Do you like to be active in the snow, go hiking, skiing or snowboarding? I used to, but haven’t done this since 11 years because I also found it quite a challenge to be this active during my scarce holidays. Even though I did go on snowboard and ski trips 5 years in a row when I was younger in France and Austria. Therefore it was about time for me to re-experience the joys of a winter sports holiday and I found the perfect place and combination for it in South Tyrol!
With the perfect conditions and facilities for any outdoor activity, combined with the Italian vibe of ‘’Il dolce far niente’’, the art of relaxation and enjoying life through wellness and gastronomy, this area has it all!
South Tyrol, known as the other side of Italy, is located in the most northern point of the country, bordered by Austria and Switzerland. One of wealthiest provinces of Italy, located in the Alps. Dominated by 80% mountains, of which 350 are higher than 3,000 meters and surrounded by the mighty Dolomites. This Unesco World Heritage Site is known as one of the most beautiful mountain areas in the world, impressive both in summer as winter (click on the pics to see the bigger versions and descriptions):
What I loved most about South Tyrol, next to the stunning nature views, was the abundance of high quality wellness facilities, included at many hotels, and the excellent food and star level gastronomy.
With no less than 23 Michelin stars this province houses the most star restaurants in Italy! What better way to finish an active outdoor day with a few hours of relaxation in the sauna and wellness area, topped off by a 8 course meal combined with some of their awarded South Tyrolean wines?
That’s exactly how I experienced my 4 days in South Tyrol’s winter wonderland a few weeks ago and will share with you in this blog through my top 7 things to do during your visit.
Most of the pictures in this blog are taken with the Nikon Coolpix P610, which was really light and comfortable to carry along on the hikes and enabled me to capture the beauty this region in the best way possible.
I hope I will be able to inspire you with many of my personal pictures and my favourite activities here, based on my own experiences.
Even though there is much to see and do here, such as biking, mountain climbing and wine tasting in summer. Many different activities such as cross-country skiing in winter. And hiking, visiting waterfalls, cultural sights, cozy towns, castles and churches any time of year. I rounded up my own top 7 to show you the diversity and unique features of this area.
In South Tyrol you will be able to find many wellness facilities and Spa options, but the most convenient one in my opinion is to have the Spa right at your hotel. After an active day it’s so nice to just jump in your robe and walk into the wellness area right next to your room. During our visit we stayed at the authentic 4 star Spa Hotel Plunhof, located in the Ridanna valley of the Eisacktal region.
This family run hotel is super quaint, with its friendly staff, all the traditional woodwork, cozy details and local elements integrated into the hotel’s design and interior. And with a warm welcome in the beautiful 55 m2 Annalena suite on the top floor with spacious balcony and private Jacuzzi, Hotel Plunhof certainly knew how to spoil me! Just see for yourself in this gallery (click on the arrows to slide and see the pic's description):
But one of the best features is their elaborate Spa Minera, with 2 levels of panoramic relaxation and wellness facilities. With a large heated indoor and outdoor swimming pool, 5 relaxation areas with hammocks, lounge-, and even water-and hay beds.
6 different sauna’s, several steam baths, and plenty of outdoor space to cool down in the snow while enjoying the mountain views and wood fires. And with a range of massages, wellness packages and rituals to choose from, this Spa offers everything you need to completely unwind, as you can see in this gallery (click on the arrows to slide and see the pic's description):
This hotel is certainly recommended if you want to experience this area in a luxurious, yet authentic way, with the all the local charm, comforts and service you might need!
But also the hotel’s culinary art is something that should be mentioned (click on the pics to see the bigger versions and descriptions):
At Hotel Plunhof we enjoyed a 8 course dinner every night with Mediterranean influences such as Italian pastas, risotto’s, ravioli’s and olive oils. In combination with the best wines and traditional Alpine dishes, speck and gnocchi’s, made every day a culinary treat!
And of course during our winter sports activities we had lunch at several chalets where we enjoyed many Knodels, Kaiserschmarnns and Apfelstrüdels which are typical delights for this region (click on the pics to see the bigger versions and descriptions).
3. Qi-Yoga in the snow
Yoga in the snow? Yes indeed, in your ski outfit with your ski boots on! Naturally this made the exercises even more challenging and created hilarious moments, but was also a great experience surrounded by this winter wonderland.
Qi-Yoga is a combination of Qigong and Yoga with flowing energy exercises, finished by a singing bowl session at the Stern mountain chalet’s panoramic Spa on hay beds, which are typical for this region and are said to have a relaxing and rejuvenating effect.
Such a unique experience in this small scale chalet where you can also eat and stay overnight directly on the ski slopes (click on the arrows to slide and see the pic's description):
4. Ski on Rosskopf mountain
But while there of course skiing can not be missed! Rosskopf Mountain was the perfect area to get my ski groove back, as I haven’t been on the slopes for over 11 years! But how much fun was it to get into it again and the wide and quiet slopes here made it very easy for me to practice. This is also one of the reasons why this ski area is very popular among families and it ensures snow cover until spring.
5. Snowshoe hiking
This form of hiking is a great way to experience the untouched nature and beautiful Dolomite mountain views of this area. We did a 2,5 hour hike up the mountain to chalet Wurzeralm at 1,822 meters height, which sounds fine but was actually quite a challenge. As most of the paths here are steep and unexplored be prepared to be active, sweat and feel hot, but also get rewarded with some of the most unspoiled and unique views of the area. See for yourself here:
And the excellent lunch at the cozy Wurzeralm mountain hut was certainly worth it as well. Just make sure to be able to dress down when you feel hot during the hike, but still cover up, bring enough to drink and take enough breaks to enjoy the view!
Unleash your inner child and go down the mountain with a sled! This was the perfect solution for us after our snow shoe hike up the mountain, as this is a relaxing and much faster way to get down. There are many tracks specially prepared for sledging in South Tyrol, all completely surrounded by nature, crossing rivers, and passing by many beautiful scenes which you can see here:
We sledged down 2 different tracks in the Vipiteno-Racines region, which I can highly recommend!
7. Horse carriage ride
This is available at many hotels and we did the one from Hotel Schneeberg in Ridanna. We made sure that no horses were harmed, as we heard that the friendly driver takes care of these horses with love and affection at his own stables.
The carriage ride included blankets and schnapps, and was a wonderful experience as you will cross several small towns, nature areas and rivers with lovely views of the surroundings in a comfortable tempo and setting. See for yourself in this video:
For more info to plan your trip to this wonderful region, go to: SuedTirol.info, and for more daily pics of South Tyrol you can follow me on social media as well, through the icons at the bottom of this page.
What do you think of South Tyrol and did you ever visit this area? I would love to hear your opinion, just leave a comment below!