Lago di Braies: the most beautiful lake in the Dolomites | Complete Guide

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Lago di Braies (German: Pragser Wildsee) is the most famous lake in the Italian Dolomites. It is rightly one of the most beautiful and most visited lakes in the Alps and Italy. In this article, we’ll cover all the information and tips you’ll need before your visit to Lake Braies – where to park at Lago di Braies, how much it costs to rent a wooden boat, where to hike in the area, and other Lake Braies attractions.

Lago di Braies

Lago di Braies is an Italian lake in the Dolomites, famous for its turquoise to emerald water reflecting the mighty peaks of the surrounding mountains. The atmosphere is completed by green pines and larches, which in autumn envelop the lake in warm colours.

The whole lake is literally like a magnet for visitors. Everyone wants to take a ride on an iconic wooden boat and enjoy an iconic place in the Dolomites.

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In the photos, the lake appears to be a peaceful place to enjoy the atmosphere with just a few other tourists. But the idea here is quite different from the reality. So much so that the local authorities have created restrictions for the high season, which we’ll talk about as well.

Hundreds of tourists, large parking areas and refreshment stands make the lake a place for mass tourism. Unfortunately, not everyone behaves with respect for nature and disturbs the sensitive ecosystem of the lake and its surroundings.

The good news is that most of these visitors take a photo at the beginning of the lake by the wooden boathouse, have a hot dog and move on. If you have more time, be sure to take a tour around the lake or head to the local mountains.

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Basic facts about Lago di Braies

The lake is located in the Braies valley at an altitude of 1,496 metres at the northernmost point of the Fanes-Sennes-Braies Nature Park, adjacent to the Tre Cime National Park. It covers an area of 31 hectares (1.2 km in length and 300-400 m in width) and with a depth of 36 m it is the deepest lake in the Dolomites.

Lago di Braies is a natural lake created by a landslide that blocked the Braies River. The clear water reflects the northern side of the imposing Croda del Becco (Seekofel in German, 2810 m).

The lake is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its beauty.

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On the west side of the lake behind the Pragser Wildsee Hotel you will find the church that played its role at the end of the 2nd World War. World War II. Some 137 political prisoners were taken from concentration camps in Germany on the orders of the SS commander, who hoped to exchange them for his own safety. The exchange took place at the Pragser Wildsee Hotel and the freed prisoners then prayed in the church on the shores of Lake Braies.

According to legend, miners mined gold and precious stones in the local mountains. Local herdsmen tried to steal their treasure. They failed to do so, however, because the miners opened an underground spring that created Lake Braies, where the miners subsequently hid their treasure.

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How to get to Lago di Braies?

Lago di Braies by car

The lake is located in northern Italy in South Tyrol. The journey from Prague and Brno will take you about 7 and a half hours (670 km).

On the way, you will be charged for an Austrian vignette. In 2024, a 10-day vignette for Austria costs €11.50 (€4.60 for motorcycles), a two-month vignette €28.90 and an annual vignette €96.40. A new one-day pass is also on offer for €8.60, but it’s not worth it given the other prices.

You can buy the vignette at official sales points such as petrol stations, post offices and some kiosks at the border, or online at the official ASFINAG website. The easiest option is to buy online, which works similarly to the Czech Republic.

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In addition to the vignette, Austria is known for its toll sections (so-called section tolls), for which you have to pay separately. Travellers from Prague and the Czech Republic will mostly be charged €13 for crossing the Brenner Pass. From Moravia you can probably avoid the toll sections, but you can still check your route on the map below (toll sections are marked in green).

You can pay in cash or by card directly at the tollgate, or you can pay by credit card at the tollgate. online on the ASFINAG website.

Even though the entire Fanes-Sennes-Braies National Park is inaccessible by car, the lake can be reached comfortably via the SS49 national road, from which you turn off to Schmieden-Ferrara. After a few minutes you are a few steps from the lake. See the article below for more about parking at the lake.

By bus to Lago di Braies

Buses are a great option if you are staying nearby or parking further away from the lake.

Bus line no. The 442 from Dobbiaco runs all year round (every 30 minutes in high season) and costs €5 (children under 6 free). Payment is only possible in cash directly with the driver and in high season between 10th July and 10th September then you must book at From Dobbiaco it takes 30 minutes by bus. Mobilcards, HolidayPass or Almencard are valid on bus routes.

This line is supplemented in high season by line 439 from Monguelfo, which runs for 20 minutes. Advance booking required.

