Things To Do at Lago di Braies: a Quick Day Trip Guide
Visiting Lago di Braies/ Pragser Wildsee in the Italian Dolomites? This guide tells you all you need to know to visit Lago di Braies/ Pragser Wildsee including the best things to do at Lago di Braies, best time to visit Lago di Braies, etc.
The Italian Dolomites is a place full of natural wonders, from majestic pale peaks to rolling green meadows to turquoise lakes.
Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee in German) is one of those postcard perfect places one must visit in the Dolomites. The lake is one of the most beautiful of its kind in the Dolomites and in recent years it has gotten extremely popular thanks to television appearances as well as social media exposure.
When I visited the Dolomites I made it a mission to visit Lago di Braies without the crowd. I wanted the perfect photo at the lake before it gets crowded.
In this post I will show you how to avoid the crowd, the best things to do at Lago di Braies as well as other important information to plan your visit to Lago di Braies/ Pragser Wildsee.
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Where is Lago di Braies/ Pragser Wildsee
Lago di Braies sits near the Italy/ Austrian border. The lake is part of Franes-Sennes-Braies Nature Park at an altitude of about 1500m (5000ft). It’s the largest alpine lake in the Dolomites. It is at the foot of Croda del Becco (Seekofel in German).
Just to put things in perspective, Lago di Braies is about 3 hours directly north of Venice and 2 hours south east of Innsbruck. It is in the heart of the Dolomites in South Tyrol.
Prior to World War I, this part of the Dolomites belonged to Austria and during the war, the chapel by the lake was used to exchange prisoner.
After the war Dolomites became part of Italian territories and this is why you will see signs in both German and Italian at Lago di Braies. In fact in the Dolomites there is a third language spoken, Ladinian, which is the local language in the Dolomites.
Best Places to Stay Near Lago di Braies/ Pragser Wildsee
There are several towns that I recommend you staying at prior to visiting Lago di Braies depending on your budget and itinerary.
Right next to the Lake
Dobbiaco is about a 30 minute drive to Lago di Braies and it’s also not too far from Tre Cime di Lavarado.
There are several hotels and restaurants in Dobbiaco, making it a convenient location for anyone visiting this part of the Dolomites. Note that some hotels in Dobbiaco requires minimum two night stay.
The town of Misurina is a large town at the foot of Tre Cime and it’s about a 45 minute drive from Lago di Braies.
Since it’s a large town, there are more restaurants and hotels in Misurina and it even has its own lake which is frequently visited by tourists.
Cortina d’Ampezzo is the largest town in this part of the Dolomites with tons of hotels and restaurants. Most people end up staying in Cortina because it’s more well known and is convenient in terms of access to amenities.
Just keep in mind that Cortina is about an hour drive to Lago di Braies.
Best Time to Visit Lago di Braies/ Pragser Wildsee to Avoid the Crowd
The Italian Dolomites snows in the winter and is much warmer during the summer. If you want to see the turquoise lake and row a boat on Lago di Braies then you need to visit between the month of June and mid October.
Keep in mind that peak summer season (June to August) can get really crowded at Lago di Braies especially on the weekend.
I went in mid September and it was still crowded during the day but much better than if you were to visit in August when the rest of the world is on holiday.
During the winter season Lago di Braies is frozen over with snow on top, so you won’t be able to see the water.
If you want to avoid people at Lago di Braies you should either arrive before 8am or late in the afternoon around sunset time.
I visited around 7:20am in mid September and there were already many photographers and instagrammers that early for sunrise.
However most photographers left by 8am which was actually nicer than earlier giving you a clear shore to take photo from higher up. By 10am most crowds and tour buses started arriving and it got significantly more crowded.
There is a boat rental that is open between 10am to 4:30pm (sometimes to 6pm depends on the day) between late May and early November. If you go late in the afternoon you should be able to avoid most crowds as well. But just know that if you go around sunset you won’t be able to row a boat.
How to Visit Lago di Braies
You can drive, take a shuttle, visit on foot or bike to Lago di Braies.
The easiest way to get to Lago di Braies is by car, since you are arrive and leave at your own convenience.
In recent couple of years, due to traffic congestion in the summer, there is now restriction on driving to Lago di Braies during the summer.
From July 10 to September 10, between 9:30am to 4pm, Lago di Braies (and the Pragser Tal Valley) can only be reached by public transportation, on foot, by bike or having a valid reservation if you are driving.
