Discover Lago Antorno: A Glacial Gem Beneath Tre Cime di Lavaredo


Kate + Vin

Lago Antorno
alps lake icon

Lago Antorno is a serene relic of the Ice Age cradled by some of the Dolomites’ grandest peaks. Here’s your guide to witnessing its enduring beauty.

Along the road to Tre Cime di Lavaredo (Drei Zinnen), the jaw-dropping scenery begins long before you stand face-to-face with the Three Peaks. Nestled in a forest between Rifugio Auronzo and Misurina lies Lago Antorno (also known as Lake Antorno, Lago d’Antorno and Antorno See). This glacial-born medallion holds its own with unique charm and a mystical allure, despite often being overshadowed by its larger siblings, Lago di Landro and Lago di Misurina.

More than instilling a sense of peace, the lake reframes your perspective of the surrounding mountains. Whatever chaos or calm lies above its surface, Lago Antorno magnifies it all with haunting clarity. When you bring your eyes from the peaks to its depths, you’re gifted a view that leaves you stranded between reality and reflection.

About Lago Antorno

lago antorno mallard
Lago Antorno is an ideal spot to observe the wild souls of the Dolomites.

Lago Antorno sits at a brisk elevation of 6,122 feet (1,866 meters), soaring over 1,200 feet above Lago di Braies. While significantly loftier, it would take more than 15 Lago Antornos to equal the expanse of Braies.

Despite its modest size, Lago Antorno is a vibrant sanctuary for precious alpine flora and fauna. When we first visited the lake, we were naturally captivated by the breathtaking views, but equally impressive was the tremendous biodiversity it harbored. Standing along its shore grants you the opportunity to appreciate the rich complexity of a high-altitude ecosystem.

Lago Antorno lies near a peat bog encircled by a battalion of spruce, stone pine and larch. Skirting its shores, amid a tangle of aquatic grasses, we encountered a riot of alpine bellflowers, orchids, clover, and carnations. Above this botanical melee, squadrons of dragonflies executed tight aerial maneuvers from one bloom to another.

lago antorno flowers

On the lake itself, we admired mallards bobbing between the pondweed. We could also see minnows darting around in the shallows, presumably dinner for the ducks. We searched in vain for an Alpine newt, which we heard calls Lago Antorno home. But given they are apparently creatures of the night, they were likely napping in the mud.

Lifting your eyes from the lake you will enjoy the Cristallo Group to the northeast and the Cadini Group to the south in addition to the southern faces of Tre Cime di Lavaredo. From this vantage point, the Three Peaks appear as a solitary massif. It is almost hard to believe that the hulking mountain before you is the same iconic trio that symbolizes the Dolomites.

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How to Visit Lago Antorno

lago antorno cadini group
The Cadini Group looms above Lago Antorno.

The easiest way to visit Lago Antorno is before or after embarking on the famous hike around Tre Cime di Lavaredo. Its position on the route to the Three Peaks ensures that it is a restful stop for hikers and climbers looking to either prepare for the ascent or wind down after a day spent exploring the heights.

The lake actually belongs to the Italian province of Belluno instead of South Tyrol and is conveniently situated just over a mile (2 km) north of Lago di Misurina — on the western side of the toll road leading from Misurina to Rifugio Auronzo. It is a few minutes shy of the toll booth so if you wish to only visit Lago Antorno you can do so without incurring a road fee. Ample parking is available near the lake’s shore, from which you can easily stroll to the water’s edge or embark on a brief hike around the lake.

For those enthusiastic about more extended treks, Lago Antorno serves as an excellent starting point. Numerous trails radiate from the lake, offering routes to surrounding highlights such as Mount Sorapiss, Prato Piazza, Mount Piana, Val Fiscalina, and the Cadini di Misurina chain, not to mention the iconic Tre Cime themselves.

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When to Go

To see Lago Antorno in all its reflective magic, the best to time to visit is in spring, summer and autumn. And while the lake does grab some shut eye in the winter, it remains a worthy destination when frozen. During this season, snowshoe hikes to Tre Cime di Lavaredo and snowmobile adventures often begin at its frosty banks.

If you are a professional photographer or an enthusiast keen on capturing the lake at its most splendid, then plan to visit at dawn or dusk. It’s in these moments when Lago Antorno is certain to be still as glass and the faint sunlight brushes the scenery with hues of pink, orange, and purple.

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Stay on Lago Antorno

chalet lago antorno
Wake up with a view of Tre Cime di Lavaredo.

Those eager to beat the rush to Tre Cime di Lavaredo should consider staying at Lago Antorno. Located directly across from the lake is Chalet Lago Antorno. Exuding traditional Alpine charm, Chalet Lago Antorno offers a simple, cozy retreat where the star is your surroundings. Each window frames mesmerizing views of Lago Antorno and the encircling peaks, creating a picturesque backdrop to begin and end your day.

While we have not stayed here, it looks like the type of place where one would sip hot cocoa imbued with a shot of mountain pine schnapps. In other words, perfect for those seeking an authentic mountain escape where the Dolomites are not just seen but deeply felt.


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