For centuries, many have dreamed of visiting the picturesque Italian Alps for plenty of reasons. Located in the eastern section of the Italian Alps is what is called the Dolomites mountain range. This region contains 18 peaks that rise 10,000 feet or more into the sky, as well as the glacial blue lakes and green valleys at their bases. Due to their biodiversity and geologic diversity, the Dolomites have been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Dolomites are visited year-round by thrill seekers and easy-going vacationers alike who want to participate in skiing, snowboarding, boating, or hiking. What makes the area so enticing is the combination of a crystal blue lake with an impossibly beautiful mountain as the backdrop. What picturesque lake in the Dolomites should you call your temporary home on your next vacation to Italy? Here are some of the top lakes in the Dolomites that are guaranteed to be the best spot for you and your family.
Ask anyone who has been to the Dolomites and they will all agree, Sorapis Lake is one of the most beautiful locations in the Dolomites. This bright turquoise lake is surrounded by striking white cliffs and rolling alpine pastures. Because this is one of the more famous lakes in the Dolomites region, you may want to arrive early so you have some alone time at this truly breathtaking and magical place.
The iconic blue color comes from the fine rock dust brought down from the Sorapis Glacier during its spring and summer melts. The lake can only be reached by foot, but the hike up is so worth it. There are sections that go up and downhill through a forest and a steeper section with metal ladders to help assist you in your ascent. On your hike you will pass the 19th century mountain lodge Rifugio Vandelli on the side of Mount Sorapis, which is nice break to take in the views of the area before completing the short walk to the main attraction.
The best trail to follow up is Trail 215m which would take you about 2 hours to go the 6 kilometers. This trail is rather easy to follow but does get crowded between the summer months of June and August. On this trail, be on the lookout for the Cristallo mountain range, Misurina Lake, and also the Three Peaks of Lavaredo. Once at the lake, walk to the trail on the left and find the small beach that is perfect for a mid-day picnic!
If you are traveling to the Dolomites during the summer, you need to visit Misurina Lake. This lake is famous for the photos of the beautiful hotel on the water. The water here is crystal clear and the lake is surrounded by mountains, giving it the nickname the “Pearl of Cadore”. The lake in the Dolomites is a true fairytale spot. If you can make it to Misurina Lake during the winter season, you will love ice skating and twirling around with the mountains behind you.
People will also come to this area of the Dolomites during the winter to ski on fresh snow in the area. In the summer months, this lake becomes the perfect spot to hike up to. There are various trails that take you to the lake, that vary in difficulty, so the least experienced beginner and the most advanced hiker will be able to enjoy their trip to the lake. You will also see sailing trips or people walking the shoreline once you get to here. Interestingly, the climate of Misurina Lake is well known for being the perfect relief for asthma and other respiratory conditions; there is even a children’s center for asthma located here to try to relieve their pain.
If you are planning on staying in Cortina d’Ampezzo, you should definitely be making plans to go to Lake Ghedina. You can reach this lake by car, bus, or by hiking to it. If you want to do the hike, it is an 8 mile loop from Cortina d’Ampezzo. This is one of the smaller lakes in the Dolomites, but it has reflective green waters that show the trains and mountains dancing on its surface. There is also a café on the lake that many will go to for a relaxing afternoon outdoors that makes for the perfect instagram shot. During the winter months, many people will come to this area of the Dolomites to go skiing. These ski slopes are used as hiking trails during the summer months.
Braies Lake has the nickname “the pearl of the Dolomite lakes” and you will see why quickly. Located in the South Tyrol region, this turquoise lake is encapsulated by the large and wonderful Seekofel Mountain. This is the lake to go to for those wanting to spend a lot of time outdoors no matter the time of year you come visit. As it is surrounded by amazing scenery and trees that change color in the fall. You can even try swimming in this lake, but very few are willing to challenge the cold temperatures.
Located in the heart of the Dolomites, you cannot visit this part of Italy or the Italian Alps without making a stop at Braies Lake. You can rent a row boat during the summer months and see the trees and mountain from a different perspective! This is a very popular thing to do on this lake, but extremely worth it. You can either explore as much as you can during your rental time, or just relax in the middle of the lake and take it all in. This is a great half day trip that is fun for everyone in your party. During the busier summer months, you will notice that the crowds start to come in around 11 am so make sure to arrive early. On the west side of Braies Lake, you can also visit the early 20th century chapel that has ties to World War II, and you can hike the perimeter of the lake on an easy trail loop.
One of the most beautiful alpine lakes in the Dolomites is Carezza Lake on the Welschofen Plateau. This serene lake is surrounded by tall coniferous trees that wave to welcome you to this magical spot and the Latemar Peaks. It is really easy to get to Carezza Lake—there is a parking lot and a short scenic path that will take you right to it. There are hiking trails in the area if you would prefer to spend time more time outdoors as well. A popular one is named from Empress Elisabeth and will take you to overlook viewpoints.
In the winter months, ice divers will come and see what is below the surface. The water level of the lake is at its lowest in October and the at its highest in the summer months. While you should expect crowds during the summer, many of them will not leave the viewing platform, so if you want to see more of the lake, you can easily ditch the crowds and walk the shoreline. Sunrise here is a special moment that should not be missed, and it is likely that you will be one of the only people viewing this lake so early.
If you are traveling with little ones that may still require being in a stroller but still want to visit the beautiful lakes in the Dolomites, then Piana Lake is perfect for you! It is a very short walk to get to this lake from the city center in Cortina, and there is very little elevation gain so you won’t have to worry about any uphill battles with your stroller. It is about a 5 kilometer loop from the city center to the lake, which would take most people under two hours.
There is also a restaurant at the lake, which may be closed during the off seasons in the spring and fall but is a nice reflecting point before heading back into town during the busy summer months. Many will come here when the morning fog starts to be lifted, as this creates a magical scene and a great opportunity for photos.
North of Misurina Lake, Antorno Lake is only 2 kilometers away by car. During the summer months, you will find many people here sport fishing. There are also many trails that can be tailored to different skill levels to the surrounding mountains, such as Mount Piana, Three Peaks, the Cadini di Misurina, and Mount Sorapis. Antorno Lake is also a common starting point for those looking to climb in Bergren. In the winter months, a lot of people will come here to go snowmobiling up to the Three Peaks. You can also rent snowshoes and hike up to the mountains.
If you are visiting the Dolomites and want to be around a fewer people during the peak times, visiting Antorno Lake would give you that intimacy and quietness that you may be craving after visiting the larger and more popular spots along the Dolomites.
Visiting the Dolomites should be on everyone’s bucket list as it is one of the most speculator naturally beautiful places in the world. To avoid large crowds that may take away from your visit, try to head out to the magnificent lakes in the Dolomites early in the day, or go on one of the hiking trails around the lake that many people seem to forget about. Even if you think you are taking the easiest trail in the Alps, make sure you pack enough water and wear appropriate clothing for the time of year. And most importantly, enjoy your time in the Dolomites and the Italian Alps!
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