Besides the shuttle option above, you can also take public bus 442 directly to the lake. However the bus is not as frequent as you’d like so you should always check the bus schedule ahead of time.
If you are visiting before July 10th or after September 10th, then you don’t need to worry about these restrictions.
Parking at Lago di Braies During Peak Summer Season
Note that the website above also have these 40 Euro combo tickets, which includes the driving permit, parking space, and 20 Euro voucher for restaurants and shops.
Parking at Lago Di Braies Outside of Peak Summer Season
If you are visiting before July 10th or after September 10th, you don’t have to worry about booking parking. There are parking machines at the parking lot for you to pay by the hour.
When you enter the parking lot you need to take a ticket from the machine.
If you are curious about how much parking at P4 Parking lot costs, here is the price chart outside of July 10 – Sep 10th.
|6am – 5pm
|5.00 € for 3 hours
|8.00 € for 3 hours
|5pm – 8pm
|3.00 € for 3 hours
|5.00 € for 3 hours
|8pm – 6am
|2.00 € for 3 hours
|3.00 € for 3 hours
The parking lots are quite large and there are with AV parking spaces. There is also a bathroom at the parking lot that cost money.
If you don’t want to pay for bathrooms here, there is a bathroom at the other side of the lake for free and another paying bathroom near the chapel on the right side of the lake.
When we got there around 7:30 P4 was almost empty with maybe 10 cars there and overnight AV parking. But when we were leaving around 10:30am the parking lots were all full and there was a line of car trying to get into the parking lots.
If you are planning to park at P3 outside of the peak summer month, parking is slightly cheaper than Parking lot P4:
- 7.00 € for private car
- 8.00 € for mini buses
- 10.00 € for camper van
Things to Do at Lago di Braies/ Pragser Wildsee
There are a lot of things you can do at Lago di Braies that make this lake such a great day trip. There are family friendly activities as well as intense hiking routes.
Photographing the lake and the boat house
Lago di Braies is perhaps best known for its turquoise color as well as the perfect reflection of the mountains behind it. Because this lake is so photogenic, it is attracting all the landscape photographers and Instagrammers from dusk to dawn.
The best attraction/ photo spot at Lago di Braies is no other than the boathouse.
In the early morning the wooden boats rest peacefully on the tranquil water reflecting the mountains behind them.
Many photographers line up their tripods by the shores of the boathouse to capture the moment. Many Instagrammers also take photos on the dock (before it opens) whether legally or illegally.
How to Legally Take Photos at the Lago di Braies Boathouse
Since the boathouse is such a hot Instagram spot, Instagrammers from all over the world attempt to have a photo on the dock. You really cannot access the boathouse before they open (8-10am, depending on the month and date).
There really is no way to access the boathouse/ dock when it’s closed so many Instagrammers resort to walking through water to get on the dock or simply climb onto the boathouse (I witnessed one myself). Please don’t do this just for a photo, if you get caught you will get kicked out and potentially fined.
There actually is a legit way to take photos at the Lago di Braies Boathouse, you just need to pay for a “photography session” which costs about 200 Euro. You have to share the shooting location with another group for 1.5 hours before rentals open.
A more expensive option for a private shooting location and 2 wooden boats to yourself would cost 400 Euros for 90 minutes before rentals open.
Hike Around Lago di Braies
If you want to get away from the crowd at Lago di Braies or simply see a different side of the lake, I highly recommend that you take the loop walk around the lake.
The loop hike takes about 1.5 hours at a leisurely pace and it’s suitable for the entire family.
If you go to the right side of the lake, the path is mostly flat, with 1 bathroom (paying) near the Chapel (you will see the Chapel within 5-10 minutes of the walk).
You can even have a stroller since the trail is wide and flat. When you reach the other side of the lake there are some free bathrooms (with toilet paper). If you don’t want to go up and down the stairs, take the same path back.
During the hike (if you go from the right side), you will have several opportunities to go down to the lake and take some shots with nobody around. There are picnic tables and chairs around the lake as well, perfect for a picnic lunch.
Once you see the bathrooms, you can continue down the hike across a pebble beach. At this point you will be right across from the Boathouse. You will also see people with hardcore hiking gears heading up the mountains (more on that later).
As you continue the hike counterclockwise, the trail becomes more steep with wooden planks and stairs hugging a vertical cliff. This is the steepest part of the hike but I saw many old people doing it. The trail ends at the boathouse.
Row a Boat on Lago di Braies
One of the most iconic and dreamy things to do at Lago di Braies is to rent a boat in the summer.
