20+ Best Things To Do In Annecy, France. Complete Travel Guide

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 this French town a perfect destination for both adventure and culture lovers. At any time of the year, Annecy will provide visitors with lots of exciting attractions. Stay with us and discover the best things to do in Annecy, France.

Best Things To Do In Annecy, France. Complete Travel Guide
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Annecy, France FAQ

Where is Annecy located?

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.

Is Annecy worth visiting?

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.

What is Annecy best known for?

Annecy is best known for being called the Venice of the Alps. All of that is thanks to its charming old town with picturesque canals and bridges and crystal-clear Lake Annecy with the Alps in the background.

How many days to stay in Annecy?

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.

How do you pronounce Annecy in French?

Annecy in French is pronounced as [Ansi]. Still don’t know how to read it? Here’s a YouTube video where you can listen to correct pronunciation.

Can Mont Blanc be seen from Annecy?

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.

What’s the best time to visit Annecy?

It’s always a good time to visit Annecy. 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 admiring mountains and buildings covered in snow, exploring Christmas markets, or practicing skiing – winter will be perfect. Also, keep in mind that Annecy during summertime gets very crowded and much more expensive. It might be hard to find accommodation, so remember to book months in advance, especially for longer stays.

Annecy France Travel Guide
Best Things To Do In Annecy France. Complete Travel Guide

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 Annecy Old Town (fr. Vieille Ville) a real treat and one of the best things to do in town. 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 the town vibe. Don’t miss Rue Sainte-Claire which is Annecy’s main street, filled with many old buildings, some dated to the 16-18th centuries.

Learn more iconDiscover: Accommodation options in Annecy

Complete Annecy, France Travel Guide - Old Town
Annecy Old Town Colorful Restaurant Front
Annecy Old Town busy buildings and streets
Annecy Old Town Colorful Street
Things to do in Annecy France - stroll in Old Town Colorful Streets
Annecy Old Town Buildings

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. The 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’s heritage and architecture. Visitors can also visit prison cells, chapel, or old courtrooms. Entrance costs to Palais de l’Isle depend on the season – in the summer months it’s €4 for a normal ticket and €2 for a reduced one (March 2024). You can also buy a combined ticket with Château d’Annecy for €9 and save a buck. To check out current opening hours and prices visit musees.annecy.fr website.

Best things to do in Annecy, France - Palais de l'Isle
Palais de l'Isle in Annecy France

Museum-Castle of Annecy

Museum-Castle of Annecy (fr. Musée-Château d’Annecy) is located on a small hill above the town. 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 – 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 Chateau d’Annecy became a museum and was classified as a Historical Monument in 1959.

Entrance costs to Annecy Museum-Castle depend on the season – in the summer months it’s €7 for a normal ticket and €4 for a reduced one (March 2024). You can also buy a combined ticket with Palais de l’Isle for 9€ and save a buck. To check out current opening hours and prices visit musees.annecy.fr website.

What to do in Annecy, France - Musee-Chateau d'Annecy, Annecy Castle
Musee-Chateau d'Annecy in France
Annecy Castle in Annecy, France

Annecy Churches

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.

Annecy, France churches - Basilique de la Visitation
Churches in Annecy France Old Town

Lovers’ Bridge

Lovers’ Bridge (fr. Pont des Amours) is one of the most amazing places to visit in Annecy. It’s an iron bridge on the shore of Lake Annecy, 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.

Gardens of Europe

Gardens of Europe (fr. Jardins de l’Europe) is a beautiful large park right next to Lake Annecy. 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.

Learn more iconBook now: Private Market Tour and Modern French Cooking and Meal with a Local

Pont des Amours, Lovers’ Bridge, in Annecy France

Things to do around Lake Annecy

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. Its maximum depth is 82m, while its average depth is 41m. 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.

Best things to do around Lake Annecy, France
Things to do around Lake Annecy, France

Lake Annecy Water Sports

If you’re a water sports enthusiast or just someone who wants to try something new, you’ll be glad to spend time around Lake Annecy as the number of available activities is wide. For example, you can choose swimming, paddleboarding, scuba diving, waterskiing, or 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 to enjoy Lake Annecy from a different point of view.

Lake Annecy beaches

If you’re not into water sports, you can head to one of the beaches alongside Lake Annecy to spend some relaxing time while enjoying the views. Maybe you’ll even take a dip in the lake’s crystal clear waters? Best Lake Annecy beaches include:

  • Plage d’Albigny (Albigny Beach) – Annecy main beach. It’s a spacious grassy area, in July and August monitored by lifeguards.
  • 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.
  • Plage des Marquisats (Marquisats Beach) – a small beach with grass and sand areas.

