How to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc...in 1000 words
The Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) is one of the best-known long distance hikes in Europe and for good reason. This is a hike I love and recommend regularly to people looking for an adventurous and active holiday.
During this spectacular, multi-day trek around Mont Blanc you’ll pass through France, Italy and Switzerland, whilst enjoying stunning glacier and mountain views across the Mont Blanc mountain range.
Each day is simple
Hike for a few hours on beautiful trails surrounded by incredible views in all directions
Stop for lunch, hang out in a deck chair
Hike some more
Eat well and have a beer
Sleep in a great mountain hut or refuge
Repeat for 6-10 days
Why do it?
Over the course of 6-10 days you’ll hike through three countries around the highest peak in Western Europe.
You’ll hike along beautiful trails
The route is well marked and easy to follow.
There are plenty of accommodation options and places to buy food so you can hike with a light pack.
If you’re there in late June / early July you’ll experience the wild mountain flowers and if you’re lucky you might spot an ibex or chamois in the wild.
Who’s it for?
This is a strenuous trek and shouldn’t be underestimated but it is achievable for anyone with a good base level of fitness and the right level of preparation.
Be prepared to walk for 7-11 hours today over undulating and challenging terrain.
The TMB isn’t a technical walk and doesn’t have any glacier walking, via ferrata or rock climbing which makes it ideal for those looking for a spectacular long-distance hike without needing mountain experience.
If you’re looking to compete in the annual UTMB race you’ll need to qualify to take part.
Total distance: 106 miles (170km)
Elevation gain: 32,940ft (10,040m)
Expected duration: 6-10 days
Mont Blanc, at 4,808m (15,774ft), is the highest mountain in the Alps and the highest in Europe west of the Caucasus peaks of Russia and Georgia.
How to get there
The traditional route starts and ends in Les Houches (7km from Chamonix, France) and the majority of people hike anti-clockwise.
The closest major airport is Geneva: trains, shuttles and private transfers are available (90km/3 hours).
Access by train to Chamonix or St Gervais-le Fayet (TGV). There are regular bus and train services to Les Houches.
If you are arriving after midday we’d recommend that you stay in Les Houches overnight before setting off on your first stage of the TMB.
There are many accommodation options, including: hotels, B&Bs, campsites and hostels.
We recommend completing the traditional anti-clockwise route but it’s also possible to take on this challenge in reverse.
Recommended maps and guidebook:
Pays du Mont Blanc – 1:50,000, Rando
The route is well marked but do not rely on the signs alone as there may be sections where the trail isn’t marked or where multiple trails head in similar directions.
You’ll encounter mixed trails, gravel paths, forest roads, mud tracks and tarmac roads. The more mountainous sections will typically be single track and can be rocky.
Illustrative itinerary (based on 10 days)
Where to stay
There are a variety of accommodation options available during the hike, including: mountain huts, refuges and camping options.
The mountain huts / refuges provide hearty cooked meals and offer packed lunches.
The facilities on the route are generally of a high standard and clean.
We’d recommend booking your accommodation for the first few nights as a minimum.
Search for accommodation at Autour du Mont Blanc.
Some mountain huts and refuges might not accept credit card so worth checking in advance.
Food and water
The water and food recommendations are based on our experience. What you take is very personal and you should train and prepare with what you're going to carry each day.
We’d recommend carrying a minimum of 2 litres of water each day (more on a hot day).
We’d recommend carrying high energy snacks e.g. energy bars, bananas, flapjacks, chocolate during the day.
You’ll be able to top up water and buy food at mountain huts and / or pass through towns.
You’ll be able to buy meals as you pass through towns.
Hearty evening meals are available at mountain huts.
Recommended clothing and equipment
Expect all four seasons in a day so be prepared for conditions to change quickly. We’d also highly recommend that you prepare for the TMB by wearing and using all of the equipment listed below.
Don’t try any new kit during your trip.
Walking boots / sturdy trail shoes
Trainers / light shoes for evenings
3 x pairs of hiking socks
Comfortable walking trousers / shorts
2 x comfortable walking t-shirt / base layer
Warm fleece / jumper
Spare base layer (not cotton)
Beanie / bobble hat
Equipment / Other
Cash (Euros for France and Italy, and Swiss Francs (CHF) for Switzerland.
Map and compass
Mobile phone plus electric socket adapter
Head torch and batteries
First aid kit (e.g. plasters, blister blasters, pain killers)
Sunglasses and sun cream
Water bottles/ containers / bladder (2 litres)
Backpack (15-20 litres recommended) plus rain cover
Optional clothing and equipment
Buff / headband
Sleeping sheet for dormitories
Casual / relaxing clothing for evenings
Waterproof rucksack liner
Book / Kindle / playing cards
Right kit: ensure you carry all of the recommended clothing and equipment with you.
Weather check: check the weather conditions before you go. Rain is inevitable and you might encounter snow (at any time of the year).
Off season hiking (winter months) can be extremely dangerous. Specialist equipment and support may be needed.
The trail is well marked but don’t rely on the signs. Carry the appropriate maps and guidebooks, especially for when the clouds have closed in.
Familiarise yourself with exit points from the trails.
Carry a fully charged mobile phone.
What else do you need to know?
Let us know how you get on :)