Bonjour! Welcome to Annecy, the Venice of the Alps, and one of the prettiest towns in France that is very easy to fall in love with. Picturesque canals, charming old town, crystal-clear Lake Annecy, and the mighty Alps – all of these make Annecy a perfect destination for both adventure and culture lovers. At any time of the year, Annecy will provide visitors with lots of exciting things to do. Stay with us and discover all the best things to do in Annecy, France.
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Frequently Asked Questions about Annecy
Annecy is located in France, in the northern French Alps, on the northern tip of Lake Annecy, in the Haute-Savoie department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. The town lies at an altitude of 448m a.s.l.
Yes, on a clear day you can see Mont Blanc in the distance from the top of mountains near Annecy, like Semnoz, Sous-Dine, or Parmelan.
Yes, yes, and yes. Annecy is a real gem of the Haute-Savoie and without a doubt one of the most beautiful towns in France. History, culture, many outdoor activities, adventure, and relaxation – all these can be found there. Add Annecy to your France bucket list, you won’t regret it.
Annecy is a perfect destination for one-day trips, nice weekends, and even a home base for longer stays to slowly discover the area. We recommend staying at least 2 days to see the town without rushing.
Annecy in French is pronounced as [Ansi]. Here you can listen to it.
Here are some most characteristic postcard-like spots in Annecy:
• A charming old town with picturesque canals and bridges
• Crystal-clear Lake Annecy with the Alps in the background
• Medieval Palais de l’Île and Château d’Annecy
• Romantic Pont des Amours where love can be sealed
• Basilique de la Visitation watching the town from above
• Les Gorges du Fier with a hike on a footbridge suspended 25 meters above the river
• Jardins de l’Europe, a perfect place for a relaxing picnic
It’s always a good time to visit Annecy, but when is the best highly depends on your expectations. If you’re looking to practice watersports, swim in the lake, or go on a nice hike – visit during late spring, summer, or early autumn. But if you enjoy mountains and buildings covered in snow, exploring Christmas markets, or practicing skiing – winter will be perfect timing.
It’s also worth noting that Annecy during summertime gets very crowded and much more expensive. It might be hard to find accommodation, so good advice will be booking months in advance, especially for longer stays. We were visiting in early June and even then the number of people was quite overwhelming, but probably still much lower than in July or August.
20+ Best Things To Do In Annecy, France
Annecy Old Town
The network of canals, small bridges, iconic Palais de l’Île, pastel-painted buildings with colorful shutters, many small shops, and elegant restaurants make a stroll around Old Town a real treat and one of the best things to do in Annecy. So, don’t hesitate to wander in the smaller alleys, stop for a croissant or an ice cream, and take a longer break in one of the cafes just sitting, enjoying the views and soaking up the town vibe.
Rue Sainte-Claire is the Annecy Old Town (fr. Vieille Ville) main street, filled with old buildings, some dated to the 16-18th centuries. There you’ll find a wide variety of quaint restaurants, small cafes and ice cream shops, craft shops, or boutiques.
Market days in Annecy, France
There are two markets in Annecy Old Town during the week. On Tuesday there’s a food market with many local products, and on Fridays and Sundays, it expands to include manufactured and textile goods.
Palais de l’Isle
Palais de l’Isle, Palais de l’Île, or The Island Palace in English, is probably one of the most-photographed places in Annecy, and even all of France.
Palace was built on a small isle and splits the Le Thiou river into two canals. Palais de l’Isle is often described as a building in the shape of the bow of a ship. Its medieval construction and the oldest parts date to the 12th century. Palace first served as a prison, and later in the 14th century housed the Count of Geneva mint. In the 16th century, it was refitted to install rooms for the Courts of Justice.
Now it’s a small museum with exhibitions about Annecy heritage and architecture. Visitors can also visit prison cells, chapel, or old courtroom. Entrance to Palais de l’Isle cost: full price – €3.9, reduced price – €2. You can also buy a combined ticket with Château d’Annecy for €7.3 (May 2023). Opening hours vary throughout the year, and you can check them on musees.annecy.fr website.
Chateau d’Annecy, Annecy Castle, is located on a small hill above the town. Originally, in the 13th and 14th centuries, it was a residence of the Counts of Geneva. Over the next two centuries, thanks to various modifications the castle changed its look, when the medieval architecture was combined with the typical french style of castles seen in this region. It was abandoned as a residence in the 17th century and was used as military barracks until 1947. In the 1950s it became a museum and was classified as a Historical Monument in 1959.
Entrance to Annecy Castle is paid. Full price: €5.6, reduced price €3. You can also buy a combined ticket with Château d’Annecy for €7.3 (May 2023). Opening hours vary throughout the year, and you can check them on musees.annecy.fr website.
