In Merano, you can take a stroll in ballerina flats or hike in trekking boots carrying hiking poles: everything is possible here. Physical activity in the great outdoors is good for both body and soul. Whether walking at a slow pace or hiking briskly, the movement is suited to any age and does not require special preparation. All you need are a pair of comfortable shoes − perhaps even bare feet – and a good deal of will power. Walking or even strolling is beneficial to the heart, arteries, and muscles; it also relieves anxiety and stress. Awareness of which activity you are doing is thus quite important.
Merano’s essence really can be defined by its passeggiate (promenades), which allow you to move at a pace that you personally enjoy. The Passer Promenade, the Summer Promenade and the Winter Promenade – to mention only the most celebrated of the city’s main public walkways – work beautifully in combination with the Waalweg trails along irrigation channels and numerous other hikes at both low and high altitudes.
Merano offers a wide array of options, many of which are stroller friendly, with different levels of difficulty. The various pathways allow you to walk or stroll around in the city centre, skirt it completely, admire the view from above, or go off exploring, venturing into the outskirts, which are oases of serenity.
Beautiful Promenades in Merano
From symbol of the health resort to path for physical and spiritual wellbeing. Merano, like any spa resort town that has its roots in the mid-nineteenth century, is graced with promenades. The European nobility used these long, delightful walks − lined with lush trees, elegant hedges and blooming flowerbeds – as a place to breathe in Merano’s curative air and, perhaps most importantly, as a place to see and be seen. The promenade, in a way, was just an excuse to laze about and enjoy the pleasure of leisurely social interaction.
Put together with the other city pathways, Merano’s promenades total 18 kilometres in length. They were built in different styles depending on the era of design. Today, they are as popular with the tourists as they are with locals who come here in search of physical and spiritual wellbeing. Whatever the season or weather conditions, you’ll always find someone here. The following six promenades start in the heart of the city: these mostly flat walkways are accessible to all − even with the baby carriage − and are easily managed without technical equipment.
This sun-kissed trail offers extraordinary views of the Merano valley basin. Franz Tappeiner, a physician and researcher hailing from Val Venosta (Vinschgau) Valley who was a driving force for Mereano tourism, created the trail as a gift to the city. The 4-km trail runs up to Quarazze (Gratsch) from the Gilf Promenade, along the contour of Monte Benedetto (Küchelberg) Mountain. There are many different access points around town: steps behind the Duomo, Via Galilei, from Salita Silvana off of via Verdi, from San Zeno (Zenoburg) Castle, and some of the promenades.
Amidst the many specimens of typical local vegetation, you’ll also find Mediterranean plants such as cork oaks, eucalyptus trees, maritime pines, agaves and olive trees; even more exotic plants such as palm trees, bamboo and cactus thrive here. There is also an aromatic herb garden along the promenade: created in 2002, the collection comprises about 230 different herbs and aromatic plants. Horticultural labels help visitors recognise each plant. The trail is also dotted with ten fixed telescopes pointed at many of the palaces and buildings in and around Merano: the telescopes are part of the Focus on Architecture circuit, which comprises a total of thirty stations.
Named after the river that divides the city in two, the Passer Promenade runs along the right bank of the river, directly in the centre of town.
The promenade is divided into two sections: one runs from the Post Bridge to the Theatre Bridge and the other continues down to the Iron Bridge.
The upper section (the old Kurpromenade) is graced with flowerbeds and palm trees in addition to plenty of cafes and ice cream parlours. Merano’s best-known art nouveau architectural landmark, the Kurhaus, is also located here.
The lower section (the Passer Promenade) leads in the direction of the confluence with the Adige (Etsch) River; several historical buildings face directly onto the promenade.
This scenic route, known as the Sentiero di Sissi in Italian and the Sissiweg in German, leads to the areas of town most beloved by Empress Elisabeth of Austria, better known as Sissi. The charming Habsburg sovereign stayed in Merano several times in the second half of the nineteenth century, and was enchanted by its charm. This path dedicated to her connects the Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle with the city centre; it passes through eleven stages along the way, each with a story to tell. From the castle that majestically dominates the botanical gardens, Sissi’s Path winds its way past Pienzenau and Rubein Castles, the Reichenbach Residence, Piazza Fontana (Brunnenplatz), Rottenstein Castle, and the Bavaria Hotel; it then continues down to the river, crosses the Roman Bridge, skirts the Wandelhalle and finally pays homage to the empress in the park dedicated to her. The park is on the edge of the Summer Promenade and there is a statue erected in Sissi’s honour. Obviously, the trail can be followed in either direction.
A twin to the Winter Promenade located on the opposite side of the river, the Summer Promenade has wonderfully lush vegetation: cedars of Lebanon, giant redwoods, poplars and various species of pines provide shade and a cool respite from hot summer days. At the beginning of the promenade, you’ll find Sissi Park; an elegant sculpture of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, done in Lasa marble, presides regally over the park.
