Visiting This Mesmerizing Rainbow Lake In Italy Feels Like Stepping Into A Magical Fairytale

Imagine yourself in the Italian Alps, wandering among the trees of the Karerwald Forest, emerging to find a beautiful lake that appears to be full of rainbows. The clear water shimmers in the sunlight, reflecting the Rosengarten peaks and almost glowing with emerald greens, ice blues, deep sapphires, and golden yellows. There seems to be magic in this place, and according to legend, there was. This fairy tale spot is called Lago di Carezza in Italian, Karersee in German, and Lec de Ergobando in Ladin (all of which are spoken here), meaning Lake of Rainbows. 

Nestled in the Dolomites of South Tyrol in Northern Italy, Lago di Carezza (which is the name we're sticking with here) is a lovely mountain lake with incredible hues, a short hike suitable for most, including children and strollers, a hidden statue, and opportunities for some of the prettiest pictures ever to grace your social media. Here's everything you need to know about Lago di Carezza and the fairy tale behind its colors. 

Wizards, mermaids, and witches in the Italian Alps

If you squint, the lake looks a little like a heart-shaped pendant from above, and that suits it perfectly. It does seem like a place where you might find a prince or princess disguised as a songbird or something. The actual local legend about Lago di Carezza is much more dramatic, however. According to the myth, there was once a lovely mermaid named Ondina that lived in the lake. A wizard named Masaré fell in love with her beauty and pretty singing voice. 

Ondina wasn't interested in this wizard, so Masaré consulted a witch named Langwerda. She said that Masaré should disguise himself as a jewelry seller and create a rainbow of gems to lure her out. However, he forgot to dress up, so Ondina knew him immediately and disappeared. Masaré grew angry and threw the gem rainbow into the lake, giving it the colors it has today. 

While you are not allowed to swim (and there are signs that say this in several languages), when the water level drops, there is a small statue of Ondina that appears as if she just emerged from the colorful lake waters. Lago di Carezza is deeper than it looks, fed by underwater springs, and can sometimes be more than 50 feet deep, with the water level lowest in October. It gets its color from the plant life and the minerals in the water, with exterior colors reflected in the clear water.

What to know before you go to Lago di Carezza

The lake is open to visitors all day, every day, but keep in mind that this is an alpine lake about a mile above sea level and it can get chilly. Spring and summer are the best times to visit, but there will be a lot more tourists. Visiting in the early morning or late evening is a great idea to avoid the crowds. It's the Italian Alps, so you can expect snow in the winter, which only adds to the magical atmosphere but requires proper gear for safety and comfort. Please observe all posted signs. Again, you cannot swim here, and drones are prohibited. What you can do is bring your dogs (leashed), which is a lovely change from many tourist areas.

You can take a bus to get to Lago di Carezza, or hike through Carezza village, over the Hängebrüke suspension bridge, and then through a tunnel for a total of 2.5 miles. You can also park, though there is a fee. There is a visitor center on site with a restaurant, a snack counter, a shop, and public bathrooms. Do keep in mind that in Italy, you sometimes have to pay to use them, so keep change on you.