Hiking in South Tyrol: A Land Born to Lift the Wandering Spirit


Kate + Vin

Alpe di Siusi Hikes in Italy
Dolomites hiking poles icon

NEVER. STOP. EXPLORING. Three simple words to some, but a clear and commanding clarion call to those with adventure running deep in their veins.

If you’re an explorer at heart, you’ll find no better place to heed the call than South Tyrol. The land was born to lift the wandering spirit to new heights. With its medley of Alpine and Mediterranean climates, your wanderlusting ways will be amplified by hiking among a vastly diverse playground unlike anywhere else on Earth. Every step. Every sight. Lures you into a new discovery.

Here, you can embark on a jaw-dropping high-mountain trek using South Tyrol’s world-class lift systems, take a leisurely stroll in ancient valleys and hills nestled between the snow-capped peaks or give the bottom of your feet a break by hopping on a mountain bike.  And if breaking a sweat in the Dolomites by bike isn’t your speed, then pedal and sip your way through medieval wine villages along the South Tyrolean Wine Road.

But that’s just the tip of the mountain peak so to speak. Below we highlight a few of our favorite South Tyrol hiking outings to give you a taste of the adventure waiting for you.

By the way, if this post makes you want to lace up your hiking boots, be sure to browse our Exploring the Dolomites page for more enticing adventures.

⇒ Plan Your Visit: Grab our South Tyrol + Dolomites Travel Guide

All Along the Waalwegs

South Tyrol Walks

South Tyrol provides a one-of-a-kind hiking experience along ancient irrigation channels called Waalwegs. Waalweg what? Don’t let the name scare you off. The name translates to irrigation path. These casual hiking trails ascend easily and wind through miles of meadows, forests, vineyards and orchards.

They follow water channels carved long ago to usher melting snowpacks down the mountainsides. Along the way, you can enjoy stunning castles, villages, churches and alpine wayside shrines up close and from afar. The paths ramble along next to flowing Alpine water offering the soothing gurgle of a stream with each step. 

Regardless of age or hiking skill level, you can walk or even jog along these gently sloping trails. The strikingly diverse landscapes they cover will leave you awestruck.

Kate hiking the Schenner Waalweg in Alto Adige

Cafes and mountain huts well placed along the paths serve as resting spots to grab a crisp refreshment such as a Hugo, a South Tyrol original, and an ample helping of tasty pasta or an authentic Tyrolean dish. The views from these wayside haunts are enough to keep your feet and gaze firmly planted.

A couple of the most scenic and popular Waalwegs to add to your trip plans are the Lagundo/Algunder and the Marlinger/Marlengo near Merano. The Marlengo Waalweg follows the longest irrigation channel in the area and gives you ample views of the Etschtal Valley and Lebenberg Castle.

The Algunder route is exceptionally suited for families with young children or older adults, but no matter your age you’ll find it fascinating. Along this Waalweg you’ll get to visit Tyrol Castle, Thurnstein Castle and Brunnenberg Castle, as well as endlessly capture them from many photo-worthy angles. Walking here you may just wonder if you wandered into Westeros. That’s Game of Thrones speak for the uninformed. 

A Palm-Drenched Promenade


The Tappeiner Promenade (Tappeinerweg) above Merano is a meander’s dream. Mediterranean beauty abounds all around this delightful trail. Countless palm trees, eucalyptus, cacti, agave, olive trees and other flora follow the promenade from beginning to end. It is one of Italy’s best walks.

As you stroll along ever more breathtaking panoramas of Merano come into view. You also get an opportunity to dazzle your nose by exploring a fragrant herb garden featuring over 230 plants, as well as climb the Powder Tower (Pulverturm) where you can imagine what it was like centuries ago to defend this corner of paradise.  

Vineyards in Merano, Italy
Engulfed by vineyards. Promenades, like this one near Merano, are among the most tranquil South Tyrol hiking trails.

The Tappeiner Promenade connects with several other walks and eventually winds its way into the village of Dorf Tirol. But you can also take a side trail down to the old town center of Merano where you can relax along the Passer River.

Several cafes dot the river making it an ideal place to sit back and enjoy a gelato or a refreshing beverage. Kate’s favorite to sip here is the Veneziano, a fusion of prosecco wine, Campari liqueur and sparkling water while Vin likes to cool off with a frosty beer from FORST, a local brewer in nearby Algund.

⇒ READ MORE: The Most Enchanting Walk in Italy

Explore the Heart of the Dolomites

Hiking Alpe di Siusi
Alpe di Siusi unfurls into a vast hiker’s paradise.

The Alpe di Siusi (Seiser Alm) in the Dolomites holds the largest mountain plateau in Europe. It is immense in every sense of the word. The moment you arrive at the top of the plateau your mouth will drop. Our first time here was heart-pounding spectacular. Nothing prepared us for the sprawling greenery and mountain views that unfurled before our eyes. 

