Lake Misurina is located in the highest territory of Auronzo di Cadore. It is the largest alpine lake in the Dolomites and it's one of the most beautiful high-altitude lakes in Italy.
Misurina is one of the most appreciated touristic locations in the surroundings especially for motorcyclists and motorists, who love to spend some time on its shores, thanks to the fact that the road passes just a few meters from the water.
The lake of Misurina can be reached by car from Cortina in about 30 minutes, through the Passo Tre Croci, in the direction of Auronzo di Cadore, covering a distance of approximately 15 kilometers. Consider that, in the busiest months, a sore point is finding an available parking space. We'll talk in depth in the last part of the article.
... it's one of the most beautiful high-altitude lakes in Italy...
Some people get there riding their bikes, but it's pretty exhausting and the road is not panoramic enough to make it worth it, at least if you consider the panorama an important thing. If you're a fan of two wheels, a much better option is to reach the lake "Santa Caterina" in Auronzo. From there starts a very nice gravel bike path called "Tre Cime Bike".
The lake is also very popular due to its proximity to the Three Peaks of Lavaredo, for this reason it's used by many hikers as a starting point for the Auronzo Hut, one of the mountain huts of the Tre Cime. Lake Misurina is a starting point for some other excursion itineraries, such as those of "Col de Varda" and "Monte Piana". If you are interested in this topic we'll deepen it further in the chapter about Lake Antorno.
In winter, Lake Misurina freezes completely, making it possible to practice winter sports such as skating. In the past, some editions of the Cortina Winter Polo Audi Gold Cup were also held on the frozen lake. In its surroundings skiing and snowshoeing are also possible in the winter period.
Lake Misurina is located at 1756 meters above sea level. There are particular climatic characteristics that distinguish this area: high altitude, low air density, almost complete absence of flowers and richness of ultraviolet radiation. Thanks to these characteristics Misurina is one of the places where the air is the cleanest in the world.
The air is so pure that here was located one of the two centers for the treatment and rehabilitation from respiratory diseases in the world, the Pio XII Institute. In this center some respiratory illnesses were treated not only with medicines, but also with the purity of mountain air and with the contact with nature.
What to do at Misurina
The first thing to do once you get to Misurina is definitely a walk around the lake. The excursion is really easy and will take you about 30 minutes. There are no major difficulties in finding the starting point, as it is a walk that runs along the shore for the entire length. You can start from any point and in the direction you prefer.
During the walk you'll be able to observe the beautiful Dolomite peaks that surround the lake, such as the "Cadini", the "Tre Cime" and the "Sorapis". The lake has a flora and fauna of great naturalistic interest and there is always some nice waterfowl present, including several species of ducks, sometimes with their little ducklings.
Once the walk is over, you can go shopping in the stores of the area, and in some of them you will revive the charm of other times. Even if Lake Misurina is not the paradise of worldliness and shopping, you will probably find some nice gift ideas to take home, as a souvenir of this day in the mountains. If you want to have a drink there are some bars overlooking the shores of the lake.
Once you have visited the center, you may want to move to the "Col de Varda" chairlift, where, in about 10 minutes, you can reach the homonymous mountain hut and enjoy a splendid view of Lake Misurina and the Dolomite area that surrounds it.
From "Col de Varda" mountain hut starts several excursions towards the group of the Cadini di Misurina or towards the "Città di Carpi" mountain hut.
... you can go shopping in the stores of the area...
If, after a morning in the open air, you feel hungry, there are several places where you can eat in Misurina. From the "Quinz" Lake Inn to the Edelweiss Pizzeria, the "Malga Misurina" and some others.
In our case the day trip to Misurina ended with a snack at the "Malga Popena", a typical restaurant on the road to Carbonin, an alternative route back to Cortina along the Passo Cimabanche.
Malga Popena is managed by the Agricultural Cooperative Auronzo Val d'Ansiei, as is the Malga Maraia, another restaurant of the area that can be reached with an easy hike.
Both these restaurants were created with the aim of giving a job to the less fortunate residents of the town of Auronzo and also include some farming fields, where most of the raw materials, with which the dishes are created, grows. Honestly, we can only advise you to drop by.
