Prior to 2018, I’d never been to Chamonix before and had no idea what to expect. I knew it was a ski-resort town and home of the famous Mont Blanc, but what could I do there over the summer season when the snow had melted?
After a bit of research, I realized there are plenty of things to see and do in Chamonix in the summer!
Fast forward to today, after visiting Chamonix on multiple occasions since my first time, I’ve completely fallen in love with this French alpine town.
If you’re planning a visit to Chamonix, either as a standalone destination or as a stop in a longer holiday across Europe, this post is going to help you discover all the fun that Chamonix holds within its borders.
Here are the best things to do in Chamonix in the summer!
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What Is Chamonix Known For?
Chamonix is a stunning mountain resort town located in the Alps of France. This little alpine town is known for its incredible views of Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest peak. While it’s a really popular destination for winter sports, it also offers plenty of things to do during the summer months.
From outdoor activities like skiing and snowboarding to relaxing spa treatments, Chamonix has something for everyone.
For those looking to explore nature, hiking and biking trails abound in the area. Visitors can take advantage of the breathtaking views from some of the nearby mountaintops or discover hidden alpine lakes that offer an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Nature lovers will also find plenty of opportunities for wildlife viewing with its abundance of birds, wildflowers and other wildlife species.
Is it worth a visit? 100% YES!
Where Is Chamonix Located?
Chamonix is located in the French Alps, just 79 miles from Geneva, Switzerland. From Lyon, France, Chamonix is just about 220 miles away (about a 2.5-hour drive).
Specifically, Chamonix lies in the Haute-Savoie department of southeastern France near the Swiss border and just 20 miles from Mont Blanc — Western Europe’s highest peak.
The city sits at an altitude of 1,035 meters above sea level with some ski slopes reaching heights of over 3,700 meters. Visitors come here to enjoy everything from skiing and snowboarding to paragliding and ice skating on frozen lakes.
And because of its unique alpine location, you’re guaranteed amazing mountain views during every single season!
How To Get To Chamonix, France
For those looking to experience the breathtaking sights of this picturesque town, there are a few different ways to get to Chamonix.
By Car or Taxi
The most convenient way to get to Chamonix is by car, airport transfer, or taxi. From Geneva Airport (GVA), travelers can easily rent a car in Geneva or hire a private driver and make their way up the winding mountain roads leading into town.
In terms of car rentals, we like renting through Discover Cars when we’re in Europe.
Depending on traffic conditions journey time can range from 1-2 hours. With no traffic, the ride is just 1 hour long. While these are the most convenient options, they’re certainly going to be the most expensive.
Take A Bus
There are also bus services that depart regularly from the airport and other towns nearby, offering an affordable option with great views along the way.
The bus ride will cost just $10 USD and take approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.
During my last visit, I took the bus. It was a seamless and simple experience, and the fact that it was way cheaper than renting a car or hiring a driver was a huge plus. You can book bus tickets ahead of time on Omio.
Take A Full-Day Trip From Geneva
If you don’t want to deal with the logistics of getting to Chamonix on your own, then you’re in luck! Being just one hour away from Geneva by car, Chamonix can actually be seen in a day if you’re limited on time.
Here are a few popular full-day tours offered by various tour operators. The one you choose will depend on your interests for the day:
From Geneva: Guided Day Trip to Chamonix and Mont-Blanc – See the highest mountain peak in Europe, ride the cable car to Aiguille du Midi for panoramic views, and wander by foot to discover the town’s many delights
Chamonix, Aiguille du Midi & Mer de Glace Full-Day Trip – Take a drive through the picturesque Arve Valley from Geneva to Chamonix, enjoy breathtaking panoramas as you explore the dramatic landscapes by train and cable car as well.
Chamonix: Full-Day Cable Car and Train Tour from Geneva – Discover Chamonix Village, enjoy a ride by cable car to the summit, and in the afternoon board a mountain train to the Ice Sea.
With each of these tours, you’ll begin your journey with a scenic drive through winding roads along Lake Geneva.
As you make your way toward the town of Chamonix, you will be surrounded by picturesque alpine scenery that is sure to leave you in awe. Within just an hour, you will be transported into the heart of Chamonix!
Best Things To Do In Chamonix In The Summer
1. Ride A Gondola At Aiguilles Du Midi
Known as the highest cable car in France, discover breathtaking sights over crisp Alpine mountains by riding the gondola from Chamonix to Aiguille du Midi.
You can choose to have a guided visit on-site, learn more about the Mont Blanc area, and discover new things at the Mountaineering Museum.