There are many churches in Annecy to admire and explore.
Spectacular Basilique de la Visitation (eng. Basilica of the Visitation) is located on a hill watching the town and offering great views for visitors.
Hidden on a side street Cathédrale Saint-Pierre (eng. St. Pierre Cathedral) was built in the 1500s but hasn’t served as a cathedral until the 1820s.
Eglise Saint-Maurice (eng. St. Maurice Church) is the oldest church in Annecy, dating back to the 15th century.
Finally, there’s Eglise Notre-Dame de Liesse (eng. Notre-Dame de Liesse Church) built in the mid-19th century, after the original church was destroyed during the French Revolution.
All of them are open to the public, free of charge.
Pont des Amours
Pont des Amours (eng. Lovers’ Bridge) is one more amazing place to visit in Annecy. It’s an iron bridge on the shore of Annecy Lake, connecting two parks: Jardins de l’Europe and Le Pâquier d’Annecy. Thanks to its spectacular views over the lake, canal, and mountains it’s a very popular spot for photos. Legend has it that if lovers kiss on the bridge they’ll experience eternal love.
Jardins de l’Europe
Jardins de l’Europe (eng. Gardens of Europe) is a beautiful large park right next to Annecy lake. Thanks to many shaded areas and beautiful views, the park is a perfect spot for a picnic, or just for a quick break during Annecy sightseeing. Bring a blanket and some French pastries, cheese, or wine, and enjoy your time while feeding the eyes and stomach.
Things to do around Lake Annecy, France
Lake Annecy (fr. Lac d’Annecy) is the third-largest lake in France, and its shimmering crystal-clear waters are considered the cleanest in Europe. Lake sits between mountains, and besides stunning alpine landscapes, it can offer you a few beaches, many walking paths, a circular cycling route, and many water sports opportunities.
Yes. You can swim in Lake Annecy, as well as practice many water sports.
The maximum depth of Lake Annecy is 82m, while its average depth is 41m.
Lake Annecy Water Sports
If you’re a water sports lover or just someone that wants to try something new, you’ll be very glad to spend time around Lake Annecy as the number of available activities is very wide. You can choose for example swimming, paddleboarding, scuba diving, waterskiing, and wakeboarding. You can also rent a paddleboat or a small boat (no license needed) from one of many rental companies along the lake. For sure you’ll find something perfect for your needs, at the right price, to enjoy Lake Annecy from a different point of view.
Lake Annecy France Beaches
If you’re not a water sports fan you can head to one of the beaches alongside Lake Annecy to spend time relaxing, enjoying the views, or maybe even taking a relaxing dip into the lake’s crystal clear water. The three closest (to the city center) beaches around Lake Annecy are:
- Plage d’Albigny (Albigny Beach) – Annecy main beach. It’s a spacious grassy area, in July and August monitored by lifeguards. The entrance is free.
- Plage de l’Impérial (Imperial Beach) – beach located right next to Plage d’Albigny. The area is filled with grass and sand, monitored by lifeguards in the high season. The entrance is free.
- Plage des Marquisats (Marquisats Beach) – a small beach with grass and sand areas. The entrance is free.
Some of your other options, located in various locations around the lake are Plage de la Brune (Brune Beach), Plage Saint-Jorioz (Saint-Jorioz Beach), Plage d’Angon (Angon Beach).
Biking around Lake Annecy, France
One of the best things you can do in the Annecy is to go on a nice bike ride around the lake. The route is quite easy, but the length might seem a little discouraging for some – after all, it’s 42km! It’s best to reserve the whole day, as it’s very likely that you’ll be stopping every now and then to admire stunning views. It’s best to start and finish in Annecy, where you’ll also be able to rent a bike. During the ride, you can stop in places such as the village of Sevrier, Duingt, Menthon-Saint-Bernard, or Talloires. The route is open all year round, so biking around Lake Annecy might also be a great activity during the winter season.
Hiking routes near Annecy, France
How about going on a hike, or two? There are many routes near Annecy, with different levels of difficulty, offering amazing views over the lake, mountains, and surrounding areas. The most popular ones are Semnoz (1699m a.s.l.), Mont Veyrier (1291m a.s.l.), and La Tournette (2351m a.s.l, the highest peak in Annecy for more experienced hikers). For more hiking ideas visit alltrails.com or komoot.com.
Paragliding above Lake Annecy, France
Do you want to experience some thrills, see Lake Annecy from above and let yourself be carried by the wind? If so, then paragliding might be a perfect option for you. Actually, Annecy is considered one of the best paragliding destinations in Europe, which doesn’t surprise us at all – views from the ground are spectacular, let alone the views from above! There are some companies offering paragliding, prices start around €100 and it mostly depends on the time of the flight. Also, be sure to book ahead of time. Are you up to try this amazing Annecy attraction?
