One of the most beautiful mountain lakes in South Tyrol is located in the heart of the Dolomites at an altitude of 1500m: the Karersee. With a length of only approx. 300m and a width of 140m, Lago di Carezza is more of one of the smaller mountain lakes, but thanks to the incredible mountain scenery and its bright water colors, it is also one of the most impressive. Surrounded by the gray mountain peaks of the Latemar massif and green fir trees, it shimmers from deep blue to emerald green in all colors of the rainbow and is rightly a protected natural monument.
Where the play of colors in the water comes from, which can also be observed underwater, it is still not known exactly – it is probably due to the underground springs and tributaries of the Latemar Mountains that feed the Karersee. According to legend, however, a water fairy is responsible for this: she is said to have lived on Lake Karersee hundreds of years ago. A sorcerer is said to have tried to capture them, he conjured up a rainbow over Lake Karersee to attract the water mermaid. He forgot to dress up, however, the fairy recognized the trap and disappeared back into the lake. Out of anger about the unsuccessful action, the sorcerer smashed the rainbow, which disintegrated into many individual parts and sank into the lake – which is why the Karersee still shines in all rainbow colors today.
Whether you want to believe the story with the mermaid or prefer the rational variant with the underwater tributaries – I was so fascinated by the mystique of Lake Carezza that I really wanted to see it with my own eyes.
In this article I will tell you what to expect when you visit and how you can best plan your trip.
Karersee: Worth knowing for the visit
The Karersee is a popular excursion destination and an obligatory stop on every pensioner coffee trip through the Dolomites – which unfortunately means that it can get quite crowded there during the day. Therefore, here are the most important tips for your visit:
Directions & parking
The Karersee is located about 20 km southeast of Bolzano and can be reached via the state road 241, also simply called the Dolomite Road. Just enter it as the destination on Google Maps and you will be safely navigated there. There is a large parking lot on site, where you can quickly find a place even during busy visiting hours, because most visitors do not stay long.
The best time to visit
The best time to visit Lake Carezza is during off-peak times, preferably in the morning before 9/10 or in the late afternoon. So you can enjoy the magic of this extraordinary place in peace without the crowds of tourists and also have even better light for photos.
As far as the seasons are concerned, summer is of course the better choice, because the charm of the Karersee lies in its colors and the reflection of the majestic Latemar mountains in its water surface. In winter it is frozen over and the lake doesn’t look very spectacular, but see for yourself:
What you should know: In autumn 2018 a storm devastated large parts of South Tyrol, the region around Eggental and Karersee was particularly hard hit. When I visited Lake Karersee in December 2018, I came across a picture of devastation that made my heart bleed – for miles there was nothing to be seen except bent, meter-high fir trees. In the meantime, nature is slowly recovering, but it will be decades before the region is completely reforested.
Can you swim in the Karersee?
No. Theoretically, of course, that works, but the lake is a nature reserve and bathing or swimming is prohibited. The bank is therefore also demarcated by a fence. Instead, there is a circular path around the lake and also a viewing platform and a suspension bridge, which allow a wonderful view of Lake Carezza.
Photography tips for the Karersee
I already mentioned that it is best to choose the off-peak times for your visit, because then you have less to contend with the crowds that are out and about on Karersee during the day. But there is another reason for this: the nicer photos can also be taken during off-peak times, because this is how you avoid the harsh light of the midday sun.
In addition, the wind also plays a decisive role when photographing Lake Karersee: The wonderfully reflective surface of the water is of course only visible when there is no wind. This is especially the case early in the morning, so the same applies to Lake Karersee as to Lake Braies : the early bird catches the worm.
Alternatively, the late afternoon is also possible, but then you may have to wait a little for calm moments.
- My camera: Sony Alpha 6500 *
- Wide angle lens: 17-70mm from Sigma * (perfect for traveling and affordable, it is connected to the Sony 6 series together with an adapter * )
- Even better: an ultra wide angle, e.g. the 10-18mm for Sony *
- Be sure to pack: a polarizing filter, I use this set from Hoya *
- Recommended: A light travel tripod * if you want to work with long exposures
- My drone: DJI Spark *
The polarizing filter is particularly important if you aim to reflect the surface of the water in your photos. With a polarizing filter you can either increase or reduce this so that you can achieve interesting effects. With my focal length of 17mm (on an APSC camera) I just got there, but an ultra-wide angle lens would definitely have been the better choice.
Hiking on the Karersee
A narrow hiking trail leads around Lake Karersee, on which you can walk around the lake in about 30 minutes. If you really want to go hiking, there are countless opportunities in the region around Karersee, Latemar and Eggental, the hike from Karerpass to Karersee is particularly popular. An overview of the hiking opportunities is available here .
Hotels near the Karersee – my tips
The closest place to Karersee is Welschnofen. Here are some recommended and rustic, modern accommodations:
- Hotel Rosengarten *
- Gasthof Loewen *
- Hotel Moseralm *
My personal recommendation: The Gasthof zur Traube in Montan * is still a long way away from Lake Karersee, but very rustic . We didn’t stay there because we had unfortunately already booked another accommodation, but by chance, while looking for something to eat, we came across what is by far (!) Perhaps the best pizza in northern Italy in the restaurant. An absolute lucky find and the most delicious pizza I’ve eaten in years. Absolute heart recommendation <3
Nothing included or too expensive? Then an AirbnB might be an alternative. If you register via my link, there is a discount of up to € 25 for the first booking:
For me, Lake Karersee is one of the most beautiful spots in the Dolomites and rightly a must on every round trip through South Tyrol. Other highlights in South Tyrol that might also interest you:
- The Lago di Sorapis – on a hike to Italy’s bluest lake
- The Pragser Wildsee
- Merano – highlights & tips for a mini city trip