Lago di Braies – Instagram vs reality

If you’re anything like me, seeing pictures of Lago di Braies (or Prager Wildsee, as it’s known in German) was one of your inspirations for visiting the Dolomites. But does this dreamy alpine lake really look like a screensaver brought to life, or is it all smoke and mirrors?

I’m here to confirm that Lago di Braies is every bit as beautiful as it looks in pictures… if you’re willing to walk around the lake and capture it from the right angle.

First impressions

When I arrived at 9am, the car park was already full and there was no hope of getting a picture of the wooden rowing boats lined up by the jetty – most of them had been rented out already. The shore was pretty crowded in spite of the early hour, and while there were stretches of the lake that were positively gleaming in the sunlight, nearer to the edge, the water had a bit of a brown hue, with some floating debris. It was still pretty clear considering there were kids and dogs splashing around in it, though. Here’s what Lago di Braies looked like at first glance:


It wasn’t quite as picture-perfect as Instagram would have you believe, but don’t let that deter you, because if you start walking around the lake (I followed the path to the right), the views get progressively more stunning, and there were even some points where Lado di Braies gave the phenomenal Lago di Carezza a run for its money.

The lake literally changes colour as you walk around it, and that nondescript beige/brown gives way to a gorgeous cyan. The more I saw of Lago di Braies, the more I fell in love with it – and to top it all off, I got to see a parade of baby ducklings swim past me, too! Another highlight was seeing the field of rocks on the lake shore, where hundreds of people have gathered up pebbles and piled them on top of each other in a variety of formations. Lots of new visitors were following the trend too!

Here’s a selection of my favourite unedited pictures, most of which were taken from the far side of the lake after you round the bottom corner.


One thing I didn’t see coming was the uphill climb once you get to the opposite side of the lake. Up until that point, the walk around Lago di Braies had been completely flat – but looks can be deceiving, because once you’re immersed in the trees on the opposite side of the lake, there are a lot of large steps waiting for you! You also have to traverse a couple of small streams thanks to the water trickling down from the surrounding mountains, so I’d wear waterproof hiking shoes if you can – or you can hop over some pebbles if you don’t want to get your feet wet.

Still, the climb was worth it because you get some great aerial views of Lago di Braies from between the trees, and there are still plenty of flat points where you can stop and rest for a minute.

Getting to Lago di Braies by public transport

I’d recommend basing yourself in a town called Dobbacio (known as Toblach in German) because you can catch a shuttle bus to Lago di Braies that drops you off and picks you up in the main car park. Unlike the bus to Rifugio Auronzo, Bus 442 only leaves from Dobbacio bus station – it doesn’t stop at the train station. I met a group of people who were standing at the train station wondering why the bus hadn’t turned up, and it was because it turns off before it reaches the train station.

Lago di Braies/Prager Wildsee is the last stop, so you don’t need to keep track of the stops along the way.

Warning: You can’t use your Südtirol Guest Pass / Mobil Card on bus 442 and you need to pre-book your tickets using this website. It’s better to book your tickets a few days in advance to ensure you get the timeslot you want, because they fill up quickly – especially as cars are no longer permitted to drive to Lago di Braies between 9.30am-4pm without purchasing a special permit first. The bus leaves every half an hour, but I’d recommend going as early as possible because Lago di Braies is incredibly popular and gets increasingly crowded as the day goes on.

You’ll be sent an e-ticket with a QR code to show to the bus driver/attendant. The walk to the lake only takes a couple of minutes from the car park, and it took me around 2 hours to walk around the lake itself, but I stopped several times along the way to admire the view, commune with nature, and coo over the baby ducklings.

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