There are places that captivate you and never let you go that you keep going there again and again. As a self-confessed sea girl, I would never have thought it myself, but South Tyrol has developed into such a place for me since last year. The sometimes rugged, sometimes green mountain landscapes are too beautiful, the ice-cold, glittering mountain lakes too fascinating, the Italian pizza too delicious. On my last trip to South Tyrol I finally had the opportunity to get to know Merano and a little bit of the Merano region.
Meran is the second largest city in South Tyrol with around 40,000 inhabitants. It is located in a basin that opens to the south, surrounded by the mountains of the Texel group. Thanks to this special geographical location, Merano is protected from rain and wind from the north and warm, Mediterranean air flows into the city from the south. For me, Merano was the only city in South Tyrol where I could already feel this typical Mediterranean, northern Italian flair between palm trees, cypresses and lemon trees and no longer the alpine touch of other towns in South Tyrol.
I spent a total of 3 days in Merano and would like to introduce you to my very own Merano tips and sights . At the end of the article you will find all the tips clearly presented on a map.
- Travel guide Merano & Bolzano *
- Hiking guide Merano & surroundings *
- 111 places in Merano that you have to see *
Trauttmansdorff Castle and the botanical gardens
First things first: By far the highlight of Merano for me are the gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle. Trauttmansdorff Castle is a castle originally from the 14th century, which rose to become a castle through extensive renovation measures in the mid-19th century. The Trauttmansdorff Castle gained fame through Empress Sisi (yes, it actually doesn’t write ‘Sissi’), who chose Merano as the spa town and resided in Trauttmansdorff Castle several times.
The Trauttmansdorff Castle is surrounded by the botanical gardens of Merano, which were opened in 2001 and are divided into different themed worlds on an area of 12 hectares and are home to countless plant species. The castle itself now houses the Touriseum, the South Tyrolean State Museum for Tourism.
On hot days, the gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle feel a bit like being in the jungle and the many viewing platforms offer impressive views of the hills of Merano.
Above the old town of Merano, the so-called Tappeinerweg or the Tappeiner Promenade runs for about 6km from west to east. The Tappeinerweg is basically a walk that you can walk very comfortably in 1-2 hours. It runs the whole way over the roofs of Merano and you always have a fantastic view of the city center of Merano.
The powder tower of Merano
The powder tower marks the beginning or the end of the tap one way as one takes it. It is located relatively exactly above the parish church of St. Nicholas and offers an amazing view of the entire city and the surrounding Meraner Land from above.
To get up to the viewing platform of the Puverturm, you have to climb a steel staircase inside the tower. It’s not dangerous or difficult, but it may be a bit uncomfortable for people who can’t stand open stairs. But I promise you: the view is worth it!
The Powder Tower is open from morning to evening, and entry is free . Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the exact opening times, but I would suggest you just try it in the (early) evening hours. Then the light and the view of Merano are definitely the most beautiful ?
La Dolce Vita: Discover the old town of Merano
Via the Passeirer Tor, one of the originally four old gates of the Merano city wall (three of which are still preserved today), we come down from the Tappeinerweg and Pulverturm down to the old town of Merano.
No matter which Italian city it is, there is one basic rule: stroll, stroll, stroll. Merano is no exception here either, the old town with its many cafes, endlessly delicious smelling restaurants and historical buildings is simply too pretty not to be completely relaxed. You should take a closer look at these sights and tips:
The Gothic parish church of St. Nicholas
The parish church of St. Nicholas can be found in the upper old town and it is one of the landmarks of Merano. The imposing building is from the late Gothic period; The Nikolauskirche was mentioned historically as early as the 13th century, but it was not finally completed in its current form until the 15th century. The approx. 80m high church tower rises above the roofs of the other buildings and shapes the cityscape of Merano like no other building.
The Nikolauskirche is a Roman Catholic building and you know – the Catholics have been messing around when it comes to the furnishings of their churches. It may not necessarily be able to keep up with the Milan Cathedral, but a look inside the church is definitely worthwhile.
Shopping in the Merano arcades
Have you ever been shopping in an 800 year old shopping street? No? Then maybe it is time. The Meraner Lauben denote a lane or so-called arcades from the beginning of the 13th century in the middle of the old town of Merano. Even then they served as a shopping street and that has not changed until today. Over a length of 400m (and thus the longest Laubengasse in Tyrol), traditional cafes line up with jewelers, sportswear shops, small boutiques and delicatessen shops. Everything your heart desires. Fortunately, there are only a few of the usual suspects in the Meraner Lauben, i.e. the big chains, but many small individual shops. I like! ?
The princely castle of Merano
The Princely Castle of Merano is just around the corner. At first glance, the building looks pretty inconspicuous to me, more like a larger town house than a castle. My research showed that it was exactly that. In the middle of the 15th century it was built by its first owner, a duke, in the middle of Merano and served him as a city apartment (well, a slightly larger city apartment maybe).
Today the castle is a museum and can be visited from the inside. The entrance fee is 5 € (as of 2019).
Other sights in Merano (which we unfortunately didn’t manage)
For the sake of completeness, I would like to mention two tips that should not be missing in any report about Merano. On the one hand, there is the Wandelhalle , a small, half-roofed hall with Art Nouveau paintings from the 19th century along the Passer promenade (the Passer is the river that flows through Merano and separates the old town from the newer parts of the city). The Wandelhalle is a super nice photo spot (Instagram is calling!), But I just missed out on stopping by there. Shame on me.
Another tip is the Merano thermal baths , which opened in 2005 . It should be a true wellness paradise in a class of its own, and as a former spa town, this thermal baths of course do credit to Merano. Since we were in Merano in the brilliantly hot summer weather and had little time anyway (as it always is), we didn’t plan an extra day for the thermal baths. If I should come back to Merano in colder temperatures, I will definitely make up for it. In order to get the maximum relaxation out of your visit, there is even an attached hotel right next to the thermal baths. From the outside, both buildings definitely looked very well-kept and inviting.