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They are one of the most iconic rock formations in the Dolomites and truly an outstanding sight: The Tre Cime di Lavaredo, also known as Drei Zinnen. Even though it’s one of the most popular hiking trails in North Italy you can still enjoy this place in peace and take amazing photos with incredible sights if you follow these simple steps and tips about how to hike the Tre Cime di Lavaredo in South Tyrol!

How to hike the Tre Cime di Lavaredo in the Dolomites

When is the best month and time to go?

For the most enjoyable experience, it’s best to hike the Tre Cime di Lavaredo during the summer months. We have been mid June and still spotted a few spots with snow but luckily the trail has been completely free of ice . However, if you visit in late May or early June, be prepared for some snowy patches that might make the hike more challenging. After the summer months keep in mind that starting from late September, the mountain huts tend to close. Therefore, the optimal time to explore the Tre Cime di Lavaredo is from June until September.

One of the unique aspects of this destination is that you don’t necessarily have to arrive super early to enjoy it in peace. Opting for an afternoon hike allows you to avoid the crowds that tend to gather in the morning and midday. With fewer people around, you’ll have more space to take in the mesmerizing views of the three peaks bathed in sunlight. In the morning, the lighting creates a backlight effect from most perspective which isn’t ideal for photos. Moreover, if you’re an avid drone flyer, the reduced foot traffic during the afternoon hike increases the opportunity to capture stunning aerial footage of the area.

How to get to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo?

The majestic Tre Cime di Lavaredo are located in the heart of the Drei Zinnen Nature Park in South Tyrol. If you’re traveling by car and wish to reach the closest parking lot, simply search for the mountain hut Rifugio Auronzo on Google Maps. This will guide you directly to the desired destination. Alternatively, there is a public shuttle bus available that takes you to the starting point via the Strada Panoramica delle Tre Cime di Lavaredo. However, having your own car provides you with greater flexibility and convenience during your journey.

What are the toll fees?

To access the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, there is a toll road that leads to the parking lot. The prices for the toll are as follows:

  • 30,00€ per car
  • 20,00€ per motorbike
  • 45,00€ per camper van. 

The toll station operates 24/7 and features electronic gates for nighttime entry. It’s important to be aware that the ticket price covers the full day of purchase until midnight, EXCEPT when entering the gate after 7 pm. In this case, the ticket will be valid for the following day as well.

For those seeking to start their hike to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo or the Cadini di Misurnia viewpoint during sunrise, the flexible entry policy after 7 pm offers an excellent opportunity. If you choose to camp overnight, you can do so for free on the designated van parking area. But please note that camping does not provide access to power or water facilities. Additionally consider staying at the mountain hut Rifugio Auronzo. The rooms at Rifugio Auronzo are very simple but clean and offer affordable accommodation options for a comfortable overnight stay.

How much time should you plan for the Tre Cime di Lavaredo hike?

For those planning to complete the full loop around the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, allocate approximately 5 to 6 hours for the hike. Some online articles suggesting a duration of 3.5 hours which is only achievable if you don’t stop for longer periods for photos or rest. The full circuit hike covers a distance of 10 km (6 miles) without including any additional detours such as the caves. (see below)

Packing essentials for the Tre Cime di Lavaredo hike:

  • Cash for the toll fees and payment at the mountain huts.
  • Refillable water bottles (pack at least one liter per person). You’ll find a spring along the hike and water sources at the mountain huts to replenish your supply.
  • Pack some snacks, even though there are four mountain huts along the way. The mountain huts’ kitchens close relatively early in the later afternoon or even might unexpectedly be closed – like it happened to us.
  • Wear layers as the mountain weather can change quickly. Although the sun may feel warm, the wind can cool temperatures rapidly. That’s why I would highly suggest to bring a light jacket even if the weather forecast predicts warm temperatures.
  • Apply sunblock, especially on your face, as the UV radiation is strong at an altitude of over 2,300 m. Additionally, bring a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun’s rays.
  • Proper hiking boots are definitely needed for this trail. You’ll often walk on gravel while the path is relatively steep – I saw other people struggling with regular sneakers while hiking boots give you a good grip.

Hiking the full loop around the Tre Cime di Lavaredo

Begin your hike at the Rifugio Auronzo, situated at 2,340 m (7,677 ft) above sea level, at the main parking lot. Follow the initial relaxing and manageable path until you reach the next mountain hut, Rifugio Lavaredo. From here, the trail becomes steeper as you walk around the rock formation, finally revealing the famous view of the Three Peaks. The next stop is the renowned Mountain Hut Rifugio A. Locatelli (Dreizinnenhütte), which is usually a great stop for food and a cold drink. Unfortunately it was closed for renovations during our visit in summer 2023.

Tip: A must-see attraction are the nearby caves, which are actually former World War I bunkers, which offer fantastic photo opportunities with a heavenly view. Take a short detour up the mountain Sasso di Sesto (Sextenstein) to reach these caves and capture the Tre Cime di Lavaredo with a stunning framing. From this spot you will also have a nice view over the mountain lakes Laghi dei Piani. It is just a short (but relatively steep) extra hike – and definitely worth it for the view!

Continue your hike by following the trail towards Malga Langalm as indicated by the signs. During the next hour, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, although this section of the hike can be more strenuous. After descending into a depression and ascending shortly after, you’ll finally come across a spring with fresh drinkable water. It is perfect for refilling your bottles or resting at the small mountain hut Malga Langalm. Along the trail, near Malga Langalm, you’ll also find a tiny lake which is a beautiful spot for capturing the beauty of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo one last time before walking around the three peaks and returning to the parking lot.

An additional view point:

If you still have the time and energy, you should definitely consider the short hike to the viewpoint overlooking the Cadini di Misurnia. These rugged and impressive mountain tops create a spectacular sight. It takes around 20 to 30 minutes from the parking lot back at Rifugio Auronzo to reach this viewpoint. The trail is easy to find and can’t be missed! The best lighting conditions for the peaks can be observed during sunrise or sunset, although the view remains spectacular throughout the whole day.

*we didn’t do this hike unfortunately due to lack of time – but on these photos you can see the same mountain peaks of Cadini di Misurnia.

With following these tips, you’ll be well-prepared to hike the magnificent Tre Cime di Lavaredo and capture the natural wonders of this awe-inspiring destination. Enjoy your journey surrounded by the beauty of South Tyrol!

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