A Guide in Exploring Annecy: Why It’s Worth Your Visit

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For me, there is no better destination than a quaint historical town located within a scenic region. Those places often help us relax our minds, free us from stress, and make our fantasies come to life!

In France, Annecy is the epitome of a breathtaking and historical destination. This is why Annecy is nicknamed the “Pearl of the French Alps!” And believe it or not, it is also called the “The Venice of the Alps.” With that, Annecy can be the romantic destination you might be looking for! That sounds compelling, but is Annecy really worth visiting?

Think about it no more because, in this blog post, we’ll answer that question! First, I’ll give you my hot take — it’ll be short and concise. And if you need more explanation, you can find 10 reasons — the beautiful attractions and experiences of this town — to see for yourself if Annecy is for you or not.

Let’s cut to the chase: Is Annecy worth visiting?

Undoubtedly! Annecy is a gem in France that boasts a unique mix of romantic allure, natural splendor, and old-world charm. There’s no shortage of exciting things to do in Annecy that will keep you entertained for three days or more. From visiting historical landmarks such as Le Palais de I’Île and Musée-Château d’Annecy in the quaint medieval city center to exploring breathtaking sites like Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard, Gorges du Fier, and Plateau des Glières around the town, there’s something for every taste in Annecy.

Don’t miss out on the peaceful beaches scattered along Lake Annecy that offer moments of relaxation, adding to the reasons why Annecy is worth visiting. If you’re up for some water sports, especially during summer months, you’re in for a treat. You can even dive into Lake Annecy where a medieval ship lies beneath!

Personally, when it comes to traveling, there are a few things that I always aim to achieve. They include creating unforgettable memories, discovering fascinating cultures or significant parts of history, and experiencing awe-inspiring moments that make you forget all your worries. If these resonate with you, then you’re in for a treat with Annecy. Annecy is a town that ticks all the boxes. There’s more to uncover about this charming town, and we’ll discuss these aspects below.

Annecy France, Golden hour in the historic center
Golden hour in Annecy’s historic center
Annecy France, Le Palais de I'Île at night
Le Palais de I’Île at night

Discover: best hotel deals in Annecy.

1. Charming Old Town of Annecy — Wanderlust Satisfied!

Annecy France, Bridges, shops, and restaurants along the Thiou River
Bridges, shops, and restaurants along the Thiou River

Whatever kind of traveler you might be, I’m sure you’ll find the historic center of Annecy full of charm. On a sunny day, it is so beautiful that it can pull your cheeks up to a smile! 

Annecy France, View of the castle of Annecy from the Thiou River
View of the castle of Annecy from the Thiou River
Annecy France, A beautiful hotel beside the river Thiou
A beautiful hotel beside the river Thiou
Annecy France, The vibrant pastel-colored houses and tourists
The vibrant pastel-colored houses and tourists
Annecy France, View of Pont Perrière and Le Palais de I'Île
View of Pont Perrière and Le Palais de I’Île

Simply wandering the streets of Annecy can satiate your wanderlust, making it a must-visit destination. With its bridges adorned with flowers, narrow lanes with arcades, and pastel-colored houses, your eyes are in for a treat!

Annecy France, Beautiful houses flanking the narrow streets
Beautiful houses flanking the narrow streets

When you visit Annecy, be sure to have your camera ready. Clear out your existing media and make room for new memories because the historic center is brimming with picturesque scenes.

But it’s not just a feast for the eyes – Annecy’s historic center is also home to charming cafes and restaurants serving up specialties from the alpine region. Your taste buds will be tantalized by mountain delicacies like Tartiflette, Raclette, and Fondue – don’t miss out on these!

The historic center of Annecy is sprinkled with hidden gems that can surprise you as you wander around. If you’re planning a walking tour of Annecy’s historic center, here are some things I found that you might also want to see:

  1. Porte Perrière — it is one of the gates of the historic center of Annecy. You’ll find a cute house with a flower-decked wooden balcony a few steps away. It’s nice to visit for a selfie.
  2. Rue Perrière & Rue Sainte-Claire — these are perhaps the most picturesque streets in Annecy. During peak season, this narrow pathway flanked by arcaded buildings is bustling with tourists.
  3. Cathédrale Saint-Pierre — this church has a beautiful organ with colorful rose windows in the backdrop. The choir is also notable. I like the lighting effects created by the windows and the stained glass windows above the altar.
  4. Église Notre Dame de Liesse — At night, its imposing Disney castle-like spire glows—quite nice to see. The most notable part is its ornate interiors with a dome painted with beautiful frescoes. The dome has an oculus, creating a “holy” light effect inside the church. 
Annecy France, The tower of Église Notre Dame de Liesse at night
The tower of Église Notre Dame de Liesse at night

Are you seeking other European locations to fulfill your wanderlust desires? Why not explore Bern in Switzerland, Nuremberg in Germany, and Verona in Italy? These cities are home to picturesque old towns that make for delightful strolls.

