Last updated on September 16th, 2023
Visiting the Cinque Torri Italy – Our Favorite Things to Do, Best Place to Have Lunch, Visiting the Cinque Torri with Kids, and more Helpful Tips!
No, I’m not talking about the popular coastal villages – the Cinque Terre. These are the Cinque Torri (the 5 towers). I’ve been visiting them since 2004 – first as a hiking guide, and now with my three little boys!
It’s definitely worth visiting the Cinque Torri during your stay in the Dolomites for the location’s natural beauty, spectacular hiking options, delicious rifugio meals and views, and the unique WW1 open-air museum.
Like the name says, there are 5 rock towers in the formation:
- Torre Grande, which is actually three parts: Cima Sud, Cima Nord and Cima Ovest.
- Seconda Torre, which is comprised of Torre del Barancio, Torre Lusy, and Torre Romana.
- Terza Torre, which is also known as Torre Latina.
- Quarta Torre
- Quinta Torre, which is also known as Torre Inglese.
Fun Fact: One of the minor towers (Trephor Tower, 35 meters tall) fell down during the night in 2004 (don’t worry – no one was hurt). I was in nearby Cortina d’Ampezzo and we didn’t hear a thing. Trephor collapsed due to melt-freeze erosion.
Check out our Favorite Things to Do in the Dolomites!
How Do You Pronounce Cinque Torri?
Cinque Torri is pronounced CHEEN-kway TOR-ree.
Listen to it here:
Where are the Cinque Torri?
The Cinque Torri are in the Dolomite Mountains in Northern Italy, in the autonomous region of Trentino-Alto Adige (Süd Tirol aka South Tyrol). They are located between Cortina d’Ampezzo and Passo Falzarego (Falzarego Pass), just off of the SR 48.
Map of the Cinque Torri in the Dolomites
See where the Cinque Torri are on a Google Map:
When to Visit the Cinque Torri
Summer – This is the best time to see climbers on the towers, to go hiking in the area, to try a via ferrata, and to enjoy the area in warm temperatures. Afternoon showers are common, especially in August. The chairlift from the parking lot (Baita Bai de Dones) to Rifugio Scoiattoli is typically open from early June through late September.
Autumn – Another excellent time to visit the Cinque Torri. You’ll still see some climbers and you’ll be able to see the larch trees changing from green to yellow, orange, and red (beginning in September). Make sure you check the lift closing dates if you want a chairlift ride up.
Winter – The Cinque Torri is part of the large Dolomiti Superski pass area. You won’t be able to hike through the WW1 Open Air Museum with all of the snow.
Our Favorite Things to Do at the Cinque Torri
Visit the WW1 Open Air Museum
When you get to the top of the lift, make a sharp left downhill to explore the unique World War 1 Open Air Museum. The area was an intense battleground that split families in the area and as you walk through, you’ll get an idea of the hardships the soldiers faced. You walk a trail through the trenches and along the way there are ‘exhibits’ with written explanations and props and mannequins that show you what life was like here during the Great War.
All fitness levels can walk through the trenches (but it is a rocky trail and there are steps and some short uphills and downhills). If you have a small child, use a carrier or a backpack. It’s a very kid-friendly museum.
There are two routes – one loops back to Rifugio Scoiattoli after visiting the museum. The other continues around the Cinque Torri, then joins the gravel road to pass Rifugio Cinque Torri and walk uphill back to Rifugio Scoiattoli.
Good To Know: If you decide to do the longer loop, know that the trail isn’t amazingly well-marked. It can also be difficult for people with vertigo, as there are a couple of sections with steep slopes on your left. Also, don’t get too close to the towers if you don’t have a helmet – rocks can fall from them, especially if someone’s climbing.
Have Lunch at Rifugio Averau
I can’t count how many times I’ve eaten at Rifugio Averau, and I’ve never been disappointed. The bis di pasta is delicious – you get a sample of two different house pastas. Try the gnocchi di carote (carrot gnocchi) or the casunziei ampezzani (local ravioli with beetroot) – deliziosi!
It makes a nice stop after a visit to the WW1 Museum. From Rifugio Scoiattoli, hike up the gravel road to the Rifugio and enjoy your lunch – the views from the terrace are gorgeous!