Bursting with hiking, biking, skiing and snowshoe trails of various levels of difficulty, Alpe di Siusi offers hundreds of miles of trail crisis crossing more than 34 square miles. From the plateau, you’ll admire jutting Dolomite mountain peaks, ancient pastures and farms, cozy mountain huts and around 790 species of plants in the spring and summer. 

Mountain Biking Sassolungo

Getting to this Alpine wonderland is easy thanks to South Tyrol’s swift lift system. Once at the top, all ages and skill levels can enjoy the prairie no matter the season you choose to visit. See our step-by-step guide to hiking Alpe di Siusi.

An Alpe di Siusi hike that winds through South Tyrol’s ancient history is to the “Witches’ Benches”. It brings you to a mystical rock formation that has spawned tales of curses and witches going back to the Dark Ages.

As much as we love hiking, sometimes nothing beats a bike ride. There is perhaps no better way to explore the heart of the Dolomites than by mountain bike. And the Alpe di Siusi is as bike-friendly as they come.

You can pedal through more than 600 miles of bike trails at various altitudes — spanning from easy to technically challenging. Several tour packages are available from outfitters where you can choose from short rides of a couple of hours to rides over several days.

To the east of Alpe di Siusi rises another hiker’s paradise in Val Gardena: Seceda mountain. Hiking to its mammoth spear-tip peaks is a thrill every mountain lover should experience.

The hike can be as easy or challenging as you wish. We recommend taking the lifts from Ortisei to the summit and then hiking back down to the Church of  St. Jakob — a medieval masterpiece that is the oldest church in Val Gardena. Our post about hiking Seceda gives you a step-by-step guide to an unforgettable day roaming this icon of the Dolomites.

Seceda Hiking Trail
Seeing the Fermeda peaks from the summit of Seceda is a sight that makes your heart race.

Pristine Alpine lakes sit patiently waiting for admirers throughout the Dolomites. The most popular is the famous Lago di Braies. For good reason. It is one of the most striking natural gems in the world.

⇒ Plan Your Visit: Grab our South Tyrol + Dolomites Travel Guide

But in the age of over-tourism, exploring Lago di Braies must be done right in order to get the most out of a visit. Our guide to The Pearl of the Dolomites walks through how to enjoy your time perfectly lost in the luster of the lake’s blue-green aura.

Lago di Braies
Lago di Braies is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the Dolomites.

By the way, if you are interested in war history, another hike in the Dolomites to consider is in nearby Trento to the Pordoi Pass where there is a German war memorial. It’s hard to believe, but the steep, crags of the Dolomites saw some of the most horrific fighting in World War I. Hiking at these heights will give you a profound respect for the hardships too many soldiers had to needlessly suffer.

Another valley you should not miss while hiking in South Tyrol is Val di Funes. It lies just to the north of Val Gardena and possesses Alpine scenery torn from the pages of a fairytale.

Val di Funes (also known as Valle di Funes, Villnöss, Villnöß and Villnösstal).
Magical? Without a doubt. Val di Funes is a land where fairytales come to life in Val di Funes.

We provide a detailed Val di Funes itinerary to help you explore the top sights of this treasured valley of the Dolomites. The alluring landscapes you encounter here will detoxify your mind, body and soul.

Of course, no article about hiking in the Dolomites would be complete without highlighting its most iconic peaks: Tre Cime di Lavaredo. The official symbol of the mountain range, Tre Cime di Lavaredo (also known as Drei Zinnen) is a world unto itself.

Kate admiring Tre Cime di Lavaredo and Mount Paterno.
Tre Cime di Lavaredo steals your breath.

If you only have time to hike in one destination in the Dolomites, make it Tre Cime. You will encounter more jaw-dropping peaks than anywhere else in Europe. Our South Tyrol Travel Resources & Hiking Guides include a detailed guide to visiting this Alpine wonderland.

Begin Planning Your South Tyrol Hiking Adventure

The one thing South Tyrol will never run short of is adventure. Well, it likely won’t run short of wine, apples, speck, pasta or beer either.

Whether you embark on any of these outings or pursue any of the countless other hikes and bike rides available, your experience will build an enduring bond with this land born for the wandering kind.

Visiting South Tyrol is an easy trip add-on if you’re pining for natural beauty after a stroll through Venice or craving more mountain hikes after trekking other nearby trails like the Tour du Mont Blanc. We developed Throne & Vine to make it easy for you to plan your escape to this hidden gem. Discover more of the outdoor adventures waiting for you in South Tyrol.

41 thoughts on “Hiking in South Tyrol: A Land Born to Lift the Wandering Spirit”

  1. Been to Austria but limited myself to Salzburg and Vienna. Looking at your pics of Tyrol I feel it was a big miss for me. The vies from tops are mind blowing. I also liked the variety of activity possible there.

