Tour du Mont Blanc is easily the best multi-day hike in Europe. You hike through three countries (France, Italy, and Switzerland) on an 11-day hike through the Alps. Every day is a new wonder and it was one of our favorite trips of my life. The trail is 170km and 10,000m in altitude.
Tour du Mont Blanc was one of the most challenging things I ever accomplished but also was the most beautiful hike of my life. It is absolutely worth it and it is something I recommend to any friend that is up to the challenge. I spent my 32nd birthday hiking on the Tour de Mont Blanc and it was just a spectacular day.
Here are 10 things to know before you go.
1) Pre-book all your mountain stays in the refugees
The Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) is a popular trail so the refugees usually sell out. Pre-book your stays along the way in advance. The official Tour du Mont Blanc website is fantastic allowing you to book your stays by calculating how long you want to walk each day.
2) Get the meals at the refugees
Most of the refugees provide a hot meal when you arrive, breakfast in the morning, and a packed lunch. Sometimes it is for an extra fee but it is usually worth it (especially at the French and Italian Refugees). It helps a lot with keeping your backpack light.
3) Pack Light! There are grocery stores along the way.
After a few days of hiking, you will feel the downhill in your knees and joints. Keep your backpack light to only the essentials. There are a lot of tiny towns on the route with grocery stores so you can restock easily on snacks, Band-Aids/plasters, and anything else you need.
4) Water everywhere
There is amazingly fresh delicious alpine water through the trail so you can easily refill throughout the day.
5) No guide is required but get the Classic Tour du Mont Blanc Book
We did not use a guide and you really do not need one. The trail is super well labeled. Follow the trail markers labeled TMB and buy the classic Tour du Mont Blanc. It is a small but mighty book that tells you everything you need to know about each leg of the trail.
6) Take the full 11 days
Take the full 11 days. The days that are shorter in distance on the route are the most beautiful. When we looked at the trail map, we decided to combine some of the shorter days together and did the entire trail in 8 days. We had to speed through some of the most beautiful parts and our knees were destroyed by the end of the trip. It was our only regret of the trip. Take the full 11 days; your knees will thank you.
7) Get Hiking Poles
Hiking Poles make a HUGE difference on a multi-day hike. They will save you on the downhill. If this is your first multi-day, it is very different than just a day hike. You will feel the difference with the Hiking Poles. The cheap option from Amazon is good enough. Check your airline restrictions though depending on the airline, you might need to check your bag due to the Hiking Poles.Check Amazon for best hiking poles Hiking Poles
8) Get one private room in the middle of the hike
If your budget allows, schedule a private room in one of the refugees halfway through the trip. After sharing a toilet and shower for days, having one of your own is a prized luxury. It was worth the price tag for us to have a long warm guilt-free shower. It was also the day we washed all our clothes for the rest of the trip.
9) Download Audiobooks/Podcasts
We love to hike with audiobooks. It brings such beautiful new thoughts to the long days of hiking. We love our audible subscription and like to listen to the same book when we hike and discuss it on breaks.
10) Avoid the UTMB Weekend
Every year one of the biggest ultra-marathon events is the Tour du Mont Blanc. Unless you want to watch the race, avoid this weekend as it draws a crowd of 50k.
Need inspiration for the rest of your trip? Check out our article about Paragliding Switzerland!