Chamonix is a picturesque town tucked away in the French Alps. Mont Blanc dominates the skyline, creating one of the most unique landscapes in Europe. Explore the hiking trails, stroll through the streets of Chamonix, journey higher into the mountains by train and cable car, and view the waterfalls of ice that pour down from the Mont Blanc massif. Here are the best things to do in Chamonix in the summer.
In the summer, Chamonix is one of the best places in Europe to go hiking. Cable cars and trains whisk hikers high into the mountains, where you can hike to glaciers, ice caves, and get spectacular views of Mont Blanc and Chamonix.
This town is also the starting point for two very popular multi-day treks, the Tour du Mont Blanc and the Walker’s Haute Route.
We spent several days in Chamonix, warming up our legs on the hiking trails, before setting off on the Walker’s Haute Route. This long distance trek crosses ten mountain peaks, ending in Zermatt, Switzerland. It is an extraordinary journey and you can learn more in our guide to the Walker’s Haute Route.
Table of Contents
Interesting Facts about Chamonix
Chamonix, also called Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, is located in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of France.
This town is home to one of the oldest ski resorts in France. In 1924, it hosted the first Winter Olympics. In the winter, skiing is the best thing to do in Chamonix.
Mont Blanc sits on the border of France and Italy. This is the highest mountain in the Alps and Western Europe, at 4,808 meters (15,774 feet). Riding the cable car to Aiguille du Midi for a view of Mont Blanc is one of the best things to do in Chamonix, summer or winter. It is also a popular spot for hiking, climbing, and skiing.
In the summer, a network of hiking trails weave their way high in the mountains above Chamonix. Cable cars and trains eliminate much of the ascent, making many of the day hikes doable for all ages and ability levels.
If you aren’t a big hiker, not to worry. Riding the cable cars, trains, gondolas, and chairlifts to the various viewpoints over Chamonix is one of the best things to do on a visit here.
Chamonix, France with Mont Blanc in the background
Best Things to Do in Chamonix
1. Aiguille du Midi
Aiguille du Midi is a mountain peak in the Mont Blanc massif. It is 3,842 meters (12,605 feet) tall.
One of the best things to do in Chamonix is to ride the cable car to Aiguille du Midi. This cable car route is one of the highest in the world.
Once at Aiguille du Midi, you will get a close-up view of Mont Blanc from numerous terraces, gaze across a sea of glaciers, learn about mountaineering on Mont Blanc, and dine with a view.
Cable car to Aiguille du Midi
One of the viewpoints at Aiguille du Midi
The view of Mont Blanc | Best Things to Do in Chamonix
One of the most popular things to do at Aiguille du Midi is Step Into the Void! This glass box, and its glass floor, hovers high above the mountains and is one of the most thrilling experiences on Aiguille du Midi.
You also have the option to add on a gondola ride to Pointe Hellbronner, Italy, mentioned next.
The best time to visit Aiguille du Midi is early in the day, before clouds form around the top of Mont Blanc. A visit here lasts 2 to 3 hours, longer if you add on the Panoramic Mont-Blanc experience.
For more information about things to do on Aiguille du Midi and how to plan your visit, take a look at our Guide to Aiguille du Midi.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: Many cable cars and trains in Chamonix close from early November into December and/or March into April for maintenance. If your visit will fall during this time period, check the official website for the exact dates of the closures for the various cable cars and trains.
2. Panoramic Mont-Blanc
Panoramic Mont-Blanc is a cable car that runs from Aiguille du Midi, France to Pointe Helbronner, Italy. This 5-km one-way journey takes about 30 minutes.
Groups of 3 small gondolas travel together, each one holding a maximum of four people.
This is an incredible cable car ride. Not only do you get to see Mont Blanc from several different angles, but you will also travel over glaciers, see their crevasses and seracs, and get amazing views of the Alps. It is a much different view that what you get at Aiguille du Midi.