Have a Skiwasser in the Clouds at Rifugio Nuvolau
If you decide to hike up to Rifugio Nuvolau (the highest you can get in the Cinque Torri area – 2575m), take some time to enjoy the 360° views. If it’s a sunny day, order a refreshing skiwasser (ski water) with raspberry syrup and lemon. On cooler days, sip on hot chocolate.
Watch the Climbers on the Cinque Torri
From most places in the area, you’ll be able to see climbers on the Cinque Torri. Take a break during your hike or enjoy the show from a rifugio terrace. It’s fun to watch them progress and to cheer when they get to the top!
Hike to Passo Giau
You can easily make a day of visiting the WW1 museum and hiking to Rifugio Averau and or Nuvolau. But, if you really want to get a big hike in, head past Rifugio Averau and hike to Passo Giau. You’ll get incredible views of Passo Giau and some hearty ups and downs as you make your way back to Rifugio Scoiattoli.
Soak up the Views of the Mountains
While our family really loves Val Gardena, Alpe di Siusi, and the area just below the Sciliar (it’s all very green with pops of Dolomite mountains), we do appreciate the dramatic scenery of the mountains surrounding the Cinque Torri. The area is a photographer’s delight.
Visiting the Cinque Torri with Kids
This is one of the best hikes you can do with kids in the Dolomites.
- There’s a chairlift!
- There are a lot of hike options and you can modify your hike easily during the day.
- Kids love exploring the trenches and the WW1 Open Air Museum.
- You can stop in Rifugio Scoiattoli (squirrels, in Italian) to get a squirrel sticker.
- It’s fun to watch the rock climbers on the Cinque Torri.
Tips for Visiting the Cinque Torri with Kids
Keep in mind, it’s not stroller-friendly, so you’ll need a baby backpack or a carrier for non-walkers.
We recommend Rifugio Averau for food, but if the hike up is too much, have lunch on the spacious deck of the Rifugio Scoiattoli, at the top of the chairlift.
Listen and look for marmots in the green area below and left of Rifugio Scoiattoli.
The chairlift is open on the bottom, so if you have a baby or toddler, use a carrier.
Watch the rock climbers. Try rock climbing with a guide! Suitable for beginners too.
Use a toilets in the rifugi whenever you have a chance.
Getting to the Cinque Torri
Getting to the 5 Torri – By Chairlift
It’s an open ski lift with a little bubble you can pull down. But, your feet still hang down, so if you have a baby or toddler, using a carrier is best. For preschoolers and young children, you should feel comfortable traveling on a lift that’s not enclosed. You can fit four people side-by-side comfortably, so you can go up as a family or in two groups.
Good To Know: There is a hut at the base of the lift (Baita Bai de Dones) and you can ask to use the toilets or get something to eat. You can also walk 5 minutes to the tiny lake, Lago Bai de Dones (flat, easy).
Getting to the 5 Torri – By Car
You can reach the Cinque Torri easily from the direction of Cortina (20 min) Alta Badia (35 min from Corvara), or Alleghe (40 min). Park in the huge lot at the base and take the chairlift from Baita Bai de Dones up to Rifugio Scoiattoli.
Read our Tips for Driving in the Dolomites
Good To Know: The roads leading to the Cinque Torri are winding and include mountain passes. They’re gorgeous for photos and views but take your time if you get car sick.
Good To Know: You can drive up to Rifugio Cinque Torri, near the base of the Cinque Torri during the off-season only, but the road is narrow. The chairlift is gorgeous and quiet, and it feels like you’re floating past the larch trees. The rifugio is used mostly as a base for rock climbers.
Getting to the 5 Torri – By Bus
The Cinque Torri area is conveniently reached by bus. There is a bus stop on the main road in front of the large parking lot at the base of the lift.
The local bus companies are Dolomiti Bus and SAD bus.
Getting to the 5 Torri – On Foot
You can reach the Cinque Torri on foot using multiple trails. Consult the Tabacco 1:25,000 Map #03 (Cortina d’Ampezzo e Dolomiti Ampezzano) or the free Cinque Torri trail map.
Airports Near the Cinque Torri
The best airports to fly into are Venice (VCE), Verona (VRN), or Milan (MXP). Once you land, take public transport or rent a car to get to the Cinque Torri.
