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Situated at the base of Mont Blanc, Courmayeur is a summer paradise for hikers, bikers, and nature enthusiasts. Get the most out of northern Italy’s best-kept secret with our guide to Courmayeur.
Courmayeur is a charming town in the Aosta Valley in the Italian Alps.
Located at the foot of Mont Blanc, pretty chalets and cute streets are dwarfed by towering peaks. Framing the town, Val Veny and Val Ferret are two beautiful valleys running on either side of the mountains.
Here the Tour du Mont Blanc, one of the greatest long-distance hikes in the Alps, winds its way.
In winter, Courmayeur is the preserve of skiers.
In summer as the snow melts, a wealth of wonderful biking and hiking trails head to remote rifugios and past breath-taking views.
Here’s our pick of the best things to do in Courmayeur with a detailed map, and tips on where to stay.
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WHERE IS COURMAYEUR?
Courmayeur is in the Aosta Valley region of northern Italy at an elevation of 1,224 m (4,016 ft) above sea level.
It is situated in the heart of the Mont Blanc massif, one of the largest mountain ranges in Europe. less than two hours away from both Geneva and Turin.
WHEN TO VISIT COURMAYEUR?
Courmayeur is a popular winter destination from December through to April. This is the best time to visit if you’re into snow-related activities. The town becomes a winter wonderland with excellent skiing conditions.
If you’re more interested in hiking and enjoying lovely weather, June to August is the best time to visit.
In summer, the hiking trails are generally open from mid-June to mid-September. But the summer cable cars are open from the beginning of July to the beginning of September.
THINGS TO DO IN COURMAYEUR
1 – SKYWAY MONTE BIANCO
The Skyway Monte Bianco Cable Car is a thrilling 11-minute journey up to Punta Helbronner, 3,466m high up on the Mont Blanc Massif.
It’s one of the most spectacular cable cars in the Alps. The rotating gondola offers incredible views of the valleys and mountains surrounding Courmayeur.
There are 3 stations on the journey each with excellent views:
- Courmayeur (1,300m) – The starting point for the ride up to Punta Helbronner.
- Pavillon (2,173m) – A large terrace provides 180-degree views of Mont Blanc and the Val Veny.
- Punta Helbronner (3,466m) – A 360° viewing platform provides unparalleled views.
From the top at Punta Helbronner, the views of Mont Blanc and the jagged peaks that surround it are breath-taking. From here you can explore snowy fields, hike to the high peaks, go rock climbing, and cross the glacier.
The cable car station also has an exhibition on crystals and cafes with grand views.
Our Tip | Take the elevator down 3 floors to Rifugio Torino tucked 130 metres under the main cable car station. Grab a coffee and cake from the old wooden hut and watch the climbers head onto the ice from the outdoor terrace.
Important Note | Standard tickets allow for 90 minutes at Punta Helbronner before you must return. However, if you do the Panoramic Mont Blanc (see below) you can stay longer.
DETAILS | SKYWAY MONTE BIANCO
Departure – The Skyway Monte Bianco leaves from the village of Entrèves 1.5 miles north of Courmayeur | Hours – Departs every 15 minutes but opening hours change throughout the year | Cost – Adults €55 online round trip (€59 at till), Family Special – 2 adults + 2 children – €170 (€182 at till). | Reservations – book online in advance (but check the weather).
2 – PANORAMIC MONT BLANC CABLE CAR
The Panoramic Mont Blanc Cable Car is arguably the best cable car journey in the world. It crosses the border from Italy to France and in our opinion, it’s the best thing to do in Courmayeur.
It starts from Punta Helbronner at the top of the Skyway Monte Bianco. The journey takes 25 minutes and crosses the Mont Blanc massif to arrive at Aiguille du Midi in France.
The ride is in small cable cars that only seat 4 people, making it both intimate and impressive. You’ll travel over snow fields, the Mer de Glace glacier, and beside towering jagged peaks.
Stopping every five minutes to allow people on and off at the two stations, there are plenty of opportunities for photos as you hang quietly in the air over a dramatic icy wilderness.
The return journey takes just under an hour, but you’ll want to spend longer exploring the views from the Aiguille du Midi.
TIPS FOR THE PANORAMIC MONT BLANC CABLE CAR
- Due to weather conditions, the gondola runs about 50 to 60% of the time, so check before you leave.
- You cannot book the cable car in advance (as it often closes). Buy tickets at Punta Helbronner cable car station.
- Queues can form (especially at the Chamonix end by mid to late morning). We highly recommend getting one of the first gondolas up to Punta Helbronner and being ready to get on the Panoramic Mont Blanc Cable Car as it opens.
