Walking in Italy – Tre Cime di Lavaredo, A Spectacular Hike in the Dolomites

The Tre Cime – Three Peaks – di Lavaredo, are some of the most photographed mountains of the Dolomites, and the surrounding walking trails offer beautiful hikes.  However, since this spectacular area is served by a good road and offers some easy walks, it can get packed with hikers.  Here’s how to enjoy this walk without the crowds along a medium difficulty trail with great views. 

Tre Cime di Lavaredo Dolomites Trail

Start early in the day before the crowds arrive, and you’ll be done your hike before the frequent afternoon thunderstorms.  Avoid Sundays, when the Tre Cime di Lavaredo area is overrun, though the people watching is astonishing: loud families with wild kids, super-fit climbers, pudgy walkers gasping for air, young Italian couples in tight jeans and high heels, and hoards of nuns in hiking boots.  All rather amusing but hardly peaceful.

Once you have found a parking place in the vast parking area (and paid the 20 euro per car toll/entrance fee) you can stop for a coffee at the Rifugio Auronzo before setting off on this loop walk around the 3 Cime di Lavaredo.

Walk to the end of the lower parking areas, and take the #105 trail (this overlaps with part of the Alta Via #4, one of the3 Cime Dolomites alpine poppies Dolomites High Routes long distance trails).  Follow this trail all the way to the Rifugio Lavaredo, which will take about 2-1/2 hours.  If you start early in the day (by 9.30 am), you will see almost no one on this trail and can enjoy the scenery in blissful solitude. Note the wildflowers, especially the yellow alpine poppies that favor this rugged rocky terrain. There is some steep up and down along the trail, but if done slowly, it is not difficult.  Along the way, you will pass some tiny lakes surrounded by wild rhododendron, and a malga, an alpine dairy farm, which may be serving cool glasses of fresh milk. 

The Rifugio Lavaredo is at an intersection of several trails, so it is often chaotic with wild-haired climbers and sweaty hikers.  Welcome back to civilization. At least you can enjoy a pit stop and refuel with Dolomitic portions of chocolate cake and apple strudel.  

You now follow the main wide trail #101 with breathtaking views and a bit of a climb up to the small pass that offers the best views of the 3 Cime as well as alpine climbers on the north face.  (Above you there is a narrow trail from a WW I battlefield, where there is a via ferrata, a trail equipped with fixed cables, but you keep to the main walking trail).  You’ll get to the Rifugio Lavaredo in about 90 minutes, which is a good place for lunch.  A hearty plate of polenta with goulash spiced with juniper berries is a traditonal food in this part of Italy and will taste oh-so-good.   

3 Cime Dolomites trail to Rifugio Locatelli

After the Rifugio Lavaredo you will no doubt find lots of walkers, but it hardly matters at this point because you have Rifugio Lavaredo Trail 3 Cime Dolomiteshad such a great walk.  It takes another 20-30 minutes to reach the parking area of the Rifugio Auronzo where you started.  You will have seen an impressive number of Dolomite peaks along the way- the Cristallo, Sorapiss, Croda Rossa – as well as the beautiful blue lake of Misurina.  Now you know why this is one of the most spectacular walks in the Dolomites, if not all of  Italy!

My previous posts about the Dolomites include Gourmet Dining in Rifugi and a Via Ferrata Hike with Christopher Buckley on video.

We are based in Cortina when we do this walk on our Wildlflowers in the Dolomites walking tour, where we stay in the historic Hotel Ancora in downtown Cortina, or if you want to be utterly pampered in a luxurious spa hotel, the Hotel Cristallo Palace a few kilometers up the hill with a shuttle service into town. E-mail us as we often have specially discounted hotel rates at the Cristallo for individual travelers.

11 thoughts on “Walking in Italy – Tre Cime di Lavaredo, A Spectacular Hike in the Dolomites

  1. Nice, informative description. I was googling for Tre Cime, and this is exactly what I was looking for! Thanks for that 🙂

  2. Hi there! my wife and I plan to hike/walk the Tre Cime (the base/foot of Tre Cime i.e) the week before Christmas. We’re just wondering if it’s even possible at this time of the year? Also, if you have tips for us that would be most welcomed and appreciated. Thanks! 🙂

  3. Dear Anita,
    We are planning to walk in the dolomites in the middle of august. We will arrive Hotel Tre Cime in the afternoon and we are planning to go to Rifugio Sennes the first day, but now I also want to take the walk you discribed around Drei Zinnen. Do you know when we can start the walk at the latest ? Will it take about 3 hours?
    best regards Kristin

  4. Hi there guys,
    Awesome info, I was hoping to be able to see the best of the Dolomites in a short time frame, as in 2 or so days (Not ideal, but this day in age, a short time is better than no time).
    I think the Tre Cime can be done as a day hike? Is this correct?
    Also, the best city to stay in for a day trip to do this hike would be where? Cortina?
    One more question. I will be coming up to the Dolomites from Venice. What would be the best way of getting there from Venice?
    Thanks and I hope to hear from you soon.

    1. Pete- Yes, the Tre Cime can be done as a day hike – I have usually been based in Cortina becuase there are so many hikes near by, and there is bus service to the Tre Cime. There is infrequent bus service to Cortina from Venice.

  5. You can catch a train from Venice to a town called Calalzo de Cadore and then connect to a bus to cortina.

    The train takes 2 hrs if you get a direct one…there are a couple of direct services most days, or other trains take about 3 hrs with a connecting change or two. The bus to cortina from Calalzo then takes one hour and runs every hour. I know this because I have come this way today to Cortina.

  6. We previously did this walk in July of 2008 & would like to return in April 2014. Is it accessible or still snow covered at this time of year?

  7. Dear Anita,

    Thank you for your easy-to-imagine description. My girlfriend and I will visit next week. We will be bringing a smaller dog, so my question is if which trails are more suited for dogs? Also, if there are other issues we should think of concerning the dog.

    Thank you again 🙂


  8. We will be in Cortina April 28 and 29. Will the toll road be in operation then? f not, is there another way to access the trail?

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