A round-trip pass for the day will cost you ~€69.00. You will likely spend about 2-3 hours at the summit, though your trip could last longer if you plan to take in everything and all the spectacular views.
There’s also the opportunity to take the panoramic gondola that crosses from Aguille du Midi in France to the Pointe Helbronner in Italy. Look at getting a MontBlanc MultiPass if you plan on taking several of the summer lifts over Chamonix.
2. Step Into The Void
While in Aiguille du Midi, don’t forget to experience the ultimate viewing experiences. This glass room opened to the public in 2013, and you can access it free of charge with your Chamonix-Aguille du Midi lift pass.
A five-sided glass box at an altitude of 3,842 meters overlooking the mountain chasms might not be one for the faint-hearted, but you’re guaranteed awe-inspiring views. Step Into The Void might not always be accessible in busy seasons.
If you plan to take in many of the linked Chamonix sites and trips over several days, it’s worth looking at getting a Long-stay Mont Blanc summer MultiPass, which gives you access to several excursions. Buying advance passes will help save you a fair bit of money.
3. Go Alpine Hiking From Plan De L’Aiguille
The cable car trip from Chamonix to Aiguille du Midi is a two-part journey, with a midway stop at Plan de L’Aiguille, the starting point for many Alpine hikes.
If you prefer to hike back down to Chamonix from here, the 8.7-mile trek takes about five and a half hours, so make sure you have plenty of time. On the other hand, if you have a MultiPass, you might prefer to hike up from Chamonix to Plan de L’Aiguille and take the cable car back down.
Hiking these routes is free; the trail is marked and sign-posted for safety. The lower part of the trail takes you through the woods, but once you get above the tree line, you will find yourself rewarded with magnificent views of the glaciers and mountains.
While this is an intermediate-level hike, you can choose a more relaxed stroll with a hike to La Floria, which goes through the woodlands to arrive at La Floria chalet, where you can indulge in food and drinks.
4. Enjoy A Retro Ride On The Red Montenvers Train
This famous little red locomotive will take you on a tour up a mountainside railway track to the foot of the world-famous Mer de Glace glacier.
Although it’s now electric and no longer a steam locomotive, it remains one of only five rack-and-pinion railways in France. Riding on this vintage transport will be like hopping into the past.
The trip takes about 20 minutes, and once at Montenvers, you can explore the stunning ice caves at the Mer de Glace. Tickets for a round trip from Chamonix to Montenvers start at €21.00.
5. Explore Inside A Glacier At Mer De Glace
While at the glacier, take a trip inside by exploring the ice caves that tunnel under the glacier. Inside you’ll find an example of an Ice Design Hotel, complete with a reception, bar, and a chilly hotel room.
The glacier can get very crowded, especially in the later summer months, so time your trip to avoid the masses to enjoy this breathtaking spectacle at its finest. There are around 500 steps in the ice tunnels, so consider fitness.
While there, take in the crystal museum, and grab a drink at the café.
This is an experience that’s not the easiest to find around the world, so take advantage of it while you can!
6. Have A Drink At The Chalet Du Glacier Des Bossons
It can’t all be hikes and exploration – sometimes, we want to relax with a rich cup of coffee and sit back to marvel at the stunning views.
Head to the Chalet du Glacier des Bossons where the wooded glade hosts a fantastic little eatery with lovely food and amazing views.
You can access this outdoor deck restaurant by hiking up from Chamonix (about an hour) or taking the chairlift. Order a coffee and a crepe, and take in the Bossons’ Glacier.
7. Grab A Preseason Summer Match At The Ice Hockey Rink
Get a Mont Blanc beer at the onsite bar, and settle to watch the Pionniers play. An ice hockey match is fun on a Saturday night if you want to enjoy a sporting event and have a good time. Tickets range from €12 for students to €16 for standard adults.
8. Speed Down The Chamonix Luge Alpine Coaster
In the mood for a fun luge rollercoastering down the mountains through scenic woods? If your answer was yes, then head to the Chamonix Luge-Alpine Coaster.
A ride will cost €8 for a ride, and you can have two adults in the same luge. Go to Chamonix Leisure Park and enjoy the attractions, including this mountain roller coaster. It’s 1,300 meters long and features jumps, spins, and turns!
9. Take A Yoga Retreat In The Alps
If you’d prefer to get away from the adrenaline rush and chill in the peace of the mountainside, why not head to a seven-day hiking and yoga retreat?