2. Annecy’s Romantic Bridge — Perfect Travel Date ♥

Annecy France, Drone shot of the historic center, its canals, houses, and scenery
Drone shot of the historic center, its canals, houses, and scenery

If you’re traveling with your special someone, walking down Annecy’s picturesque streets is the only start of your romantic trip to Annecy. 

Can you imagine? 

Annecy France, View of the historic center from the bridges
View of the historic center from the bridges

Imagine—You and your partner stroll together, lost in time, as you wander the charming streets of Annecy, hand in hand. As you amble, you share your deepest feelings, dreams, and aspirations. Isn’t it a scene straight out of a movie? A moment so special that you’ll remember it forever.

There’s no doubt that Annecy offers the perfect backdrop for creating lasting memories. Known as ‘the Venice of the Alps’, its charm and beauty have been vouched for by countless visitors.

Venice=Romantic city.

As previously mentioned, the romantic journey in Annecy begins on its streets, but it certainly doesn’t end there. There’s so much more to discover. Much like Venice, the most beautiful spots in Annecy are found along its canals and bridges.

Annecy France, Pont Perrière, Thiou River, and Le Palais de I'Île
Pont Perrière, Thiou River, and Le Palais de I’Île

It’s as if these settings were designed for the romantic moments we all dream about. With flower-bedecked adornments and ducks swimming on the canal’s blue waters, romance permeates every nook and cranny of this place. In my opinion, these features alone are reason enough for any couple to visit Annecy.

When you explore Annecy’s historic center, you’ll come across several bridges spanning the River Le Thiou and Canal du Vassé – undeniably two of the most beautiful locations in Annecy.

Annecy France, View of Le Palais de I'Île behind Pont Perrière
View of Le Palais de I’Île behind Pont Perrière

If my memory serves me right, there are seven bridges in the historic center of Annecy. However, in my opinion, there are only two that are absolutely must-see:

  1.  Pont Perrière — This bridge offers a spectacular view of Annecy’s most emblematic scene. You’re looking at Le Palais de I’Île, the city’s main landmark, which many affectionately call a “house shaped like a ship.” Stay tuned as we uncover more about it in our exploration.
  2. Pont des Amours — Here, you’re greeted with a picturesque view of Canal du Vassé, beautifully framed by trees on either side. But a simple turn reveals a different spectacle – breathtaking vistas of Lake Annecy and the surrounding mountains.”
Annecy France, Serene and picturesque view of Canal du Vassé
Serene and picturesque view of Canal du Vassé

Judging by their names, I bet you can guess which of the two bridges is the more romantic. Any ideas? Of course, it’s the Pont des Amours! This translates to “Love Bridge” in English.

Annecy France, Sunrise in Pont des Amours
Sunrise in Pont des Amours

According to legend, the Pont des Amours has been the crossing point for countless lovers over the years. It’s said that those who shared a kiss on this bridge were bound together for eternity. For couples who have found their soulmates, the prospect of exchanging kisses on the Pont des Amours must be thrilling.

For those of us who are single, let’s not lose heart! Even if we don’t have a lifelong love to share this moment with, we can still fall in love with the breathtaking views. Remember, our time will come—patience is key. 🙂

Please note: Pont des Amours can get quite busy during the peak season. To experience its romantic atmosphere, I suggest you rise early and visit the bridge before Annecy fills up with day visitors. If luck is on your side, you might witness the magnificent sunrise over Lake Annecy!

3. Historical Landmark in Annecy — A Unique Place

Annecy France, Le Palais de I'Île at night
Le Palais de I’Île at night

One compelling reason to visit Annecy is the presence of a unique historical heritage site known as Le Palais de I’Île. What makes Le Palais de I’Île so unique?

It’s a structure that stands out not just in Annecy, but perhaps even in all of France. To my knowledge, only a handful of places in Europe boast such distinctive architecture. One such place is the picturesque town of Bamberg in Southern Germany.

In essence, Le Palais de I’Île is a 12th-century castle situated on an island in the River Thiou. It holds the distinction of being one of the oldest buildings in Annecy that still retains its original form.

Indeed, for travelers seeking unique discoveries in each destination, Annecy won’t disappoint. Furthermore, Le Palais de I’Île is one of France’s most photographed landmarks. Given its scenic location amidst vibrant houses and the turquoise waters of the River Thiou, it’s easy to see why.

Annecy France, The colorful pastel houses beside Le Palais de I'Île
The colorful pastel houses beside Le Palais de I’Île

Let’s not forget the striking appearance of Le Palais de I’Île. It resembles the bow of a stone ship, cleaving the Thiou River in two! This sight is sure to captivate not only photographers but also artists attempting to capture this beautiful facet of Annecy on canvas.

