The Alps are a mountain range located in Europe. They stretch approximately 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) across eight countries: France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Liechtenstein, and Monaco. The highest peak in the range is Mont Blanc, which is located on the border between France and Italy and stands at 15,781 feet (4,810 meters) tall. The Alps are a popular destination for skiing, hiking and walking holidays, and other outdoor activities such as snowshoeing holidays, and they are also home to many vibrant communities and diverse cultures.
The Alps offer some of the best hiking opportunities in the world, with a range of trails and routes that cater to all skill levels. Here are some of our frequently asked questions about hiking in the Alps.
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What month is best to hike the Alps?
Depending on the altitude and location, the best time to hike the Alps is probably from June to September. High mountain multi-stage tours like Tour du Mont Blanc hike as well as the Alpine GR5 are best done in the Summer months, whereas you can walk the Provence Alps from May or even earlier.
How do you prepare for a hiking holiday in the Alps?
The best way to prepare or train for hiking in the Alps is by walking or hiking regularly at home! The level of experience or preparation depends on the difficulty or rating of your trip. Our trips are rated easy, moderate to challenging ; an easy trip will demand a small level of walking experience ; for a moderate trip you would need to be reasonably fit with some experience of walking ; challenging trips like the Mont Blanc Ascent will cover difficult terrain and will demand some mountaineering experience. If you have any questions about your ability to take part in a walking trip, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to advise you.
Our Best Alps Hiking Trips
Do you need hiking boots for the Alps?
For walking or hiking in the mountains we advise hiking boots with good Vibram soles and good ankle support. Leather boots are good and waterproof is also an advantage. Good hiking boots can also be used in winter for snowshoeing. On mountaineering trips like the Mont Blanc ascent you will need mountaineering boots – if you don’t have these boots you can rent them on site.
Can you hike the Alps in winter?
The snow cover in the Alps means you won’t be able to hike, but Winter is the ideal time for snowshoeing holidays in the Alps with hundreds of miles of snowshoe trails throughout the chain. Snowshoeing trips are away from the hustle and bustle of the mass tourist industry of skiing, and appeal to those who seek a genuine mountain experience in local communities.
Where is the best base for a hiking trip in the Alps?
Depending on what you want to do and the level of activity you are seeking, there is a large choices of bases for hiking in the Alps. We always like to recommend the Queyras Regional Natural Park is a unique and beautiful natural area off the beaten track, accessible form the airports of Turin and Marseille, or by train from Paris to Briançon. In the Queyras you can choose centre-based walking holiday or a longer point-to-point multi day Queyras trek, in a protected environment surrounded by 3000+m peaks.
If you’re looking for a more classic Alpine experince, the Mont Blanc area is an ideal base for either centre based walking or the Tour du Mont Blanc mentioned above.
The Italian Alps also provide many bases for hiking, such as the village of Cogne in the beautiful Gran Paradiso Natural park, again a depart for centre-based hiking trips in Italy, or multi-day treks staynig in mountain refuges
How many days do you need in the Alps?
While you could visit the Alps for a short weekend break, we would advice at least a week to visit the area and experience the unique pace of local life. Most of our trips will run 7 nights/8 days; some mountain treks are longer.
What airports serve the Alps?
The French Alps are accessible from Geneva Airport in the North, ideal for accessing the Mont Blanc area. The southern French Alps, the Ecrins Natural Park and Queyras area can be accessed easily from Turin or Marseille airports ; the Maritime Alps and Mercantour National Park can be accessed easily from Nice airport.
The Italian Alps are accessible from Turin, Milan or Venice airports.
We provide airport transfers on our trips to meet group flights, and can advise you on which flight to take to best join your trips.
How do I get to the Alps by train?
There are many options to access the French Alps by train. From Paris or London by Eurostar or TGV you can travel straight to the French Alps to access the areas around Chamonix, Annecy, Chambéry or Bourg St Maurice. A train to Briançon to access the Ecrins National Park, the Queyras or the Southern French Alps. A train from Paris to Marseille or Nice allows access to the Southern French Alps, the Maritime Alps and Provence.
What is the 100 mile hike in the French Alps?
The Tour du Mont Blanc trek is a 100 mile hike in the French Alps, passing throught Italy and Switzerland with some of the most beautiful scenery in the Alps. The Tour du Mont Blanc can be done guided or self-sufficiently in about 10 days; there is also a trail running race each year the UTMB that does the circuit in less than 46 hours 30 minutes!
What is the easiest hike in the Alps?
For easier hiking in the Alps, we recommend the a walking holiday in the Provence Alps or southern French Alps; the Mediterranean coast also has some options on the French Riviera walking holiday with walks in the Alpes-Maritimes.
What are the best Centre-based trips in the Alps?
In the French Alps we recommend centre based walking trips in the Queyras, the Mont Blanc area or in the Mercantour Natural Park; in the Italian Alps Cogne is the ideal base for a centre-based hiking trip in the Gran Paradiso.
What are the best point to point trips in the Alps?
The best point to point trips or multi day trips in the Alps are the Tour du Mont Blanc or the Tour du Queyras, as well the Alpine GR5 Walking Holiday which covers the mountain portion of the famous GR5 hiking trip.
Where is the best scenery in Alps?
No matter where you go in the Alps you are assured of spectacular scenery! We particular love the Eastern Queyras with its 3000m+ peaks above the Italian border, with views of the Mont Viso. The Vallée Etroite (“Narrow Valley”) on the Alpine GR5 Trek is another beautiful area.
What is the longest hiking trail in the Alps?
The GR5 hiking trail goes from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean. At around 620 kilometres long, it ends in Nice or Menton on the Mediterranean coast. A spectacular long distance hike that is to be done with much preparation. We propose the Alpine portion of the GR5 trail, from Briançon to Les Contamines that takes in the most spectacular peaks of the trek.
How can I get off the beaten track in the Alps?
The Queyras or Mercantour natural parks are beautiful natural areas with many hiking trails and ideal for getting off the beaten track. Another of our local favourites is the Ubaye Valley Walking Holiday in the Provence Alps, with peaks like the Aiguille de Chalbeyron at 3412m or the Brec de Chambeyron at 3389m. A sparsely populated valley with a slow way of life it is the ideal destination away from the more frequented areas in the north.
Are the French or Swiss Alps better?
As we’re based in the French Alps we obviously have a preference! The French Alps can be more accessible from different airports or train itineraries, and the priceare also cheaper in France. For travellers from Europe, France has the Euro currency which can be a definite advantage. That said, the Swiss Alps have many beautiful and spectacular areas such as the Griesalp in the Kiental Valley where we base our Switzerland snowshoeing holiday.
What food is Alps known for?
The traditional foods from the Alps are delicious cheese-based recipes such as Raclette (melted cheese on vegetables and cold meats) Fondue (melted cheese with bread) or Tartiflette (potatoes, bacon and cheese). The ideal meals to heat you up after a day’s hiking!
What is the traditional drink from the French Alps?
The traditional drink from the French Alps is Génepi, a type of herbal liqueur made with the local génepi plant.
What is the highest town in the Alps?
The highest commune in the French Alps is Saint Véran, a village perched above 2000m in the Queyras Valley and base for our walking and snowshoeing trips in the Queyras.