Chamonix Valley has luxury chalets that hosts yoga retreats where you can hike along quiet trails leading through beautiful Alpine meadows, meditate, and take yoga classes. One example is Edelweiss Yoga Chalet.
If these classes are not available, look for other yoga retreats in Chamonix and enjoy peace and beauty in a stunning setting guaranteed to reset your spirit.
10. Rent A Mountain Bike And Hit The Trails
Alternatively, head to Chamonix for adventure and mountain biking trails, unlike any other. These are trails for experienced bikers, but they offer some of the most impressive views and trails.
Not ready to take the mountain trails? No worries, there are some easier rides available, and bikes can easily be rented in Chamonix.
Some companies are beginning to offer all-inclusive cycling camps, so if heading to Chamonix for your MTB thrills sounds appealing, check out the packaged mountain biking tours available.
11. Buy Alpine Honey And Local Cheese At The Weekly Market
If you’re in Chamonix over the weekend and want a break from hiking and adventure, why not head to the local weekly market and browse the local foods?
Every Saturday morning, the largest of the Chamonix markets can be found in Chamonix town center, Place du Mont Blanc. It offers more than fifty stands offering local produce like Alpine honey, local cheeses, meats, fish, and poultry.
Depending on the time of the year, Chamonix also has a few weekday markets.
12. Climb A Via Ferrata Route In Saint-Gervais
About 12 miles outside of Chamonix, you can head to Saint-Gervaise, which has a Via Ferrata – a mountain route that uses fixed ladders, bridges, and cables that allow walkers to climb. This isn’t an easy course, and you should go with a guide.
These protected Alpine climbing routes are a real adventure. If you’re not a confirmed climber, you can take one of the organized and supervised outings, which will introduce you to climbing a Via Ferrata and ensure you have all the correct equipment, and explain to you how to use it.
13. Clamber Along The Adventure Tree Park Course
If you like the idea of climbing, but the Via Ferrata seems a bit daunting, head to the Alpine woods Accro’Park at Lac des Galliards, a mere 20-minute walk from the Chamonix Center.
Here you’ll find an eco-tree parc with ropes, zip-lines, and bridges that build an obstacle course through the woodlands.
There’s a briefing session beforehand, so everyone gets to grips with safety, and courses range from toddler-friendly to more advanced courses with bungee jumps and zip wires through the trees.
If you’re traveling with younger kids, this is a great day out with something for everyone in a stunning woodland backdrop. Snacks and drinks are available from the park’s onsite café, and tickets cost €28 for adults.
14. Fly Over The Mountains In A Tandem Paraglider
Calling adrenaline junkies again!
What could be a more awesome and inspiring way to look down over these stunning mountains than flying like a bird? Take a 20–30-minute flight with your licensed and certified pilot and get airborne.
Indulge in acrobatics over the Alps and see Mont Blanc from the air–there’s nothing on this list more epic than this activity!
Paraglider flights will depend on the weather and can range in price from about €124-330 for a longer flight of an hour. This tandem paragliding tour on Viator has won a Badge of Excellence and comes highly rated so you know you’ll be in good hands with them.
You’ll need to dress warm and wear mountain boots for this utterly unforgettable adventure.
15. See Ibex And Chamois At The Merlet Animal Park
You’ll find this stunning animal park with its awe-inspiring views of Mont Blanc and the Alpine ranges. Walk through the park on one of their two trails to encounter animals like ibex, sika deers, chamois, mouflons, and marmots.
There are no fences standing between you and the animals as this is an immersion park, so don’t touch the animals, but admire them in their natural habitat and stay on the marked trail routes.
16. Get Your Jazz On With The Cosmo Jazz Festival
Planning a visit in July? You’re in for a treat then! For just a week in July, sites across Chamonix host an eclectic mix of talented musicians showcasing their work.
The annual Cosmo Jazz Festival is an entirely free festival that brings live music to different venues throughout Chamonix.
In the evening, the Chamonix Center and the Couttet Park become venues for concerts on covered stages. An excellent way to catch some of the great Chamonix musicians in residence and party the night away in the heart of the French Alps.
While the events are free, you’ll need to cover the cost of the Apline lifts to reach some venues.
17. Bodysurf Down The Arve River
Ready to hit some glacial waters and hydrospeed down the Arve River? Book yourself a Chamonix Hydrospeed, where you’ll be kitted out with a wet suit and given a finned board to experience this unforgettable trip down the river.
The activity lasts approximately 45 minutes, and the price of €56 covers instructor supervision, all your equipment, and a transfer back to the base.
