Bressanone (Brixen): A Brief Overview
As with many other cities and towns in the region, the ancient city of Bressanone (Brixen in German) is predominantly German speaking; with a personality that is quintessentially Alpine in essence, with a sprinkling of Mediterranean thrown in for good measure. The city is officially South Tyrol’s oldest, and has an atmospheric medieval quarter with plenty of historic sights to explore during your stay.
Nestled close to the dramatic setting of the Dolomites, it is, as you might imagine, somewhat of a haven for keen hikers looking to immerse themselves in craggy, rugged mountain scenery. Trails are plentiful in the region, and range in ability, from the relatively gentle to the genuinely challenging.
Exploring the Area on Foot: Hiking in Brixen
There are a huge number of trails in the region, both through the rocky valleys of the Dolomites and through the surrounding alpine meadows and forests. Hikers seeking a challenge will enjoy the routes leading through the Zillertal and Sarntal Alps and up Mt. Plose, which rises to 2,562m/8,406ft, providing great views of the landscape below.
The hike from Mt. Plose (2,562m/8,406ft) to the Ochsenalm mountain hut at 2,085m/6,841ft is a particular scenic highlight for the more experienced walker. Ochsenalm mountain hut is open from mid June to mid October. It takes about 4-5 hours with a total ascent of 475m (1,558ft). is But there are equally many less arduous routes suited for novice walkers and young families, which can be found in the surrounding meadows and along the river-side paths. There are also several vineyard walks, ideal for sampling some of the local produce along the way!
Things to Do in Brixen / Bressanone on a Rainy / Rest Day
There are plenty of things to do in Brixen, not least in its historic centre. The cathedral is a particular highlight and the Bishop’s Palace is a startling blend of Renaissance and Baroque architecture. Inside, there is a museum, displaying sacred relics and art dating from medieval times, and beside the palace is the Garden of the Lords, which has colourful floral displays and vegetables throughout the year.
The area is also famous for its castles, and Rodeneck Castle, situated conveniently close to the city, is well worth a visit. Just below the reservoir, the 19th century, granite-clad Fortress of Francis is also of interest.
Festivals and Cuisine in Brixen
There is always something going on in Bressanone; especially in the summer months, when the city comes alive with cultural festivals and events. The Jazz Festival, held in June and July, provides great entertainment, and there are many other events that take place throughout the year, such as the Honey Festival in August, celebrating all things honey and bee related.
Indeed, food and drink are often celebrated in the area, and during your stay, it’s imperative to sample some of the local cuisine, such as Strudel, Nettle Soup and Bilberry Dumplings. The local wine is also extremely pleasant, with Vernatsch, Gewurztraminer and Lagrein being particularly drinkable on a warm summer’s evening.
Climate in Bressanone / Brixen
The temperature in Brixen is pleasantly warm from Spring right through to Autumn, with highs of around 25˚-30˚ in July and August. However, temperatures are often a great deal cooler in the mountains, making the warmer months an excellent time for hikers to explore the region.
How to Get to Bressanone / Brixen
If you’re flying to Bressanone, then the closest international airport is Innsbruck, which takes around an hour to transfer from. Alternatively, you can fly to Zurich, Munich or Salzburg, which are all around 2 and a half to three hours’ drive away. However, it is possible to get a connecting flight to the neighbouring domestic airport at Bolzano, which is only 45 minutes’ drive from Brixen.
There are regular trains and buses travelling to Brixen throughout the year, or alternatively, it is easily accessible by car.