Some of your other options, located in various locations around the lake, are Plage de la Brune, Plage Saint-Jorioz, and Plage d’Angon.

Lake Annecy, Lac d’Annecy boats
Lake Annecy Sports - Biking around the lake 
Lake Annecy Water Sports - Rent a Small Boat

Biking around Lake Annecy

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

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

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?

Learn more iconBook now: Private 2-hour Walking Tour of Annecy with official tour guide

Best festivals in Annecy, France 
Annecy, France Old Town - Venice of the Alps
Things to do in Annecy - attend festivals

Festivals in Annecy

Throughout the year, several festivals and celebrations are taking place 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 the 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.

Learn more iconDiscover: Accommodation options in Annecy

Best restaurants in Annecy France
Eat local French food in Annecy France
Things to do in Annecy France - enjoy local food

Places to visit around Annecy

Menthon-Saint-Bernard Castle

Menthon-Saint-Bernard Castle (fr. Chateau de Menthon Saint-Bernard) is a fairytale castle that once inspired Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. It’s located about 15km from Annecy Old Town. The castle stands on a hilltop overlooking Lake Annecy and is without a doubt 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!

Menthon-Saint-Bernard Castle is open to visitors. Entrance costs €11 for adults, and €6 for children (March 2024). For current prices and opening hours visit chateau-de-menthon.com 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. Entrance costs €6 for adults, and €3 for children (March 2024). For current prices and opening hours visit gorgesdufier.com website.

Gorges du Fier, Annecy France
Gorges du Fier near Annecy France
Things to do around Annecy, France - visit Gorges du Fier

Montrottier Castle

Montrottier Castle (fr. Château de Montrottier) is located very close to Gorges du Fier, so it’s great 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, a 19th-century explorer and collector.

Château de Montrottier is open from April to November. Entrance costs €10 for a normal ticket, and €8 for a reduced one (March 2024). For current prices and opening hours visit chateaudemontrottier.com website.

Travel 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.

Chateau de Montrottier, Annecy France
Chateau de Montrottier in Annecy France

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 train.

For great car rental deals visit the Rental Cars website.

Where to park in Annecy?

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 quickly, so it’s best to arrive in Annecy early in the morning.

Airports near Annecy

The closest airports to Annecy are in Geneva (45km away) and Lyon (125km away). Both airports offer direct trains and bus connections to Annecy. To check the connections that interest you visit rome2rio.com website.

To Annecy by train

France is very well connected by trains. By train, you’ll get to Annecy very fast, but you’ll also pay more. For example, the journey by train from Paris to Annecy lasts about 3h45h (€90-160), 1h15min from Geneva (€25-50), and 2h from Lyon (€20-40). To learn more about train connections that might interest you visit sncf.com or rome2rio.com website.

For great train ticket deals visit the Trainline website.

To Annecy by bus

You can also get to Annecy by bus. For example, the trip from Chamonix will take about 1h35m (€6-24), and 2h10min from Lyon (€9-35). To learn more about bus connections that might interest you visit rome2rio.com website.

Camping in Annecy

If you’re traveling by camper you’ll probably be glad to know that there are few camping sites near Annecy Lake. Places like Camping Le Belvédère, Camping l’Horizon, Camping Au Coeur du Lac or Camping la Ravoire Lac d’Annecy might interest you.

To Annecy with an organized tour

If you don’t want to put too much effort into planning, you can always take advantage of the guided tours and let someone else take care of all the details. For a wide selection and well-reviewed tour options be sure to visit GetYourGuide or Viator.

Things to do in Annecy, France – Summing up

Ufff… That’s quite a lot for such a small old town. France is full of charming places, but without a doubt, Annecy is one of the best! Whether you will visit for one day only or a couple of days, we are sure you’ll have an amazing time in this super charming French town.

Our video from Annecy

Our opinion about Annecy

For us, a visit to Annecy was a one-day trip from Thonon-Les-Bains where we lived for a few weeks. We visited the town in early June and during that time there were already quite a lot of tourists and the town was quite busy. And what can we say… In a split second, we succumbed to Annecy’s charm and to this day we’re under its spell. Without a doubt, it’s one of our favorite places in France from which we have great memories. We’ll gladly come back one day.

Learn more iconBook now: Annecy Traditional Food Tour

View from Pont des Amours in Annecy France

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 des Alpes in Annecy, France

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 in Annecy France

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.

Western Hotel International in Annecy France

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

Annecy, France - Map of places

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20+ Best Things To Do In Annecy, France. Complete Travel Guide

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