VISIT STUNNING LAGO DI BRAIES, DOLOMITES, ITALY

TRAVEL TIPS FOR LAKE BRAIES – DAY TRIP TO THE STUNNING ALPINE LAKE

Lago di Braies (“Pragser Wildsee” in German or Lake Braies in English) is probably one of the most beautiful lakes in Europe, and it has become incredibly famous. 

So, if you want to visit this pretty lake yourself, this guide will help you discover Lake Braies yourself. 

When it comes to traveling and visiting places, I am all about lakes. I feel like I have to visit all the beautiful lakes worldwide, especially in Europe. So, I knew I had to visit Lago di Braies eventually. The lake wasn’t the only lake on my itinerary in Italy – I chased Lake Garda, Lago die Sorapis, Lake Carezza, Lago Maggiore, and more. Lake Braies was one of the most memorable.

Read more: The best places to visit in Northern Italy

Here are my travel tips and all the important information for your trip to Lago di Braies.

Lago di Braies Info

Non-Italians might have seen the lake on social media for the first time. Over the last few years, Lago di Braies has become one of the most popular photography spots for photographers, Instagrammers, and bloggers.

Italians might have heard of the lake for the first time on a TV show called “Un Passo Dal Cielo“ with Terrence Hill (even though they gave the lake a different name in the show). 

And how can such a stunning lake, with its gorgeous watercolor and amazing mountain backdrop, not be a “TV star?“ So, if you are looking for a beautiful place to visit in the Alps, whether you are on the hunt for great Instagram photos or to enjoy the lake, Lago di Braies is it. Here you can combine Instagrammability and a nice hike.

Lago di Braies, best mountain lkae in South Tyrol
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Where is Lago di Braies

  • The lake is located North of Italy – South Tyrol to be more precise. This is a province that belongs to Italy but used to be part of Austria until the First World War.
  • Lago di Braies is located in the Dolomites region (the Dolomites mountain ranges are a UNESCO World Heritage site). It is one of the most distinctive and interesting mountain ranges in Europe, if not in the world, which itself is a popular tourist attraction.
  • The lake is in the municipality of Prags and the Prags valley. It is part of the Fanes-Sennes-Prags Nature Park and a protected natural monument.
  • In this area, German and Italian are spoken, and also another local language, which is Ladin. This is also why the lake has two official names: its Italian name, Lago di Braies, and its German name, Pragser Wildsee.

Facts About Lago di Braies / Pragser Wildsee

Here are facts – in case you wonder, if you can jump into Lag di Braies, you should know about the water temperature first.

  • Largest natural lake in the Dolomites
  • 1,496 meters (4908 ft) above sea level
  • Width: 300 – 400 meters (984 – 1300 ft)
  • Shoreline: 3.5 km (2,2 miles)
  • Maximum depth: 36 meters (118 ft)
  • Median depth: 17 meters (56ft)
  • Maximum surface water temperature: 14°C (57,2°F)

Lago di Braies Instagrammability
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How to Get To Lago di Braies

There are several ways to get to Lago di Braies. 

HOW TO GET TO LAGO DI BRAIES BY CAR:

Getting to Lago di Braies by car is the easiest and most convenient option. National road SS49 leads to the lake – the road is connected to several motorways. 

  • From Milano: 4.5-hour drive
  • From Venice: 3-hour drive
  • From Innsbruck: 2-hour drive
  • From Cortina d’Ampezzo: One-hour drive
  • From Bolzano: 90-minute drive

And though driving is the most convenient way, there is a BIG BUT… Let me quote the official website: 

“In order to maintain the sensitive ecosystem of Pragser Wildsee Lake and its surroundings from 10.7. to 10.9.2021 the  Pragser Tal valley can only be reached between 9.30 AM and 3.00 PM by public transportation, on foot, by bicycle, or on presentation of a parking space reservation or a valid transit permit. Our tip, therefore: Pre-book your ticket, walk or cycle to Pragser Wildsee Lake.”

So, if you visit during the busy season, you might not be able to get to the lake by car if you have not booked parking tickets online. So, plan ahead. Or book a stay at the hotel at Lake Braies so you have easy parking access, as you will get a permit with the hotel booking.  

Before the 10th of July (and after the 10th of September), you do not need to book your parking space in advance.

Parking spaces are available just in front of Pragser Wildsee Lake and in Brückele/Ponticello and cost 6€-8€ for a day ticket. Even in the shoulder season, they fill up quickly, so either come here early in the morning or in the late afternoon.

