Tre Cime di Lavaredo loop: the best short hike in the Dolomites
Here's everything you need to know before your hiking the Tre Cime di Lavaredo loop, the best short hike in the Dolomites. Includes when to visit, where to stay, fees, and things to see on the hike.
There they stood; the Three Peaks of Lavaredo (Tre Cime di Lavaredo / Drei Zinnen) in all their raw and rugged glory.
Despite the bone-chilling wind and ever present afternoon clouds circling the peaks, they’re every bit as beautiful as we’d imagined.
Our first visit to the iconic Tre Cime di Lavaredo had been a long time coming.
It’d been years since we stumbled across a photo of the imposing Dolomiti peaks while scrolling Instagram; I distinctly remember turning to Mim and saying “we have to visit here”, such was the impact of this single, square photo beaming from my phone screen.
And there we finally were, wide grins across our faces, staring in awe at the wildly beautiful scene in front of us. Rising from the scraggly rock below, the jagged monoliths of the famed three peaks loom high above.
The surrounding peaks of the UNESCO World Heritage listed Dolomites, equally as impressive, tease and flirt with their visual grandeur, while the turquoise mountain lakes, verdant alpine plains and endless valleys provide a backdrop to one of the most beautiful natural sights we’ve ever seen.
It’s a breathtaking sight, and one we’ve now been fortunate enough to witness a number of times in the years since that first visit.
The Tre Cime di Lavaredo hike, all 10kms of it, is the best way to sample the epic, iconic landscape in a short, manageable hike.
Our detailed guide to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo hike provides you with everything you need to know to enjoy this natural marvel, and how to avoid the mass of tourists during the peak summer months.
Tre Cime di Lavaredo loop | the Dolomites’ best short hike
TRE CIME DI LAVAREDO HIKE DETAILS
Hike distance | 10 - 11 km loop
Time | 3-4 hours
Elevation Gain | 300 - 400m from Refugio Auronzo to the Paternsattel viewpoint
Difficulty | Easy/Moderate
When to visit | June, September, October
What to pack | Hiking boots, water, rain jacket, camera, a massive smile
Tre Cime di Lavaredo Hike - A step-by-step guide
The 10 - 11km Tre Cime di Lavaredo loop is an easy/moderate hike which should take around 3-4 hours to complete.
That being said, we recommend taking your time and exploring some of the various attractions and things to do on the hike (see our tips below!), as well as stopping for lunch and a well earned beer at one of the picturesque Rifugios on the way.
| OVERVIEW |
#1 Rifugio Aurenzo to Forcella Lavaredo Viewpoint // 40mins - 2.2km
#2 Forcella Lavaredo to Rifugio Locatelli // 40mins - 2.2kms
#3 Rifugio Locatelli - Malga Langalm // 1.5 hour - 3.6kms
#4 Malga Langalm - Rifugio Aurenzo (carpark) // 45mins - 2.6kms
The route is extremely well signposted, and is clearly shown on Google Maps and Maps.me. If you do encounter any issues, ask a fellow hiker for directions.
Rifugio Aurenzo to Forcella Lavaredo Viewpoint // 40mins - 2.2km
Starting at Rifugio Aurenzo, follow the wide gravel path (101) that flows gently east towards Cappella degli Alpini, a quaint alpine church, before extending on to the first of many picturesque mountain refuges, Rifugio Lavaredo.
To the left, the three peaks tower above, while on the right, the jagged Dolomiti peaks in the distance.
Although it’s tempting to stop for a beer, we recommend continuing straight on towards Forcella Lavaredo, one of the best viewpoints on the entire Tre Cime di Lavaredo loop. From Rifugio Lavaredo, turn left and follow the 101 path upwards towards the viewpoint.
Looming imposingly above are the jagged peaks of Lavaredo. We recommend stopping here for a moment or two and taking in the views over the valley and towards Rifugio Locatelli (also known as Drei Zinnen Hutte).