From the Pont Perrière, Le Palais de I’Île doesn’t appear to be an island structure. However, upon closer inspection and entry into the building, you’ll find that it’s only linked to the banks of the River Thiou by bridges.

Do you know what truly amazed me about Le Palais de I’Île? Its rich history. From the vantage point of Pont Perrière, Le Palais de I’Île might seem like a simple town hall.

However, this structure has served a multitude of purposes over the years. It has been a stronghold, a prison, a home for the elderly, a carpentry school, and even a gymnasium. Today, it functions as a museum under the management of the Architecture and Heritage Interpretation Center.

Inside, you’ll find exhibits that showcase Annecy’s heritage and urban history. Despite its modest size, Le Palais de I’Île holds a wealth of discoveries.

For those interested in visiting Le Palais de I’Île, all the necessary visitor information, such as opening hours and entrance fees, can be found on the official Annecy Museum website. And here’s a useful tip: You have the option to visit both Le Palais de I’Île and Annecy Castle, which we’ll touch on next, under one combined ticket. This is a cheaper alternative to buying individual tickets for each site.

For those who delight in discovering cities with unique attractions, Strasbourg is a must-visit. Similar to Annecy, Strasbourg is home to a picturesque old city. However, it’s the awe-inspiring Cathedral, one of the world’s largest, that sets it apart.

4. Annecy’s Magical Castle — Full of Discoveries

Annecy France, Musée-Château d'Annecy
Musée-Château d’Annecy

Did you know that Annecy’s historic center is home to not one, but two castles? The first is Le Palais de I’Île, the castle situated on an island in the Thiou River that we’ve already discussed.

The second is Musée-Château d’Annecy, a commanding structure that adds to the allure of visiting Annecy. Located in the southern part of Annecy’s historic center, Musée-Château d’Annecy is just a short, less than 5-minute walk from Rue Perrière & Rue Sainte-Claire.

What makes the Musée-Château d’Annecy so extraordinary is its age; it’s been a sentinel for Annecy for almost nine centuries since the 12th century. It has seen numerous alterations over the years, yet its formidable medieval defensive design is still perceptible.

It’s worth noting that this castle was once the dwelling of the counts of Geneva in the 13th and 14th centuries, hence you’ll also find elements of Renaissance-style architecture.

swipe the 360° image below to see more views

So, what makes Musée-Château d’Annecy a reason to visit Annecy? The answer lies in the unexpected.

This towering castle, with its height exceeding 30 meters and walls that are over 3 meters thick, offers more than just the impressiveness of its medieval architecture. Inside, it transforms into a museum showcasing a diverse collection of exhibits that you wouldn’t typically associate with a castle.

While most European castles typically display antiques, medieval items, and the weapons and armor of knights and noblemen, Musée-Château d’Annecy offers something quite unexpected – underwater archaeology (courtesy of the Regional Alpine Lakes Observatory).

The castle also houses other unusual exhibits, including contemporary art and films. However, in my opinion, the underwater archaeology exhibit is perhaps the most intriguing discovery you can make at Musée-Château d’Annecy.

At first, it baffled me to think about how marine life could have made its way to such elevated alpine lakes, far removed from any ocean or sea.

Anyway, a visit to Musée-Château d’Annecy will enlighten you with fascinating insights into alpine flora and fauna, as well as the fishing and tourism industries. What’s more, you’ll get to see fishing tools that have been around since the Neolithic age!

I don’t want to give away all the surprises that await you in the castle, but you can find more information about the underwater archaeology exhibit at Musée-Château d’Annecy here.

However, the offerings at Musée-Château d’Annecy extend beyond underwater archaeology and contemporary art. You might also be interested in exploring Annecy’s heritage, viewing local fine art masterpieces, examining religious artifacts, and much more.

And let’s not forget that Musée-Château d’Annecy offers a fantastic vantage point of Annecy’s historic center.

Where can you find it? Once inside the castle, look for a tree situated away from the entrance. Make your way there, and you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking, panoramic view of the old houses and Lake Annecy.

swipe the 360° image below to see more views

Isn’t it astonishing to discover such a wealth of information within a single castle? If you’re now intrigued to visit Musée-Château d’Annecy, remember that it’s open throughout the year, except for Tuesdays.

For more details about admission prices and other visiting information for Musée-Château d’Annecy and the Regional Alpine Lakes Observatory, you can find them here.

5. Lake Annecy and Its Beaches — A Picturesque Relaxation

Annecy France, View of Annecy from Prom. Jacquet
View of Annecy from Prom. Jacquet

What, in your opinion, contributes to a city’s beauty? For me, it’s the existence of green and blue spaces like parks and lakes. Whether I’m a resident or a visitor in a city, these areas are always on my must-see list. They add a touch of beauty to the cityscape. Well, not only are they visually pleasing, but they also offer a refreshing escape from the urban hustle!

