Idyllic Lake Braies in the Dolomites is one of the most photogenic lakes in Europe. You can definitely recognize the lake from the many photos posted on Instagram or perhaps from the popular Italian series Mountain Guard. It is the largest lake in the Dolomites, whose specialty is its turquoise color of water and 2810 meters high mountain Croda del Becco, whose reflection is on the surface of the lake.
Lago di Braies or Pragser Wildsee is located most northern in the Italian province of South Tyrol, almost on the border with Austria. Until 1919, the area belonged to Austria and was home to 90% of the German-speaking population. Today, both German and Italian are spoken in the area.
The lake is also the largest natural lake in the Dolomites, located at 1496 meters. It is 1.2 km long and reaches a depth of 36 m.
The lake is beautiful in all seasons, but a visit to the lake in the fall certainly has a special charm. During this time, the larch trees that surround the lake turn a golden yellow color, adding a unique color to the lake.
Walk around the lake
A 4 km long easy hiking trail runs around the lake. The circular route takes about an hour and a half of walking, the time depends on your pace, and above all on the time you will spend taking photos and observing the surroundings. The path is not demanding, but in certain parts the path ascends and descends, even up the stairs. Along the way you will find some beautiful points for photography and some smaller beaches. Swimming in the lakes is also allowed, but only for those who are not bothered by the cold water. In summer, the water reaches 14 degrees celsius, making it more suitable only for the brave.
On the other (southern) side of the lake there are also quite a few starting points for conquering one of the peaks that rise above the lake. The lake is also the starting point for a 150-kilometer route through the Dolomites called Alta Via 1 or La Classica.
For romantic souls, it is also possible to rent a wooden boat on the lake, from which you can see the lake from another perspective. One hundred years ago, the boat was the only means of transportation by which people could get to the other side of the coast. A half-hour boat ride costs 19€, and for one hour you will have to deduct 28€, which can accommodate 4 people at a time. The boat can be rented from June to September, between 8.30 am and 6.30 pm.
There are many boats available for rent, but in recent years they have run out before 11am. During this time, visitors start coming, which means you will have to wait to rent a boat. It is recommended that you arrive early enough, preferably just before the opening of the boathouse. This way you will avoid waiting and you will have the lake almost to yourself.
You will notice the charming chapel along the west shore of the lake. It was built in 1904 as a private chapel of the Hellensteiner family, owned by the Hotel Pragser Wildsee. The chapel has an unusual history, as it was chosen by the German SS commander during World War II as a location where prisoners from the Dachau concentration camp experienced freedom. Fortunately, the prisoners were indeed released, and today a memorial plaque commemorates that time.
How to get to the lake?
Lake Braies is located in northern Italy, just a few kilometers from Dobbiaco.
The easiest way to get to the lake is by car. Renting a car will allow you to visit other locations that are certainly not lacking in the Dolomites. You can rent a car from many agencies (Europecar).
List of major cities from which you can visit the lake:
- Milan (380 km, 4.5h)
- Verona (250 km, 3h)
- Venice (200 km, 2h)
- Ljubljana (265 km, 3.5h)
- Innsbruck (134 km, 2h)
Many people also arrive in the Dolomites by train. From Milan to Bolzano you will need a good three hours drive. In Bolzano, you will change trains to Niederdorf (Villbass). From here you will continue your journey with bus no. 422, which also stops at Lago di Braies station, right next to the lake (the bus runs between 20 June and 20 September.
Best time to visit
A visit to the lake will take your breath away, no matter the time of the visit. If you are looking for hiking ideas, want to admire nature, take a walk around the lake, and most of all, admire the lake in nice weather. The best time to visit the lake is between June and September. In the summer months, the lake is visited by the most people, so the crowds are expected. It is recommended to visit the lake in the morning.
The lake is worth a visit even in the winter, when the snowy landscape has a special charm. In winter, the lake also freezes, so you can also try yourself at ice skating.
- Drones are not allowed on the lake
- We recommend that you bring some food and drink with you. There is no other catering offer on the lake, except for a small restaurant with food and drinks