7 Fantastic Things To Do In Chamonix (And How To Get There)
Chamonix is a renowned mountain town located in the French Alps, near the borders of France, Switzerland, and Italy. It is surrounded by stunning peaks, with Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe, dominating the skyline. If you are doing the Tour du Mont Blanc, there are loads of things to do in Chamonix before or after your hike.
Chamonix is internationally acclaimed as a premier destination for outdoor activities, attracting adventurers from around the globe. The area is famous for its ski resorts but transforms into a haven for mountaineers and hikers over the summer months.
In this guide, I've hand-picked the top things to do in Chamonix. It's worth spending a few extra days exploring this stunning area.
Top 7 Things to Do in Chamonix
Once you arrive in this quaint mountain town, you will find that there is enough to do to make it worth extending your trip. These are our favourite activities around Chamonix:
1. Hike The French Alps
The number one reason most people visit Chamonix is to hike the surrounding mountain trails. Tour Du Mont Blanc (4-Day highlights and 10-Day itinerary options) is the most popular of these trails.
Another great trekking tour near Chamonix is the Vues du Mont Blanc, which takes you past mountain lakes and glaciers close to Mont Blanc and Lake Geneva.
For more serious mountaineers, you may want to conquer the summit of this region's most famous mountain - Mont Blanc. At 4,808m, climbing to the top is not to be taken lightly! If that sounds like your type of challenge, check out the Skyhook Climb Mont Blanc tour.
2. Aiguille du Midi Cable Car
The Aiguille du Midi cable car is a must-visit attraction in Chamonix. This famous cable car takes you from the town centre to an altitude of 3,842 meters in just 20 minutes. It offers stunning panoramic views of the French, Swiss, and Italian Alps. At the summit, you can:
Step into the Void: Experience the thrill of standing on a glass platform with a thousand meters of empty space beneath your feet.
Walk around the summit terraces: Admire the breathtaking view of Mont Blanc and watch climbers tackle the Frendo Spur or hikers explore the Mer de Glace glacier.
Explore the Alpine Museum: Discover the highest museum in the world, dedicated to famous mountaineers and their daring adventures.
Plan for a two to three hour visit and remember to bring warm clothes, sunglasses, and sun cream. You can book tickets on the official Mont Blanc Resort website (it'll save you 30 minutes of queues in the busy season).
3. Go Paragliding in Chamonix
Chamonix is an iconic destination for paragliding, boasting stunning landscapes and easily accessible take-off areas via ski lifts. Experienced and beginner paragliders can enjoy the thrill of flying near Mont Blanc.
To find an instructor or paragliding school, visit the guide's office in Chamonix. They can connect you with experienced paragliding guides who will share their knowledge and expertise during both the summer and winter seasons.
4. Montenvers Train and Mer de Glacier
Ride the historic Montenvers Train to reach the Mer de Glace glacier. After a short ride on the cog-wheel train, you will have a chance to admire the end of the glacier and even explore an ice cave!
Don't miss visiting the Glaciorium to learn more about the glacier's formation. This trip offers a unique perspective on the natural wonders of the area.
5. Explore The Town
The town itself has a charming Alpine atmosphere, with traditional wooden chalets, cobbled streets, and a bustling town centre. It offers a wide range of amenities, including shops, restaurants, and bars. Try local favourites, including fondue, raclette, and tartiflette.
If you're around over the weekend, visit the village market held every Saturday (07:00 -13:00) in Chamonix town centre. Discover fresh local produce (including local cheeses fresh from the farm) and unique handicrafts.
6. Rent a Bike
Chamonix is famous for its mountain bike routes. Rent a bike and explore Chamonix's extensive network of trails. Experience adrenaline-pumping descents and scenic rides amidst breathtaking scenery.
Most bike rental companies give you the option of hiring a guide if you're keen to have someone show you the area.
7. Try Via Ferrata
Via ferrata is a great way to try your hand at climbing in a safe environment. Traverse iron ladders, suspension bridges, and rock faces while attached to a cable by a safety lead.
There are a few guided via ferrata tours around Chamonix ranging from beginner-friendly (suitable for the whole family) to more advanced, longer, and steeper cableways. It's a unique way to challenge yourself and enjoy stunning mountain views.
If you are interested, check out our Beginners Via Ferrata tour. It's a great way to experience this sport and learn the ropes (literally!) from an experienced guide.
Getting to Chamonix
Chamonix is easily accessible from various European cities. Here is a quick overview of various options for getting to the town:
By Plane - Geneva to Chamonix
The quickest and most convenient way to reach Chamonix is to fly into one of the airports close by.
While Geneva International Airport is the nearest option, Chambery, Turin, and Lyon airports are also viable alternatives. Geneva boasts the largest number of flights from various destinations. Upon arrival, you can take a direct shuttle from the airport to Chamonix.
For those participating in the Skyhook TMB highlights trip, airport transfers from Geneva to Chamonix are included for your convenience.
For those already in France or a neighbouring country, driving to Chamonix is a feasible option. The extensive European motorway network ensures a seamless journey to this charming town.
For an eco-friendly alternative, consider taking the train to Chamonix. While not the fastest method, the train station is conveniently located in the town centre.
Be prepared for a few transfers along the way, but enjoy the perk of being able to carry more luggage without extra fees. It's best to check the official SNCF website (French National Railway Company) for this.
Long-distance buses or coaches offer an affordable and environmentally conscious option for reaching Chamonix.
Keep in mind that the journey may be longer and the seats less comfortable than other transport modes. Lots of people use AlpyBus for this.