The Lago di Sorapis Hike, Paradise in the Dolomites, Italy

The Hike to Lago di Sorapis (1923m) is one to a corner of paradise. The intense, beautiful turquoise color of the lake, the majestic mountains like Punta Sorapis (3205m), and the green vegetation, can make you feel as if you are in a temple, due to the calmness and tranquillity this location inspires.

Yes, even with the crowd you may find at this location.

Hiker at lago di sorapis looking at the landscape

Lago di Sorapise

However, if you also want to avoid the most crowded hours, you’d need to be there early in the morning. In that case, you still have a chance of having the lake all to yourself, in the glorious morning light.

That is what I did, and I probably found only very few people there 3-4 in total. So it pays off to be there early if you can.

On the other hand, by the time I hiked around the lake and circled back at the main viewpoint, it was like being in an amphitheater full of people looking at the landscape.

Anyway, this is one of the most beautiful locations in the Dolomiti, so it’s worth the hike regardless. Just be aware of the crowds if you, like me, like the silence and solitude the mountains can offer too, in addition to the pretty landscapes.

Punta Sorapis reflecting in the waters of the lake on a blue sky sunny day

Punta Sorapis

Table of Contents

Overview of the Lago di Sorapis Hike & Map

Hiking to Lago di Sorapis isn’t as idyllic as the lake looks like. The trail is moderately challenging but it requires a good head for heights.

Max Altitude  1,950 m
Distance  13.2KM
Elevation gain  m ↑ / m ↓
Hike time  04:00/ 04:30  Hours
Hike Difficulty  Moderate/Difficult


Here is also a map of the hike. You can download the GPS track for free from the linked activity. A quick note; take the upper trail around the lake, not the one I initially followed; it’s an exposed wall of rock! More on this below.

How to get to Lago di Sorapis and Parking

The Lago di Sorapis trailhead is very easy to get to as it is just a short drive from Cortina D’Ampezzo. The drive takes just about fifteen minutes. You can also get to the Lake Sorapis trailhead by Bus.

  • Driving Directions: from Cortina d’Ampezzo, you can drive on road SR48 toward le Tre Cime di Lavaredo, until you reach the Passo delle Tre Croci. you’ll see the Hotel B&B open on your right. When you’re there, you can drive a few hundred meters further to the trailhead.
  • Parking: there’s a decent amount of free parking on the side of the road. However, here too the spots fill up quickly in the morning. So, here too, the earlier the better. If this area has already filled up, you can drive back toward Cortina and park your car here too.
  • Public Transport: you can also take a bus from Cortina up to the Passo delle Tre Croci. From Cortina’s bus station, take the Dolomiti Bus toward the Lago di Misurina and hop off at the Passo delle Tre Croci.

The Lago di Sorapis Hiking Trail

The first part of the trail to Lake Sorapis is super easy, like literally a walk in the park. A flat, wide trail in between green grassy fields, with scenic mountain views. Beautiful.

Lago di Sorapis hike trailhead

Gradually, the trail will start to descend a little. Here you may be tricked into thinking it’s just going to be an easy walk to possibly the most beautiful lake in the Dolomites.

Soon after, however, the trail will start to narrow, and turn rocky and the scent will gradually increase. You’ll also come across a couple of moderately exposed passages, two sets of stairs, and parts of trails with ropes for safety.

Exposed section of the hiking trail to lake sorapis

One of the moderately exposed parts of the trail.

This is nothing particularly difficult for the more experienced hikes. However, if you are planning this hike and aren’t used to long mountain hikes, be aware; that this is a long hike that requires a good head for heights and proper hiking shoes/boots. It’s not the walk in the park that may seem in the first couple of kilometers.

Anyway, before long you’ll see the unmistakable shape of Punta Serapis; that’s the beautiful mountain towering above the Lago di Sorapis. When you see it, it means you’re almost there. a short walk above exposed and slipper tree rots and you’ll be at the lake.

Punta sorapis on a sunny day.

Punta Sorapis right before the Lake viewpoint.

Lago di sorapis on a cloudless day.

The trail ends at the main viewpoint

When you arrive, you’ll be at the main and most famous viewpoint already, which is where many steps to take a photo or two – with many posers strings their best. Hey, myself included :)!

If you visit the lake on a hot summer day, you may be tempted to dip in it or refresh yourself. That’s not possible; due to the unique glacial flour in the lake, bathing is prohibited. This is done to prevent contaminating the ecosystem of the lake for it to also maintain its color.

No bathing sing at lake sorapis.

Lagos di Sorapis Loop Hike

If you want to go further, you can do a full-loop hike around the lake. I’d recommend doing it. it only takes about 20-25 minutes and you’ll pass by a few additional great viewpoints on either side of the lake.

I did the loop around Lago di Sorapis counterclockwise. If you decide to do it too, a word of warning. Unless you are a climber, take the upper trail. The lower trail requires crossing a vertical wall with little to no foothold and a few bushes that. One mistake and you’re in the lake.

Wall of rock above the turquoise waters of a lake in the dolomiti

Avoid this!

You don’t see the exposed part, which is around the corner, and, before you realize it, you’ll be on a vertical wall with no options to not turn around, which is never a good thing.

Anyway, apart from this bit, it’s just an easy, flat walk around the lake. The loop hike around the Lago di Serapis also offers, additional great views of both the lake and Punta Sorapis and it is less crowded than the main observation point at the end of the trail.

The Lago di Sorapis Photos and Photography tips

Needless to say, Sorapis Lake is a photographer’s magnet, and rightfully so. The main lookout is great, but there also are great viewpoints all around the lake. Plus, there will be fewer people there.

Hiker at lago di sorapis looking at the landscape

Lago di Sorapis.

Lago di Sorapis panoramic view from a hike around the lake.

On sunny days, you’d have to tone down the saturation in post-production; the color of the lake is that saturated, naturally. I think there should be some shades of turquoise named after the Lago di Sorapis!

The lake is very still so you can play around with the reflections, or not if you have a polariser). I preferred to keep them.

Bring an ultra-wide if you have one. the lake will barely fit within the field of view of a 14mm full-frame lens. Otherwise, you’d have to resort to making panoramas, which works well too.

Dolomites lake with turquoise water and mountain

Emerald Lake in the dolomites in Italy on a sunny day

Punta Sorapis and Lago di Sorapis lake in the dolomites viewpoint on a hill around the lake.

You can find beautiful spots to take photos all around the lake.

Panorama of Sorapis lake

Panorama of four vertical frames at 24mm

You can also fly a drone here; the Lago di Sorapis is not in the Parco Naturale Delle Dolomiti d’Ampezzo so no special permit is required. I did not bring mine though, as I don’t enjoy flying one in crowded places.

For the best light, assuming fair weather, I’d recommend visiting in the early morning.

To close it off, I also wanted to mention that you have some great views on the trail too especially the area around Monte Cristallo. A very beautiful mountain too.

Monte Cristallo in the Dolomiti

Monte Cristallo

Monte Cristallo.

Video of the Hike

Last but not least, here is also a short video of the Hill to Lago Sorapis, including the loop around it.

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Where to stay

There is a hut you can stay at next to the lake, the Rifugio Alfonso Vandelli. Advanced booking is required.

Wild camping is not allowed, here like anywhere else in the Dolomites.

The closest Hotel available is the Hotel delle Tre Croci, right at the top of the pass with the same name, and only a short walk away from the trailhead. The Hotel also has free parking for guests.

Alternatively, Cortina d’Ampezzo is just a short drive away and you can find all the accommodation types from camping to guesthouses to luxury hotels.

Additional Resources