The ultimate winter guide to the South Tyrol Alps of Northern Italy

You will find more than a lifetime’s worth of stunningness within the expansive mountain ranges of South Tyrol  —  a lush and breathtaking travel destination in Northern Italy. A forceful pull is persistently drawing me back, restless until I return.

This is my alpine guide to South Tyrol in the winter.

Ahrntal, South Tyrol
ABOVE: The orange and green colors of these trees in Ahrntal stand out in exquisite contrast with the white of the snow and the cloudy sky.

Before you go to South Tyrol

As the weather can turn quickly in the mountains, it’s best that you take warm clothes and good hiking boots with you. The boots are important because cold feet can be such a burden if you are outdoors for hiking or enjoying the view.

The boots are especially important if you think about going up the mountains to sleep in a Mountain Igloo (read below) and see the sunset in the morning at 2400 meters height. The wind can be cold up there and regretted not taking better boots with me. Also, don’t forget your swimming wear if you want to take a bath in a hot tub at the Mountain Igloo in Speikboden.

Ahrntal, South Tyrol
ABOVE: heavy snow was expected later that night in Ahrntal. As the sky was getting cloudy and it was slightly getting dark outside, I returned from a small hike I did close to the Buhelwirt hotel where I was staying for the night.

Hotel Bühelwirt in Ahrntal

In South Tyrol, there is a boutique hotel that’s a perfect sanctuary for coming to rest after a day filled with winter activities like hiking, skiing, sledding, ice climbing, skiing or snowboarding. Hotel Bühelwirt is pleasant and surprising in many different ways.

The front part of the hotel is the most authentic part with an alpine facade, dark wood touches, and traditional feels. The backside of the building and hotel rooms in the contrary has recently been redesigned in a completely different way. You’ll find light local wood touches there in the interior and large windows and a certain touch of minimalism. Architecturally it’s very well done.

The rooms in hotel Bühelwirt are perfect for a long or short stay in Ahrntal. There is a nice bathroom in every room, with a large rain shower and soap and body lotion made of local alpine herbs. Every room has one or more large windows with a cozy sitting space. Perfect if you want to read a book or if you want to gaze outside at the alpine landscape of Ahrntal. There are private balconies in every room and the beds are comfortable. Some of the rooms also feature a bathtub in a side room next to the bedroom, the bathtub sits in a corner of the room and opposites a large window.

Buehelwirt hotel in Ahrntal, South Tyrol
ABOVE: My room in the Bühelwirt hotel in Ahrntal had two balconies, a large cozy bed, 2 large windows with a sitting area, a large bathroom with a rain-shower and a separate small room with a toilet. It was one of the coziest rooms I ever slept in.

BELOW: the bathtub in my room was such a luxury. I still have the image in my head that I turned off all the lights in the room when it was dark outside and it was snowing. I took a bath at that moment with some relaxing music and I watched the snow outside of the window from the bath. It was a great moment.

The South Tyrol heart of the alps

The endless expanses of mist with tinted shadows of rugged peaks and lush alpine forests create a certain type of pleasing beauty. A beauty that is featured throughout the countless valleys of the Southern heart of the Alps, South Tyrol.

When you combine the best things you can think of regarding both Italy and Alpine traditions, then you’ll get what you experience in South Tyrol. It’s a totally different travel experience in Italy compared to Tuscany or Rome.

There is both the Italian and Alpine cuisine integrated into most local restaurants. And, there are lush mountains that are snowy in the winter and perfect for t-shirt hiking in the summer. Speikboden and Ahrntal in South Tyrol have it all.

South Tyrol is a peaceful place for a holiday. You’ll probably have a hard time leaving this stunning northern province of Italy on the last day of your holiday, so make sure you enjoy to the fullest.

Mountains in Speikboden, South Tyrol
ABOVE: The views in the many valleys of in South Tyrol are stunning under any circumstances, whether it’s snowy, cloudy or sunny.

Sleep in a Mountain Igloo high up in the alpine mountains

Like I mentioned above in this article, there is a (literally) cool place where you can sleep at Speikboden in South Tyrol. There are little Mountain Igloo caves completely made out of snow and ice located higher up the ski slope. Each of them has a little door and a comfortable bed inside with very cozy sleeping bags. To get there, you’ll either have to walk up the ski slope at Speikboden or you can go up with the ski lifts using a ski pass.