HOW TO REACH PRAGSER WILDSEE BY PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

The nearest railway station is Niederdorf (Villabassa). From there, you will have to take a bus. You could walk (it´s 11km / 7miles though) or bring your bike and cycle for the last few km. 

In the summer months, shuttle buses no 439 (from Monguelfo) and no 442 (from Toblach/Dobbiaco) bring you to Lago di Braies. However…yes, you see this coming. There is also an issue with the shuttle buses. In 2021, you have to do book and pay in advance for the shuttle bus from 10th July to 10th September 2021. Once the shuttle is fully booked, it is fully booked. A round-trip ticket is 10€ for adults (there are family cards, discounts for teenagers, kids under the age of 6 years can travel for free, etc.). Check out more about arriving to Lago di Braies by bus here.

Before the 10th of July (and after the 10th of September), you do not need to book and pay in advance for the shuttle bus.

Depending on where you stay in the Dolomites, you might even be able to use your Guest Card for public transportation. However, this does not apply in the busy months. 

HOW TO HIKE TO LAGO DI BRAIES

If you hike to Lago di Braies, you do not have to worry about parking or booking a shuttle bus. For scenic hikes check out the following options:

  • From Säge / Segheria parking lot in Schmieden / Ferrata in Prager Tal Valley to Lago di Braies: about 90 minutes, 270 meters elevation gain, 4,8km one way, about 1,5 hours and easy (suitable for families)
  • From Welsberg / Monguelfo to Lago di Braies: About 12,5km one way, 400 elevation gain, about 4hours
  • From Niederdorf / Villabassa train station to Lago di Braies: about 11km one way, 3 hours, 215 meters elevation gain

GUIDED TOURS

A day trip to Lago di Braies, Arzo Travels
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@Pixabay

There are guided tours available – which you can check out here.

Where to Stay at Lago di Braies

Hotel Lago di Braies

This hotel – Lago di Braies – is perfect if you like staying next to the lake. It comes with all the perks – like enjoying the lake early in the morning when no one else is around and getting a permit to park in front of the lake even during the busy months.

  • Click here to find the best rates for your stay at Hotel Lago di Braies.

Where to stay at Lago di Braies
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MORE PLACES TO STAY NEAR LAGO DI BRAIES

I was in South Tyrol/Dolomites for more than a week and changed hotels a few times. However, looking back, I would have booked a hotel in Toblach (Italian: Dobbiaco).

Toblach is also located close to other tourist sights, like my favorite lake in the area – Lago di Carezza – and the “Drei Zinnen,“ and you can easily get to many hot spots. In Toblach is another gorgeous lake to visit as well – Lago di Dobbiaco – so you have killed two birds with a stone. Find the perfect hotel in Toblach.

Restaurants/ Cafes

Lake Braies is popular and busy – and whenever you have crowds, you also have plenty of options to buy food/drinks. At Lago di Braies, you have several restaurants/food stalls. There is a restaurant at the Hotel di Braies but also several food stalls/kiosks.

However, the most unique setting for a drink/snack is directly by the Lake Braies. I suggest bringing your own water bottle to refill (there is a water fountain close to the cafe) and/or other drinks and snacks and then head to the lakes to enjoy a little picnic there.

Where to go in the Dolomites
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  • Tip: We sometimes might forget to clean up properly after ourselves – so, make sure not to litter and leave nothing but footprints behind.

Best Time to Visit Lago di Braies

In the summertime, the place is full of people from all around the world. You can rent boats, swim (if you like chilly water, even in summer), or take a relaxed hike.

However, I do not suggest visiting in July, August, or even in early September, as Italy is even more crowded during that time. You will hardly be able to truly enjoy the lake with so many people around you. Also, getting there (as mentioned earlier) is more difficult – you have to boo parking/shuttle buses in advance and so on. So, if you can avoid July to September, then avoid these months.

Winter at Lago di Braies looks magical – with snow-covered mountain peaks and a frozen lake, this place truly unique. The Dolomites is also a popular place to ski and for other winter sports. So, you could combine a trip to Lago di Braies with a ski trip to the Dolomites.

Spring and fall are also good times to visit. I think I made the right decision when I chose a late September morning. The weather tends to be nice (however, let´s never rely on the weather in Europe), it was busy but not crowded. This allowed me to walk around the lake without rubbing shoulders with other visitors. Also, hotel prices drop compared to the summer months and I could spend a day or two longer in the Dolomites because of lower accommodation prices. Also, I had no problems with parking – I parked my car right in the car park in front of the lake. Hardly imaginable in the summer months.