Forcella Lavaredo to Rifugio Locatelli // 40mins - 2.2kms
From Forcella Lavaredo, the hike meanders towards the most iconic rifugio in the Dolomites, Rifugio Locatelli / Drei Zinnen Hutte.
There are a number of paths you can take from Forcella Lavaredo towards Rifugio Locatelli. You can either choose to follow the wider and more comfortable lower path (continuation of the 101 path), which drops down into the valley under the three peaks, or you can join the upper path, which is cut into the rockfalls of Croda Passaporto and Monte Paterno, and provides an altogether more thrilling experience.
Your hiking skills/experience will determine which path you take, but if you’re steady on your feet and up for a little challenge, we recommend the upper path for a more thrilling experience and epic views. Note that there were certain parts of the path that had fallen away, which meant some scrambling was required at times.
Once you’ve arrived at Rifugio Locatelli, stop for a break on the sun terrace to enjoy a beer and some food, while overlooking the impressive Tre Cime peaks. Although the rifugio isn’t known for its fine dining, it does serve traditional mountain food such as soups and dumplings.
If you’ve got time, we recommend exploring the area around Rifugio Locatelli.
There are a number of WW1 bunkers and tunnels which are exciting to explore and offer some interesting perspectives on the three peaks. The easy hike down to Laghi dei Piani, the two picturesque lakes just below the Rifugio, is also worth the detour.
Also, if you want to spend more time in the area, or you’re keen to catch a glimpse of Drei Zinnen/Tre Cime in all its splendour at sunrise, you can also stay at Rifugio Locatelli overnight during the season then simply continue on with this hiking trail the following day.
For more information, check their website here.
Rifugio Locatelli - Malga Langalm // 1.5 hour - 3.6kms
From Rifugio Locatelli, follow the path (102) down into the valley in front of you, stopping occasionally to take in the three peaks, which stand imposingly above.
This is where the hardest section of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo hike occurs. The path follows a seriously steep incline back up the ravine, continuing for what seems like an eternity. Fortunately, the incline eventually does end at the junction of many pathways.
Join path 105 towards Malga Langalm rifugio, criss-crossing the flowing creek of Sorgenti del Rienza before arriving at Malga Langalm.
If you’ve not eaten at this point, we recommend stopping here - it’s the most relaxed and comfortable rifugio on the hike, and the perfect place to enjoy some summer sun and a beer or two.
Malga Langalm - Rifugio Aurenzo (carpark) // 45mins - 2.6kms
The final part of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo hike is fairly easy, following path 105 on a slight incline around the three peaks towards Forcella del Col de Mèdo viewpoint. From here you can see down into the Puster Valley, and also towards Misurina Lake (in the Belluno province).
From the viewpoint, it’s a 10 minute walk to the carpark and the end of the hike.
Things to see on the Tre Cime di Lavaredo hike
Beyond the incredible natural beauty, there are a few attractions we recommend you visit during your Tre Cime di Lavaredo hike.
| WW1 Bunkers // Gallerie di Monte Paterno |
During World War 1, the front line between Austria and Italy ran through the Tre Cime peaks and surrounding area. This was one of Europe’s most fiercely-fought and bloody battlegrounds, in pretty treacherous conditions.
As a result, there are a number of fortifications, trenches, tunnels and other remains from this period.
It’s possible to explore a lot of the tunnels and trenches, which are based the base of Monte Paterno and can be accessed near Rifugio Locatelli. You can explore parts of the tunnels yourself, or as part of a guided Via Ferrata. The most famous of all the trenches in this region sits above Rifugio Locatelli and has an incredible view overlooking the three peaks.
As history buffs, being able to walk through the tunnels was both fascinating and eye-opening.
You can also read more about the Italian frontline experience in Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms (Hemingway was actually injured during a mortar explosion in the Dolomites too).
| Laghi dei Piani |
Located just below Rifugio Locatelli, Laghi dei Piani are a set of alpine lakes that, during sunrise or sunset, provide the most beautiful reflections of the surrounding mountain ranges.
These are only a short hike from the Rifugio, and definitely worth a detour off the main Tre Cime di Lavaredo hiking loop.
| Cappella degli Alpini |
The old chapel at the foot of Tre Cime, in between Rifugio Auronzo and Rifugio Lavaredo, might just be the most picturesque church in the world.
With sweeping views across the Dolomites, it’s also a photographers heaven, providing the perfect focal point to an epic landscape scene.
| Forcella Lavaredo Viewpoint |
Forcella Lavaredo is one of the best viewpoints on the entire Tre Cime di Lavaredo loop.
The jagged peaks of Tre Cime loom imposingly above, while to the right is the dramatic Monte Paterno mountain. It’s the perfect place to stop and take it all in.
Tre Cime di Lavaredo map
The paths for the Tre Cime di Lavaredo hike are well marked and clear, however we do recommending downloading our map below just in case.
To save our map, click the star the right of the map title while will download the map to: your places - maps in your Google account.
When is the best time to hike Tre Cime di Lavaredo (Drei Zinnen)?
Tre Cime di Lavaredo / Drei Zinnen is an icon of the Dolomites, and therefore gets extremely busy during July and August both with Italian and German holidaymakers as well as foreign tourists. We’d avoid visiting during the period (if you can).
We’ve visited Tre Cime di Lavaredo twice, both times at the end of the peak summer months, during September and October. This is, in our opinion, the best time to hike Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
Firstly, the crowds are far smaller than in late July and August, when the holidaymakers arrive in their droves. Although you won’t have the trails entirely to yourself, you will be able to enjoy the hike at your own pace and enjoy the environment.
We also recommend arriving to Rifigio Auronzo early to commence the hike before the tour buses and hiking groups arrive, and to avoid the bright midday sun (a photographer’s nightmare!).
Secondly, the sunrise and sunset times are far closer to the entry/exit times for the tollgate. That means better opportunity for better light (unless you stay overnight in a Refugio, or hike in from Sexten/Sesto).
If you are travelling to the region during the busy summer months, try to avoid the crowds by arriving to Tre Cime as early as possible, and commencing the hike before 8am.
TIP | Hike Tre Cime di Lavaredo during the June, or September/October, and arrive early (8am) to avoid crowds
How to get to Tre Cime di Lavaredo/Drei Zinnen
Tre Cime di Lavaredo is located in the Dolomites, northern Italy, and borders the provinces of South Tyrol and Verona.
Below is an overview of how to get to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo/Drei Zinnen hike starting point, at Rifugio Auronzo:
| CAR // How to get to Tre Cime di Lavaredo/Drei Zinnen |
We highly recommend hiring a car for the duration of your stay in the Dolomites - it makes reaching all the wonderful natural attractions very easy, and gives you far more freedom than public transport.
To get to Tre Cime di Lavaredo/Drei Zinnen via car, you’ll need to follow the SS49 road that heads through South Tyrol towards the town of Misurina. From here, take the toll road towards Rifugio Auronzo.
About halfway, you’ll reach the toll both where you’ll be required to pay the toll/entrance fee of € 30 (opening hours | 7am - 7pm - further information below).
Although the car park is large, in the peak of summer it can fill up very quickly, so arrive early, or take a shuttle bus from your hotel or any of the surrounding towns.
TIP | If you’d like to avoid the €30 toll-road fee, you can hike to Rifugio Auronzo from the carpark at Lago d’Antorno. The hike will take around 1.5 hours, and is quite strenuous, with an election rise of 500m.
BOOK | Check prices and dates for car rental here
| BUS // How to get to Tre Cime di Lavaredo/Drei Zinnen |
To avoid the costly toll fee, catch the shuttle bus from Cortina, Dobbiaco, or Misurina to Rifugio Auronzo to commence the Tre Cime di Lavaredo hike.
FROM DOBBIACO/SAN CANDIDO
The shuttle bus 444 leaves from Dobbiaco/Toblach to Rifugio Auronzo up to three times an hour during summer, and costs € 15 (round trip). If you hold a Südtirol pass, the shuttle is included.
