Best things to do in Annecy, France!
Annecy, France

While France is full of charming places, my favorite mountain town has to be Annecy. From lake cruising to farmers markets — here are the best things to do in Annecy, France!

Annecy is a beautiful lakeside town in the Haute-Savoie region of France, surrounded by mountains on the edge of the Swiss border. Lac d’Annecy, the freshest lake in Europe, is replenished every year by melting snow.

The town is not too big – or even too small. With a very walkable and bike friendly environment, you can spend many lazy afternoons exploring local shops, snacking at fresh food markets or picnicking in one of the many parks.

We lived 2-months as digital nomads in Annecy with our two kids and cat, and absolutely loved it! So here are some of our top tips for activities and best things to do in Annecy, France.

Hi, I’m Matthew Karsten

I have been traveling the world for 10+ years as a professional photographer and writer. I hope you enjoy my Annecy travel tips! If you find it useful, I will earn a small commission for using my affiliate links, at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

Annecy France Travel Guide

1: Explore the Old Town of Annecy

Old Town Annecy

One of the reasons Annecy is so picturesque is the network of canals that run through the old town. It is sometimes called the “Venice of France”. Annecy’s canals are shallow, and not really used for boating, but they still give the town a charming feel.

With its colorful old buildings, cobblestone streets and flower boxes, a walk through Annecy’s Old Town neighborhood is always a treat.

You can glimpse the mountains and lake in the distance while enjoying the town’s many street-side restaurants, cafes and ice cream shops.

2: Boating on Lake Annecy

Rent a boat on Lake Annecy

Arguably the top highlight of Annecy Lac d’Anessy, a stunningly large blue lake located on the edge of the city. Lake Annecy is the third largest lake in France and regularly receives accolades for being the freshest lake in Europe (due to melting snow from the Alps).

The lake is surrounded by mountains, and when cool, is a perfect place to cool off in the summer heat. It’s surrounded by biking paths, plenty of beaches, and plenty of opportunities to go boating!

  • Rent a paddle boat – You’ll find all kinds of paddle boats available for hire along the lakefront at the Jacket Promenade. Boat costs around €15 EURO for 30 minutes depending on size. Some even have slides or diving boards attached!
  • Rent a motor boat – Small 4-5 person motor boats can be rented, and you don’t even need a boat license. Some have sunshades and the rental price for one hour is around €65 EURO.
  • Join a lake tour – There are several large tour boats that will take you around the lake while describing the main points of interest. You can even book a table for dinner on the boat!
  • Go waterskiing – Waterskiing is a popular pastime on Lake Annecy, and it is possible to book a trip with one of the local water-skiing companies.
  • Take sailing lessons – You can rent a small sailboat to cruise around the lake, or even take a beginner sailing lesson!

3: Walk to Lover’s Bridge

Pont des Amours

Pont des Amours On the shores of Lac d’Annecy is an additional beautiful and famous bridge that spans the Vassay Canal and connects the Jardins de l’Europe with the Jaquet Promenade.

Local legend says that lovers who kiss on the bridge will be together for life.

The bridge has two great views. One overlooks the lake with mountains in the background, and if you turn around, you’ll enjoy a tree-lined canal with wooden boats on each side.

4: Picnic at the Jardins de l’Europe

Go for a picnic

When the weather is nice, walk or cycle Jardins de l’Europe A wonderful family friendly activity. This huge park is situated on the banks of a lake with vast green fields, boardwalks and playgrounds.

There is also an old wooden carousel for children to ride, originally built in 1871.

The park is popular for late afternoon picnics – just bring some wine, cheese and bread from the markets and a blanket to enjoy the mountain views. A French experience you can’t miss!

5: Explore Annecy Castle

Chateau Annecy

Chateau d’Annecy At the heart of Annecy is a castle, perched on a hill above the town. Originally built in the 13th to 16th centuries as a residence for the Counts of Geneva and Dukes of Genevois-Nemours.

These days the château houses a museum (Musée-Château d’Annecy), which features local sculpture, art and a nature exhibit of the animals and fish found around the lake. There are also some good views of the lake and town from the edge of the fort walls.

Entrance tickets cost around €5 EURO for adults and free for children under 12.

6: Walk the Promenade du Thieu

Annecy’s Urban Hiking Trail

The Promenade du Thieu is a nice easy walk through Annecy’s old town along the crystal blue Thieu River, which gradually becomes more wooded and secluded as you head out of town. There are roads on both sides of the river.

Also trail bike and stroller friendly. It’s a wonderful way to spend an hour or two enjoying nature (and getting away from the busy tourist-filled city center). There are several playgrounds, seating areas and bridges that span the tree-shaded trails.

The promenade begins around Du Thiou Quai des Cordeliers (just past the famous Le Palais de l’Île), right into the center of Old Annecy and you’ll be on the river from there.

