Visiting Lago di Landro: Discover Dürrensee in the Dolomites

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Kate + Vin

Kate enjoying the view of Lago di Landro
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Lago di Landro (Dürrensee) is one of the most picturesque lakes in the Dolomites and among the easiest to visit. Discover everything you need to know to weave this scenic wonder into your South Tyrol itinerary.

Lago di Landro is a lake that sneaks up on you. This is despite it being the third largest lake Val Pusteria behind Lago di Braies and Lago di Dobbiaco. On our first trip to Tre Cime di Lavaredo years ago, we stumbled upon her beauty while racing toward the toll road to Rifugio Auronzo.

Lago di Landro’s burst of turquoise steered our gaze and car to a parking area along the shore. We had to explore this newfound hidden gem. The Three Peaks could wait. Whenever we encounter the tantalizing sparkle of water beneath mountain and sun, we’re instantly under its spell. Dürrensee’s dazzle was no different. We’re certain you’ll feel the same enchantment when you first lay eyes on the lake.

⇒ Trip Planning Made Easy: Grab our South Tyrol + Dolomites Travel Guide

Where is Lago di Landro

Lago di Landro lies on the southern end of Val di Landro (Höhlensteintal) — a side valley of South Tyrol’s Val Pusteria. It’s part of the Drei Zinnen Nature Park and stretches just to the east of the Fanes-Senes-Braies Nature Park. Perched at over 4,600 feet (1,406 m), the lake shimmers beside the SS51 roadway, marking a scenic route that threads between the towns of Dobbiaco and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Note: This area of Val Pusteria is also known as “Hochpustertal” and “Alta Pusteria”, which means “Upper Puster Valley.” Being one of the vastest valleys in South Tyrol, Val Pusteria is geographically segmented into two parts: the upper and the lower valleys.

What Makes Lago di Landro so Entrancing

lago di landro cristallo group
Mirror-still Lago di Landro reflecting the Cristallo Group.

Besides the heavenly jade rippling across the surface of Lago di Landro, you’ll also notice one hell of a reflection. On the lake’s southern shore, thunders the ravishing Cristallo Group — the 10,000+ ft (3,100+ m) haunt of notable peaks such as Cima di Mezzo, Piz Popena, and the emperor of the bunch: Monte Cristallo. Part of the Ampezzo Dolomites in Italy’s Veneto region, the Cristallo Group is known for its striking limestone formations.

Sightseeing Tip: You can also admire this immense massif while hiking the Tre Cime di Lavaredo circuit trail and the trail leading to the spectacular Cadini di Misurina viewpoint.

Looking to the east, you’ll spy the forested face of Monte Piano and Monte Piana, which belongs to the Sexten (Sesto) Dolomites. During World War I, their broad-topped summits saw horrific fighting between the Austrian and Italian armies. The Austrians occupied Monte Piano and the Italians Monte Piana. The trenches between positions intertwined creating tense, deadly close-quarter battles where the forces were at times less than 10 feet apart. Before the war ended, 14,000 men were slaughtered on these two mountains.

lago di landro monte piana
Monte Piano and Monte Piana command the eastern shore of Lago di Landro.

Today, there is a free open-air museum on Monte Piana inviting visitors to retrace the steps of soldiers who once walked this summit. The trenches, tunnels, shell craters, and other remnants from the war one encounters are a sobering connection to a brutal time in our history.

Sightseeing Tip: If you are quite fit, you can embark on a 7-mile (11.8 km) circuit hike to Monte Piana by taking the Pionierweg (Pioneer’s Path) that begins at Lago di Landro.

Facing the western shore, you will see a heap of cliffs that if one were to scale would reach Prato Piazza, a high-mountain plateau as awe-inspiring as Alpe di Siusi. To the north, you peer past the marshes of Lago di Landro into the Val di Landro (Höhlensteintal) towards Lago di Dobbiaco. From here, you can spot the summit of Mount Nasswand (also known as Croda Bagnata), which according to ancient folklore is a sleeping giant. Try not to wake him.

Much like its sibling Lago di Dobbiacco, Lago di Landro carries the tales of the Ice Age, carved into being some 12,000 years ago. It’s cradled by the same lifeblood, the Rienza River (Rio di Pusteria), a winding ribbon of alpine water that draws its first breath at the rugged feet of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo.

durrensee northshore view
In addition to the names Lago di Landro and Dürrensee, you will also see the lake referred to as Lake Dürren and Lake Landro.

How to Visit Lago di Landro + Map

If you are in the mood for a serene walk, perhaps before or after visiting Tre Cime di Lavaredo, consider hiking around Lago di Landro. You have a few options to choose from depending on the amount of time you want to dedicate to visiting Dürrensee.

Hike to the Best Lago di Landro Viewpoint

lago di landro durrensee

To enjoy the Cristallo Group in all its reflective glory, walk from the parking lot located next to the lake to its shoreline. From there, follow the shoreline to the left for a few minutes to a sandy beach area located on its northern shore. Here, you can admire a scene that would have made Monet faint. Note: If you are visiting outside of winter, be prepared to return to your car with a cake of muddy sand on your shoes. Trust us, you won’t mind the mess after taking in the view.