FROM CORTINA D’AMPEZZO TO RIFUGIO AURONZO
Catch the 445 bus towards Dobbiaco/Toblach. Switch to the 444 bus in Lago di Landro Dobbiaco for the rest of the trip. This bus ride also costs € 15 (round trip). If you hold a Südtirol pass, the shuttle is included.
The buses commence service in June, when the hiking season starts, and run daily throughout the summer until October. For more information on bus timetables, click here.
TIP | A lot of hotels in the region provide shuttle bus services which may be included in your room fee. Enquire with the reception when checking in to see if this option is available.
| AIR // How to get to Tre Cime di Lavaredo/Drei Zinnen |
Although it’s not possible to fly directly to the Dolomites, three airports exist within a three hour drive to the main attractions.
The closest airports include:
Innsbruck, Austria | 2 hours
Verona, Italy | 2.5 hours
Venice, Italy | 2.5 hours
BOOK | Check dates and prices for flights here
TIP | There are several daily Shuttle buses to South Tyrol from the airports of Innsbruck, Salzburg, Munich, Treviso, Venice, Verona, Bergamo and Milan Malpensa. Learn more here.
| TRAIN // How to get to Tre Cime di Lavaredo/Drei Zinnen |
If you’re travelling via train from Germany, Switzerland or Austria in the north, or Italy in the south, get off at Fortezza station and transfer to the local South Tyrol railway to San Candido or Dobbiaco.
From here it’s possible to catch a local bus to Tri Cime/Drei Zinnen (see above).
For more information on local public transport, click here.
TIP | If arriving by train, you can organise the South Tyrol shuttle to pick you up and drop you at your accommodation.
This initiative, which encourages people to leave their car at home and travel by more environmentally friendly means, allows travellers to book transfers to accommodation online at www.suedtiroltransfer.com/en.
Getting to Rifugio Auronzo and the start of Tre Cime di Lavaredo hike
The start of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo hike is Rifugio Auronzo, which is located behind a toll-road that closes during the evening hours.
Opening hours | 0700 - 1900
Cost | Car: € 30, Motorbike: € 20, Large cars and campers: € 45
The closest towns to Tre Cime di Lavaredo are:
Cortina d’Ampezzo | 23 km, 40 mins
Dobbiaco/Toblach | 23.6kms, 35 mins
Sesto/Sexten | 38.3kms, 53 mins
Bolzano/Bozen | 152km, 2.5 hours
For more information on parking fees and opening hours, click here.
Where to stay near Tre Cime di Lavaredo
Depending on what type of accommodation you’re after, or what type of experience you’d like at Tre Cime, there are plenty of accommodation options around in the surrounding valleys and towns, as well as a few rifugio options within the national park.
Be warned though - even the cheapest accommodation in the area is likely to cost between €60 - €150 per night.
If you’re an avid photographer, or hiking the Tre Cime loop as part of a multi-day hike, we recommend staying in one of the rifugios within the national park, as they provide you with the opportunity to explore the Tre Cime area during sunset and sunrise.
If you’re visiting as part of a day trip, we recommending staying in the picturesque Puster Valley, which is a short 30 - 40 minute drive away and also close to major attractions such as Lago di Braeis and Lago di Dobbiaco.
The attractive towns of Dobbiaco/Toblach, San Candido/Innichen, and Sesto/Sexten are our recommendations, as they have great transport connections to Tre Cime (see above).
Alternatively, beautiful Cortina d’Ampezzo is also close by, and has a huge array of accommodation options, with excellent transport links.
Below are the best options, including our personal recommendations:
| RIFUGIOS | Inside the Parco Naturale Tre Cime |
RIFUGIO ANTONIO LOCATELLI - OUR RECOMMENDATION
We spent a night in this famous rifugio on our first visit to Tre Cime di Lavaredo and while it’s quite run-down, it’s the perfect place to explore, and photograph during sunrise/sunset, and overnight (astrophotography).
