Planning a Chamonix itinerary is a pleasure with so much to see and do in this idyllic mountain town. Often dubbed the “Gateway to the European Alps,” Chamonix beckons travellers from across the globe with its breathtaking landscapes and adrenaline-pumping pursuits. Spending 2 or 3 days in Chamonix feels like a real adventure.
This diverse town is surrounded by a dramatic amphitheatre of towering peaks, the highest in Western Europe, Mont Blanc chief among them. But Chamonix is more than just a mountaineering paradise. Its vibrant alpine culture, quaint streets lined with cosy cafes and shops, and a year-round calendar of outdoor activities make it a magnet for those seeking both natural beauty and cosmopolitan charm.
From winter’s world-class skiing and snowboarding to summer’s hiking, paragliding, and mountain biking, Chamonix’s appeal spans the seasons.
How Many Days in Chamonix?
Before you start reading about all the incredible activities on offer, you will first need to decide how many days to spend in Chamonix. The answer to this question varies considerably depending on what you want to achieve during your stay and what time of year you are visiting.
If you are hoping to do some multi-day hikes or visit for a ski holiday and enjoy some winter sport, you could easily spend a week or more in the Chamonix Valley – there are plenty of things to do in Chamonix and the surrounding area to keep you occupied. For the purposes of this guide, we will be focusing on 2 to 3 days.
With 2 days in Chamonix, you will have plenty of time to explore, head up above the clouds to Aiguille Du Midi, visit a glacier, sample local cuisine, discover one of the incredible hiking trails and even go paragliding. You could squeeze some of these things into 1 day in Chamonix as a day trip but taking a full 2 days means you can see the sights without feeling rushed.
If you are lucky enough to have an extra day to spend 3 days in Chamonix, you can either opt to spend a relaxing day in the valley, browsing the shops, taking part in a round of golf, recharging at the spa or taking a day trip out to a nearby destination.
Chamonix is right on the border with Italy and Switzerland so the possibilities for day trips are endless. From day hikes in the mountains to vibrant cities, you will find our top 5 at the end of this guide.
Getting To & Around Chamonix
Long gone are the days when accessing a mountain town would be laborious, Chamonix is well connected by road and rail ensuring easy access to this alpine paradise.
Whilst Chamonix doesn’t have an airport of its own, the majority of travellers that wish to travel by air, use the nearby Geneva Airport. This major international airport is approximately 90 kilometres (56 miles) away. From there, you can take a direct shuttle, private transfer or train to Chamonix.
This is a popular way of reaching Chamonix both in the summer and the winter. There is also the option to fly into Lyon or Milan if it suits your travel plans but these are both further away than Geneva so transfer times will be longer.
If you are already in Europe and wish to use a more environmentally friendly method of travel, Chamonix is well-connected to both the French and Swiss railway networks. The Chamonix-Mont-Blanc train station is in the town centre, making it easy to arrive by train from major cities like Paris, Lyon, and Geneva. You can view train schedules here.
Reaching Chamonix by car is straightforward, via the A40 motorway from Geneva, Lyon, and Annecy. The journey is beautiful, offering scenic views of the Alps as you ascend. If you don’t already have a car, there is no need to hire one to reach Chamonix.
Once you have arrived, getting around is a breeze. The town itself is very walkable, with one main high street and several smaller areas along the river where you will find vibrant bars and restaurants. The main attractions are reached by cable car or train, both easily accessible from Chamonix town.
If you do want to explore further afield, Chamonix has an efficient and eco-friendly public transportation system. Buses and trains connect various parts of the town, including popular ski resorts such as Les Houches and La Flegere.
Often when you stay at a hotel or campsite on the outskirts of the town, they will provide you with an unlimited free bus pass for the duration of your stay.
2 or 3 Days in Chamonix Itinerary
Day 1 – Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix Town and Hiking
Day one of our Chamonix itinerary works for both summer and winter visits. The Aiguille du Midi cable car runs year-round (only shutting down for maintenance and bad weather) and the town centre is potentially even busier during the winter than the summer so all the bars, shops and restaurants remain open.
If you do happen to be visiting while there is snow on the ground, you may want to head out and hit the slopes instead, especially if you have limited time. The winter sports here are comparable to none – Chamonix was the home to the first Winter Olympics. There are 5 main ski areas in the Chamonix Valley to choose from (Grands Montets, Les Houches, Le Tour/Balme, La Flegere and Le Brevent).
