There are few places in the world that seem to come straight out of the pages of a storybook, like the enchanting lakes of the Dolomites.
Among these marvelous mountains, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009, there are lakes that are true masterpieces of nature. The shades of their brilliant colors, ranging from emerald green to turquoise blue, captivate all visitors to the area from around the world. In the Dolomites, there are numerous lakes nestled in pristine nature, but below I will list the ones that in my opinion are the most beautiful to see and, above all, to capture in your landscape photographs.
1. Braies Lake
To begin our journey of discovery of the most beautiful lakes in the Dolomites, we start in the picturesque area of Alta Pusteria, where in the centre of the Fanes-Senes-Braies Nature Park lies the splendid and world-famous Braies Lake, recognised as one of the most beautiful in Italy.
Situated at an altitude of about 1,500 m, around its perimeter there is an easy 4-km loop trail through the woods that goes around the lake amidst panoramic views and hidden treasures such as a small chapel in the trees.
Lake Braies is one of the best-loved and most frequented places in the Dolomites and offers its best images at dawn when, in the silence, the first rays of sunlight give unique hues to the water and the surrounding mountains.
In summer, Lake Braies is a brilliant emerald colour, in winter it is covered by a mirror of ice and snow. This lake, in every season of the year, is the ideal setting for taking very evocative photographs.
Lake Braies is not only one of the most picturesque lakes in the Dolomites, but also one of the deepest: the maximum depth is 36 metres, the average depth is 17 metres.
This lake was formed when gigantic rock towers plunged into the depths and moved the valley at its narrowest point. The waters that accumulated behind the narrowest point of the valley gave rise to Lake Braies, a ‘barrage lake’, which shows no visible flow. The waters flow underground at the deepest point and re-emerge after a long stretch in the valley.
Legend has it that the lake was formed when some savages once mined gold here. The shepherds who lived in the area were envious and tried to steal these treasures. However, this was unsuccessful, because the savages opened up underground springs and caused all their wealth to flow into the lake, which was thus created.
2. Sorapis Lake
Lake Sorapis is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and fascinating places in the Dolomites. It is located in the province of Belluno and is part of the Sorapis mountain range. The lake is located about 12 km from Cortina d’Ampezzo and has an altitude of 1,925 metres above sea level.
The intense turquoise color of Lake Sorapis is of unique beauty. This particular shade is due to the formation of rocks originating from the glacier, whose powders, deposited on the lake bottom, give it the shades of blue for which it has become famous.
The lake was formed directly in the rock and has no source of surface runoff. In fact, its water reaches the large slab of rock of the glacial floor underground, and finally emerges towards the waterfall called ‘el Piss’. In fact, the name of the mountain group ‘Sora el Piss’ originates from this etymology, meaning ‘above the Piss waterfall’.
The best time to visit Lake Sorapis is between the spring and summer seasons; naturally, these are also the months when more people can be found. The color of Lake Sorapis during the summer and spring period is an intense blue that astonishes anyone who sees it. The particular characteristic is that the color often changes depending on the climate and the passing sky, ranging from deep blue to light sky blue.
3. Carezza Lake (Karersee)
Lake Carezza is a magnificent Alpine lake in the Dolomites of Trentino South Tyrol.
The lake immediately wins you over with its colours: from emerald green to deep blue, passing through a thousand shades of blue. And because of this peculiarity, it is also known as the ‘rainbow lake’.
This enchanting sheet of water with its iridescent colours, surrounded by thick fir forests and framed by the Latemar massif, which is reflected in the lake, displays an evocative and highly scenic landscape, so beautiful and perfect that it looks like a painting.
Lake Carezza is beautiful in every season. You can walk the path around the lake to admire it from every angle. At the beginning of the path you will see a large wooden balcony where you can admire Lake Carezza from a magnificent position and where you can capture its beauty by taking beautiful photographs.
The best months to visit Karersee Lake / Lago di Carezza are May, June and July, because the thaw has brought water to the lake, the spring rainfall has replenished it with more water and the temperatures are pleasant.
In winter, on the other hand, the flow of groundwater drops considerably, which leads to a consequent decrease in size and depth, causing it to become completely frozen.
4. Antorno Lake
Antorno Lake is a small lake located about 2 km north of the more famous Lake Misurina, beside the toll road that climbs from Misurina towards the Auronzo refuge and the Tre Cime di Lavaredo. The 1-hour walk around the lake is very beautiful and can be tried in summer or winter.
Near the lake there are several hiking trails to the surrounding mountains, in particular the Sorapiss, Monte Piana and the Cadini di Misurina chain, as well as the aforementioned Tre Cime.
In summer, Lake Antorno is the starting point of many hikes, such as to the Malga Rin Bianco, the Fonda Savio refuge or the Auronzo refuge at the foot of the Tre Cime. It is also possible to go fishing at Lake Antorno.
In winter, Lake Antorno is particularly popular with those who enjoy snowshoeing. The snowmobile experience up to the Three Peaks on a 2 km long trail is worth trying. For the return journey, you can descend on foot or by sledding. However, I recommend a snowshoe hike to enjoy the beautiful winter landscape around Antorno Lake and the breathtaking view of the Three Peaks.
5. Limides Lake
Situated in the middle of the Dolomites (Ampezzane), Lake Limedes is a small alpine lake of glacial origin at an altitude of 2181 metres. Reflected in its calm waters are the Tofana di Rozes, Averau, Sass de Stria and Lagazuoi: the Dolomites frame this high-altitude lake in an embrace.
Such idyllic scenery attracts many landscape photographers, especially at sunrise or sunset, when this spectacle of nature becomes particularly impressive.
This small mirror of water of glacial origin is fed by melting snow and rainwater. That is why the best time to visit Lake Limides is in early summer, when the snow has recently melted. During the summer, the lake tends to dry up.
Limides is also the setting for one of the many fascinating legends of the Dolomites, set among the ‘pale mountains’. It is said that, by gazing at the surface of the lake, the purest of hearts may be able to glimpse an enchanting eel, an Alpine mythological creature linked to water: a water nymph, in Dolomite tradition.
Lake Limides is an easy destination to reach with a short hike from the Falzarego Pass, near the Col Gallina Shelter.
All these magnificent lakes, besides being admired by anyone who loves nature and mountains, share the common characteristic of being perfect for landscape photography, where we find colourful water mirrors surrounded by majestic peaks and nature framing the landscape. Here the landscape photographer have the opportunity to create the most scenic shots, whether at sunrise, sunset or night.
Join us for a fabulous Dolomites photo tour! For more information, contact us!