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Tour du Mont Blanc Trek

The Best Mountain Huts in Europe

Ana

Ana Rosberg

October 21, 2022

Last updated on December 15, 2022 by the Explore-Share team

 

The outdoor adventure scene in Europe's mountains is world-famous and thriving. Whether in the Alps, the Dolomites, the Pyrenees, or Tatras, there are plenty of options for mountaineering, hiking, rock climbing, via ferrata, backcountry skiing, ice climbing, snowshoeing, and more.

One of the key aspects that contributes to the development of outdoor adventure options in Europe is the unique mountain hut set up throughout the continent, which makes it possible to dive deep in the wilderness and also enjoy high-end cuisine, late evening drinks, and other cozy amenities that make going into nature all the more enjoyable.

With so many mountain huts to choose from, choosing the best is not an easy task. With the help of the guides on the Explore-Share platform, we have put together a selection based on their recommendations. Read on and start planning an unforgettable adventure!

The Best Mountain Huts in the Alps

France

As one of the most important destinations for mountain activities, the French Alps have a wide variety of mountain huts. Some of the most famous include the Gouter Hut on Mont Blanc, the Refuge du Lac Blanc, which overlooks the Chamonix valley, and several others that are important for mountaineering, hiking, and ski touring excursions, as well as to enjoy warming meals with great views at high altitudes. The most famous huts however are often overcrowded and overbooked.

Gouter Hut, photo courtesy of Kyriakos Rossidis

IFMGA certified guide, Kyriakos, who offers amazing guided adventures in the French Alps, had several of his own personal favorites to recommend including:

"Refuge des Pres in Les Contamine area. The reason is that the refuge opens earlier than the rest of the huts in the area and you can do hut ski tours from there, such as my 1+ day ski touring in Chamonix. "

The Refuge des Pres is located in the heart of the Contamines nature reserve, at an altitude of 1933 m, facing the Mont-Blanc range. It opened in 2020 and offers a warm eco-friendly environment with 30 places in 4-bed and 2-bed rooms. The hut has electricity, warm showers, and warm meals which can be enjoyed on the amazing outdoor deck. It opens from mid-December to the end of April, and from June to October.

Mountain hutsFull moon over a warm Refuge de Pres on a cold night

Another recommendation by Kyriakos is:

For the spring ski touring period, I like Refuge d' Argentiere, which normally opens at the end of February and it's an ideal place for glacier ski tours, it's also the first overnight hut on my Haute Route program.

Refuge d'Argentiere was built in 1974 and is located at an altitude of  2,691m on the north bank of the Argentiere Glacier. It has 94 beds in big dorms, bathrooms but no showers, storage room, and is well known for having great heartwarming food and a variety of drinks. The refuge usually opens from February to May and June to September.

Regular-Haute-RouteRefuge d'Argentiere, photo courtesy of David Lussier

For the summer, Kyriakos likes Cosmiques hut because of its accessibility and the different itineraries that can be carried out from there. The Cosmiques hut is one of the most popular among mountaineers and is often overbooked during the high season, so booking in advance is a must. It is located at an altitude of 3,613 m  on a rock promontory between Cosmiques Arête and Col du Midi. It has shared dorms and private room options, bathrooms but no showers, and offers breakfast.

Italy

Mont Blanc mountaineering courseMonzino Hut, photo courtesy of Marco Tamponi

On the Italian side of Mont Blanc, in Val Veny, Monzino Hut is a favorite among several guides. For Kyriakos, the perks of this hut include the views and rock climbing/via ferrata routes that can be combined with an overnight at the hut. Guide Enrico, who offers this amazing 6-day training on the Italian side of the Mont Blanc massif has the following to highlight about his hut of choice:

"My favorite hut is definitely the Monzino hut, placed in the beautiful Val Veny, on the Italian side of Mont Blanc. The kindness of the guardians, the setting full of mountaineering history and the great alpine lines make me feel like I am at home. The long rock lines and mixed routes make me dream, and I'll never get tired of going up there and sharing all this with my clients."

