Lake Braies, also known as Pragser Wildsee in German, is a gorgeous alpine lake located in Bolzano/Bozen province in northern Italy. It is part of the bilingual region of Trentino Alto-Adige/South Tyrol.
Famous for its position between the forest on one side and the rocky face of Croda del Becco/Seekofel on the other, Lake Braies is a not to be missed hike when visiting Alto Adige/South Tyrol. The same can be said for the Three Peaks of Lavaredo of which we talk about in this post.
WHERE IS LAKE BRAIES
Lake Braies lies at 1,494 meters above sea level near the municipality of Braies/Prags and 100 km away from Bolzano/Bozen.
It measures over a kilometer in length and up to 400 m in its largest point.
Pragser Wildsee is the starting point of the Dolomites High Route n.1 and it is possible to hike along the loop to circle the lake.
The most famous view is from the wooden stilthouse on the north shore of the lake. From there rowboats can be admired floating on the emerald waters, with the forest on the right bank and the Dolomites peaks all around.
HOW TO GET TO LAKE BRAIES – MAP
Villabassa/Niederdorf and Monguelfo/Welsberg are the closest towns to the lake. However, also Cortina d’Ampezzo and Auronzo di Cadore beyond the border with Veneto region are less than an hour away by car.
You can reach Lake Braies by car, by train+shuttle bus, on foot or by bicycle.
PLEASE NOTE: Road access to Braies Valley from 10th July 2021 to 10th September 2021 is limited to public transport or cars with a valid permit to be obtained via parking booking.
LET’S SEE HOW TO REACH LAKE BRAIES FROM VILLABASSA AND MONGUELFO:
- by car: the interchange to Braies Valley is along the SS49 road, halfway between Villabassa/Niederdorf and Monguelfo/Welsberg. From here the road goes on for about 8 km until the parking site next to the lake.
The car park at Lake Braies in 2021 costs 15€ per car with reservation (Parking P1, open daily 8am-6pm).
Alternatively, Parking Segheria costs 9€ per vehicle with reservation, and is located 5 km away from the lake, open 8am-4pm).
Due to the very high number of visitors during summer months, since 2020 it has become mandatory to book the parking in advance between 10th July and 10th September. Outside the peak period booking is not necessary and the parking fee is 6€ every 3 hours, up to max 12€ per day.
There are three car parking areas with reserved and mixed spots depending on the flow of cars and RV’s. When parking spots sell out or without reservation the access to the lake road is closed and one needs to leave their car further behind, for example at the Segheria-Ferrara car park (see map above).
Book your parking spot at Lake Braies online here.
- by shuttle bus taking bus n.442 from Dobbiaco/Toblach and Villabassa/Niederdorf, running from May to December. Or taking shuttle n.439 from Monguelfo/Welsberg, between 10th July and 10th September. The journey takes roughly 20-25 minutes depending on stops in the valley.
The ticket price is 5€ one way per adult (3€ per kid, free up to 6 years), 10€ return.
In this case too it’s necessary to book bus tickets in advance online between July and September. If seats sell out one cannot hop on the bus.
Book your bus ticket online at this link.
You can find here the bus timetable to Lake Braies from Villabassa-Dobbiaco and from Monguelfo.
- by train up to Monguelfo or Villabassa. The railway connects the cities of Trento-Bolzano-Fortezza-Lienz (Austria), calling at foreamentioned stations from which to continue by bus or on foot.
Browse train timetable here.
- on foot or by bicycle: it is always possible to reach Pragser Wildsee on foot or by bike freely along the trails, let’s see in details:
– Segheria-Ferrara car park to the lake, along trail n.1, 5km, 1h30, suitable for everyone.
– Villabassa train station to the lake, along trail n.1, 11km, almost 3 hours, easy to medium level.
– Monguelfo train station to the lake, along trail n.2A up to Ferrara, then on trail n.1, 12.5km, 3 hours, medium level.
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LOOP HIKE AROUND LAKE BRAIES
Once reached Lake Braies you’ll have a handful of options ahead of you, other than a marvellous view. Our tip is to undertake the loop around the lake as soon as possible, to find yourself enjoying the beauty of the place in peace.
It is worth to hike the loop around Lake Braies to appreciate the different points of view and the wonderful spots as the beach by the junction to Malga Foresta or the Chapel.
