots you’ll be visiting in the old town as part of this itinerary. It should only take 30 minutes unless you stop and visit the small castle.

First Stop: Bozner Tor

I suggest you start your tour of the old town from the main city gate, called Bozner Tor or Porta di Bolzano. Don’t be confused by its name, we are still in Merano :).

The name is likely because Merano was at the time the base for the Hapsburg Dynasty before they moved to Innsbruck. As Merano is located closer to Austria, at that time it represented the gate to Bolzano and the rest of Italy. 

San Nicolò Merano & St Barbara Chapel

Once you go through Bozner tor, the entrance of Merano old city, walk straight and arrive at a crossroad. If you take a right onto Piazza Duomo – the name of the square but also the street, you’ll see the big St Nicholas Church and the small St Barbara Chapel right next to each other. You can visit both freely.

Passeier Tor Meran

When you are done visiting the churches, you should proceed to Passeirer Tor der Meraner or Merano Porta Passiria in Italian through Via Haller. This is a really impressive tall and thin stone tower with a steel gate that represents one of the entrances to the old town. It was built in the XIV century.

Once you are done admiring the Passeier Tor, you can either take the stairs down towards the Winter Promenade or proceed with the old town tour, which I suggest.

Laubengasse Merano

From Porta Passiria walk back to St Nicholas Church in Piazza Duomo and take a right towards Via dei Portici or Laubengasse. This is a beautiful, relatively narrow street that features local architecture. A very similar street, with the same name, can also be found in Bolzano’s old town.

Castello Principesco Merano 

From Via dei Portici you can access Castello Principesco, a small castle located right in the middle of the old town. If you’d like to visit the inner rooms, the ticket costs €5 per person. If not, go around the castle (you’ll understand what I mean once you are there; the castle is located in the middle of a large area so you can walk around all its walls, in just a few minutes) and take a peek at the small dwarf-style door to get a sense of the interiors. It’s quick and free.

If you are wondering, this small castle was built in the 15th century and was the private residence of Sigismund – an Austrian Archduke. 

Those are the main spots in Merano’s old town. However, feel free to explore other streets and do some shopping in the gorgeous boutiques. You’ll find many along Laubengasse.

hike to Trauttmansdorff castle
Hike to Trauttmansdorff Castle

13:00 PM: Trauttmansdorff Castle

Merano requires a lot of walking, especially if you plan to take the most famous trails and also visit the Merano Trauttmansdorff Castle on foot. The walk from the center to the castle takes around 40 minutes but because it’s inclined it can get tiring, particularly if you’ve been walking all morning. So make sure to rest before you start and wear comfortable shoes and clothing. Bring some water too.

Opening hours:

The Castle is open from April till mid-November between 9 am and 7 pm till October and then the closing time is anticipated by one or two hours as it starts to get darker earlier in the afternoon.


€16 per person 


Gardens can’t be accessed without a ticket.

You need 2 to 3 hours to visit the museum and gardens.

Trauttmansdorff Castle Merano
Trauttmansdorff Castle Merano

Don’t expect a castle with historic interiors but more so a museum and gardens. The castle now hosts the Museum of Tourism. Nonetheless, if you are a Sissi fan, you might love imagining her spending the days in this building back in the 1800s when she would visit with her children and husband.

By the time you get back to the city, it should be around 4:30 pm. You should consider heading back to your car or the train station. It’s been a long day!

If you decide to start your day in Merano earlier than suggested in this itinerary, you might have enough time to do the following hike. Even so, please assess your energy levels. If not, you can always do it on your next visit to Merano or on your second day, if you are staying the night. You can also swap the castle visit with the hike. It’s your choice.

Optional Add On: Merano Hiking & Tappeinerweg Trail

There’s another famous trail I haven’t mentioned yet. It’s a long one – 4km per way – and can take you around 3 hours in total (both ways), 2 hours if you are fast. 

The trail is considered one of the most beautiful higher-walking trails in Europe (400 m) . Along the path, you can admire different types of gardens – from herb gardens to flower gardens. 

Should you wish to go on this hike here’s the map.

Itinerary 2: A Relaxing Day in Merano (Terme Merano + More)

My second itinerary involves less walking and more relaxing. If you are staying in Merano for longer than one day, you can use this itinerary for your second or third day, or even split it into two parts. If you’ve already been to Merano before and want to visit it again, this itinerary will provide you with a completely different way to experience this beautiful city – more like a princess than an explorer. Don’t worry, though, I will throw in a little adventure for you at the end.

