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The famous Lago di Braies is just as beautiful in person as it is in photos. Blue waters with a striking mountain backdrop, it’s hard not to fall in love with this spot. Photographs of this famous lake have recently found their way all over the internet, and for a very good reason! Lago di Braies is definitely one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, and it is listed as a UNESCO heritage site. I have traveled the world, and there are few places that are more beautiful than Lago di Braies. Below you’ll find a detailed guide on Lago di Braies, from when to visit, where to stay, and what to do when you visit.
Where is it located?
Lago di Braies, Pragser Wildsee in German, also known as Lake Braies, is a famous and beautiful lake in the Dolomites in Northern Italy in South Tyrol. Lago di Braies is is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site and is often referred to as the “Pearl of the Dolomites”.
Where to Stay near Lago di Braies
There are a number of hotels, as well as Lago di Braies airbnb, that are located within a mile and a half of the lake, including one that is walking distance. They range in price, but you can expect any hotel near Lago di Braies to be on the slightly pricer side. Here are a few of the top choices in the area:
If you’re looking to soak up all that Lago di Braies, then you can’t get much closer than Hotel Lago di Braies. Located right at the foot of the lake, it is a magical place to stay. If you are visiting during the winter months, there is a free shuttle bus to take you to the nearby ski resorts.
Steinwandterhof is a farmstay accommodation, just 5 minutes down the road from Lago di Braies in Prags. With horses on the property, the spot is an absolute gem in the Italian Dolomites.
Gstattlhof is an apartment-style accommodation just 5 minutes from Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee), right at the foot of the region’s best ski slopes.
The Steinerhof guesthouse offers bright, airy accomodations in the Prags region. Just like the other options on this list, Steinerhof is just a quick 5 minute drive from Lago di Braies. This is perfect for anyone looking to visit the lake during the early morning.
A delicious breakfast is included, and there is an Italian pastry shop, what could be better? Maybe the mountain views seen from Residence Trenker Luis. This is an excellent hotel option near Lake Braies.
What Time to Visit Lago di Braies
Due to the lake’s popularity and accessibility, it can get very crowded during the day. The best time to visit is either in the early morning or in the late afternoon. If you can get yourself out of head, a 6am arrival will ensure a quiet, magical visit to the lake. The stillness of the early morning sunrise is the perfect time to visit. However, if you can’t get yourself up out of bed early enough, then the late afternoon is another good option.
How to Get There
How to get to Lake Braies by car
Braies lake is easily accessible by car, and should be added to any roadtrip in the Dolomites itinerary. The national road SS49 leads directly to the lake, which connects it to several major highways. This makes it easy to reach Lago di Braies from a number of major cities, as well as other areas in the Dolomites, for a day trip. Here are the driving distances from a few popular areas:
- Cortina d’Ampezzo: 45 minutes (a great town if you’re trying to figure out where to stay in the Dolomites)
- Venice, Italy: 2 hours 45 minutes
- Innsbruck, Austria: 2 hours
- Bolzano, Italy: 1 hour 30 minutes
How to get to Lago di Braies by public transportation
It is also possible to reach Lago di Braies by public transportation. Bolzano is the closest major city to Lago di Braies, located about 1.5 hours away. There are many options for trains and buses that will take you to Bolzano. From Bolzano you will need to catch a train to either Niederdorf or Dobbiaco. If you’re coming from other areas of the Dolomites, such as Cortina d’Ampezzo, you will find buses running to Dobbiaco as well. From Niederdorf/Dobbiaco you will need to catch the local bus #442 to the lake.
Please note, the local bus to the lake only runs seasonally from around June 20th to September 20th. The rest of the year you will need your own transportation.
Parking at Lago di Braies
You can find parking right next to Hotel Lago di Braies in a parking lot. Parking in the lot costs 6 euro for 3 hours. From the parking lot it is just a two minute walk down to the lake and main boathouse.
What to do at Lago di Braies
It is completely free to visit Lago di Braies, other than parking, food, or any additional activities you’d like to participate in. The hotel at the lakeside offers food and drink options, but I recommend packing your own food for a picnic.
Rent a Boat on the lake
The boathouse is easily the most popular photo spot on the lake, and it’s easy to see why. There is something truly magical about watching the boats take off on the lake. Even better? You can rent a boat yourself and set off exploring the lake. Renting a boat to paddle on the braies lake is the most popular thing to do when visiting Lago di Braies.
It is possible to rent a boat for either 30 minutes or 60 minutes, one hour. Boat rentals cost 18 euro for a 30 minute ride, and 28 euro for the full hour. While not a cheap experience, it is definitely a magical experience that you won’t want to miss out on. However, this also means that it can be difficult to snag a boat. I recommend arriving right when they open, as most boats will be taken by 11am. Another option is to visit in the late afternoon, when boats should be available.