Festivals in Annecy, France
Throughout the year, there are several festivals and celebrations going on in Annecy. Here are some of them.
Return of the Alpine Pastures
Return of the Alpine Pastures (fr. Retour des Alpages) takes place every year on the second Saturday of October. It’s a day when town streets are full of the herds of alpine cows which are returning from their summer pastures in the mountains to spend the autumn and winter months in the valley. Retour des Alpages is accompanied by various music performances and samplings of regional products.
Annecy Venetian Carnival
Annecy isn’t called the “Venice of the Alps” only for its canals resembling ones in Venice – the town also borrowed something else – carnival. Every year in March, for four whole days, hundreds of people dressed in splendid costumes, and thousands of curious visitors, come to the town streets to celebrate and have fun. On frenchmoments.eu you can read more about this mysterious event, and see some amazing photos.
Annecy Lake Festival
Annecy Lake Festival (eng. Fête du Lac d’Annecy) is another event worth seeing. The event takes place every year on the first Saturday of August on the Bay of Albigny. Lake Festival is the biggest pyrotechnic show in Europe – it features 70 minutes of non-stop fireworks display. Fête du Lac originated in 1860 as a Venetian-style party in honor of Napoleon III upon his arrival in Annecy. Main seats in Bay of Albigny are paid and must be bought in advance, but you can also look for the best free spots in the area. Learn more about the prices on annecy.fr website.
Annecy International Animated Film Festival
Annecy International Animated Film Festival (fr. Festival international du film d’animation d’Annecy) is the world’s largest event dedicated to animation and takes place every year at the beginning of June. During the event, besides the competing films projected in various cinemas in Annecy, there’s an open-air night movie projection organized.
Eat local food
You can’t leave Annecy without trying delicious French (and Swiss) food, mostly those based on cheese. Raclette, Fondue Savoyarde, Tartiflette and many various types of cheese (like Gruyere, Abondance, Emmental de Savoie, Tomme de chèvre de Savoie, Beaufort) are waiting for you to taste them, of course best with matching wine.
Places to visit around Annecy, France
Chateau de Menthon Saint-Bernard
Chateau de Menthon Saint-Bernard, a fairytale castle that once inspired Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, is located about 15km from Annecy Old Town. The castle which stands on a hilltop overlooking Lake Annecy without a doubt is one of the Savoyard architectural jewels. Chateau de Menthon Saint-Bernard dates back to the 12th century, and has been home to the same family, the Menthon, for almost 1000 years! Castle is open to visitors, entry costs: €11 for adults, and for children €6 (May 2023). For current opening hours and more details visit chateau-de-menthon.com official website.
Gorges du Fier
Gorges du Fier, a place considered to be one of the natural wonders of the Alps and one of the best Annecy attractions, is located only 12km from Annecy Old Town. It’s a stunning gorge carved by the waters of Fier River, featuring a footbridge suspended 25m above it, built-in 1869. The walk itself isn’t challenging (might be for people with a fear of heights) and it takes about an hour to complete. Gorges du Fier is open from 15 March to 15 October. Entry cost: €6 for adults, and children €3 (May 2023). For current opening hours and more details visit gorgesdufier.com official website.
Chateau de Montrottier
Château de Montrottier castle is located very close to Gorges du Fier, so it’s best to combine these two places on one trip. This castle dates to the 13th century, and inside you’ll find a huge collection of items (like antique weapons, armor, furniture, or ceramics) collected by Léon Mares, 19th-century explorer and collector. Château de Montrottier is open from April to November. Entry cost: €10 for adults, and for children €6 (May 2023). For current opening hours and more details visit chateaudemontrottier.com official website.
Tip: if you’ll be coming by car from Annecy, on Rte des Gorges du Fier you’ll find a nice viewpoint and photo spot on the side of the road. Check it out on Google Maps.
Winter in Annecy, France
We bet it is! Unfortunately, we weren’t visiting in winter, but we’d love to. Just imagine how beautiful the landscape must look with all these snow-capped mountains and frozen lake. Let’s add to that holiday markets, sparkling lights, and delicious warming-up food in cozy restaurants. What a winter wonderland it must have be!
Yes, it does. The snowy time lasts for around 3 months, from the end of November to the end of February. On average, there are 31 days of snow in Annecy per year. The month with the most snow is January.
What to do in Annecy, France in winter?