Merano Terme
Merano Thermal Baths

First Stop: Merano Thermal Baths

Open every day all year long, this thermal house includes 15 indoor pools and 10 outdoor pools in summer, a wonderfully relaxing sauna, relaxation areas, and beautifully decorated treatment rooms.

You can spend from two hours to the entire day, with these 3 different tickets:

Thermal BathsThermal Baths + Sauna
2 hours€17€13€26
5 hours€19€14€29
Day Pass€25€17€37
Merano Thermal Baths Prices

The prices are the same in Summer. You only pay an extra €2 on weekends and public holidays, independently of the season.

In Summer, 2 special tickets include food:

Day Ticket + Brunch at €45 per person

Aperitivo + 5 hours at the spa at €24 per person – available from 4 pm

As for opening hours, the spa is open all year long from 9 am to 9 pm, although the bistro and treatments close at 7 pm.

The Thermal Baths offers both a regular area and a nudist pool. Food is allowed and a bistro is available. Should you need to purchase swimwear, towels, etc, they are all available in their shop.

As for booking the tickets, you can book via their app (more info here). Treatments can be booked via email or phone (,  0473 252024).

Brunch in Merano

Swimming always makes me hungry, what about you? 

I suggest heading for a spot of brunch right after your time at the Terme. Here are 2 options, just 5 minutes walk away.

  1. Café Villa Bux (view it on Google)
  2. Bäckerei-Panificio Mein Beck (on google)

Shopping in Merano Italy in Via Portici

After breakfast, take a 10-minute stroll towards Laubengasse and enjoy shopping in a beautiful historic and very local setting, the porticoes. 

Did you know that the locals call those porticoes with a specific name depending on their direction? The porticoes facing the Passirio River are called Wasserlauben, whereas those towards Mountain Kuchelberg are referred to as Berglauben.

If you need some inspiration as to what to buy, here are some great pieces you’ll find in Merano:

– leather goods
– shoes
– bags
– outerwear
– unique clothing pieces from local curated boutiques
– Christmas Decorations
– wine
– speck
– local cheeses like Stelvio

Merano promenade

Merano Cable Car Excursion: Choose Between Merano – Tirolo and Merano – Scena

After a couple of hours of shopping, end the day with a cable car ride to one of these scenic mountain spots. 

Merano to Tirolo Italy & Alta Muta (Chairlift + Cable Car)

This one is only available from April to October as it is an open chairlift. However, you can reach Tirolo by car and public transport all year round. It’s important to note that you will have to go up alone, as each chairlift is just for one person. I am sure one kid can go up with an adult, provided they fit.

Once at the top, you can explore the town of Tirol. And if you fancy getting even higher, you can take the bus 222 to Dorf Tirol and take the Hochmut cable car to Mutspitz or Alta Muta.

The combined ticket for both chairlift and cable car is €15 per person.

The bus ticket costs €1.50 per person per ride and can be bought from the Tourist Office in Meran Center or at the train station

In Tirolo you can visit the local church and castle whereas in Alta Muta you’ll immerse yourself in nature. Depending on the time you have available many activities can be enjoyed, from horse riding for kids on a small horse named Jacob to bird flight performance.

Tirolo can also be accessible all year round by car and public transport via road. This means that you can enjoy the traditional Christmas Advent Events at Castle Tirolo with the locals, should you wish to visit this time of the year.

If you’d like to see what Tirolo has to offer, head to the Merano website.

The Enchanting Village of Scena Italy

Scena or Schenna is another village above Merano, located 600 meters up. Here you can visit the old local church and admire the local castle from afar, given that it’s currently inhabited by its owners.

You can reach Scena by car or public transport, in 10 and 30 minutes respectively; the cable car ride will come next.

For nature lovers and hikers, there’s a fitness park on top as well as many hiking paths and even a high-rope course. If you come in the Summer, don’t miss the Summer nights with local food and music.

From Scena you can take the cable car that takes you to Mountain Scena – with a height of 1450 meters and admire the spectacular views. A two-way ticket for an adult costs €13.50. For opening hours check here.

You can learn more about Scena here.

Bolzano or Merano

Let me start by saying that these two cities are so breathtakingly beautiful, yet different that I’d highly suggest you consider staying in both of them. You can either split your time in Alto Adige between the two or visit Bolzano first, and then stay in Merano during your next trip to the Italian Dolomites. Believe me when I say you’ll want to!