Annecy France, View of the lake during a misty morning
View of the lake during a misty morning
Annecy France, Mont Veyrier and Lake Annecy
Mont Veyrier and Lake Annecy
Annecy France, A serene view of lake Annecy
A serene view of lake Annecy

Blue and green spaces not only offer free hangout spots but also enhance your well-being. Plus, they’re perfect for photo ops.

Take Annecy, for instance, a city nestled between a lake and mountains, it’s abundant with these blue and green spaces – with Lake Annecy being the most accessible. A visit to Lake Annecy alone makes a trip to the city worthwhile.

Besides the benefits of blue/green spaces, it’s simply relaxing and stunningly beautiful! This is particularly true in the summer when the alpine water of Lake Annecy sparkles in the sunlight, and its beaches and grassy gardens create a scene straight out of paradise.

Annecy France, An empty dock in Lake Annecy
Annecy France, Peaceful mornings in Lake Annecy

The crystal-clear waters of Lake Annecy will undoubtedly tempt you for a swim! The lake’s stunning turquoise water is among the purest in Europe. Originating from glaciers and benefiting from 50 years of dedicated efforts to enhance its water quality, you can be assured of a rash-free swim!

A study even revealed that the water transparency in Lake Annecy can extend up to 10 meters. To learn more about the cleanliness of Lake Annecy, you can visit its official website.

Lake Annecy’s beaches mean you don’t have to journey to the far east to bask in the sun, swim, and enjoy sunny days. What’s even more appealing? As you swim in the beach, you’re treated to a view of the magnificent mountains on the opposite side of the lake. It’s the epitome of a dream vacation.

Annecy France, A dock in a beach in Lake Annecy

There are many beaches in Lake Annecy. But here are the top 5 beaches nearest to the town of Annecy:

  1. Plage d’Albigny (score: 4.2 out of 5)
  2. Plage des Marquisats (score: 4.2 out of 5)
  3. Plage Municipale, Sevrier (score: 4.4 out of 5)
  4. Plage de la Brune (score: 4.3 out of 5)
  5. Plage Saint-Jorioz (score: 4.4 out of 5)

Among Lake Annecy’s numerous beaches, Plage d’Albigny is conveniently located closest to the historic center. Positioned eastward of Casino Imperial Annecy, a mere 20-minute walk will take you from the Lover’s Bridge to this picturesque spot.

Annecy France, View of Mont Veyrier from the beach in Lake Annecy
Annecy France, Crystal clear waters of Lake Annecy

Just a heads up, you won’t find fine, powdery sand here! But everything is perfectly arranged for a relaxing time. Plus, with the mountains in the background, it makes for an idyllic photo opportunity.

Beyond just sunbathing and splashing around in Lake Annecy, you might want to try out some of these water activities:

  1. Stand-up paddling
  2. Canoeing and Kayaking
  3. Sailing
  4. Rowing
  5. Water skiing
  6. Wakeboarding
  7. Wakesurfing 

If less sporty activities and more relaxing ones you like, you can try:

  1. Cruising
  2. Rent a pedal boat or a motorboat
  3. Join a tour on wooden boats 
  4. Fishing
Annecy France, Tourists on a boat in Lake Annecy

Lake Annecy caters to water sports enthusiasts with its provision of equipment and boat rentals right on its shores, eliminating the need for you to bring your own. To help you get started, here’s a list of providers offering water sports services at Lake Annecy.

What’s so exciting about Lake Annecy? It’s the fact that the lake offers some not-so-typical alpine activities like snorkeling, freediving, and scuba diving. You’ll be amazed to find out that there’s a shipwreck hidden in its depths! It’s fascinating to think that an alpine lake could provide such unique experiences.

Interestingly, an underwater tour of the lake reveals prehistoric villages and ancient lake cities, which are actually designated as UNESCO heritage sites.

If the beauty of Annecy’s lovely lake has captured your heart, you might also find yourself enchanted by Lake Garda and Lake Como in Northern Italy, as well as Montreux, Thun, and Lucerne in Switzerland. These destinations, much like Annecy, boast stunning landscapes and a plethora of attractions including lakeside castles and more.

6. Annecy’s Gorgeous Church — Serene and Scenic Place

Annecy France, Basilica of the Visitation

Tranquility and relaxation aren’t exclusive to Lake Annecy. If you find the beaches and promenades at Lake Annecy too crowded or are in the mood for a more serene atmosphere, there’s a place I recommend. It’s the Basilique de la Visitation, a church nestled on a hill south of Annecy’s historic center.

If you’re already at Musée-Château d’Annecy, it’s less than a 15-minute walk away. This church is not just an architectural wonder, but also a perfect spot for quiet contemplation. The elegance and peacefulness of the place might just help you find your…

  1. Mind in peace.
  2. Thoughts filled with awe.

All the negativities occupying your mind will be gone by the time you leave the place. 

