Lago di Carezza: South Tyrol’s beautiful rainbow lake
Our ultimate guide to visiting Lago di Carezza, including all the essential travel information, day tour recommendations, hiking and responsible travel tips you need to plan an epic trip there yourself.
Emerald waters that sparkle magnificently with the flecks of a rainbow, misty Spruce forests that have inspired legends of wizards and nymphs for centuries, and breathtaking views to the intriguing limestone Latemar mountains beyond…
Find us a more picturesque setting than Lago di Carezza, we dare you.
In all seriousness though, the alpine lake in the upper Val' d’Ega (also known as Karersee in German), and its picture-perfect reflections of the Latemar range have long made it a popular choice with tourists and photographers alike - and we have to admit that despite its buzz as an ‘insta-worthy’ destination, it really is one of our favourite places in the whole of South Tyrol and the Dolomites.
This guide has everything you need to know about visiting Lago di Carezza, from how to get there, what time to visit, other activities at the lake, and why you really shouldn’t stand on ‘that rock’ for your photo!
our complete guide to Lago di Carezza, italy
LAGO DI CAREZZA
Region | South Tyrol, Italy
Altitude | 1520m above sea level
Size | 140m wide, 300m long
Depth | Highest recorded depth was 22 metres. Lowest can be 6m!
Type | Alpine lake
Names | Lago di Carezza (Italian), Karersee (German), Lec de Ergobando (Ladin, meaning “lake of rainbows”)
History | 240 million years ago the whole area was under sea. The limestone Latemar mountains opposite were formed when sinking seabeds forced the reef to desperately push higher towards the sunlight
The myth of Lago di Carezza
Much of the South Tyrol area is steeped in enchanting myth and legend, passed from generation to generation and used to explain the formation of the striking mountains, lakes, and green fields the region is famous for.
This is especially true for Lago di Carezza, whose brilliant rainbow waters are the subject of a tale of a beautiful water nymph, a lovelorn sorcerer, and an unrequited love.
According to the Ladin people, who have called South Tyrol home for thousands of years (and have one of the oldest modern languages in the world!), the story goes a little something like this:
There once was a beautiful, but terribly shy, water nymph who lived in the shimmering waters of Lago di Carezza, and often sat on the shore braiding her hair and singing sweet songs. One day, a sorcerer, Masaré, passed by the lake and was captivated by the nymph’s singing and beauty, falling deeply in love with her. The shy nymph couldn’t be won over, however, and immediately vanished back into the water leaving Masaré bereft.
The sorcerer sought advice from local witch, Langwerda, and together they came up with a (very questionable, by today's standards!) plan to stretch a rainbow from the Latemar mountains to the lake, disguise Masaré as a jewellery salesman, and capture the nymph. Things went awry when the sorcerer forget to wear his disguise (kind of an important point to remember, you’d think?) and was immediately recognised by the nymph - who noped straight out of there and disappeared into the depths of the lake, never to be seen again. Distraught, Masaré smashed his rainbow into millions of pieces, throwing them into the lake’s waters below where they continue to shine with magnificent brilliance to this day (and account for Carezza’s traditional Ladin name: Lec de Ergobando, or “Rainbow Lake”.
While we’re definitely not on on board with the whole using deceit and sorcery to capture women thing, we can definitely see how a rainbow could live beneath the surface of this beautiful lake!
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WHEN TO VISIT LAGO DI CAREZZA
As with most places in the Dolomites and South Tyrol areas, Lake Carezza is super popular with tourists over the summer months.
Beyond the warmer weather, this is also partly due to the lake being at its highest over this time, having been fed by the mountain snow melt over Spring and early Summer. Expect to enjoy the lake with many other people during this time, and get there early to avoid the tour buses that flock in.
In our opinion, the best time to visit Lago di Carezza is in shoulder season (April-May and September-October), when the weather is still warm enough, the water high enough, and the tourists either haven’t started arriving yet, or have already drifted home. Perfect! We visited end of September and the conditions were perfect.
The lake is at its lowest in October, and freezes over during the winter months. It’s still absolutely beautiful then, just in a very different way!
BEST TIME OF DAY TO VISIT LAGO DI CAREZZA
Sunrise and sunset are both magical times to visit Lago di Carezza.
We opted for a sunrise visit and were rewarded with beautifully moody, misty mountain views initially, before the sun peeked over the horizon, burnt the clouds away, and lit the lake up dazzlingly.