If you prefer rafting or canoeing down the Arve, you can book these activities for your adrenaline rush.
18. Go Beer-Tasting At One Of The Chamonix Microbreweries
When you’re done with all the heart-rate-raising physical activities, why not go to one of Chamonix’s local microbreweries or wineries to indulge in a pint of local beer or a glass of wine?
Head to Big Mountain Brewing Co or Micro Brasserie de Chamonix for your taste of beer brewed with pure Mont Blanc glacial water.
If wine is more your style, why not go down to the end of Chamonix’s high street to Cha’cha’cha, where you can book a wine-tasting package to suit your palate and budget?
The drinking opportunities in town are endless.
19. Hike the Tour du Mont Blanc
The Tour du Mont Blanc, starting in the town of Chamonix, is the ideal adventure for any nature lover. Spanning over 10 days, this guided tour will take you through some of Europe’s most beautiful landscapes.
You’ll hike through three countries – France, Switzerland, and Italy – and pass along the summit of Mont Blanc, one of the highest peaks in the Alps.
I did this 10-day hiking trip back in 2018 (when I was first introduced to Chamonix) and found this to be the number one most epic backpacking trip I’ve done to date.
If you want to learn more about this multi-day hike that’s equal parts adventure and luxury travel, I’ve got posts dedicated to diving deeper into the TMB hike!
20. Enjoy the hotel spas
If you’re looking for something a little more luxurious on your visit to Chamonix, then be sure to check out the area’s spa hotels – they provide a truly relaxing experience!
At these spa hotels, you can enjoy treatments such as massage therapies and facials that make use of natural plant extracts from the local area. Additionally, many of them feature thermal baths so you can relax and unwind with some warm water therapy. Or maybe take advantage of the hotel sauna or steam room for even further relaxation.
I personally like the spa at L’Heliopic Spa and Resort. They have so many treatment rooms in their spa center, including an indoor pool area, steam room, sauna, tepidarium, and even an ice grotto!
You can check out other resorts and spa centers here.
21. Ride The Le Brévent Gondola
Discover the south slope and its great panoramic view of Mont Blanc! This is the second-most-spectacular lift from Chamonix, allowing you to access the opposite side of the valley from Mont Blanc.
You can either get off halfway at the Plan Praz station for the Grand Balcon Sud hike or the hike to Lake Cornu, or go all the way to Le Brévent for sky-high views and a restaurant.
Looking for food? In Plan Praz, La Bergerie serves traditional cuisine and snacks. In Le Brévent, the Le Panoramique offers meals as well as a unique panoramic view over Mont Blanc.
22. Arve Riverbank Stroll
Several trails are avaible for you to enjoy a flat walk or bike ride in the woods between Chamonix and Les Praz. On these trail, you can catch sights of paragliders making dramatic landings and enjoy mountain views while you’re at it.
23. Hike The Plan de l’Aiguille to Montenvers-Mer de Glace
This very popular 3-hour one-way hike is the most efficient way to incorporate a high-country adventure into your ride down from Montenvers-Mer de Glace back to Chamonix!
This spectacular trail rises and falls (mostly falls, dropping 1,500 feet from Plan de l’Aiguille to Montenvers and the Mer de Glace) while providing unforgettable views of the Alps.
This trail and is moderately difficult and is usually available after the month of June. You can get trail details and conditions at the Office de Haute- Montagne. While most of the trail is fairly straightforward, there are a few stretches that are steep and strenuous, with uneven footing and slippery rocks.
But if you wear sturdy shoes or hiking boots and watch your footing, you’ll be just fine!
From the Aiguille du Midi lift, get off halfway down at Plan de l’Aiguille, exit via the café/bar, then find signs leading down to Montenvers-Mer de Glace. Follow the main trail that is parallel to the gondola cables (being sure to avoid the spur trails to the right).
You’ll drop steadily for 15 minutes down to a wonderful refuge called Refuge du Plan de l’Aiguille, a great place for a quick mountain meals or drinks! From there, go right, hiking the scenic trail to Montenvers.
After hiking a little more than an hour, the trail finally splits. Follow signs uphill to Le Signal Forbes, rather than toward Montenvers–this route will be way more scenic and even easier.
Once at Montenvers, take the tiny tram down to the glacier and explore around. During the height of the summer, this area is filled with tourists visiting the Grotte de Glace (ice caves).
If you still have energy left in you, you can either hike back to Chamonix or take the train back from the railway station, like most hikers do.