The stunning beauty and elevated location of the Basilique de la Visitation can make you feel as though you’ve stepped into a special scene. I’m not sure why, but it gave me the impression of a place straight out of a video game I used to play – like it could be the dwelling of an oracle or something similar.

Annecy France, The spire of the Basilica of the Visitation

Well, the fact is Basilique de la Visitation is really a special place! This site holds particular significance for Christians who visit as pilgrims to partake in Salesian worship.

Annecy France, Basilica of the Visitation
Basilica of the Visitation

Additionally, the Basilique de la Visitation is one of Annecy’s five emblematic bell towers, each representing a different era in the city’s history.

Unlike other churches in Annecy and renowned churches across Europe, the Basilique de la Visitation is relatively young, having been constructed in the early 1900s. As such, it exhibits elements of Gothic Revival architecture rather than traditional Baroque or Romanesque styles.

While it may not be as grand as the churches in Venice, Paris, Rome, Florence, or Wurzburg, that doesn’t mean we should overlook the Basilique de la Visitation. Each church has its own unique charm and distinct features.

The most notable exterior feature of the Basilique de la Visitation is the arch portal beneath its solitary spire. The bricks, the relief on the walls, and the grid above the doorway all contribute to a heavenly gateway impression.

swipe the 360° image below to see more views

As you step inside, you’re likely to be awestruck by the towering columns of blue marble lining the nave. As you make your way towards the altar, your eyes will be drawn to the kaleidoscopic stained-glass windows that bathe the church’s interior in a spectrum of colors – a sight that’s truly magical!

The artwork of the Holy Trinity in the choir is also worth noting. Above it, light tunnels form a cross, creating stunning light effects on a bright sunny day.

If you’re an architecture enthusiast, you’ll find it hard to resist capturing this beauty. However, if you do take photos, please ensure that you do not disturb those who are praying or meditating.

swipe the 360° image below to see more views

Basilique de la Visitation is usually open from 8:00 am to 6:30 pm (closed from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm). Entry is free. Learn more about Basilique de la Visitation from its official website (in French).

Should your journey take you to France and you’re keen on exploring magnificent churches, I highly recommend a visit to Reims. It boasts one of the most extraordinary churches I know of, especially considering its historical role as the coronation church for the kings of France.

7. Hike Scenic Trails Around Annecy — Revitalize

Annecy France, Hiking trails overlooking Lake Annecy
Hiking trails overlooking Lake Annecy

Annecy, in my view, is one of the easiest and prettiest towns to visit in France, with great hiking trails just around the corner.

That’s why I reckon a trip to Annecy is a top-notch idea! In fact, hiking is the real deal here. Why so? Because there’s no other activity that boosts your health for free while also giving you a sense of calm and wonder.

I’ve been on several hikes and always come away feeling better. What about you? Or maybe you’ve never tried hiking? If not, I strongly suggest giving it a go at least once. I guarantee it’s worth your while.

Close to 50 hiking trails await you in Annecy and the surrounding Lake Annecy area. These trails span distances ranging from 1 to 14 kilometers (or about 0.6 to 8.6 miles). So no matter if you’re a beginner, an intermediate-level hiker, or a seasoned pro, there’s a trail tailored to your skill level.

Annecy France, Sunset in the hiking trails overlooking Lake Annecy
Sunset in the hiking trails overlooking Lake Annecy

Here’s an interactive map that lays out all the hiking trails around Lake Annecy. If you’d prefer to stay close to the town of Annecy, there are 4 nearby scenic hiking trails that you might want to check out:

  1. L’ancien téléphérique du Mont Veyrier — This hiking trail commences in Bois Jettas, located on the eastern outskirts of Annecy. It’s a challenging 10.5-kilometer (or 6.5-mile) track that typically takes around 4.5 hours to complete. Despite its ‘hard’ rating, the trail rewards hikers with a stunning panoramic view of Lake Annecy and the surrounding alpine peaks.
  2. Cross of Chuguet-Grande Jeanne from Létraz — Starting from the town of Sevrier, which is just a 20-minute bus journey from Annecy, this is a hiking trail that you might find interesting. This 5.3-kilometer (3.3-mile) trail, which takes about 1.75 hours to complete, winds through a beautiful forest and culminates at a viewpoint. From here, you can enjoy stunning views of the craggy peaks that rise to the east of Lake Annecy.
  3. The loop of the Château de Menthon – Montviard waterfalls — This hiking loop could be one of the most enchanting hikes near Annecy. The trail begins in Bluffy, a town just a 25-minute drive from Annecy. From there, you’ll embark on a 3-hour journey, covering a distance of 6 kilometers (approximately 3.7 miles), during which you’ll pass by a castle, quaint hamlets, and alpine fields. The hike is rated as having medium difficulty.
  4. The hamlets of Château Menthon-St-Bernard — This is a more accessible variant of the previous hiking trail, perfect for families. It meanders through charming hamlets and offers a glimpse of a castle along the way. The route spans 4 to 5 kilometers (or about 3.10 miles), which you can easily cover in under 2 hours. The starting point is Menthon-St-Bernard, a town located just a short 20-minute drive from Annecy.

