How To Find the Instagram Photo Spot at Tre Cime and Hike Tre Cime in the Dolomites

How To Find the Instagram Photo Spot at Tre Cime and Hike Tre Cime in the Dolomites

Tre Cime di Lavaredo is one of the most famous peaks in the Dolomites but did you know it is also the spot for “the other” Instagram photo spot called Cadini di Misurina? This blog shows you how to find the photo spots at Tre Cime and how to hike the Tre Cime trail.

Tre Cime di Lavaredo is perhaps the most recognizable mountain range in the Italian Dolomites. Located not too far from Venice (~2 hours drive), Tre Cime draws thousands of visitors/ hikers each day and is one of the most popular hikes in the Dolomites. [no_toc]

But besides the distinct 3 pale peaks, did you know there is another famous Instagram spot at Tre Cime that not many people know about? I first saw the image of these “crazy” peaks on Instagram and the photos were tagged to be at Tre Cime.

After doing a lot of research and talking to people, I finally found the spot and I want to make it easier for others to find it (without going through the struggles that I had gone through).

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Where is Tre Cime di Lavaredo?

Located in northeastern Italy near the Austrian border, the Dolomites is a large mountain range that form part of the Alps. The Dolomites is a large area divided by 3 regions: South Tyrol, Trentino and Belluno. Tre Cime di Lavaredo is located at the border between Belluno and South Tyrol.

Historically the Dolomites were a part of Austria. The mountain range ran through the Austro-Hungarian and Italian border during World War I. Both sides used mines during the war, which resulted in the creation of Via Ferrata, protected path along the cliffs above the mines. Via Ferrata now has become a tourist attraction and is one of the most popular things to do in the Dolomites.

Now the Dolomites belongs exclusively to Italy. This is the reason why the names in Dolomites are in both Italian and German and the food in the Dolomites have heavy Austrian influence. This is also why Tre Cime has another name in German, which is Drei Zinnen.

How To Reach Tre Cime di Lavaredo?

The easiest way to reach Tre Cime is to fly into Venice and rent a car from Venice. The drive itself is about 2 hours from Venice and the drive is pretty easy.

You can also fly into Innsbruck (Austria) and it is about 2.5-3 hours drive from Innsbruck.

Before I went to the Dolomites (from the US), I read online that I needed an international driving permit which you can easily get from AAA in order to rent a car in Italy. However when I was there nobody asked me for this permit. But just to be safe, if you are visiting the Dolomites from outside of the EU you may want to get the International Driving Permit and it is only $25.

Parking at Tre Cime

There is a huge parking lot at Rifugio Auronzo. Parking is €30 cash only. If you go after 10am you run the risk of the park lot being full, then you will need to park down the hill and hitch hack back up to the Rifugio. We went at 10am in mid September and the parking lot was mostly full, so if you visit during June to August you should get there even earlier. The gate to the parking lot opens from 8am to 5pm.

You cannot possibly walk from the town up to the Tre Cime parking lot as it is actually really far! This is why people either hitch hack or they go early so they can get a parking spot.

Tre Cime Parking Lot

How To Find It the Instagram Spot at Tre Cime: Cadini di Misurina Peaks

Length: ~2-3 miles
Time: 1.5 – 2 hours
Difficulty level: Easy but not for those scared of heights or unsteady on their feet

Tre Cime itself is impressive but I was actually more interested in finding the “Cadini di Misurina Peaks” at Tre Cime that I had seen over and over again on Instagram.

There is just something about these sharp peaks and the lone path leading up to these peaks that captured my attention. Unfortunately most descriptions of the directions of these peaks I found were vague at best so I had to do some exploring myself.

I knew that these peaks are not on the hike to the actual 3 peaks of Tre Cime and I read these peaks are on “the path away from the parking lot”….ok whatever that means!

When I finally parked in the parking lot, I started looking around to see if I could even see any other path leading away from the parking lot and yes there actually was a path but it was unclear if that was the right one.

Tre Cime Parking Lot
Facing the Parking Lot (Away From The Rifugio)

From the photo above, you would be looking away from Rifugio Auronzo and looking at the parking lot. You can sort of see a group of peaks on the right side and that is the Cadini Group Peak. You will go down to the edge of the parking lot.