Panoramic Mont-Blanc | Best Things to Do in Chamonix
One of many amazing views during the cable car ride
This experience has a big ticket price but it is one of the most unique cable car rides we have ever taken.
Spend some time in Pointe Helbronner, enjoy the different vantage point of Mont Blanc, and then return to Aiguille du Midi by gondola. This experience takes 2 to 3 hours. Learn more in our Guide to Aiguille du Midi.
3. Grand Balcon Nord Hike
Distance: 6.8 km (4.2 miles) point-to-point | Difficulty: Easy to moderate | Time: 2.5 to 4 hours
This is one of the most scenic hikes in Chamonix.
The Grand Balcon Nord hike is typically done point-to-point, connecting Plan de l’Aiguille (the middle station of the Aiguille du Midi cable car route) with Montenvers. This hike gets its name for its spectacular high alpine views of Mont Blanc, Mer de Glace, and the valley below.
This hike can be done after a visit to Aiguille du Midi. At the end of the hike, you also have the option to add on a visit to the Mer de Glace ice cave.
Grand Balcon Nord Hike | Best Things to Do in Chamonix
Mer de Glace and the Grand Balcon Nord trail
LEARN MORE: How to Hike the Grand Balcon Nord Trail
4. Visit Montenvers
Montenvers is a mountain station that sits above the town of Chamonix.
To get here, you will ride a cogwheel train from Chamonix to Montenvers. On this scenic journey, you will get views of Chamonix and the Mont Blanc range.
Once in Montenvers, there are several things to do. The main attraction is Mer de Glace, the largest glacier in France. It has receded quite a bit in the past few decades, but it is still possible to walk to the terminus and explore the ice cave.
The Glaciorum is a small museum about glaciers and the effects of climate change on the glaciers.
Grand Hotel du Montenvers is a dormitory that offers a place to stay as well as a restaurant where you can have a bite to eat.
Grand Hotel du Montenvers
Visiting the ice cave is what brings most people to Montenvers. We cover this in detail next.
A visit to Montenvers lasts roughly 2 to 3 hours. Get pricing and timetables for the train here. The Montenvers train is included on the Mont Blanc Multipass.
5. Mer de Glace and the Ice Cave
Mer de Glace is the largest glacier in France. It is accessible from Montenvers.
Mer de Glace Ice Cave | Best Things to Do in Chamonix
The stairs to Mer de Glace and the ice cave
The series of staircases to get from the gondola station to the ice cave
To get to the ice cave (La Grotte de Glace) from Montenvers, you can either hike on the footpath to the terminus of the glacier, take the gondola + steps, or take the brand new gondola lift that takes visitors right to the terminus of the glacier. The new gondola lift is the fastest and easiest way to get to the ice cave. It was added since our visit and makes visiting the glacier a lot easier.
If you opt to take the short gondola ride to the steps, you will walk approximately 580 steps to get from the gondola to the ice cave, and you will repeat this to get back to the gondola. This entire experience, the gondola rides plus the walk to and from the ice cave, takes about 2 hours.
If you take the new gondola, the overall time spent will be less than walking the steps. I estimate it could take 1 hour to 1.5 hours, which accounts for some time waiting in line for the gondola.
We thought the ice cave was interesting, but if you have visited other ice caves around the world, you don’t miss much by skipping this one. However, with the new gondola lift, the massive stair climb has been eliminated, making this doable for more people.
6. Ride the Tramway du Mont Blanc
The Tramway du Mont Blanc is the highest cogwheel train in France and the fourth highest in Europe (the highest cogwheel train in Europe is the Jungfraubahn, which takes you to Jungfraujoch).
Tramway du Mont Blanc | Julia Kuznetsova/shutterstock.com
Board the train at Le Fayet or Saint-Gervais (which both sit to the west of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc) and ride the train to the Nid d’Aigle (the Eagle’s Nest) station near the base of the Bionnassay Glacier.
The train makes several stops along the one hour trip, to mountain huts, hiking trails, and viewpoints. From the Bellevue Plateau and Nid d’Aigle, you get exceptional views of the Bionnassay Glacier.
