Lake Sorapis or Lago di Sorapis is one of northern Italy’s best-kept secrets. It is a true hidden gem tucked away in the Dolomite Mountains, only two hours from Venice. The glacial lake is only accessible by foot and boasts enchanting, vibrant blue waters that offer a truly one-of-a-kind experience. It is an absolute must-see for outdoor enthusiasts, photographers, and hikers.
How to Get to the Lake Sorapis Trailhead From Venice
The hike to Lake Sorapis is one of the best day trips from Venice as it gets you out of the city and into nature. Unfortunately, there isn’t any public transportation to the trailhead from Venice, leaving a journey by car your only option. If you are planning on renting a car in Venice, we recommend using RentalCars.com. You can pick up rentals from Venice Marco Polo Airport, Venice Santa Lucia Train Station, or Venice Mestre Train Station.
It is roughly a two-hour drive to the trailhead from Venice. Most of the journey is on highway A27, heading north. Exit at Strada Statale 51 di Alemagna/SS51 and take the road through scenic mountain passages and villages directly to Lake Sorapis Hike Trailhead. There is plenty of roadside parking and a parking lot at the trailhead, but it can fill up pretty quickly, which is why we recommend you try to get there as early as possible.
Tip: Speed limits in Italy are a little higher than in other countries. On major highways, the limit is 130 kilometers per hour (81 miles per hour) unless otherwise posted.
The trailhead will not be marked by signs for Lago di Sorapis. Instead, look for signage that says Parco Naturale delle Dolomiti d’Ampezzo. There will be a large open space on the side of the road with a metal gate and a wooden sign with a map. The route to Lake Sorapis is marked as Trail 215.
What You Will Find at the Top
The lake on its own is reward enough for hikers. Its turquoise blue waters are surrounded by towering dramatic mountains, the cherry on top of an already mesmerizing landscape. A circular trail leads around the lake, so you can roam the area and find a quiet spot to relax, take pictures, and enjoy the view. The reason the water has such captivating colored water is that limestone rock dust flows into the lake, creating an opal hue. Unfortunately, swimming is no longer permitted in the lake.
A few minutes’ walk from the lake, there is a mountain refuge located in a gorgeous stone building. It is very close to where Trail 215 ends, so it is hard to miss. Rifugio Vandelli has a restaurant and patio area on the cliff’s edge where hikers can relax with a beer while looking out over breathtaking mountain scenery. A cold beer, grand mountain views, and a magical lake? Yes, the top is that rewarding! The refuge also offers room and board for those who wish to spend more time at the lake.
How to Hike to Lake Sorapis From the Trailhead
Trail 215 to Lake Sorapis is an out-and-back trail, meaning once you reach the top, you will follow the same route back down. It is roughly a 10 kilometer, four-to-five hour round trip hike on a well-marked path. Since the trail is almost entirely uphill and can get steep in parts, it is recommended you bring some trekking poles and good hiking shoes. There aren’t any tours or guided trips up the mountain, but the trail is easy to follow and the folks at the refuge can answer any questions you have. Also, remember to check weather forecasts before leaving and pack lots of water to stay hydrated!
Once you’ve parked and found the trailhead with its map, you will head on the path through an open field toward the forest. The first part of the hike is relatively easy. It goes through a lovely wooded area with a slight gradual climb. About 30 minutes in, you’ll start to notice that the trail gets a little steeper but is still very manageable. Don’t forget to stop and take in the scenery, because the views from the path are absolutely stunning.
The second half of the hike starts to get challenging as sections of the path narrow and come very close to the cliff edge. Most of these narrow parts have cable along the cliff rock to hold on to, but some do not; be mindful of your steps. There is also a section of metal stairs, but they have a railing for added safety. When you reach the top, you won’t be able to see the lake yet. There will be a path on the left that leads to Rifugio Vandelli, and if you continue straight past that path for about five minutes, the lake will emerge in front of your eyes. It’s a spectacular feeling seeing it in person for the first time, especially after such a climb.
The hike up to Lake Sorapis takes roughly 2–2.5 hours, including stops for pictures and water breaks. Once you are at the top, be mindful of the time. Definitely take advantage of the lake and restaurant, but remember you still have another two-hour hike downhill back to the car.
The Best Time to Visit Lake Sorapis
Lake Sorapis has become more and more popular over the last three years, thanks to social media. That being said, it still makes an excellent day trip from Venice. Just be aware that weekends and holidays may be busy.
The best time to visit Lake Sorapis is in the summer or fall. In the spring, snow and ice can still be found on parts of the trail, making it harder to trek safely. Some snow can even still be found in the early summer months but usually not enough to impede the hike. It is best to visit on a weekday when it is less crowded and also start as early as possible so that you can find parking and have plenty of time to check out the lake and refuge. Remember it takes about two hours to get to the trailhead from Venice, so if you leave at 8:00 a.m., you won’t start hiking until roughly 10:15 a.m.
Things to See and Do in the Area
If you find yourself with extra time after the hike, there are a few attractions to visit in the area. Cortina d’Ampezzo is a ski village located in the beautiful Ampezzo Valley, just a short drive from the trailhead on the way back to Venice. It played host to the Winter Olympics in 1956 and will host them again in partnership with Milan in 2026. Visitors can shop in local boutiques, visit the Olympic stadiums and sights, or enjoy a hearty meal after a day of hiking at one of the village’s many restaurants. If you are interested in learning more about the area’s history and traditions, then visit the Ethnographic Museum Regole D’Ampezzo.
Other Guided Hikes and Tours in the Area
If you are unable to rent a car to visit the lake but still want to visit the Dolomites region, check out this full-day guided tour from Venice of Cortina and the Dolomites Mountains from GetYourGuide. It is an eight-hour tour that includes transfer to and from Venice in an air-conditioned van, but it does not take you to the Lake Sorapis trailhead.
Highlights of the tour include Cortina, Misurina Lake, and Auronzo Lake. There is also an optional cable car ride 7,000 feet high up to Faloria, which overlooks the town of Cortina.
If you are looking for things to do and see while staying in Venice, check out our ultimate two-day itinerary.