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Hikes past glacier-clad mountains and turquoise lakes, fine food, spa treatments, and a visit to historical Merano, on a trip to the Pearl of the Dolomites

Elegant and stylish, Madonna di Campiglio is the most polished of the Dolomites’ resort towns. Once an important hub for food, wine, and livestock traders, it became popular with 19th-century Austrian and Central European aristocrats looking to enjoy the forests and peaks that surround the town.

Sitting at an altitude of 1,550 m (5,085 ft) between the Brenta Dolomites and the Adamello-Presanella glaciers, and surrounded by the wilds of the Adamello Brenta Nature Park, Madonna di Campiglio has a striking natural setting. As you wander its streets, you’ll pass sophisticated 19th-century buildings and chalet-style hotels, which are adorned with traditional Tyrolean wooden shutters and cheerful flower boxes.

In summer, the town is a hub for hikers and mountain bikers drawn by the many trails that wind through the Val Rendena. You can also visit sample local vintages along the South Tyrol wine road, or explore nearby Merano with its thermal springs and Gothic cathedral.

Things to see and do in Madonna di Campiglio

About town in Madonna di Campiglio

With its past experience hosting 19th-century Austrian royalty, including Franz Joseph and wife Elisabeth, Madonna di Campiglio knows how to impress. You’ll find traditional Alpine buildings, flower-adorned, almost-car-free streets, and stylish bars and restaurants whose tables spill outside in summer.

Watching over the town is a neo-Gothic Tyrolean church, Santa Maria Antica. Its current granite structure was built in 1895 close to where the original church had stood since the 15th century (which in turn had replaced a 12th-century chapel). Inside, you can see a 12th-century Nordic-style crucifix, as well as the Vergin of the Fic, a wooden sculpture from the 14th century.

Leisurely strolls, relaxing in a spa, and dining on fine food are the main ways to pass your time here when not out in the mountains. You can also walk along the shores of a small lake in the heart of the town, which becomes an ice rink in winter.

Hiking from Madonna di Campiglio

Sitting right on the doorstep of the Adamello-Brenta Nature Park, Madonna di Campiglio makes a great base if you want to explore the great outdoors. There are about 450 km (280 miles) of mountain paths that criss-cross the park, taking you through fir woods and larch forests and past turquoise lakes on foot or by bike.

A guide can lead you along some of the best lesser-trodden routes while telling you more about the area’s history, culture, geology, and wildlife, which includes Alpine ibex.

After an active day, you can retreat to the spa — the town’s chalet-style hotels are renowned for their treatments and relaxation facilities, many of which give you views over the surrounding peaks.

A visit to Merano

Renowned for its thermal springs and art nouveau architecture, Merano is the second-largest settlement in the South Tyrol region. It sits at the entrance to the Passeier Valley, surrounded by mountains, and was once an important merchant town. Over the years, Merano’s beautiful location and mild climate has drawn the likes of Franz Kafka, Ezra Pound, and Empress Elisabeth of Austria, who all lived here for a time.

You can take a whole day or a few hours to explore Merano with a private guide who can tell you more about its history as you stroll its medieval heart. They’ll point out highlights including the 19th-century Kurhaus spa building, medieval arcades, and the Gothic Saint Nicholas’ Church. If you’re out for a whole day you’ll also stop at Trauttmansdorff Castle to admire its botanical gardens.

Best time to visit Madonna di Campiglio

Basking in 300 days of sunshine each year, Madonna di Campiglio is a year-round destination. We recommend visiting in June, when the summer season gets underway and hiking trails are accessible after winter snow has melted. We also like the autumn months of September and October, when temperatures are pleasant but there are fewer visitors than July and August.

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