If you are in the Dolomites but you are staying in a different location, like Ortisei for example, definitely keep in mind that both cities are worth a visit, so I suggest at least planning a day trip for each. 

If you are interested in choosing one of them as your base during your time in the Dolomites, here are important things to know about these cities that will help you choose the perfect South Tyrol base for you.

  1. Bolzano is a better base for visiting Ortisei and getting on the Seceda mountain, unless you plan to drive, in which case the driving distance is 20 minutes longer from Merano.
  2. Bolzano has a more Northern city vibe while Merano feels like a holiday town. 
  3. Both towns feature Austriac-inspired architecture but I find that Merano feels like an Austrian town, and reminds me in particular of Salzburg.
  4. If you plan to visit other Italian regions that are not in Northern Italy, I suggest staying in Bolzano as you are likely to find better and faster train connections.
  5. Both cities offer spectacular cable car excursions, but if I could only choose one I wouldn’t want to miss the cable car to Oberbozen.
  6. Bolzano has a slightly larger historic town than Merano but both are beautiful.
  7. Bolzano’s Walter Platz is unique with its Gothic cathedral and Renaissance-style buildings. On the other hand, Merano’s promenade along the Passirio river it’s not something you can find in the capital.
  8. Both cities offer splendid hiking and walking trails – Talavera Promenade and Guncina walk in Bolzano, Tappeiner Promenade and Waalweg paths in Merano are beautiful and easily accessible from the center.
  9. Seasonally speaking, I think Bolzano can be a wonderful destination both in Winter and at Christmas as well as in Spring and Summer. On the other hand, I think Merano shines in the warmer months from May to October.
  10. While Bolzano has an airport and Merano doesn’t, that shouldn’t impact your decision as with just one operating airline – Sky Pass – there are limited flights departing and arriving from/in Bolzano. Innsbruck, Venice, and Bologna are the best airports to get into both cities.

Overall, I believe Bolzano is better suited for visitors wanting to experience Northern Italy for the first time as well as visit the Dolomites. On the other hand, I suggest you stay in Merano if you have already visited Bolzano before, or you are looking for a relaxed stay in the Italian mountains and want to use the thermal facilities.

Other Things to Know about Meran Italy

Merano Italy Weather

Notwithstanding its location in the Alps, Merano has a relatively mild weather, with warmer Summers than the surrounding cities and also less colder Winters.

Here are average temperatures for each month of the year.

Merano Winter

Although earlier I said that Merano shines in the warmer months, that doesn’t mean you can’t experience it during Winter. If you like Salzburg in Winter, or love to warm up at the thermal baths, enjoy delicious cakes from strudel to Sacher torte, and want a less crowded skiing experience you should consider visiting Merano after Christmas.

Merano language

Like most cities and towns in South Tyrol, Meran is a bilingual city with two official languages – Italian and German. That’s reflected not only in the fact that many locals can speak both but also in the public signs and other public information – displayed in both languages.

Merano Wine Festival

Although not as famous as Tuscany when it comes to wines, the Alto Adige area has gained recent acclaim, particularly for its award-winning white wines. Merano and its surroundings produce internationally renowned varieties like Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Gewürztraminer, Riesling, and Kerner.

Merano also takes pride in two local red wines: Lagrein, a robust, fruity wine perfect for pairing with venison, and Schiava, with its bright ruby color, fruity aroma, and light, soft finish. Schiava is traditionally enjoyed during the South Tyrolean snack (Marende), featuring speck, sausage, and cheese.

The region also excels in producing high-quality Pinot Nero and Merlot varieties.

For 32 years in a row, Merano has been hosting a wine festival every November, and it’s not a simple local festival but an international one where over 5000 wines from different parts of the world are tasted and judged to receive the Wine Hunter Award.

Anyone can attend the Festival and the ticket price starts at €130. Apart from experiencing a large exhibition of wines, you can also attend wine masterclasses, WineHunter talks, and expert-guided wine tastings. The best part is that the profits will be donated to the Missionary Group of Merano to fund projects in South Africa. You can find more about it here.

Merano Grape Festival

The Merano Grape Festival, a celebration that repeats itself since 1886, combines South Tyrolean traditions with contemporary flair. Taking place in October, the festival presents a vibrant array of events showcasing the authentic and youthful spirit of this historic occasion. Visitors can explore the Merano market, featuring local products, and indulge in autumn dishes blending northern and southern influences.