Half board in a dormitory (includes bed, three course dinner, breakfast) is €60 per night, while a bed only is €26 per night.
BOOK | Book Rifugio Locatelli here
We’ve not personally stayed at Rifugio Auronzo, but it’s position at the start of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo loop is perfect for those wanting an sunrise hike around the monoliths, or photography missions in the surrounding area.
Half-board in a dorm costs €50 per night, while a bed only is €22 per night.
BOOK | Book Rifugio Auronzo here
| SESTO/SEXTEN | 38.3kms, 53 mins away |
BERG HOTEL - OUR RECOMMENDATION
On our second visit to Tre Cime, we stayed at beautiful incredible Berg Hotel in Sesto, in the foothills of the Dolomites. The large rooms, incredible food and wellness options made it the perfect place to call home for a few days road tripping through the region.
| CORTINA D’AMPEZZO | 23 km, 40 mins away |
HOTEL MEUBLE OASI
For a cheaper option closer to Tre Cime, Hotel Meuble Oasi in Cortina d’Ampezzo is a great alternative. Breakfast is included in your room cost, and the location in the centre of town is great for using public transport.
Alternative Tre Cime di Lavaredo viewpoint
If you’re short on time, or aren't willing to pay for the toll road to Rifugio Auronzo, there’s an alternative to witness the majestic peaks of Tre Cime (Drei Zinnen).
Landro, just north of Lago di Dobbiaco, is home to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo viewpoint, which has sweeping panoramic views over the valley towards the north cafes of the three peaks.
The viewpoint has an architecturally designed platform which focuses the eyes directly onto the Three Peaks, and provides an overview of the first summit of Tre Cime by Paul Grohmann in 1869.
RESPONSIBLE TREKKING IN the Dolomites
The Dolomites are a UNESCO World Heritage site, known for their dramatic peaks and pristine natural environment, but in recent years have become even more popular through Instagram and other social media apps.
This has lead to some pretty bad behaviour in and around the area, as well as the dreaded impacts of overtourism. Therefore, even when enjoying a short hike such as Tre Cime di Lavaredo, it’s important to remember a few key rules:
The Dolomites aren’t your Instagram playground | The Dolomites are an incredible natural phenomenon perfect for photography and Instagram, but that doesn’t mean you have free reign to break rules, ruin natural environments and use it as your playground (read our responsible travel tips here).
Tre Cime di Lavaredo is fortunately quite open for you to explore and get those instagram bangers, but remember to keep to the paths, respect fences and signage, and be considerate of others around you.
Although we’ve not been able to find adequate information about flying drones in the Dolomites, respect the usual rules of flying and be super careful.
Bring a reusable water bottle | There is no need for a modern traveller to buy bottled water, ever. Purchase a water filtration + purification bottle (like our faves from The Grayl) and you will literally never need to purchase bottled water again.
BUY | We use the Grayl GEOPRESS every day, every trip we take!
Trek at the tail ends of the season | Tre Cime di Lavaredo can get extremely busy in the height of summer, so we suggest trekking either side of the peak periods to avoid contributing to over tourism and environmental degradation.
It’s also a good idea to arrive early in the day to avoid crowds, which in our opinion makes the experience far better.
Respect the local environment and culture | This part of Italy, which borders South Tyrol and Verona communes, has a unique and rich culture, steeped in religious and historical significance.
Around Tre Cime di Lavaredo (the Three Peaks), historical WW1 battles were fought, and the remains can be seen everywhere. Respect these sights, and do not under any circumstance, remove anything from the national park.
Don’t litter | Whatever you do, don’t litter in this pristine natural environment. Where you can, avoid plastic altogether on your trek, and if you can’t, carry it out of the national park with you.
Pick up any trash you see | Although there’s not much rubbish on the Tre Cime di Lavaredo hike, the odd piece can be found. If you come across rubbish on your trek, collect it in a tote bag and take it off the trails with you to dispose of properly later.
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