Pro Tip: This route can often still be covered in snow up until early summer, so ask for advice at the lift station if you arrive in Chamonix before June.
24. Visit The Museum Of Crystals
One of the top indoor attractions in Chamonix is Musee Des Cristaux, which features an impressive collection of crystals and minerals from around the world.
The museum boasts over 200 specimens from 10 different countries, many of which are rare or unique to this particular region. Visitors can learn about how these precious stones were formed and appreciate their natural beauty.
The museum has interactive exhibits that allow visitors to get up close and personal with the various minerals on display. You can even bring home a piece of your own as souvenirs since there are many gift items available for purchase at the museum store.
25. Take A Day Trip
There are many options for day trips from Chamonix, as the town is located in the heart of the French Alps and is surrounded by beauty at every turn! If you find yourself with more time on your hands while in the Chamonix area, some really cool towns to check out nearby include:
- Visiting the nearby town of Annecy, known for its picturesque old town and lake.
- Visit Courmayeur, another picturesque alpine town known for its ski resorts and as another gateway to Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Western Europe.
- Visit Aosta, a city and province in the Aosta Valley region of northwest Italy, known for its Roman ruins, medieval castle and beautiful alpine scenery. This is your chance to get some pasta, gelato, and a cappuccino!
- Take a train over to Martigny, a small city in Switzerland, known for its well-preserved Roman ruins, its proximity to the world-famous Matterhorn mountain, and its many vineyards producing wine.
- Visit the village of Saint Gervais where you can take the scenic Mont Blanc Tramway.
- Visit the nearby towns of Megeve and Les Contamines.
Where To Stay In Chamonix, France
L’Heliopic Spa and Resort – At the end of our Tour du Mont Blanc hike, we stayed at this hotel post-hike and loved every second of our stay! The complimentary spa access meant we could soak our weary muscles and relax at the same time. I would definitely recommend this hotel to anyone looking for a relaxing stay in Chamonix.
Alpina Eclectic Hotel – Offering stunning views of Mont Blanc, this 4-star hotel is located in the center of Chamonix, close to both the Aiguille du Midi cable car and the train station. If you’re looking to relax, the hotel has a spa and a wellness area with a hot tub, hammam, sauna and massage room.
Hôtel Mont-Blanc Chamonix – Hotel Mont-Blanc offers upscale and stylish accommodations. This one’s by far one of the most luxurious options in town — the hotel staff goes above and beyond for its guests. If you have the money to treat yourself, this is the hotel to splurge on!
Chamonix: Essential Travel Tips
- During the summer, you’ll want to beat the crowds by riding the lifts by 8:00am. Trails are quieter the earlier in the day you go.
- The only lift with serious crowd challenges is the big one–Aiguille du Midi. In the high season (especially on a good day after a stretch of bad weather), take an early lift to beat the crowds and afternoon clouds (no later than 8:00am).
- Many hotels, restaurants, and lifts close between seasons, usually from mid-April to mid-June and again from mid-Sept to mid-Dec. Be sure to check ahead in case it’s the off-peak season.
- Some restaurants in Chamonix can be fully-booked throughout summer evenings. Try to make reservations ahead of time.
- For the most up-to-date weather when you’re there, check at your hotel, the TI, or online here.
- For current lift information and to book the Aiguille du Midi lift, you can book here.
- Supermarkets are plentiful. The Super-U is the big one and a great place to pick up edible souvenirs and snacks.
France Travel Insurance
This is a no-brainer. When traveling internationally, be sure to get yourself some travel insurance. Especially in a place like Chamonix, where you’ll be hiking and partaking in more adventurous outdoor activities!
I’ve heard of too many unfortunate experiences where friends and family have had baggage lost/stolen, hotels canceled, or have had unexpected medical emergencies while traveling where they’ve had to cut their trips short.
True story alert — in 2022, my partner even had his shoulder completely dislocated while surfing in Mexico, resulting in a $950 USD emergency room bill that we had to pay out of pocket for! Not fun and not cheap.
Without travel insurance, you would have to pay out of pocket for these mishaps. This is why I get travel insurance for all my international trips now!
One of the best budget-friendly travel insurances for those traveling outside their home country is SafetyWing.
SafetyWing Insurance provides coverage for unexpected illness or injury, including eligible expenses for hospital, doctor or prescription drugs. This means that if you get ill or injured, they will cover the medical expenses.
In addition, it provides emergency travel-related benefits such as emergency medical evacuation (much needed if you like to go hiking / trekking in the wild), travel delay, and lost checked luggage.
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