Alpine Action: Hikes & Bikes in Valle Isarco (Eisacktal Valley)


Alpine Action: Hikes & Bikes in Valle Isarco (Eisacktal Valley)

Valle Isarco / Eisack Valley: A Brief Overview

The Northern Italian Eisack Valley (Valle Isarco) has, over the years, developed a formidable reputation as being one of Europe’s prime locations for activity-based holidays. The mountain valleys and peaks provide the perfect environment for magnificent mountain hiking in the warmer months, and with its numerous challenging trails, it’s also a popular destination for avid cycling enthusiasts across the globe.

It’s a location that is full of charming Alpine ambiance, with quaint villages and medieval architecture, as can be seen in the charming towns of Sterzing and Chiusa (famed for its artistic connections), or the neighbouring city of Bressanone (Brixen in German). It’s also home to some excellent cuisine, not to mention delicious white wines.

Exploring the Area Around Eisack Valley on Foot

Valle Isarco (Eisack Valley in German) is a large valley in South Tyrol, located between the Brenner Pass and the city of Bolzano (Bozen in German), and is about 80 km (50 mi) long, connecting diverse geographic areas, ranging from 471 metre (1,545 feet) to 3,510 metre (11,516 feet) in altitude.

The alpine meadows provide easy walking trails, and there are plenty of local vineyards to explore along the way. There are also a large number of more challenging routes in the mountains, and the Samtal Alps (2,781m / 9,124ft) are particularly noteworthy, with some of the most beautiful views in the region. Eisack Valley has a rich historical background in mining, and there are various paths that incorporate the Miner’s Chapel and Montenever Mining Museum. The walk to the waterfalls of Barbiano and Tre Chiese is also an excellent option for those looking to experience some of the area’s spectacular natural scenery.

Things to Do in Valle Isarco on a Rainy Day / Rest Day

If it’s rainy during your stay, or you simply want a day of rest from hiking, there are plenty of things to do in Valle Isarco. A walk around the historic medieval streets of Sterzing provides a relaxing afternoon’s activity, or alternatively, enjoy a leisurely meal in one of the cafes in Bressanone, sampling some of the local cuisine, such as Apfelstrudel (the region is famous for its prolific apple production) and Speck, a ham unique to the area, which is cured without the bone. White wine connoisseurs will particularly enjoy the region’s fine Pinot Gris and Riesling, which are both remarkably tasty.

For something a little more informative, the Museum of Mines provides fascinating insight into the region’s historic mining past, and nearby Wolfsthurn Castle features many exhibits about hunting and wildlife in the region.

Climate in Valle Isarco / Eisack Valley

The best time to visit Valle Isarco is during the summer months, when temperatures are reliably warm (around 20˚C – 25˚ C) and pleasantly cooler in the mountains. However, Spring is also an excellent time to visit, when temperatures are still comfortable (around 15˚C – 20˚ C) and many of the region’s impressive wildflowers are in bloom.

Wildlife in the Eisack Valley

Bird-lovers will be pleased to note that there are Golden Eagles and Eagle Owls in the region, and the area is also famed for being home to Chamois and Ibex.

The floral displays in both Spring and Summer are a major draw for visitors, and in the Summer, there are colourful displays of various types of Gentian, delicate Colchicums and Auricular.

How to Get to Valle Isarco

The closest international airports are at Innsbruck (85km / 53mi) and Verona (190km / 118mi). There is also a domestic airport at Bolzano, which is 45km (28mi) away.

Alternatively, you can catch an IC or EC train, which stop at Bressanone, and take approximately 1 and a half hours (Innsbruck) or 2 hours (Verona). The region is easily accessed by car.