A clear, sunny day is definitely the best way to see the lake, when the light makes the colours within it dance and pop.
The other benefit to visiting at sunrise is that you’re likely to encounter far fewer people than you would throughout the day or at sunset. We shared the lake with about 5-10 other people (mostly photographers), who all packed up and left about 10 minutes after sunrise.
For photography buffs: we’d recommend arriving about 30-60 minutes before sunrise, and waiting 30-60 minutes after sunset (depending on when you visit), as the blue hour photography vibes here really are brilliant.
TIP | Visit Lago di Carezza for sunrise
The 2018 storms around Lago di Carezza
Before our visit to Lago di Carezza, our local friend Veronika warned us that the mountains surrounding Lago di Carezza might look a little shocking - but nothing quite prepared us for seeing it for ourselves.
In many places, it looks as though a large bulldozer has screamed through the forest haphazardly, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. One kind of did, just not in the way you’d think.
In late 2018, a massive, apocalyptic storm tore through Northern Italy, Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. Winds of more than 200km/h destroyed more than 5000 hectare of forest in 86 South Tyrolean municipalities in scenes of devastating destruction.
In the Latemar forest alone (the one surrounding Lago di Carezza), over 100,000 solid cubic metres of wood were felled by the gale-force winds - which equates to about 24 years worth of timber harvesting in a single night. What’s more, much of the wood — Spruce wood is extremely precious, and often used to make musical instruments — was so damaged and splintered that it was also rendered unsuitable for sale.
At the time, the State Forestry Corps reported “It’s a fatal blow to the ecosystem, because, with the razing of entire forests, biodiversity is gone, the local climate changes, the hydrogeological regime is affected, and landslides and avalanches may be facilitated, not to mention the enormous economic damage”.
Even more reason to ensure that as a traveller, you tread lightly and responsibly when visiting Lago di Carezza.
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HOW TO GET TO LAGO DI CAREZZA
There are several ways to get to Lago di Carezza, depending on where you choose to stay and what time you want to get there. While we chose to drive through the South Tyrol region on a road trip, there are also pretty good transport links that get you to the lake throughout the day.
| CAR // how to get to Lago di Carezza |
Hands-down this is the best way to get to Lago di Carezza, and is our favourite option for exploring South Tyrol and the Dolomites region. We hired a car for our 9-day trip and would absolutely opt for this again thanks to the freedom it affords.
Nova Levante | If you want to catch sunrise at the lake, we’d recommend staying in Nova Levante / Welschnofen, then simply jumping in the car early the next morning and driving the last 10 minutes along the SS241 road to the carpark.
Bolzano | This is the closest large city from the lake, and is about a 40 minute drive. Take the SS241 from Bolzano, and follow it all the way to Lago di Carezza in 39056 (Welschnofen). This will take you to the parking lot for the lake.
CAR HIRE | Check prices and availability for car hire on Rentalcars.com here
PARKING AT LAGO DI CAREZZA
There’s a huge parking lot across from the lake, so you shouldn’t have any issues finding space.
Parking is free for the first 15 minutes, then €1 per hour for each hour after that.
Note: the payment terminal isn’t at the exit gate! You’ll need to take your ticket to the machine where the restaurants and cafes are to settle your payment.
| BUS // How to get to Lago di Carezza |
South Tyrol has a great public transport network, and this makes it possible to reach Lago di Carezza by bus.
Simply jump on the 180.1 bus from Bolzano to Pera di Fassa (via Nova Levante and Carezza) and you’ll be there in about 40 minutes.
FACILITIES AT LAGO DI CAREZZA
There are plenty of facilities at Lago di Carezza, including:
Parking | Ample parking, at a fee (more on that below!)
Food | There’s a restaurant and a cafe serving food, drinks, and more importantly coffee (vital after an early start!) for fairly reasonable prices.
Shop | There's a shop selling souvenirs and outdoor clothes
Toilets | Public toilets are available in the tunnel linking the carpark to the lake
Hike To and around Lago di Carezza
There’s a small walking circuit around the lake that takes about 20 minutes and winds through the beautiful Spruce forest surrounding the lake. It’s wide and pretty flat, with a number of lookout point to view the lake from different angles.
There are a few spots to sit down and enjoy the views from, or simply sit and soak up all the lush nature around you.