- One side of the cable car has windows that open for better photo opportunities.
- The cable car crosses the Italian-French border and then back again. Bring your passports (although we were never asked to show them).
- It can be 10° to 15° cooler than in Courmayeur so wear something warm.
- The 90-minute time limit at Punta Helbronner does not apply if you buy the Panoramic Mont Blanc ticket. Keep your ticket to show it on the way down.
DETAILS | PANORAMIC MONT BLANC
Departure – The Panoramic Mont Blanc Cable Car leaves from Punta Helbronner Cable Car station. Times – Late May to late September opening hours change throughout the summer. Prices – Adults €38 round trip (on top of the €55 for the Courmayeur to Punta Helbronner gondola). Book – Tickets can only be purchased in person at the Punta Helbronner cable car station.
3 – SAUSSUREA ALPINE BOTANICAL GARDEN
The Saussurea Alpine Botanical Garden is halfway between Courmayeur and Punta Helbronner, on a ledge on the Mont Blanc Massif.
It has a wonderful collection of alpine plants in a rocky wilderness. Due to the altitude, 1,350m, the entire growth cycle lasts three months. They begin to bloom when summer is already well underway and continue until its peak, in late July.
When summer ends, the snow soon returns, burying the plants 3-4 meters deep.
The garden sits right next to the Le Pavillon du Mont Fréty, the second station on the Skyway Monte Blanco. If you have purchased a ticket all the way to Punta Helbronner you can get off at Le Pavillon and see the garden at no extra cost.
Alternatively, cable car tickets between Courmayeur and Le Pavillon cost €23 online round trip (€25 at till).
The beautifully designed Le Pavillon is a Courmayeur attraction in itself. There’s a climbing wall for small kids, a rocky pool surrounded by deck chairs, and a climbers’ exhibition.
Don’t Miss | There’s an image of a mother and daughter etched into the side of the mountain, just above the gardens.
DETAILS | ALPINE BOTANICAL GARDEN
Hours –9 am to 5.30 pm (June to August) / 9 am to 4.30 pm (September) | Price – Free with guided tours running at 11 am and 2 pm daily.
4 – RIFUGIO MAISON VIEILLE
One of the best things to do in Courmayeur is to eat lunch in a mountain hut surrounded by towering views.
Our favourite is Rifugio Maison Vieille.
It’s in a prime location under the peaks of the Mont Blanc Massif with plenty of tables outside to soak up the views.
The food is hearty, the service swift and the overall experience is one to savour.
After lunch snag one of the two old armchairs or one of the deckchairs that line the front.
How to get there? — Rifugio Maison Vieille is accessed via a cable car and chairlift from Dolonne, which is a 10-minute walk from Courmayeur town centre. Take the Mont Blanc Funivie to Chécrouit; from Chécrouit, take the Maison Vieille chairlift to Rifugio Maison Vieille. Alternatively, it’s a 2-hour walk from Courmayeur.
DETAILS | RIFUGIO MAISON VIEILLE
Hours – 9:30 am to 5.20 pm from the beginning of July to the beginning of September | Prices – Adults €20 round trip, kids under 12 years old €10.
5 – TOUR DU MONT BLANC
The Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) is one of the greatest long-distance walks in the Alps. Over 11 days, hikers make a circular route of Mont Blanc covering 170 kilometres with 10,000 metres of ascent and descent.
It is a challenging journey requiring a high level of fitness.
However, one of the most scenic sections passes through Courmayeur. This enables you to get some of the great views on this long-distance trail without attempting all eleven days.
OUR SUGGESTED TOUR DU MONT BLANC SNAPSHOT
We suggest starting at Rifugio Maison Vieille and following the TMB towards Lago Chécrouit (45 minutes).
There are excellent views over this tiny lake.
The path continues along the balcony with views of the glaciers appearing on the opposite side.
You can turn around and return the way you came any time you like or follow the path as it descends to Cabane du Combal in Val Veny.
Once you get to Cabane du Combal, turn right and head east down the valley to the La Visaille bus stop at Chalet de Miage. Buses run roughly every half hour back into Courmayeur (see map below).
Allow about 3 to 4 hours for the hike.
6 – PLAN CHÉCROUIT SWIMMING POOL
Plan Chécrouit is an outdoor heated swimming pool in a lovely mountain location at 1704 meters. It’s one of the most panoramic in Italy.
The pool is 20 metres long, 1.50 metres deep, and heated to a luxurious 27 to 30 degrees. There’s a sauna, solarium, changing rooms and a bar.
It’s a great way to relax at the end of a tiring day.