The Monzino hut was built in 1965, it has 55 beds some in dorms, some in bedrooms for 2, toilets and showers, internet, TV, a helicopter landing platform, and even a library.

margherita hut 7Margherita Hut

Of course, Margherita Hut is a classic mountain hut in Europe, the highest in fact in the whole continent, at an altitude of At 4554 m (14 941 ft), on the summit of Punta Gniffeti. It is one of the largest huts on the Monte Rosa massif. In the summer, from June to September, it offers 70 beds, and in the winter, it offers 10 beds. Amenities include a bar restaurant, communal bathrooms, electricity, internet access, and a library. However, the Margherita is often a landmark on a climbing tour, regardless of whether or not you spend the night there, and an interesting objective to climb to since it can only be reached by foot. This 2-day Punta Gniffeti, Margherita Hut Ascent is the perfect tour to discover this unique location.

Tres Cime di Lavaredo in the Dolomites, photo courtesy of Renato

Italian huts are in general very well known and appreciated for their cuisine. In the Dolomites, this is especially true and you can find huts with local specialties, a wide assortment of wines and beers, and many gourmet options. We contacted guides Marika and Renato, some of the best in the region, and they were both enthusiastic about their choices, highlighting the "homey" feel and the overall quality of the huts in the region.

Fonda-Savio, courtesy of Rifugio Fonda-Savio

For guide Marika, the best mountain hut in the Dolomites is Fonda-Savio. This lovely hut in the Sesto Dolomites boasts a rich history and is famous for its apple strudel. It is located at an altitude of 2367 m (7766 ft.) and offers 20 beds and 20 bunk beds during the summer months.

Dolomites ski touring traverseFanes Hut, photo courtesy of Renato

For Renato, the best winter hut in the Dolomites is in Val Badia. The Fanes Hut, which overlooks the San Vigilio di Marebbe, is a top spot for multi-day ski touring adventures, and offers high-end cuisine, a wide variety of rooms including en-suite double rooms and an 11-bed dorm, showers, a cozy space for board games, sleds, and more.

Rifugio Roda di Vael, photo courtesy of Bbruno, wikimedia.

For the summer, Renato's favorite is the Roda del Vael hut in the Rosengarten-Catinaccio group. It's open from June to October and has 59 beds in 3 bedrooms with 4 beds and 2 large dorms. Pillows and blankets are included. The hut has warm showers too.


Join an amazing via ferrata tour in Roda del Vael!


Austria

Austria offers its own set of unique mountain huts with access to amazing summits, gorgeous ski routes, and more. IFMGA guide, Andreas, picked a few out for us:

Erzherzog Johann Hütte on Glockner, because of the nice people and a great traditional atmosphere, and Karlsbaderhütte in the Lienzer Dolomites because the climbing is great, the approaches are short and it can be reached by bike.

The Erzherzog Johann Hütte, also known as Adlersruhe, is located at an altitude of 3,454 m and is the highest in the country. It has 10 dorms and 120 mattresses. It is open from June to September.

The Karlsbaderhütte is open from June to September and boasts 54 beds as well as showers and wifi.


Climb Glossglockener with a certified guide!


Karlsbaderhütte, photo courtesy of Ирина Шатова

Switzerland

In Switzerland, the Hörnli Hut, at the foot of the Matterhorn is a key spot in the history of mountaineering, and the overnight option for those climbing the famous mountain. The first Hörnli Hut was built in 1880 and had 17 beds. Today, the new hut has 130 beds, a kitchen, showers, and solar-powered electricity.

Matterhorn Hornli Mountain hutPhoto courtesy of Guy Robert

Climb the Matterhorn via the Hornli Ridge in 5 Days!


