If you’re visiting the Dolomites with your family, you’ll have plenty to keep you busy in the mountains – family-friendly walks, fun playgrounds at mountain huts, charming villages with pedestrian-only zones, and delicious apple strudel.
With all of the incredible mountains around you, you probably don’t think you need to visit a city. But, the city of Bolzano (Bozen in German), is a worthwhile stop for an afternoon or even a full day.
You’ll find Bolzano is very kid-friendly – it’s got amazing playgrounds, a mummy, and hot dogs. Is that kid heaven, or what?
Add in the gorgeous Austria-influenced architecture, and the ease of visiting (places to change diapers, water fountains, public toilets, stroller-friendly streets), and it’s a no-brainer!
I’ve been bringing families to Bolzano since 2004. First, families for work, and now my own family with three small boys.
Here are the best things to do with your family in Bolzano (with some helpful tips scattered throughout), plus a sample 1-day itinerary.
Divertitevi – have fun!
You may want to check out
Guide to Bolzano, Italy + Insider Tips
7-Day Dolomites with Kids Itinerary
Our 13 Favorite Things to Do in Bolzano with Kids
You won’t be able to do all of these in a day, so pick and choose what you think your family will enjoy most.
See the Ice Man up Close
Ötzi, the ‘Ice Man,’ is a mummy that was preserved in a glacier for over 5000 years! He was found in 1991 and now has his ‘home’ in a special chamber at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano.
Curious kids will want to check out Ötzi and his well-preserved clothing, tools, and equipment in the well-displayed exhibit at the museum.
Even if your kids are small and don’t totally understand who Ötzi is, most will want to see a real mummy. Older kids and teens will be able to soak up the info from the panels (in English), videos, and excellent displays. Our boys love seeing how he dressed and what his tools looked like.
Also, check out the temporary exhibits on the upper floor. The museum is great at offering interactive exhibits that are interesting for kids of all ages and adults. It’s easy to see the Ice Man and take off, but don’t!
Logistics for visiting:
- Pre-book your tickets if you’re pressed for time. The museum is in the center and easy to walk to. You can bring your stroller with you (use the elevator).
- Visit the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology’s official website for opening hours and ticket info.
- There are toilets and changing tables inside the museum.
- You can download or rent child or adult audio guides. We’ve found it’s best to skip them. Instead, we read or watch videos about Ötzi before visiting and then to take advantage of the multimedia inside (video of removing him from the glacier, etc).
Seeing the Ice Man is one of our 20 Favorite Things to Do in the Dolomites!
Play at Talvera Park
Along with stopping to say hi to Ötzi the Ice Man, this is the other must-do activity with kids in Bolzano!
Talvera Park (aka Talvera Meadows) is an expansive green area on the western edge of the city. It’s clean, gorgeous, and full of families and Bolzano locals picnicking, exercising, playing soccer, and using the amazing playgrounds.
Playgrounds at Talvera Park
You’ll find some of Italy’s best playgrounds in the Dolomites, and this is one of our favorites in the area. There are multiple playgrounds – one for kids, one for babies and toddlers, and there’s even a climbing area that works for older kids and teens.
The main kids’ playground has a huge rope climbing structure, fun bumpy slides, swings, trampolines (paid), and a zipline.
Just across the bridge, you’ll find the wooden climbing structures for older kids and the baby and toddler playground. The baby and toddler playground has play structures, swings, a sand area, a slide, and an area for refreshments. There’s also a fun tractor play structure and unique swings adjacent to it.
There’s also a skate / BMX park.
We usually pick up food in town at an outdoor market or a grocery store and we have a picnic in the grassy area of the park.
Good To Know: Have a baby that needs to nap? There are tons of paths (shaded and not) around Talvera Park. You can walk your stroller along the river or parallel to it on the Lungotalvera Bolzano (east side) or the Lungotalvera S. Quirico (west side).
Visit a Castle
There are a couple of castles in Bolzano and even more in the surrounding area. If your children are interested in castles, you could visit either Castel Roncolo (Schloss Runkelstein) or Castel Mareccio (Schloss Maretsch).
This castle is small and tucked into a vineyard next to Talvera Park. There’s not a ton to see inside (some frescoes that aren’t super interesting for kids), but kids like running around and imagining life in a castle. The views are lovely, and it’s convenient to reach. You can combine it with a visit to Talvera Park.
There are toilets at the entrance but no changing tables.
Although more difficult to reach than Castel Mareccio, Castel Roncolo is more interesting for kids (and adults). It’s set higher up and has more of a ‘castle feel’ to it. There are secular (unique) frescoes inside (and one outside) – our kids like the one with the jousting.