- Boat Rental Season: June – September
- Opening Hours: 9:30am to 5pm
Go for a hike around Pragser Wildsee
There is a 2-mile hiking trail that circles the lake, offering some of the best views in the Italian Dolomites. The hike around the lake takes 1.5-2 hours, depending on your fitness level. The path is relatively flat, making it an easy hike for anyone. From the Lake Braies hotel, follow the path along the lakeshore, past the small chapel to the turn-off. There are quite a few stairs along the path, so that should be considered when planning your hike.
Circling the lake will give you the opportunity to capture the views from plenty of angles. Plus, the further you get from the hotel, the less tourists you’ll find, which is always a plus!
If you’re looking for a more challenging hike, you can extend the hike by heading up further into the mountains, Croda del Becco (Seekofel).
Go for a swim
While swimming in the lake is allowed, I warn you now that the water is very cold. But if you fancy a swim, make sure to pack a towel and swimsuit. It is definitely one of the most beautiful swimming locations in the world.
Take photos at Lago di Braies
I think it goes without saying that snapping some photos while visiting Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee) is a must, even if they can never fully capture the beauty of the lake. Some of the most famous photo spots are:
- On the dock by the boathouse
- On one of the wooden paddle boats
- By the cathedral along the lakeside coast
- Walking down the stairs off the dock into the water
What to Pack when visiting Lago di Braies
If you’re planning on visiting Lago di Braies, or working on putting together a Dolomites itinerary, you’re going to need to figure out what to pack. As I mentioned above, you can experience cool mountain temperatures year-round, so you’ll want to make sure that you’re prepared with layers.
- Comfortable shoes — whether you plan on hiking or not, you can still expect to do a ton of walking while visiting the Dolomites, so it is super important to wear comfortable shoes. A pair of Nike running sneakers is always a good idea for maximum comfort. I recently purchased a brand new pair of boots from Columbia and absolutely love them. Plus, don’t forget a good pair of hiking socks!
- Warm Layers — I used my Patagonia Nano Puff almost every morning and evening while the Italian Dolomites, even in the summer. Morning can be quite cold if you are starting your hike before sunrise. On extra cold mornings, I could layer my Patagonia Better Sweater underneath for extra warmth.
- Workout Tops — I have a few workout tops from Patagonia that I absolutely love! They are performance tops so they dry super quickly, perfect for long hikes.
- Sunscreen — Be sure to protect your skin and always wear sunscreen when adventuring in the mountains. I use BioClarity SunFilter on my face and BioClarity SunShady on my body. This is an amazing vegan skincare brand that I’ve been using for years.
- Water bottle – if you get one thing out of this blog post it is that Vapur water bottle is the absolute best travel water bottle! I purchased my first one in 2015 and have been obsessed ever since. They fold up after use, making them perfect for travel and hiking adventures.
- Camera – an iPhone camera just can’t do justice to the beauty that you’ll experience when visiting Lago di Braies. All of my photos in this blog post were taken on a Nikon D7000 (an older model at this point). I recently upgraded to a Sony A7ii. If you’re looking for an entry level camera, I also recommend the Sony A6000.
Lago di Braies Weather
You can expect to experience cool mountain air year round in the Dolomites. The temperatures at sea level may rise as high as 80 degrees, but up in the mountains the temperatures rarely rise above 70 degrees.
The summer is known as rainy season in the Dolomites, but it also when you can experience some of the most mild temperatures in the region, much warmer than the Lago di Braies winter.
Winters in the Dolomites can be quite cold, and you can expect a fair amount snow, making it one of the best ski destinations in the world.
Nearby Destinations to Lake Braies
There are plenty of other nearby destinations that can be reached within an hour and a half by car from Pragser Wildsee Italy. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Tre Cime di Lavaredo
- Tre Cime di Lavaredo is one of my favorite hikes in the Dolomites region. I recommend arriving for sunrise, as the trails are near empty, and the views of the sun rising behind the mountain is unbeatable. We stayed in Cortina D’Ampezzo the evening before, which gave us easy access to the trailhead.
- Lago di Sorapis
- This lake is so blue that it truly looks fake! The best part about this lake, is that unlike many of the other lakes in the Dolomites, you cannot access this one by car. Instead you will need to hike approximately 2 hours in the mountains before reaching this perfect blue lake. I recommend visiting in summer for the fullest lake, but the fall foliage is supposed to be beautiful as well.
- Ortisei (access to hiking Seceda)
- Ortisei is a great base in the Dolomites, especially if you don’t have a car. You can easily reach both Seceda and Alpe di Suisi from the town center by gondola. Both areas are incredible, but Seceda definitely stole my heart. I would recommend overnight on Seceda for the best experience.
If you’re traveling in the Dolomites, Italy, here are some posts that you should check out as well:
- 7 Spots you Can’t Miss in the Dolomites
- A Guide to Hiking Seceda, Dolomites
- How to Get to the Dolomites, Italy
- Hiking to Lago di Sorapis
- Where to Stay in the Dolomites
- Road Trip in the Dolomites
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