Indeed, all these trails provide pleasant experiences. However, if you’re interested in making your hike more meaningful by discovering historical artifacts as you wander through nature, then this next recommendation I have for you might be just what you’re looking for.

Annecy France, View of the hiking trails in Plateau des Glières
View of the hiking trails in Plateau des Glières

The place is Plateau des Glières. 

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Situated 30 kilometers from Annecy is Plateau des Glières, a limestone plateau that provides picturesque views of the French alpine countryside. Imagine hiking through rolling meadows, once used as mountain pastures, accompanied by the calming melody of cowbells and bird calls.

This plateau also holds historical significance as a testament to the courage of the French resistance during World War II. As you hike, you’ll encounter memorials that narrate the valiant struggle of 465 men against the German forces.

Here’s the official website of Plateau des Glières, where you can learn more about the place.

8. Fun Adventures in Annecy — Fly, Drift, Enjoy Postcard-Level Scenery

For me, hiking is an enjoyable activity. Taking a leisurely stroll in a picturesque city is delightful. Relaxing by a lake with a beach is pure pleasure! This is why I think a trip to Annecy is full of fun.

And having fun—that’s another great reason why you should visit Annecy! There are numerous ways to have fun in Annecy. You can find it everywhere, whether on the lake, up in the mountains, or soaring through the skies… Like experiencing tandem paragliding.

Annecy France, Tandem Paragliding
Tandem Paragliding

However, for an unforgettable tandem paragliding experience, I suggest heading to Chamonix. The panoramic view from above is simply breathtaking. You’ll get to see glaciers, the majestic Mont Blanc, serene alpine lakes, charming villages, and so much more.

When it comes to Annecy, I believe it’s best to immerse yourself in the outdoor activities that the town is famous for – water sports! You can try out the various water sports on Lake Annecy that I mentioned earlier.

Plus, did you know that the rivers flowing into Lake Annecy also offer plenty of fun? There are several services available for you to try rafting, hydrospeed, or river fishing. So, there’s no shortage of outdoor adventures in Annecy.

And while it may seem like all the fun is centered around the lake, river, and mountains, you’d be surprised to find that there’s also plenty to enjoy within Annecy’s historic center. In fact, the fun begins right in the heart of Annecy’s historic center. As you wander, you’ll be treated to scenes worthy of a postcard, fulfilling all your escapist fantasies.

You might come across artists showcasing their entertaining talents or stumble upon intriguing snippets of history. Once you’ve explored Annecy’s historical center, you’re likely to find yourself on the promenades and beaches of Lake Annecy. Here, stunning and serene views of the mountains and lake await!

You could continue your walk, but I recommend adding a bit of excitement to your journey. How about joining a Segway tour?

A Segway is a recently invented two-wheeled self-balancing transporter. Segway tours in Annecy will guide you to the most scenic locations along Lake Annecy’s shores, such as Jardins de l’Europe and La Pâquier. The route ends at the Imperial Palace Hotel, an architectural gem featuring an exquisite Belle Epoque facade.

If you’re apprehensive about not knowing how to operate a Segway, there’s no need to fret! The guides are there to instruct you. You might feel a bit unsure initially… But once you’ve got the hang of it and start gliding around independently, it’s going to be an absolute blast!

Learn more about this fun and exciting activity here.

If you’re a fan of the great outdoors, you’ll definitely want to experience the thrill of mountain adventures. There’s a world of options just waiting for you in France’s neighboring countries! In Switzerland, explore the wonders of Zermatt and the Jungfrau Region. Over in Germany, the Bavarian Alps beckon with the picturesque towns of Mittenwald, Berchtesgaden, and Garmisch-Partenkirchen, known for their charming luftmalerie houses. And don’t forget Italy’s Dolomites, where Cortina d’Ampezzo is a great place to start!

9. Annecy’s Fun Festivals & Events — Make Your Trip Special!

Annecy France, Fête du Lac
Fête du Lac

There are certain times of the year when Annecy comes alive with celebrations that make it an even more appealing place to visit. With each season, Annecy hosts a different event, adding to its charm and vibrancy!

One of the most spectacular among these is The Fête du Lac. This is an extraordinary pyrotechnic spectacle over the lake, featuring music, lights, and water displays. It’s a time-honored tradition that commemorates Napoleon III’s visit to Annecy.

The event takes place on the first Saturday of August in Lake Annecy’s Bay of Albigny and lasts for about 70 minutes. In previous years, Fête du Lac has attracted more than 100,000 spectators, earning it a reputation as one of Europe’s grandest fireworks displays.

