2/15/202413 min read

Let’s get one thing straight. This is not going to be an in-depth travel guide on how to hike TMB. There are loads of expert pieces for you to find on the web, and I’ll be sure to link the ones I found helpful myself when preparing for this trip. This is going to be an honest recount from the perspective of a total beginner.


Why write about it? I wanted to provide a real-life example to balance out the high-level content presented by professionals, which can honestly make the whole hike sound way more daunting than it actually is (besides the fact that the trek is 170 km).

And while having the proper knowledge, especially on the kind of challenges and dangers you might face, is a must – in essence, TMB is a beautiful experience for anyone willing to walk.


The Tour du Mont Blanc, also known as TMB, is a legendary long-distance hike that winds its way around the Mont Blanc Massif. This iconic trek takes you through a panorama of awe-inspiring natural beauty – from tranquil lakes and lush mountain pastures to majestic glaciers. The full circuit covers approximately 170km and goes around Italy, Switzerland, and France.

How did the trek come to be known as it is today? Well, it turns out that there’s quite an interesting story. While it’s known that the trail around Mont Blanc has been walked by Roman soldiers and Celtic tribes who used the Cold Du Bonhomme as a trade route, the one who started the trek was Horace Benedict de Saussure in 1767.

However, the TMB as we know it today can be traced back to the late 19th century when mountaineering began gaining popularity in Europe. In the early 20th century, the Tour started to take shape as a route connecting various mountain passes and villages around Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps.

Today, the TMB has become a popular destination for trekkers seeking the thrill of exploring the alpine landscapes and experiencing the rich cultural heritage.

It’s become an iconic trail, cherished for its natural beauty and the sense of accomplishment it offers to those who complete the entire 170 km (105 miles) journey around Mont Blanc.


While the history is certainly very interesting, we all know why you landed on this article, so let’s delve into the most important bit – preparation. It’s key to every trip, especially for a multi-day hike.

However, before you go head-first into researching the best equipment, gadgets, gear and all that fun stuff, you have to first think about a few additional things before anything else.


While this may sound way too obvious, it’s necessary to mention it nonetheless. What I mean by ‘preferred level of comfort’, is to judge your own capabilities as objectively as possible. Hiking and trekking shouldn’t be something you push yourself to do, but an ideal balance between enjoying yourself and having a good workout.

And then there's all of the other stuff – blisters, heat, cold, rain, storms, wind, uneven terrain, steep inclines and declines, long hours between towns, extra weight from a backpack, sleeping in tents, and much more. By no means am I trying to dissuade you from going on this adventure, but you should consider these things.

If you’re okay with all of this, have previous experience, or if you’ll be going with someone who’s experienced – sleeping in tents could be a wonderful experience. Otherwise, I’d recommend doing at least 50/50 in tents and refuges. This way you’ll have a bit of both, experience what it is to sleep in a tent and what a bliss it is to sleep in a warm bed after a couple of cold nights.

However, if you do decide on the 50/50 approach, be warned that people tend to reserve rooms and bunkbeds in refuges months before – some start as early as half a year or even a whole year before the hike. So, make sure to start looking at available options pretty early on.


Past injuries, ailments, limitations, weak joints, low stamina – everything can negatively impact the entire experience. Sure, if you’re a ‘push through’ kind of person or one of those unicorn ultra-marathon runners, power to you. But for most of us, slow and steady wins the race.

And that’s a great segue into what I found to be a game-changer during the hike – pacing. As much as I didn’t believe it could be that important, once I actually started pacing myself, the whole trek changed. Make sure to pay attention to your body, heart rate, muscle ache, breathing and water intake.

Don’t look at how your friends are doing, if you feel your body can’t keep up – don’t. The general rule of thumb is that the slowest is either the one who leads or continues hiking and reconnects with the group later on.


As I mentioned, this isn’t a step-by-step guide but a recount. That’s why I won’t list out everything I packed. All I want to share is what I found to be really useful. And while high-quality, expensive gear can certainly help, a trip to your local Decathlon or any other sports super shop will do the trick.

  • BackpackHusky Scape 38L, light, comfortable, arched back with breathable mesh (honestly a key highlight), and functional.

  • Hiking shoesRegatta waterproof mid-walking boots, soft, comfortable, medium arch support, do the job beautifully, especially if you’re just starting. That and if you’re not moving mountains, the shoes will do wonders for a local trek around the woods.

  • Fleece sweater, three pairs of hiking socks, three quick dry T-shirts, shorts and a waterproof light jacket – from the very same Regatta, reliable and well-priced.

  • Quick dry pants from Quechua.

  • Walking sticks – I can’t recommend this enough, these did wonders for my knees.

  • Compact sleeping pad and bag.

  • Vango banshee 200 tent for two.

…and that’s pretty much it.

