The loop trail around Tre Cime di Lavaredo (Drei Zinnen in German) is arguably the best day hike in the Italian Dolomites. It simply upstages all others because of its accessibility and sensational scenery.
Tre Cime di Lavaredo is the name given to three mammoth peaks in the Sesto/Sexten Dolomites. These three peaks are the reigning symbol of the region and the reason why so many people flock to this corner of Northern Italy in summer.
The Tre Cime di Lavaredo circuit trail starts at Rifugio Auronzo in Auronzo di Cadore, which is easily accessible by car, or bus via a toll road.
It takes about 4 hours to hike the whole loop, which is 9.7 km in length. For those that are interested in a more challenging approach to Tre Cime di Lavaredo, read our 3-day Tre Cime di Lavaredo trek.
Tre Cime di Lavaredo Circuit Day Hike
- Trailhead: Rifugio Auronzo
- Type of Hike: Circuit
- Distance: 9.7 km
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 430 meters ascending/descending
- Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
- Time Needed: 4 hours
- Trails: 105, 102, 101
- Route: Rifugio Auronzo – Forcella del Col del Medo – Langalm – Rifugio Locatelli/Drei Zinnen Hütte – Forcella Lavaredo/Paternsattel – Rifugio Lavaredo – Rifugio Auronzo
- Where to Eat: Langalm is great for coffee and cake, but save your appetite for Rifugio Locatelli. Skip eating at Rifugio Lavaredo.
- When to hike: You can do this hike when the toll road to Rifugio Auronzo is open. The road is generally open from late May/early June until late October/early November), depending on snow conditions.
- Where to Stay: Camina Suite and Spa in Cortina d’Ampezzo.
This post links to products and services we love, which we may make a small commission from, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our blog!! – Sabrina and Kati
Tre Cime di Lavaredo Circuit Hiking Map
When to Hike around Tre Cime di Lavaredo
We recommend hiking Tre Cime di Lavaredo anytime between late June and mid-October.
The road to Rifugio Auronzo, the trailhead, is usually open starting in late May, or early June. However, If you visit early in the season, you will likely encounter snow on the trail.
Another thing to consider is the opening times of the mountain huts (rifugios). Along the circuit trail, there are several huts that serve food and drink. But, these huts are only open between late June and late September.
We hiked the Tre Cime loop trail in August (while doing this hut-to-hut hike) and in September. The hike is gaining popularity each year. During our second visit in September, the trail was far more crowded than in August, two years prior. If you want to avoid the crowds, the best thing to do is get an early start. Or, come in October.
Check out our seasonal guides:
How to Get to Tre Cime di Lavaredo
Drive to Rifugio Auronzo via the Toll Road
The Tre Cime di Lavaredo circuit trail starts at Rifugio Auronzo.
Rifugio Auronzo is a high-alpine mountain refuge, situated directly at the south-side of the Three Peaks.
You can drive directly to the Auronzo hut via the Rifugio Auronzo – Tre Cime Toll Road. In high summer season, there are also bus connections from Dobbiaco/Toblach, Lake Misurina, and Cortina d’Ampezzo to Rifugio Auronzo.
Here are the approximate driving times from nearby towns:
- Cortina d’Ampezzo to Rifugio Auronzo: 40 minute drive
- Dobbiaco/Toblach to Rifugio Auronzo: 40 minute drive
- Lake Misurina to Rifugio Auronzo: 17 minute drive
No matter where you’re coming from, head to Lago di Misurina and follow the road to Lago d’Antorno.
Shortly after Lago d’Antorno, you’ll arrive at the gated toll station.
How much is the Tre Cime Toll Road
- Cars: 30 EUR
- Motorcycles: 20 EUR
- Campervans and Vehicles longer than 210 m: 45 EUR
- Bus (30 people or less): 60 EUR
- Bus (more than 30 people): 120 EUR
When is the Tre Cime toll road open?
The toll road to Rifugio Auronzo is usually open from the end of May/early June until the end of October/early November. It depends on the snow conditions.
If you’re not sure whether the toll road is open (e.g. after a snow storm), you can contact the Auronzo tourist office by emailing them: [email protected]
What time can you drive up to Rifugio Auronzo?
The staff responsible for collecting the toll fee is present at the toll station from 6 am until 8 pm.
If you pass the toll station before 6 am (when the toll operator isn’t present), you can pick up your ticket by pressing the clearly visible button and pay the toll upon your return.
In Fall, it’s possible that the toll road is only open during the day for safety reasons. Lower temperatures increase the possibility of ice along the road.
Park at Rifugio Auronzo
After paying the toll fee at the toll station, you’ll continue driving 3.4 km all the way to Rifugio Auronzo. Note: there is no additional parking fee for day visits.
But, if you’re planning to spend the night in one of the mountain huts in Tre Cime, you’ll have to pay another toll fee the next day.
Because parking is limited at Rifugio Auronzo, it’s best to get here early. If you arrive in the afternoon, you will likely have to wait in line at the toll station for up to one hour. As one car exists, another car is allowed to enter.
Which Direction to Hike around Tre Cime di Lavaredo
Starting at Rifugio Auronzo, you can either hike in the direction of Rifugio Lavaredo on Trail no. 101 (right), or towards Langealm on Trail no. 105 (left).
Most people will hike in the direction of Rifugio Lavaredo first (as indicated in the map above). So, if you go in the opposite direction, it’ll feel like you’re going against the current like a confused sardine. That’s how it felt for us in the afternoon, during our second visit. However, when we started the trail at 7 am (during our first visit), the trail was blissfully quiet, so no “sardine” feeling.