Very sunny and well sheltered from the wind, the Winter Promenade runs along the river; it is the natural continuation of the Passer Promenade. Its most distinctive landmark is the Wandelhalle covered passageway, which provides shelter from inclement weather. The Wandelhalle also houses a gallery of paintings depicting landscapes of South Tyrol and busts of significant figures in the city’s history.
This trail runs along both banks from the Gilf Gorge down to the point where the river enters the city. On the right bank, it connects directly with the path that leads to the Powder Tower and the Tappeiner Promenade; on the left, it joins with the Summer Promenade. Gilf Promenade is particularly intriguing for its subtropical vegetation. Its Walk of Poets also makes it the most romantic of Merano’s promenades: modern and contemporary love poetry is engraved onto a series of benches here.
Walk of poets
Poetry possesses the extraordinary power to build bridges between people, cultures and different languages. Taking this idea as a starting point and commissioned by the Merano Public Library, artist Marco Nereo Rotelli created a Walk of Poets along Gilf Promenade in 1997. Rotelli inscribed verses in German or Italian into the wooden benches along the path, providing numerous spots for contemplation. The verses are from poets who have either taken part in past editions of “Merano Poesia” or have stayed or lived in Merano.
Merano has 69 public fountains, many of which are drinking fountains. Twelve of these have been selected as part of a delightful itinerary that recounts the history of drinking water in Merano, beginning in 1462 and running right up to the present day.
This intriguing route, which even touches upon the bizarre at times, makes for a truly unique walking tour: it’s relaxing, entertaining—and extremely refreshing on a hot day. City maps indicating the twelve fountains that make up the route are available at the information desk of the Merano Tourist Authority in corso Libertà/Freiheitsstraße 45.
Lime Tree-Lined Avenue
Via Karl-Wolf is one of the oldest lime tree-lined street of Europe. The road is 1,4 km long and counts 306 lime trees, from which more than half have a circumference of over 50 cm. One can therefore imagine the green corridor that the street forms in summer with its majestic trees on both sides of the road. The lime tree has been used as a medicinal plant for a long time. Tea made of the dried flowers is good against coughs and colds. The lime tree is widespread in the whole of Europe, where it grows with the oak and beech. The whitish wood is quite soft and of medium quality: it is used for the production of furniture and musical instruments and is suited to carving.
The Waalweg Trails
Merano is completely surrounded by a dense network of Waalweg trails: these pathways run alongside man-made water channels, which were designed long ago for the irrigation of cultivated fields. These paths, authentic monuments to the industriousness of the peasantry, are easily reachable from town and offer spectacular scenic views.
Strolling along a Waalweg trail is quite relaxing since the grade is rarely very steep. Along the way, you’ll also find charming little rustic taverns that serve up local specialties.
Here you’ll find a list of all the Waalweg trails in the area and technical details about them.
The Sentieri d’aqua Meranesi is a network of trails that encompasses the entire Merano Valley Basin, allowing for an 80-km hike all around the city area.
The Sentieri d’aqua Meranesi walking route unites eleven trails alongside Waal irrigation channels. Along the way, you’ll find places to eat, bells, churches, castles and some of nature’s wonders. The trails are not located at a high elevation: they range from 400 metres to a maximum of 900 metres. You can hike the route, which has eight stages, in a week; of course, you can also do a single stage as a day hike.
Walking upstream, this trail connects Maia Alta (Obermais) and Saltusio (Saltaus), a village located at the entrance to Val Passiria (Passeiertal); the channel runs along the left bank of the Passer River. We start at Planta Castle (at the intersection of Via Planta and Via Bellavista) and gradually head into a forest of dense and broadleaved trees along rocky hillsides. About two thirds of the way in, we find the little Waaler House, the water wheel of which signals the smooth flow of water. The trail ends at Torgglerhof. Most of the Maiser Waalweg is flat and nicely shaded; it is an especially nice place for a summer stroll because of its proximity to the cooling river.
The Lagundo Waalweg
The trail runs from Quarazze (Gratsch) to Tel, passing above old Lagundo, Plars di Mezzo (Mitterplars) and Plars di Sopra (Oberplars) and leading through a series of meadows, chestnut groves and vineyards. The Merano Valley Basin below is visible along the entire length of the trail. If you start from Tel, you can keep going after you pass Quarazze and continue on the Tappeinerweg Trail, which leads to Merano. This Waal canal was built in the fourteenth century utilising water from the Adige River.
The Caines Waalweg
The trail runs along Findelebach Brook between Mutlechnerhof (840 metres) and Longfallhof (1,075 metres); these are the two farms situated, respectively, at the lowest and highest altitudes above the village of Caines. The starting point, which you have to climb a slope in order to reach, is the highest point; the path, much of which is shaded, thus descends gently as it proceeds.
