Visit Annecy: 17 things to do and see

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Things to do in Annecy: The 17 Best highlights and points of Interest

You’re looking for a nice weekend or few days trip destination in France? No need to look further!

You should definitely visit Annecy, in Haute-Savoie. In summer or winter, you will easily find enough things to do to enjoy 2 or 3 awesome days!

So, where to go in Annecy? What are the best places to visit?

In order to help you plan your stay, I have written this guide of the 17 best things to do and see in Annecy and around.

Then, I will give you tips to visit Annecy in 1, 2 or 3 days without missing any points of interest.

I will finish this article with my hand picked selection of the hotels that offers the best value for money in the area, so you will know where to stay in Annecy.

Let’s start by the list of Annecy’s must-see attractions!

1. Lake Annecy

When you hear about Annecy, the first thing that comes to your mind is this postcard image: the lake’s translucent water reflecting the mountains surrounding it. It’s really the #1 tourist attraction in town.

For sure, Lake Annecy (Lac d’Annecy in French) is the first thing you will want to see when you arrive, so let’s start your trip in Annecy by a small walk on the lake’s shore. You will finally be able to see the crystal clear, lagoon like water and the beauty of the place by yourself!

You can for example start your stroll starting from Paquier, the huge lawn boarding the lake, and go on the right to the Jardins de l’Europe (Gardens of Europe).

With this itinerary, you will go through one of the top places in Annecy, the Pont des Amours (lover’s bridge), with, like the one in Paris, has “love locks” tied to it.

The jardins de l’Europe are very nice for the lake view of course, but also for the huge and magnificent multi centennial trees you can find there.

On the other side of Paquier (left side), you can go to the Imperial Palace gardens, for sure the most luxurious hotel in Annecy.

It’s located at the border of Annecy’s adjacent town, Annecy le Vieux, which, despite it’s name, is not and shouldn’t be confused with the old town of Annecy.

You can keep going on the lake shore to find a beach as well as the starting point for many nautical activities to do on the lake. I will tell you everything about them a bit later in the article.

Lake Annecy
Lake Annecy

2. Segway Stroll on the lake shore

A cool way to discover the place is to choose a Segway stroll, a nice activity to do on Lake Annecy shore. Even if you have never tried before, it’s a great place to start as the area around the lake is a pedestrian only area.

Trips are offered from 30 minutes (around 17€ per person) to 2 hours (around 55€ per person). It can be a great activity to do with your family!

I strongly recommend you to book your Segway tour in advance. It’s more convenient, as you can do it directly online by clicking here.

Visit Annecy - Lake Annecy

3. Bike ride around Lake Annecy

The sportier will for sure enjoy to do a bike ride around Lake Annecy.

There is around 42km of bike path, it’s really a great way to discover the surroundings. You will of course need to stop a few times to admire the view! it’s also the best way to find some places without too much people, especially in summer.

Bike Annecy

4. Do paragliding: discover Annecy from the sky

For those with an adventurous spirit and big thrills enthusiasts, I strongly recommand you to book a paragliding session above Lake Annecy.

The view is just crazy, no wonder why Annecy is the most famous paragliding site in Europe, and one of the best in the world!

Many companies are providing this service, starting from 95€ for 15/20 minutes. You can even chose if you want a big thrill acrobatic flight or something calmer.

The paragliding session usually starts from Forclaz pass (col de Forclaz in french) or the small town of Talloires and it should be booked in advance. Doing paragliding in Annecy is the best way to discover this sport!

For me, it’s a really a “must do” tourist attraction in Annecy.

The best paragliding session in Annecy can easily be booked online by clicking the button below.

As it’s the most popular activity to do in Annecy, you need to book it as soon as possible, else there are good chances that it will be fully booked.

Doing paragliding in Annecy
Doing paragliding in Annecy

5. Do nautical activities on lake Annecy

If you are looking for what to do in Annecy, enjoying the numerous nautical activities can be a good choice!

From pedal boat to water-skiing and wakeboarding, everyone will for sure find a nautical activity that suits him on lake Annecy.