You can reach the castle on the small shuttle bus from Piazza Walther.
Good To Know: Confirm the castles are open before you visit.
Good To Know: Our family’s favorite castle in the area is Prösels Castle, a 15-minute drive into the mountains above Bolzano.
You may want to read about the Best Italian Castles to Visit with Kids.
Walk the Via dei Portici
Window shop or do some real shopping as you stroll the Via dei Portici (Laubengasse in German), a 300-ish meter long street of porticoes, or covered walkways.
You’ll find a range of shops, including children’s clothing shops and a couple of toy stores.
It’s also the place to be on hot summer days (shade) and during rain showers (no umbrella needed).
Shop at Sportler
On your stroll along the Via dei Portici, make sure you stop in the Sportler store. Sportler is a local sports store, and inside you’ll find something for everyone in your family.
The kids section is on the top floor and it has outdoor clothing, shoes, accessories (socks, gloves, etc) and gear (like scooters). High-quality local brands are featured, as well as international ones. The kids floor also has a play area, toilets, a diaper changing area, and a private area for breastfeeding.
Good To Know: If you’re looking for alpine clothing and gear, you’ll need to walk a few stores down to Sportler Alpin, the alpine-focused branch of the Sportler chain.
Have a Sausage
One of the best things about Bolzano is its combination of Austrian and Italian cultures. If you’re traveling in Italy and you’re looking for something besides pizza and pasta, you’ll be happy in Bolzano!
You can find Italian food in the city, but you’re more likely to come across sausage, dumplings, and sauerkraut!
We love the sausage (Italian: salsiccia; German: würstel) stand in the Piazza delle Erbe market. It’s usually manned by a lovely older couple who help you choose your sausage and toppings (mustard, mayo, or ketchup).
Plop your family down at the base of the little fountain and people watch while you eat, or take your sausages to the grassy area at nearby Talvera Park.
Take the Cable Car up to Soprabolzano
Catch the 10-15 minute Funivia del Renon (located near the Bolzano train station) and head up into the Bolzano hills for spectacular views of the city, the mountains, and the Earth Pyramids.
- The cable car takes you up to Soprabolzano (Oberbozen).
- From there, take the trenino (little train) for about 15 minutes to Collalbo.
- From Collalbo, walk about 30-minutes to the Earth Pyramids.
If you’re with little kids, the cable car and little train are probably enough (skip the walk to the Earth Pyramids). Instead, stop for a snack in Collalbo. Older kids will enjoy seeing the Earth Pyramids if they’re up for the walk.
Good To Know: If you’re spending time up in the mountains, skip the Bolzano cable car and spend your time doing other things in the city.
Swim at the Bolzano Lido
If you’re in the area on a sweltering summer day, join the locals and cool off at Bolzano’s public pool. It’s in a beautiful setting on the banks of the Isarco River.
Go For a Bike Ride
Italy is famous for cycling, but it’s not easy to find areas for cycling with kids. Bolzano is an excellent place to ride with little ones. There are so many bike paths and you can rent bikes for all ages (including bike trailers).
If you have more time, ride one of the area’s valley cycling paths. Our favorite is the Val Venosta path. You’ll want to plan an entire day for the activity.
Make a Purchase at the Piazza delle Erbe Market
Delight in the colors and sounds of the long-running outdoor market in Piazza delle Erbe. You’ll find flowers, in-season fruits and vegetables, and local products like salame, cheese, and honey.
A fun activity with kids is to give each one a few euros to purchase something for a family picnic. For example, one child is in charge of fruit, another is in charge of cheese, and another is in charge of bread. Parents can help with math if needed, and kids can try to use their German or Italian language skills.
Explore the Science Museum
Bolzano’s Science Museum is an excellent rainy-day museum. I never mention it, but my boys always ask to go back. Inside the museum kids can find their favorite gemstones, check out the life-size nature scenes, find Nemo in the aquarium, and eye everything in the small gift shop.
There are toilets, diaper-changing areas, and places to breastfeed.
Good To Know: It can be noisy with visiting school groups, so don’t expect babies to nap during your visit.
Kids always have room for gelato (or Eis in German)!
Our favorite spot for the chilly treat is Gelateria Eccetera. Choose one (or two!) of the many flavors and enjoy while strolling town or walk to Piazza Walther and sit on a bench.
Browse Bolzano’s Toy Stores
You may not want to add toys to your luggage, but Bolzano has a few quality toy shops that are great even for browsing.
Some of our favorites are:
- Sigikids (best for babies and young kids, good for gifts) – Via dei Francescani, 4
- Pinocchio (favorite of my kids) – Piazza del Grano, 5/a (just off of Piazza Walther, on your way to the Via dei Portici)
- Bruner Giocattoli (classic toy shop) – Via dei Portici, 33
One-Day Bolzano with Kids Itinerary
Here’s a sample of what you could realistically do in a day in Bolzano with kids.
- Buongiorno! Park in the Central parking garage or the Mondschein parking garage.
- Walk to Piazza Walther to see the piazza and the outside of the cathedral.
- Walk along the Via dei Portici, stopping to check out the market in Piazza delle Erbe.
- Visit Ötzi the Ice Man at the Archaelogy Museum.
- Backtrack a little bit and buy picnic supplies at the grocery store on Via dei Portici.
- Walk to the Talvera Park, have a picnic, and play at the playground.
- Depending on how long your kids want to play at Talvera Park, you may have time to do some shopping on Via dei Portici or check out one of our favorite toy stores in town.
- Get a hot dog at the stand in Piazza delle Erbe.
- Get gelato at Gelateria Eccetera.
Good To Know: To give you an idea of some of the walking distances and times:
- Mondschein parking garage to Ötzi the Ice Man (Archaeology Museum) along the Via dei Portici – 850 meters, 10 minutes
- Ötzi to Talvera Playground – 500 meters, 6 minutes
- Return to parking garage on the same route – 1350 meters, 16 minutes
Check out some of our guides to Italian destinations with kids:
Alpe di Siusi with Kids
Bologna with Kids
Bolzano with Kids
Cefalù with Kids
Dolomites with Kids
Emilia-Romagna with Kids
Florence with a Baby or Toddler
Florence with Kids
Florence with Teens
Le Marche with Kids
Lucca with Kids
Milan with Kids
Modica with Kids
Montalcino with Kids
Ortisei with Kids
Orvieto with Kids
Palermo with Kids
Siena with Kids
Sirmione (Lake Garda) with Kids
Taormina with Kids
Venice with Kids
Eating in Bolzano with Kids
Foods to Try in Bolzano
Kids can have classics like pizza and pasta at some restaurants in Bolzano, but any little ones who want to try the local food may want to sample:
|Knödel||Canederli||German Bread Dumpling|
|Apfelstrudel||Strudel di Mele||Apple Strudel|
|Schlutzkrapfen||Mezzelune||Ravioli (with spinach & ricotta)|
|Krapfen||Krapfen||Doughnuts (filled with jam)|
Bolzano Restaurants for Families
Wirtshaus Vögele – Via Goethe, 3. +39 0471.973938. Traditional Austrian fare.
Walther’s – Piazza Walther, 6. +39 0471.982548. On the piazza, excellent pizza and pasta.
Sausage Stand – Piazza delle Erbe.
Gelateria Eccetera – Via Grappoli, 23. +39 0471.972930
There are multiple grocery stores in the center, including MPreis near Piazza Walther and Eurospar (larger) a couple of storefronts from the South Tyrol Archaeological Museum (Ötzi’s home). Pick up picnic supplies or snacks for your time at Talvera Park and playgrounds.
Things to Do with Kids Near Bolzano
- Visit the Messner Mountain Museum in Firmian (older kids)
- Take the cable car up to Alpe di Siusi
- Go for a swim in Laghetto di Fie
- Visit MUSE in Trento
- Explore the Trauttmansdorff Gardens
On your way to Italy with kids? You may want to read our posts
Italy with a Baby or Toddler
Packing List for Italy with a Baby or Toddler
Packing List for Italy with Kids
Italy with Teens
Bolzano with Kids FAQ
If you’re staying in Bolzano and want to escape the city for the day, head up to the Alpe di Siusi, a gorgeous high-alpine plateau. It’s a pleasant and fun day trip for families!
Kids will love Bolzano’s Christmas market, and there are events throughout the year that you may like, depending on your child’s interests. For example, there are dance festivals and flower festivals.
You can visit year-round, as you can spend time indoors (seeing Ötzi at the Archaeology Museum, eyeing gemstones at the Science Museum) or under the porticoed shopping street if the weather is unpleasant.
We love visiting any time the weather is nice enough to visit Talvera Park and its excellent playgrounds for kids of all ages. Christmas is also a great time to visit with kids because you can spend time at the Christmas market.
Trying to decide when to visit Italy? Check out our monthly guides:
Italy in January
Italy in February
Italy in March
Italy in April
Italy in May
Italy in June
Italy in October
Italy in November
Italy in December