Lago di Braies Italy : 5 Best Things to Do – An Insider’s Guide

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Soak in the picturesque beauty of Lake Braies: A must-see destination in the Italian Dolomites and how to get there

Welcome one and all to the most magnificent, awe-inspiring, and quite frankly, breathtaking body of water in all the land. This stunning lake, also known as the “pearl of the Dolomites,” is a true gem nestled in the heart of the Eastern Italian Alps that actually used to be under the sea.

With crystal clear waters, picturesque surroundings, and a rich cultural history, Lago de Braies is a must-see destination for any intrepid traveler, or even just someone looking for a weekend getaway.

From Under the Sea to Pinnacles, Spires and Deep Valleys : Welcome to the Dolomiti

lago di braies italy
From our last family visit in 2022

Somehow she manages to avoid insta-grammers, she’s so coy.

So, pack your bags, grab your cameras, and prepare to be enchanted by the legendary Lago di Braies. And remember, don’t forget to be pure of heart and true to your word, or you may just miss out on a glimpse of the mysterious lady of the lake.

Lago di Braies Italy and How to Get There

Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee)
South Tyrol Italy

Where to Stay: Hotel Lago di Braies

Best Activity: Handcrafted Wooden Boat Ride

Altitude: 1469 meters (4,820 ft) above sea level

UNESCO site: Fanes-Sennes-Braies National Park

Best Day Tour from Venice: Book Dolomites trip here

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Top 5 Things to Do at Braies Lake Dolomites

1. Walk Around the Braies Lake

lago di braies italy

The area around Lago di Braies offers a variety of hiking trails for all levels. Take a family hike and explore the beautiful alpine scenery.

The walk around Lago di Braies is approximately 3.5 kilometers (2.2 miles) long and takes about 1 hour to complete at a leisurely pace. The walk is relatively flat and easy, with a gravel path that circles the lake. It is a great way to enjoy the stunning natural beauty of the lake and the surrounding mountains.

It’s a popular walk, especially during the summer months, but it can also be done all year round. During the winter, it could be snowed in, so please check the conditions before planning your trip.

Please note that the time it takes to complete the walk can vary depending on factors such as the pace of your walk and the amount of time you spend stopping to take in the views or take photos.

2. Take a Wooden Row Boat Ride on Lake Braies Italy

lago di braies itlay
yes, the water really is that color.

Take a boat ride on the crystal clear waters of lake Braies and enjoy the beautiful views of the surrounding mountains.

Lago di Braies Handcrafted Wooden Boat Rental
Open:Late May to End of October
Max 4 people in one boat
High Season:Mid-June to Early September
Hours: High Season: 0700 – 1900 (7am to 9pm)
Shoulder Season: 1000 – 1700 (10 am to 5 pm)
Price:30 min = 25 euros
60 min = 35 euros
Sunrise Special:Boats are first come first served except 10 boats which can be pre-booked online 4 days in advance
Kids, Dogs:Kids under 16 need an adult and dogs are allowed on boats
Personal Photoshoot:Upon request, it is possible to book the stilt house exclusively for yourself in the morning. 
For €150 you will have the unique filming location all to yourself 1.5h before the rental opens. 
Also you can use two of our handmade wooden boats.
You must bring your own photographer.
Info and reservations on: info@la-palafitta.com
Updated 2023

For the most up to date information check out the boat rental website here.

3. Enjoy a Picnic on a Pebble Beach on the Shores of Lago di Braies Dolomites

lago di braies italy
around 9 am in July

Here are some tips to help you plan the perfect Alpine picnic at Dolomites Lake Braies:

  1. Choose the right spot: Lago di Braies offers several beautiful picnic spots either directly on the pebble beaches or in the shade of tall trees. Of course, the farther you get from the parking lot the more chances of having a quiet picnic.
  2. There is a small cafe that sells coffee, beer, wine and food next to the parking lot that you could take to a picnic or you can pack your own food and drinks. Many supermarkets will be closed on Sundays.
  3. Bring the right equipment for Lake di Braies: Bring a blanket or a picnic mat to sit on, as well as plates, cups, utensils, and napkins.
  4. Plan for the weather: Lago di Braies can get very hot in the summer, so make sure to bring sunscreen and a hat. Also bring a jacket or a sweater as the weather can change quickly.
  5. Be respectful of the environment: Remember that Lago di Braies is a natural reserve, so please make sure to leave the area as you found it and don’t leave any trash behind.

