Hiking Tre Cime di Lavaredo loop is an excellent day in the Dolomites with stunning views of jagged limestone peaks, top quality rifugios and awesome photo opportunities. Here’s everything you need to know.

By: Paul | Last Updated: 21 Nov 2023 | Jump to Comments & Questions

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In the southeast corner of the Alps, the Italian Dolomites beckon hikers with jagged peaks, vertiginous slopes, and high alpine meadows.

In terms of iconic Dolomites scenery, Tre Cime di Lavaredo is up there with the beautiful emerald gem of Lago di Braies. Beyond the inviting paths and massive sandstone monoliths which give Tre Cime its name, hundreds of rocky peaks, framed by lush green valleys, dot the horizon.

The scenery is mesmerising.

The best way to explore this remarkable landscape is to hike the 10.3 kilometre Tre Cime di Lavaredo loop. It’s an easy-to-follow trail across high rocky ledges, verdant alpine meadows, and panoramic mountain vistas.

It’s one of our favourite hikes in the Dolomites.

Here’s what you need to know.

The three towers of Tre Cime di Lavaredo in the Italian Dolomites

IN THIS GUIDE

TRE CIME DI LAVAREDO HIKE SUMMARY


SUMMARY

A circular hike around 3 iconic peaks in the Italian Dolomites.

DISTANCE

10.3-kilometre round trip

TIME

3 hours, 20 minutes

ELEVATION

400 metres (+/-)

DIFFICULTY

Easy to Medium

WHAT IS THE TRE CIME DI LAVAREDO HIKE?

The Tre Cime di Lavaredo hike is a trail in the Italian Dolomites that circles three iconic peaks: Cima Piccola, Cima Grande, and Cima Ovest, collectively known as Tre Cime di Lavaredo or Three Peaks of Lavaredo.

It’s one of the most popular hikes in the Dolomites and typically takes around 3.5 hours to complete. Throughout the hike, you are rewarded with panoramic views of dramatic cliffs, rugged valleys, and serene alpine lakes.

tre cime di lavaredo hike 5

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

From the beginning of the trail, a series of jagged peaks loom over the horizon, resembling a crumbling forest of rocky skyscrapers. The play of light on the immense sandstone monoliths of Tre Cime di Lavaredo fills the scene with an enchanting glow.

The trail gently dropped below the summits of Croda Passaporto and Monte Paterno to Rifugio Locatelli (Dreizinnenhütte) strategically positioned in front of the three towers.

After passing Rifugio Locatelli, the trail descends briefly, then ascends again, guiding you along a narrow rocky ledge. On one side, a steep drop reveals sweeping panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, while on the other side, the path clings closely to the base of the three towers.

The trail eventually rises to Forcella Col di Mezzo Ridge where a verdant meadow transforms the hike into an idyllic alpine scene.

TRAIL CONDITIONS AT TRE CIME

From Rifugio Auronzo car park, the trail can be completed in either direction, but we recommend walking anti-clockwise keeping Tre Cime di Lavaredo on your left. The views are better.

The path around Tre Cime is straightforward – although rocky in places – and easy to follow. A number of different trails traverse the area, so pay attention to the signs to make sure you stay on the correct path. Our detailed route description is below.

The Tre Cime towers should always be on your left-hand side, so it will quickly become clear if you go wrong.

The 10.3-kilometre loop has 400 metres of ascent/descent with a nice mix of uphill and downhill sections. There are no particularly tricky places and no special equipment is needed.

The most challenging section is the drop from Rifugio Locatelli down the valley and back up the other side. But it is not too difficult and anyone with a reasonable level of fitness should have no problem.

If you need a rest there a many great rifugios in which to recharge.

TRE CIME DI LAVAREDO TRAIL ROUTE

The trail begins at the car park at Rifugio Auronzo. 

Follow the wide gravel track (path 101) that starts from the car park and heads east past the rifugio. Keep the three towers on the left. The path gently descends to a wayside chapel and then to Rifugio Lavaredo.

A number of paths meet here but turn left and remain on path 101 to ascend to the Forcella Lavaredo ridge for a great view. Keep following the wide track (101) as it drops down the other side, passing under the peaks of Croda Passaporto and Monte Paterno. Then continue on the short climb up to Rifugio Locatelli (Dreizinnenhütte).

Leaving Rifugio Locatelli – via the church tucked behind it – take path 102 which makes a small clockwise loop before zigzagging down the rocky valley. This is the steepest and hardest part of the walk but it’s not too difficult.

Upon reaching a junction of trails, take path 105 heading southwest rising up the other side of the valley, past Malga Langalm and up to Forcella col di Mezzo ridge. Follow path 105 as it bends around Tre Cime and drops gently back to the car park.

The paths are well-signposted and clearly shown on Google Maps.

TRE CIME DI LAVAREDO | HIKE DISTANCES


RIFUGIO AURONZO TO RIFUGIOO LAVAREDO

30 minutes | 1.7km

RIFUGIOO LAVAREDO TO FORCELLA LAVAREDO

15 minutes | 0.6km

FORCELLA LAVAREDO TO RIFUGIO LOCATELLI

45 minutes | 2.2km

RIFUGIO LOCATELLI TO MALGA LANGALM

1 hour | 3.2km

MALGA LANGALM TO RIFUGIOO AURONZO

1 hour | 3.2km

tre cime hut sign
backdrop tre cime

TRE CIME DI LAVAREDO MAP

Although the paths are well marked and clear, it’s a long walk and the cloud can come in quickly so take a map. A handy book to take with you is Shorter Walks in the Dolomites which has good maps and details of Tre Cime and other great walks in the area.

