The hike at the Tre Cime di Lavadero is probably the most popular and well-known hike in the Dolomites. If you are in South Tyrol or in the Dolomites, you can’t avoid the hike to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo. But is the hike to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo worth it at all and is it really as touristy and crowded as you hear everywhere? And when is the pass road to the Tre Cime open? This and more we will tell you now in our travel report.
Hotel recommendation at Tre Cime di Lavadero
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Tre Cime in the Dolomites
The Tre Cime di Lavaredo are 3 very prominent mountain peaks in the Italian Dolomites right on the border with South Tyrol. You should definitely not miss to visit the Dolomites as they are one of the most famous landmarks in Italy. The Tre Cime are probably the most famous and most visited mountain peaks in the Alps and so it is not surprising that the Tre Cime are also the symbol of the Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Tre Cime consist of – as you can guess – three adjacent mountain peaks. The highest one with its 2999 meters only just scrapes the 3000 mark. The circumnavigation of the Tre Cime di Lavadero is one of the most popular hikes in the Dolomites and is tackled by thousands of tourists every year. This is a perfect hike for beginners as it is not only amazing but easy to walk.
The reasons for this are obvious: one reason is that you can comfortably (at least during the summer months) reach the Tre Cime on a toll road. Then the hike is good and relatively easy to walk even for inexperienced hikers due to low gradients and wide paths. And thirdly, the scenery is of course extremely beautiful here.
Arrival & parking at Tre Cime di Lavadero
The actual hike around the Tre Cime di Lavadero starts at 2333 meters above sea level at the Auronzo Hut. That means you have to get to this hut first. You have 3 possibilities: You can take the bus, hike up or drive by car.
#1 By bus to the Tre Cimes
Starting point Lake Misurina
You can take the DolomitiBus line 31 from Lake Misurina (bus stop Misurina Genzianella) directly to the Auronzo Hut. The trip takes 20 minutes and in high season (mid June to early September) the bus runs about 20 times a day. In the low season (early September to October) it runs 11 times a day. The price is 4 euros per person per way.
Starting point Cortina d’Ampezzo
You can take the DolomitiBus line 30/31 from Cortina d’Ampezzo to the Auronzo Hut. In high season the bus runs 4 times a day. The trip takes just under an hour and costs 9.50€ per person and route. In Misurina you have to change the bus to line 31.
Starting point Dobbiaco
With the bus line 444 you can get from Dobbiaco in the Puster Valley to the Auronzo Hut. There are 14 connections a day in the high season (mid-July to mid-September). The first bus leaves Dobbiaco at 07:45 and the last one leaves the Auronzo Hut at 17:45 (see schedule). The route takes about 50 minutes and costs 16 euros per person for the round trip. In high season (July 10 to September 10) the ticket must be booked online. However, in low season (before July 10 or after September 10), tickets can only be purchased directly on the bus and not online.
#2 Hiking from Lake Atorno to Tre Cimes
You can park your car for free at Lake Atorno and then you have to walk along the road for a few kilometers to the toll station. Just before the toll station, hiking trail #101 turns off to the right and takes you all the way up to the Auronzo Hut. The hike will take about 1.5 hours each way.
#3 Drive up to the Tre Cime by car | toll road to the Auronzo Hut
The easiest if most expensive way to get to the Auronzo Hut is to take the toll road, which is subject to a fee. Currently (as of July 2022), the toll road costs 30 euros for a car, 45 euros for a camper van/campervan and 20 euros for a motorcycle. The toll ticket is always valid until midnight. This means that if you want to spend the night in your camper, you will have to pay an additional 15 euros. But parking at the Auronzo hut is free.
The toll can be paid in cash or by card. In the high season the tollgate is accessible 24h a day, in the low season only from 7 or 8 o’clock. Between 6 o’clock in the morning and 20 o’clock in the evening the counters are also manned with employees, in the remaining time you have to pay the ticket at the machine.
The parking lots at the top only have a capacity of 700 spaces, which is also displayed at the bottom of the toll road. In the high season in July/August it can happen that the capacity is already reached at 9 o’clock in the morning. Then you have to wait at the toll station until someone leaves the mountain. For the 5 kilometers to the top you need about 10 minutes by car.
Opening hours of the toll road to the Auronzo hut
This is probably one of the most exciting questions we asked ourselves when organizing the Tre Cime hike: When is this toll road actually open? It is incredibly difficult to answer this question, because even if the toll road is operated professionally, there is no website on which you can read the correct opening hours.
So it can happen that you drive to the toll road in good spirits and then stand in front of a barrier, on which there is not even a concrete or correct date on which the road opens. This can be quite frustrating. In our research, we only found one working way to find out if the toll road to the Auronzo Hut is open.
You have to email the Auronzo Tourism Museum Office: email@example.com. This worked well for us and we got an answer within a day. Roughly speaking, the opening hours of the Tre Cime Toll Road are sometime from the beginning of June to the end of October. This changes every year depending on snow conditions and temperatures.
The best parking place at the Tre Cime
There are various parking lots (at least 4) at the top of the Auronzo Hut. Some are for cars only, others are for buses or campers only. We went straight up to the top parking lot, thinking that would be super smart. But it’s not, because the hike starts and ends at the Auronzo hut. So you should choose the parking lot closest to the hut, so you don’t have to walk more meters in altitude than necessary.
