Lago di Braies Hike: Walk Away From The Crowds

By Sierd van der Bij

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Lago di Braies Hike: Walk Away From The Crowds
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Lago di Braies, Pragser Wildsee, Lake Braies, and Lake Prags are four names for the same thing: The Pearl of the Alps, the most beautiful lake of the Dolomites. It is not just the starting point of our favourite Alta Via 1, it is also one of the most popular stop-and-go tourist destinations in Italy. It is super busy but one can get away from the crowds and make a visit to Lago di Braies a lot more special. Include a stay in Rifugio Biela at the foot of Croda del Becco (Seekofel), the majestic mountain featured in any Instagram post and Tiktok reel about Lago di Braies. Andiamo!!

Lago di Braies gets 1000s of visitors daily. In Summer 2023, vehicle access was restricted because of overtourism. Do you know those Instagram vs Reality posts? A beautiful spot, slightly overrun by the crowds. But your visit doesn’t need to be like that. Join us on a hike, on a tiny Lago di Braies trekking, get a spectacular appetizer of the Alta Via 1, and leave Pragser Wildsee recharged.

Where Is Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee)?

You can find Lago di Braies in the heart of the Dolomites of northern Italy. Specifically, Lake Braies is situated in the Prags Valley (Val di Braies) in South Tyrol, about an hour’s drive from the mountaineering hub Cortina d’Ampezzo and two hours from Innsbruck. The closest towns and hubs are:

Dobiacco (Toblach): 16 km / 20 minutes - from here the bus departs
Cortina d’Ampezzo: 50 km / 55 minutes - ideal if you want to see more of the Dolomites
Venice: 215 km / 3 hours - easiest airport and direct bus transfer to Cortina d’Ampezzo
Innsbruck: 135 km / 2 hours - perfect for combination with Austrian Alps

Where Is Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee)?

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What's With the Different Names for Lago di Braies?

Lago di Braies is in the heart of South Tyrol, Alto Adige in Italian and Südtirol in German. South Tyrol is officially trilingual, with Italian, German, and Ladin recognized as official languages. This linguistic diversity is an integral part of the region's identity and adds to its cultural richness. until 1918, South Tyrol was part of the Austro-Hungarian princely County of Tyrol but after the First World War, the area was annexed to Italy.

Due to this historical fact, many families’ mother tongue is German and many place names are published in both German and Italian. For Lago di Braies, it doesn’t make it any easier to find. It’s Lago di Braies in Italian, Pragser Wildsee in German, and, to add to the confusion, Lake Braies or Lake Prags in English.

When to Visit Lago di Braies?

It depends on what you want to do but if you just want to visit the lake, make a few beautiful shots and soak up the colours, then any time of the year is great for Lago di Braies. Every season comes with a dose of magic. We like hiking and that is why we visit Lago di Braies mostly between mid-June and September. This is also the season for the Alta Via 1, for which the lake serves as a starting point. If you are looking to get a photography award, then your best bet is definitely in October. In terms of photos, you will then get the best Lago di Braies weather.

Photography: October/November

Hiking: Mid-june until the end of September

Just visiting: Anytime of the year

Note that the busiest months are in Summer. For these months there are parking restrictions. More about that later.

When to Visit Lago di Braies?

How to Get to Lago di Braies?

That’s a good question. Up until the Summer of 2023, it was pretty straightforward to get to Lago di Braies. But because (almost) everyone decided to go at the same time, local authorities started to enforce restrictions. These days, the easiest way to get to the lake is by bus.

By car: Leave your car in Cortina d'Ampezzo or Dobiacco/Toblach and take public transportation to the start of the hike.

By bus: From Cortina d'Ampezzo travel via Dobbiaco/Toblach (Bus 445) to Lago di Braies(Pragser Wildsee). For the bus between Cortina and Dobbiaco, you do not need a reservation and can buy a ticket from the driver. For the stretch between Dobbiaco and Lago di Braies (Bus 442), you do need a pre-booked ticket.

Between July 10 and September 10, you won't get on the bus without an online reservation. Book your ticket here. These are available from mid-June. Don't forget!

Are you visiting Lago di Braies before July 10 or after September 10? Then you don't need to make a reservation and can board with a regular ticket.

How to Get to Lago di Braies?

Can I Hike at Lago di Braies?

Can you hike at one of the most beautiful lakes in Europe? Yes, you can! Lago di Braies is the starting point for the famous Alta Via 1, a 8-day trekking route from North to South, spanning most of the Dolomites. Sure, it’s a bit of a logistical mission to get to the lake but once you’re there, you can move in a few different ways. After you’ve taken your photos, you can rent a romantic rowing boat or you can go for a hike. There's no such thing as a massive Lago di Braies trekking but there are some really good options:

Lago di Braies Circuit

It’s only 4km/2.5m, it takes about an hour to walk, your kids can do it and it absolutely stunning. The Lago di Braies Circuit is quite simply a walk around the lake. But this is not just any walk around a lake. This walk allows you to get away from the crowds at the boats and let you enjoy the turquoise magic from every corner. You will find some picnic tables along the way. If you just have the day, then this little hike will give you the best bang for buck.