To save this map, click on the star the right of the title – this will download it to your saved maps in Google maps so you can have the route with you on the walk.

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.  


WHEN TO HIKE TRE CIME DI LAVAREDO

The best time to hike the Tre Cime loop is late July or early September. Any snow will have gone, the crowds will be a bit lower and the cable cars and rifugios in the region will still be running.

Generally, the hiking season in the Dolomites roughly runs from late May to early October depending on the weather conditions and the height of the walks you want to undertake. The best weather is in the summer months, but August is also the busiest time and this is a popular walk.

Many cable cars and rifugios in the Dolomites only open from mid-June to end of September, with only a few remaining open until early October.

The views at Tre Cime are great at all times of the day, but make sure you leave early enough so you don’t have to rush and in peak season it will help you beat the crowds.

TRAIL HEAD – GETTING TO RIFUGIO AURONZO

The Tre Cime di Lavaredo hike begins from Rifugio Auronzo (2320 metres) which is 23 kilometres from Cortina d’Ampezzo (40 minutes’ drive) and 23 kilometres from Dobbiaco (35 minute’s drive).

RIFUGIO AURONZO PARKING

Access to the car park at Rifugio Auronzo is via the 7-kilometre (very scenic) paved toll road that leaves the SP49 near Misurina, northeast of Cortina.

The toll gate is just past Lago d’Antorno.

TRE CIME | PARKING


HOURS

8 am to 6 pm (exit at any time)

COST

€30 per day (cars) / €45 (campervans) / €20 (motorbikes)

SPACE

700 spaces

WHEN

End of May until the end of October, however, opening times change each year so check here before your trip.

rifugio auronzo tre cime

RIFUGIO AURONZO BY BUS

Cortina to Rifugio Auronzo — To get to the car park at Rifugio Auronzo from Cortina you have a choice of taking the 445 and changing onto the 444 or the 030 and changing onto the 031. Both routes take about 90 minutes, cost €15 and run regularly from June to mid-October.

Dobbiaco to Rifugio Auronzo — Alternatively, if you are coming from Dobbiaco, there is a shuttle bus (444) which runs regularly from June to mid-October. It takes 45 minutes and costs €16 for the return trip.

Tickets — If you are visiting between 10 July and 10 September, bus trips must be booked in advance. All other times, tickets can be purchased on the bus.

Check the latest bus timetables to plan your trip.

Hiking Tre Cime di Lavaredo

WHERE TO STAY TO HIKE TRE CIME DI LAVAREDO

The best place to stay to do the Tre Cime di Lavaredo hike is Cortina, which is 23 kilometres from Rifugio Auronzo. It’s a charming town with a good range of facilities and public transport connections.

The other option is to stay in Dobbiaco which has a little less going on than Cortina, but it does have a more direct shuttle bus to the trailhead at Rifugio Auronzo.

CORTINA

AL LARIN HOTEL

Simple but clean, this budget hotel is just one mile north of the town centre. It’s an easy walk-in or a quick ride on the bus that stops outside.


CORTINA

CRISTALLO RESORT AND SPA

Just a 5-minute walk to the centre. this was the first luxury hotel in town. It has an indoor pool, sumptuous spa and all the trimmings you would expect


DOBBIACO

HOTEL ROSEGARTEN

Family-run property in the centre of Dobbiaco, Hotel Rosegarten has a traditional restaurant, excellent views and breakfast for champions


dolomites road trip itinerary 39

GETTING TO THE DOLOMITES

The Dolomites is a large mountain range in northeastern Italy. As a popular location for both skiing and summer hiking, there are plenty of good options for getting to the Dolomites. 

By Air — The Dolomites is serviced by several international airports. Venice and Innsbruck are closest to Cortina.

By Train — Unless you are already in Italy, getting to the Dolomites via train is unlikely to be a good option. However, if you are arriving from within Italy, the train station at Calalzo di Cadore is 35 kilometres to the south of Cortina.

Read our complete guide to visiting the Italian Dolomites for further information about getting to and around the area.

Rifugio Auronzo Parking, Tre Cime Dolomites

WHAT TO TAKE ON THE TRE CIME LOOP

01 – The Tre Cime di Lavaredo loop is a medium-length walk and the path is sometimes rocky, so decent hiking boots are best. We use something like these. Hiking poles can also help to bypass some of the strain from your legs to your arms.

02 – The hike is well-marked and straightforward, but if you’re anything like us, a physical map is nice to have. The one you need for Tre Cime is the Cortina Tobacco Map.

03 – There are plenty of refreshments on the route in the well-placed rifugios which all sell food and drink, but we recommend lunch at Rifugio Locatelli.

04 – Weather conditions on the walk can change dramatically. Always take a waterproof and some warm clothes. Every 1,000m you rise the temperature drops about 5 degrees and if the clouds come over and the wind picks up it can get cold quickly. Similarly, clouds can clear quickly. Even if it looks overcast before you set off, the sun could be shining in no time. So pack a hat and/or sunscreen.

05 – If you want to up your photography game, we highly recommend investing in good-quality ND Filters, they’ll really make your images pop. To use the filters, you’ll need a decent tripod, the Ultralight SIrui is the best we’ve come across.

tre cime hut sign

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complete guide to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo loop, the most beautiful day hike in the Italian Dolomites.

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