Lago di Braies is a beautiful alpine lake in the heart of the Dolomites with picture-postcard views. But there are many great things to do in the Braies Valley, here’s how to see them all.

By: Paul | Last Updated: 12 Jun 2024 | Jump to Comments & Questions

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Surrounded by blonde shingle beaches and backed by sheer rocky cliffs, Lago di Braies is one of the most picturesque lakes in the Dolomites.

The massive north wall of Croda del Becco (Seekofel) – one of the giants of the Dolomites – frames the lake which is sometimes blue-green, sometimes crystal clear but always enchanting.

Lago di Braies is popular and it can be very busy. But there are some great ways to explore the lake and several beautiful spots nearby where few tourists venture.  

This guide covers the best things to do at Lago di Bries, important information for visiting, tips on where to stay plus what to do while in the area.

MAP – WHERE IS LAKE BRAIES?

Lago di Braies, or The Pragser Wildsee in German, is located in the Braies Valley in the northeast corner of the Italian Dolomites. Lake Braies is 16 kilometres from Dobbiaco (Tolbach).

The valley and lake are part of the Fanes-Sennes-Braies nature park, the largest in the Dolomites.

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.  


VISITING LAGO DI BRAIES

In order to maintain the ecosystem at Lago di Braies, both bus tickets and parking spaces must be booked in advance for visits between 10 July and 10 September.

Entry remains unrestricted at all other times and it’s possible to walk or cycle to the lake throughout the year without pre-booking.

We’ve covered all the details on how to book bus tickets and parking spaces in the HOW TO VISIT section at the end of this guide.  

WHAT TO DO AT LAGO DI BRAIES

1. RENT A BOAT

The handmade wooden boats lining the shore of Lago di Braies are the instantly recognisable image of this picture-perfect lake.

To fully indulge in the experience you need to grab an oar, settle on an uncomfortable wooden bench and row across the lake. It’s the perfect way to take in the views of this beautiful setting.

From Hotel Pragser Wildsee, row to the south end of the lake where a lovely pebble beach offers one of the best vantage points of the lake.

BOAT RENTAL 2024 (CLICK TO OPEN)
  • June: 9am to 5 pm
  • May: 10 am to 4:30 pm
  • July/August: 8:30 am to 6 pm
  • September/October: 10 am to 4:30 pm

2. PICNIC ON A PEBBLE BEACH

Lago di Braies generally freezes over in November and thaws out by around May. But even in the height of summer, the temperature rarely exceeds 14 degrees. So unless you have nerves of steel, this is not a lake you are going to want to swim in.

So there’s absolutely no need to bring your swimwear. A much better option is to bring a picnic and enjoy a relaxing lunch on one of the beautiful blonde pebble beaches.

The area directly opposite Hotel Lago di Braies has a lovely shingle beach, ideal for a picnic. Otherwise, it’s possible to find a nice secluded spot in the woods just back from the main path.

lago di braies

3. STROLL AROUND THE LAKE

During summer, the sun starts to rise over the mountains at around 9:30 am. This is a good time to avoid the bulk of the crowds and the best time to complete the very easy walk around the lake – one of our favourite very easy hikes in the Dolomites.

Partly shaded by towering pine trees, and partly under the glare of the rocky mountains above, the walk around the lake alternates between skirting the edge of the water and diverting into the woods.

There’s a small waterfall in the northeast edge just past a raised wooden walkway that’s possibly the most scenic vantage point.

It’s a 3.5-kilometre walk around the lake which should take around 1 hour and 30 minutes, possibly longer if you decide to stop regularly to take photos. There is minimal elevation so it’s very easy.

Lago di Braies Chapel

4. HIKE THE RIFUGIO BIELLA (SEEKOFEL HUT) CIRCUIT

A big part of what makes Lago di Braies such a dramatic location is the towering mountain in the background; the imposing face of Croda del Becco (Seekofel).

To appreciate the diversity of the area, take the challenging hike up to the top of this rocky wonderland on the Rifugio Biella (Seekofel Hut) circuit.  

Rifugio Biella is the starting point for the climb up to the summit of Croda del Becco, a diversion suitable for experienced hikers only.

But the circuit to Rifugio Biella is achievable for anyone with a head for heights and a decent level of fitness. It’s a long and tiring hike, but with plenty of breaks, it’s a very rewarding way to experience Lago di Braies.

RIFUGIO BIELLA CIRCUIT DIRECTIONS (CLICK TO OPEN)

Start at the Hotel Lago di Braies, then head around the western shore of the lake.

At the shingle beach on the opposite end of the lake, turn right on path 1 (Dolomites high-level route 1) signed to Rifugio Biella. Follow the demanding uphill slog over the loose scree and onto the tight zig zags over the rocky spine above the valley.

After the zigzags the path splits. Turn right staying on path 1 and continue on a relentless climb through more zig zags and, with the help of fixed chains, over a wall of rock. Here in the high valley the heat can be daunting, so bring sun protection.

Finally, almost 3 hours after starting, it’s a short downhill walk to Rifugio Biella.

You can go back the way you came, but for a round trip take path 28, southeast to Forcella Cocodain.

Bending northeast continue to follow path 28 until you meet a junction with path 4. At the junction turn left on path 4 and follow it back to re-join path 1 just above the first set of zigzags. Then descend to the lake.

The route on path 28 can be tricky to find, but the paths are clearly marked on the Maps.Me App.

Start – Hotel Lago di Braies | Distance – 16.5 kilometre round trip | Time -5 hour, 30 minutes | Elevation – +/- 950 metres | Difficulty – Hard

Croda del Becco (Seekofel).

5. EXPLORE THE BRAIES VALLEY

The Braies Valley (Prags Valley) is a stunning location in the Dolomites, and not just for the lake.

Take a drive through the valley and you’ll find flower-filled meadows with vintage mountain huts in various forms of decay.

Pull off into one of the many parking bays by the side of the road and explore a part of the Braies Valley often overlooked by tourists.

The best area is at Bagni di Braies Vecchia.

Leaving Lago di Braies, turn right at Segheria following signs to Rifugio Prato Piazza (Plätzwiese). Drive for a couple of minutes until you see the abandoned hotel and pull off the road to explore.

Here, hidden in the long grasses and alpine flowers, there is enough fodder to keep a photographer content for hours.

Small mountain huts, hidden in the long grasses with the mountains in the background are a tranquil world, miles away from the nearby lake. The area around Ponticello and up to the Postmeister Alm mountain cabin has plenty of parking and scenic places to stroll around.

6. VISIT PRATO PIAZZA (PLÄTZWIESE)

For Mark and I, the highlight of visiting Lago di Braies was the high alpine plateau of Prato Piazza. Situated on the saddle between the Picco di Vallandro and the Croda Rossa d’Ampezzo mountains, Prato Piazza is a panoramic wonderland in a dramatic location.

There are a number of hikes from Prato Piazza which showcase the unique location of the high plateau.

The one we recommend is Monte Specie. It takes around 3 hours to complete with an elevation of 330 metres.

HIKE TO MONTE SPECIE FOR TRE CIME VIEWS

Start from the parking lot at Rifugio Prato Piazza and follow the number path 37 through the forest to Rifugio Vallandro (2,040m). North of the rifugio, continue on path 34, which leads up to Monte Specie (2,308m).

At the top there’s a viewing platform indicating the mountain ranges you can see from the summit. The closest and most impressive are the towering peaks of Tre Cime (see our guide to hiking Tre Cime). Return the way you came.

Getting There — You can only drive to the top of Prato Piazza early in the morning (before they close the road) or if you are staying in the hotel at the top, Hotel Gaisl.

We have more information on how to get to Prato Piazza below.

WHERE TO STAY

Accommodation in the Braies Valley can get booked up very quickly so it’s important to plan ahead. If you want to stay on the lake, the only option is Hotel Lago di Braies. It’s a charming old hotel with plenty of history but it has seen better days.

DOBBIACO (TOLBACH)

HOTEL ROSENGARTEN

A family-run property in the centre of Dobbiaco, Hotel Rosengarten has a traditional restaurant, excellent views and breakfast for champions.


VALLE DI CASIES (GSIES)

BINTERHOF

About 30 minutes from Lago di Braies, Binterhof is a self-contained farm stay in a beautiful valley. The very friendly hosts provide supplies for breakfast and tips for the best places to visit.


