Travel Alto Adige

Planning a trip to Alto Adige for wine? Check out this helpful guide on all things food, wine, hiking, and more in this incredible region.

Even outside its exceptional wines, Alto Adige attracts many tourists mainly due to its proximity to the iconic Dolomites. These mountains, part of the Alps, are essential for the terroir in Alto Adige's wine production and beckon visitors to hike, climb, and ski.

There's something outdoorsy to do in every season here, but one constant is the high-quality wines and food that you'll be able to find, no matter the weather. This handy guide will help you get the most out of your trip.

Getting To Alto Adige

There are no major airports near Alto Adige, so getting into the region can be tricky.

Fortunately, there are many different ways to get there. Make the city of Bolzano your jumping-off point to exploring Alto Adige. From there you can take the train or drive.

Milan and Venice – You can fly into Milan or Venice, which are both about a 3.5-hour drive or train ride to Bolzano.

Verona – Verona airport is the closest, only 1.5 hours by direct train or car, though it's a much smaller airport and doesn't have as many international connections.

Munich – If flying into Germany, you can get from Munich to Bolzano by train in about 4 hours. The drive takes a bit longer (around 6–7 hours), but you get a beautiful journey across the Alps.

Innsbruck – If you're already in Innsbruck for skiing, then Alto Adige is just 2 hours away by train or car.

High-Speed Trains – Trains (Frecciarossa) run from North to South in Italy and so flying into one of the following cities is also an option:

  • Florence is only a 3-hour train journey
  • Bologna is as little as 2.5 hours away
  • Rome is 5 hours away

Once you arrive in Alto Adige, the best way to get around is by car, which will give you a lot of flexibility visiting the vineyards. Alto Adige is also a very bike-friendly region, and there are many local buses, trains, and gondola lifts to bring you to the smaller towns tucked away in the mountains.

Waltherplatz, the main square in Bolzano with the Maria Himmelfahrt cathedral. Photo by Bolzano Tourist Board

Alto Adige Language and Culture

“Are we still in Italy?” is what you might be thinking when you first arrive in Alto Adige. The architecture definitely has a more Northern European feel, and the main square in Bolzano, called Waltherplatz, feels very Austrian.

All the signs and wine labels are in German and Italian, and most locals speak both languages.

Instead of prosciutto, you see speck; instead of pasta, you see Knödel (dumplings). Yet, sitting on a sun-soaked patio, with a glass of wine, or an Aperol spritz, you can be reminded that you are still in Italy. Due to the region's history, the mix of cultures, languages, and traditions makes Alto Adige, just like its wines, unique.

The Sabiona Monastery sits 600 feet above the village of Chiusa in Valle Isarco, Alto Adige.

Visiting wineries

Alto Adige caters well to tourists, especially those who are interested in wine! Many of the wineries have open cellar doors so that you can pop in whenever they are open.

Just be sure to check the opening hours as many are closed on Sundays. A large number of the wineries also have lovely restaurants serving up their wines and local produce too.

Do I have to pay for a tasting?

In most cases you will not be charged to taste the wines at the winery. However, if you want a tour then there could be additional charges.

Getting around

Pretty much wherever you go in Alto Adige, you will see wineries! And you'll be spoiled for choices to visit if you're starting in Merano, Bolzano, or Bressanone.

Car is the easiest way to get around, especially if you are traveling between Merano and Bressanone. Starting in Bolzano, the best way to visit wineries is by public transport or bike.

Walking trail outside of Bolzano going through the vineyards. Photo by Christine Marsiglio.

Wine Routes by Car or Bike

The Alto Adige Wine Route has 70 wineries, covers 93 miles (150km) of road, and goes through 16 villages. Jump in your rental car and hit the road, but for those feeling a bit more adventurous, you can grab your bicycle and wind your way through the route too.

One drawback of the wine route is that it doesn’t reach Valle Isarco. For this area, you'll want to base out of Chiusa or Bressanone and get immersed in high-end white wines and the Dolomites.

Another option is to hike or bike Alto Adige wineries. You'll find world-class class cycling and hiking trails that range from easy to difficult.

View of Sassolungo peak from Rauchhütte restaurant. Photo by Christine Marsiglio

The Outdoors of Alto Adige

Alto Adige is a playground not only for those who love the outdoors but for anyone who loves food, wine, and nature. If you have other passions outside of wine, you can often combine them with it here in Alto Adige.

Let's take a look at some other activities you can enjoy but are still wine-related.

Mountaineering in a UNESCO World Heritage Site

You'll want to see the number of marked trails here for those who love mountaineering and skiing. Most trails sit above the vineyards and offer fantastic views of the Dolomites–a UNESCO World Heritage site.

In Northern Italy, there's a great tradition of Alpine huts serving hearty mountain food to those wandering the trails. Some are very simple but offer breath-taking scenery, and others have become destinations in their own right.

Rauchhütte is one alpine dining option (with an outstanding cellar) that offers amazing views of the dramatic Sassolungo / Langkofel peak. Hike there, ski, or take a cable car—a unique experience for wine and food lovers.

Fine Dining in Alto Adige

Outside of the restaurants at the wineries and the mountain huts, you’ll also have no trouble finding great places to eat; Alto Adige has the highest density of Michelin stars of any province in Italy! Here are some great options:

Sissi - a cozy restaurant in Merano, serving traditional food with a modern twist and a wine list with over 500 bottles.

St. Hubertus - A 3-Michelin starred restaurant focusing on Alpine cuisine with a great wine list.

Ütia de Bioch - A mountain restaurant serving comfort food and a wine list that boasts various Mathusalem (6 liters) and Salmanazar (9 liters) format bottles, amongst many others. They have a great orange and natural wine selection too.

For a full list of restaurants that have a focus on wine check out this restaurant list created by Alto Adige wines.

Cantina Kurtatsch with cliff-like architecture.

History to Explore

If you want to look into the origins of winemaking in Alto Adige then check out the South Tyrolean Wine Museum in Caldaro (30 min drive from Bolzano). Not only do they have old machinery and equipment from working wineries, but they also offer rare grape variety tastings from their very own vineyard (which you can wander through during your visit!).

Wine and Architecture

Several wineries have been revamped in the last few decades and have some interesting architectural designs.

Here are just a few that are amazing to visit and view:

  • Cantina Kurtatsch - The facade is made from Dolomite limestone and looks like a cliff face.
  • Cantina Tramin - Entering the winery feels a bit like entering a large leaf - the open plan gives you wonderful views over the valley.
  • Kellerei Bozen - You taste wine in a large, beautiful cube with a leaf design overlooking the vineyards.
Useful Resources to Help Plan Your Trip To Alto Adige

If you were thinking of visiting Alto Adige, you're in for an adventure. Be sure to check out some of these useful resources to help map out your trip: