Home » Kids In Italy » Cycling the Merano to Bolzano Bike Path with Kids – Quick Guide + Tips from a Mom in Italy
Boy wearing Mbappé jersey rides a bicycle on a paved bike path in the Dolomites. Trees on right and apple orchard on left.

Cycling the Merano to Bolzano Bike Path with Kids – Quick Guide + Tips from a Mom in Italy

Ciao!  Are you trying to decide if you should bring your kids on the bike path between Merano and Bolzano? 

While it’s a lot of fun, it’s not a ‘yes’ for everyone, so let’s take a look at:

  • Who it’s best for and who should skip it
  • The route – terrain, elevation gain, traffic, etc
  • Family logistics on the Merano to Bolzano bike path
  • Our experience (mom with a 6-year-old and 10-year-old)
  • Tips for cycling Merano to Bolzano with kids

I’m a mamma of three and I’ve been visiting the Dolomites with kids (as a guide with other families and with my own family) since 2004.  I adore this region and helping families explore here!  I’ve written about cycling Dolomites bike paths, but this is a quick guide to the specific route from Merano to Bolzano.

Who Should Cycle the Merano to Bolzano Path (& Who Should Skip It)

You’ll enjoy cycling this path with your family if:

  • You want to ride on a flat cycling path.  It doesn’t get much flatter than this in the Dolomites.
  • 30-ish kilometers sounds like a good distance for everyone in your family.  This is a great first ‘big ride’ for kids.
  • You want to stop and play at playgrounds (especially toward the end in Bolzano).
  • You want to ride on a well-maintained and well-marked cycling path.

You may want to give the Merano to Bolzano cycling path a pass if:

  • You want to avoid any traffic.  You have to ride on the road leaving Merano, and a tiny bit in the center of Bolzano.
  • You’re looking for dramatic mountain scenery.  The path is gorgeous, and you see low mountains, but I find the first part of the Val Venosta path to be more scenic (for example, from Malles to Merano).
  • You have kids younger than ~8 that want to ride an e-bike.  They wouldn’t rent an e-bike to my 6-year-old.  I wish we could’ve had one for him.
  • You want easy access to toilets and water along the way. 
  • Your kids aren’t comfortable on a bike or don’t understand basic cycling etiquette like keeping to the right on the cycling path.

Keepin’ It Real: I got lost on the first part of the ride, leaving the center of Merano to get on the riverside cycling path to Bolzano.  I listened to the directions from the staff at the bike rental location, but I messed something up and we had to stop a lot so I could check Google Maps to see how to get to the path.  I recommend having the staff show you on a map (paper is great, but they don’t have them at the rental location) and making sure you’re confident with the directions.

Keepin’ It Real, Part II: This was my 6-year-old’s first big ride on a Dolomites path (he’s always been in a trailer or a bike attached to my bike).  About half-way through, he was over it.  After a snack break and a major motivational speech from me and my other son, we were on our way again and he ended up finishing – and even saying he can’t wait to do it again.  Just a reminder that the photos I post may look like sunshine and rainbows, but that’s not always the case!

Merano to Bolzano Cycling Path Basics

Distance: 23 kilometers
Terrain: paved cycling path; some roads with cars (in Merano, and a tiny bit in Bolzano at the end)
Elevation Gain/Loss: minimal elevation loss; no big hills (my kids never had a problem getting up the tiny hills on the route
Difficulty Level: Easy
Bike Rental Location in Merano: in front of the Merano train station (with the station to your back, it’s across the street and to the right; you can see the Südtirol Rad sign on the stone wall)
Bike Return Location in Bolzano: Via Renon, 45

Family Logistics on the Merano to Bolzano Cycling Path

Water – Unlike other Dolomites cycling paths, I didn’t see many places to refill water.  I found a couple of spots in Bolzano, at the end of our ride.  Make sure you have plenty of water with you.

Heat – It gets toasty (it was 36° Celsius on our June ride), so try to start your ride in the morning.  Apply and re-apply sunscreen. 

Snacks – There are only a couple of places to stop for a snack on the path.  The best option is to bring your own snacks from the grocery store.  We usually pack panini, something salty (this time we had popcorn and beef jerky), fruit (apples and grapes) and trail mix.  We also bought huge cups of gelato in Bolzano after returning our bikes.

Diaper Changes – If you’ve got a baby in a trailer, bring a portable changing mat for on-the-go diaper changes.  There are trash bins along the route.

Toilets – This route isn’t blessed with toilets, so be sure to go at the Merano train station before you start the ride.  Read more about Bathrooms in Italy.

Playgrounds – We saw a nice one along the path shortly after leaving Merano, and 5(!) on our way into Merano.  Bolzano also has one of our favorite playgrounds in the area, in Talvera Park.  You’ll ride right by it.

Getting Back to Merano – You can take the train from Bolzano back to Merano.  The train station in Bolzano is a 10-minute walk from where you return the bikes.  You can make a mini detour to Gelateria Eccetera, which is our favorite gelateria in Bolzano.  NOTE:  As of June 2024, the train is not running between Bolzano and Merano and you have to take the bus instead.  You can still buy your train ticket and you take a special direct bus (ask at the info booth inside for exact directions to where to catch it).  Or, you can take the regular bus, but it takes 1 hour (vs. 38 minutes for the substitute bus).

Merano to Bolzano Cycling Path with Kids – Our Experience

I just rode this path (in mid-June) with my 6-year-old and 10-year-old. 

We parked near the train station in free parking along the street on Via IV Novembre.  I usually park in the big lot on Piazzale Prader, but it was market day. 

We walked 10 minutes to the bike rental location (Südtirol Rad Meran) just across the street from the train station.

I rented a ‘basic trekking bike’ and I rented 20” and 24” bikes for my kids.  We also had helmets (free for kids) and a big bike lock.  The staff helped fit us to our bikes and we were on our way!

As I mentioned above, I got lost on the way out of Merano, but we ended up finding the cycling path eventually. 

It took us 4 hours to ride the 34-kilometer route.  We made plenty of snack and water stops along the route (in shady spots and at picnic benches on the side of the path).  The temperature reached a toasty high of 36° Celsius and we guzzled water.

My favorite moments were cycling on the path outside of the cities, when I could enjoy the views and my kids!

My most repeated phrase of the day (by far) was “Stay to the right!” 

When we got to Bolzano, I thought my boys would want to play at the playground, but they were too tired, so we returned our bikes, ate some gelato, and took the bus back to Merano (1 hr), walked to our car (10 min) and drove back to our hotel (15 min).

It was a great day on the cycling path!

Sticking around Merano after the ride?
Read Things to Do in Merano with Kids!

Tips for Cycling Merano to Bolzano with Kids

Three brown signs for a mountain museum, and two cycling paths in the Dolomites in northern Italy. Vineyards in background.
  • If you have a smartphone (and data), bring a holder so you can put it on your handlebars.  It will help you in Merano and Bolzano (so you don’t need to keep stopping to check where you are).
  • If you want to rent a baby trailer, you need to do so at least 2 days in advance.
  • Make sure kids riding their own bikes know cycling basics, like keeping to the right, signaling to turn or stop, pull of the path if they need to stop, etc.
  • When you’re leaving Merano, look for the RED signs for Bolzano/Bozen, when you’re on the path, follow the BROWN signs for Bolzano/Bozen, and when you get to Bolzano, follow the signs for CENTRO.  Once, you get to Piazza Walther in the center, look at Google Maps to get to the shop (located at the Renon gondola).
  • If you’re hungry when you get to Bolzano, check out my recommendations for Bolzano restaurants.

Be sure to check out our Dolomites family info:
Dolomites with Kids
Dolomites 7-Day Itinerary with Kids
Cycling Dolomites Bike Paths
Cycling the Merano-Bolzano Bike Path with Kids
San Cassiano with Kids
Cascate del Pisciadù Hike
Seceda Hike with Kids
Fiè allo Sciliar with Kids
Resciesa Hike with Kids
Ortisei with Kids
Alpe di Siusi with Kids
Corvara in Badia with Kids
Visiting Colfosco
Bolzano with Kids
Lake Molveno with Kids
Castelrotto with Kids
Merano 2000 with Kids
Our Favorite Things to Do in the Dolomites
Where to Stay in Merano with Kids
Where to Stay in the Dolomites with Kids

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