To enjoy the quietest places of the lake or just swim a bit further from the shore, you can find on the lake shore many types of boats or pedal boats available for rent.

A few examples:

  • A paddle boat trip starts at 12€ for half and hour, or a license-free motor boat starts at 30€ for half an hour.
  • Renting a stand up paddle is personally my favorite way to explore a part of Lake Annecy! It feels very relaxing to paddle on this beautiful lake surrounded by mountains. You need to click here to book your board.

If you enjoy water sports or simply want to try something new, you can do water-skiing or wakeboarding. To book it, simply click on the button below:

Voyage Tips - Advice

If you prefer to discover Lake Annecy the calm way, and, why not, while eating a good lunch or diner, you can take the restaurant boat “Libellule” from Annecy.

2 departures per day, one at 12h and the other at 20h. The round trip takes around 2h30. For 65€, you will have the mini cruise and a 3 courses menu (starter, main course, dessert).

And if you are looking for a free acitvity, you can of course just go swim or get a tan in one of Lake Annecy beaches!

water skiing Annecy
Water skiing Annecy

6. Annecy old town and it’s canals

In addition to the lake, the city of Annecy is also famous for it’s beautiful old town and the main canal going through it. That’s why the town is also known as the Venice of the Alps (la Venise des Alpes in french). It’s really one of the highlights of the city.

With it’s cobbled streets and arches, the Annecy old town is for sure a must-see!

It’s the place where you can take the famous picture with “l’écluse fleurie” (the flower tidegate on the Thiou canal) or the palais de l’Isle (Isle palace), located between 2 canals.

Don’t hesitate to wander in the small alleys and to follow the canal along the Louis-Lachenal promenade.

With many areas in the shade, it’s a very nice small walk to do in summer when it’s very warm!

It’s also in Annecy old town that you can find most of the city’s restaurants (touristy, but some of them are very good), as well as all the small souvenirs shop where you can buy local things as well as the superb (a bit of irony maybe!) placemat with the picture of the lake.

You will also find some typical french shops with amazing Haute-Savoie cold cuts and cheese.

About awesome local food, if you are lucky enough to be in Annecy on tuesday, friday or sunday morning, you should definitely go to the old town market.

It takes place next to the canal, and don’t hesitate to bargain a bit on local products: Maybe you will get a free dry sausage if you buy a few!

Annecy old town
Annecy old town

7. Eating in Annecy

Taking a stroll in Annecy old town streets is nice, but doing so while eating the best ice cream in town is even better! Yep, there is an excellent ice cream shop in Annecy: Le glacier des Alpes.

It’s even considered to be one of the best in France. They offer more than 45 flavours, so the hardest part is to chose and stay reasonable!

Annecy is also the perfect place to eat a good tartiflette, croziflette (quite similar to tartiflette, but made with crozets, pasta from Savoie), cheese fondue, diots de Savoie (sausages) or, of course, fishes from the lake like perch, trout or arctic char.

glacier des alpes Annecy
The glacier des Alpes, in Annecy

8. Château d’Annecy (Annecy Castle-museum)

Another thing to see in Annecy is the Castle museum. It’s located at the top of the small hill and you can easily walk there from the old town.

For adults, the entrance price is 5.5€. At this price, you will be able to visit the château d’Annecy as well as the temporary exhibitions. It takes around 1h to visit, but let’s be frank: the view from the castle is the main interest!

Annecy Castle
Annecy Castle

9. Annecy’s best beaches

If you’re lucky enough to be in Annecy during summer, you will for sure want to take a dip in the beautiful crystal clear waters of the lake!

Here are the best beaches in Annecy and around the lake:

  • The beach of the Imperial, on the Avenue d’Albigny. Paid beach.
  • Marquisats beach, on the west bank of the lake. Free of charge.
  • Albigny beach, the largest beach on Lake Annecy. Free access, in Annecy-le-Vieux.
  • The 2 beaches of Sevrier
  • Saint-Jorioz beach, featuring a diving board, pontoons and toilets/showers + first-aid post. Paid beach in summer.
  • Angon beach, a well-shaded beach crossed by a stream. Private beach.
  • Talloires beach where there is a paddling pool, ideal for small children. Paid beach.
  • Menthon Saint-Bernard beach with playground, volleyball and petanque courts. Paid beach.

10. The best activities to do in Annecy

In addition to paragliding (which needs to be booked here!), you can also do :

And if you wonder what to do in Annecy in winter, you can maybe try snowshoeing. These 4 to 7 hours hikes are a great way to discover the snowy landscapes around Annecy! You can enjoy snowshoeing from December to March.

You can find more information about this activity by clicking here.

11. Venetian Carnival

As I was telling you earlier, Annecy’s nickname is “the Venice of the Alps”, because of the canals you can see in the old town.

But Annecy borrowed something else from the famous Italian city: it’s famous carnival!

Every year, generally at the beginning of march, hundreds of people dressed with magnificent costumes parade in the street. Several activities related to make-up or masks creations can be done in Annecy during the Venetian Carnival.

A very beautiful tourist attraction!

Venetian Carnival Annecy
Venetian Carnival Annecy

12. Annecy International Animated Film Festival

The international Animated Film Festival takes place every year in June in Annecy.

Professionals of the industry from all other the world are showcasing their movies, ranging from 3D animated graphics to traditional animations and some very original creation (stop motion clay based animation, Chinese shadows theatre etc…).

A great thing about this festival is that every evening, a movie  projection is organised on the Paquier lawn, and everyone can enjoy it!

If you are lucky enough to be doing your trip to Annecy at this period, it’s really perfect for an evening with the kids (or without !)

Annecy International Animated Film Festival
Annecy International Animated Film Festival

13. The Annecy Lake Festival

Another must-see for locals and tourists is the Annecy Lake Festival. This amazing pyrotechnic show takes place every year on the first Saturday of August and is the biggest in Europe.

Fireworks are shot off from Lake Annecy and stands are built everywhere around Paquier so everyone can enjoy it. There are around 46 000 paid seats, but of course, you can view it from anywhere!

Anyway, a good advice et to hunt for a good viewing spot quite early, as the show attracts more than 100 000 spectators every year. You can imagine that the best spots are taken quite fast!

For more info and seat booking, you can have a look a Annecy official website (in french).

Annecy lake Festival
Annecy lake Festival

14. Going for a hike around Annecy

Considering Annecy is located at the heart of the French Alps, one of the top thing to do is to go for a hike in the mountains surrounding the city. Here are a few of my favorites:

The Semnoz

it’s the easiest hike around Annecy. Take your car, and go to the top of the Semnoz, there is lots of parking places. From there, you will have amazing viewpoints on the lake and moutains surrounding it.

In summer, you will be able to do a few hikes as well as mountain bike in the high mountain pastures, and in winter, you can enjoy sledge, ski and snowshoe.

If you want to get some thrills, I strongly advice you to book your downhill mountain bike session at Semnoz, it’s amazing! (No previous experience needed!)

Mount Veyrier

This hike starts from the town of Annecy le Vieux and Veyrier. You can walk for a few hours without major difficulties and you will be protected from the heat in summer as most of the paths are in the forest.

The great part of this hike is that you will benefit from an amazing view on all Lake Annecy.

It’s also possible to go directly next to the top of Mount Verrier with a car, by the “col des contrebandiers”. You will then have to do a short walk to go to the lake viewpoints.

For a short walk with a nice view on the lake, I suggest you to follow the signs to the “Talabar”, a small meadow with one the best views of Annecy.

La Tournette

This hike around Annecy is for experienced hikers, as the last part is quite hard, with chains, cables, ladders and quite slippery rocks. From there, you will have a great view on the lake as well as the Mont Blanc.

The Gorges du Fier

Properly speaking, this is not a hike, but rather a short walk in a nice natural site at about 10km from Annecy.

