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Many couples are opting for intimate and unique elopements instead of traditional weddings. And one location that has been gaining popularity, particularly among adventurous couples, is Lago di Braies in the Italian Dolomites. In this ultimate guide, you will learn everything you need to know about planning an elopement at Lago di Braies, including the best time to visit and how to avoid the crowds.
Nestled away in the Dolomites in Italy, this stunning alpine lake has caught the eye of many couples who want to plan an elopement in this picturesque region. So if you’re ready to start planning your adventure, read on as we explore what makes Lago di Braies so special.
Planning Your Elopement At Lago Di Braies
Nestled in the Dolomites, Lago di Braies offers a stunning backdrop of turquoise waters, lush green forests and snow-capped peaks for couples to exchange their vows. With this breathtaking scenery, it’s no wonder that couples flock here to get married.
Lago di Braies hit a record of 17,000 visitors in one day in 2020, but with new restrictions and regulations, visitors will now be capped at around 5000 per day. That means that planning an elopement at Lago di Braies takes careful planning and consideration.
However, as a local Dolomites photographer, I actually advise my couples NOT to have their elopement at Lago di Braies. While the location looks tranquil and calm from the photos you see online, the reality of visiting there can be very different. Even when you do everything right to avoid the crowds, sometimes unpleasant experiences happen, which you need to be mentally prepared for if you are planning to come here.
A Heartbreaking Story
Back in 2019, I was photographing a sunrise proposal at the boathouse. The couple had booked the boathouse on my recommendation so that they could have some privacy (one partner thought it was just for a private photoshoot). The plan was for the proposal to happen down on the boat dock, but as the couple walked down there, some photographers from the shore started shouting at them to get off (because it was ruining their photos), while others saw them on there and tried to climb up the sides of the boathouse to join them (not realising it was a private booking). Feeling super uncomfortable, the couple came quickly back up to the boathouse building (without proposing) and then it happened up at the top instead. Even though the lake wasn’t overly busy at that time (8am in October), the whole experience was tainted.
It’s also very likely that you could meet other couples getting married here – that’s how popular the location is now. So if that doesn’t make you feel so special, perhaps consider coming to Lago di Braies for a day-after photoshoot instead, and visiting a location that allows you to experience more privacy and quiet together on your elopement day.
That being said, if you’ve got your heart set on Lago di Braies, and you know what to expect, there are ways to have your elopement here and avoid the worst of the crowds.
Where is Lago di Braies
Lago di Braies is a stunning alpine lake located in the Dolomites mountain range of northern Italy. It’s situated near the Austrian border in the region known as South Tyrol, in a side valley of the Val Pusteria (Pustertal /Puster Valley). This area is a bi-lingual area, once belonging to Austria. For that reason, they speak both German and Italian, which is why you’ll see that most places have two names. Lago di Braies is also known as Pragser Wildsee in German, and both Lake Prags and Lake Braies in English. But they are all the same place.
The largest nearby towns in the Puster Valley are the towns of Dobbiaco/Toblach and Brunico/Bruneck.
How To Get To Lago di Braies
Lago di Braies is one of the most beautiful and romantic places in Europe, making it a perfect spot for an elopement wedding. Located in northern Italy’s Dolomites region, Lago di Braies is accessible by car or public transportation.
The easiest way to get to Lago di Braies is by car. The trip takes approximately two hours from Innsbruck, three from Venice, four from Munich, five hours from Milan and five from Zurich. It’s best to plan your route ahead of time as roads can be winding and narrow in some areas.
In the high season, from July to September, there are restrictions on driving to the lake. Between 9am and 4pm, it is required to park at the entrance to the valley, and take a bus to the lake. This can only be by-passed if you have prior reservation for the parking or the hotel at the lake.
You can find more information and reservations here: https://www.prags.bz/en
The best train station to use when taking public transport to Lago di Braies is the station of Toblach/Dobbiaco, where you can then change to a bus service to the lake.
Bus Timetables can be found on the Tourist Information Website
When Is The Best Time Of Year To Visit Lago di Braies
It’s known for its incredible views, peaceful atmosphere, and iconic boathouse. But when should you visit to get the best experience?
The best time of year to visit Lago di Braies depends on what kind of experience you’re looking for.
For summer temperatures and sunny skies, visit Lago di Braies in the summer months of June to August. However, if crowds are an issue for you then avoid July and August as these months tend to draw largest numbers of tourists from all over Europe.
If cooler weather is more your style then fall (mid-September to November) may be ideal for you. This season offers milder temperatures with fewer crowds than summertime – perfect conditions for those who want a more tranquil atmosphere while they explore this beautiful region. Plus, fall brings some spectacular colors that make it even more special – think fiery reds and oranges contrasted against deep blues skies. However, it’s worth considering that during the fall months, the water levels in the lake can be much lower.
Winter (December-March) also has something unique to offer visitors: snow. Lago di Braies typically freezes over completely during winter months, and is covered in a soft, white blanket of snow. You’ll also find the Christmas markets there during the advent season. Once the lake has frozen, it’s possible to walk across it, which is a pretty unique experience. Just remember that visiting in winter means the days are shorter, and that the boathouse is closed (as the lake is frozen).