4. Hike Lago di Braies to Seekofel Hut for Lunch

(on the top of a majestic Mountain- Capital M mountain)

hiking lago di braies

This is a fantastic and challenging day hike to a high elevation mountain hut called “Rifugio Biella” or “Seekofel hütte”. There’s probably another name for it, but these are the 2 most popular that you’ll see on google maps.

lago di braies hike
Oh yes, you’ll earn your pasta lunch on this hike! the kids ATE!

Hiking from Lago di Braies to Seekofel Hut is a popular trail in the Dolomites region of Italy but its not for the faint of heart. Here are some details about the hike:

  1. Distance and duration: The trail is approximately 11.5 kilometers (7.96 miles) long and takes about 6-7 hours to complete.
  2. Difficulty level: The trail is considered intermediate in difficulty, with some steep sections and rocky terrain. It’s important to be in good physical shape and have proper hiking equipment, including sturdy hiking boots and trekking poles.
  3. Trail conditions: The trail is well-marked and well-maintained, but it can be challenging in some parts and there is one rope assisted section. The trail is usually open from June to September, but it could be closed during the winter due to snow.
  4. Elevation gain: The trail has an elevation gain of about 1,200 meters (3,250 feet)
  5. Starting point: The trail starts at the parking lot near the Lago di Braies.
  6. Ending Point: The trail ends at the Seekofel Hut, a mountain refuge run by the South Tyrolean Alpine Club. The refuge offers accommodation, food, and drinks like Venison tagilatelle.
  7. Scenery: The trail offers stunning views of the lake and the surrounding mountains, as well as alpine meadows, forests, and small streams.

It’s always a good idea to check the trail conditions and the weather forecast before starting the hike, and to be prepared for changes in weather. It’s also important to be aware of your limits and not to push yourself too hard, and to bring enough water, food and proper gear.

Lago di Braies Map

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.

5. Embark on a Magical Hut to Hut Hike on the Alta Via 1

Are you tired of the mundane daily grind? Are you craving for adventure? Well, look no further, for the Alta via 1 hike in the Dolomites is here to save you from the drudgery of your everyday life! Join us as we trek through the breathtakingly beautiful landscapes of the Dolomites.

Imagine yourself surrounded by majestic peaks, crystal clear alpine lakes and a panoramic view of the Italian Alps.

lago di braies hike
a sneaky view of Tre Cime from AV1

This hike is a true test of one’s endurance and grit, but fear not, for with my Alta Via 1 guide, you shall conquer the Alta via 1 with the finesse of a circus acrobat and the grace of a swan. So come one, come all, and join us on this nature -inspired journey through the Dolomites!”

I’ve included spreadsheetsgoogle maps and a mobile friendly planning app I developed to keep all your details organized to plan a great hike.

The hiking app Komoot has GPS directions turn-by-turn not to get lost. The trail is really well marked, but getting the Ciccerone hiking guidebook is really helpful and it’s compact and has a water resistant cover. Here’s how to pack for the Alta Via 1 so you stay light and have fun.

Hate Planning??

For those of us who don’t want to plan, our friends over at Alpenventures Unguided will do all the logistics for you so that you can just show up and enjoy the hiking experience.

Self Guided Dolomites Hut to Hut Backpacking

Want to experience the magic of the Alta Via 1 without all the stress?


Alpenventures Unguided does the heavy logistical lifting for you to plan a self-guided adventure in the Italian Dolomites so you can hike your own hike.  If you are limited on time, don't enjoy the endless back and forth emails, or don't want to get lost - this is a great affordable option for you.

What do they do:

  • Plan the route
  • Book all the accommodations for you on the trail
  • Deals with the non-English speaking hut owners for you
  • Provide GPS enabled app to never get lost
  • Provides custom eGuidebooks
  • Downloadable GPS Tracks for the entire Alta Via 1 to your phone
  • Distance, elevation gain and loss, profiiles and turn by turn directions.

