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. 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.
How to Get There
Tre Cime is easy to get to from the neighboring town of Cortina. It is about a 45 minute drive with easy to follow signs. 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 should 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. During our last visit the cost to park was €25 per car. 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.
Hiking Tre Cime
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.
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.
The Views of Tre Cime di Lavaredo
There is no doubt that hiking the Tre Cime 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.
Hiking Tre Cime di Lavaredo 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.
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