Parking in Misurina
Once you arrive in Misurina you will need to park your car, which will not always be easy. During the peak season all the available parking spots tend to fill up quickly, so it could be a good idea to reach the lake early in the morning, before the arrival of the majority of the tourists.
In this way you'll be able to spend the morning near the lake, maybe stop for lunch and possibly come back to Cortina before the returning of the excursists.
The road of the Passo Tre Croci is, in fact, one of the busiest roads in the Dolomites because of the excursion to Lake Sorapis that attracts hundreds of enthusiasts and curious.
The various parking lots can be easily reached as they are all in the immediate vicinity of the lake. The main areas are in front of "Pio XII" institute, in front of the little Despar market, near the "Locanda al Lago" or, in the worst case, at the camper area in the proximity of Genzianella restaurant.
Even if you can't find a free park, I don't recommend proceeding further, in the direction of Lake Antorno. The strong tourism linked to the Three Peaks of Lavaredo will make it very difficult to find a free parking lot there.
Alternatively you may try along Provincial road 49 in the direction of Dobbiaco, where you could find some free places thanks to lazy tourists, who rarely go too far from the lake. All the parking lots listed above may be on payment. Be careful because you could take a fine.
Once in Misurina we suggest you visit another small and very naturalistic lake, the Lake Antorno, a small lake surrounded by pine trees just a few minutes drive from Misurina. This small water mirror is an area of great interest for the flora and fauna that characterize it, that is typical of the alpine environment of the Dolomites. In about 15 minutes it's possible to do a walk around the lake.
This area is also very popular because, from here, it is possible to reach the Auronzo refuge by walking, avoiding to pay the toll of the main road directed towards the "Tre Cime di Lavaredo". If you are interested to this topic you may want to read our article about the Three Peaks, you can find it next:
If, by chance, your curiosity is attracted by a strange wooden construction, positioned near the Chalet Ristorante Lago Antorno, you have probably been tickled by the fascination of the Igloo bar. In winter this little place becomes a place of huge parties. It's been a while since our last visit, but we hope it's still like we remember.
Surely, if the wood of the igloo bar could tell stories, it would tell of friendships, drunkenness, wild dances and laughter.
Unfortunately last time we were there it was closed because of Covid, and we've not gone back to check if it's open again, but it probably is, at least in peak season.
The Legend of Misurina
The name Misurina seems to derive from the dialectal expression "meso ai rin", which literally means "in the middle of the streams". There is a legend linked to the birth of the lake, that is also in the song Il lago di Misurina by Claudio Baglioni, a really famous Italian singer.
The legend tells of a very spoiled child, named Misurina, daughter of King Sorapis. The king's name, not coincidentally, is the same of an important mountain group in the area. The king governed the lands between the "Tofane", the "Marmarole", the "Antelao" and the "Tre Cime di Lavaredo" and he adored his little girl, trying to satisfy her every whim.
One day the little girl knew that a fairy possessed a mirror able to read the thoughts of anyone who looked into it. The girl wanted this mirror at all costs and insisted, until her father, exhausted, took her to the fairy's house on Mount Cristallo.
... The king's name, not coincidentally, is the same as that of an important mountain group...
The fairy understood that the little girl was very spoiled, so she didn't want to please her, but after her father's strong insistence she decided to impose a very harsh condition to give away her mirror, so as to make them give up.
The fairy told King Sorapis that she would give him the mirror only if he turned into a mountain, to protect his beautiful garden from the beating sun, which made her flowers wither prematurely. The king, grudgingly, accepted and, just as he was handing the mirror to his daughter, began to transform, becoming a giant mountain. The little Misurina, who was sitting on her father's lap, realized she was on the edge of a precipice and, seized by vertigo, fell ruinously.
The father, now gigantic, wept the death of his daughter with giant tears that gathered in two streams, which gave birth to the lake Misurina.
We hope you liked this page about what to see in Lake Misurina. Before saying goodbye, we would suggest you read all the articles we wrote about Cortina d'Ampezzo by clicking here.
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