How to get there? — During the summer months of July and August you can take the Mont Blanc Funivie cable car up to Plan Chécrouit.
Tickets — Combination tickets can include the cable car ride and the pool entrance. If the cable car is closed, it’s a 1-hour walk from Courmayeur.
7 – VAL VENY
Val Veny is one of the two valleys under the flanks of the Mont Blanc Massif near Courmayeur. It’s a wild and rugged place.
Tongues of glaciers reach down from the mountain summits to lick the tops of the valley walls. Glacial lakes of milky blue feed gushing white rivers as they tumble along the valley floor.
It’s an exciting place to explore with a mix of excellent walks and challenging hikes.
How to get there? — To access the area, take the bus from Courmayeur to La Visaille at Chalet del Miage or park by the river alongside the Val Veny Road (see map below).
Here are some popular things to do in Val Veny –
- Walk from Chalet de Miage to Lago de Miage for panoramic views and grab lunch at Cabane du Combal.
- Visit the Notre Dame De Guérison Sanctuary a picturesque churgch backed by the Brenva glacier.
- Attempt the extremely challenging climb to Rifugio Monzino – equipment and experience required.
8 – VAL FERRET
The second valley in the area, Val Ferret has a gentler feel.
Pine trees give way to deciduous canopies and gentle babbling brooks.
In the summer months, you can go mountain biking, fishing, or test your skills on the Courmayeur et Grandes Jorasses Golf Club.
Alternatively, follow one of the many nature trails that crisscross the area.
An excellent choice is the hike from Lavachey up to Rifugio Walter Bonatti which offers great views and an excellent lunch.
You can return the way you came, head back via Albergo Ristorante Chalet Val Ferret, or follow the TMB to Rifugio Bertone and all the way into Courmayeur.
With plenty of riverside stops for a picnic and restaurants nestled in green fields it’s a great destination for unwinding in nature.
Tip | The road here is narrow and twisty. In peak season, it may be closed during busy periods. Aim to arrive in the morning or in the early evening for dinner. Buses run regularly up and down the valley from Courmayeur town centre.
MAP | THINGS TO DO IN COURMAYEUR
The main attractions in Courmayeur spread out from the centre of town down the two valleys that run alongside the Mont Blanc Massif.
WHERE TO EAT IN COURMAYEUR
Courmayeur has an attractive town centre, that’s a joy to stroll around. Cars are kept to a minimum and regular buses make it easy to get around.
Here are some great places to eat around Courmayeur.
Pizzeria Ristorante Du Tunnel – A popular decent value restaurant with plenty of hubbub. Sit down and share your stories with whoever comes and goes.
Ristorante La Terrazza – Run by a local family the service may be a bit strange but the traditional Italian food is excellent. Make a reservation on Friday and Saturday nights or incur the wrath of the hostess.
Chalet Plan Gorret – At the end of a 3 kilometre windy road tucked behind Courmayeur, this family-run restaurant, serves some of the best seafood in the area. Reservations are essential.
WHERE TO STAY IN COURMAYEUR
As a popular resort in both summer and winter, there is a wide selection of accommodation available in Courmayeur.
With parking relatively easy in the town, it’s a good idea to base yourself centrally so you can walk to dinner in the evening. However, most attractions in this guide require a car, so you’ll be driving out each day.
A good budget stay in glamping tents with magical mountain views. Each tent includes private parking, outdoor dining, and a shared barbecue.
Spacious rooms at a good price with ample parking right in the centre of town. The reception staff are full of helpful tips for enjoying your time in Courmayeur.
A ten-minute walk from Courmayeur centre, these modern wood-panelled rooms with parquet floors have access to a heated swimming pool, sauna, and hot tub. The bar’s terrace has views stretching up to Mont Blanc.
Located in La Thuile, 15 km from Courmayeur, every room in this 5-star hotel has mountain views. The spa and wellness centre has an indoor pool, fitness area, sauna, and hot tub.
HOW TO GET TO COURMAYEUR
There are three international airports not far from Courmayeur.
GENEVA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
By Car – Geneve is 115 kilometres from Courmayeur and takes around 2 hours. The route passes under the Mont Blanc tunnel (€52 toll).
For a much more scenic route take the 3-hour route around Lake Geneva and over the St. Bernard Pass. You’ll need to buy a Swiss Vignette (CHF40) at the border which allows you to use the Swiss motorways.
By Private Transfer – Aosta Express
TURIN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
By Car – Turin is 150 kilometres from Courmayeur taking 1 hour 30 minutes.
MILAN MALPENSA AIRPORT
By Car – 210 kilometres from Courmayeur taking 2 hours.
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