  2. A) your photos are stunning, and B) waalegs sound really cool! We like hiking, but sometimes a gentler path is more fun. Thank you so much for sharing!

  3. I’ve spent the last 7 years living in Switzerland, so my travels to the Austrian and Italian alpine spots have been sorely lacking, but reading your post has made me realise I need to change this! The photos from the Seiser Alm look breathtakingly beautiful. And as a foodie, I could seriously get down with the Italian-style pasta and wine inclusion to mountain food. I will definitely put South Tyrol on the bucket list – a mountain bike tour here would be a fabulous holiday. Thanks for sharing your tips!

    • So glad to hear it and that you’re so close you can easily enjoy the region! Hope you do make it to South Tyrol. As a fellow foodie, you will not be disappointed by the unique flavors and blend of cuisines.

  4. “Game of thrones speak for the uninformed” hahah. Tyrol sure does look GOT-y. Your pictures are incredible. The Dolomites looks like a tough hike – right up my alley!

  5. Your photos are gorgeous! I am in love with them! I’ve bookmarked this for future reference – you have convinced me to see this for myself. I had a teacher in uni that was from New Zealand, and she always spoke about the beauty of her homeland and how nothing compares to it. I can now see that she’s right 🙂

  6. Great post! This definitely seems like a place that you could just endlessly wander and always have something new, cool, or beautiful to look at. Biking through the Dolomites looks particularly enjoyable!

  7. I have to see this for myself! For years I’ve longed to visit the Dolomites but thought the hikes would be too strenuous (I’m prone to altitude sickness,) but this sounds doable and those Waaleg’s charming.

  8. Your photos are amazing I was instantly captured by the beauty 😀 and as a fellow adventurer I would love to explore the Dolomites it looks breathtaking. I lived in New Zealand for a year and the views and hikes there were pretty amazing but I think they might pale in comparison to here 😀

  9. The lift system you mentioned when trekking up the mountains sounds cool. Till where can be reach using lift?

  10. How beautiful is South Tyrol. I did not know you could do a wine route there, so lovely. Also, I always though South Tyrol was only in Austria, but what I understand is that in fact it is the northern part of Italy? Interesting.

  11. Wow seems like such an understatement response after reading your post and seeing your phenomenal pictures, but that’s the word that came out of my mouth. I was truly captivated by the photographs shared, and I would love to visit one day. I wouldn’t even consider myself a hiker, but I think I need to visit Tyrol one day. It seems like [as cheesy as it sounds] a magical place!

  12. Wow! This looks like an amazingly breath-taking adventure. I would love to have the opportunity to visit someday.

    Ashlee | ashleemoyo.com

  13. When I was a teenager my grandfather told me that I should travel while I was young and before I settled down. I didn’t travel her but oh my, it looks like an amazing place.

  14. I love hiking and wine so South Tyrol sounds like a perfect getaway for me. It’s amazing that you can walk freely on the Waalwegs, through the wineyards! I’ve always wanted to explore the Dolomites and I think I will actually do it very soon, as I am moving to North Italy for a month in October and they are on the top of my list of places to visit.

  15. Such an informative post with exceptional photos! I would live to check out all of those trails – I can’t even choose one because they all sound and look beautiful. Those photos of the Dolomites are also absolutely impressive.

  16. All these photos make me want to get to Tyrol this weekend! I love the idea of hiking the Waalweg, especially through a vineyard!

    • Wonderful! You’ll love it! Let us know if you have any questions. We’re more than happy to help.

  17. You guys have officially convinced me that this place should be on my bucket list! I am in love with all of your pictures, they are absolutely breathtaking!

  18. The views of this place are just awesome. I am very fond of going on treks and would certainly want to visit here as well someday, now that your post has convinced me enough. I loved the path along the irrigation channel, covered with fence above. The mountain views and valley look so gorgeous in the pics. Great Read. 🙂

  19. Omg. These views are truly breathtaking. And I love the assortment of acitivites you can do, as well as the mystery that this place is shrouded in. Great post!

  20. Austria has been HIGH on my list of countries to see since The Sound of Music is my favorite movie. Tyrol looks absolutely gorgeous, and I’d love to be out on a boat on Pragser Wildsee.

  21. I love all your beautiful pictures! After reading your article about hundreds of castles in South Tyrol and now this one, I’m convinced that I must explore this area soon. The landscapes are just too gorgeous it doesn’t look real. Thanks for sharing the information. Looking forward to another post about South Tyrol. Cheers 🙂

  22. Your photos are absolutely stunning! I fell in love with Pragser Wildsee just from these pictures. It looks like it would be paradise to hike and bike through with all the multifaceted terrain that there is to see.

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