In order to conserve nature and make Lago di Braies stay pristine, there are now only 10 wooden boats available to rent and you can only rent the boat for 30 minutes max.
Each boat at Lago di Braies accommodates a max of 5 people.
Boat rental opens during the following hours:
- From May 20 – June 16, 2023: Mon – Fri: 10am – 4:30pm; Sat & Sun: 9am – 5:30pm
- From June 17 – Sep 29, 2023: 8am – 6pm daily
- From Sep 30 – Nov 5, 2023: 10am – 4:30pm daily
When you rent the boat at Lago di Braies, you will have access to the dock to take photos (you won’t be allowed to go down to the dock to take photos or even take a photo of the dock from the middle if you are not renting). You can however still take a photo from the boathouse from the side (photo below).
If you want to rent a boat at Lago di Braies, I highly suggest you do this before 10:30am as this is a very popular activity at Lago di Braies and boats do get sold out. If you want to avoid waiting it’s actually best to line up and wait before the boathouse opens.
Lago di Braies boat rental prices:
- Shared boat ride experience (you share with other people, 5 max per boat): 15 Euros for 30 minutes
- Private boat ride experience: 50 Euros for 30 minutes
- Shared boat ride + E-bike rental: 69 Euros for 30 min boat ride
Unfortunately you cannot reserve the boats ahead of time unless you are doing the shared boat + E-bike rental option. Then you get to skip the line and go straight to the boat house.
Other Things To Do Near Lago di Braies
Via Ferrata from Lago di Braies
Via Ferrata is one of the most popular and thrilling experience in the Dolomites and it is not surprising that there is a Via Ferrata route from Lago di Braies.
The route is called Ferrata di Valdaora, and it starts at the parking lot in Lago di Braies.
You will need to follow n.20 on foot for a couple of hours until you reach the via ferrata cable route, then you will climb up for about 25-30 minutes until the end. You will be rewarded amazing view of the mountain ranges along this route and the elevation gain is about 1000m.
Hike Alta Via 1 From Lago di Braies
Alta Via 1 is one of the most famous and popular hut to hut multi-day hike in the Dolomites starting at Lago di Braies.
The entire route is about 70 miles (110km) long and could take about 9 days. Although you probably won’t be doing this route on your day trip to Lago di Braies, but if you are ever interested to challenge yourself, this is the multi-day hike you can do.
Other Questions You May Have About Lago di Praies
Can you bring a pet to Lago di Braies?
Yes! You can certainly bring a pet to Lago di Braies. In fact you can bring your dog to the rental boat even.
If you are bringing a dog with you to the rental boat, you will need to rent a private boat (no shared boats sorry!).
How much does it cost to visit Lago di Braies?
Lago di Braies is free to visit for everyone. Unless you are getting dropped off, walking or biking to the lake, you will need to pay for parking! During peak summer season between July and September, you also need to pay for a driving permit to visit unless you are visiting before 9:30am or after 4:30pm.
Are there bathrooms at Lago di Braies?
Yes there are a couple of bathrooms at Lago di Braies.
There is a paid bathroom at P4 parking lot (at least when we visited). There is a paid bathroom near the chapel and a free bathroom at the other end of the lake.
Can you swim in Lago di Braies?
Theoretically there is no regulation that says you cannot swim in Lago di Braies but some resources say you should not.
But to be honest the water is so cold at Lago di Braies you probably will not swim there. I have also never seen anyone that swim in Lago di Braies.
Can you fly a drone at Lago di Braies?
No you are not allowed to fly a drone at Lago di Braies.
Are there restaurants at Lago di Braies?
There are 2 restaurants at Lago di Braies:
- Hotel Lago di Braies
- Emmas Bistro
If you are willing to hike a bit (30 minutes) you will find a third restaurant up the hill called Malga Foresta. It is a beautiful walk to get to the restaurant if you want a change of scenery.
Is Lago di Braies worth it?
One question I often get from friends is whether Lago di Braies is worth it or is it all hype from social media?
I think Lago di Braies is a really beautiful lake and it is worth visiting at least once especially early morning.
I truly enjoyed the perfect reflection and the peace and quietness of the place when I visited early morning. I did not appreciate the crowds later in the day so we left around 10:30am.
It is not a place I would visit twice unless I want to hike one of its longer trails or do a Via Ferrata, but Lago di Braies is definitely worth seeing at least once.
Check Out My Other Dolomites Guides
If you are planning a trip to the Dolomites then be sure to check out my other Dolomites articles:
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