If you are not interested in flying down the mountain on skis or a snowboard, you could opt to go snowshoeing instead or ice skating in the town centre.
The streets of Chamonix offer a wide variety of places to enjoy a delicious breakfast to fuel up for a day of adventure in the mountains. France is notorious for its buttery, flaky pastries such as croissants and pan au chocolats, so it’s easy to grab and go before heading off to our first adventure.
Head to Le Munchie on the bustling street Rue des Moulins for a classic French breakfast, including some of the best freshly squeezed orange juice you’ll ever have.
Aiguille Du Midi
Ascending to Aiguille du Midi is an incredible journey up into the clouds high above the town centre. The ascent begins in Chamonix town, where travellers board the cable car that traverses the rugged terrain with astonishing ease.
As you ascend, the surrounding landscapes undergo a mesmerising transformation. The town below shrinks to a miniature tableau, and the imposing mountain peaks come into focus. At the mid-station, you can choose to get out, take some photos, go for a short hike or get a drink at the cafe before taking on the slightly steeper, second cable car.
The final ascent is incredibly steep and exposed so if you are not a fan of heights, you may want to sit this one out. It is also off-limits to children under 12 and dogs due to the thinner oxygen at the summit.
At an altitude of 3,842 metres, the Aiguille du Midi summit station awaits. Here, a world of pristine snow and ice opens up before you, and the observation terraces provide 360-degree views across the French Alps.
Mont Blanc looms to the south, you can even spot intrepid explorers heading across the sea of snow and ice to reach the summit on a clear day. It can get a little chilly on the observation decks, even during the summer months so make sure to pack a few extra layers.
Head into the station building to discover the history of Aiguille du Midi and a look into the mountaineering heritage of the area. Here, you will also find ‘Step Into The Void’, a clear glass box, which juts out from the cliff face, offering a dizzying, transparent platform above a sheer drop. There is usually a short queue to enter the box and have your photo taken but it moves quickly.
If you are finding it hard to tear yourself away from the incredible views, you could opt to stay up at the Aiguille du Midi station for lunch as there is a little cafe where you can find souvenirs, light snacks and drinks. Prices are slightly inflated here so if you want to save some pennies, it’s best to head back down into the town to get lunch.
Your options are endless when it comes to cuisine in Chamonix. There is a multicultural food scene with Japanese, American, Italian and of course, traditional French Savoie dishes.
For lunch, one of the best spots is Cool Cats. They serve up the most incredible locally sourced hotdogs with a wide range of toppings such as sauerkraut, crispy onions and pico de gallo. They also have an entire vegan menu to choose from.
Explore the town
After grabbing a bite to eat, you will be refuelled and ready to explore the town itself.
The heart of Chamonix is Place Balmat, a bustling square adorned with colourful flowers, surrounded by inviting cafes and boutiques. Chamonix’s Alpine Museum, a treasure trove of mountaineering history, is just around the corner and is worth a visit if you are interested in alpinism.
Chamonix is home to some of the Alps’ best shopping opportunities, from fashion boutiques to outdoor gear shops. The town is renowned for its high-quality mountaineering and skiing equipment shops, making it the perfect one-stop-shop for adventurers seeking the latest gear whether you’re visiting Chamonix in the summer or winter.
Snell Sports is one of the largest outdoor equipment stores and has a great range of products, whether you need a new pair of hiking socks or a full set of skis.
Throughout the town you will also find plenty of artisanal crafts, the Chamonix knife maker, cheese makers, chocolatiers and more. If you want to take a sample of the delicious regional delights home to share with family, head to Refuge Payot to discover local saucissons, cheeses and wines.
Once you are done with the main street, head down to the river path and step into an alpine fairytale as you wander back along the crashing icy blue water that surges down from the glaciers above. Along the banks you will find little pockets of green spaces where you can, find a bench, relax and watch the world go by.
There are thousands of hiking trails in and around the Chamonix valley, from daring mountain climbing adventures to strolls along the river and everything in between. For the purpose of this itinerary, we have included 4 options for accessible, short hikes that are the perfect way to spend the afternoon.
Le Petit Balcon Sud – For a leisurely walk with picturesque scenery, consider taking the “Petit Balcon Sud” trail. It runs along the southern side of the Chamonix Valley and offers fantastic views of Mont Blanc and the surrounding peaks. You can choose a section of the trail that suits your preferred length or, if you’d like to do the entire hike, it’ll take around 3 hours.