The entire experience takes 3 to 4 hours. Get pricing and timetables here. The tramway is included on the Mont Blanc Multipass.
7. Hike to Lac Blanc
Distance: 6.1 km (3.8 miles) out-and-back | Difficulty: Easy to moderate | Time: 2 to 4 hours
Trail to Lac Blanc | Best Things to Do in Chamonix
Lac Blanc | Best Things to Do in Chamonix
Lac Blanc | Best Things to Do in Chamonix
Lac Blanc is one of the best hikes to do in Chamonix.
This hike starts high in the moutains. A series of cable cars gets you to L’Index and from here it is very scenic walk to get to the lake. This hiking trail travels through the mountains on the opposite side of the valley from Mont Blanc, so throughout the hike you are treated to spectacular views of this famous mountain.
Once at Lac Blanc, capture the reflection of Mont Blanc in the lake, have a picnic lunch or dine at one of the mountain huts, and enjoy some of the best views over Chamonix.
Lac Blanc is typically the final destination of the Tour du Mont Blanc, just before the trek comes to an end at the Flégère cable car station.
LEARN MORE: The Complete Guide to Hiking Lac Blanc
8. Ride the L’Index Chair Lift
This is one of the most underrated experiences in Chamonix.
The L’Index chairlift | Best Things to Do in Chamonix
The L’Index chair lift connects La Flégère with L’Index, which both sit high in the mountains above Chamonix.
To get here, ride the La Flégère gondola from Les Praz to La Flégère. The L’Index chair lift starts at La Flégère and takes you even higher into the mountains.
The view heading on the chairlift on the way to L’Index
The view on the downhill journey
On the uphill journey, the views are nice, but it’s the return journey that is really something special. Now you are gazing across the valley to Mont Blanc. It’s a quiet, peaceful journey, and since you are on a chair lift, not a gondola, you aren’t shooting photos through glass or crowded in a small, hot car with a bunch of people.
You can simply ride the gondola + chair lift combo for the views, or do this as part of the hike to Lac Blanc, mentioned earlier.
Get pricing and timetables here. The gondola and chairlift are included on the Mont Blanc Multipass.
9. Lac Cornu and Lacs Noirs Hike
This is a hike that we learned about while in Chamonix but unfortunately did not have time for.
This hike is much less popular than Lac Blanc and the Grand Balcon Nord. It’s also longer and more strenuous.
Starting at the Plan Praz cable car station, you will hike high into the mountains to two alpine lakes, Lac Cornu and Lacs Noir. From Lacs Noir, you can retrace your steps back to Plan Praz, or make this a point-to-point hike, ending at L’Index.
This trail runs parallel to the Grand Balcon Sud trail, but it sits much higher in the mountains. The views of Mont Blanc look incredible and if you like the idea of hiking a rugged, low traffic trail, this is one to look into. We plan to do this hike on our next visit to Chamonix.
Learn more here.
10. Ride the Brévent Cable Car
The Brévent cable car takes riders to one of the highest viewpoints in Chamonix. This is one of the best places in Chamonix to get a panoramic view of Mont Blanc.
The journey starts in Chamonix. Ride the gondola to Plan Praz and then transfer to the cable car to Brévent. Once at Le Brévent, you are standing at 2,525 meters. From here, the view of Mont Blanc is breathtaking.
The view from Le Brévent | Best Things to Do in Chamonix
At Le Brévent, you can hike to Aiguillette des Houches, hike to Lac Cornu, or dine at La Panoromique, a restaurant that is famous for its awesome view of Mont Blanc.
Get pricing and timetables here. The Brévent Cable Car is included on the Mont Blanc Multipass.
11. Go Paragliding
Paragliding is one of the most thrilling things to do in Chamonix. Imagine soaring over the valley with big views of Mont Blanc. We have gone paragliding in other places around the world and it is a truly memorable experience.
