hike the 3 Peaks in the Dolomites, Italy

Trip report by besthike editor Rick McCharles.

These are the famed and disclaimed 3 Peaks. The most photographed mountains in the Dolomites, I reckon.


… The Drei Zinnen (German for “Three Peaks”), also called the Tre Cime di Lavaredo (Italian), are three distinctive battlement-like peaks, in the Sexten Dolomites of northeastern Italy. They are probably one of the best-known mountain groups in the Alps. …

People come to the Locatelli Refuge (IT Rif. Locatelli) to enjoy a fine meal at high altititude.


I’ve never seen so many hikers in one place at one time before, except on the Tongariro Crossing in New Zealand.


Why are they here?

It’s easy to take a bus right to 2300m (7545ft), the very base of the mountains.

But, for some reason, the crowds did not bother me. It was wonderful to see so many people exposed to hiking in such an easy and painless way.

If you hate crowds of enthralled visitors, go hike Alaska.

I adored everything about this hike.

I loved the wild flowers. Alpine meadows. The WW 1 history. The tunnels. Especially the Via ferrata (Iron Way) side trips. I think I’ve found a new life passion.


Hiking in Italy is far easier than I expected.


hiking-guidebook1) Travel to Cortina, Italy
2) Buy a bus ticket to TRAILHEAD at Rif. Auronzo
3) Wander where you like for as long as you like
4) Take a LOT of photos

I used Walking in the Dolomites: 28 Multi-Day Routes by Gillian Price. This Cicerone title is the best available in English for this region. This area is covered by hikes 1,2 and 3. Buy your guidebooks in advance of travelling to Italy. English books are not widely available here as there are so many other titles in German and Italian.

Cicerone has several other guides including Treks in the Dolomites: Alta Vie 1 and 2 and Shorter Walks in the Dolomites. But the one I used is the best for most hikers.

No need to carry a hiking pack. There are great mountain huts every hour or two. Hosts will feed you and give you a bed for 40-50 Euro a day.

hiking in the clouds
hiking in the clouds

I left a Summit Stone on behalf of artist DSD. Look for it in the cairn atop the carved stone steps starting the Via ferrata closest to Refugio Pian de Cengia. (That’s a FUN Via ferrata by the way. Exhilarating, but safe.)


If looking for more inspiration to plan a trip to Italy, see all 134 of my photos. (I went crazy with the camera.)

26 Replies to “hike the 3 Peaks in the Dolomites, Italy”

  1. Geez Rick, 134 photos!!! You are getting to be as bad as me LOL

    Looks like a fantastic destination to visit

  2. Hi Rick,
    After i saw your photos I have decided where exactly I want to go in the Dolomites this year 🙂 Can you share some basic info like for how many days you did the 1-2-3 walk. And is it possible to use tents in this area? I saw on some of your photos that you had a tent. Did you use it all the time or rarely. I know that the huts are great in the area, but I want to take my dog with me, so I the huts are not in my plan for now. 10x 🙂

    1. Unfortunately tenting is not allowed in the Dolomites. The options are to “day hike” (very convenient) or to stay in the official alpine huts. (crowded and expensive)

      I carried a light tent anyway for emergencies, and ended up tenting several different nights, …. Once, in a lightning / snowstorm, it truly was an emergency bivouac.

      Another time I tented when the hut I had intended to stay in … was FULL.

      Certainly with a dog you’d have to day hike. Or “emergency” tent.

      In Switzerland “wild camping” in a tent is legal. But not in Italy.

  3. Rick, thank you very match for your reply … it is very useful. it seems that I am forced to use the “emergency tent” approach. Have a nice summer 🙂

  4. Hi there,

    I just bought the book from cicerone, “short walks in the dolomites”. Can anybody tell which ones are the nicest tracks to do?

    Next to that I bought the “walking in the dolomites from cicerone, any recommended hikes here?

    1. Cicerone does a great job on that region. … And I don’t think there are any BAD hikes in those mountains. Having hiked there for a couple of weeks last summer, it was ALL GOOD.

