The Tre Cime di Lavaredo hike in the Italian Dolomites is one of the area’s most iconic hikes. This is everything you need to know about doing this famous loop.
The Tre Cime di Lavaredo hike in the Italian Dolomites is one of the most iconic hikes in the region. This is a great intermediate hike with beautiful views and is a wonderful way to see some of the Dolomites’ greatest mountains. Here’s everything you need to know about the Tre Cime Di Lavaredo Hike.
Length: 9.7 kilometres
Elevation Gain: 476 meters
Time: Roughly 4 hours
Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate – the trail isn’t too tough and is a great day hike, though there are a few steep sections. You could definitely bring kids or your family if they’re up for walking!
Spelling Variations: Tre Cime (Italian), Drei Zinnen (German)
How to Get There
BY CAR: Your starting point is Refugio Auronzo. This is an easy drive from Cortina and it takes about 30 minutes. The roads are full of turns, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary for the Dolomites. To enter the parking area, you have to pay a 30 euro fee for the car. There’s quite a bit of parking, but it fills up quickly!
BY PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: The 30/31 bus goes from Cortina to Tre Cime in the summertime, from mid-June through mid-September. The bus from Cortina also goes past the trailhead for the Lago di Sorapis hike, so you could do the two hikes in one (long) day if you’re short on time.
If you’re planning on visiting in the off-season, it is very difficult to get here by public transport, so I would highly recommend renting a car.
How to do the Tre Cime di Lavaredo Hike
From Rifugio Auronzo’s parking, there’s a wide path that is a gentle downhill. Take it! The views from the start of the hike (the parking lot, too!) are amazing. Although this hike can be done in less than four hours, I’d allocate more time to it in order to stop and take photos, and to possibly explore other trails – there are loads around this area.
Follow the wide path around the Tre Cime. You’ll be on a flat path for a while, then, past the little chapel, there’s a gentle uphill section to a beautiful viewpoint, right next to the base of the Tre Cime.
From there, you’ll descend (there are a few steep bits!) and then ascend gently. You’ll be able to see Rifugio Locatelli, which is your next stop. The trail will split and there will be a short steep section on your right that leads up to the rifugio. Alternatively, you could skip the rifugio, but I wouldn’t as the view from the rifugio was one of my favourites.
Once you’ve admired the view (and maybe taken a short rest), you go back down to the main path you were on before. You can either take the steep way that you came up, or go to down a more gradual path. I liked going down the gradual path as there was a really sweet little chapel that we passed by.
Once you get back down to the main path, the route will dip down for a while. Expect a few steep sections and watch your footing! You’ll get to the valley floor and then start heading up again. It starts off pretty gradually and then gets pretty steep.
At the top, make sure to look back, as there’s a great view!
There will be a mix of uphill and flat sections from then on, but honestly, I was pretty tired at this point and I remember a LOT of uphill. The views of the valley to your right are spectacular, and the views to the left of the Tre Cime are wonderful as well.
After what feels like a pretty long uphill push, you’ll reach a gate and a lookout. You’re almost finished at that point.
Keep going around the Tre Cime, and you’ll come to a field of rock cairns. From there, you’re nearly at the parking lot, where you started.
The Best Time to do the Tre Cime di Lavaredo Hike
Some hikes are incredible during the peak season. I’m thinking of the lake hikes, where the water fills the lakes and reflects the mountain scenery above. The Tre Cime di Lavaredo hike is not one of those hikes. During peak season, there are soooo many tourists wandering around the base of the Tre Cime.
I highly recommend doing this hike in October or November, when most tourists have left. The downside to coming during these months is that A) you’ll have to rent a car for easy access to the Tre Cime, and B) the weather is often rainier. If you’re able to scout out a weekend with great weather, October or November are certainly the better time to go.
There are some hikes that are better than others for sunrise. Due to this hike’s easy accessibility and wide paths, I would say this is a great option for sunrise, as it isn’t going to be treacherous in low lighting.
Where to Stay
Cortina: This is the best base for the Tre Cime di Lavaredo hike and some other surrounding hikes. The town is charming and is known for being quite a posh town during ski season. This is the best option in the off-season, as the rifugios I mention below are closed.
Rifugio Auronzo: This rifugio sits right at the base of the Tre Cime. I would stay here if you’re planning on doing plenty of hikes around the area and if you want a beautiful sunrise/sunset.
Rifugio Lavaredo: This is another rifugio option that’s just slightly lower than Rifugio Auronzo, and slightly further along the trail. The two rifugios are comparable, so there isn’t a huge advantage to picking one over the other.
What to Bring
I would definitely bring some water with you, as well as some sunscreen, as there isn’t any shade and the sun can be quite intense. It would also be nice to bring some food to eat at the rifugio during the offseason, as the rifugio is closed. If you’re doing this hike during the peak season, bring some cash and have either a coffee, tea, or lunch at the rifugio.
Sunglasses and a hat might be a good idea if you’re doing the hike in good weather. The landscape is quite barren, so the heat can really be felt.
And that’s everything you need to know about the Tre Cime di Lavaredo hike! Like this post? Pin it!