Traditionally, the first places that come to mind when you hear about a vacation to Italy is Rome, Florence and Venice. These days most visitors plan their trips around Italy’s famous cities. But what if I told you that Northern Italy has some of the best hiking in Europe?
Enter the Dolomites, an expansive mountain range boasting dramatic scenery, located in the Northern Italian Alps. There are many trails and hikes all over this region offering outdoor lovers a plethora of options to get out in nature and breathe in the fresh air.
Of these trails is Tre Cime di Lavaredo, the most popular day hike and an easily accessible loop in the Dolomites. This trail loop is perfect for all level hikers due to the easy paths and moderate elevations.
TRE CIME DI LAVAREDO 2019 HIKING GUIDE- ITALY
Tre Cime di Lavaredo Details
DISTANCE: 6.4 miles (10.3 km) loop
LENGTH OF TIME: 3-4 hours
ELEVATION GAIN: 1,300 feet (400 meters)
FEES TO ENTER: €30 to drive along SP49 & parking
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The stunning views can be seen from every section of the trail. And with multiple Rifugios available along the way, hikers have a chance to soak in the views while they enjoy a meal or a cold drink.
Tre Cime, literally translating to three chimneys, is appropriately named for the three massive peaks that seemingly extend upwards from the lush green landscape and jagged cliffs below. These gigantous limestone towers are one of Italys most iconic images of the Dolomites and can be easily spotted from anywhere on the hike.
Hiking Tre Cime di Lavaredo
Once you’ve reached Rifugio Auronzo you will begin your hike from there. The park has clearly marked paths and trail signs that you can follow, although somehow we managed to find ourselves off the beaten path! The breathtaking loop is a total distance of 10.3 km (6.4 miles) with multiple Rifugio stops along the way. It is an easy and mostly flat hike and will take you about 3-4 hours to complete depending on your stops along the way!
And for the adrenaline junky, a Via Ferrata is available at this trekking spot just off of the main trail. The Via Ferrata, or iron routes, is a specific path that has steep drop offs.
These paths are also marked with iron cables, steps and ladders. Hikers will connect their harness to these things during the duration of the trail. You are absolutely required to be clipped in and connected at all times to these iron cables for obvious safety reasons.
The Via Ferratas are a safe and adventurous way for hikers to reach peaks that they normally wouldn’t be able to access but just walking the trails.
There are a few different paths that you can take around the jagged mountains. All of them meeting up at different Rifugio’s. Here you can take a break, use the restroom or grab a snack. Most of them have a small faucet out back to refill your water bottle.
However, the water is merely a drip and the lines are long. Therefore, I suggest just having some extra change to purchase water from inside and refill your bottle.
Ultimately you can go off the main trails if you choose but you could end up like us and partake in more of a rock scramble for about an hour just trying to navigate your way back to the marked trails. I suggest you not do this as it was a decent struggle to find our way back.
You also do not need to complete the entire loop as you always have the option to turn around!
The Views of Tre Cime di Lavaredo
There is no doubt that hiking the Tre Cime di Lavaredo trail loop offers up some of the most desirable and envious views of the Italian Dolomites. It is the main reason locals and tourists alike venture to this part of the region. Everywhere you walk you are met with sweeping, panoramic views of the massive rock formations that continue on for miles.
Not only are the mountains majestic but so is the landscape that surrounds it. The rolling hills with blossoming alpine flowers and valleys filled with bundled fir trees sprawl out beneath the rising mountians. Keep your eyes and ears open and you may encounter some cows or mini horses along the way.
It is recommended to make the hike counter-clockwise as it offers the best views of the three peaks during the entirety of your hike!
How to Get to Tre Cime Di Lavaredo
Tre Cime di Lavaredo is easy to get to from the neighboring town of Cortina. It is about a 45 minute drive with easy to follow signs and you can type Rifugio Auronzo into your GPS. You will be close to your right-hand turn when you’ve reached the picturesque Lago di Misurina.
Continue up the road just past the lake and make the next right hand turn off the main road. There will be signs pointing you in the direction of Tre Cime.