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Restrictions for period 10th July to 10th September

If you plan to visit Lake Braies and the Pragser Tal valley between 10th July and 10th September, restrictions on car travel apply. To avoid these restrictions, you must arrive before 9:30 or after 16:00. For this reason, I recommend that you plan your visit to the lake for early morning or later in the afternoon – even in high season there will be only a fraction of tourists at these times.

If you come here between 9:30-16:00, you must book parking in advance, use public buses, cycle or walk. We’ll talk more below.

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Buses in the period 10th July to 10th September 9:30-16:00

If you plan to take the bus (see above), you must reserve your seat book your seat in advance. Outside these times you can take any bus towards Lake Braies and no reservation is needed.

Parking during the period 10th July to 10th September 9:30-16:00

If you arrive at Lago di Braies between 09:30-16:00, you must reserve a parking space in advance. This booking confirmation will then be presented on site. Outside of this period and time, reservations are not required.

There are several parking lots to choose from and prices are valid for prime time (outside of this time they are lower):

  • Parking lot P4 is the closest to the lake. It’s big, but it can still be quite chaotic later in the morning. In high season you must book your place in advance. The price for a full day’s parking is €38 – this includes a €15 meal voucher to use at Emma’s Bistro and Panorama Restaurant & Chalet right on the lake.
  • Parking lot P3 is the second closest car park, located just 500 metres from the lake. Plus, it’s the best value – just €7 per day (for cars only). Book here.
  • Parking lot P2 is 800 meters from the lake and reservations are required at In addition to parking, it also includes a shuttle service, but the lake is only a few minutes walk away.
  • Parking lot P1 is the furthest and is located 5.5 km away on the edge of the valley. It is located right by the bus stop, with buses running all year round with more frequent services in high season. Book here.
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Parking at Lago di Braies

There are several car parks around Lake Braies with varying parking rates. The information below is valid for the whole year, except for the hours 9:30-16:00 between 10th July and 10th September.

  • Parking lot P4 is only 200 metres from the lake and is the closest, so it is also the most expensive. The minimum parking fee is €6 (max 3 hours) and €12 for the whole day. You pay at the parking meter when you leave (it takes coins and cards).
  • Parking lot P3 can be found about 400 meters in front of the lake on the right side. There’s an attendant who will direct you exactly where to park (similar to Tre Cime) and collect cash in advance. Parking costs 7 €/day. If you are planning to take one of the hiking trails around the lake like we did, I recommend parking here.
  • Parking lot P2 is 800 m from the lake. This is a small car park with refreshments on the right hand side. Parking costs €6/day and you pay at the machine (takes coins and cards).
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When to visit Lago di Braies?

Lake Braies is one of the most beautiful places in the Dolomites. It attracts tourists and photographers alike, so you won’t be completely alone even early in the morning.

The ideal time to visit is from mid-May to the end of June and after the high season from mid-September to the end of October. At the beginning of May the lake is still frozen. Crowds are acceptable in June and early July. In autumn, the lake is again bathed in warm colours and there are noticeably fewer tourists.

If you want to experience a real fairy tale, visit Lago di Braies in winter. In case of bad weather, however, the trail around the lake may be inaccessible (sometimes even the road to the lake itself).

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Boat rental on Lago di Braies

From late May to early November, you can take a ride in wooden rowboats on Lago di Braies. The ride will cost you €50 for 45 minutes if you want to have the boat to yourself (price is for the whole boat and max 5 people), or €15 per person for a shared ride. In high season, expect a waiting time of about half an hour.

Current information on admission and opening hours can be found here.

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Accommodation in the surroundings of Lago di Braies

The Dolomites are vast, with plenty of breathtaking sites that you’d need at least a month to see. I recommend anchoring in one place and exploring the area from there and then moving on again.

There are plenty of hotels, guesthouses and apartments around the Pragser Tal valley, but like anywhere else in the Dolomites, they fill up very quickly. From the valley you’re a short walk to the lake, but also to the iconic Tre Cime peaks, the view of the Cadini massif or the Pratto Piazza plateau.

Accommodation in the Dolomites 😴

ubytování lago di braies
B&B Hotel Heidi – Toblach

Family hotel with garden

ubytování lago di braies
Hotel Dolomiten – Toblach

Cosy 3* hotel with wellness and half board

Cortina d’Ampezzo and the surrounding area is also a great starting point. It offers excellent facilities and is located in the heart of the eastern Dolomites, with easy access to many places in the Dolomites. A short drive from Cortina d’Ampezzo you can visit Tre Cime, Passo Falzarego, Passo Giau, Lago Sorapis, Tofana di Mezzo and more.