  5. Hi Rick:
    Your photos are incredible amazing!!!!….. I am going to the Dolomites at 21/23rd of April….. but I have a lot of doubts. Could you help me, please? My idea is to go to Cortina D’ampezzo at 21 of April, I have even already booked a room there, and then 22nd go to Misurina (very early in the morning) and start my trekking until Tree Cime di Lavaredo and finish in Auronzo…. but I am not sure if it is the best way and if it is possible to do in one day and by myself….What do you think? or you advise me to do other thing? I am very confused. And is it so necessary to get the book about Dolomites? I hope you can read my e-mail and give me if you can some advice…..thank you


    1. Sorry Fabiola.

      I’m not sure what the weather will be like end of April.

      My fear is that trails will be snowed in.

      Best check with someone local there.

      1. Rick:
        Thank you very much for your advice. I will check with someone local. If is not possible I think I will go back there in summer. 🙂

  6. Hi Fabiola. so, did you go to the Dolomites for the hike you intended to do? Pitty i found this blog only today, i coul have told you what the conditions were in April, i’m living close to Brunico, a town of 10.000 souls on the northern border of the Dolomites. Well, April is just too early to do hikes on that scale – and still too dangerous for the avalanches. If you need any infos for a future hike here just let me know, i’ll try to help.



  7. Hi Gerd,
    I am planning on staying in Cortina for a week in early September, 2012. Could you advise me of the best day hikes to do from Cortina. I will not have a private vehicle, so will need to either be able to walk to the trailhead, or take public transport. I am quite fit and an experienced hiker and enjoy seeing spectacular peaks. Am I able to do these walks alone, or do you suggest using a guide? Appreciate any advice you can give.

    1. Definitely no guide is needed.

      I’d recommend you decide day-by-day depending on the weather. Tourist information in Cortina is all I needed for that — though I did have a guidebook.

      There are many, many options. All good.

      But get the local advice.

    2. Hi Lynn,
      you’ll find great hikes around Cortina . Do you intend to stay in a hotel or do hikes from hut-to-hut? Or do you want to do a mix of both?

      -around the Tofana de Rozes
      -from Passo di Falzarego to Croda Negra and further to Nuvolau and Cinque Torri
      -a cable car ride to Tofana di Mezzo, than hike down to Rif. Giussani and back to the main road where you can catch a bus back (or do it the other way around)
      -take the bus to the Tre Cime and do a hike up there (that’s really great up there)
      -take the cable car to Rif. Paloria (east of Cortina) and hike on trails 213 to the Passo Tre croce. From there take the bus back.

      Taking a guide: well, I am a hiking guide. You’ll find out a lot about me and the Dolomites on my website http://www.hiking-in-the-dolomites.it . Taking a guide has various advantages: they know the area, know the situation with public transport, speak the languages (Italian and German) and know of options if the weather is not favourable. So, the choice is yours.

      If you need some more information just send me a mail to gerd@hiking-in-the-dolomites.it

      See ya then

    3. Hi Lynn,
      I am planning to hike in the Dolomites for a week, starting on September 12. Any chance you are going around the same time and would like a trekking buddy? I am an athletic, 29 year old girl from Canada.

      1. Hi Kate, unfortunately I will be there the week before you…plans are to leave Cortina on the 13th September, but thanks for the kind offer and trust you have an enjoyable trip. Lynn

  8. I am planning to do the trek Alta Via 1 in June/July this year. We would like a rest day in middle and thought we would head to Cortina for an overnight. Where is the best place to get a cable car down to Cortina? Is it lagazuoi or nuvolau or is there an alternative to these.

    I am planning to follow Cicerone book of the walk.


  9. I’m taking a trip to the Dolomites in late May this year and staying in Dobbiaco/Toblach. I wanted to hike to Tre Cime-can anyone recommend an alternate route perhaps from Dobbiaco, or from Sesto/Sexten? Trail numbers/labels and how difficult/accessible the hike trails would be very helpful. I’m searching alot online, but it seems to get really good information and specific tips, you need to ask locals or others on forums who’ve hiked there. Is there a risk of trails being snowed in even in late May? Thanks,

  10. Hi Rick! What a great blog! I would like to ask you if one have to rent the equipment? I mean we have Harness, helmets, but I read in a website that we need a “clip-in set with shock-absorbing device”! My question is…Could we use two double sling with carabiners? Or what would you reckon?

  11. We’ll be based out of Belluno from the 30th of September till the 5th of October, what do you think the chances of any Rufugios still being open? Any recommendations on websites to contact them? We don’t necessarily need to stay over night in a rufugio but would love to have that experience. We are hoping to be able to stop, have a drink or light meal.

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