Does Lake Misurina live up to the hype?

I did a lot of research before travelling to the Dolomites, and Lake Misurina was hailed as a must-see destination – but does it live up to the hype?

Of all the iconic places I visited in the Italian Dolomites, Lake Misurina (Lago di Misurina) was the only one that left me feeling slightly disappointed – probably because my expectations were so high after being blown away by the rest of the region.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still worth seeing if you have time in your itinerary, but it lacked the “wow” factor I’d become accustomed to after being spoiled by so many jaw-dropping views.

It probably didn’t help that I visited here on an overcast day, so maybe the water lacked some of its usual lustre, but having already seen the likes of Lago di Carezza, Lago di Braies, and Lago di Dobbacio, I’m sad to say Lake Misurina paled in comparison.

Is Lake Misurina crowded?

When I visited Lake Misurina in July 2023, it was absolutely rammed with tourists – more so than any of the other lakes I visited (including the Insta-famous Lago di Braies). It’s pretty close to Rifugio Auronzo, the starting point of the famous Tre Cime di Laveredo hike, so lots of people either choose to stay in Misurina or visit the lake while they’re in the area.

When I got off the bus, there were tents and camper vans as far as the eye could see, which didn’t make for the most scenic view, but I thought, “All these people must be here for a reason!”

Sadly, that didn’t prove to be the case. As I walked across the car park and down a gravel path, my first view of the lake was a bit underwhelming. There was a playground filled with noisy kids to the right of the lake, lots of people on pedalos, and the lakefront was surrounded by hotels – the most famous of which, of course, is the aptly named Grand Hotel Misurina. I zoomed in to take this shot:

Don’t get me wrong, the hotels aren’t exactly an eye sore, but they do mean Lake Misurina can’t really pass as a ‘remote and untouched’ mountain lake, if that’s what you’re looking for. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a family day out, it could be right up your street.

There was a main road running parallel to the lake on the right-hand side, and there were cars continuously driving past and taking up every available parking space, which added to the feeling of congestion.

Can you walk around Lake Misurina?

The lake does have a boardwalk and trail you can walk around, and after days of hiking up and downhill, the flat terrain was a blessing. You can walk right down to the lakefront too, although the grass surrounding it is slightly soggy/spongey.

It took me less than two hours to walk around the whole lake at a leisurely pace – and that was with a few detours too.

What colour is the water at Lake Misurina?

As you can see, the colour of the water was dark and brooding, without that amazing turquoise/emerald sparkle I’d come to expect after visiting other lakes in the Dolomites. I couldn’t see many reflections in the water, either, but I fully appreciate that might be down to the weather. I have seen pictures where the water looks iridescent, so maybe I just picked a bad day to visit.

Can you see Tre Cime (the three peaks) from Lake Misurina?

Things did get better as I continued my anti-clockwise walk around the perimeter of the lake. A quick glance behind me revealed a stunning glimpse of Tre Cime di Laveredo and it was great to see the three peaks I’d hiked to the previous day from a new angle, looking as majestic as ever. That being said, it was hard to get an unobstructed view of them without zooming in, but as I continued around the lake, the view improved, and I managed to snap a couple of nice photos:

The light grey mountains behind the Grand Hotel also made for a stunning backdrop, and I naturally gravitated in their direction, to the point where I ended up walking past the Grand Hotel onto the main road (where there’s no pavement) to try and get a better view. I took this picture standing between two cars:

How do you get the best views of Lake Misurina?

If you walk the full circuit around the lake, and occasionally glance behind you, you’ll be able to see Lake Misurina from every possible angle and choose your favourite vantage point. Personally, I felt like the views were much better once I’d reached the Grand Hotel and then, facing the lake, followed the path around to the right. I’d nearly come full circle before I took my favourite pics of the day, though:

An image of Lake Misurina in the Italian Dolomites There were some beautiful flower arrangements nearby, too:

In conclusion, I’d only come here if you have time to spare or if you still have some energy left after hiking the Tre Cime di Laveredo circuit. If it’s out of your way, I wouldn’t say Lake Misurina warrants a special trip, because there are much better viewpoints in the Dolomites.

Getting to Lake Misurina by public transport

If you do decide to visit Lake Misurina, I’d recommend basing yourself in Dobbacio (known as Toblach in German) to take advantage of the excellent transport links. You can catch shuttle bus 444 to Rifugio Auronzo from both the train station and the bus station, depending on which is closer to your hotel. You have to pre-book your tickets using this website and then show your QR code to the bus driver on boarding the bus. You can find the current timetable for summer 2023 here.

The upcoming stops were displayed on a screen at the front of the bus and they were usually announced by an automated system too, although it wasn’t always possible to hear it over the background noise.

Look out for the Misurina Genzianella bus stop nearer to the end of the journey. You’ll need to press the bell when it comes up on screen, as the driver will just carry on if you don’t. Then it’s just a short walk down to the lake. Head to the right after getting off the bus and you’ll soon see the path.

On the way back, the bus leaves from the same spot, just on the opposite side of the road. The buses currently depart every half an hour, at 20 and 50 minutes past the hour, but please check the latest timetable before you go as this may change in the future.

Warning: the bus was extremely busy on the way back as it stops at Rifugio Auronzo first. I had to stand up for the duration of the return trip as the bus was packed with hikers coming back from Tre Crime, but that’s probably because it was late afternoon. If you plan to return before midday, you might not have that issue.

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