Tour du Mont Blanc makes for a fantastic long-distance walking adventure for most reasonably fit hikers. But, even if you’re relatively in shape, it’s essential to know how to prepare for trekking Mont Blanc. You’re in the backcountry, after all.

Nothing beats exploring the backdrop of three incredible European countries via foot—and the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) offers the opportunity to do just that! Therefore, it’s essential to come prepared to ensure maximum enjoyment as you traverse the alpine wonderlands of three European countries. Don’t know where to start? Read on to find out some essential tips!

Do whatever you can to strengthen your lungs
Do whatever you can to strengthen your lungs

How to Train for the Tour du Mont Blanc

Not sure where to start when it comes to how to prepare for trekking Mont Blanc? First things first: training.

Think about how many days you’ll be hiking: most likely 9-11 days, 105.6mi (if you complete the entire trail), with the highest elevation spiking at 8478ft. You’ll undulate throughout the whole trek, gaining and losing a total of around 36089ft. It’s essential to consider altitude sickness as well!

We suggest embarking on some day hikes or overnight trips with the backpack you’re planning on rocking throughout the trek. Then, for the last few training sessions, aim to pack whatever you think you’ll bring along your Mont Blanc adventure, granting time to remove and add items if need be.

If you aren’t used to altitude changes, you can always travel slowly to ease the chance of getting dizzy, headaches, or nausea. Consider bringing some pills along as well. You can either get a prescription from a medical provider or bring along over-the-counter drugs in the event of a mild headache. The high altitude may force you to rest for a little longer than anticipated as well!

If you can’t get out for weekly hikes for the months leading up to your trip, you can always get in some HIIT workouts, get on the elliptical at your gym, or do whatever you can to strengthen your lungs!

It’s essential to book your refuges well in advance
It’s essential to book your refuges well in advance

Book your accommodations in advance

Thinking of doing this tour self-guided and independently? It’s essential to book your refuges well in advance. While you can find a handful of refuges available for booking, some of the best mountain huts aren’t easy to find online. So booking your huts by yourself on your own can get hectic and time-consuming.

In the end, it may be better to book a Tour du Mont Blanc tour, one that caters to your style and how much time you have. It’s more than likely that you’ll spend less or around the same amount of money on a self-guided or guided pre-planned tour, thanks to some of the deals tour operators get on accommodation.

Throughout the trek, you’ll find a range of places to stay, from more lavish hotels to dorm rooms to tenting out for the more experienced adventurer.

The accommodations book up fast, so we strongly suggest locking in your refuges (or your tour) at least 6-8 months in advance. Even booking in February for a July outing is considered risky. Again, tours are beneficial since many operators offer fixed departures with pre-booked accommodations.

We highly recommend tackling in June or September
We highly recommend tackling in June or September

Know the best time to go

We highly recommend tackling Mont Blanc in June or September. The cooler climate paired with less congested towns and trails makes for a more relaxing experience. However, if you go in June, be prepared for possible snowy conditions! Most people conquer this route between June and September but check out our article on the best time to hike TMB to learn more about seasonality.

Plan your packing list

Packing for the Tour du Mont Blanc is relatively straightforward! You’ll need:

  • hiking gear (boots, poles, to name two)
  • hiking clothes (lightweight, moisture-wicking material, extra socks), -change of shoes for when you get to the different towns or your base for the night
  • toiletries (your accommodations may provide some of these, so look into this before)
  • adapter to charge your phone if coming from another country
  • a portable charger (if you’re an avid photo-taker)
  • wallet
  • passport
  • a copy of your travel documents in a ziplock bag

Follow this link for a more detailed list of what to pack for trekking Mont Blanc.

Plan your packing list

Get travel insurance

Be sure to tell your travel insurance provider that you will climb to an altitude of 2,584m so that you can ensure your policy covers every possible incident. Be honest with your provider! In general, travel insurance is vital. You don’t want to get caught paying hospital bills in another country—and lose thousands and thousands of dollars because the travel insurance fee feels too daunting.

Research necessary documentation

Some nationalities may be able to get away with just a passport, but all necessary documentation depends on where you’re going and your nationality. Check government websites for up-to-date information before you go! Some destinations may require certain nationalities to obtain a visa before arrival.

Get the proper vaccinations

The Tour du Mont Blanc winds through three European countries, making it tough to provide a definite answer.

The World Health Organization recommends vaccinations for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid, and Measles when travelling to Europe. Vaccine requirements can change on a whim, so be sure to check each country’s regulations and rules before you travel. Keep the ever-changing COVID-19 regulations in mind when travelling as well. Each country may have different requirements—check this link for the latest information on COVID and travelling.

Take the correct route for you

The Complete Tour du Mont Blanc Trek traverses the entire route in 11 days, with the highest difficulty rating of all the variations. Stay in mountain huts and quaint hotels! Those with limited time may enjoy the 7-day trek that reveals the highlights and has you staying in hotels. Expect a moderate difficulty on this route. There’s also another shortened, moderately challenging version that has you staying in guesthouses!

You could always plan to explore part of this route instead of setting aside time to trek the entire 105.6mi.

Trekking through Switzerland may not be the most budget-friendly option, as the accommodation prices can soar at €80 (half-board). So if you’re short on cash, skip the section from La Fouly to Champex-Lac and catch the bus instead.

Catch a glimpse of our favourite route on our Tour du Mont Blanc guide!

You can skip some sections - Switzerland, Champex-Lac
You can skip some sections - Switzerland, Champex-Lac

Learn basic Italian and French

Sure, you may be able to converse through broken English in the major cities in Italy, France, and Switzerland. Yet, the Tour du Mont Blanc has you climbing to quaint villages tucked among mountain slopes, where the English language isn’t the common tongue. So it’s helpful to learn basic words in French and Italian to boost comfortability and ease potential stressful encounters.

Important numbers to keep with you at all times

Before we sign off, there’s one thing you need to know: the local mountain rescue number list! For France, call 00 33 (0) 4 50 53 16 89 (Chamonix Mountain Rescue); Italy: 00 39 (0) 0165 238 222 (Aosta Mountain Rescue); Switzerland’s general number is 144. Add these numbers to your phones and keep a list of them in the ziplock bag with copies of your documentation!

The Tour du Mont Blanc is an adventure of a lifetime. So you’ll want to do whatever you can to come prepared and ready to tackle day after day of long-distance hiking the glacier-laden, sweeping meadow, shimmering wild lake, and scenic Mont Blanc.