⇒ YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: The Best Hikes in the Dolomites

Hike the Loop Trail Around the Lake

If you would like to soak in the mighty views of all the mountains encircling Dürrensee, you can hike a 1.3-mile (2 km) circuit trail around the lake. This trail is a breeze. Flat all the way around and will take you roughly 40 minutes to complete.

To begin the Lago di Landro hike, head counterclockwise toward the beach on the northern shore mentioned above. Follow signs for trail no. 6B, which will sweep you to the right through the swath of pines hugging the eastern bank before bringing you to the southern shore and ultimately back to the parking area.

Sightseeing Tip: Another nearby casual outing you might like is a half-day hike in Val Fiscalina — one of the most beautiful valleys in the Dolomites.

Combine Lago di Landro with the Panoramic Viewpoint of Tre Cime di Lavaredo

tre cime mt cristallo
A trip to Lago di Landro in winter provides an easy way to see Tre Cime di Lavaredo.

Situated in Val di Landro less than a mile from Lago di Landro is a wondrous panoramic viewpoint of Tre Cime di Lavaredo called Vista Panoramica Tre Cime Lavaredo (Aussichtspunkt auf die Drei Zinnen). Here, you can admire the famous north faces of the Three Peaks without embarking on a lengthy hike.

While certainly not as dramatic as getting up close to the Three Peaks, it is still a stunning sight that will make your jaw greet your toes. The viewpoint also offers a “portal” that not only beautifully frames the mountains but also serves as a tribute to the mountaineering legends who first conquered these goliaths.

You can reach the viewpoint from Lago di Landro by walking on trail no. 6. As you can see on the above Lago di Landro map, it is an easy journey that takes less than 15 minutes. Note: You can also park at the Tre Cime viewpoint and walk to the lake from there.

⇒ YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Visiting Lago di Carezza

Additional Things to Do at Dürrensee

Lago di Landro in the Dolomites

Beyond visiting Lago di Landro for its postcard setting, the lake offers a variety of recreational opportunities throughout the year.

First and foremost, you may be wondering can you swim in Lago di Landro? Swimming is allowed in Dürrensee. Due to its shallow depth, the lake is among the warmest in the Dolomites making it a fine choice for cooling off in the heat of summer. Tip: Consider packing a picnic for a shoreside treat if you are visiting the lake for a swim.

Should your explorations around the lake leave you feeling peckish, and if you didn’t bring along a picnic, you’re in luck. Conveniently situated across from the parking area is Ristorante Lago di Landro, a charming eatery offering a blend of traditional Tyrolean and Italian cuisine. While we haven’t yet had the opportunity to dine there ourselves, it’s certainly on our list for a future visit. The quaint appearance of the restaurant, coupled with its overwhelmingly positive reviews, makes it an inviting option for a satisfying meal after a day by the lake.

ristorante lago di landro
Ristorante Dürrensee is located directly across from the Lago di Landro parking lot.

Like Lago di Dobbiaco, it’s also possible to go fishing on Lago di Landro. You can expect to reel in trout and European grayling. Note: Fishing in the Dolomites requires a valid license and a day permit, which you can purchase at the Dobbiaco tourist office near the entrance to Val di Landro. Staff will also provide information on where to rent fishing gear.

Those seeking a more challenging day around the lake can visit the Klettergarten Dürrensee. This outdoor rock climbing area is located on the eastern slope above Lago di Landro. It is a western-facing cliff equipped with bolts and anchors and offers a variety of climbing routes that cater to different skill levels, from beginners to more experienced climbers.

We had a chance to watch a few climbers tackle the wall. After a few minutes of drama, we committed to keeping our feet on the ground.

lago di landro winter
In winter the reflection of Mt. Cristallo is gone, but the magic isn’t.

When the snow flies, Val di Landro transforms into a paradise for cross-country skiers, snow-shoers, and winter hikers. You can do all three activities around Lago di Landro. The loop trail is open all year.

Notably, the “Ferrovia delle Dolomiti”, an iconic cross-country ski run between Dobbiaco and Cortina d’Ampezzo, zips right past the lake. Once a train railway, the trail spans 26 miles (42 km) and each year hosts the Granfondo Dobbiaco-Cortina, one of the biggest cross-country ski races in Italy.

Unfortunately, if you’re planning on camping at Lago di Landro, it is not allowed. Camping is prohibited in Italy’s nature parks. Check out our post on camping in the Dolomites for authorized campgrounds nearby.


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Kate & Vin South Tyrol & Dolomites Travel Consultants

About KATE & vin

Kate and Vin are South Tyrol + Dolomites travel specialists and the founders of Throne & Vine. They're dedicated to helping travelers discover and visit the most beautiful region in the Italian Alps.

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