Soprabolzano or Oberbolzen, is situated on the Rennon or Ritten Mountain above Bolzano, in the South Tyrol region of northern Italy. Sitting close to the Austrian border, this entire area caters for both languages – you will notice each town and many signs are written in both Italian and Austrian.
The culture of the region is also a very influenced by the mix of Italian and Austrians in the area – houses are built in the Austrian style, and the landscape is rich with green hills, fields, and idyllic rivers and lakes, however the love of food, wines and well-cultivated vineyards is very reminiscent of the Italian way of life.
Soprabolzano is breathtakingly beautiful – the endless green pastures, window-boxes filled with flowers, and godlike Dolomites standing proudly in the distance makes this location an absolute favourite of mine.
How to get there
To reach Soprabolzano you will need to first get to Bolzano. Flix bus offers daily services from Milan for as low as €10, alternatively many towns throughout Italy have connecting trains to Bolzano.
The closest airport is located in the southern outskirts of Bolzano. Beyond that, the closest international airports are in Innsbruck in the north and Verona in the south.
Once in Bolzano, you can either catch the bus number 165 up the mountain (see here for schedules) or, for a little more cash but a so much better experience ride the cable car from opposite the Bolzano train station. A return ticket is only €10, and offers some of the most incredible views of the Dolomites and Bolzano below. More information on the cable car can be found here.
How to get around
The cable car will drop you in right in the centre of Soprabolzano. From here, you have three primary ways to get around.
Firstly, walk. The neighbouring towns are well connected with a walking path and the scenery is simply awe-inspiring.
Secondly, a cogwheel dating back to 1907 runs between Soprabolzano (Oberbolzen) and Collalbo (Klobenstein) every 12 minutes, with tickets costing €3.50 one way.
Lastly, a local bus service offers transport between Soprabolzano and neighbouring towns. Schedules can be found here.
Check to see if it will be worth your while purchasing a RittenCard which entitles you to free transport on the local buses, cogwheel train, cable car to and from Bolzano and one daily journey on the cable car to the top of the nearby Corno del Renon mountain. Very handy! A card costs €15 for one day or €23 for three days. Some hotels will also give you a RittenCard complimentary during your stay.
Where to eat
An absolute must when visiting this city. The quality and authenticity of the meals cannot be beaten.
Near the cable car in Soprabolzano you will find pop-up stalls where locals sell their wares – locally produced honey, nuts, yoghurt and more. Nothing beats the freshness of home-grown produce!
Where to stay
Drei Birken is a long standing, family run hotel in the small town of Costalovara (or Wolfsgruben in Austrian) located only 20 minutes walk or 5 minutes on the cogwheel train from Soprabolzano. Drei Birken is one of those hotels where you don’t feel like you’re staying at a hotel – rather a warm, homey lodge.
As much as I loved exploring the beautiful hills and trails in the area, at the end of the day I couldn’t wait to get back to my cosy room. While it had all the charm of a Austrian chalet the room was incredibly modern and in the mornings I enjoyed the early sun sitting on my balcony with views out over the meadows and mountains before heading downstairs to the best part of the day: breakfast – a selection of fresh baked bread, homemade pastries, prosciutto, cheese, yoghurt, espresso coffee, eggs, cereal and yoghurts… all served to you with a friendly smile from the staff.
Example budget for one day in Soprabolzano
€70 per day
– Hotel (Single Room): €55 per night
– Hotel breakfast: Free
– Bruschetta from cafe: €5
– Cable Car up to Mount Ritten: Free with RittenCard
– Dinner at Drei Birken: €10
How long to spend in Soprabolzano
Two days is sufficient to explore the area and enjoy the hiking trails and sights.
What to see and do in Soprabolzano
This stunning area has a number of great hiking trails through the small towns and surrounding areas. Ritten’s official website has a guide to all the trails, but I recommend heading from Soprabolzano to Unterinn – this path has great views over the valley and also takes you to one of the Earth Pyramid sights.
Corno del Renon Mountain
This is one of the most beautiful viewpoints of the Dolomites. On a clear day you will have an unbelievably beautiful panoramic view: from giant glaciers on the Alps in the north and west and the Dolomites far in the south and east. During the warmer months there are a range of hikes to choose from, while in the winter the mountain is ideal for skiing.
The RittenCard gives you one free round-trip journey on the cable car up to the peak every day. Catch the 166 bus from Collalbo to Pemmern, and the cable car is right at that stop. Schedules for the bus can be found here.
The Earth Pyramids are the highest of their kind in Europe. They are created naturally from clay which has become rock hard, however when it comes in contact with water, the clay flows away down into the valley. However, when protected from the rain by large stones, the clay remains dry and hard and only the part around the stone erodes. This is how they are formed and become higher each time it rains. If the stone hat falls off the peak, the column is certainly doomed in the next rainfall.
There are three locations where a cluster of Earth Pyramids lie near Soprabolzano; in the valley below the town (keep an eye out for them as you pass over the cable car), in the valley near Longomoso and in another valley nearby.
Day Trip to Bolzano
While you had to pass through Bolzano to reach Soprabolzano, with the RittenCard you can catch the cable car back down to Bolzano free of charge. Here, you can explore the many museums, chapels and churches.