Last Updated on January 15, 2024 by Michela
The Dolomites are full of special places to visit that will take your breath away. The Cinque Torri is one of them.
What makes the Cinque Torri a top place to visit in the Dolomites? It is not only unique, it is also incredibly easy to reach. Many of the challenges that come with deciding where to go in this UNESCO World Heritage Site mountain range are due to the fact that it is difficult to get around. So, when a location is both beautiful and accessible, it is an automatic win for a spot on your Dolomites itinerary.
Jump into this Cinque Torri travel guide to answer all your questions and discover insider tips to having a “peak” Italian adventure.
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Why Visit Cinque Torri
I mean, the photos speak for themselves, no? Why wouldn’t you want to visit Cinque Torri!
Cinque Torri, at an altitude of 7,217 feet (2360 meters), is a rock formation of “five towers” located above the town of Cortina d’Ampezzo and between the Giau and Falzarego pass.
Even though there are 5 towers, nearly each tower has multiple peaks, of which all have their own names. From right to left:
- Torre Grande, the largest tower with peaks Cima Nord, Cima Sud, Cima Ovest
- Second Tower, with peaks Torre Romana, Torre Lusy, Torre del Barancio
- Torre Latina
- Fourth Tower, with peaks Quarta Alta, Quarta Bassa e Torre di Mezzo
- Torre Inglese
So why called the five towers if there are more than five? Because it was named based on what you saw from below in Cortina d’Ampezzo, which are just five towers!
The towers are extremely popular with rock climbers. In fact, the nearby mountain hut is named after the historic group of climbers “Scoiattoli” or squirrels group, which is one of the oldest mountain climbing groups in Italy.
One of the other amazing reasons to visit Cinque Torri is it is an open-air museum. These same peaks were trekked in World War I, and were the headquarters of the mountain artillery unit.
How to Reach the Cinque Torri
We’re in the Dolomites, so attractions and towns get fewer and far between. So, how do you get to Cinque Torri? What are your transport options?
Arriving to the Cinque Torri area
Before you actually make your way up to Cinque Torri, you will have to arrive in the area.
The easiest and fastest way to arrive is by car. For reference, it is about a 30-minute drive from Cortina d’Ampezzo. Once you get to the area of the Seggiovia Cinque Torri, which is the cable car lift, you will find a huge parking lot.
The parking lot is free and spaces do get cramped. Both cars and campers can park in the lot.
Pro Tip: This parking lot fills up very quickly during the peak summer season. I recommend you arrive no later than 9 am if you don’t want to be left “inventing” a parking spot along the often rough edges of the road.
Brush up on the special rules about driving in Italy and shop around for the best Italy rental car prices.
If you are traveling without a personal vehicle, which makes getting around the Dolomites difficult, there is actually a way to arrive in the area of Cinque Torri by public transportation.
You can take the Cortina Express bus from Cortina d’Ampezzo to the Passo Falzarego bus stop. Total travel time is only 27 minutes, as walking from the bus stop to the cable car takes only 5 minutes. It costs €2 per ticket, but may vary according to the season.
Use the Cortina Express timetable to plan your day.
Learn more about what taking buses in Italy is like if you think you may go this route!
Arriving to the Cinque Torri peaks
Once you have arrived in the area, you will then have to choose how to get from the parking lot to the peaks.
By cable car
The cable car is the easiest and fastest way to get to the Cinque Torri. It is also quite fun, as it is an open air seat!
You will be up to the Cinque Torri in just 6 minutes with the chairlift. An adult round trip ticket costs €24, but in August (peak season) it costs €26. Check out the entire chairlift pricing guide.
The lift station opens at 9 am and departs from Baita Bai de Dones rifugio.
Pro tip: pay close attention to when the last cable car will be leaving. If you do not get on the cable car by this time to return, you will be left to find an alternative way down.
The first hike you can do to reach Cinque Torri is from the cable car station to Rifugio Scoiattoli. While it is fairly easy terrain, it is quite steep (around 400 m of difference in elevation) and does not include any views or nature that you don’t see from the cable car.
I would recommend you save your energy and time by just investing in the roundtrip cable car ticket.
There is actually a way to arrive almost to the peaks entirely by car. Instead of heading to the cable car entrance, you can head to Rifugio Cinque Torri, which is right below the peaks on the opposite side.