    The Classic full AV1 is 10 days, but Alpenventures can help you plan shorter hikes if you've only got a long weekend too!  

The owner is from US so understands how to help those of us not used to the Alpine and Dolomites hut system of hiking and backpacking.

Wild camping is illegal in most of Europe.

Are you multitasker? Too much to read?

Listen to our 3 different long form stories about hiking the Alta Via 1 that starts directly at Lago di Braies on multiple trips that we’ve done with family and friends over the years.

💞

💞 Podcasts?

🥾Trails Worth Hiking
SpotifyAppleWebsite. He takes a deep dive into long distance trails and the history and mythology behind Lago di Braies.

✈️ Amateur Traveler focuses on the practical travel and highlights history : WebsiteSpotifyApple.

🍷 Streets and Eats is all about the food and experience : WebsiteSpotifyApple.

lago di braies hike

Lago di Braies – How to Get There

Please note that this area in the Dolomites is a mix of cultures from Ladin, German and Italian so you may see signs in all three languages. Cortina d’Ampezzo is the main hub for this part of the Dolomites.

Best Dolomites Homebase : Cortina d’Ampezzo

From hiking to biking to skiing, there’s something for every adventurer in this picturesque corner of the world. So come on, don’t be a loathsome, spineless invertebrate, click the Cortina d’Ampezzo travel guide link and learn more about the best homebase for incredible adventures like exploring Lago di Braies.

Don’t get confused: Lago di Braies and Pragser Wildsee are the same thing.

By Public Transportation

  • By train: The nearest train station is in Fortezza, which is about 20 km away from the lake. From there, you can take a bus or a taxi to reach the lake.
  • The closest big airport is Venice Marco Polo international airport about 3 hours away. You can take a paid private shuttle, bus or rent a car.
  • The nearest smaller airport is Bolzano Airport, which is about 80km away. From there you can rent a car or take a bus.

The Cortina Express goes from the Venice airport to the Cortina d’Ampezzo central bus station and takes only 2 hours and 10 minutes and costs 20 euros. This website has prices, timetables and you can book your tickets ahead of time.

To get to the Pragser Wildsee (lake Braies) from Cortina d’Ampezzo take the SAD Bus 445 to Dobbiaco autostazione. It departs 6 times a day. (40 min)

From Dobbiaco autostazione – transfer buses to bus 442 to Pragser Wildsee.

By Car

Getting to the Lake Braies By Car

Lago di Braies can be easily reached by car from the nearby towns of Cortina d’Ampezzo, Bolzano, and Innsbruck. It is located in the province of South Tyrol and is well connected to major roads.

If you want to rent a car make sure you have an international driver’s license. This can be picked up at your local AAA office in the US.

Car Parking at Lago di Braies : Book ahead!!!!

If you arrive by car, you can park directly near the lake. There are three parking lots that are open all day. However, please note the road closure. From mid-June to Mid-Oct the road from the village of Ferrara to Lake Braies is closed from 9.30 to 16.00. 

For more detailed information, consult the website of the Valle di Braies Tourist Association. www.prags.bz/en

They make parking a pain in the butt, so it is recommended to park your car in Dobbiaco (for free) and take the public bus into the Nature park to reduce traffic overwhelm and environmental damage.

Car to Dobbiaco then Bus into National Park

I would recommend not using the direct car park at the lake, but rather to park your car near the Dobbiaco autostazione for the final 30 min commute to the lake.

Park in Dobbiaco at free autoparks around town. You’ll see a blue parking symbol in one of several obvious parking lots.


● Take the 30 minute Bus 442 from the Dobbiaco Autostatione to Pragser Wildsee.

Book bus ticket online here: https://www.prags.bz/en. It is currently 10 euros per person at takes you directly to Lago di Braies Italy otherwise known as Pragser Wildsee.

Where to Stay at Lago di Braies

Best Luxury Stay

Photo courtesy of booking.com

The best choice for a luxury experience directly on the lake is the Hotel Lago di Braies and you might want to book in the winter for the following summer.

Hotel Lago di Braies is a beautiful hotel located on the shores of the famous Lago di Braies. The hotel offers breathtaking views of the lake and the surrounding Dolomite mountains, making it the perfect place to stay for those looking to experience the natural beauty of the area.

The rooms are spacious, clean, and well-appointed, with modern amenities and comfortable beds. The staff were very friendly and helpful, always willing to answer any questions we had about the area and make recommendations for things to see and do.

One of the highlights of staying at the Hotel Lago di Braies is the opportunity to experience the lake without the day crowd. The food was delicious, with a variety of local and international dishes to choose from.

The hotel also has a wellness center where you can relax and unwind after a day of exploring the Dolomites. Overall, we had a wonderful stay at Hotel Lago di Braies and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a comfortable, relaxing and scenic place to stay while truly soaking up Lago di Braies.

Best Elegant Spa Hotel

Photo courtesy of booking.com

The Cristallo spa hotel in Cortina d’Ampezzo is a luxurious and elegant property, offering guests a relaxing and refined experience. The hotel features spacious guest rooms and suites, all of which are tastefully decorated and equipped with modern amenities.

The hotel also offers a full-service spa, complete with a sauna, steam room, essential oil shower station (like a drive thru carwash but you’re the car and you’re getting spruce mist and not wax) and hot tub, as well as a fitness center. The hotel’s restaurant serves delicious, gourmet cuisine and has a great selection of wines.

The hotel’s staff is friendly and attentive, always willing to go the extra mile to ensure that guests (many who look like oligarchs) have a pleasant stay.

Overall, the Cristallo spa hotel is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a high-end man in a tux playing piano in the ballroom type of relaxing vacation in the beautiful town of Cortina d’Ampezzo only 30 min from Lago di Braies Italy.

Best Budget Stay

Photo courtesy of booking.com

Hotel Crodo Rossa in the Dolomites is a bit of a mixed bag, like a parrot that’s been dead for days. The views are absolutely stunning, like something out of a fairy tale, but the room we stayed in was about as comfortable as a kick in the shins from an angry llama.

The staff were as friendly as a cheese shop that has run out of cheese, but the salad was quite good and the meat a little funky, like something you’d expect from a top-notch medieval banquet.

All in all, it’s a bit like a comedy of errors, but with a beautiful mountain backdrop. So if you’re looking for a bit of a laugh and a great view, Hotel Croda Rosso might be just the place for you, but if you’re looking for luxury and comfort, you might want to look elsewhere.

Lago di Braies Camping

lago di braies fishing

Lago di Braies is a popular camping destination in the Dolomites region of Italy. There are several camping options available around the Pragser Wildsee camping area, including:

  1. Camping Olympia : Book a camping spot here and they even offer a seasonal pool and spa.
  2. Dry Camping: If you have a van or small RV you can dry camp in the parking lot overnight but there are no amenities.
  3. Wild camping Pragser Wildsee: Camping in the wild is not allowed in the surrounding area of Lago di Braies due to it being a UNESCO world heritage site. This is also why most people opt to stay at a rifugio vs camping within the nature park or stay down in the valleys.
  4. Glamping Lago di Braies: Check out this full list of glamping sites in the Dolomites for a remarkable experience.

It’s always a good idea to check the availability and the regulations of the campsite before planning your trip, and make sure to book in advance, especially during the peak season.

Also, please note that camping is seasonal, so not all the sites will be open all year l

Best Time to Visit Lago Braies

Mid-June through Late October

Lago di Braies in winter can be magical also, but the month of September and October offer the least crowds and highest drama of colors. Due to the high elevation and potential poor weather, it is often a summer destination.

The Dolomites in August can often be Crowded

  • August is Italian/French/German vacation time, so you’ll be fighting some crowds of scouts, family reunions.
  • July has the best weather for families that need to do this trek during school break.
  • Early June is chilly you can run into some snow. Same for late September and early October.

Lago di Braies Weather

Lago di Braies Italy is located in the Dolomites region, which has a mountainous climate. The weather can vary depending on the season and the altitude.