You’ll find the main reception and a restaurant at the Mountain Igloo that are completely made out of ice.
The dinner and lunch are included in the price. And, so is the sauna and the hot tubs, which are made out of wood. You pay for the total experience, not only for the accommodation. Probably one of the best things about making a booking here is that you’ll get the chance to jump on the back of a snowcat mobile in the morning and go up in the mountains to watch the sunrise.

I didn’t feel cold at all during the night and neither did my companions as the sleeping bags inside the igloos are of good quality. And, I must say it was one of the most memorable and special accommodations I ever experienced.

Mountain Igloo in Speikboden, South Tyrol
ABOVE: The entrances of the Mountain Igloo are like a cave entrance with a small lantern and a wooden door that can be locked. The door is essential to keep the cold outside, and when it’s closed it can actually get pretty warm and comfortable inside the icy Mountain Igloo.
Mountain Igloo in Speikboden, South Tyrol
ABOVE: There are warm and comfy sleeping bags inside of the Mountain Igloos sleeping caves, which are perfect to keep you warm through the night. When you sleep there will be an air mattress underneath you and some pelts. There is also a pillow and you can get extra blankets.

BELOW: other than just a bed, there are also other tiny decorations set up in the Mountain Igloo.
Sauna - Mountain Igloo at speikboden
ABOVE: the Mountain Igloo sauna was such a luxury. It was perfect to warm up again in there after a hike whilst I could gaze at the landscape through the large window of the sauna.

A memorable sunrise in Speikboden

Holding on tight to the metal bars of the rear end of an impressive snowcat was how I got to the sunset point at Speikboden. What an experience.

Snowcat in Speikboden, South Tyrol
ABOVE: my view from the backside of the snowcat. It was quite an adventure to ride up the ski slopes with this large vehicle. It felt so soothing to see how the machine flattened the rough snow and converted it to perfect ski ground.

BELOW: Another view from the snowcat when we arrived at the sunset point in Speikboden at 2400 meters height. What a machine!
Snowcat in Speikboden, South Tyrol

The ride didn’t take long at all, and when I arrived at the point higher up in the ski area, I could already catch a glimpse of the sun rising behind the dark moody clouds in the peaky background.

I was able to get some quite exquisite shots, although I didn’t want to stay up there for longer as an hour as it was still early in the morning and it sure was cold.

Sunrise speikboden South Tyrol
Speikboden sunrise point - South Tyrol
ABOVE & BELOW: The sunset point in Speikboden is a marvelous place at dusk or dawn. It can get a bit cold up there so make sure you take some warm clothing and good boots with you.
Mountains at speikboden South Tyrol

Snowshoe walking, skiing, ice climbing or sledding?

When you have your accommodation located in a ski area, it makes sense to think about all the opportunities for activities you have around you.

Snowshoe walking for example. You rent a couple of ski sticks, get some snowshoes attached to your boots, and you go up the mountain for a short or long hike off the ski slope.

Or why not rent ski equipment a spend a day skiing? Or sledding down the ski slopes can also be a lot of fun. And, for the adventurous types there is also an option to go ice climbing close to the Speikboden ski area.

Mountains in Speikboden, South Tyrol
ABOVE: A paraglider over the South Tyrol mountains. This picture was taken from the Speikboden Ski area.

BELOW: Reached the top of the mountain with snowshoes on the left and some more paragliders on the right.

Snow in Ahrntal at the end of March

When I visited Ahrntal, on my way to the Bühelwirt hotel, I could only see little snow in the valleys below. Spring was leaping around the corner.

Later that night when I arrived at the hotel I went for a short walk in the Ahrntal Valley and when I returned and looked through the glass of the windows it began to snow. And, it snowed like madness until the day after in the afternoon.

I was lucky that day because we went for a short hike in the Ahrntal Valley and everything was covered with a thick layer of powdery snow. What a blessing!

Snow in Ahrntal, South Tyrol
ABOVE: Had a great time in South Tyrol. It’s a marvelous travel destination for any mountain lover and I very much recommend going there.

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