Just like in any other season, take a lovely walk around the Annecy Old Town and visit all the places we mentioned before. If you’re a ski lover, take advantage of ski resorts nearby (like Le Semnoz, La Clusaz, Col de Merdassier, Le Grand Bornand, or even the ones in Chamonix). You can also go ice skating outdoor (Place François de Menthon) or indoor skating rings.
Also, from the end of November to early January, two Christmas markets take place in Annecy. The biggest market, Village des Alpes, takes place near Centre Commercial Courier. The second market, The Old Town Christmas Market, takes place in the historic center of the town. It’s a perfect activity for Christmas Markets lovers.
Other options of things to do in winter in Annecy include going on a hike (remember about appropriate equipment), paragliding over snow-covered mountains, seeing a Christmas light show on Annecy City Hall, and experiencing the Venetian Carnival in early March.
How to get to Annecy, France?
Annecy is located about 40km from Geneva in Switzerland, 100km from Chamonix, 145km from Lyon, and 560km from Paris. The most convenient way to get to Annecy is by car or by train.
Where to park in Annecy, France?
There are many, mostly paid, parking lots in Annecy. We recommend leaving the car in this free parking lot, located just 5min away from Annecy Old Town. But be aware that this parking is getting full really quick, so it’s best to arrive in Annecy early in the morning.
Airports near Annecy, France
The closest airports to Annecy are in Geneva (45km away) and Lyon (125km away). Both airports offer direct trains and buses connections to Annecy. To check the connections that interest you please visit rome2rio.com website.
To Annecy by train
France is very well connected by trains. By train, you’ll probably get to Annecy faster, but also will pay more. For example, the journey by train from Paris to Annecy lasts about 4h (€90-120), from Geneva it’s 1h15min (€25-50) and from Lyon it’s 2h (€50-95). To learn more about train connections that interest you visit rome2rio.com website.
To Annecy, France by bus
You can also get to Annecy by bus. For example, the journey from Chamonix will take about 1h 35m and will cost €8-13. From Lyon the journey takes about 2h and costs about €50-95. To learn more about bus connections that interest you visit rome2rio.com website.
Camping in Annecy, France
If you’re traveling by camper you’ll probably be glad to know that there are few camping sites near Annecy Lake. Here are some of them (all are paid)
Annecy, France Summary
Ufff… That’s quite a lot for such a small old town. To be totally honest, France is full of charming places, but Annecy, so far, is our number one. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy it as we did and will cross many of the things to do in Annecy from your list with a big smile on your face and a lot of memories to share with others.
Restaurants, accommodations, and map
Check out various recommended places below.
Where to eat in Annecy?
Here are your best, high-rated options in Annecy:
Where to sleep in Annecy?
Hôtel de Bonlieu
Hôtel de Bonlieu is a charming and elegant hotel situated in the heart of Annecy, offering cozy and stylish rooms with modern amenities, a terrace with a garden, and a convenient location close to the city's attractions, including Lake Annecy and the historic old town. With its unique blend of classic and contemporary design, warm hospitality, and excellent location, this hotel provides a perfect base for visitors looking to explore the beautiful city of Annecy.
Hôtel des Alpes
Hôtel des Alpes is a cozy and traditional hotel located in Annecy offering comfortable and affordable rooms with modern amenities, a shared lounge, and a convenient location close to the city's attractions, including the old town and Lake Annecy. With its warm and welcoming atmosphere, this hotel provides a perfect option for travelers looking for a simple and authentic stay in Annecy.
Hôtel du Château
Hôtel du Château is a charming and romantic hotel situated in a historic building in the heart of Annecy offering beautifully appointed rooms and suites with elegant decor and modern amenities, a terrace with stunning views of the castle and the city, and a central location close to the old town and Lake Annecy. With its luxurious and intimate atmosphere, this hotel provides a perfect option for couples or travelers seeking a memorable and sophisticated stay in Annecy.
Atipik Hôtel Alexandra
Atipik Hôtel Alexandra is a modern and stylish boutique hotel located in the heart of Annecy, offering bright and colorful rooms and suites with contemporary design and modern amenities, a shared lounge, and a convenient location close to the old town and Lake Annecy. With its unique and vibrant atmosphere, this hotel provides a perfect option for travelers looking for a trendy and chic stay.
Western Hotel International
Western Hotel International is a modern and elegant hotel located in the heart of Annecy offering spacious and comfortable rooms and suites with contemporary decor and modern amenities, a fitness center, a terrace with stunning views of the city and the surrounding mountains, and a convenient location close to the old town and Lake Annecy. With its luxurious and sophisticated atmosphere, this hotel provides a perfect option for travelers looking for a high-end and comfortable stay in Annecy.
Accommodations photos source: booking.com