The Tre Cime Hike
Start of the hike at the Auronzo hut
The hike starts at the Auronzo hut or at the parking lot and leads you counterclockwise past the Tre Cime. Of course, you could also walk the other way clockwise, but then you would be constantly met by other hikers after half of the route at the latest. This first part is completely flat and very easy to walk. The famous Tre Cime di Lavadero are always on your left, even if the panorama here is not quite as spectacular. Much more impressive is the view to the right to the Cadini group, whose mountain peaks glisten casually in the morning sun.
The Laveredo hut
After a few kilometers you reach the first hut and thus also the first opportunity to stop. Since we have taken food & drinks with us, we only take advantage of the shade of the Lavaredo hut here to rest a bit, because the first climb is waiting for us. There are exactly 2 ways here to get to the Paternsattel: One a little steeper and shorter directly along the rock and the other longer, less steep and presumably easier to walk. We decide for this way and in about 20 minutes we have arrived at the highest point of the hike.
Break at the Paternsattel
Like us, most of the others probably do it. The area at the Paternsattel is full of other hikers who are taking a break here and enjoying the spectacular panorama. Feeling hundreds of people are on this small plateau and we look for a free place for our rest. To take a photo without other tourists is actually impossible here, but with a little bit of subsequent “magic” you can manage that too.
Tre Cimes hut or basin
After the break we continue to follow the path and after a few minutes we have to decide whether to continue on the normal path to the Auronzo hut or to descend to the left of the official path into the valley basin.
The path to the Tre Cime hut
If we follow, like most others, the normal path we will inevitably come to the famous Tre Cime hut and would also follow a slightly better developed path. In addition, this route has the possibility to reach tunnels from the 1st World War, from which there are great photo opportunities of the Tre Cime di Lavadero. But we decide for the more adventurous way down into the valley basin.
The path through the basin
Only a few meters below the Paternsattel, a rather unpaved path leads down into the valley basin. We have to cross some snowfields until we are finally on the right path. The path through the basin is less well developed and we often have to climb over scree and large stones and can often only guess the way. Nevertheless, we are closer to the peaks here and the path is much less frequented than the official path to the Refugio. Several times we make smaller breaks and enjoy the incredibly beautiful panorama.
Last break at the Langalm hut
After the almost lonely path through the valley basin, we join “civilization” again shortly before the Langalm hut. The area around the hut is packed and a long queue has formed in front of the bar. Briefly we consider whether we also queue up, in order to permit us a cool beverage. Because of the waiting time we decide against it and go to the brook which flows here directly along the hut.
This stream is, by the way, the source of the river Rienz, which rises here at the Tre Cime and flows 81 kilometers further into the river Eisack. Directly at the stream there is also a small water tap from which fresh spring water can be bottled in seemingly endless slowness. The water flows so slowly out of the tap that Sabrina has to stand in line for almost 20 minutes until everyone in front of her has filled their bottles.
Back to the parking lot
From the Langalm hut we go uphill for quite a while and to the liking of our dog Aaro we pass again a big pond with ice-cold glacier water. Aaro seems to smell the water from a distance and jumps courageously into it. After this cooling down we go further up the hill and slowly lose sight of the Tre Cime panorama view.
We hike along a partially steep scree slope and already long for the goal of the hike, because the feet are making themselves so slowly noticeable and the sun was also little merciful on this shadeless hiking trail. After about 15 minutes we arrive at the parking lot – unfortunately we still have to “climb” up to the highest of the three parking lots – and fall wearily into the car seats.
Tips for the Tre Cime hike in the Dolomites
Here we have summarized some important tips for you.
Tre Cime di Lavaredo hike with dog
We did the Tre Cime hike with our dog Aaro and it was absolutely no problem. He was not the only dog on the hike. What you have to pay attention to is of course the heat (there is hardly any shade on the trail) and the water supply. There are some natural water sources on the trail (in which dogs can even swim), but you should not rely on them, because depending on the season and temperature, the water levels can vary. So take enough drinking water with you for your four-legged friend.
Are there refreshments & toilets on the Tre Cime di Lavadero hike?
The only toilets are at the huts during the hike, there you can also buy food & drink. But be careful, the huts close at the end of September at the latest. After that there is neither food nor toilets on the whole hike!
The best time for the Tre Cime hike
In general, the Tre Cime di Lavadero are of course worth a visit at any time of the year. But especially in the high season it can get extremely crowded here, so the low season (June & September/October) is most suitable here. At these times, however, there are fewer or no buses to the Auronzo Hut, so you should keep this in mind if you want to do the hike in the off-season.
In our opinion, the best time is also early morning or mid-morning. We were at the Auronzo hut around 8am and were back at the parking lot (including the trip to the Cadini di Misurina viewpoint) only 8 hours later. So you can easily spend the whole day here. Therefore, it does not bring much here only to the afternoon to arrive.
Cadini di Misurina viewpoint – Most beautiful photo spot on the Tre Cime
One of the most beautiful viewpoints and photo spots at the Tre Cime and in our opinion also in the Dolomites is the Cadini di Misurina Viewpoint. You don’t need 30 minutes for the short hike and will be rewarded with a spectacular view and unbelievably great photos. Where exactly this viewpoint is located and how you get there we have summarized for you in an extra travel report The hike to the Cadini di Misurina viewpoint