Best Lakes to Visit in the Dolomites
The Dolomites, a mountain range in Northern Italy listed as a World Heritage site, aren’t the only amazing natural sights to visit in the regions of South Tyrol/Südtirol, Trentino, and Belluno. While I normally vouch for Switzerland as the most beautiful scenery in Europe (or probably even in the world), the Dolomites are unique and a place to fall in love with.
Hiking in the area, and skiing in winter, are probably some of the most popular activities, but I also went to chase lakes. I admit, I am all about the lakes. Spoiled by Switzerland, my standard is high, but I found a few lakes that looked great and that I wanted to see for myself.
And I chased them – I not only chased them in the Dolomites, but also in the rest of Northern Italy. Road tripping wasn’t always fun in Italy (have you ever driven at night in the mountains in Italy? I don’t recommend it). However, I was willing to accept all that because I wanted to find the most stunning lakes in Italy and I had some questions I wanted answered.
Which is the best lake in (Northern) Italy? Which one can keep up with the lakes in Switzerland? Are the lakes in the Dolomites really as beautiful as I imagined them to be?
The short answer is yes! Yes, they are as pretty as can be. Yes, there are some lakes as pretty as in Switzerland (and even as pretty as in Canada).
Here are some pictures to prove it to you and some basic information, so you know what to expect when visiting the most beautiful mountain lakes in Italy.
Info: Many places in South Tyrol have Italian and German names, as South Tyrol was part of Austria until the first World War. Also, many places have a third name (Landin, which is a regional language), and I have added the English name for you.
Lago di Dobbiaco / Toblacher See / Lake Dobbiaco
Altitude: 1,117 meters above sea level
Surface: 14.3 hectares
Depth: max. 3.5 meters
This pretty, but often overlooked, lake is in a perfect location in between the other lakes and the Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
In summer, you can rent boats and row, or just stroll the lake. With its beautiful color, it is pretty to look at. After a 2-hour stroll, you have walked around the lake and seen it in all its beauty. So, head to the restaurant afterwards to enjoy a drink.
This is also a popular place for people interested in flora and fauna, as it provides a lot of information about them. Also, bird watchers are here to see migrating birds that stop by in the spring and fall.
Though it is a mountain lake, it is very easily accessible and you can get there by car (paid parking is available) or public transportation, and then get right out at the lake.
Also, this would be my top tip for staying, if you want to explore the beautiful region of South Tryol.
Lago di Braies / Pragser Wildsee / Lake Prags
Altitude: 1,496 meters above sea level
Surface: 31 hectares
Depth: 36 meters
Lago di Braies is often referred to as the most beautiful lake in South Tyrol. This lake is, for sure, the most famous one.
It got famous when it was shown on the TV show “Un Passo Dal Cielo,“ with Terrence Hill, even though the lake in the show was named “Lago di San Candido.“ Now, this place is full of bloggers, photographers, hikers, and tourists from all around the world.
To enjoy the lake in its full beauty, I recommend walking around it, which takes about 1-2 hours (shore length is about 3 km), as this stunning lake presents itself in many different shades.
There is a big car park in front of the lake (day ticket is 6€-8€), but you can also get there with public transportation and, after a few steps, you are already at the lake.
If you want to spend more time on the lake, rent a boat in the summer months and enjoy the breathtaking scenery from the water.
Lake Carezzo / Karersee / Lake Carezzo
Altitude: 1,520 meters above sea level
Surface: 12 hectares
Depth: between 6 and 22 meters (depending on the season; in summer months, it normally reaches its highest water level)
There are different opinions about whether this or Lago di Braies is the most beautiful lake in South Tyrol, but I am #TeamLakeCarezzo. It is a tough choice, but in the end, this one wins as it is more unique.
The backdrop of the Dolomites and the fir trees is probably the best possible background you could ask for.
Nature is at its best here, and while the lake is small and walking around it only takes 10-15 minutes, it is a great place to see in the Dolomites.
As a mountain lake, getting there takes some time; however, there is no hike needed. You can just get there by public transportation (bus) or car – after a ride in the mountains. Once you have parked or gotten off the bus, you just walk a few steps and then you will see it – the most beautiful lake in the Dolomites.
Read more on Lago di Carezza
However, it seems that the lake area has suffered a lot after some heavy storms and it does not look the same anymore. However, if you are close by I still recommend visiting it.
Lago di Sorapis / Lake Sorapis
Altitude: 1,923 meters above sea level
Admittedly, this lake is not located in South Tyrol, but in the province of Belluno – just a few miles from the other lakes.
It is probably the least famous, though the most unique. After hiking to the lake myself, I can see why more people do not come – and the only reason can be that the hike isn’t the easiest.
Though I actually chose a difficult one by accident (aka bad preparation), even the easiest hike takes around 2-3 hours (one way) and the path isn’t the best. However, this makes the lake even less visited, even though it is absolutely gorgeous and there is no need to hide.
In summertime, the lake is known for being crowded. Given its small size, you should hike there early in the morning (or choose the difficult hike, which I actually don’t recommend as there will not be many people around. In this case, start your hike from the parking spot with the abandoned hotel near the major hiking path – Passo Tre Croci). Whichever hike you opt for, good walking/hiking boots are essential and walking sticks can be useful, too.
Looking at it reminds me how badly I want to explore more Canadian lakes.
As you can see, the Dolomites have some amazing lakes – it would be too sad if you don’t add them to your Northern Italy itinerary.
READ MORE: Here is my post on the perfect Dolomites itinerary!