Another top hut in Switzerland is the Bertold Hut in the canton of Valais. This unique hut is famous for being on top of a ridge at 3,311 m which can be accessed via ladders and chains from a glacier pass. This famous hut is located on the Haute Route path that goes from Chamonix to Zermatt. It sleeps 80 people and offers basic dinner and breakfast.


Explore the famous huts of the Alps on a hut-to-hut Vues du Mont Blanc Hiking Tour!


Slovenia's Julian Alps

Triglavski Dom, photo courtesy of Mitja

The Julian Alps in Slovenia are a popular destination for outdoor adventures. Triglav, Slovenia's main attraction, brings in both summer and winter enthusiasts, and there's plenty of rock climbing, via ferratas, and hikes in the area too. Although there is a wide variety of huts to choose from, IFMGA guide Mitja's favorite is Triglavski Dom. This is his recommendation:

If all the huts are open during the summer season, they are almost all closed in the winter months, including the spring skiing season. Some of the few higher huts that stay open are Dom na Komni and our highest hut, Triglavski dom Kredarica. Triglavski dom is a weather station also and there are two weathermen up all year round. This means you can get warm food and drinks also when the hut is officially closed. You can also sleep there, but it can be quite cold inside.

Another Slovenian specialty in the huts is our menu. Huts offer basic dishes all day long including cabbage soup, barley soup, and maybe goulash or pasta. All the dishes are tasty, but it can mean you eat a lot of cabbage if you are staying in the huts for a longer period.

The hut I stay in the most that is one of my favorites is of course Triglavski dom. It is huge and has 350 beds. It means it can be crowded in August and early September, but for the rest of the year, it is usually quite quiet. It is one of the most comfortable Slovenian huts, but you must buy your drinking water.

But on the other hand, there are plenty of smaller rooms with 4 beds, there is strong phone service with 4g internet and there are toilets inside the hut (on some of them you just find toilets outside). Plus, the service you get in the hut is smooth and fast, meaning it is our choice for almost all the climbs we do on Triglav.


Climb Mount Triglav with a Certified Local Guide!


The Best Mountain Huts in the Olympus Massif

The Olympus Massif in Greece also boasts a wide variety of options for those looking to explore the iconic mountains that Greek mythology made famous.

According to certified mountain guide, Akis, the two top huts in the region are Refuge C - Christos Kakalos and  Refuge Giosios Apostolides.

Here's what he has to say about them:

Both huts are situated close to the high peaks and are true mountain nests for summer or winter ascents. The views, the scenery, the well-cooked food, and for sure the warm attitude of the owners and entire staff make for an unforgettable stay. 

Both refuges are built in stone and situated on the Muses Plateau, the most iconic, historic, and mythological area of mount Olympus. Sunrises and sunsets are a must from the refuges, as they provide a 360 panorama and great views of the Mediterranean Sea. 

I use both of them for my hiking or climbing trips, for 2 or 3-day ascents, or even as a part of a multi-day hut-to-hut trip.

Refuge C - Christos Kakalos is located at an altitude of 2,650 m and can accommodate up to 17 people. It opens from May to October and from early March to April.

The Giosios Apostolides hut is located a bit higher up, at 2,697 m. It has 66 beds, which are distributed in 5 rooms, a kitchen, electricity, and non-drinkable running water.

Photo courtesy of Akis

Climb to the top of the famous Mount Olympus with the help of an certified guide!


The Best Mountain Huts in the Pyrenees

In the Pyrenees, mountain huts and pasture shelters abound, which is why it's such a popular destination for hut-to-hut hiking and skiing tours. Guide Roger shared his top picks in this exciting location: the Refuge d'Amitges and the Ventosa-Calvell hut, both in the Aiguestortes National Park.

