Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) is on the top of every hiker’s list. The majestic views and diverse terrain is every hiker’s dream but it does come at a cost, especially for hikers outside of Europe. The beauty of Tour du Mont Blanc is that there are many different options to make this as cost-effective an experience as possible or splurge on some luxury if you are so inclined.
TMB has enough variability and can be as expensive or as cheap as the traveler is willing to spend. For a couple from the US, the Tour du Mont Blanc hike cost varies from around $2500 to $8500 depending on the amount of luxury you prefer. The biggest expense will be the flight and accommodations.
This post is based on the 10-day Tour du Mont Blanc hike, which can be done quicker (7-9 days) and can take more time (up to 12 days). We chose to start in Chamonix for the convenience of it but as this is a loop you can start the hike at any point. All the cost is based on the research we did for our trip in September of 2021, and I will be providing suggestions on how to lower your expenses where possible.
Tour du Mont Blanc Hike Cost
Air travel from the usa
The most common starting place for TMB is Chamonix in France. TMB is a loop so you can start anywhere and go in either direction. However, one of the most convenient locations to fly into is Geneva, Switzerland, and take a shuttle transfer to Chamonix, France and start the hike there. Les Houches is the official starting point of the hike.
A flight price can vary from mid $800 to $1400 depending on the time of the year and where you are flying from. The flights are always cheaper when flying during a weekday, not on holiday, and during shoulder months.
From Atlanta to Geneva, leaving the first week of September and returning the last week of September, we paid $1250/person.
There are several ways to get from Geneva to Chamonix:
- Shuttle Bus
- Car Rental
Your choice depends on your budget.
Shuttle Transfer is the most common way to transfer to Chamonix as it is very convenient, reasonably priced, and the journey takes about 75 minutes. You can book online, or when you get there as there are multiple transfer companies – during the peak season, the month of August, you are better off booking online ahead of time – and at the same time, you can book your return transfer. With the shuttle transfer, you have an option to book a private shuttle, which works great for larger parties, or you can book a shared shuttle. We used Chamonix Valley Transfers and paid $53/person.
Buses are another convenient way to get from Geneva Airport to Chamonix. There is a bus station at the airport and it takes between 1.5 to 2 hrs. Depending on the number of stops, it costs approximately $12-$30. BlaBla Car Bus was the cheapest option when we made our trip, but we couldn’t make the times work with our arrival. Some others are EasyBus and FlixBus.
A train journey can be quite lengthy, 3 to 4 hrs. and it requires changing multiple trains. It is probably the least convenient option especially when you have luggage with you. It costs $25-$56 per person.
Car Rental and Taxis are on the pricy side. I do not see a need for anyone to use a rental car unless exploring other parts of the country before starting the hike. On how to rent a car in Europe check out this post. Renting a car or hiring a taxi will cost at least a couple hundred dollars.
To minimize the weight of the pack you are going to be hiking with, you can hire a luggage service to transfer your luggage from location to location. This only works if you are staying at mountain huts (refuges), hotels, and staffed camping grounds. They do not deliver to BnB accommodations, private accommodations, accommodations without reception service, or even some mountain huts – like Rifugio Bonatti. Each transfer service company has this information easily available on their website.
There are three main companies that offer luggage transfer services:
- Chamonix Valley Transfers – flat rate of $705 (€600) up to 14 sacs, this is a great deal for large groups. The weight limit is 15 kg (33 lb.) per bag.
- Besson Transports Taxi Mont Blanc – they provide customized quote depending on all the places you would like the luggage transferred to and number of bags you have. They have very good website that allows you to enter all that information in and provides you with the quote immediately. For our hike, we had one luggage piece delivered to every accommodation except Rifugio Bonatti and the cost was $294 (€250). The weight limit is 15 kg (33 lb.) per bag.
Of course, the cheapest option is to carry everything yourself and not use this service or split it with someone.
TIP: If you have extra luggage you’ve brought with you but are not taking it on the trail, your hotel where you start and finish may have a storage room you can leave it in, or some of these luggage transfer companies offer to store the luggage for you for free.
PRO TIP: Make sure that your accommodations reservations name and luggage transfer service reservation name match fully. That is the only way for them to verify they are delivering to the correct place.
Cable cars, trains, and buses may be utilized during some parts of the hike to help.
For example, Chamonix Valley Bus and Train Transfers are very reliable and affordable ways to move around the valley and if you are staying in one of the hotels in the valley you will receive a free ticket to ride the bus or train during your stay – Carte d’Hôte (Guest Card). Otherwise, it is €1.5 per ticket.
Cable cars are a great way to avoid some of the ascends or descends to preserve your knees, but they can be pricy starting at $15 one way. Most of them close at the end of the season – August and may not be available if you are hiking in September.
This is one area where you can definitely save the most money.
The cheapest option would be to camp. Wild camping is not allowed even though some people still do it, but there are campsites you can make reservations at and the cost per night is anywhere between $10-$30.
Another, and more costly, option is staying at mountain huts (refuge, rifugio). With half-board which includes overnight stay, dinner, and breakfast they cost anywhere between $50-$95. For both campsites and refuges using showers, towels, and packed lunches can be an additional cost.
The most expensive option is to stay in hotels even though some hotels are fairly reasonable. The cost can be anywhere between $75-$350 and most hotels include breakfast in the price.
The majority of hikers use some combination of camping, refuges, and hotels as their accommodations. We stayed in refuges and hotels and the cost for 10 days of hiking for both of us was approximately $2000. We did choose private rooms with showers in refuges where possible which always cost more and did try to pick hotels with the best views and balconies to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime beauty as much as possible.
For more accommodations options check out our Detailed TMB List of Accommodations.
Food and Snacks
Another advantage of the Tour du Mont Blanc hike is that you really do not have to bring much food with you whether camping or staying in refuges/hotels as every day you will be walking through the villages and towns and can restock. Pretty much every day you can either stop at the refuge on the trail for lunch or have your accommodations pack a lunch for you. The cost for a refuge/hotel to prepare lunch for you is between $9-$12 per person and about the same if you stop somewhere for lunch.
If dinner is not included in your accommodations, it usually costs $25-$50 per person. As you can imagine, the cost of food and snacks can vary drastically depending on your taste, the restaurants you visit, and if you like to cap the night off with a nice bottle of wine.
Tour du Mont Blanc Cost Breakdown Table
|10-DAY HIKE FOR 2 PEOPLE
|What We Paid
Guided OR Self-Guided Tour Worth It?
Tour du Mont Blanc is a well-marked trail and guides are not necessary. However, some people feel more comfortable with a guide or at least hiring a tour company to manage all accommodations and provide all the materials for a self-guided tour. Both of those come at a cost.
The main difference between the two is that guide is provided in one option and not in the other, but the accommodations, dinners, and breakfasts are covered. However, lunches & snacks, airport transfers, and luggage transfers may come at an additional cost.
Guided tours can be as expensive as $6255 per person and self-guided tours start at approximately $1800 per person.
We were originally looking at a self-guided tour for $2195 per person. This price did not include dinners for all accommodations, didn’t include lunches, didn’t include private rooms, didn’t include luggage or airport transfer and we quickly realized that we could figure out the trail ourselves and by booking our own accommodations save quite a bit of money.
Tour du Mont Blanc may not be the least expensive hike, but it does not have to be the most expensive either. The ability to complete the hike in less than ten days is definitely a cost saver as well as lower-cost accommodations. Switzerland is the most expensive country of the three and arranging to spend the least amount of time there can help with the budget too.