Again, don’t try to overthink the gear you bring. There are lots of articles floating about with extensive lists filled with high-end gear options that can scare away any beginner – I know it got me a bit anxious. Weigh carefully what you’ll need, but remember – the beauty of this trail is that you’ll be visiting at least one town per day, which is more than equipped to supply you with whatever you might need.

Sure, it might come with a higher price tag, but whether it’s food supplies or additional gear you need – you can purchase almost anything easily during the trek.


My very first multi-day hike started in August 2023. To be honest, I really did feel like I could finish all of the tour (170km), but we ended up doing a little over half, which, to be fair, was quite the feat. And if you look into all possible trails, you’ll find many different variations.

The one we did was very common, besides the fact that we started from a different location. The official start is considered to be Les Houches in France, which is very close to Chamonix, another popular starting point. However, we started on the Italian side – from Courmayeur.


The day started rather slow, we had some breakfast, checked out of our hotel (we flew in the day before), walked around Torino a bit, found an awesome vegan gelato place Il Gelato Amico and waited for our bus to Courmayeur. Which was late.

When it finally arrived, the journey took around 2 hours, but it went by quickly. The day was beautiful, and we drove past little towns with stone huts and great big castles of old. Needless to say, the time was well spent.

As for Courmayeur… I didn’t expect it to be what it was. And it was magnificent. Nestled at the foot of Mont Blanc, the little Alpine resort is an amazing fairytale-like town surrounded by mountains. There's no point in describing it because, believe me, once you see it – you won’t be able to forget it. Oh, but I do recommend visiting the Pam Per Focaccia bakery before you start hiking!

We began hiking around noon, so the sun was already out and about. The incline to Rifugio Bertone was a little tough, but it definitely wasn’t difficult – and this is coming from a total beginner. I believe it took us around 2 hours to reach the rifugio.

I have to say, reaching that point was a little emotional for me. I’ve never seen sights like that before, and well, I can’t help but write this piece with a smile on my face. But I digress.

The trek to Rifugio Bonatti was very nice, full of beautiful sights, and honestly resembled a stroll in paradise rather than the hardcore hike I prepared myself mentally for (I got a bit of that as well later on). The weather soured a little towards the end of the day, so we quickly started looking for a spot to set up our camp a bit further past Rifugio Bonatti, thus ending our first day.

Distance and time – 34,798 steps (28 km) 6h.


Woke up on a mountainside with a mesmerising view of snowy mountains ahead. The night was a little cold, but for a view like that, it was nothing.

We started our trek around 7 AM. The day started out really nice, calm and cool as we descended to Lavachey. The trek from there to Rifugio Elena was relatively easy, surrounded by majestic mountains.

From Rifugio Elena, it was a little bit more difficult. The weather changed, and it took a while, but we reached Grand Col Ferret at 2537 m. At the summit, it was cold and windy, and it snowed/rained small icicles, but the feeling of reaching the summit and sitting down to eat was amazing.

By then it was around noon, and we started descending towards La Fouly, where I had one of the best beers in my life. That or I was just that tired, either way, it was magnificent. By that time it was around 3 PM.

Finally, we were faced with a decision to either start looking for a campsite or push on. And… We decided to press on! Okay, I decided to press on. At that point, we didn’t really decide that Champex would be our end goal for the day, we just wanted to walk some more, find a good place to camp, and that’s it.

The road was incredibly pleasant, which is why I think a huge wave of hubris washed over me, making us go way longer than we should’ve. Yes, we reached Champex, crowning the day with over a 40 km trek. We managed to find a camping site with showers – I probably stood there under the running hot water for a good half an hour.

Distance and time – 54,975 steps (44 km) 9,5h.


This was the day when I understood the consequences of my hubris – pacing and levelling yourself is indeed crucial. Although my leg, especially my calf muscles, burned, the day started pretty well. We found an amazing bakery where we ordered a soup with cheese.

And so our third day began. On our way from Champex, we met fellow adventurers, a mother and a daughter from the Netherlands, with whom we shared a bit of our journey. We faced a bit of an ascent, but it was very doable. Oh, and the sights. I tried to share some of what I captured for this article, but it’s nowhere near the real deal.

We reached Forclaz, and boy, did our legs scream for a rest. We found an amazing cute place in the town centre, full of other travellers, but surprisingly, we found a place to sit down, stretch our legs and eat. We got two burgers that cost a bloody fortune in Switzerland, but it tasted amazing.

The walk from Forclaz to Trient was very calm and easy, so when we reached Trient, Tom and I decided to sit down for a drink near an official campsite. It was sunny, and in the valley, we enjoyed the sights of snowy and icy caps.

The final journey of the day took us upwards to reach Col De Balme. While it was a little difficult for given our tired state, we still made it and reached the refuge just in time to see the sunset. It was the coldest night and the last one we spent in a tent. Definitely thanked myself for packing a thermo suit!