Chalet de la Floria – This easy hike starts from the Col des Montets and takes you to Chalet de la Floria, a picturesque mountain hut with stunning views of the Aiguilles Rouges and the Mer de Glace glacier. At only 4.2km, it’s a great choice for families and beginner hikers.
Aiguillette des Houches – Beginning at the Bellevue cable car station in Les Houches, this hike leads you to Aiguillette des Houches, offering spectacular views of the Chamonix Valley and the Aiguilles Rouges. This one takes much longer (around 4 hours) and has much more elevation with 800m to conquer but the views really are worth the climb. The path is user friendly so you will often find active families out soaking in the majestic mountain views.
Chalets de Chailloux – The Chalets de Chailloux hike is a moderately challenging trek that takes you up onto the other side of the valley to Aiguille du Midi. This hike offers a mix of lush forests, alpine meadows, and breathtaking views across to Mont Blanc and its surrounding peaks.
Seeing as it’s our first night in Chamonix, it’s time to seek out some regional Haute-Savoie cuisine typical of the French Alps. The dishes may seem simple, mostly melted cheese, meat and potatoes but after a busy day, there is nothing better than rich comfort food.
The best place for classic fondue, raclette, tartiflette and a cosy atmosphere is Le Monchu. There is outdoor heated seating as well as an indoor restaurant area, complete with open fires, blankets and chalet-style decor. No trip to Chamonix is complete without one meal of dipping things on hot cheese.
Although this area may not be the most well-known for its wines in France, it’s worth trying some of the Savoie blends.
Day 2 – Montenvers Train, Mer de Glace, Brévent & More!
We are starting day two of our Chamonix itinerary with one of the most scenic train journeys in the world. The Montenvers Train is a historic cogwheel railway that has been transporting passengers to the Montenvers Mer de Glace station since 1908.
The journey begins in Chamonix town and whisks you away on a picturesque ride through thick pine forests and alpine meadows. The train ascends just under 1000 m in 20 minutes to its final destination, the Hotel du Montenvers station at Mer De Glace.
Mer De Glace
The Montenvers Train terminates at the Mer de Glace station, providing access to the spectacular Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice) glacier. As you step off the train, you’ll be met with awe-inspiring views of this massive ice field, which stretches for 7 km and descends deep into the Mont Blanc Massif. You can opt to descend to reach the glacier via a steep staircase or take a short funicular.
If the conditions are right, you can also visit the Ice Cave, carved deep into the glacier. Inside you will find intricate ice sculptures, tunnels, and chambers. The ethereal blue hues of the ice create an otherworldly atmosphere.
Whilst it is an incredible place, it also serves as a stark reminder that this glacier and other glaciers across the world are melting at an alarming rate. Make sure you stop to read the information boards on the way in as well as the markers of where the glacier used to reach.
If you want to have a truly unforgettable lunch, there is also a restaurant at the Mer de Glace. Located deep within the heart of the glacier, having lunch here gives you the opportunity to enjoy a delicious meal surrounded by the mesmerising ice formations and breathtaking views of the surrounding Alps. Indulge in hearty dishes, including traditional Savoyard specialities and other regional dishes.
Brévent is one of the most accessible peaks in the Chamonix Valley, offering a bird’s-eye view across to Mont Blanc and the surrounding peaks. The cable car to reach the summit is behind the tourist information centre, on the opposite side of the town to the Aiguille du Midi base station.
There is a footpath below the cable car but it is very steep so this should only be attempted by experienced hikers.
As you ascend, the expansive vistas become increasingly dramatic. Once at the summit, you’re greeted by a 360-degree panorama that showcases the grandeur of the Mont Blanc Massif and even across to Switzerland.
Here you will find several hikes, a cafe and endless photography opportunities. The Brévent cable car is child and dog friendly unlike Aiguille du Midi so you can bring the whole family up to enjoy the views.
For the ultimate thrill, paragliding back down into the valley is an unforgettable experience. You can take off from various launch sites around Chamonix, but Brévent is one of the most popular due to the incredible views across to Mont Blanc.
Strapped to a certified tandem pilot, you’ll soar effortlessly through the Alpine skies, revelling in the sensation of freedom as you take in the majestic landscapes below. It is more affordable than you may think – you can pre-book some options here.
If you have 2 days in Chamonix, this is the perfect way to round off your trip.
Day 3 – Hiking or a Day Trip
If you have 3 days in Chamonix, we have included a few different options including nearby day hikes and more cosmopolitan towns and cities.
