Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee in German) is an alpine lake in the UNESCO World Heritage Site Fanes-Sennes-Braies Nature Park. More specifically, Lago di Braies is located in Braies Valley (Valle di Braies in Italian, Pragser Tal in German), a side valley of Upper Puster Valley (Alta Pusteria, Hochpustertal) in South Tyrol, Italy.

Braies Lake lies at the foot of the north face of Croda del Becco (Seekofel in German, Sass dla Porta in Ladin), a towering massif (2,810m), which creates the jaw-dropping, picture-perfect backdrop of Lago di Braies. There’s a reason it’s called the Peal of the Dolomites. And like any declared “pearls,” Lago di Braies is not a secret. 

To enjoy this iconic Dolomites lake in person, it’s best to set expectations right here and right now. First, you won’t be alone…not at 5 am and not at 5 pm. Second, like any place that has gained popularity on Instagram, people come here for the “photo.” And, contrary to what photos will have you believe, Lago di Braies isn’t a tranquil destination, where you can contemplate the meaning of life, whilst bathing in the soft morning light.

The good news is that you can visit Lake Braies (with all the people), and then continue exploring the vicinity, knowing that you’ll leave them all behind. From Lago di Braies, you can hike to Lake Hochalpensee (2254 m) and Hochalpenkopf (2542 m). You can also tackle the demanding summit hikes to Seekofel (2810 m), Herrnstein (2447 m), and Grosser Rosskopf (2559 m). Enjoy the lake by all means. But, let Lago di Braies be the starting point for an exciting crowd-free adventure.

In this complete guide to visiting Lago di Braies, we’ll outline everything you need to know about when to visit, what to see and do (e.g. renting a boat), where to hike, where to eat, and how to get here (by car and by transit).

Important: Visiting Lago di Braies is getting more complicated this summer. As of Summer 2021, there are new regulations regarding lake access during the high season (July 10 – September 10). To protect the sensitive ecosystem of the lake, local authorities are curtailing personal vehicle traffic. Please read this page about accessing Valle di Braies/Pragser Tal valley in high season. We highly recommend visiting Lago di Braies before July 10th, or after September 10th, to avoid these restrictions. If you visit between July 10 – September 10, you must pre-book and pre-pay your transit to the lake as well as parking. We’ll explain everything in this guide in detail.


How to Visit Lago di Braies in the Dolomites

Lago di Braies, Dolomites
  • Entrance Fee: Free 
  • Swimming: Not allowed (confirmed by the South Tyrol Tourist Board)
  • Boat Rental: 19 EUR for 30 min; 29 EUR for 60 min 
  • Maximum Depth: 36 meters
  • Surface Water Temperature: 14°C max
  • Length: 1.2 km
  • Width: 300-400 meters
  • Surface Elevation: 1496 meters
  • Protected Area: Fanes-Sennes-Braies Nature Park 
  • Tourist Region: Alta Pusteria (Hochpustertal) 
  • Italian Province: South Tyrol
  • Public Toilets: Hotel Lago di Braies, Car Parks, or Southern-end of the Lake (not recommended).
  • When to Visit: Before July 10th, or after September 10th
  • Where to Eat: Lago di Braies Restaurant, or better Malga Foresta/Grünwaldalm (1.3 km walk from the southwestern tip of the lake).
  • Where to Stay: Garni Bergblick (budget), Hotel Erika (midrange), Silentium Dolomites Chalet (luxury).

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Lago di Braies Dolomites Map


Legends of Lago di Brais

Lake Braies, Prags Dolomites

Local legend tells us that once upon a time savages successfully mined for gold and gemstones in the Braies mountains. Fueled by jealousy, the local herdsmen attempted to steal their amassed treasure. They failed to loot the riches because the miners cleverly opened up an underground spring which created a magnificent lake. Here, in the newly created Lake Braies, they sunk their treasure trove. 

Another Ladin legend declares that Sass dla Porta (Seekofel) is the gateway to the underground Fanes kingdom. Every 100 years on a full moon, the Queen of Fanes and her daughter Princess Dolasilla leave their underground abode beneath Sass dla Porta via a hidden doorway.

In the night, they row across Lake Prags, hoping that they’ll hear the silver trumpets proclaiming the dawning of the promised time and the rebirth of their kingdom. Alas, the trumpets never sound and they row in vain (source: Shorter Walks in the Dolomites).


