Tre Cime: 3 secret detours for unique photos

Curious how you can have the Tre Cime di Lavaredo (Drei Zinnen) views all to yourself? These 3 secret detours go off the beaten track and will give you mind blowing photos!

How to avoid tourists at Tre Cime: do these secret detours

Skipping the Tre Cime is kind of like visiting Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower. But this Italian rock formation is no secret amongst tourists anymore, meaning it can get busy. Really busy! Are you curious how you can visit this place and have the views to yourself? I have put together 3 secret detours that go off the beaten track. Along the way you’ll only encounter a handful of adventurous souls like yourself. Would you like to visit these places too? Then read on!

Table of Contents Tre Cime

Highlights Tre Cime secret detours

  • Do these secret detours for unique photos
  • These detours will take you away from the crowds and other tourists
  • You’ll have the view to yourself
  • You can customise the hiking duration

Staring point Tre Cime di Lavaredo loop hike

The Tre Cimes classic loop hike starts at Refugio Auronzo. Practical information on how to get here can be found below. Most people hike around the Tre Cime anti-clockwise. I would advise going with the flow. The classic loop hike is as follows: Refugio Auronzo (starting point) – Rifugio Lavaredo – Rifugio Locatelli (Dreizinnenhütte) – Refugio Malga Langalm – Refugio Auronzo. These 3 secret detours will take you beyond the tourists, so don’t worry about the busy trails in between.

Secret detour 1: Secret WWI tunnels along the Via Ferrata

Along the way there are different unique photo spots. Turn back once you’ve taken enough cool photo’s. If you’d like to continue the along Via Ferrata, you will need the proper gear, because the path is more dangerous further along. 

Can you spot the tiny people below?

How to get to secret photo detour #1

Duration: 1,5 – 2 hours return depending on how far you walk

This detour is on the first half of the Tre Cime loop hike, between Rifugio Lavaredo and Rifugio Locatelli. Directly after Refugio Lavaredo there are two paths that make a steep climb up. Both paths lead to the top of the ridge. Then the path makes a steep decent down. Most tourists just follow this route, but this is where you will get off the beaten track! At the top of this ridge called Paternsattel (Forcella Lavaredo), walk up the hill to your right. It’s a bit of a scramble up the hill with some loose rocks. Soon enough you will see the characteristic World War I tunnel entrance!

This first secret detour is officially a via ferrata. We did it without any gear, but be careful and do it at your own risk. Right after the entrance there is a dark, narrow tunnel. It’s not very long, but it is in an S-shape so you can’t see the end. Use your phone as a flash light, or just move along the rocky wall until you reach the end of the tunnel. After that the detour doesn’t have any dark tunnels.

The secret! Look out for the entrance of the WWI tunnels.
How to get to secret hiking detour #1.

Secret detour 2: Caves overlooking Tre Cime

Want a unique frame of the Tre Cime? Then this unique photo spot is just for you! 

How to get to secret photo spot #2

Duration: 20 – 25 minutes return from Rifugio Locatelli

Getting here is easy! When you are are about halfway the Tre Cime loop hike at Refugio Locatelli you can already see the caves in the mountains behind the rifugio. The path up to the caves is also visible. Walk up there and pick the most beautiful cave to take stunning photos.

This secret photo spot is right above Rifugio Locatelli. You can see the caves! Most people miss this photo opportunity.

Secret detour 3: Viewpoint Cadini di Misurina

How to get to secret detour #3

Duration: 1,5 hours return from Rifugio Auronzo 

You can do this detour to Cadini di Misurina (also called: Cadini Peaks or Cima Cadin) either before or after doing to Tre Cime loop hike. We did it afterwards at around 4 PM and only ran into three other groups who were hiking there. To get to this photo spot take a right heading down after Rifugio Auronzo. The loop around Tre Cime goes left here, so take the other option. You can already see the mountains you are headed to, so it’s quite straight forward. Keep following the path till you see the iconic Cadini Peaks view. There are a few different paths, but don’t worry! They all lead to the same view. 

The iconic Cadini di Misurina viewpoint can be seen from quite a distance away already. The view is honestly equally beautiful before the viewpoint. Taking a photo along the way will save you about 20-25 minutes (return).

This is just before the Cadini di Misurina viewpoint, but equally beautiful. On the bottom right of this photo you can see the viewpoint!
The Cadini di Misurina viewpoint!

Practical information Tre Cime

Getting to the Tre Cime/Drei Zinnen

Set you navigation to Rifugio Auronzo to get to the start of this hike. You will need to pay €30 (in cash!!, no cards accepted) to use the access road and parking lot. Other rates apply for other types of vehicles, like campers. An additional fee needs to be paid of you’d like to park you vehicle overnight. The entrance fee is per vehicle, not per person. There is also a bus going up and down to Rifugio Auronzo. At 4 PM we saw a very long line of people waiting for the bus going down. 

Please note: The entrance fee to the park can only be paid in CASH! Cards are nota accepted. 

Recognise those peaks in the distance? That's Cadini di Misurina!
Long lines for the bus leaving the national park.

Different names for Tre Cime

The Tre Cime di Lavaredo are sometimes also referred to as the Drei Zinnen or Three Peaks of Lavaredo. In the Dolomites it’s common that places have an Italian and German name. Often these names don’t even seem similar which can be confusing. 

The verdict of Tre Cime: secret detours without tourists

We spent the whole day in the park and did the loop hike and all three detours. We explored between 8:30 AM and 6 PM. If you skip the detours you can definitely do the hike much quicker. However then you’ll be stuck on the busy trails with all the other tourists. Doing these secret detours let you enjoy this famous scenery in peace. You’ll have the views all to yourself! Enjoy before the secret gets out!

What to do near the Tre Cime

  • Visit the Dolomites’ most famous blue lake Lago di Braies (50min by car from Tre Cime). Go early enough to avoid the crowds!
  • Stay in Chiusa (Klausen) and enjoy the small town charm (1h 35min by car from Tre Cime). Chiusa is the perfect hub for the Dolomites.
  • Visit the famous San Giovanni church in the Val di Funes (1h 45min by car from Tre Cime)