The best accommodation in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Dolomites:

  • Hotel de Len: Modern and stylish hotel with spectacular views of Cortina d’Ampezzo, with excellent cuisine and wellness facilities.
  • B&B Hotel Passo Tre Croci: Modern three-star hotel with a strategic location directly on Passo Tre Croci. Strategic location for hiking trails in the area (Lago di Sorapis, Monte Cristallo area).
  • Hotel Piccolo Pocol: Pleasant hotel in the mid-price range above Cortina d’Ampezzo, a short walk from Passo Giau and Passo Falzarego. A good choice for couples and families with children.
  • Hotel Serena: Cosy hotel with great value for money, a restaurant and free parking on site.

Accommodation Cortina d’Ampezzo 😴

ubytování dolomity
B&B Hotel Passo Tre Croci

Popular hotel with excellent accessibility

ubytování dolomity
Hotel Serena

3* hotel with great value for money

Where to eat around the lake?

There are several places to eat around the lake.

The restaurant at the Pragser Wildsee Hotel is the easiest to reach, followed by the bistro with outdoor seating. A refreshment stand is located right at the entrance to the lake.

If you want to take a walk through the Brennes Mountains, continue along the right side of the lake to Malga Foresta (closed in summer, closed the rest of the year). A description of the route can be found below in this guide. They will prepare great dishes using their own ingredients.

Or stop along the way in the Pragser Tal valley at the trattoria Mösslhof Alto Adige, which also serves excellent local cuisine.

On the hike up Seekofel, you can eat or have a beer to refresh yourself at Rifugio Biella.

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Swimming in Lago di Braies

You may be wondering if you can take a dip in the lake. According to the South Tyrol Tourist Board, swimming in Lago di Braies is forbidden. We saw some people swimming here, but they risked a fine. Moreover, the water in the lake does not even reach 14 degrees Celsius.

Hiking around Lake Braies

Lago di Braies is the starting point of the famous Alta Via n. 1 delle Dolomiti, which ends in Belluno in Veneto. The route is mostly easy and takes you through the beautiful landscape of the Dolomites, including the Giau mountain pass.

lago di braies tourism

If you have less time, take one of the shorter hiking trails around the lake:

Circuit around the lake

The most popular route goes around the lake and is 3.5 kilometres long. On the west bank, the path is flat and wide, so you can easily manage it with a stroller or small children (see photo above). On the other hand, the eastern bank is narrow with stairs, but the views from here are all the more fun.

The whole tour will take you about an hour and a half. A large number of visitors end at the very beginning, so you will then enjoy the views around the lake with only a few others.

Hiking trail to the Malga Foresta mountain hut

Are you looking for an easy hiking route with a great meal at the end? Then the ideal route for you will be to the Malga Foresta mountain hut.

Follow the west shore of the lake along the wide path that follows Alta Via 1. You will reach a toilet booth, where you continue straight down the valley to the Malga Foresta hut.

Hiking route to the top of Croda del Becco

Head to the other side of the lake to the foot of the Croda del Becco, which forms the backdrop to Lago di Braies. You will come to a tourist signpost, from where you will head up through the rubble (the summit will be on your right at that moment).

lago di braies tourism

On the way you pass through the Forcella Sora Forna saddle, past the Seekofelhütte hut (Rifugio Biella in Italian) to the top of the Croda del Becco (Seekofel in German) – the end of the trail from the hut is on an unmarked trail. The trail is challenging in terms of climbing, but if you have experience with alpine terrain, you can do it without any problems.

Map of Lago di Braies

Below you will find a map of Lago di Braies where we have marked all the important information for your visit – parking, boat rental, hiking trails, nearby refreshments and accommodation.

HOW TO USE THIS MAP: Above you will find a detailed map of Lake Braies. Click at the top left of the map to see separate layers with highlighted locations. You can hide and show the different layers or click on the icons on the map to see the names of the places mentioned in the lake guide. If you want to save the map, star it. For a larger version, click on the icon in the upper right corner.

These were our tips for Lake Braies in Italy. Do you have a question? We’ll be happy to answer it in the comments below. Have a safe journey!

More information about Dolomites

DOLOMITES: Here are the most beautiful hikes and excursions in the Dolomites. We have prepared a detailed guide to the Dolomites (prices, food, transport and other tips).

Passo Pordoi is our favourite pass in the Dolomites, as is Passo Giau. For tips on hiking routes in the Sassolungo area, see the article on Passo Sella. When visiting the Dolomites, you can’t miss the iconic Tre Cime peaks.

AUSTRIAN ALPS: What to see in the Austrian Alps is covered in a separate article. Or head straight to Tyrol or the High Tauern National Park. Other popular destinations in the Austrian Alps are the Dachstein mountain range or the Carinthian region with its crystal clear lakes.

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