When to Visit Lake Braies

Lago di Braies Wooden Rowboats, Italy
Lago di Braies Southern Shore

Summer Season: Early June until late October

The best time to visit Lago di Braies is in Summer and/or Fall. You can walk around the lake, hike to various peaks in the Braies Dolomites, rent a rowboat, and enjoy the glistening greens and blues of the crystal-clear lake waters. 

We recommend visiting Lago di Braies in late June, early July, or anytime between mid-September and late October.


Winter Season: November – April

You can also visit Lago di Braies in winter, however, there’s less you can do. Between December and March, the lake freezes over and is covered in snow. Temperatures are frigid and cold (below 0 C°). 

The lake begins to thaw in May.

To monitor conditions, you can check out the Braies webcam.


Lago di Braies Boat Rental 

Lago di Braies Boat Rental

Many people fall in love with Braies before ever visiting. They long to walk down the iconic steps of the jetty and take a romantic ride in a wooden rowboat across the lake’s shimmering waters. You can rent a boat between mid-May and the end of October.  Note: only 4 people are allowed in a single boat.

 It’s not possible to book a boat in advance, unless you’re interested in a 7 am photoshoot (more info below). 


Operating Times 

  • Shoulder Season (May, June, September, October): 10 am – 5 pm 
  • High Season (July and August): 8:30 am to 6:30 pm 
  • Closed in case of bad weather. 
  • Weddings, Advertising, or Personal Photoshoots: You can rent a boat from 7 am to 8 am for 150 EUR. To make a photoshoot reservation, contact La Palafitta using the contact form on this page.

Boat Rental Pricing

  • 30 Minutes: 19 EUR
  • 60 Minutes: 29 EUR


How to Get to Lago di Braies

Car


High Season: July 10 – September 10 

If you’re visiting Lago di Braies between July 10th and September 10th, you can only drive to the lake before 9:30 am or after 4 pm (Summer 2021). You can park at the pay-and-display car parks near Hotel Lago di Braies.

  • PARKING AREA P3 (200 meters from the lake) 6 EUR for 3 hours.
  • PARKING AREA P2 (400 meters from the lake) 6 EUR for the whole day.

Driving access to the lake is restricted during peak hours (9:30 am – 4 pm): “Pragser Tal valley can only be reached between 9.30 AM and 4.00 PM by public transportation, on foot, by bicycle, or on presentation of a parking space reservation or a valid transit permit” (source).

If you’re planning on driving to Lago di Braies during high season, pre-book your parking. We recommend booking Parking Area P1 because it’s closer to the lake (no shuttle necessary). Here are the two parking areas you can pre-book near Lago di Braies:

  • PARKING AREA P1 (8:00 – 18:00). This car park is located only 800 meters from the lake. It costs 15 EUR to reserve a parking space here. You can walk to the lake from the parking lot.
  • PARKING AREA SÄGE / SEGHERIA (8:00 – 16:00). This car park is located 5.5 km from Lago di Braies. It costs 9 EUR to park here. There are shuttles that run approximately every 30 minutes (between 9:30 am and 4 pm except during lunch) to the lake from this parking lot. Shuttle tickets cost 5 EUR per person one-way. You do not need to pre-book the shuttle ticket.

Low Season: September 10 – July 10

During the low season, there are no driving restrictions for private vehicles. You can drive to Lago di Braies and park at the pay-and-display car parks near the lake, next to the hotel. If P2 and P3 are full, there’s another car park (P1) about 800 meters back down the road.  

  • PARKING AREA P3 (200 meters from the lake) 6 EUR for 3 hours.
  • PARKING AREA P2 (400 meters from the lake) 6 EUR for the whole day.

Public Transit 

Lago di Braies, Croda del Becco

If you want to visit Lago di Braies without a car, it’s best to first head to Dobbiaco (Toblach) by train, or bus. Use the journey planner on the Suedtirolmobil website to find your connection. From Cortina d’Ampezzo, for example, it’s a 40-minute bus ride (Bus Line 445) to get to the Dobbiaco Train Station. 

2021 Update: If you’re planning on taking a bus to Lago di Braies between July 10 – September 10, advance online-booking and prepayment are required.


Bus Line 442: Dobbiaco (Toblach) – Villabassa (Niederdorf) – Lago di  Braies (Pragser Wildsee) 

There is a regular bus line to Lago di Braies from Dobbiaco (Toblach) and Villabassa (Niederdorf), two towns in Val Pusteria. Here’s the 2021 Bus Line 442 timetable. This bus line runs all year round. Between June 20th – September 26th, there are additional connections. 