Paragliding | Best Things to Do in Chamonix
12. Visit the Merlet Animal Park
Ibex, chamois, Sika deer, marmots, roe deer, and fallow deer all call this park home.
In this animal park, the animals roam freely. Visitors walk the trails through the park and have the opportunity to approach the animals. During the day, there are also educational programs about the animals and the flora.
A visit here lasts 2 to 4 hours. Merlet Animal Park is located in Les Houches and you can get here by car, by mountain biking, and on hiking trails. You can also take the train to Les Houches and then take a shuttle to the park.
Reservations in advance are mandatory.
Get hours, pricing, and learn more here.
13. Hike to the Argentière Glacier
Distance: 4.7 km (2.9 miles) out-and-back | Difficulty: Easy to moderate | Time: 1.5 to 3 hours
Argentière Glacier | Best Things to Do in Chamonix
Hiking to the Argentière Glacier is a great hike to do if you are looking for an easy excursion with beautiful views of the French Alps. The trail leads to an active glacier, where you can listen for chunks of ice breaking off in the summer sun.
This hike starts in Argentière, a small town that neighbors Chamonix. Ride the cable car to Joran. Similar to Lac Blanc and the Grand Balcon Nord hike, you are walking high in the mountains above the valley. The views of the mountain peaks are incredible, as is the view of the Argentière Glacier, once you reach the viewpoint.
LEARN MORE: How to Hike to the Argentière Glacier
14. Visit Glacier des Bossons
Glacier des Bossons is another large glacier that runs down from the Mont Blanc massif.
You can get a closer view of this glacier by riding a chairlift to a viewpoint of the glacier. The chairlift is located just outside of Chamonix. To get here, ride the train to Gare de Les Bossons and it is a 15-minute (1 km) walk to the chairlift station (Télésiège Glacier Des Bossons).
This was something we were really looking forward to, but unfortunately the chairlift was out of order on the day we tried to do this.
For the timetable and pricing of the chairlift, click here. You can purchase your ticket from the cashdesk at the chairlift. It is also included on the Mont Blanc Multipass.
15. Ride the Alpine Coaster
Located at the Chamonix Amusement Park, in the Planards area, is an alpine coaster. This small roller coaster in the mountains is 1300 meters long and has lots of twists and turns and is sure to delight people of all ages.
You pay per ride, but the more times you ride, the more money you save (it’s hard to go just one time). If you are here with kids, this is a must do on a visit to Chamonix.
Get pricing and more information here.
16. White Water Rafting and Hydrospeed
The Arve River runs through Chamonix, a river that is fed by the melting glaciers and snowmelt. Rafting this river is one of the best things to do in Chamonix.
Never heard of Hydrospeed? We hadn’t either, until we were here. Hydrospeed, also called riverboarding, is a cross between surfing and swimming in whitewater where you are aided by a small floating board and flippers. Since you will be swimming in a river fed by snowmelt, be prepared for cold temperatures. For this experience, you will also wear a wetsuit.
Learn more about Hydrospeed, riverboarding, and white water rafting in Chamonix here.
17. Stroll through Chamonix
Strolling through the town of Chamonix is a must do while you are here. This small, picturesque town is filled with restaurants, clothing shops, stores to outfit you with hiking clothes and climbing equipment, and a few museums.
Always in view is Mont Blanc, and if the skies stay clear into the afternoon, you will get a great view of it from everywhere in town.
Rue du Dr Paccard is the main pedestrian street that runs through the center of town. This street runs northeast to a large square. Sitting in this square is the Statue of Dr. Michel Paccard, which honors the first person to climb Mont Blanc.
Chamonix and the statue of Dr. Michel Paccard
18. Visit a Museum or Two
There are several museums in Chamonix that are worthwhile, depending on your interests.
The Alpine Museum documents the history of the Chamonix region, the first summit attempt of Mont Blanc, and Chamonix’s rise as an important winter sport venue. It’s worth it for those interested in the history of Chamonix and the early days of mountaineering. Get hours and pricing here.