Keen to get your legs pumping on a slightly longer walk than just around the lake? There are also some great hiking trails that take you into Lago di Carezza too:
| TEMPLWEG TRAIL FROM OBEREGGEN |
Distance | 13.3km
Length | 3.5-4 hours
Elevation | 169m
Starting point | Obereggen upper car park
Finish point | Lago di Carezza (can also be done in reverse)
This trail (#8) takes you from Obereggen (or you can also opt to go from Ega) through the beautiful green Spruce-forest of the Karerwald (Karer Forest) to the lake, with a possible detour to the Stadlalm Farm for lunch and a refreshment in the sun.
| LAGO DI CAREZZA / KARERSEE HIKE FROM NOVA LEVANTE |
Distance | 3.5km
Length | 1-1.5 hours
Elevation | 350m
Starting point | Sawmill Latemar (Nova Levante)
Finish point | Same as start
This trail takes you from the town of Nova Levante, the closest town to Lago Di Carezza, along a small river and through the pretty forest scenes to the lake. It’s initially a little steep, but otherwise relatively flat and a great circuit for a family or those who want to go for a ramble but not an epic hike.
Keep following the signs to the lake, and when you’re done simply retrace your steps back again.
RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL AT LAGO DI CAREZZA
If you’re travelling to Lago di Carezza, chances are you’ve already seen plenty of images on Instagram of people sitting on a rock by the lake.
Unfortunately, this shot is impossible — unless you’re willing to break the law and damage the delicate ecosystem around the lake.
See, the whole of Lago di Carezza is a protected conservation area that’s fenced off and clearly marked by signs that say do not trespass in both German, English, and Italian.
It’s pretty hard to miss them — not to mention that to climb down to “the rock” you obviously need to jump the sign-posted fence, which is a pretty obvious indication that you shouldn’t be doing it — but sadly, plenty of people are blatantly ignoring them.
Lake Carezza’s colour and clarity is due to layers of fine Dolomite rock that sit on the bottom of the lake, and extremely low levels of algae in the pool. When these are disturbed by the footfall of overeager tourists, it threatens the health and future of the entire lake.
Instagram doesn’t give you a license to break the law in order to get a ‘banger’ shot, and there are plenty of ways to admire (and photograph) the lake’s beauty and still preserve it so that the generations after your instagram shot can enjoy it too.
Be part of the solution, not the problem. Here are a few other things to keep in mind:
Pick up any trash you see | Thankfully we didn’t encounter too much rubbish in this area, but if you do happen to come across any litter, pick it up to dispose of properly.
Don’t litter | This goes without saying, but don’t drop your trash anywhere. Take it out with you.
Bring a reusable water bottle | There is no need for a modern traveller to buy bottled water, ever.
We use The Grayl water filtration and purification bottles
Day tours to Lago di Carezza
If you don’t have access to a car or you’d rather have someone else in charge of the finer details so you can enjoy your holiday, there are a few day tours from Bolzano that take in Lake Carezza, along with highlights like Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Lago di Braies, the Sella Pass, and Marmolada mountains:
Bolzano: Great Dolomites Road trip | A full-day private tour from Bolzano. Also includes Fassa Valley, Val Gardena, a cable car up Sass Pordoi.
Dolomites Full-Day Excursion from Bolzano | A small group (max. 6 people) tour departing Bolzano, and also taking in Ega Valley, Sass Pordoi, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Misurina Lake (both in Belluno province), views of Drei Zinnen (Tre Cime), and local vineyards.
WHERE TO STAY near lago di Carezza
We stayed at Hotel Stella Stern in Nova Levante (Welschnofen), about 10 minutes drive from Lago di Carezza (ideal for those wanting to experience the lake at sunrise!). It’s a gorgeous traditional-style B+B, with large rooms overlooking the mountains, super comfy reading area, and a well-stocked breakfast buffet (Mim’s fave!).
BOOK | Check prices and availability for Hotel Stella Stern here
Search | Search for more hotels around Nova Levante here
There are plenty of Airbnb options in the Welschnofen / Nova Levante area. Check availability and prices here.
BOOK | Don’t forget to use our special code for up to £37 / $45 off your first booking!
PLANNING A TRIP TO ITALY SOON?
Check out these essential posts to help you have the best trip ever:
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Have you been to Lago di Carezza? Planning a trip there soon? Share your stories in the comments below!