The festival is also a feast for wine enthusiasts, offering a selection of fine wines from the Burggrafenamt region. Alpine music echoes through the town center on Sunday, with concerts by South Tyrolean young music bands. The highlight is the annual parade, featuring bands and organizations in traditional costumes with a lively procession starting at the Vinschgauer Gate or Porta Venosta.

What to Eat in Merano

With all the walking trails mentioned in this article, you are going to have plenty of options for a picnic. As for where to have that picnic, you can find great seating with views of the Passeier Promenade near the Kurhaus, as it has many benches overlooking the river.

Local foods to pick up for your picnic include:

Best Hotels in Merano Italy 

If you are going to Merano for longer than one day, to attend the wine festival or spend the week in full bliss, you’ll likely need a hotel. Here are the best ones:

Relais & Chateaux Hotel Castel Fragsburg (Luxury Castle)

This has to be la creme de la creme in Merano, or as we say in Italian “il meglio del meglio”. Located 15 15-minute car drive from the center of Merano, this hotel offers unbelievable panoramic mountain views, a real castle setting with the high standards that Relais & Chateaux hotels are known for, gourmet cuisine, and an excellent wellness center.

Price per night: starting from €800 per room

Palace Hotel Merano
Palace Hotel Merano

Hotel Palace Merano 

If you want to experience luxury accommodation right in the center of Merano then this one is a better option than my first suggestion. Although not set in a castle, the hotel is located in a beautiful historic building and has been operating since the early 1900s. You can expect lavish interiors and beautiful curated gardens, just a few steps from the famous Sissi promenade.

Price per night: starting from €600 per room

Hotel Terme Merano

Those looking for a more luxurious stay focused on relaxation might want to stay at the Hotel Terme di Merano. You’ll be benefiting from all the amenities including private parking, two wellness centers, and two swimming pools, three restaurants all along spectacular mountain views.

Price per night: starting from €500 per room

Kuntino Suites

Guests rate it as exceptional on With its clean, very Nordic curated interiors this can be the perfect spot for those wanting more space than a small hotel room can offer. Yet you don’t have to sacrifice on location, seeing that it’s located right in a historic building in the center.

Price per night: starting from €200 per room

Guesthouse diWine

If you like trendy hotels, this sustainable bed and breakfast near the train station is the spot for you. With its mix of Nordic and eclectic interiors, it offers a comfortable stay in style. 

Price per night: starting from €180 per room

Hotel Aurora

Located right on the river Passiero, along the famous promenade, and just opposite the thermal baths this is ideal for those looking for a more budget-friendly hotel than the Terme ones but still close to the thermal baths and all the amenities Merano has to offer.

Price per night: starting from €120 per room

Day Trips Around Merano

One of the aspects I love the most about this part of Italy is the easy access to the mountain towns via cable car. If you too enjoy that experience, you’ll be pleased to know that many cable car day trips can be planned from Merano.

The best two (in my opinion) are the ones I listed in my second itinerary, Merano to Tirolo and Merano to Scena Mountain. Other ones you may want to look into are:

  1. Merano 2000
  2. Rio Lagundo
  3. Schwemmalm 
  4. Val Senales Glacier
  5. Unterstell Naturno

How Do You Get to Merano Italy?

Now that you know a lot about Merano, you can make up your mind whether to visit it or not. If you do, here’s all the info you need to get there.

Here are the best ways to get to Merano from other parts of the region or other Northern cities.

Milan to Merano

It takes roughly the same time to travel from Milan to Merano by car and by train, although the train involves a stop in Peschiera del Garda.

Bolzano to Merano

You can reach Merano from the capital city of Bolzano in just 30 minutes by car or 40 40-minute direct train ride. If you choose the train option, it’s important to note that your Bolzano Card can also be used on all regional trains heading to Merano. Don’t forget to stamp each card both ways before boarding the train. You can find the stamping machines inside the train station’s main hall.

Verona to Merano

Getting into Merano by car will take you about 2 hours from Verona Airport or the center, whereas the train ride from the center takes nearly 2.5 hours and requires a stop in Bolzano.

Bologna to Merano

The train ride from Bologna involves stopping in Bolzano and takes around 3.5 hours, which is similar to the time taken to drive there.

Best Airports to Fly into Merano

Both Verona and Bolzano are also great cities to fly into from European countries, whereas Milan and Venice are better options if you are coming from the US and other continents.

Final Thoughts on the City of Merano

From its historic squares and bridges to the flower-filled Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle to invigorating walks in Alpine foothills, Merano delivers visual splendor and simple pleasures at every turn. With thermal baths to soothe both body and mind after days spent exploring, it’s easy to understand why Sissi returned year after year.