The Crystal Museum displays mineralogy of the Alps, France, Europe, and other places around the world. There are almost 2000 crystals on display. Learn more here.
19. Dine on Fondue and Raclette
Fondue and raclette makes its way onto many menus throughout Chamonix. Dipping fresh baked bread and potatoes into gooey cheese is something to try at least once.
Our favorite place for fondue is Chez Constant.
Cheese fondue | Best Things to Do in Chamonix
20. Set Off on an Amazing Journey
Chamonix is the starting point for two multiday trekking adventures: the Tour du Mont Blanc and the Walker’s Haute Route.
The Tour du Mont Blanc is a multi-day trek that loops around Mont Blanc. It is typically done in 11 days, has a distance of 180 km (110 miles), and has roughly 10,700 meters (35,000 feet) of total ascent. It is shorter and easier than the Walker’s Haute Route.
The Walker’s Haute Route is a point-to-point walk that starts in Chamonix, France and ends in Zermatt, Switzerland. It takes most people 13 to 14 days, covering a distance of 204 km (127 miles) with 14,300 meters (47,000 feet) of total ascent.
We hiked the Walker’s Haute Route in summer 2022 and it was an experience of a lifetime. Crossing the French and Swiss Alps on foot is an extraordinary journey and you can learn more in our Guide to the Walker’s Haute Route.
The Walker’s Haute Route
Things to Do in Chamonix: On a Map
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How to Get to Chamonix
The best way to get to Chamonix is by train. Chamonix is well connected to other cities in France and Europe by a high-speed rail network. And once you are in Chamonix, there is little need for a car, because it is very easy to get around by train, cable car, and gondola.
The closest airport is Geneva, Switzerland. From Geneva, take the train or a shared shuttle to Chamonix. It takes about an hour and a half to travel from Geneva to Chamonix.
If you have a rental car, you can drive to Chamonix.
We had a rental car since prior to our visit we were hiking in the Dolomites. It was faster for us to travel to Chamonix by car than transfer multiple times by train. Once in Chamonix, we never used the car, choosing to get around by train instead, which was faster and more environmentally friendly.
We drove through the Aosta Valley in Italy, a gorgeous drive, entering Chamonix by way of the Tunnel du Mont Blanc, which is almost 12 km (7.2 miles) long. In our direction, from Italy into France, we didn’t have any traffic. But on several days while in Chamonix, we saw huge backups from France into Italy, so keep that in mind if you have plans to travel with a car and later enter Italy.
Chamonix train station
How Much Time Do You Need in Chamonix?
Plan on spending three or more days in Chamonix. This gives you enough time to visit Aiguille du Midi, hike a few trails, and explore the town of Chamonix. It is a beautiful area with lots of fun activities for all ages, so it’s worth spending several days here.
If you plan to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc or Walker’s Haute Route, spend a few days on the trails to warm up your legs, then one rest day, followed by your amazing trek into the mountains.
Mont Blanc Multipass
The Mont Blanc Multipass is a money saving pass that includes almost everything listed above.
It includes Aiguille du Midi (but not the Panoramic Mont Blanc cable car to Pointe Helbronner), the Tramway du Mont Blanc, the train to Montenvers, the Brevent cable car, the La Flegere cable car and L’Index chairlift, and the Glacier des Bossons chairlift. You can see the full list here.
The Multipass is sold by the number of days of your visit. With the pass, you will still need to reserve your time slot for Aiguille du Midi and the Tramway du Mont Blanc in advance. At places like the Brevent cable car, you simply scan your card to enter and get on the next available car. Not only does the pass save you money, it also saves you a lot of visits to a lot of ticket booths.
Learn more on the official website.
Where to Eat in Chamonix
Our favorite restaurant was Chez Constant, which serves wonderful cheese fondue and French dishes. Make your reservation in advance.
Le Comptoir des Alpes is a Michelin-starred restaurant that gets rave reviews. We ate here on a night when the entire town lost power due to thunderstorm but they were still able to put together a fantastic dinner for us, despite the lack of power.
