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Have you ever been to any of the famous Christmas markets in Europe?
They really get you in the holiday spirit.
I know the ones in places like Prague, Vienna and Berlin are really popular.
But I gotta tell you, Italy has some amazing Christmas markets too that you definitely don’t wanna miss.
Some of the prettiest ones are actually in Trentino-Alto Adige (South Tyrol) in northern Italy.
I went a few years back and fell in love with the place.
The markets are so charming and cozy, and the food and drinks they serve are out of this world.
I’m talking vin brulè (mulled wine), pasta, meats, cheeses – it’s heaven.
I’ve put together a 5-day itinerary for you to really experience Christmas markets there.
It includes stops at the most iconic markets like Bolzano, Merano and Ortisei.
We’ll explore the cute towns, sample the local specialties and get into the festive spirit.
What do you think – does a Christmas trip to Trentino-Alto Adige sound like a plan?
Then keep reading, I promise you won’t be disappointed!
Are you spending the holidays in Italy this year? You should definitely check out my Christmas posts:
Day 1: Christmas Markets in San Candido & Lake Braies
Alright, so our Trentino-Alto Adige Christmas market tour kicks off in the gorgeous village of San Candido in Val Pusteria (Pusteria Valley,) with the Dolomites as a stunning backdrop.
In the pedestrian-only center of town you’ll find their famous Christmas market.
Browse all the stalls selling local handicrafts, food and wine.
Indulge in some of the region’s specialties like speck ham, cheeses and mulled wine.
Once you’ve had your fill of shopping and snacking, you’ll drive a short way to the stunning Lake Braies.
If you time it right, there might even be another smaller market set up.
No guarantees since it’s not an annual thing, but it would be a lovely bonus!
The lake is absolutely breathtaking, especially when it’s snow-covered.
You’ll have to bundle up warm but it’ll be worth it to wander along the shore.
Then it’s back to San Candido to unwind with dinner and drinks at one of the cozy restaurants.
If you’re looking for good local food with nice atmosphere, check out the Helm Hotel restaurant.
They’ve got all the classic Italian dishes plus great pizza – and the prices are pretty reasonable for the quality.
For something a bit more low-key but still with amazing pizza and traditional fare, I’d recommend Angelo’s Pub.
The food is just as good there but in a more casual setting.
You can’t go wrong with either place in my opinion – just depends if you’re in the mood for something fancier or more laid back.
How’s that sound for day 1?
I think you’ll love this part of the Dolomites.
Day 2: Vipiteno & Bressanone Christmas Market
On day 2 we’re off to one of the prettiest villages in Italy – Vipiteno.
First thing, I recommend you climb the Torre dei Dodici for panoramic views of the village and surrounding mountains.
Once you’ve admired the scenery, head down to the main square at the bottom.
That’s where they’ve got the Christmas market set up.
Grab a snack straight from one of the food stalls to keep your energy up.
In the afternoon drive a short way to Bressanone (Brixen.)
Make sure to get to Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square) in time to see their Advent calendar tradition.
Every day from December 1 to December 24, one of the windows on the projected calendar gets opened on the building wall.
It’s a really festive way to countdown to Christmas.
Spend the evening exploring Bressanone’s old town before getting some dinner.Follow
Pro Tip: If you’re in the area at weekends, you should definitely add to your itinerary the Ortisei Christmas markets.
It’s about a 40 minute drive from Brixen in the beautiful snowy mountains of Val Gardena.
You’ll find some really authentic Christmas markets with all sorts of traditional Ladin foods and handicrafts.
The stalls are full of local specialties like cinnamon candies, gingerbread, and mulled wine.
They also have lots of wooden and glass items, plus mountain horns for cracking your whip!
The real highlights are certainly the exhibition of nativity scenes and the world’s largest Nativity scene.
Unfortunately, the markets are only open on weekends.
Day 3: Christmas Market in Bolzano
Day 3 of our Trentino-Alto Adige Christmas market tour kicks off in Bolzano.
It’s one of the main cities in the region.
As soon as you get into town, head straight for the historic center – that’s where all the action is.
You’ll find the traditional market set up in Piazza Walther.
But it doesn’t stop there.
You’ll also want to check out the markets on Piazza del Grano, Piazza delle Erbe and Via dei Portici.
Pro tip – make sure to grab a snack at Café Loacker.
Indulge in some of their famous sweets and wash it all down with a big mug of hot chocolate. Heaven!
Once you’ve worked up an appetite wandering around all the stalls, it’s time for dinner.
The city has tons of great breweries serving up traditional fare.
Stop at one of those places for some hearty Alpine food and beer or mulled wine.
It’ll warm you up as the temperatures start dropping at night.
Enjoy the rest of your evening and I’ll see you bright and early for the next stop on our Christmas market tour!
Day 4: Christmas Market in Merano
On day 4, we’re off to the lovely spa town of Merano.
Start your morning by unwinding at their famous thermal baths – it’s the perfect way to relax muscles and recharge.
Once you’re all refreshed, it’s time for lunch.
After lunch head into the town center where their magical Christmas markets are held.
You can spend the afternoon browsing the stalls, taking in the festive atmosphere.
Before dinner, I recommend heading to the Forst Christmas Forest just outside of Merano.
Wander through the twinkly lights in the woods and take your pick of where to eat – at the restaurant or right from one of the stalls for something more casual.
Nothing like being surrounded by nature and cozy vibes as the sun goes down.
Then head back to your hotel in Merano for a good night’s rest before the final stop on your holiday market tour!
Day 5: Christmas Market in Trento
We’re saving the biggest market for last – Trento, the regional capital.
Wander through their huge selection of stalls, maybe do a bit more Christmas shopping.
After fueling up for the afternoon with lunch, head down to Riva del Garda on beautiful Lake Garda.
There you’ll find the Antica Rocca castle right on the water.
Inside is “La Casa di Babbo Natale” (Santa Claus’ House,) which is a total hit with the kids.
Check out all the themed rooms like the “Officina degli Elfi” (Elves’ Workshop) and get creative doing crafts.
Nearby is “Mercatino di Natale di Gusto in Gusto” (Taste in taste Christmas market) with samples of local specialties.
As a foodie you’ll be in heaven browsing cheeses, meats, baked goods and more.
Be sure to stock up on treats to take back home with you.
How to get to San Candido
For this itinerary I’d recommend renting a car – it’ll give you the most flexibility to explore the area.
Some nearby airports you could fly into and pick up a rental include Innsbruck (about 2 hours drive), Venice and Treviso (both around 2.5 hours), and Verona (around 3 hours).
Coming from Innsbruck airport, take the A12/E60 motorway towards Bressanone.
When you hit the town, follow signs for the SS49 towards Val Pusteria.
This will take you right into San Candido.
From Verona airport, take the A22/E45 motorway heading north.
At the Bressanone exit, again follow the SS49 up the valley.
If coming from Venice or Treviso specifically, you can exit at Belluno on the A27, then take the SS51 through Cortina d’Ampezzo.
From there it’s a scenic drive over the Cimabanche Pass and you’ll be in San Candido in about an hour.
And that bring us to the end of this Trentino-Alto Adige Christmas Market Adventure. I hope you’ll enjoy the exploration of this magical part of Italy as much as I did.
Ciao and Happy travels!
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