No trip to the Dolomites in South Tyrol Italy is complete without a stop at Lago di Braies, (aka Pragser Wildsee in German). Located 1,500 meters above sea level in the northernmost point of the Fanes-Senes-Braies Natural Park, roughly 100 kilometers from Bolzano, the main city in South Tyrol, Braies is a natural lake that formed after a landslide blocked the river Braies.
In summer, lake Lago di Braies in South Tyrol reflects colours in all shades from green to blue, in winter Lago di Braies is covered with ice and snow. In winter and summer this jewel is the starting point for hikes, ski tours, snowshoe hikes and walks.
Very brave souls dive into the ice cold crystal clear water of Lago di Braies and, a few strokes later, let the sun warm them up again. Those who prefer a more relaxed life can chill out with a spot of fishing.
Hiking Around The Lake
There is an easy hiking trail loop that circles the lake. The walk takes about an hour depending on your pace, with a few nice lookout points and even small beaches for sunbathing.
At the South (back) end of the lake, additional hiking trails head up into the mountains (Croda del Becco) for people who are interested in a more challenging trek.
Boat Rentals On The Lake
Probably the most popular activity to do on the lake is rent one of the cool wooden row-boats and cruise around the photogenic emerald-colored waters.
Row your boat all the way across to the beach on the opposite side, or just sit in the middle of the lake for an hour drinking in that epic mountain view!
There are many boats available to rent, but in recent years, they often run out after 11am when the big crowds start to arrive — forcing you to wait a bit.
- Boat Rental Season: June – September
- Opening Hours: 9:30am to 5pm
- Price: €25 EUR for one hour, €15 EUR every 30 minutes after that.
The Lakeside Chapel
On the West side of the lake, there is a small chapel that was built in 1904. The location has a curious bit of history, in that during World War II a German SS commander chose it as a meeting place for a prisoner exchange to ensure his own safety.
When you start googling the name, you will soon discover that the lake has two equally common names. The Italian one, Lago di Braies and the German one – Pragser Wildsee. This speaks volumes about the complicated history of the region.
Until 1919, South Tyrol was part of Austria. After the end of the First World War, it was incorporated into Italy. When Mussolini gained the power, German-speaking people were forced to became Italians, for example by changing their names to sound like Italian ones. In 1972 the German and Italian languages were finally recognized to be equal in South Tirol. Despite its rather difficult history, nowadays it’s one of the richest (and of course the nicest!) regions of Italy.
How To Get To Lago Di Braies
The lake is located in the municipality of Braies/Prags in the Dolomites of South Tyrol, Northern Italy. Braies itself is pretty small, the closest city nearby is Bolzano, Italy.
Many people reach the Italian Dolomites by taking a train from Milan to Bolzano, which takes about 3 hours. Once you’re in Bolzano, you can either rent a car, or jump on another train to Niederdorf (Villabassa). From there you can take a bus.
There is a local bus (Bus #442) from the Niederdorf (Villabassa) train station that stops off at Lago di Braies between June 20th and September 20th.
Tips For Visiting Lago di Braies
- You can buy lunch or snacks at the hotel next door, plus there is a little restaurant/bar at the entrance to the lake too.
- The best time for landscape photography at Lago di Braies is early morning. In the summer, the morning sun lights up the water around 8:30am.
- Due to the lake’s popularity, large crowds begin showing up around 10am.
- Drone flying is not allowed at the lake. The area is private property, and there are “no drone” signs posted.