Lago di Braies with Croda del Becco Hike

The mountain that you see in every photo featuring Lago di Braies is Croda del Becco, or Seekofel in German. If you want to do a bit more and make your visit to Lago di Braies a lifelong memory, then you must know that you can walk up, over, and around this mountain. This is not an easy walk in the park but it gets a lot easier and more interesting if you include a stay at Rifugio Biela (Seekofelhütte). Rifugio Biela is a popular first stop on the Alta Via 1 trekking route and to give you a good taste of what that can be like, we have created a 2-day trekking package: Best of Alta Via 1: Lago di Braies.

Did you know that we can book all huts and refuges for the Alta Via 1 for you? Check out all our options here.

Best of Alta Via 1: Lago di Braies Hike

At Bookatrekking.com we offer some of the best (and longest) trekking packages for the Dolomites and the Alps you can find. When researching your options for the Dolomites, you must have come across the Alta Via 1. This route starts at Lago di Braies and ends at the La Pisa bus stop on the Belluno side of the Dolomites. You don’t have time to go trekking for 8 days but you do want have a feeling of what it is like to spend a night in the Dolomites. Hold our beer, because we have exactly what you are looking for. This is the Best of Alta Via 1: Lago di Braies.
Day
1

Lago di Braies - Rifugio Biella (Seekofelhütte)

Duration: 04:30 h
Distance: 6.2 km
Ascent: 870 m
Descent: 40 m
Lowest Point: 2350 m
Highest Point: 1490 m
You start at the lake and take the trail on the West side of the lake towards Croda del Becco (The Seekofel). The first few kilometers will be shared with some pockets of tourists who are hiking around the lake but as soon as you walk away from it, it will become quiet. You will leave the crowds behind you and start hiking uphill. Follow the waymarkers until you leave the gravel road and find yourself hiking up a rocky and zigzagging trail. From here you can look back to Lago di Braies behind you. You will reach a section which is enforced by a cable. No worries, these chains are not qualified as via ferrata. Just an extra help on this rocky section. You will go up and over and start descending to Rifugio Biella, the Seekofelhütte.

Rifugio Biella (Seekofel Hütte)

Info
Rifugio Biella (Seekofel Hütte)
Day
2

Rifugio Biella (Seekofelhütte) - Lago di Braies

Duration: 04:30 h
Distance: 9 km
Ascent: 120 m
Descent: 930 m
Lowest Point: 1500 m
Highest Point: 2370 m

Good morning! Are you feeling adventurous today? You can attempt to climb the Croda del Becco (Seekofel), the mountain which the mountain hut is named after. This is a 2.5 hour out and back mission with about 420m vertical ascent. This is not an easy hike and includes some exposed sections.

There is no need to push yourself. You will still have a beautiful hike to look forward to as you continue your journey around Croda del Becco. This route gives you a good idea of what it’s like if you keep going on the Alta Via 1. A little bit of everything without doing the full monty. Just before you get back to the banks Lago di Braies, you will come past Malga Foresta on the Grünwaldam. This is an absolute must-stop. Have a drink and celebrate your moment in the Dolomites. Vives!

Frequently Asked Questions About Lago di Braies

At this point, you may be wondering if it is really worth going to Lago di Braies. You might also wonder if you can go for a swim, or, maybe you’re into stand-up-paddling and want to bring your SUP.

Is Lago di Braies worth it?

Sometimes you feel like skipping a tourist hotspot. You’ll be back, right? But will you? Won’t it be even more crowded then? The volumes of tourists visiting Lago di Braies speak for themselves. Yes, it is worth it to visit Lago di Braies. Especially if you put those legs to work and either walk around the lake or do our Best of Alta Via 1: Lago di Braies trek.

Can you swim at Lago di Braies?

No, swimming is not allowed. It would only be fun for those who are into ice baths anyway, so don’t bother.

Can I bring my drone to Lago di Braies?

Anywhere in the Italian Dolomites, it is prohibited to fly your drone. Unfortunately, not everyone is as law-abiding as you are. You will see (and hear!) them at the lake.

Can I rent a row boat?

Yes, you can but this is on a first come - first serve basis. You spend as much as 50 EUR for half an hour for a private boat and there are queues.

Can I bring my SUP to Lago di Braies?

You’ve guessed it. Stand-up paddling is not allowed at Lago di Braies. The same goes for any other water sports.

From where do I get the best views of the lake?

You will want to have Croda del Becco peak in the background for the perfect picture. If you want an unobstructed view, you can either be super early, rent a boat or walk a bit away from the boathouse. You’ll figure it out once you are there.

Not sure yet or want to discuss your plans for the Alta Via 1 with one of our trekking experts? Get in touch today and turn your dreams into memories!

Where Can I Book the Alta Via 1?

At Bookatrekking.com you can book the self-guided Alta Via 1 and many other treks. We take care of all the details for you, including arranging accommodations and providing you with relevant information well in advance of your trek. Find our offers here. Our easy-to-use platform allows you to browse and compare different trekking options and find the perfect fit for your interests, abilities, and budget.

If you have any questions about a specific trek or need help choosing the right one for you, our team of trekking experts is here to assist you. Simply reach out to us and we will be happy to provide you with personalized recommendations and advice to help you plan the trekking adventure of a lifetime.

Is the Alta Via 1 not your cup of tea and are you looking for other epic adventures? Check out one of our following blog posts:

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