Misurina Valley From Tre Cime Parking Lot
View of the valley to the left of the path
Cadini Group Peak Hike
Do you see the small path on the left side? The Cadini Peaks are on the right

Walk down towards the end of the parking lot will give you a nice view of valley in the photo above. Next to the valley view you should see a small and relatively flat path leading towards the bare slopes. You should also be able to see the Cadini di Misurina Peaks at this angle, sort of hiding behind the small hill.

Hiking Sign at Tre Cime
Follow this trail, leading away from Tre Cime and the parking lot

Once you approach the small path (the parking lot is now behind you), you should see the trail sign for 117. You will follow this trail for the next 40-50 minutes.

Hiking to Cadini Peaks at Tre Cime

Note the red and white trail marker on this rocky path. The trail is super wide but it is rocky and mostly goes u[hill. The first 10-25 minutes is actually all uphill on this rocky trail leading you towards the peaks (you can barely see the peaks in the photo above).

Hiking Trail to Cadini Peaks and Misura
Tre Cime Instagram Spot Cadini Peaks Hike

This part of the hike really has no views and is pretty boring. You will walk until you are almost at the top of the hill, then you will see the path separating. One will continue to go up to the top of the hill while the other, small path will go “down” and loop around the corner. You will follow the lower, small/narrow path to loop around the hill.

Path to Misura Dolomites
narrow path to cadini peaks
Note the white/ red trail marker and the narrow rocky path

The trail becomes much narrower and it is right next to a cliff so be careful when you walk here. The trail is so narrow it literally will fit one person only and I thought it was scary since it’s all gravel and rocks. This path usually has nobody else on it so you will be alone for the most part. As you keep going and going for another 10 minutes or so you will start to see those famous peaks.

Narrow path to Cadini Peaks
Cadini Peaks Hike

You can actually walk up to the point where everyone takes their photos right in front of the Cadini Group Peaks. However it is a sheer drop on both sides of the narrow path and it’s a bit tricky/ scary to get on it. I was too scared to do it but if you really want that photo then you will have to stand there.

Cadini Group Peaks Instagram Spot

After you are done with your photos, simply take the same path back to the parking lot to start your actual Tre Cime hike.

On your way back to the Tre Cime parking lot you will actually see the first Rifugio, Rifugio Auronzo, where there is a restaurant and public (and private) bathrooms. The private bathrooms are for restaurant customers only whereas anyone can use the public bathroom. I thought the food at the restaurant was average at best so I would actually not recommend eating there.

View of Rifugio Auronzo
Walking back to the starting point of the actual Tre Cime hike

How to hike the Tre Cime di Lavaredo

Length: ~10km (6 miles)
Time: 3.5 – 4 hours total
Difficulty Level: Easy/ Moderate (if you are not fit)

You can hike around the Three Peaks to fully appreciate their glory from all angles. The hikes around the peaks are easy (if you do the day hike) and this is why the Tre Cime di Lavaredo hike is the most popular and crowded hike in the Dolomites.

If you want to do the day hike to Tre Cime, there is a 3.5 – 4 hour loop hike that let you go around the peaks. There are 3 huts (Rifugios) along the way: Rifugio Auronzo, Rifugio Lavaredo and Rifugio Locatelli. After the third and the most famous Rifugio, Rifugio Locatelli (it’s white and red in appearance), you can follow the sign for path 102 then path 105 and go around the peaks to complete the loop.

Alternatively, you can hike as much as you like on the route as the path from Rifugio Auronzo to Rifugio Lavaredo is very flat, suitable for strollers and wheelchairs. Many people either hike to the view point (the hill after Rifugio Lavaredo) or to Rifugio Locatelli (the one with the best view) before heading back the same way.

I did hear from my friends that the loop is narrow and rocky with a sheer drop on one side. If you are scared of heights you shouldn’t do the loop since you already saw the best view at the view point at Rifugio Locatelli.

Rifugio Auronzo to Rifugio Lavaredo (30-40 minutes)

Starting from Rifugio Auronzo follow the path everyone walks on (101) to Rifugio Lavaredo. The path is super wide and flat and I saw people with strollers and wheelchairs.