Josephine Restaurant is located on the main square in Chamonix. They serve traditional French cuisine in an outdoor and indoor setting.
Josephine Restaurant | Best Things to Do in Chamonix
Every morning we got coffee and pastries at La Fournil Chamoniard and this place always had a line out the door.
Other places to try are Annapurna, Poco Loco, and Joia by Pizzeria Des Moulins.
Where to Stay in Chamonix
Be aware that many hotels in Chamonix do not have air conditioning. Normally that is not an issue, since the average daytime high in the summer is 21°C (70°F). During our visit in July, Europe was experiencing a heat wave and daytime temperatures repeatedly reached 32°C (90°F). If you find a hotel with air conditioning, that is a huge bonus.
LUXURY: Residence Le Cristal de Jade. This property offers suites as well as 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments with living areas and kitchenettes. There are washing machines onsite as well as a pool and spa. This is where we stayed and we loved it here, although without air conditioning, it was very warm in our room. It is located across the street from the Aiguille du Midi station and a short walk into the heart of Chamonix.
UPSCALE: Appart’hotel Bellamy Chamonix. This property also offers studios and 1, 2 and 3-bedroom apartments plus air conditioning! It is located a short distance outside of the Chamonix city center, with a 6-minute walk to the Aiguille du Midi station and a 10 minute walk into the town center.
MID-RANGE: Mont Blanc 43. This one bedroom apartment sleeps four people and comes with a kitchen, washing machine, and terrace with a view of Mont Blanc. It is located just outside the city center so it is a quick walk to everything.
MID-RANGE: Chalet Oryx. If you are traveling as a family or small group, this is a property to consider. There are two apartments to choose from, both with three bedrooms that can sleep six people. Each apartment has a kitchen, living area, and washing machine. This property sits a short walk outside of the Chamonix city center.
BUDGET: Hotel Richemond. This hotel sits in the city center of Chamonix so it is a quick walk to everything. Take your pick from single rooms, double rooms, and triple rooms. Some rooms have a small balcony with a view of the town.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Chamonix worth visiting?
With the cable car to Aiguille du Midi, big views of Mont Blanc, and its network of hiking trails and ski slopes, Chamonix is a must visit for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers.
What is Chamonix famous for?
Chamonix is famous for several reasons. The first Winter Olympics was hosted here in 1924. Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in Western Europe, looms over the town and with its location in the French Alps, Chamonix is a very popular hiking and skiing destination. It is also the starting point of the Tour du Mont Blanc and the Walker’s Haute Route.
How many days do you need in Chamonix?
Plan on spending at least three days in Chamonix. This gives you enough time to visit Aiguille du Midi, hike a few trails (in the summer) or go skiing (in the winter).
Is Chamonix worth it if you don’t ski or hike?
Absolutely. There is plenty to do in Chamonix that doesn’t involve hiking or skiing. Visit Aiguille du Midi and ride the Panoramic Mont-Blanc to Pointe Helbronner, Italy, ride the cable cars and trains into the mountains for views of Mont Blanc and Chamonix, go shopping, stroll through the town, and try one of Chamonix’s long list of restaurants, including quite a few that have Michelin stars.
If you have any questions about the best things to do in Chamonix in the summer, let us know in the comment section below.
More Information for Your Trip to Chamonix
CHAMONIX: Riding the cable car to Aiguille du Midi is one of the best things to do in Chamonix. Also, learn how to hike to Lac Blanc, how to hike to the Argentiere Glacier, and how to hike the Grand Balcon Nord Trail.
PARIS: For the top experiences in the city, read our article Best Things to Do in Paris. Learn how to visit Pere LeChaise Cemetery, plan your time with our 3 Day Paris Itinerary, learn where to get the best views of Paris, and read our Paris Food Guide for information on what to eat in Paris.
FRENCH RIVIERA: Plan your visit to the French Riviera and Provence in our 10 Day French Riviera Itinerary.
Read all of our articles about France in our France Travel Guide.
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