  1. Spring: The weather in spring is usually mild, with temperatures ranging from 5 to 15 degrees Celsius (41 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day. The landscape comes alive with flowers and the snow starts to melt, making it a great time for hiking and outdoor activities.
  2. Summer: The weather in summer is usually warm, with temperatures ranging from 15 to 25 degrees Celsius (59 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day. The lake and the surrounding mountains are a popular destination for outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming, and boating.
  3. Fall: The weather in fall can be mild to cool, with temperatures ranging from 5 to 15 degrees Celsius (41 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day. The fall foliage provides a beautiful backdrop for outdoor activities, and it’s a great time for hiking and photography.
  4. Winter: The weather in winter can be cold, with temperatures ranging from -5 to 5 degrees Celsius (23 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day. The lake and the surrounding mountains are popular for winter sports such as skiing and snowshoeing, but it’s important to be prepared for cold weather and possible snow.

It’s always a good idea to check the weather forecast before planning your trip and to bring the appropriate clothing and gear for the conditions. Keep in mind that the weather can be unpredictable and can change quickly, especially in the mountains, so it’s always best to be prepared for all possibilities.

It is highly likely there will be afternoon thunderstorms during summer.

Photography Tips for Lago di Braies

You’re really not going to get much privacy here at Lago di Braies for photography, but the best tip is to go as early as possible before the crowds.

Here are some tips beyond the obvious:

  1. Timing is key: The best time to take photos is during the golden hour, just before sunset or just after sunrise. The warm light during these times creates a beautiful contrast with the cool blue of the lake and the surrounding mountains.
  2. Pay for the Sunrise Experience. Book online here for Lake Braies photoshoot.
  3. Use a tripod: A tripod will help you keep your camera steady and capture sharp images. It is especially helpful when taking long exposures to capture the movement of the water.
  4. Experiment with angles: Try different angles and perspectives to capture the beauty of the lake and the surrounding mountains. Get low to the ground for a different perspective or climb to a higher vantage point for a panoramic view.
  5. Use a polarizing filter: A polarizing filter can help reduce glare and reflections on the water surface and enhance the colors of the sky and the mountains.
  6. Use a wide-angle lens: A wide-angle lens is great for capturing the grandeur of the mountains and the expanse of the lake.
  7. Take advantage of the weather: Different weather conditions can create different moods and atmospheres. Take pictures during a foggy or a stormy day, the clouds might add drama to the photos.
  8. Play with the light: Use the natural light to your advantage. Try to position your subject so that the sun is behind you or at an angle to create a sense of depth and dimension in your photos.
  9. Be mindful of your surroundings: Remember that Lago di Braies is a natural reserve, so please be mindful of your impact and follow the rules and regulations to keep the place preserved for future visitors.

By following these tips, you should be able to take some stunning photos of Lago di Braies and its beautiful surroundings.

Stress Free Tours into Dolomites Lago di Braies from Venice or Bolzano

If you want to take away all the stress, book an English-speaking van to take you to the heart of the Dolomites directly from the airport.

If you aren’t interested in booking hotels in the Dolomites but want a full day tour from Bolzano, this will provide a guide, transport and history of the highlights of the Dolomites.

From Venice, this full day Dolomites tour offers a chance to see the highlights of the Dolomites in one day with a return to Venice in the evening.

History and Geology

These mountains are primarily composed of dolomite and limestone, which gives them their characteristic light-colored, jagged peaks.

lago di braies hike
there’s always hot cocoa for bribes on the top

The type of rock that forms the Dolomites is a specific type of limestone called dolomite rock. Dolomite rock is a type of sedimentary rock that is formed from the accumulation and solidification of marine organisms and sediment. It is made up mainly of the mineral dolomite (calcium magnesium carbonate), which gives the rock its light-colored appearance. Dolomite rock is also rich in fossils, and many different types of fossilized marine organisms can be found within the rock.

In addition to dolomite, the Dolomites also contain some other types of rock such as:

  • Limestone: A type of sedimentary rock composed mainly of calcium carbonate, often formed from the accumulation of shells, coral and other marine organisms.
  • Sandstone: A type of sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-sized mineral grains, rock fragments or organic material.
  • Conglomerate: A type of sedimentary rock composed of rounded pebbles, cobbles, and boulders cemented together.