The Marlengo Waalweg
The starting point for this Waalweg is the Tel lock. The path runs parallel to and above the Adige River from Marlengo all the way to Lana. The first segment runs through a fairly dense forest; then the trail transitions into more open orchard landscapes, which allow for unique views of Marlengo and Merano. After reaching the elevation at Cermes, there is a short descent leading to the village of Lana. There are several intermediate points that allow you to enter or exit the trail, which runs at constant elevation of around 500 metres. The whole route is easily passable in every season. Dating back to 1737, this is the longest of the Waalweg trails.
The Scena Waalweg
This channel still irrigates fields in Verdins, Scena and San Giorgio, although most of the water runs through underground pipes. From the valley station of the Taser cable car, the trail enters a forest and you’ll reach a stairway carved into the rock that leads to Schnuggen Stream. This segment is rather wild relative to the rest of the trail, which runs amidst orchards and chestnut trees all the way to the Church of San George, interesting mainly for its circular shape. Follow signs to the Merano 2000 Cable Car and you’ll reach the entrance to the Val di Nova (Naiftal), from where you can head down to Labers Castle.
Trekking for Everyone: High Spirits at High Altitudes. Peaks tower above Merano that are a joy for those who want to enjoy every facet of the mountains to the hilt − to conquer them while always maintaining a healthy respect towards their power. Amidst breathtaking scenery and in unparalleled natural settings, it is not uncommon to find Alpine flora and fauna such as chamois and roe deer, hares and marmots, edelweiss and Alpine anemones, snowdrops and asters.
Around Merano there are countless well-marked trails that are passable in every season. It is nevertheless advisable, of course, to plan your hike according to your level of experience and the weather conditions. Maintain a regular pace and keep the return trip in mind as you gauge your energy level. Wear appropriate clothing and shoes. Stay on the marked trails, maintain respect for nature, and report hazards to other hikers.
This recreational area offers many hiking trails for families as well as trails suited to very experienced hikers. Mountain huts and refuges along the trails provide a pleasant place to stop, take a break, and enjoy some of the local cuisine. The Alpine Bob is a bobsled ride, that runs over a kilometre in length with an elevation differential of over 150 meters. It grants adrenalin-enducing fun for people of all ages the whole year round. Many of the trails are passable in winter either in appropriate boots, snowshoes or on cross-country skis. Merano 2000 is the closest of the winter ski areas to the city. The new cable car whisks passengers to the slopes in just seven minutes.
Merano high mountain trail
An extraordinary hiking trail through the Texel Group Nature park. The Merano High Mountain Trail (trail n. 24) is one of the most beautiful hiking trails in the entire Alpine Region. Being at a constant height, the path acts as an intermediary between the high mountain climate of the Texel Group and the sub-mediterranean climate of the Etsch valley. The whole hike is 100 km long and takes from 4 to 6 days, depending on your fitness level.
Access options to the Merano High Mountain Trail from Merano are:
- Tirolo/Dorf Tirol: Hochmuth cable car
- Velloi/Vellau: Leiter Alm cable car
Other starting points or means of transport taking you to the Merano High Mountain Trail are:
- Parcines/Partschins: Texelbahn-Giggelberg cable car
- Naturno/Naturns: Unterstell cable car
- Schnals Valley: Katharinaberg
- Passeier Valley: Plan/Pfelders or Ulfas
The Merano High Mountain Trail is divided into northern and southern circuits enabling one to hike along the trail in different seasons. The whole trail is normally open from the end of June until October, depending on when snowfall begins.
Alta Via di Marlengo
The Alta Via di Marlengo starts out from Lana and leads to Foresta and to Rastbühel Farm, which marks the beginning of Venosta (Vinschgau) Valley. The trail runs at an elevation of about 700 or 800 metres: it isn’t particularly difficult and takes about 5 hours. There are several places where you can descend to the Waalweg trail of Marlengo (Marling).
This trail starts at the valley station of the Algund-Vellau Chairlift and runs to Castel Torre (Thurnstein). This is an old road along which oxen-drawn carts once passed. The name of the trail (Ochsen = oxenl; Tod = death) derives from the heavy carts, which left a groove imprinted in the pavement. From Castel Torre, you can continue to the Church of San Pietro, which is Merano’s oldest church, and on to Tyrol Castle or down to the Tappeinerweg Trail.
Masi di Mezzo
This rather steep path leads through Foresta and Monte San Giuseppe (Josefsberg) Mountain to the Masi di Mezzo Farms, which are located at 810 metres. From here, you can follow a high-altitude path to reach some more farms: Brünnl, Mahlbach (1,220 m) and Mühltaler (1,125 m).
This trail leads from Velloi to the Malga Leiter alpine pastures. Stopovers include Kirchenegg Restaurant and Oberplatzer Restaurant (1,550 m), which can be reached only by climbing up a rather steep slope. The path gets more and more difficult as you ascend.
Sentres: online hiking guide
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