Starting from Hotel Lago di Braies clockwise you can take on the easiest part of the loop. The trail is fairly wide and suitable to strollers and bikes too, leading to the junction to Malga Foresta sheperd’s cottage. From here you can either go back the same easy way or end the loop on a more narrow trail, that runs along the rocky face and includes some stairways, ending back at the hotel.
The loop is just more than 3km, it takes one hour and a half to complete.
BOAT RIDE ON LAKE BRAIES
Another good idea is renting a rowboat at the stilthouse and head onto the placid waters of the lake.
Hiring a rowboat at Lake Braies costs 19€ for half an hour or 29€ for an hour. The price can be softened if you are in a group, up to max 4 people per boat. Hours for rentals go from 8.30am to 7pm in July and August, from 10am to 5pm during the remaining opening months.
Boat hires are made on the spot on a first come first serve basis.
More info on the website La Palafitta @Lago di Braies.
MORE THINGS TO DO AT LAKE BRAIES
After talking about the most beaten tracks, we mention some of the trails and treks available with starting or ending point at Pragser Wildsee. The lake marks the beginning of the Dolomites High Route n.1, which leads to Biella Hut (2,327m, 4 hours from the lake), and to Fanes Piccola (2,060m). The latter is a 17,5 km long hard route, requiring up to 8 hours.
An easier hike to finish within a day would be going to Malga Foresta sheperd’s cottage in about 3h30 minutes, totally 7 hours return to the lake.
If on the contrary you fancy a nice meal or a hot beverage by the lake, the Hotel and Restaurant Lago di Braies is there for you. Here you can stay for the night too.
LAKE BRAIES IN WINTER
Finally, how not to mention the chance to walk on the frozen surface of Lake Braies during winter time!
The water level drops in winter, so much that the stilthouse looks even more raised, and the lake is covered by a thick layer of ice. You can walk on it without worrying too much…! Clearly the lake blends with the white of the surrounding snowy landscape, losing its beautiful reflection, but it still is a unique experience if you happen to be nearby in winter time.
TIPS & RECOMMENDATIONS
Being at 1,500 m it is better to wear hiking shoes, and take water supplies.
As usual, try and avoid peak time between 9am to 3pm, not to end up in the middle of tourist crowds.
We said earlier how dining is available on site, but if you prefer bringing your own food and drinks remember to take rubbish away with you and throw it when back in your hotel or city.
As much as it is a special place, we believe that spending 2 or 3 hours at Lake Braies is enough. We recommend coming here early in the morning to anticipate the masses of visitors, and perhaps dedicate the rest of the day to see the nearby Three Peaks of Lavaredo in the afternoon, when coaches start heading back (after 2pm).
ALPINE LAKES IN THE DOLOMITES
Here ends our guide to Lake Braies/Pragser Wildsee, one of the many spectaculars alpine lakes that can be found in the Dolomites.
As a matter of fact Lake Dobbiaco is not too far, easy to get to and of which we suggest the nice camping site on its shores, featuring the glass-roofed Skyview chalets with amazing views on the starry sky.
Other lakes worthy a visit are Lake Misurina, at the base of the Three Peaks of Lavaredo, and the turquoise Lake Sorapis, a unique sight few kilometers from Cortina d’Ampezzo.
We wish you an amazing day at Lake Braies!
HOTEL – WHERE TO STAY IN THE DOLOMITES
- Hotel Lago di Braies: you can’t stay closer to the lake than this! Prices are not cheap, but in line with those of other stays around Braies.
- Hotel da Beppe Sello: cozy rooms and one of the best restaurants in Cortina spoilt us at Beppe Sello!
- Aquila Hotel: great value for money in the heart of Cortina.
- Camping Toblacher See: a neat camping and caravan park right on Lake Dobbiaco shore, suitable for any kind of camper. Tent spots, RV and caravan sites, topped by the mesmerizing Skyview Chalets for a fairytale night under the stars!
HOW TO GET AROUND:
- Bus n.442 and shuttle n.439 from Villabassa and Monguelfo;
- Dolomiti Bus: timetable and fares for bus travelling in the Dolomites;
- by train on the Bolzano-Fortezza-Lienz route, calling at Monguelfo, Villabassa and Dobbiaco;
- Rentalcars: closest rental locations are Venice and Trento.
- Flixbus to Cortina d’Ampezzo from Venezia, Verona, Milano.
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