After about 20 minutes of walk on this wide and flat ground, you will come to the famous chapel at Tre Cime: Cappella degli Alpini. It is a really small chapel and you can’t really go in but it is used as a memorial (although I’m not sure what for exactly). Most people stop here just for a quick photo or two before moving on.

Cappella-degli-Alpini

There is some nice views on the right side of the trail of endless mountains and peaks and some people actually hike closer to the edge to have a better look.

Tre-Cime-Trail-View

After the chapel you will be walking another 15 minutes up a moderate slope before you reach Rifugio Lavaredo. You can grab something to eat at Rifugio Lavaredo and use the bathroom before continuing the uphill hike.

Rifugio Lavaredo Sign

Rifugio Lavaredo to Rifugio Locatelli (1 hour)

There are two paths at Rifugio Lavaredo, one is the official trail and another is a steep “shortcut” which will eventually meet the official 101 trail.

If you want a more gradual incline, then walk past Rifugio Lavaredo to continue to trail 101. If you want a really steep climb at the beginning but flatter and shorter trail then take the shortcut. The shortcut route is right opposite of the Rifugio and you will see people struggle to climb uphills.

Tre Cime Hike from Rifugio Lavaredo to Rifugio Locatelli
The “official” 101 trail

The uphill on Trail 101 will take about 20-30 minutes, you might see cows (with bells on their neck) along the way. Both trails will take you up to the first view point of Tre Cime, the side view.

Tre-Cime-view-Point

Some people turn back at this point but you can continue walking 40 minutes to Rifugio Locatelli from here.

To continue to Rifugio Locatelli, continue to follow the path on the right. It is a wide path but with some ups and downs so don’t expect it to be completely flat. The last 5 minutes of the trail before you reach Rifugio Locatelli is quite steep with a few switchbacks.

Tre-Cime-hike-to-Rifugio-Locatelli
Tre Cime view along the hike
You will start to see the view of the 3 peaks
switchbacks before rifugio Locatelli
Steep but short switcbacks

Rifugio Locatelli is the best Rifugio to eat at and enjoy the view of the Tre Cime peaks. They offer food such as pasta, baked goods, Apple Strudel, beer and soft drinks. Most of the seats are outside but it can get quite sunny and hot. There are also bathrooms here.

Apple Strudel at Rifugio Locatelli

At Rifugio Locatelli the path splits. You can either go back the way you came or follow signs to go around the towers to complete the loop. The loop will take you down to an valley and see the other side of Tre Cime (you will no longer be seeing the peaks since you will be walking next to it). The route will eventually take you back to the car park at Rifugio Auronzo. Note that if you decide to do the loop it actually takes a bit longer to get back to the car (compare to if you go back the way you came).

Tre Cime Hike Signs

What You Should Pack for the Tre Cime Hike

Tre Cime is a relatively easy hike but it doesn’t mean you should be unprepared. The weather at the Dolomites can change rapidly from sunny to windy and rainy with no warning. When I was there it was a very hot day (in mid September!) and the entire hike had no cover or shade. Based on my own experience I would recommend to pack the following items when you hike Tre Cime:

Sunblock: Sunblock, hat, and sunglasses are vital to survive this hike since you can only arrive after 8am. I personally use a non-greasy physical blocker sunscreen since I don’t trust chemical blockers (as most sunscreens are).

Hiking Shoes: The trail has a lot of gravel and rocks so you want shoes with good grip

Hiking Backpack or Hydration Pack: Since the trail has no shade or cover, you want to bring at least 1.5-3L of water to make sure you are hydrated. You can also buy from the rifugios.

Cash: at least 30 Euros for parking, more if you want to buy food and drinks at the rifugios.

Camera: I use a Sony Alpha Mirrorless camera for all my photos, but if you are happy with just an iphone then go for it

Zoom Lens & Wide Angle Lens: I carry around a standard zoom lens and a wide angle lens. The reason for the wide angle is when you are at the side of 3 peaks, a standard zoom lens will not be able to capture the entire thing.

Layers: Since the weather can change drastically, it would be a good idea to bring layers, especially a rain-proof layer. If temperatures do drop and starts raining, it may be a good idea to turn back instead of continue hiking.

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