Result of the water erosion on rocks, the 25m deep gorges du Fier can be visited thanks to the footbridges installed all along the torrent. At the end of the walk, don’t miss the “sea of rocks”.

The site is closed from October to March and is then open everyday. The ticket price is 5.70€ for adults and the visit takes around 1 hour.

Hike Annecy
Hike Annecy

The 3 best things to do around Annecy

After visiting Annecy, you will probably want to discover the surroundings. Here are the 3 best things to do around Annecy:

15. Geneva

The first place you can visit near Annecy is Geneva. This famous swiss city is located only 30 minutes away from Annecy, close to the French border.

Like the city of Annecy, it’s situated on the shores of a large lake: Lake Geneva.

Here are the best places to visit in Geneva:

  • The old town, featuring a few must-see tourist attractions, such as St Peter’s Cathedral of Geneva.
  • The Jet d’eau, symbol of the city
  • The Parc de la Grange and the Parc des Eaux-vives, on the edge of the lake
  • A stroll next to the lake or a cruise on Lake Geneva.

If you want to visit Geneva, you should read my detailed article: The 23 best things to do in Geneva.

Jet d'Eau Geneva
Jet d’Eau Geneva

16. Chamonix and the Mont-Blanc

You prefer to discover the mountains around Annecy?

No problem!

Let’s head to Chamonix and the Mont-Blanc, only 1h10 away. It’s in my opinion one of the best places to visit around Annecy!

First, you should take the Aiguille du Midi cable car to discover an exceptional view over the entire Mont-Blanc massif.

Then opt for a ride on a rack train to reach the largest French glacier: the “Mer de Glace”. There, you can visit the famous Ice Cave and its collection of ice sculptures.

And if you want to discover amazing winter sports, you should try one of these 2 activities:

No matter what you plan to do, you should end the day with a good Savoyard dish at a restaurant in Chamonix. Tartiflette, croziflette, fondue, local cheese… You will have lots of things to try!

aiguille du Midi
The Aiguille du Midi – Chamonix

17. Other nice places to see near Annecy

Still on the shores of Lake Geneva, you should visit:

  • Yvoire, a pretty medieval village listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France. You will be able to discover its castle and small local craft shops.
  • Evian-les-Bains, a small but world famous town known for its mineral water. The walk in the centre and along the lake is very pleasant.
Yvoire
Yvoire

One day in Annecy

If you have only 1 day to visit Annecy, you will have to make concessions! To make the most out of your day in the Venice of the Alps, I recommend you the following things to do :

  1. For a good start, take a stroll on Lake Annecy shore
  2. Then go to Annecy old town to see the canals and Annecy castle museum
  3. For the lunch, you can eat something in the old town (the famous local “tartiflette” if it’s not too hot!) and finish with one of the amazing ice cream from the Glacier des Alpes
  4. In the afternoon, you should try to do one of the nautical activities available on Lake Annecy like wakeboard, water ski, paddle boat or stand up paddle!
  5. To end your day in style, go for a paragliding session and enjoy the amazing view of Annecy from the sky!

2 days in Annecy

In 2 days in Annecy, you will have the time to go for one of the nice hikes you can do in the mountains around the city!

In addition to the 1st day program, I suggest you to go to the Semnoz and maybe do this hike (in French) that offers a superb view on the lake.

For the most adventurous among you, the La Tournette hike is a great alternative to have a memorable day!

If you choose a short hike, you can finish the day at the beach, next to Annecy le Vieux and enjoy the lake’s crystal clear water.

And if you want to do something fun at Semnoz, the downhill mountain biking session is really awesome! You need to book it here.

Y si quieres hacer algo divertido en Semnoz, la sesión de ciclismo de montaña es realmente impresionante. Tienes que reservarlo aquí.

3 days in Annecy

if you have 3 days in Annecy, you will have the time to go around the lake and maybe spend one night in of the the small towns like Talloires or Menthon-Saint-Bernard.

Take the opportunity to do a few pictures of the castle of Menthon-Saint-Bernard. Depending on the day and season, you can even visit it (more info on their website)

Another very photogenic place is Duingt castle, on the other side of the lake.