But, it is not so easy. From my research, in the month of August, the busiest time of the year, going up to the rifugio by personal vehicle is not allowed after 9:30 am and before 3:30 pm, but there is a shuttle service for €7.
The other catch is that the rifugio is only open for the summer months. But, parking is free and it means you avoid spending on the cable car.
Once you get to Rifugio Cinque Torri, you can do a short and slightly steep walk up to the height of the peaks, joining the trail that loops around them.
Best Things to Do at Cinque Torri
There are several fun activities and things to do at the Cinque Torri that makes this a perfect one day adventure in the Dolomites!
World War I Ruins
What takes Cinque Torri to the next level in terms of things to do in the Dolomites? It is not only an impressive and beautiful scene, it is an open-air museum!
The Cinque Torri area was the headquarters of mountain artillery in the first World War. When you visit, right along the loop hiking trail, you will be able to walking through the bunkers and trenches used in the war.
Be sure to stop and read the signs along the way to discover so many amazing historical facts about this area. There was astounding information about how the soldiers would have to transport artillery, like canons, along the demanding terrain.
Do the classic & easy Cinque Torri Hike: Sentiero delle trincee
The best way to hike Cinque Torri is to do the circuit loop around the towers. You can start either way, but I recommend going left from Rifugio Scoiattoli, so going clockwise around the towers.
The path is called Sentiero delle trincee, or path of the trenches, because along this route you will find the WWI bunkers.
How long does it take to hike Cinque Torri? Doing the loop will take you around 2-3 hours depending on your pace and how long you stay at each of the historic areas.
It is a great, relaxing hike as most of the path is relatively flat. There are a few short, steeper areas where the ground is uneven due to the rocks. It can get slippery, so make sure you have suitable walking shoes.
Cinque Torri is definitely the right place for adventurers and adrenaline junkies. I saw so many people rock climbing up the towers.
If you look at the picture above on the right, you can just make out a little figure on the right side of the rock, about three quarters of the way up. That is a person! This gives you a great idea of the scale of the Torre Grande, the largest of the five towers.
If you are interested in rock climbing at Cinque Torri, I found a great website with mountain guides for hire.
Take a snack break at Rifugio Scoiatolli
Rifugio Scoiatolli is the mountain hut you arrive at from the Seggiovia Cinque Torri. It is the perfect place to stop after you have completed the walk around the incredible rock formation.
Here there is outdoor and indoor seating with a restaurant. You can’t picnic, but you can order a treat from the bakery window or a ready-made sandwich!
There are also restrooms available to the public.
The best place to sit is outside: it is an epic experience to eat lunch right in front of the Cinque Torri!
By the way: keep in mind you are at 7,299 feet of elevation!
Get epic views walking up to Rifugio Averau
Rifugio Averau is a mountain lodge above the Cinque Torri and can be considered a mini hike of its own.
While the destination doesn’t look far, you shouldn’t underestimate the incline of the wide path and the difficult terrain. The whole area going up is covered with chunky stones that slip easily and do a number on your legs!
Nonetheless, after about a 30-minute uphill climb (the timing to reach the rifugio can definitely depend on how physically fit you are – I, in fact, should work on my cardio! – and on how generally tired you are), it is worth getting a panoramic view with the towers in the larger landscape of the Dolomites.
Once you reach the rifugio, aka 8,691 feet of elevation, you can also see what is one the other side of the Averau peak you are standing on. We saw a huge glacier across the way!
The mountain hut has bathrooms, rooms, a coffee bar, a restaurant, etc. All you need for a well-deserved break!
Get even more epic views going up to Rifugio Nuvolau
If you are even more adventurous, then your walk doesn’t stop here. There is yet another mountain hut around Cinque Torri and it stands at a whopping 8,450 feet of elevation.
I was both too tired (aka out of shape) and nervous to keep making the climb, but members of my travel party pushed beyond the fatigue to go all the way up!
Also here, be careful of the terrain. There is no one walking path to get up to these mountain huts, but rather wide areas of rock (sometimes even steeper walls of rock) on which you could easily slip.
It is not a difficult path, but I also want to make clear that it is not an easy path once you go up from Rifugio Scoiattoli. Lots of people do the path, so there is little danger, but I would rather let you know what it is like so you can decide for yourself and manage your own expectations, which will also better help you plan your itinerary.
Cinque Torri Travel Tips
The Best Time to Visit Cinque Torri
Cinque torri is a summer destination. It is the perfect place for enjoying the outdoors.
The best time to visit Cinque Torri is in the months of June, July and September. You can still visit in August, like I did, but you will find that it gets busier quicker during the day.
Some of the mountain huts will completely close in the winter months or only open in the summer months.
What to Wear to Cinque Torri
Cinque Torri is an outdoorsy destination, so it goes without saying that the more comfortable you dress, the more able you will be to get around and enjoy the area.
You should not arrive with anything but comfortable walking shoes. You may not need super-expensive professional hiking boots, but I definitely recommend investing in shoes made for trekking. The terrain is almost all rocks and so even normal gym shoes will not cut it.
I personally wore The North Face trekking shoes. I couldn’t find the exact pair, but I did find a very similar pair of hiking shoes with the same kind of textured bottom for extra traction.
As for garments, it can get chillier the higher up you go in elevation, so it is best to wear layers.
Weather can also get sporadic, so an afternoon rain shower could easily arrive without being predicted on the forecast. I recommend a foldable rain jacket that you folds small to pack away but is there when you need it.
Accessibility at Cinque Torri
One of the reasons I liked Cinque Torri and wanted to share a full travel guide on it was that it was a great family-friendly activity. I saw many children exploring the World War I ruins and, while the paths are rocky, they are fairly flat and manageable for people of all ages to walk on.
Plus, even if you do have trouble walking, the great part about Cinque Torri is that once you take the chairlift up, you are immediately met with the towers. You don’t have to then walk somewhere to get to the towers, meaning you could go visit without walking much at all if you are physically unable.
Cinque Torri is also pet-friendly. I saw many dogs hiking and even taking the chairlift!
From when I visited the Cinque Torri, it did not look like there was particular accessibility for wheelchair users at the chairlift. If you have questions about this, I recommend you contact the station.
Things to Do Near Cinque Torri
Explore Cortina d’Ampezzo
If you look on a map, Cinque Torri is just above the town of Cortina d’Ampezzo.
Cortina is one of the most famous towns in the Dolomites, known as a haven for luxury ski trips. But it is also absolutely charming to explore and is one of the most scenic towns I have ever seen, nestled in a pristine valley and surrounded by epic pale grey, jagged peaks.
Cortina is also one of the best places to stay in the Dolomites for the wide range of accommodation options and proximity to the area’s best and most famous sites.
Fun Fact: Cortina will be one of the two host towns of the 2026 Winter Olympics.
Hike Tre Cime di Lavaredo
Of all Dolomites hikes, the circuit around Tre Cime di Lavaredo is likely the most popular.
And why wouldn’t it be when you get to see a natural wonder like that? Luckily, if you are in the Cortina area, a trip to the Cinque Torri and Tre Cime di Lavaredo are easy to plan!
Even though they are close to each other, you will need to put these activities on two different days, as both will take minimum half a day (and therefore, you should overestimate your time spent in each area to play it safe.) Plus, you’ll just be tired from both hikes!
Good to know: Tre Cime is a medium difficulty hike that takes around 4 and a half hours to finish.
Take a Break on Lake Misurina
One of the most beautiful Dolomites lakes, Lake Misurina is perfect for a relaxing break from all the physical activity you will be doing.
It is right along the road, making it easy and safe to reach and the entire area is flat for an easy walk around the shore.
There are also a couple of local boutiques to shop at and activities, like paddle boats, to enjoy the lake on the water.
Hike to Lake Sorapis
Lake Sorapis is also one of the prettiest lakes in the Dolomites. However, it is harder to reach than most.
The hike to Lake Sorapis can take up to about 5 hours if you do the whole circuit. It’s better for those who have at least a little bit of experience hiking, as there are some sections that are not railed off.
Nonetheless, it is a hidden gem that is getting more and more famous for its milky blue water!
The SGTD Take
Cinque Torri is an epic landscape that any traveler would enjoy. It truly is a “peak adventure” that you will have in Italy, combining natural beauty, historical significance and
Visiting Cinque Torri will likely take up half to one day of your Dolomites itinerary, so you can decide based on your trip flexibility how to fit it into your travel plans.
Just make sure it’s in there and you won’t regret it 😉
Questions about visiting Cinque Torri or the Dolomites? Ask me below!
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I hope this guide has totally convinced you not to miss out on the beauty and adventure of Cinque Torri!