Getting to the Cinque Torri by Train
You can travel to Calalzo di Cadore and then take a bus to Cortina d’Ampezzo, and then to the Cinque Torri. Or, train to Bolzano and then take public transport (or drive a rental car) to the Cinque Torri.
Read more about Train Travel in Italy.
Where to Stay at the Cinque Torri
Rifugio Averau – The most comfortable option around the Cinque Torri. The rifugio even has family suites. This is our favorite place for meals – don’t leave without trying the bis di pasta!
Rifugio Nuvolau – Rifugio Nuvolau is ‘in the clouds’ and has rustic dorm rooms that are great if you just want to crash after a day of hiking. The highest rifugio at the Cinque Torri – perfect for checking out the stars in the evening and 360° views of the mountains during the day.
Rifugio Scoiattoli – Located at the Rifugio Cinque Torri – hot tub, plenty of rooms (bunk beds), excellent views of the Cinque Torri (for watching climbers), easy to reach (it’s just at the top of the chairlift)
Where to Stay Near the Cinque Torri
If you’re not interested in sleeping in a rifugio at the Cinque Torri, you can stay nearby and drive (or taxi) or take the bus to the base of the chairlift.
Camping Olympia – Pitch a tent or stay in a little cabin (pod) or chalet in Fiames, near Cortina d’Ampezzo.
Hotel Cortina – Located on the main drag in chic Cortina d’Ampezzo. Ask for a room with a balcony or view of the pedestrian street.
Ciasa Salares – A favorite of ours just over Passo Falzarego, in Alta Badia. The Weiser family runs this hotel and its attention to detail with the rooms, hotel, and food, makes for a wonderful stay in the Dolomites.
Helpful Tips for Visiting the Cinque Torri
Start Early – There’s a lot to do up there! We recommend heading up the lift when it opens (usually 9-ish) so you’ll have plenty of time to explore the museum, watch the climbers, and enjoy a hike and a meal.
Know When the Last Lift Goes Down – Check the lift schedule to make sure you’ll be back to Rifugio Scoiattoli in time to get the last lift down (especially if you’re hiking the passo Giau Loop).
Afraid of heights? Don’t walk the section from the WW1 museum to the Cinque Torri. Trail number?
See the WW1 Museum First – You may spend more time than you anticipated visiting the WW1 open-air museum. If you did, you can go for a shorter hike, or spend less time lounging on the rifugio deck after lunch. I’ve seen people go for long hikes and then miss out on the (unique) museum because they needed to get the lift down.
Use a Guide – Hire a guide if you’d like to go rock climbing or try out a via ferrata. Or, spend time with a guide and learn about World War 1 in the area, geology, and more. We highly recommend Brigitte and Helmut from ArcAlpin and Heidi Vittur from Vico Travel.
Bring a Map – The best map we’ve found for the Cinque Torri is the Tabacco 1:25,000 scale #03 – Cortina d’Ampezzo e Dolomiti Ampezzane.
Be Safe Around the Towers – Don’t get too close to the towers if you’re without a helmet. There can be falling rocks.
Check the Forecast – Look up the weather before you go. You won’t get the views if it’s raining, and you don’t want to get caught in a storm.
Be Aware of the Weather – Keep an eye on the weather while you’re there too. If the weather looks iffy, skip the out-back hike to Rifugio Nuvolau. If it’s cloudy and/or rainy, you won’t get great views, and you might have to deal with slippery rock slabs on way down (if it rains).
Can I visit the Cinque Torri Italy without doing a lot of hiking?
Yes, you could even take the lift up and just enjoy mountain food and views from Rifugio Scoiattoli. You could also do a little bit of walking in the World War 1 Open Air Museum before taking the lift back down.
How long does it take to hike the Cinque Torri?
It depends on which hike you do. You could visit the WW1 Museum in 1 – 1.5 hours. If you add the walk around the Cinque Torri and walks up to Rifugio Averau and Rifugio Nuvolau, you could easily spend all day in the area.
Which mountain huts are at the Cinque Torri?
You can visit Rifugio Cinque Torri (2137m, base for rock climbers), Rifugio Scoiattoli (2255m, top of the chairlift), Rifugio Averau (2413m, best lunch), and Rifugio Nuvolau (2575m, best views).