However, my main advice is to get to Lake Braies early in the morning – it can be really crowded later in the day – at any time of the year. It is a popular spot for sunrises – and it is always busy then – I highly suggest arriving there before 10 am (or even 9 am) at any time of the year.

Lago di Braies in the Dolomites
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The Legend of Lago di Braies

All lakes with a unique lake color seem to have their own legend. I admit I am not really into it, but let me sum up what the legend says about Lago di Braies.

The Ladin people have a legend about a kingdom from the past and an underworld of the Fanes Empire. The gate to the underworld empire is supposed to be somewhere at the southern end of the lake.

This is why a specific part of the lake is known as Torberg, or “Sass dia Porta,” in the Ladin language.

Best Things to Do at Lago di Braies 

There are not many attractions around Lago di Braies – the lake itself is a phenomenal attraction. However, there is a bit to do and see around the lake.

Rent a Boat

According to Instagram, everyone rents a boat and rows on the lake. I did not. I just figured that I am too lazy to row a boat all by myself (as my dog isn’t a great help). But of course, this did not stop me from taking pictures of the boats. You can rent them at the boathouse next to the entrance to Lake Braies in the summertime.

  • Season: June to September/October
  • Opening hours: 10 am to 5 pm
  • Price: 1/2 hour €18.00, 1-hour € 25.00 (plus deposit 28€)
  • Tip: There is a sign that says you cannot enter the pier if you don’t rent a boat, but I asked the lovely salesperson, and they allowed me (and the others) to take some pics. But keep in mind, I visited in late September, so it was not peak season and the request might be denied.

Best places to visit in the Dolomites
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Things to do in Lago di Braies
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Hike the Lake

You do not have to do any hiking to see Lago di Braies. Whether you get there by car or public transportation, it does not take much walking to get to the lake. But you can hike. Actually, hiking the lake is a must-do in my opinion because you get to see Lago di Braies from different angles and it is a pretty easy hike that does not require a lot of hiking skills. And the good news is that, it is not even a real hike – it is an easy hike. 

Hiking Pragser Wildsee
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Walking (or hiking) around the lake will take about 1-2 hours (it is about 4 km), and you will see the lake from all different perspectives. Also, the lake appears to be many different colors and shades as you walk along the way.

The hike includes some minor uphills and downhills but is generally easy to walk. You do not have to be overly fit to do the “hike” and people of all ages should be fine to walk around the lake.

There is no need for proper hiking boots, I suggest trainers even though I saw a few walking around the lake in flip-flops, too.

Lago di Braies in South Italy
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Instagram places at Lago di Braies
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Though I enjoyed the hike, I would have enjoyed it even more if I hadn’t been carrying a little plastic bag with dog poo in it, as there are hardly any rubbish bins. That seriously killed my mood because…it isn’t the best hike if you carry dog poo with you (and it might unmotivate people to dispose of waste properly). 

Swimming in the Lake 

You are allowed to swim in the lake. You will probably enjoy it – if you like chilly water, even in the summer. As mentioned above, the temperature is 14°C max. However, I mostly saw dogs in the lake and not many people. But there is a little “beach section” at the other end of the lake.

Beach section at Lago di Braies
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  • TIP: If you plan to take a rest here, be prepared that it is not the comfiest place to sit and relax. The little rocks can hurt your butt – so bring a thick blanket to sit on them. And bringing a towel might be a good idea just in case you want to actually take a dip.

Different color shades Lago di Braies
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Chapel “Lago di Braies”

There is also a little church just next to Lago di Braies. It looks lovely and is probably not the first thing that comes to your mind when hearing about lakes, but this isn’t so unusual in Italy. 

What to do around Lago di Braies
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The chapel was built in the first years of the 20th century and belongs to the Hotel di Braies and can be visited all year round. It is open daily and there is no entrance fee etc. Since I was traveling with a dog, I did not enter the church. I saw a couple of pictures online and it looks like a simple yet beautiful little chapel – if it is open during the time of your visit, take a peek.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON A DAY TRIP TO LAKE BRAIES

As you hopefully could see, Lago di Braies is breathtaking. Yes, it might be crowded at times, but its beauty still makes it one of the best places to visit in Italy. I hope this Lago di Braies travel guide helps you plan your trip to Pragser Wildsee, and you have found all the information you need. 

I loved the lake, but this one was probably my favorite in the Dolomites.

Looking for more beautiful lakes in the Dolomites? Then read this post.

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How to get to Lago di Braies, Italy, Arzo Travels
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