All that being said, I’m partial to hiking in the direction of Langealm first, because I love approaching Rifugio Lavaredo from the Forcella Lavaredo saddle. The views of the small mountain hut with the Cadini di Misurina backdrop is spectacular, especially during sunset.
Also Read: Best Day Hikes in the Dolomites
Tre Cime di Lavaredo Loop Trail Description
Rifugio Auronzo – Forcella del Col del Medo – Langalm
From the parking lot at Rifugio Auronzo (2326 m), head left and join trail 105. You’ll see a footpath leading from the end of the parking area. As you savor the views of Cadini di Misurina on your left, follow the level path for 1.2 km to Forcella del Col del Medo (2315 m).
At the Forcella del Col del Medo saddle, the trail gently descends to Langalm alpine hut (2240 m). This is a great place for coffee and cake. Order your food and drinks inside, and grab a seat outside facing Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
Langalm to Drei Zinnen Hütte/Rifugio Locatelli
From the alpine hut, continue hiking trail 105 past a small tarn. As you progress, the towering Drei Zinnen become more and more impressive. It takes about 1 hour to reach the red-roofed Drei Zinnen Hütte (Rifugio Locatelli), which enjoys the best vantage point of Tre Cime.
Though initially flat, the trail will ultimately ascend. You’ll hike up approximately 200 meters in order to reach Rifugio Locatelli.
Drei Zinnen Hütte (Rifugio Locatelli) is a great place for lunch or a drink. If you sit inside the hut, someone will take your order. If you sit outside, it’s self-service. After a relaxing break, make sure to check out the beautiful lakes Laghi dei Piani.
Drei Zinnen Hütte/Rifugio Locatelli – Forcella Lavaredo/Paternsattel – Rifugio Lavaredo
The loop trail continues beneath Paternkofel and stretches out linearly towards Forcella Lavaredo. As you progress towards Tre Cime di Lavaredo, the views continue to marvel.
It’s a gentle ascent to the Forcella Lavaredo saddle. When you arrive, you won’t believe your eyes. The jagged Cadini di Misurina mountains look like a fantasy novel come to life.
There are two trails that descend to Rifugio Lavaredo. You can take either.
Rifugio Lavaredo to Rifugio Auronzo
From Rifugio Lavaredo, the trail continues to wrap around the Three Peaks. With the Cadini di Misurina mountain group front and center, the final stretch of this Tre Cime di Lavaredo day hike is highly pleasurable. Walk slowly and enjoy it!
Cadini Di Misurina Viewpoint (Optional)
When you get back to Rifugio Auronzo, we recommend detouring 30 minutes to the famous Cadini di Misurina Viewpoint.
We explained how to get there in this Cadini di Misurina viewpoint guide.
Tre Cime Di Lavaredo Hotels
There are no hotels directly at Tre Cime di Lavaredo.
If you want to stay the night near the peaks, you can overnight in a mountain hut (Rifugio, Hütte).
The closest towns to Tre Cime di Lavaredo are Cortina d’Ampezzo in Ampezzo Valley and Dobbacio/Toblach in Alta Pusteria. You can also stay near Lake Misurina, but there are very few accommodation options.
Cortina d’Ampezzo Accommodations
Ringed by the Ampezzo Dolomites, Cortina d’Ampezzo boasts a central and stunning location in the Ampezzo Valley in Veneto. You can stay here for a few days or for several weeks and never run out of things to see and do. You can hike to the beautiful lakes of Lago Federa and Lago di Sorapis. You can explore the Tofane group along the Tofana di Rozes Circuit Trail and the Croda da Lago chain along the Croda da Lago Circuit Trail. You can venture to the Sexten Dolomites, to hike the challenging Sentiero Bonacossa Trail.
Budget | Jaegerhaus Agriturismo is a highly-recommended farm stay in Cortina d’Ampezzo. The farm is located 2 km north of the town center in a dreamy location, facing Punta della Croce and Croda del Pomagagnon. Expect a delicious breakfast buffet. You can also eat dinner in their restaurant, which features ingredients sourced directly from their farm. Rooms are clean, cozy and designed in an alpine-rustic style.
Midrange | Camina Suite & Spa is a modern and stylish accommodation, managed by a caring and kind staff. Highlights of staying here are the bright, spacious suites, lovely furnishings and design accents, balcony views, and air conditioning. The breakfast is outstanding. Don’t miss out on their spa facilities (may need to be booked in advance due to COVID regulations).
Luxury | Dolomiti Lodge Alverà is a splurge-worthy hotel in Cortina d’Ampezzo, featuring an on-site spa and pool, on-site restaurant, and plush suites. Guests rave about the hotel’s mountain views, breakfast, wellness facilities, and design.
Learn More: Where to Stay in the Dolomites in Summer
And while you’re there, connect with us on Pinterest!
If you thought this post was helpful, follow us on Instagram @moonhoneytravelers
Plan your trip to the Dolomites:
- Dolomites Travel Guide
- Best Things to Do in the Dolomites
- Best Places to Visit in the Dolomites
- 7-Day Dolomites Road Trip Itinerary
- Best Day Hikes in the Dolomites
Where to Stay in the Dolomites:
- Where to Stay in the Dolomites in Summer
- Best Hotels in the Dolomites
- Dolomites Accommodation Guide: Farms, Apartments, Huts
Villages and Towns in the Dolomites:
Top Places to Visit in the Dolomites: