As the ski areas close and the snow starts to melt away, Chamonix transforms into a bustling town full of visitors, who come here mostly to admire the views. But it’s not just the views that attract people here, after all Chamonix is known for being a hub for extreme sports & outdoor activities.
During the summer months there are so many things to do here. You can be as active or as relaxed as you like on a visit to Chamonix; take a trip on the cable car to the highest gourmet restaurant in town at the Aiguille du Midi, take a ride on one of two rack & pinion trains or simply enjoy people watching one of the many restaurants terraces in the valley. For the more adventurous of you, you could climb Mont Blanc, fly over glaciers in an unforgettable helicopter ride, go for a glacier hike on the longest glacier in France, try one of the via ferrata courses or you could spend days in the back-country on some of Chamonix’s iconic mountaineering routes staying at mountain refuges along the way.
Take a look through our list of the best things to do in Chamonix this summer, and if you haven’t booked your holiday yet, we’re sure there will be plenty to tempt you to do that right here… Timetables, prices and more information can be found via the links below.
Aiguille du Midi
Chamonix’s number 1 tourist attraction is the Aiguille du Midi, which you can visit on a two-stage cable car. You’ll be whisked up to 3842 metres above sea level, where you can get panoramic views of Mont Blanc from the terraces and look back on the Chamonix Valley, way down below. From here you can watch skiers and mountaineers descending the arete onto the infamous Valley Blanche or heading up to climb to the summit of Mont Blanc. At the mid-way change over for the cable cars, you can go parapenting (more on this below).
Step into the Void
Also at the Aiguille du Midi is a thrilling experience “Step into the Void” where you can step into a glass box, suspended 1000 metres above a drop over the rock faces below. You can access this via the summit elevator at the very top of the Midi for some truly unforgettable views (if you’re brave enough!)
Panoramic Mont Blanc Gondola
Also at the Aiguille du Midi, you can take a trip across to Italy, soaring over the glaciers on the Panoramic gondola. It’s only open in summer and if you’re looking to do something a bit different, take the up and over experience – Start on the Aiguille du Midi Cable car, head across on the Panoramic gondola to the top of Helbronner on the Italian side and descend into Courmayeur on the Skyway Monte Bianco Cable car. Then pick up a bus in Courmayeur and head back into Chamonix via the Mont Blanc tunnel.
Montenvers Train & Mer de Glace
Experience the best views of France’s longest glacier at the Montenvers – Mer de Glace site. Take the iconic rack and pinion train from Chamonix centre all the way to the top at 1913m, from where you can descend by cable car and around 400 steps to visit the ice cave within the glacier. There are a couple of restaurants, a mountain refuge and a gift shop up here as well as a glacier exhibit and crystal gallery. From here you can access the Mer de Glace for ice climbing, mountaineering routes, glacier walks and a number of hiking routes (more on these below).
Tramway du Mont Blanc
Chamonix has another famous rack and pinion train line, this time down in Les Houches, connecting the town of St Gervais with this part of the Chamonix Valley. The Tramway du Mont Blanc normally opens for summer in mid June, and plenty of mountaineers use it to access one of the start points for summit attempts on Mont Blanc. It’s more popular for non-mountaineering visitors to take a ride to enjoy the fantastic views, or to access some of the many walking routes in this area.
Climbing, Mountaineering, Bouldering & Via Ferrata
The Chamonix Valley offers climbers and alpinists of every level of skill and experience something to tackle, and it’s renowned as a place that offers some of the best climbing in the world. There are plenty of places to go bouldering, ice climbing, trad climbing and there are a couple of family friendly crags with sport climbing routes at Gaillands and down in Les Houches. Les Houches also has an indoor climbing wall that you can access on rainy days or if you are just looking to practice indoors. There are in the region of 100 routes ranging up to 22 metres in height and from 4 to 8c in grade.
There are a couple of Via Ferrrata routes to try out too, one at Flégère and one down in Passy. You can hire harnesses and special carabiners at most sports shops in Chamonix and going with a guide is totally optional. The Climbing World Cup comes to Chamonix each summer too, with lead & speed climbing competitors battling it out to become champions – an event not to miss!
Hiking / Mountain Walks
The Chamonix Valley is interlaced with lots of walking routes, from the valley floor up to higher altitude paths, taking you to stunning mountain lakes, the edge of glaciers, waterfalls and stunning ridge walks. Two of the most famous (and therefore most popular) long distance hiking itineraries to do here are the Tour du Mont Blanc, which circumnavigates Western Europe’s highest mountain, and the Haute Route, which links Chamonix to Zermatt in Switzerland. There are plenty of family friendly, less difficult walks to do too, for example taking you for a stroll along the Arve river or up to a small hillside cafe (Floria) near the valley floor.
Have a chat to one of the guide companies we work closely with to enquire about prices and availability for walking guides – Chamonix Experience / Evolution 2 Chamonix. Or simply pick up a map and trail information from the tourist office, or ask any of our team members for advice.
Chamonix is a mecca for trail runners, who come here in their droves to experience high altitude trails and to compete in some of the toughest and longest races in the world. Each year the UTMB (which is actually made up of 5 different length races), The Marathon du Mont Blanc (consisting of 8 different races) and the Trail des Aiguille Rouges (2 races) bring runners here from every corner of the globe. Of course if you’re not at the level of running Ultra Marathons, you can still enjoy the many trails around the Chamonix valley at your own pace. A couple of our team are seasoned trail runners, so please ask us if you’ve got any questions.
If you’ve got a head for heights and want to see what it feels like to drop 90 metres into a tree-lined gorge, then head to nearby St Gervais where you can bungee jump off the viaduct. You can take the train, bus or drive to get there. (Please note if you’re taking the train you’ll have to pay the full fare from Chamonix to St Gervais, as your guest card only allows free travel to Servoz).
Chamonix has two dedicated bike parks, one in Les Houches and one at Le Tour, plus lots of natural trails and paths, taking you into neighbouring Switzerland or to other hamlets in the Chamonix Valley like Servoz & Vallorcine. If you’re tempted to try mountain biking for the first time or are looking for family friendly trails, there are plenty of options for those too. You can hire bikes from Legend CHX, Slash, Zero G & Intersport and MTB guides with Evolution 2 Chamonix. Ask us if you’ve got any questions about Mountain Biking in Chamonix.
Jump out of a perfectly good helicopter over Mont Blanc at a height of around 5000 metres above sea level. Skydiving is definitely an experience you won’t forget in a hurry with the incredible mountains of the Mont Blanc massif filling your vision and you’ll get photos and/or a video to remind you of your experience.
Hire a bike from one of the many hire shops in the Chamonix Valley and explore some of the classic routes around the area. If you’re bike touring through the area, we have some great apartments for you to stay in, some of which have their own garage where you can store your bikes securely overnight.
You can actually ride horses all year round in Chamonix (although it’s obviously a lot warmer in summer) with trekking experiences available from half days up to several days long. Discover hidden corners of the Chamonix valley with friends, family or colleagues. One of our team is an experienced horse rider, so if you have any questions, please ask us!
Rafting, Canyoning & Watersports
The river Arve that runs through the centre of Chamonix offers all kinds of water-based activities, including rafting, hydro-speeding and canoe rafting. The rafting in Chamonix is on low -level rapids, so is family friendly and not very intimidating, but if you’re looking for more high-adrenaline rapids, you can nip through the Mont Blanc Tunnel into Italy, where the Dora Baltea river and grade 4 white water awaits. Canyoning is also really popular in summer, it’s a great way to explore parts of the Chamonix valley that you may not have been to before as well as a nice way to cool off from the heat of the summer sun.
Paragliding / Parapenting
See the Chamonix valley from a totally different perspective, 1000 metres above the ground on a tandem paragliding flight. After a short running take off, the wing lifts you and your pilot from the ground and you fly across the valley to enjoy some truly spectacular views. There are various take off points around the valley and different prices may apply for each location. If you’re lucky you may be allowed to take the controls..
Summer is the time to hire a guide and head out onto one of Chamonix’s many glaciers. Explore the Mer de Glace, the Albert Premier glacier or the Valley Blanche up close and learn about glaciers in the Chamonix Valley from your guide. They can help you organise any additional equipment you might need too. Speak to our friends at Chamonix Experience or Evolution 2 for more information.
Soar over Chamonix’s glaciers and see the impressive mountains of the Mont Blanc Massif from the comfort of a 6-seater helicopter. Flights of 4 different durations are available, each one taking slightly different routes around the mountains. It really is an unforgettable experience. You’ll find the CMBH helicopter base at the foot of the Grands Montets ski area where there’s also a lovely restaurant in the woods (La Cremerie du Glacier) to grab a bite to eat and a drink.
Treetop Adventure Courses
Chamonix has three different treetop adventure courses to choose from, each with routes of varying difficulty and heights; The Accro Park in Gaillands, The Magic Forest in Les Tines and the Forest of Mont Blanc in Les Houches (Coupeau). Equipment can be hired on site and there’s also a snack restaurant next to the Gaillands park.
Gorges de la Diosaz
One of Chamonix’s many natural wonders, the Gorges de la Diosaz are a short train ride away in the pretty village of Servoz (you get free train travel to Servoz with your carte d’hote guest card). A wooden walkway takes you deep into a natural chasm in the earth, past plunging cascades and dripping rock formations. It’s suitable for young children but not advisable with a pram or pushchair, or for those who are less mobile as there are lots of steps.
Tennis & Squash
There are plenty of places to play tennis around the Chamonix valley. At the central sports centre there are 2 covered tennis courts, 2 squash courts and 8 clay courts. In Les Houches there are 6 outdoor tennis courts and in Servoz there are two.
Beach Volley Ball
Also at the main Chamonix tennis centre is a Beach Volley ball court which you can play on by the hour. Find current information & prices.
Paradis des Praz
A woodland paradise, perfect for families with small children can be found behind the golf course in Les Praz. There’s a safe paddling lake with rope swings and stepping stones, pony rides, playground, kiosk serving snacks and drinks, signposted hikes.
It’s free entry, although you are encouraged to buy refreshments from the kiosk if you want to make use of the picnic tables and toilet facilities.
Ice Hockey Matches & Ice Skating
Watch Chamonix’s local hockey team Les Pionniers compete in an evening hockey match at the ice rink in Chamonix centre (dates in red are played in Chamonix). Tickets can be bought on the door and it makes for an alternative and fun night of entertainment. Or head out onto the ice yourselves for a skate; you can hire skates on site for a small fee and little children can borrow the balance penguins for stability. Discounts are available with your carte d’hôte travel cards.
Dr Zhivago Horse & Carriage Rides
Take a trip around the centre of Chamonix, or further into Les Praz on ‘Dr Zhivago’s’ horse drawn carriage. This charmingly decorated carriage has become a much loved attraction in the centre of Chamonix and offers a relaxing way to explore the local area. You’ll find him parked up outside Brasserie L’M and you pay him directly for a trip.
Massage, Spas & Wellbeing
Enjoy some pampering treatments, a restorative massage or a spa day at one of Chamonix’ many hotel spas like the Aiglons, the Heliopic or the Park Hotel Suisse. Nearby you can also enjoy thermal springs and thermal baths in St Gervais and across the border in Italy, at the Pre St Didier resort.
The Alpine coaster in Chamonix’s leisure park is great fun for all ages and can be found next to Planards beginner ski area. At over 1300 metres long, you can go as fast as you dare on the sleds as it’s up to you when to use the brakes. Go solo or share a sled with a friend.
Children’s Leisure Park
On the same site as the alpine coaster is a leisure park designed with kids in mind. It has slides, trampolines, mini motorobikes, a water splash, a giant swing, a loop the loop, mini diggers, a carousel and lots of outdoor games to keep the children entertained. There’s a restaurant and bar on site too.
Outdoor Swimming Pool & Leisure Centre
Chamonix has a 50 metre outdoor swimming pool plus a 25 metre indoor swimming pool, a separate children’s pool for children of 6 months to 3 years old, water slides and massage water jets. Join a water aerobics class, come for a swim or to use the gym inside the leisure centre. Or if you’re staying with us at Apartment Beausite you’ll have access to a roof top pool that’s just for residents, with direct views of Mont Blanc. A short drive down the valley will bring you to Lake Passy, where you can paddleboard, enjoy a BBQ on the beach, sunbathe & swim. There’s a special area roped off with lifeguards at one end but the rest is for open water swimming.
Photography & Discovery Walks
Discover hidden areas in the Chamonix valley and learn about its history with photographer and guide Teresa Kaufman. Learn some top photography tips along the way as you take interesting photos of the locals, flora and fauna.
St Bernard Breeding Kennels
Learn about this iconic breed of mountain dogs at their breeding kennels in Servoz, not far from the centre of Chamonix. A typical visit last an hour and there’s a souvenir shop on site so you can take home your very own furry friend.
Merlet Animal Park
Keeping on the theme of animals, up above Les Houches is the Merlet animal park that you can visit to see lots of local wildlife. They have marmottes, ibex deer, chamois, mouflon goats, llama, roe and fallow deer. It typically opens from the beginning of May to the end of September.
Chamonix’s golf club lies in view of Mont Blanc in the village of Les Praz. It’s an 18 hole course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr and features numerous bunkers and water hazards. We have a number of fabulous chalets not far from the golf course; Chalet Capricorne, Chalet Betaix, Chalet Amelie or Chalet Olivier.
Paintball & Laser Game
There are a couple of places where you can lay shoot-em-ups in the forest in the Chamonix valley, at Bois du Bouchet (minimum 12 years old to take part) and Les Tines (minimum 10 years old). Laser Game is similar but instead of firing paint pellets you shoot lasers with an infrared sight gun so you get less bruises…
Chamonix has its own casino where you can enjoy a mixture of traditional table games as well as electronic roulette and around 70 slot machines. It’s open all year round and contains a bar and restaurant.
Chamonix has lots of art galleries and workshops, from traditional landscape painters and photographers, to retro decorations to more modern and pop-art style work, sculptures, postcards and prints. A few of the hotels and restaurants also feature art works that you can take home as a momento of your time here. There are also occasional art classes that take place throughout the year.
In the centre of Chamonix at Place Mont Blanc, there’s a regular Saturday market that takes place year round, from 07:30 to 12:30. Markets also take place in Argentiere every Sunday and every Wednesday in Les Houches in the summer months and occasionally one pops up in Chamonix Sud too.
Wine tasting / Cocktail tasting / Whisky tasting
“Cha Cha Cha” has in the region of 800 wines plus a great election of whiskey, rums and other spirits which you can buy to take home, or try before you buy on one of their popular tasting evenings. Or just pop in to enjoy a glass of wine in a relaxed atmosphere.
Chamonix has a great selection of outdoor clothing and gear specialists, as well as high-end clothing retailers, shoe shops, supermarkets, souvenirs and homeware. We’re not going to list them all here, but take a stroll down Chamonix’s pedestrinaised shopping area and you’re sure to find something to tempt you into a purchase or two.
Day Trips – to other parts of France / Italy / Switzerland – Take a day trip from Chamonix to explore some of the best of the surrounding area;
France – Lake Passy, Annecy, Yvoire
Italy – Courmayeur, Aosta
Switzerland – Verticalp funicular & railway, Martigny, Montreux, Large Hadron Collider (CERN)
If this has convinced you that coming to visit Chamonix in summer is a good idea (and why wouldn’t it?) take a look at our great choice of chalets and apartments, which you can book directly online for week-long stays. For short breaks and longer duration holidays, please contact us for a quote.
Mountain Base Locations, Chamonix
Photo Credits: Chamonix Tourist Office, Lonely Planet, Chamonix Parc Loisirs, Teresa Kaufman, Evolution 2, Chamonix Experience, CMBH, Chamonix Parc Loisirs, Pre St Didier Spa, Escalade Mont Blanc, Mont Blanc skydive, Verticalp, Paint Ball Cham, Hine Ink, Merlet Animal park, Bungee Mont Blanc Elastique, Cham Aventure, Les Pionnieurs.