Spring (April-May) can be one of the most unpredictable times of year. Usually the lake has thawed from April, although there can still be snow on the ground, and even into May, while the trails are clearer, the mountains behind it will still have snow-capped peaks. Water levels in the lake can also be low until late May, which is why the boathouse doesn’t usually open until the end of the month.
The Boathouse At Lago di Braies
The Boathouse, La Palafitta at Lago di Braies is a favourite spot for couples planning an elopement or photoshoot at Lago di Braies. This Instagram “hotspot” is stunning, and if booked for private use, can offer couples a bit of privacy away from the crowds at the lake. However, even with a private rental, you will often encounter crowds on the shoreline who are watching and cheering (and sometimes shouting at you – it has happened sadly).
From 2023, the boathouse has made some major changes to boat rentals and private rental of the boathouse, to help protect the area, which is suffering greatly from over-tourism.
When Is The Boathouse Open?
The boathouse at Lago di Braies opens towards the end of May, and stays open until the start of November. For 2023, their opening dates and times are as follows:
Mon-Fri 10.00-16.30 | Sat-Sun 9.00-17.30
Every day 8.00-18.00
Every day 10.00-16.30
How Much Does It Cost To Rent The Boathouse?
If you’re looking to have privacy at Lago di Braies, you need to book the 1.5 hour private shooting which is available in the morning before the boathouse opens to the public.
In 2023, this costs €400 for 1.5 hours and includes the use of 2 of the wooden boats.
How much does boat rental on Lago di Braies cost?
Private boat rental on Lago di Braies costs €50 for 30 minutes for up to 5 people. This cannot be booked in advance.
Can You take your own boat or SUP?
It’s not permitted to take your own boat or SUP on to Lake Braies.
Tips For Eloping At Lago Di Braies Sustainably (And Avoiding Crowds)
Lago di Braies sits in the Fanes-Sennes-Braies National Park, which is a protected natural area, so I couldn’t write an article on eloping in one of the most popular locations in the Dolomites and not talk about sustainability.
Planning your elopement with sustainability in mind is vital when visiting such a popular area like the Dolomites. However, planning with sustainability in mind also has a number of huge benefits to you (including avoiding the crowds).
Visit During The Off-Peak Season
While Lago di Braies is a year-round destination, visiting between October and May can be quieter than in the summer months of June to September.
Visit On Weekdays Instead Of Weekends
Visiting on weekdays instead of weekends will also reduce your chances of running into large groups of tourists as many people flock here on Saturdays and Sundays due to their free time off work/school etc (with the exception on July & August when it’s busy every day due to European school summer vacations).
Go Early In The Morning Or Late At Night
Most visitors, including the massive tour busses, tend to arrive between 9am and 5pm, so try getting up early or staying out late to beat the crowd. This way you’ll get to experience the lake with a bit more peace and privacy.
Explore the Trails Around The Lake
Most day tourists only wander around the top end of the lake, close to the boathouse and hotel. But if you’re happy to take a hike, consider exploring the trail that loops around the whole lake. The trail is mostly flat (there are some steps on one side) but it means you can find some more secluded spots. You can also follow the trails away from the lake into some pretty alpine pastures, and get even further away from the crowds.
Don’t Fly Drones
Flying drones at Lago di Braies is forbidden, due to it sitting partly on private property and partly in protected national park area. Reconsider hiring anyone who offers to shoot drone footage here, as they are ignoring the local rules and restrictions.
Work With Local Vendors
Working with local vendors not only ensures that you’re getting local, expert help and advice when planning your elopement, but it also means that you’re helping support the local economy.
Read more: Sustainability questions to ask your vendors
Best Hotels Near Lago di Braies
When looking for the best hotels near Lago di Braies, you’ve got plenty of options to choose from. There are a number of hotels and B&Bs in the Braies valley, or if you’re looking for something a bit more luxurious, like a spa hotel, then consider the nearby towns of Monguelfo/Welsberg or Dobbiaco/Toblach.
Hotel Pragser Wildsee / Hotel Lago di Braies
Hotel Pragser Wildsee is situated right on the lakeside. This rustic hotel has Wes Anderson vibes and means you can literally roll out of bed and explore the lake.
Skyview Chalets Toblach Lake
The Skyview Chalets am Toblacher See are for couples looking for something a bit different to a traditional hotel. These beautiful
Gailerhof Hotel B&B Superior
At an altitude of 1,200 m above sea level, surrounded by lush meadows and forests, this hotel in Welsberg is the perfect mountain retreat that is also a stones-throw away from Lago di Braies and the wonders of the South Tyrol region.
Booking.com Travel Sustainable Property Level 3 🌿🌿🌿
Silentium Dolomites Chalet since 1600
A peaceful authentic mountain chalet nestled in the woods, just a short drive away from Lago di Braies.
Booking.com Travel Sustainable Property Level 2 🌿🌿
I hope this Lago di Braies elopement guide has given you all the information you need to know what to expect from eloping at Lake Braies and how to plan for a great day at the lake. While this location is hugely popular, with this guide you can make plans to avoid the crowds and have an unforgettable elopement in the Dolomites.
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