And if you are visiting the region with friends, why not go for example do some tree climbing in an adventure park or paintball in the forest, near Annecy?

If you would like to know more about special events in Annecy or just get a tourist map, you should go to the Annecy tourist information center.

  • Address: Centre Culturel Bonlieu, 1 Rue Jean Jaurès, 74000 Annecy.

Where to stay in Annecy

  • Campanile Annecy Centre – Gare: Located at 5 minutes walking for the old town and Lake Annecy. Big and nice room starting at 90€, breakfast at 10€. Strong point: next to the train station, rebate on the train station parking price.
  • Hôtel des Marquisats: Located at 20 minutes from Annecy center and at only 200m from the lake, with an amazing view. Wooden furniture room starting at 85€, breakfast included. Strong points: Lake view, great buffet breakfast, free parking and it’s one of the only hotels with such a nice view at this price.
  • Adonis Annecy – Icône Hôtel: Located in the old town, the restaurants and shops are nearby. The bright and modern rooms price start at 84€, breakfast costs an additionnal 9€. Strong point: the ideal location.
  • Imperial Palace Annecy: Simply the best hotel in Annecy if you are looking for an high end experience. The location, the view, the restaurant, everything is amazing. The double room rates starts at 150€ per night.

In Annecy, hotels nights can quickly become quite expensive. So a good solution can be to use Airbnb to rent a room or a full apartment! With Voyage Tips, you can benefit from a 25€ discount on your first booking. If you already have an account, don’t hesitate to create a new one to get the 25 euros. This rebate will then be automatically applied to your first booking above 69 euros.

How to get to Annecy?

There is no airport in Annecy.

The closest airport is located in Geneva (Switzerland) or in Lyon, in France.

You can however arrive directly in Annecy by bus or train.

You can check the schedules and fares as well as book your tickets by clicking here:

And if you want to rent a car during your stay in Annecy, you should use Rentalcars.com website.

It’s the best way to compare the rates of all car hire companies at a given location. You will thus easily find the best price!

In addition, modifying and canceling your booking is free 😎.

Tourist map of Annecy

To help you visualize the city a bit better, I have made for you a tourist map of Annecy, listing all the best places to visit I talked about in this guide. You can display the legend of the map by clicking on the top left button with a small arrow.

FAQ – I answer your questions about Annecy

What are the best things to do in Annecy with kids?

You want to visit Annecy with children? Here are a few great activities to enjoy with your kids!

  • Discovering the shores of Lake Annecy on foot or by Segway (from 12 years old)
  • Renting a pedal boat or small boat without a licence
  • Go for an ice cream at the Glacier des Alpes!
  • Take a dip at one of the many beaches – With young children, the Talloires beach is great, because there is a paddling pool.
  • Discover the Gorges du Fier or Cerdon Caves Park
  • Tree climbing – A great activity to do with kids in Annecy!
  • Le Semnoz: for an easy hike and a summer toboggan ride.

What are the best things to do in Annecy in summer?

If you plan to visit Annecy in July or August, you can do everything I mentionned in this guide of Annecy:

What to do in Annecy when it rains?

Maybe you will come to Annecy on a rainy day, and you won’t be able to do sightseeing. While waiting for the weather to get better, you can:

What are the best things to do in Annecy in winter?

You’re coming to Annecy in winter? Great!

Then, you will be able to enjoy amazing winter activities in the surroundings. Most winter activites are available from December to March-April:

What’s the best time to visit Annecy?

The best time to visit Annecy for sightseeing is between May and October: you will be able to enjoy most of the activities I recommend in this article.

In winter, the city and the lakeside are quieter, except during the Venetian Carnival (end of February-March), which attracts many people. You can however enjoy many winter activities in the surroundings.

And you, what do you plan to do in Annecy?

Book your trip now and save money!

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Things to see in Annecy

Vincent

Creator of the Voyage Tips blog, travel and photography lover. I give you all my best tips to plan your next trip.

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