UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Dolomites
I have seen so many beautiful pictures of Lago di Braies that could not resist any longer to visit it. This lake in the Fanes-Senes-Braies Nature Park is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Dolomites. It is known also as The Pragser Wildsee, Lake Prags, Lake Braies or Lago di Insta ;) The last one because of its Instagram fame. This beautiful emerald green lake is so picturesque that attracts many photographers and travelers from all over the world. The lake is absolutely stunning and surrounded by the mountains mirroring in the crystal clear water. Located 1496 m above the sea level makes it a good starting point for hikes, ski tours, snowshoe hikes and walks. I was absolutely mesmerized with its beauty and can honestly say that it was the most beautiful lake I have ever seen in my life.
A little bit of history
The place is stunning and has breathtaking views but it also witnessed a bitter history. Until 1919 South Tyrol was still a part of Austria but once the First World War ended, it was incorporated into Italy. Therefore German-speaking people were forced to became Italians and to change their names to sound more like Italian ones. Than in 1939, they had to make the final choice: either to return to Germany or to stay in South Tirol and completely abandon their German roots. Those who left did not have an easy life as they were considered Nazis. Those who remained where not in a better position being stigmatized as traitors of Germany.
That caused a lot of conflicts between these two nations solved finally when the German and Italian languages were recognized to be equal in South Tirol. Nowadays you can see the mix of cultures there and even the cuisine is not strictly Italian or German. You will find schnitzel right next to pizza ;)
How to get there?
Lago di Braies is located is in the Prags Dolomites in South Tyrol, Italy. It belongs to the municipality of Prags which is located in the Prags valley. You can get there by car from Bolzano Airport in 1h 50min, Innsbruck Airport 2h or Venice Airport 2h 45min.
Where to stay?
I will not recommend you the place we have stayed in as it was absolutely a mistake – dirty and overpriced. There is a lot of hotels and guesthouses around Lago di Braies but next time for sure I will stay at Hotel Lago di Braies. I highly recommend you to consider this option, even thou it is not the cheapest one. The hotel is located just right at the lake, and is the only one that close to it. The view from hotel rooms is spectacular and you can just admire the lake from your balcony. But what is also important, if you get up early you can enjoy early mornings by the lake without the crowds of other tourists that are visiting it.
What you should know about the lake
The lake is a tourist attraction and I must warn you that if you imagined lazy days by the lake in the intimate atmosphere, this is not how it will look like. All my pictures have been taken early morning around 7 am, before other visitors came to the lake. There is a bus parking close to it where starting from 10 am busses full of tourists are arriving. Therefore, prepare that from 10 am the place is not longer a peaceful gate away.
If you want to have a calm and lonely walk or take good pictures you must get up early and be there right after the sunrise. And even doing so, in the main season you will still have a company of some other early birds photographers. Also, if you want to have pictures of the boats parked at the little wooden house, do it before the opening hours (so before 10 am). Once the boat rental is open all the boats will be rented and drifting all over the lake.
Very brave souls dive into the ice cold crystal clear water of Lago di Braies but those who prefer a more relaxed life can chill out on the boat trip. From mid June to end September you can hire nostalgic rowing boats that up to 100 years ago had been the only way of reaching the Southern shores of the lake. Just bear in mind that the boat renting opens at 10:00 am and there is usually a queue of people waiting to rent a boat already before opening. The place is also known from the hiking paths, ands you can choose from several possibilities with different difficulty levels.
I hope I made a little bit curious about this beautiful destination. Let me know if you could recommend me other spectacular lakes that I should visit! Also, if you love beautiful mountain views check out this Little Switzerland in Poland – Miedzygorze.