Must know: Carcassonne, known for its preserved medieval city, also has fireworks during summer.

While Fête du Lac is Annecy’s summer spectacle, Retour des Alpages is the town’s autumn celebration.

Held on the second Saturday of October, Retour des Alpages is a traditional event that brings the old quarters of the city to life. You’ll feel as though you’ve stepped back in time as you witness locals showcasing their products, traditional instruments, folk groups, craftsmen, and old trades.

The highlight of Retour des Alpages? A parade featuring hundreds of animals from alpine pastures and locals in ceremonial dress, offering a glimpse into the crafts and traditions of the Savoy region.

As winter draws to a close, on the second weekend after Mardi Gras, Annecy lives up to its reputation as the ‘Venice of the Alps.’

This is when the Venetian Carnival takes place, turning Annecy into a place of magic and vitality. The city buzzes with excitement as residents take to the streets in their masked disguises and lavish, brightly colored attire.

Did you know? Annecy is not only known as the Venice of the Alps, but it’s also celebrated as the World Capital of Animated Films.

As spring gives way to summer, people flock to Annecy to honor this art form at the International Animation Film Festival. You can find the festival schedule on the official website.

This event offers a unique opportunity to enjoy free open-air animated film shows and connect with fellow animation enthusiasts. The festival showcases a diverse range of animated shows, from popular anime like Dragon Ball to quirky children’s cartoons. If you’re a fan of animation, this festival is sure to delight you.

10. Annecy is Surrounded by More Attractions — Definitely Worth It!

Annecy France, Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard

Yet another reason why Annecy is a must-visit destination is due to the array of attractions in its vicinity. With these, you can anticipate:

  1. To have more variety of experiences in Annecy.
  2. You will have a lot more to see.
  3. That you surely won’t be bored even after you’ve seen the attractions in the historic center.

While there are numerous attractions in the vicinity of Annecy, I would recommend checking out Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard and Gorges du Fier.

Annecy France, Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard
Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard

I suggest checking out Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard. It’s a castle that looks like it’s straight out of a fairy tale, sitting on top of a hill that’s 200 meters high. Even though it was built in the 10th century, it’s been changed a lot over the years, with new parts added in the 13th and 19th centuries.

It’s not too hard to get to from Annecy – just a 20-minute drive or two bus rides (about an hour in total, buses #60 and #V3). Some people say that this castle was the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Disneyland castles, but others think it was Germany’s Neuschwanstein.

No matter what the truth is, Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard is a great place to live out your medieval movie or TV show dreams. It reminds me of Merlin, a TV show about the Arthurian Legend that I watched on Netflix from 2008-2012.

In my opinion, Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard offers three fantastic elements that make a visit to this castle truly worthwhile. First, its picturesque location. Second, its impressive library. And finally, its distinctive architecture and furniture.

Thanks to its elevated position, the views from the castle are simply breathtaking. From the gardens of Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard, you can take in the stunning vistas of limestone-peaked mountains and Lake Annecy.

While the view is certainly captivating, what might truly astonish you is the castle’s library. It’s filled with intriguing items that seem straight out of Hogwarts. Believe it or not, it houses over 12,000 books, all published before 1800. These ancient books give off an air of magic spells used by witches and sorcerers. The castle also boasts ornate furniture that adds to its enchanting atmosphere.

swipe the 360° image below to see more views

Be sure to check out the illuminations made by monks during the medieval period – they’re quite spine-tingling! The castle has 105 rooms, all filled with antique furniture from the 16th to 19th centuries. The timber-framed interiors, along with the paintings and room decorations, are truly impressive. They could make you feel like you’ve stepped into the shoes of a nobleman for a day.

For more information on visiting, you can visit the official website of Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard.

If you’re someone who doesn’t fear heights and isn’t prone to vertigo, you might want to think about including Gorges du Fier in your travel plans for Annecy. It’s a small canyon, a natural marvel filled with wonders nestled between the rocks.

swipe the 360° image below to see more views

In Gorges du Fier, spectacular rock formations are observed from the wooden walkways attached to the canyon walls.  But if there’s something you can’t miss here, it is Mer des Rochers. It is the gorge’s vast labyrinth of fissured rock through which the river Fier gently flows. 

Annecy France, Gorges du Fier
Gorges du Fier
Annecy France, Mer des Rochers
Mer des Rochers
Annecy France, Gorges du Fier
Gorges du Fier and the dizzying pathways

When the sun shines brightly, Gorges du Fier reveals a delightful array of colors. The rocks glisten in a golden hue and the small patches of grass and moss seem to glow in a magical light. The gorge’s legends are shared on signboards throughout the area, enhancing the mystical atmosphere. Expect to spend around an hour exploring Gorges du Fier.

Additional information (visiting hours and admission fees) can be found on their official website.