Photo courtesy of Roger

About the Amitges hut, Roger shared:

Located at an altitude of 2,365m, in the heart of the Aigüestortes National Park, the Amitges refuge is one of those essential places to enjoy the Pyrenees. With a capacity for 70 people, it is an ideal base for all types of mountain skiing tours during winter and spring and climbing tours during summer and fall. Surrounded by mountains that reach almost 3000m, we can find terrain for all kinds of ski touring addicts, from large open slopes to steep corridors, alpine terrain, and forests of black pine and spruce.

Its location right at the axe of the Pyrenees mountain range ensures abundant and excellent snow conditions from December to late April. The best season for powder skiing is late January to mid-March when we enter the splendid spring snow days until late April.

The plan could not be more perfect, skiing in complete solitude, discovering glacial valleys, lakes, and forests, climbing peaks and ridges to enjoy incredible views and spectacular descents, and when back to the hut, find the comfort of the facilities and above all, the warmth of the team of wardens.

When the snow melts away and days get longer, it's time to take climbing shoes and enjoy the world-class granite in the area. Classic multi-pitch routes can be found all over the area; grippy slabs, cracks, and dihedrals fulfill anyone's climbing wants.

The refuge has always had a well-deserved reputation for good service, and since the entry of the new generation of wardens, this has gone to a higher level. Kindness, personal attention, attention to detail, good food, quality, proximity... the adjectives fall short to describe what you can find in this refuge.

We guides spend a lot of time away from home, but I always say that with refuges like the one in Amitges, we feel at home, or better!

Photo courtesy of Roger

About Ventosa-Calvell, Roger states:

One of the historical refuges and undoubtedly one of the must-sees in the Pyrenees. Located at an altitude of 2,220m, in the heart of the Aigüestortes and St Maurici National Park, it offers 60 places to sleep and an infinite number of options for skiers and climbers. A look at the landscape from the shelter's terrace will blow the imagination of any mountain lover.

During the winter season, the options are endless; Spectacular runs, imposing peaks, wide valleys, and steep couloirs... where you can ski in complete solitude, and when you return to the refuge, enjoy the comfort of the facilities and share with other groups with the same passion.

During the climbing season, we will find a lot more people in the refuge, but certainly no one on the walls, since the vast majority are hikers who enjoy the excellent network of paths in the National Park.

The refuge area is excellent for all types of climbing, especially classic climbing on excellent granite and in a spectacular scenario.

The facilities are comfortable and welcoming, and the wardens provide us with excellent service, good food, warm treatment, and all the information we may need for our skiing or climbing.

The Best Mountain Huts in Scandinavia

Scandinavia is a lesser-known spot for hut-to-hut adventures, however, its gorgeous landscapes and uncrowded wilderness make it a top destination for those who like something alternative and unique.

We asked guide Markus to point us to his favorite huts, and generously shared the following picks:

Almdalens-fjallgard-dws-16Almdalen, photo courtesy of Markus

ALMDALEN MOUNTAIN FARM

Run by Randi and Håkan, a couple in their 60’s. They run a small farm with a couple of cabins and a small restaurant, mostly self-sustained. Randi and her family moved there when she was 4 years old and it is just about a decade ago that they got electricity through solar panels. Before that, you had to use candles and the light from an open fire. Still, it is a little ‘back to basics’, but at the end of the day, it is possible to use some electricity to charge your smartphone and Håkan usually serves some delicious meals, mainly using game meat from the area.

There are no roads to get there so to travel to town is about 30 minutes snowmobile ride, then 2 hours by car – one way. Originally it was mostly for hunting and fishing that people used it, but I have sort of pioneered skiing in this area.

The terrain is quite dramatic on a small scale, and reaching the top does not have to take many hours. The tree skiing is really good and winter comes early. This is where we go on ski touring and snowshoeing tours.

So, what makes this one of the best in the area?

  1. The people who run it and their stories of wrestling sleepy bears and living off the grid.

  2. The terrain is so playful and nice for powder skiing, especially from the end of January to March.

  3. The wilderness atmosphere combined with ‘lagom’ (a Swedish word meaning ‘just enough’) comfort.
     


Explore the Jämtland wilderness on a unique backcountry weekend!