Distance and time 40,229 steps (32 km) 7h.


This was the day I realized that the trip was nearing its end. The moment I woke up and tried to move, I knew that I was treading on thin ice. But, slowly, very slowly, we packed up and started walking. Thankfully, the journey down from Col de Balme was relatively easy.

We walked by Mount Blanc, and while the day started cloudy, it got sunnier with every hour, so when we reached Tre le Champs, we sat down at the Auberge la Boerne to rest. The place wasn’t fully opened yet, but they did serve some food for hikers.

The food was good, the view was nice, but I couldn’t get up at all. Literally. Thankfully, the refuge still had one unlisted room left for 60 EUR for the night, so we took the deal immediately and settled in. I never felt so grateful for a hot shower and a soft bed.

Still, we had the entire day in front of us, so we decided to walk around a little bit downtown. We reached Argentiere, where we sat down at Le Grenier, a French restaurant owned (we think) by a real old-school rock fan. They served wicked good food, and we savoured every last bit of it!

When we returned, we showered, had a communal dinner with all of the other fellow adventurers, and retired for the night.

Distance and time 23,751 (19 km) 4h night at Auberge la Boerne.


After a very interesting night, I experienced for the first time what it feels like when your body’s temperature is readjusting. Other than that, what a bliss to sleep in a warm and soft bed! Sadly, my legs still refused to cooperate with me the next day. That and my partner ended up injuring his foot the day before.

But we wanted to reach Chamonix properly, that’s why we decided to walk the rest of the distance. Truthfully, it wasn’t that bad, but at that point, we knew that there was no point in pushing through. What’s the point if there’s so much discomfort that you can’t enjoy the rest of the trip?

The road from Tres le Champs to Chamonix was very even and easy. We managed to walk to the beautiful Alpine town and found a peculiar hotdog place called Cool Cats. If you’re in the area, I definitely recommend you visit the place, they sell ridiculously good hotdogs!

After a satisfying snack/lunch, we headed to the bus station, and that was it – our journey ended there. In all honesty, it was a little heartbreaking to sit on that bus and drive back to Torino, but I knew I’d return to finish the trek in 2024.

Distance and time 26,619 (21km) 272 min 4,5 h.


I assume that if you’re still reading, you felt a little of my shared excitement for this adventure. So, to make things easier, in this section, I’ll share some of the tips and tricks I learned a long the way, that really helped out throughout and before doing the Tour su Mont Blanc. 


As I’ve mentioned earlier in the article, I’ll share some of the articles I read and found to be most useful. Thus far, the guide I like best is written by Moon & Honey Travel. It’s a bit of a hefty read but very helpful. And as a huge bonus, they also include a Google Maps route with all of the stops. That was incredibly helpful, so if you’re interested in reviewing the entire route, do check it out. 


Don’t worry about taking cash with you, almost every place we visited, even if it was just the smallest hamlet, accepted credit cards. I never carried a cent on me, and it was definitely a good decision, particularly for a forgetful overthinker like me. Besides, it takes away the needless worrying about whether you have enough, whether you are keeping it safe and whatnot. 


One of the most.  attractive features of TMB is that it takes you through hamlets, towns and smally. This gives you quite a bit of confidence, as you can always find a bus to take you to the nearest bigger city to get medical attention should anything happen. 

The same applies to food supplies – you don’t have to worry about carrying too much with you – you’ll be able to restock on water and snacks. You’ll also find cafes to enjoy a hot meal along the way!


If you do opt to spend your nights in the serene solitude of the mountains, I do recommend not just getting a thermo suit but a theme mask/cap as well. Mine cape together with the suit, and it was an amazingly welcome surprise during the colder nights.

While you may be comfortably snuggled in your sleeping bag, a warm thermal mask/cap can certainly help as well. That and a sleeping pad. Granted, it adds to the weight, but it makes such a difference. If you choose a good quality pad, it’ll help keep you away from the cold and often damp ground. 

Finally, keep the clothes you plan to wear the next day in the sleeping bag with you. Nothing demotives me as much as getting up early on a cool morning and changing into cold clothes.

For extra warmth, if you’re carrying a gas burner, heat up some water (not too hot), pour it in bottles and keep them in your sleeping bag. I personally didn’t turn to this method, but for my next hike, I’ll definitely include this little nightly ritual.


The Tour du Mont Blanc is famous for a reason. You’ll meet many amazing people, but you’ll also experience the bliss of standing before majestic mountains, pondering the meaning of life and your role in the grand scheme of things. I know I did.

It was a challenge for me, a huge one to be honest. But by that point in life, I had decided to experience more of life, and start immersing myself in real-life adventures, instead of reading about them online or in books. And I have to say, nothing beats the feeling of writing down and sharing my own adventures!