Annecy is a fairy-tale destination, just 1.5 hours away from Chamonix. This charming town is renowned for its enchanting Old Town, crisscrossed by winding canals and adorned with colourful mediaeval buildings.
The jewel in Annecy’s crown is unquestionably Lake Annecy, one of Europe’s cleanest and most stunning lakes, surrounded by majestic mountains.
There is plenty to do here on a day trip, from strolling the cobbled streets dipping into bakeries and boutiques to mountain biking and boat tours.
Day Hike – Lac Blanc
The day hike to Lac Blanc from Chamonix unveils some of the most breathtaking scenery in the French Alps. Beginning your journey in Chamonix, you’ll first need to take the cable car to La Flégère, which serves as the starting point for this iconic hike.
The well-marked trail signposted as ‘Lac Blanc’ meanders through alpine meadows, fragrant pine forests, and rocky terrain.
As you ascend, the views become increasingly jaw-dropping. At the top, the turquoise waters of Lac Blanc glisten amid a natural amphitheatre of towering peaks, including the majestic Mont Blanc itself. This is a popular place for photographers, if you are lucky enough to pick a clear, still day, the lake acts as the perfect mirror to the surrounding mountains.
The bulk of the elevation is taken up by the cable car so you will only have to ascend 360m on foot. The hike itself takes between 2 and 4 hours but it’s worth packing a picnic to tuck into beside the lake before heading back.
If you are hoping to combine the serene outdoor paradise of Chamonix with the hustle and bustle of the city streets, taking a day trip to Geneva is an excellent option.
As you arrive, you’ll be greeted by the iconic Jet d’Eau, a towering water fountain that symbolises the city. Start your day with a visit to Geneva’s Old Town, with its mediaeval buildings and charming streets.
Stroll along the beautiful shores of Lake Geneva, perhaps taking a boat ride to soak in the serene vistas of the Alps and the Jura Mountains. For art enthusiasts, the Red Cross Museum and the Museum of Art and History are must-visits.
Before you head back, treat yourself to a sumptuous Swiss meal at one of the city’s gourmet restaurants or indulge in iconic Swiss chocolate or luxury boutiques.
Our final day trip takes place in Italy, on the other side of the Mont Blanc Tunnel. You can take your own car through but it is on the expensive side at around €50 for a car, €70 for a campervan. For a day trip, your best bet is to take a bus which is much cheaper.
Start our day trip in Aosta, the valley’s main town, known for its well-preserved Roman ruins. Wander through the old town’s cobbled streets, where you’ll discover the Arch of Augustus and the Roman Theater.
After exploring Aosta itself, it’s time to venture deeper into the valley to embrace the breathtaking Alpine scenery. On a clear day, Mont Blanc, Matterhorn, and Gran Paradiso are all visible, making it a paradise for mountaineers, photographers and outdoor enthusiasts.
In the summer, hike along one of the many picturesque trails, or during the winter months, get your adrenaline pumping by going skiing and snowboarding on the pristine slopes.
No visit to Italy is complete without savouring the region’s culinary delights. Aosta Valley is renowned for its hearty cuisine, a blend of alpine and classic Italian Mediterranean. Dishes include fontina cheese, polenta, mouthwatering cured meats and of course, plenty of pasta and pizza.
Where to Stay in Chamonix
Résidence Mummery – This cosy guesthouse is an excellent mid-range option in the centre of Chamonix. they have a handful of rooms to choose from, gorgeous views of the mountain, and plenty of other nice amenities. Click here to check availability
Heliopic Hotel & Spa – If you’re looking for luxury during your stay in Chamonix, then you’re sure o love this hip hotel in the centre of town. Not only do they offer an array of plush rooms to choose from, there is also a full-service spa and countless other amenities available to guests. Click here to check availability
Appart’hôtel Bellamy – This aparthotel is a great choice for those who want a self-catering option while visiting Chamonix. There are a few fully furnished apartments to choose from while also offering the comfort and conveniences of a traditional hotel. Click here to check availability
Chamonix Lodge – If you’re looking for a hostel in the town of Chamonix, then this is a good option. They have a number of dorms and privates to choose from along with free breakfast and a hot tub, sauna and lovely terrace to enjoy. Click here to check availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Chamonix hotels!
Chamonix is the perfect alpine destination, with a charming town centre and endless adventure opportunities. Whether you are visiting in the summer or the winter, for a long weekend or an entire fortnight, you are guaranteed to fall in love with this beautiful valley.
Are you planning a visit to Chamonix? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!