LANGVASSHYTTA

Imagine spending a few days of skiing on the border between Sweden and Norway, in a national park that lies so remote that when you describe it to people you sort of have to tell them of the most remote area in Jämtland. And then tell them it is beyond that. That is where Langvasshytta lies. At least if you come from the Swedish side. The name means ‘Long water cabin’ as it is located just north of a long lake.

Last winter I spent 5 days skiing in the surrounding mountains and after a few nights staying in cabins that provided almost nothing but the walls, roof, and floor – it was quite the view when we came out of the forest and encountered this cabin.

It's got big panoramic windows, a high ceiling, a large sofa group and a kitchen table for 8. Nearby is a large lake providing grand views, and a river to get some water. During the summer I think the cloudberries will be something you just start picking right from the porch.

So, what makes this one of the best in the area?

  1. One of the most remote wilderness areas where you are almost guaranteed to be alone (but if you want to get there without spending a few days, I have a couple of shortcuts).

  2. A highly comfortable Scandinavian-style cabin where you can stay multiple days to soak in the surroundings. 

  3. Suitable for people who prefer to not walk thousands of vertical meters up and down.

2021-01-31-Almdalen-Deep-Wild-Scandinavia-15Photo courtesy of Markus

 VASSTINDBU

Meaning sort of “water peak place”. It lies at around 1190 meters above sea level, which is not super high, but to get there you start at sea level. It lies in Romsdalen, just a short drive from the hometown of Kilian Jornet – Åndalsnes which is also one of the birthplaces for alpinism in Norway.

This hut lies a bit away from the crowds in the otherwise very popular Romsdalseggen hike. It is possible to go there by hiking, snowshoeing, Nordic skiing, and ski touring. It is possible to go from hut to hut for up to two weeks from here.

So, what makes this one of the best in the area?

  • A small and neat cabin high up on a lonely mountain where you can be you.

  • Dramatic scenery both on the hike up and around the cabin

The Best Mountain Huts in the High Tatras

The High Tatras are located on the border between Slovakia and Poland and are known for their exceptional beauty. IFMGA-certified guide, Robert, offers amazing tours in the area and chose Zbojnícka chata, Téryho chata, and Chata pod Rysmi as his favorite in the area. This is what he had to say about them:

High TatrasPhoto courtesy of Robert

All these 3 huts I remember from my childhood. Every year I spent a few weeks there while climbing in the Tatras. They have a very special place in my heart. All the supplies were taken to the hut by porters. That's very traditional in the High Tatras. Anything you eat or drink in the hut is brought to the hut on the back of a mountain porter.

We used to visit these huts on skis during winter very often. You can even do an Haute Route of the Tatras on skis and stay in these huts. Many times I go up with clients and we stop at one of these huts for a snack or just a mountain tea before we start climbing. The warm welcome that I get any time I am there always makes me want to return.

Zbojnícka chata is Zbojnícka Chalet is located in Veľká Studená Dolina, surrounded by some of the famous peaks in the Tatras such as Slavkovský štít, Východná Vysoká, and others. The hut has a capacity for 16 people, toilets are outside of the hut, and the restaurant is open year-round.

The Téryho chata is located in the same valley and is open the whole year, it has the capacity to accommodate 24 people, and has a buffet restaurant.

Chata pod Rysmi is surrounded by Rysy, Vysoka, and Tazky Stit peaks. It is open from June to October, has a capacity for 20 guests, offers dining options, and has toilets outside of the hut but no showers.


Enjoy a unique ski mountaineering tour in Slovakia!


European mountain huts are unique and well-known for their infrastructure. Having such a wide variety of amazing refuges is a luxury for all travelers looking to spend some time in the mountains and in nature!

Find a comprehensive map of all European mountain huts here, and a database with information and reviews about European mountain huts here.

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