If you are planning a South Tyrol vacation, check out these other guides:

Seceda Mountain Peak Day Trip

Brixen Town (aka Bressanone)

Frequently Asked Questions About Merano

Is Merano Italy worth visiting?

Yes, Merano is absolutely worth visiting for its mild climate, beautiful mountain setting, historic architecture, relaxing thermal baths, scenic walking trails, and gardens. It offers a blend of natural and cultural attractions.

Is Merano expensive?

Compared to other Italian and European tourist destinations, Merano offers good value across travel categories like hotels, dining, sightseeing, and shopping. It is less expensive than places like Rome or Paris.

How do you get to Merano Italy?

You can reach Merano by car or train from cities like Bolzano (40 minutes), Milan (3.5 hours), Verona (2.5 hours), Venice, and Innsbruck. The closest airports are Verona, Innsbruck, Treviso, and Venice Marco Polo. 

What is Merano Italy known for?

Merano is best known for its spa resorts and mild climate, which attracted 19th century European nobility like Empress Elisabeth of Austria. It is also renowned for its picturesque mountain setting, scenic walking trails, cable cars, botanical gardens, and South Tyrolean cuisine.

What language do they speak in Merano Italy?

Merano is bilingual – most locals speak both Italian and German. All public signs and information are provided in both languages, reflecting Merano’s history and border location.  

Which is better Bolzano or Merano?

Both cities have distinct appeal. Bolzano offers more big city amenities while Merano has a more small-town charm and stronger spa identity. Merano feels more like an Austrian/Germanic town. Bolzano may suit first-time visitors better while Merano appeals more as a relaxing retreat.

When should I visit Merano? 

Merano is beautiful from spring through fall, especially May through October when the walking trails and gardens thrive. You can still visit in winter to enjoy Christmas markets, thermal baths, and Austrian-style cafés but some attractions are closed.

What is the meaning of Merano?

The name Merano likely derives from “Mairania”, stemming from the ancient Celtic Maira tribe that populated the region. It became an official city called “Mairania” in the 13th century under Tyrolean rule.   

What is the closest airport to Merano Italy?

The closest airport is Innsbruck Airport (INN), about 70 miles (113 km) away. Verona (VRN) and Treviso (TSF) airports in Italy are the next closest options, each about 150 miles (240 km) from Merano.

Does Merano have a train station? 

Yes, Merano has its own train station (Merano Maia) located in the Maia district. It offers frequent regional train connections on the Brenner railway line, including the higher-speed Frecciabianca service.

What is on in Merano Italy?

Popular Merano events include the Merano WineFestival each November and the town’s famed Christmas markets during Advent season. Summertime brings open-air concerts, food festivals spotlighting local cuisine, and late night shopping evenings with entertainment.

What is the history of Merano?  

Merano has ancient Roman roots but officially became the city of “Mairania” under Tyrolean rulers in the 1200s. Its history as a spa resort dates to the mid-1800s when Empress Sissi visited and boosted its profile across Europe. Key eras include medieval importance, a 19th century tourism boom, slowdown after the World Wars, and current status as a restored spa destination.

What are unique things to do in Merano?

Some unique activities in Merano include:
– Hiking Tappeinerweg Trail for Alpine vistas 
– Taking the Merano/Scena cable car for mountain views  
– Exploring Castle Trauttmansdorff’s Halloween gardens event 
– Relaxing in Terme Merano spa’s saltwater indoor pools
– Walking the Sissi Promenades, beloved by Empress Elisabeth  
– Sampling South Tyrolean cuisine like speck dumplings and apple strudel

Where to stay in Merano?

The best places to stay in Merano include central areas like Piazza Terme, Via Piave, and Corso della Libertà to be walking distance to top attractions. The Maia and Sinich districts offer affordable options near Nature Park, and Foro Boario Hotels provide spa access.

Why are there palm trees in Merano Northern Italy?

Merano’s palm trees and mild climate result from its uniquely sheltered location in the Adige Valley between the Ortles and Texel mountain groups. This protects it from northern winds and allows Mediterranean vegetation to thrive at its low elevation despite being in the Dolomites.

Is South Tyrol Italian or German? 

South Tyrol (Alto Adige in Italian) has historically been a point of cultural fusion between Italian and Germanic influences. It is an autonomous, Italian-speaking province in the Trentino-Alto Adige region of Northern Italy with much Austro-Bavarian heritage still evident in its architecture and culture. Most inhabitants speak both Italian and German.

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