OUR PICK

PRATO PIAZZA (PLÄTZWIESE)

HOHE GAISL

Hohe Gaisl is a comfortable mountain hotel with traditional South Tyrol stylings and a restaurant that does an excellent set menu in the evenings. The location is exceptional and the views are incredible.


View from Hohe Gaisl, Prato Piazza, Dolomites

WHEN TO VISIT LAGO DI BRAIES

Lago di Braies is accessible any time of year.

The lake is generally frozen over from November through to May. With a frosting on the trees and a crisp air descending from Croda del Becco, the lake is a beautiful place to visit in winter. It will also be much quieter.

The shoulder seasons of April to June and September to October are great times to visit the lake. With the ever-changing colours of the foliage and lake, you’ll be spoilt for photographic opportunities.

The peak tourist season is mid-July to end-August which is a good time to avoid if possible.

Rifugio Biella is open from June to September. However, getting to the rifugio involves a high altitude walk so it’s possible snow will be lingering on the mountains well into June. Always check the weather conditions before setting off.

Hiking at Prato Piazza is best from mid-July due to the altitude, however, it’s open throughout winter for skiing.

HOW TO GET TO LAGO DI BRAIES

Lago di Braies is located in the northeast corner of the Italian Dolomites. It’s 16 kilometres from Dobbiaco (Tolbach) and 48 kilometres from Cortina d’Ampezzo.

BY CAR

The best way to see the Dolomites, and Lago di Braies, is by car. This will allow you to get to the lake early, to avoid the crowds and catch the early morning glow. A car also helps to explore the valley in more detail, including the nearby Bagni di Braies Vecchia.

The closest town to Lago di Braies is Dobbiaco (Tolbach) which is just a 20-minute drive away. The other popular location nearby is Cortina d’Ampezzo which is around 30 to 40 minutes away.

CAR PARKING AT LAKE BRAIES

There are two car parks for Lago di Braies, one at the lake itself and the other at the town of Segheria, 5.5 kilometres from the lake.

If you are visiting between 9:30am and 4pm from 10 July to 10 September, parking spaces must be booked in advance. Please note: the parking at PI Lago di Braies is especially busy, so book well in advance.  

PARKING AT LAGO DI BRAIES

SÄGE / SEGHERIA

8am – 4pm | 5.5 kilometres from Lago di Braies (shuttle bus service) | €9 per day | Tickets: pre-book here

P1 LAGO DI BRAIES

8am – 6pm | 800 metres from the lake | €15 per day | Tickets: pre-book here

LAKE BRAIES BY BUS

Buses operate to Lago di Braise from Monguelfo and Dobbiaco. If you are visiting between 10 July and 10 September, bus trips must be booked in advance. All other times, tickets can be purchased on the bus. Select BUS SHUTTLE from this link to see the latest timetable.

LAGO DI BRAIES BUS

BUS 439 – MONGUELFO TO LAGO DI BRAIES

9:10am until 5:30pm (approx) | Every 30 minutes | €10 or €25 family) | Tickets: pre-book here

BUS 442 – DOBBIACO TO LAGO DI BRAIES

8am until 5:30pm (approx) | Every 30 minutes | €10 or €25 family | Tickets: pre-book here

Lago di Braies, Italy

HOW TO GET TO PRATO PIAZZA

Prato Piazza is a high alpine area 16 kilometres from Lago di Braies.

Due to the single-track road, and to reduce the number of cars up on the plateau, you’re only allowed to drive up at certain times of the day.

PRATO PIAZZA BY CAR

To get to Prato Piazza by car, take the toll road from Ponticello (Brückele) which operates on a traffic light controlled one way system. Private cars are allowed up before 10 am and down after 4 pm.

Outside those hours you’ll need to park at Ponticello (Brückele) and take the bus. The only exception is if you’re staying in the Hohe Gaisl Hotel on the plateau when you are allowed up at any time. Just make sure you wait for the light to turn green.

PRATO PIAZZA BY BUS

To get to Prato Piazza by public transport, take the 443 shuttle bus. It starts at Monguelfo (Welsberg) with a stop at Brückele-Ponticello before winding its way up a tight single track road to Prato Piazza. The bus runs from 8:40am, roughly every 20 minutes.

MORE DOLOMITES GUIDES

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- Paul & Mark.