7: Visit Annecy le Vieux

Exploring Annecy Le Vieux

Annecy le Vieux is an isolated part of town, a residential area that stands on a hill overlooking the rest of the lake. It has a nice park, old buildings and churches, some restaurants and bars, and is generally a more relaxed place than the busy old town below.

Here are some highlights included Cloture Roman Church, Park Gabriel FauréAnd Les Quatre Gourmets Restaurant.

8: Shop at farmers markets

Fresh cheese at the market

One of my favorite parts of staying in Annecy was the many fresh food markets that line the streets of the old town. You will find a variety of produce, cheeses, sausages, wine, olives, bread, flowers, crafts and more.

Annecy Street Market takes place every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday from 7am to 1am. Be sure to try some local reblochon Cheese, used in many local dishes.

9: Chateau de Menthon-Saint Bernard

Chateau Menthon

Chateau de Menthon Just outside Annecy is an impressive medieval castle. Home to the same family for over 100 years, it is open to visitors on weekends from April to October.

The castle towers over Lake Annecy, the Roque de Chere National Nature Reserve and Menthon-Saint-Bernard, each with incredible views.

Guided tours of the castle (in French only) are in the afternoon and last about an hour. There is also a small garden with sheep, pigs and peacocks.

10: Bike around the lake

Biking around the lake

Annecy is very bicycle friendly, with many dedicated bike paths and trails that will take you around the city. There are wonderful bike paths that surround the lake as well, and it’s a great way to while away a few hours enjoying the mountain views.

This 35 km paved greenway follows the old route of the railway that connects Annecy with Albertville and stops at small villages such as Sévrier, Saint-Jorioz, Duingt, Lathuille and Doussard.

You can rent bikes from many shops in Annecy and even get a trailer for the kids (like we did).

11: Palais de l’Île

Trying a family photo…

Palace de l’Isle Annecy is probably the most postcard-famous place. A quaint castle-like building that sits in the middle of the River Thio, Annecy’s old town is surrounded by restaurants and shops.

Often described as a “house in the shape of a ship” – the building is a prison, courthouse and administrative center. The original structure was built in the 12th century.

These days it’s a museum (about €4 to enter), with an old courtroom, dungeons, prison cells and a chapel that you can visit. The most famous photos are taken from the bridge in front.

12: Go for a walk

Hike La Tournette

Annecy is located at the base of the French Alps, and is a great place to visit the mountains. There are many Local hiking nearbyAlso day trips to excellent skiing and trekking opportunities.

From easy walks to extreme hikes, there is something for everyone. Hikes around Annecy can include wildlife viewing of waterfalls, mountain lakes and ibex mountain goats.

Here are some popular hiking trails around Annecy:

  • La Tournette – La Tournette, the highest peak near the lake, is a very difficult hike. But the views are amazing. Approximately 6-hour round-trip. Experienced hikers only.
  • Mont Baron and Warrior – A moderate 2-hour loop hike visiting two mountain peaks, with amazing views.
  • Gorges du Fier – An easy walk for the whole family, this hike takes you across a suspension bridge in the middle of the gorge.
  • Cascade d’Angon – A beautiful shaded waterfall hike that is not too difficult, and gives you beautiful views of the lake. Approximately 2-hour round trip.
When to visit Annecy

Best time to visit Annecy

March – May

We visited Annecy in the spring, mainly in April and May. The weather can be unpredictable in this part of France, and it snowed on us twice. Between sunny days filled with wildflowers. There will still be snow on the mountains, but the weather is not too warm in the city yet.

June – August

This is Annecy’s high season, and although beautiful, it can get very crowded. Many tourists visit Annecy as a day trip when traveling through Switzerland, as it is so close to the border. Accommodation is hard to find in the summer, unless you book months in advance.

September – November

This is probably the best time to visit Annecy. Most of the high-season tourists have gone, the weather is cold, but the snow hasn’t arrived yet. There is also a great festival in October called The return of the Alpine Pasture Festival.

How to Visit Annecy, France

Where is Annecy (Getting There)

Annecy, France is located about 44 km west of Geneva (Switzerland), about a 40-minute drive. Most people arrive in Annecy after flying into Geneva International Airport and then driving to the border.

However, it is also possible to fly into Paris and take the train. Find cheap flights to Geneva at

Lives in Annecy

Where to stay in Annecy

Accommodation in Annecy can range from backpacker friendly to luxurious. Since we were staying there long term, we rented a wonderful holiday apartment My sweet home Annecy It was close to everything.

The best areas to stay in Annecy are close to the old town for easy access to markets and the lake.

Best Accommodation in Annexure

Enjoy this article? Pin it!

Read more Europe travel tips

I hope you enjoyed my guide to what to do in Annecy, France! Hope you found it useful. Here are a few more wanderlust-inspiring articles I recommend you read next:

Have questions about things to do in Annecy, France? What about other suggestions? Join the conversation at Facebook, InstagramOr Twitter Share!

Leave a Comment