It takes 20 minutes to reach Lago di Braies from Villabassa and about 30 minutes from Dobbiaco. 

If you’re visiting between July 10th and September 10th, online reservation and pre-payment are essential. You can book your bus ticket on the Prags website.


Seasonal Bus Line 439: Monguelfo (Welsberg) to Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee).

Between July 10th and September 10th, there is a seasonal tourist shuttle from Monguelfo (Welsberg) to Lago di Braies. The bus ride takes 20 minutes. You must make a reservation and pay for your ticket online ahead of time. You can book your bus ticket to Lago di Braies on the Prags website.

Here’s the 2021 Bus Line 439 timetable


Lago di Braies Hiking Trails

Lake Braies Hikes
Lago di Braies Circuit Trail

Lago di Braies is the starting point of the long-distance Alta Via 1 hiking trail. In addition to following the popular circuit trail around the lake, you can hike the first stage of the famous AV1 trail to Rifugio Biella, with an extension to the Croda del Becco summit. Lesser known hiking options are Grünwaldtal and Hochalpensee, Hochalpenkopf and Herrstein. 


Lago di Braies Circuit Trail 

  • Trailhead: Hotel Lago di Braies
  • Distance: 3.6 km circuit 
  • Difficulty: Easy 
  • Time Needed: 1 – 1:30 hours 
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 50 m ascending/descending 

The most popular thing to do at Lake Braies is to walk around the entire lake. 

The circuit path is mostly flat, though there are some stairways on the east bank of the lake. You can hike in either direction, though most people will hike counter-clockwise, heading west (right) first. Shortly after passing the stone Hotel Lago di Braies, you’ll pass by the Marinekapplle chapel. 


Croda del Becco / Seekofel (2810 m) 

  • Trailhead: Hotel Lago di Braies
  • Distance: 14.6 km out-and-back 
  • Difficulty: Difficult 
  • Time Needed: 7:45 hours 
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 1380 meters
  • Croda del Becco Trail Description

Grünwaldtal and Hochalpensee 

  • Trailhead: Hotel Lago di Braies
  • Distance: 17.4 km out-and-back
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time Needed: 6:15 hours
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 825 meters
  • Hochalpensee Trail Description (German) – In Chrome, you can easily translate the text using Google Translate. 

Hochalpenkopf (2542 m)

  • Trailhead: Hotel Lago di Braies
  • Distance: 8.5 km out-and-back
  • Difficulty: Difficult 
  • Time Needed: 4:50 hours
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 1080 meters
  • Hochalpenkopf Trail Description (German) 

Herrstein (2447 m)

  • Trailhead: Hotel Lago di Braies
  • Distance: 9.6 km out-and-back 
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Time Needed: 4:30 hours
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 1030 meters 
  • Herrstein Trail Description & Photos (German)

Related: Best Day Hikes in the Dolomites


Visiting Lago di Braies Responsibly

While visiting Lago di Braies, you’re also visiting a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. Please adhere to the following rules during your visit.

  • Swimming in Lago di Braies is not allowed.
  • Flying drones at Lago di Braies or anywhere else in the park is not allowed.
  • Wild camping is prohibited in the park. 
  • Always stay on marked trails and paths. 
  • Do not pick flowers.
  • Respect the habitat of animals. Do not make any unnecessary noise.
  • Do not light fires.
  • Do not litter. Please take your garbage with you and dispose of it responsibly.
  • Do not touch, or approach grazing animals.
  • No motor vehicles are allowed within the park.

Lago di Braies Hotels & Accommodations


Stay in Braies

Budget | Garni Bergblick is a wonderful guesthouse located a mere 5.6 km from Lago di Braies. Set in an idyllic meadow surrounded by trees, Garni Bergblick is the perfect place to base yourself when exploring the Prags Dolomites. Breakfast included.

Midrange | Hotel Erika is a 3-star hotel with a wellness area and on-site restaurant. The hotel is a 10-minute drive to Lago di Braies. 

Luxury | Silentium Dolomites Chalet is a top-rated place to stay in Monguelfo, a 16-minute drive to Lago di Braies. With its natural surroundings, spa, and newly renovated rooms, Silentium is easy to fall in love with. Breakfast is included.

Look for accommodation in Braies/Prags.

Related: Best Hotels in the Dolomites


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