All you need to know to plan a visit to Lago di Braies (Lake Braies, Pragser Wildsee), the most photographed Alpine lake in Italy.
Lake Braies is a beautiful Alpine lake nestled among stunning peaks in the Dolomites, in the northeast of Italy.
It is one of the most photographed mountain lakes and a favorite subject for Instagrammers, who are drawn here but its pristine clean waters that reflect mountain peaks like a natural mirror.
I have been coming to Lake Braies for many years: my family and I have been vacationing in the area for over 20 years and the walk around lake Braies has always featured among our favorite family hikes in Val Pusteria.
Over the course of the years, the lake has changed significantly.
What a decade ago was a quiet and secluded mountain paradise is now a busy spot with restaurants, souvenir shops, buses and parking lots.
This success has taken away a lot of the charm of Lake Braies however, there is no doubt lake Braies is stunning and a place that, if you can, is worth visiting.
Due to the high number of visitors in the high season, access to lake Braies is not regulated and strictly managed.
In this guide, I am going to share all the info you need to get to Lake Braies, and my tips for making the most of a day here.
Where is Lake Braies
Lake Braies is an alpine lake in the Dolomites, in the Italian region of Trentino Alto Adige.
The closest towns to the lake are Braies itself, Monguelfo and Villabassa, all in the province of Bolzano.
The closest train station to Lake Braies are in Monguelfo and Villabassa, but it is also possible to access the lake from nearby San Candido and Sesto Pusteria.
Quick facts about Lake Braies
Name: Lago di Braies / Pragser Widlsee (Lake Braies, in English)
What it is: alpine lake
Location: Val Pusteria, Trentino Alto Adige, Italy
Altitude: 1496 mt
Size: 1.2 KM
Why you should visit Lago di Braies / Lake Braies
Lake Braies is a beautiful mountain lake. It is a photographer’s paradise and also a fantastic place for hikes, some easy, some strenuous.
It is a great place to see beautiful mountain scenery and it is particularly suited to people who cannot hike but still want to enjoy a true mountain landscape.
Why you should not visit Lago di Braies / Lake Braies
Lake Braies is very busy.
The number of tourists coming here is so high that even during times of regulated affluence to the lake, you find yourself immersed in the crowds, to such as degree that walking the lake trail can prove difficult.
If you are looking for a secluded experience and want to avoid contributing to the crowding of this area, then I recommend you skip Braies and go to other lakes in the area instead.
If you don’t want to miss this gem, a good option is also to come very early in the morning in summer or skip the high season (July- early September) and come immediately before or after.
How to get to Lago di Braies / Lake Braies
Lake Braies is in the Braies Valley, a wonderful side valley departing from Val Pusteria.
The valley has a good, paved road that leads to the lake and crosses several pretty villages with nice tourist accommodation options such as hotels and apartments.
How to get to lake braies depends on the time of year of your visit.
Outside the summer months, access to lake Braies is easy by private car, since you can simply drive up to the lake.
In summer, and more precisely in the months of July-August and early September, the busiest tourism season for the lake, access is controlled and managed, in an attempt to preserve this fragile environment from the sudden influx of visitors.
Need to know! From 10 July -10 Sept 2021 access to the lake is regulated. Between 10 am and 4 pm, access is only allowed by pre-booked shuttle service or by pre-booking a parking spot/restaurant table. Places go fast and advance booking is necessary: read below how to secure a place.
There are four ways to get to Lake Braies:
- By Car
- By Shuttle Bus
- By Bike
How to get to Lago di Braies Lake Braies by car (low season / off-peak hours)
If you are visiting Lake Braies in the low season or off-peak, you can reach the lake by car.
The road to the lake climbs slowly, it is easy to drive and well kept. There are two parking lots right at the lake and a lower parking lot about 5Km before you reach the lake shores.
Parking is pay and display: 15 Euro for the day, 6 Euro for half a day (no hourly rates)
How to get to Lake Braies by car (high season / peak hours)
During the high season, car access to Lake Braies is regulated and cars can only access by advance booking or a parking space or a restaurant /hotel reservation.
The website to make the booking is this one.
I highly recommend you make your booking a few days in advance (at least), especially if you are hoping to park close to the lake.
Where to park on Lake Braies/Lago di Braies
There are three parking spaces serving Lake Braies. Parking 1 is about 5km from the lake, while parking 2 and 3 are just beside the lake shores.
During peak hours/shuttle times, reservations for parking are compulsory.
Off-peak, you can access all available parking spaces with no notice and pay on arrival.
At the time of writing, the official fares for the parking are 15 Euro for the day and 6 Euro for half day.
How to get to Lake Braies by shuttle bus
Lake Braies is served by an excellent shuttle service: the bus serves several towns in the area and leads you right to the lake shores.
With the shuttle, you don’t need to stress about parking and you don’t have to walk to get to the lake.