When to Visit Annecy

Similar to other destinations in the Alps, the summer is the best time to go to Annecy if you want to experience both the city and outdoor activities. However, if capturing beautiful scenes or admiring city beauty is your thing, spring should be your choice. The historic center of the city is decorated with vibrant flowers during this time.

You might also consider visiting during the shoulder season when there are fewer tourists but remember to check the weather forecast.

How to Visit Annecy?

If you’re looking for Annecy, grab a map and focus on eastern France. Annecy is in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, specifically in the Haute-Savoie department. You’ll find it in the northwestern part of the Alps, also known as the French Alps. Spot a lake with a town to its north? That’s Lake Annecy and the town of Annecy.

Even though Annecy is in France, it’s actually closest to Geneva, a city in Switzerland. It’s just 43 kilometers or 27 miles south of Geneva. You can get from Geneva to Annecy in as little as 30 minutes by car. If you’re more into public transport, there are buses and trains that run directly between the two cities. The journey usually takes between an hour and an hour and a half, depending on traffic.

If you’re already in major French cities like Paris or Lyon (the gateway to the Alps), there’s no need to go through Geneva to reach Annecy. From Paris, you can take a direct train to Annecy. If you choose to travel via TGV, the high-speed trains, you’ll be in Annecy in less than 4 hours. Traveling from Lyon? There are also trains available between these two cities, and the journey to Annecy will take approximately 2 hours.

You may get more information about these train rides to Annecy on sncf.com (state-owned railroad system of France). Tickets can be booked from their website.

You might also want to check out Avignon. It’s a city in southern France that was once the home of the popes in the 14th century. It’s another great place to visit from Lyon, just like Annecy.

How Many Days in Annecy?

If you’re planning a trip to Annecy, the duration can vary from a single day to a full four days, depending on what you want to see and do. A three-day stay is usually enough to experience the city’s unique attractions and engage in some exciting outdoor activities.

On your first day, take a leisurely stroll around Old Town, sample some local cuisine, and end your day at Basilique de la Visitation for a breathtaking sunset view of Lake Annecy. The second day is all about immersing yourself in Annecy’s culture by visiting Le Palais de I’Île and Musée-Château d’Annecy. Wrap up the day with a relaxing walk along the beach at sunset. The third day is reserved for outdoor fun – think hiking, water sports, or even paragliding!

If you have an extra day, consider exploring nearby attractions like Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard and Gorges du Fier, or take a day trip to other French Alps destinations like Chamonix.

If you don’t have a place to stay yet, here’s where you can find the best hotel deals in Annecy.

Annecy France, Quaint houses, dramatic bridges with ducks below
Quaint houses, dramatic bridges

How to Get Around Annecy

Like other European cities, Annecy is easy to navigate on foot or by public transportation. Actually, the compact nature of Annecy’s city center makes it perfect for a leisurely stroll. It’s a fantastic way to soak up the city’s captivating charm. If you’re only planning to visit Old Town Annecy and the lakeside promenades, a car rental isn’t necessary.

For longer distances, you can utilize the city’s extensive bus network that reaches various parts of the city and even the shores of Lake Annecy.

However, if your adventures take you further afield, renting a car could be beneficial. Just bear in mind that driving in the old town with its narrow streets and tight corners can be tricky during busy times. For more information about getting around Annecy, please visit the official website of the city.

Do you need help in going and exploring Annecy? Check this list of activities and guided tours for no-hassle trips to Annecy.

More Places Like Annecy

If you’re on the hunt for picturesque destinations in France, Colmar should be on your list. This fairytale town is a dream come true for those who love to explore and soak in the ambiance of charming locales. The half-timbered houses of Colmar are a sight to behold and a photographer’s delight!

But the beauty of France doesn’t stop there. The villages in the south of France are equally enchanting. Here are some top recommendations:

  • Gordes, a hilltop village in Provence, where stone buildings overlook the lush countryside.
  • Eze, perched between Nice and Monaco, offering panoramic views of the azure Mediterranean Sea.
  • Rocamadour, a cliffside sanctuary in Occitanie, radiating spiritual tranquility.
  • Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, located in the heart of Verdon Natural Regional Park, renowned for its exquisite faience pottery.
  • Aigues-Mortes, a fortified city in Camargue, echoing tales of medieval times with its preserved walls.
  • Carcassonne, a journey back in time with its fortified medieval citadel.
  • Chamonix, a sibling to Annecy in Haute-Savoie, famous for its majestic mountains and ski resorts.
  • Domme, a bastide town in Dordogne, offering breathtaking views of the Dordogne Valley and intriguing cave systems.
  • Saint Paul De Vence, a blend of history and culture with its well-preserved medieval town and modern art.
  • Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, a cliffside medieval village overlooking the Lot River, considered one of the most beautiful villages in France.

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  1. You’ve got awesome thing at this point.

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