Continue straight for quite a ways (you will pass a parking lot but do not park here) until you reach the payment booth. The entrance fee of €30 per car will cover the cost of driving along the toll road SP49 and the parking at Rifugio Auronzo. The gate to the toll road is open everyday from 8AM to 5PM but you can leave at any time so don’t worry about getting stuck!
If you want to avoid the €30 fee you can park at the bottom and walk up. However, the road up is incredibly steep and could take you well over 1.5 hours to climb up.
By Public Transit
If you don’t have your own car but you still want to hike the Tre Cime di Lavaredo loop there are two towns in which you can do this from.
You can take bus #30 from Cortina d’Ampezzo and then transfer to bus #31 to read the end destination. This journey should take around 90 minutes and you can ask your hotel for more details.
You can also take the train or bus to Dobbiaco (Toblach) and then catch the Three Peaks Shuttle for €8 at the bus station. Keep in mind though that this shuttle is only available from mid-June to mid-October.
Where to Park at Tre Cime di Lavaredo
Currently the cost to park is €30 per car. Once you pay the SP49 toll road fee you will continue on, creeping up the mountains steep, hairpin turns. Eventually you will see the large parking lot and Rifugio Auronzo at the top of the hill. This is where you will park your car and begin your hike.
Best Time to Hike at Tre Cime in the Italian Dolomites
The best time to visit Tre Cime is between June and mid-September. The weather will start to get pretty cool around the end of September and then soon after you may see some snow. Keep this in mind as the trail may be closed due to inclement weather in the off season. Also, note that it gets very busy during the month of August when Italy has their major holiday.
Where to Stay Near Tre Cime di Lavaredo
Most visitors will base themselves in Cortina d’Ampezzo as it is only a 40 minute drive to Tre Cime. There are also many other hikes and spots to visit in the surrounding area so this will be a good base. I was living in Italy at the time and was based out of Sacile, which was another great place to stay and explore the surrounding areas.
What to Pack for Hiking Tre Cime di Lavaredo
Since you will be hiking in the mountains it is always best to pack layers! In the mornings and evenings the temperature will undoubtedly be cooler than mid-day. Leggings, hiking pants or quick dry material offers the most comfortable option for bottoms. Additionally, pack or wear a short sleeve shirt, long sleeve shirt and an outer fleece or jacket. It is always a good idea to also pack a rainproof/windproof jacket just in case the weather changes quickly.
The best footwear for hiking Tre Cime would be either trail runners or proper hiking boots. While the trail is predominantly flat and not that difficult, it is still best to wear shoes that provide a certain level of grip. My go-to hiking shoe is the Salomon Speedcross 4 trail running shoe.
You definitely don’t need a fancy hiking backpack. I always use my Fjallraven Kånken or my Topo Designs backpack as it provides some level of rain protection and is roomy enough to bring everything I need. For the ultimate rain protection I have some small rainproof backpack covers.
You will be hiking in one of the most beautiful places in the Italian Dolomites so you’ll definitely want to bring your camera gear. Make sure to pack your camera, a wide angle lens and your tripod!
Food & Drinks
Even though there are a few rifugio stops along the hiking trail it is always best to bring some stacks with you . During each of our hikes we would pack a few peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, a bag of nuts, some fruit and KIND Bars.
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Hiking Tre Cime di Lavaredo in the Dolomites of Italy is the perfect addition to your Italian getaway. Away from the crowded cities and out in nature, you can really see another part of all that Italy has to offer.
Hopefully this helped you to plan your perfect day of hiking at Tre Cime di Lavaredo!
Have you been or are you still longing to hike this picturesque mountain?
WHAT CAMERA GEAR DO I USE?
- Main Camera: Sony A7III
- Wide angle lens: Sony G Master 16-35mm f/2.8
- Zoom lens: Sony 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3
- Secondary Camera: Canon 6D Mark II
- Canon wide angle lens: Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L
- Underwater camera: Leica X-U
- Camera with gimbal: DJI Osmo Pocket & Underwater Housing
- Drone: DJI Mavic Pro
- Camera Bag: Polar Pro Drone Trekker
- External Hard Drive: LaCie 1 TB rugged mini external hard drive