This is a popular option and tickets go fast.
Book at least a week in advance to secure a place on this website.
How to get to Lake Braies by bike
If you love cycling and have sufficient stamina, you can reach Lago di Braies by bike.
The road climbs up from Ferrara to the lake, it is marked as requiring about 45 mins cycling and there is an elevation gain of 300mt.
You can come with your own bike or rent some at:
Bike Rental Alfred, Braies, Tel +39 347 4900120
Papin Sport at Hotel Tuscherhof, Braies, Tel +39 0474 748628
Bike Store, Villabassa, Tel. +39 0474 70050
Papin Sport, Monguelfo, Tel. +39 0474 913714
How to get to Lago di Braies on foot
A lovely way to get to Lake Braies is to reach it on foot.
The path to the lakes starts from Ferrara, it is 4.8km long, foresees 270 mt altitude gain and takes approx. 1.5 hours, depending on your speed and shape.
The path is marked as easy.
You can also join this path from Monguelfo or Villabassa however, the length and elevation gain is much bigger from here: about 400 mt gain and 3 hours of walking at least.
What to do on Lake Braies
Lake Braies is a place for contemplating natural beauty and for hiking. The recent tourism development of the area also means you can now go to the lake for a nice meal.
Things to do on Lake Braies are:
Admire the lake and take photos
The main reason to come to Lake Braies is its great natural beauty so it will come as no surprise that the best thing to do here is to sit and admire the lake from its pretty shores!
You catch really pretty views of the lake from the moment you arrive and you can see different perspectives by walking along the path following the lake.
Take a walk around the lake
Lake Braies has an easy, circular path that follows its perimeter.
The trail is easy and well kept and takes about 1h to walk.
While the path is not stroller friendly (at least, not in its entirety), it poses no difficulties and can also be walked with kids.
Go on a hike
Lake Braies is a good starting point for hikes on the beautiful peaks surround it. Good ones are:
Malga Foresta: easy walk from the lake up, about 1h
Malga Cavallo: about 3h up from the lake
Croda del Becco: difficult hike for experienced walkers, climbing Croda del Becco, one of the peaks above the lake
Rent a rowing boat
On Lake Braies, there is a booth renting out rowing boats.
These are a cool way to catch nice views of the mountains from the water but they are popular and getting one required some queuing!
If you want to experience them, I recommend you get a number as soon as you arrive and try keep busy in the rea until your turn comes.
Have lunch at the bistrot / hotel
If you have come here on foot or by bike, the first thing you will want to do is reward yourself with food!
Both the hotel and the bistrot offer good options, ranging from toast, snacks and cakes to full meals with delicious traditional South Tyrolean food.
Go souvenir shopping
If you are looking for souvenirs, the hotel has a shop with mountain knick-knacks, some clothes and postcards: a fun place for a small souvenir or for kids to have a snoop.
Lake Braies with kids
There is not a lot to do in Lake Braies for kids.
The lake is beautiful, the boats are fun and the trail around the lake is easy however, I cannot say this was my children’s favorite place.
Lake Dobbiaco and lake Anterselva, with the cool nature trails and playgrounds, are more suited to kids than Lake Braies.
however, if you want to come to Lake Braies with kids, access is easy and you can definitely enjoy the views with them!
Is Lago di Braies/Lake Braies worth it?
Lake Braies is one of the most beautiful lakes in the area and, as such, is definitely worth visiting however, it is a place that suffers from over-tourism.
In my experience, the problem of crowds is so intense, it kills the enjoyment of a summer visit and, in my case, it even left me with the guilty feeling of being part of the problem, and a cause of stress on a delicate natural environment I love.
For the best experience for you and the lake, rather than coming in high season, I highly recommend you come immediately before or after, to avoid excessive crowding of these beautiful shores.
If you can only come in summer, very early morning is probably your best option.
What to pack for a day on Lago di Braies
A visit to Lago di Braies requires no special equipment unless you intend to hike.
For the day, I recommend you bring:
- Layers, especially a windbreaker
- Walking shoes or least runners for relaxing on the lake / walking along the circular path
- Proper hiking shoes for any other trail
- Sun screen and sun hat for summer
- Water in reusable bottles
- Trash bags
Other mountain lakes in the Dolomites you may enjoy
If the idea of tackling the crowds on Lake Braies doesn’t appeal to you, you can go to one of the several other beautiful lakes in this area.
You can find here >>> beautiful lakes on the Dolomites you can visit by car
Or you can opt for Lake Anterselva, which offers stunning views over the Vedrette di Ries Mountains.
I hope you found this overview of Lake Braies useful and it helped you plan your visit. Safe travels!
Additional resources to visit the Dolomites
10 easy and stunning hikes on the Dolomites for the whole family
Travel guide to visit the Dolomites with kids