The unique combination of these different types of rock, along with the tectonic forces that have shaped the mountains over millions of years, has resulted in the Dolomites’ distinctive, jagged peaks and rugged terrain. The Dolomites are also known for their unique landscapes, including pinnacles, spires, towers and deep canyons, that are the result of erosion and weathering of the dolomite rock.

Culture Corner: Ladin Legends

Welcome to Lago di Braies Italy – Home of the Italian detective drama “Un passo dal cielo”. Columbo never had such beauty to distract him from solving the crimes as forest inspector Pietro does protecting Nature and life.

But for more ancient culture we’ve got to look to the Ladin culture who still represents about 30,000 people who still learn the Ladin language in school today, along with Italian and German.

Lady of the Lake

Once upon a time in the land of Lago di Braies, there was a beautiful and mysterious lady who lived at the bottom of the lake. They called her “The Lady of the Lake” and she was known to be the protector of the lake, granting good luck to those who saw her. But, beware! She only appeared to those who were pure of heart and true to their word.

Many brave knights, and even a few foolish ones, set out to find the lady, but only a select few were deemed worthy by her. They say that the lady was so stunning, that upon seeing her, they were instantly struck by Cupid’s arrow and were forever under her spell.

But, as with all good legends, there was a catch. The lady would only reveal herself to those who were truly pure of heart and true to their word. 

Golden Fish

One of the most well-known Ladin legends about Lago di Braies is the story of the “Golden Fish.” According to the legend, a golden fish lives in the lake and whoever catches it will be granted unlimited wealth and happiness. However, the fish is said to be very difficult to catch, and only the bravest and most skilled fishermen are able to catch it.

Treasure Guarded by Spirits

There is also a story about a treasure that is supposed to be buried at the bottom of the lake, which is said to be guarded by the spirits of the Dolomites. The legend tells that the treasure will only be revealed to those who are truly worthy, and will bring great wealth and happiness to whoever finds it.

So, if you’re planning a trip to Lago di Braies and hope to catch a glimpse of the lady or get some treasure, make sure you’re not just in it for the Instagram likes and that you’re not planning on lying to your significant other about where you’ve been.

Crystal blue lake shines, Majestic mountains tower high, Peaceful serenity.

FAQ Lago di Braies Italy

Is it possible to swim in Lago di Braies?

Yes! It’s one of the few Dolomites lakes you can swim in, but it’s a very cold glacier fed lake. You should be a polar bear to enjoy it.

What is the temperature of the water in Lago di Braies Italy in the summer?

COLD! 50-68 degrees F is about the highest it will get in summer.

Are there any boat rental services available on Lago di Braies?

Yes, see the section above with all the details, hours and prices.

Are there any guided hiking or trekking tours available around Lago di Braies?

The best way to explore the hiking around Lago di Braies Italy is to take a self-guided hut to hut hike starting at Lago di Braies. You’ll get away from the crowds and have a truly inspiring experience.

Is there a designated area for camping around Lago di Braies?

Yes, Camping Olympia is only 20 min away from the lake and directly on the bus route. Book a camping spot here.

Can I bring my dog to Lago di Braies?

Absolutely, but you’ll want to maintain good leash control as there are a mix of people from various cultures that may fear dogs.

Is there a place to rent equipment for water sports such as kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding on Lago di Braies?

No. There is only a place to rent wooden rowboats, but they are remarkably charming and perfect for a proposal spot.

Are there any restrictions on drones flying around Lago di Braies?

To fly a drone in Italy, you need to be at least 14 years old and have a remote pilot certificate or be under the direct supervision of someone who holds one. Additionally, drones weighing more than 25 kilograms must be registered with the Italian Civil Aviation Authority.

Can you fish in Lago di Braies?

Yes!


Author profile: Morgan Fielder is a passionate hiker and writer, physical therapist, and photographer. She is living near Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany and featured giving science-based hiking tips and advice.

​When not out exploring the mountains or sea, she’s writing articles and gear reviews to empower Outdoor Journeys that include family and good food.

With 💞, Crave the Planet

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