Annecy, often referred to as the “Venice of the Alps,” is a charming city located in southeastern France. Known for its stunning lake, picturesque canals, and medieval architecture, Annecy offers a delightful blend of natural beauty and rich history. Here are some of the best places to visit and things to do in Annecy:
1. Lake Annecy
Start your visit by exploring the magnificent Lake Annecy, which is considered one of the cleanest and most beautiful lakes in Europe. You can rent a pedal boat or a kayak to explore the crystal-clear waters, or simply relax on one of the lakeside beaches and enjoy the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.
2. Old Town (Vieille Ville)
Wander through the narrow cobblestone streets of Annecy’s Old Town, and you’ll be transported back in time. Admire the colorful houses with their flower-filled balconies, browse through charming boutiques and art galleries, and soak up the lively atmosphere of the local markets. Don’t miss the Palais de l’Isle, a 12th-century castle that was once a prison and is now a museum.
3. Annecy Castle
Perched on a hill overlooking the city, the Annecy Castle (Château d’Annecy) offers panoramic views of the town and the lake. Inside, you’ll find the Annecy Castle Museum, where you can learn about the city’s history and enjoy exhibitions on art and regional heritage.
4. Pont des Amours
Known as the “Lovers’ Bridge,” Pont des Amours is a romantic spot in Annecy. Take a stroll along the canal and cross the bridge while enjoying the scenic views. Legend has it that if you kiss your loved one on the bridge, your love will last forever.
5. Palais de l’Isle
Located in the heart of the Thiou Canal, the Palais de l’Isle is one of the most iconic landmarks in Annecy. This ancient triangular-shaped building served as a fortress, a courthouse, and a prison throughout its history. Today, it houses a local history museum, allowing visitors to delve into the city’s past.
6. Jardins de l’Europe
Escape the city bustle and relax in the peaceful Jardins de l’Europe. This beautiful park, situated along the lake, is the perfect place for a leisurely stroll, a picnic, or simply enjoying the views. It also hosts various events and concerts during the summer months.
7. Annecy Market
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Immerse yourself in the local culture by visiting the Annecy Market. Held on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays in the Old Town, this vibrant market offers a wide range of fresh produce, local cheeses, flowers, handicrafts, and more. It’s a fantastic place to sample regional delicacies and experience the lively atmosphere.
9. Outdoor Activities
Annecy is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. You can go hiking or cycling in the surrounding mountains, enjoy water sports such as paddleboarding or wakeboarding on the lake, or even try paragliding for a thrilling aerial view of the city.
9. Annecy International Animation Film Festival
If you happen to visit in June, don’t miss the Annecy International Animation Film Festival, one of the most prestigious events of its kind in the world. It showcases the latest animated films, hosts workshops and conferences, and attracts animation enthusiasts and professionals from around the globe.
10. Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard
Just a short drive from Annecy, you’ll find the majestic Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard. This medieval castle offers guided tours that take you through its rich history and opulent interiors. The panoramic views of Lake Annecy from the castle are truly breathtaking.
11. Gorges du Fier
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Embark on an adventure to the nearby Gorges du Fier, a natural wonder that will leave you in awe. Walk along the suspended footbridge and witness the sheer cliffs and roaring river below. The narrow gorge with its stunning rock formations is a sight to behold and offers an exhilarating experience.
12. La Tournette
For hiking enthusiasts, La Tournette is a popular choice. It is the highest peak in the Bornes Massif and offers panoramic views of Lake Annecy and the surrounding mountains. The hike is challenging but rewarding, and reaching the summit is a truly memorable experience.
13. Regional Cuisine
Indulge in the flavors of the Savoyard cuisine, which is renowned for its hearty and delicious dishes. Try the famous Raclette or Fondue, where you can savor melted cheese with potatoes, charcuterie, and local bread. Don’t forget to pair it with a glass of crisp Savoyard wine.
Annecy boasts several museums that offer a glimpse into the region’s art, history, and culture. The Musée-Château d’Annecy, housed in the Annecy Castle, showcases a collection of medieval art and hosts temporary exhibitions. The Musée du Palais de l’Ile explores the history and heritage of Annecy, and the Musée d’Art Contemporain showcases contemporary art.
15. Thermal Baths
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For relaxation and rejuvenation, visit one of the thermal baths near Annecy. The nearby town of Aix-les-Bains is famous for its thermal spas, where you can soak in the healing waters and enjoy various wellness treatments.
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Take a short trip to the charming village of Talloires, located on the eastern shore of Lake Annecy. Known for its picturesque setting, Talloires offers tranquil beaches, scenic hikes, and upscale restaurants. It’s a perfect spot for a leisurely day trip or a romantic getaway.
17. Annecy Christmas Market
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If you visit Annecy during the festive season, be sure to explore the enchanting Christmas Market. The Old Town comes alive with festive lights, wooden chalets selling crafts and gifts, and the aroma of mulled wine and roasted chestnuts. It’s a magical atmosphere that captures the holiday spirit.
18. La Clusaz
For winter sports enthusiasts, a visit to La Clusaz is a must. Located just a short distance from Annecy, this ski resort offers excellent skiing and snowboarding opportunities, as well as a vibrant après-ski scene. The stunning alpine scenery and well-groomed slopes make it a favorite destination for winter sports lovers.
19. Local Festivals
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Annecy hosts various festivals throughout the year, celebrating music, film, and regional traditions. The Fête du Lac, held in August, is a spectacular fireworks and music show that illuminates the night sky over Lake Annecy. The Venetian Carnival, inspired by the city’s nickname, brings a touch of Venice to Annecy’s canals with colorful costumes and festivities.
20. Le Pâquier
Located near the lake, Le Pâquier is a spacious park perfect for picnics, outdoor activities, or simply relaxing. It hosts various events and festivals throughout the year, including the Fête du Lac fireworks display. Enjoy a leisurely walk or join locals for a game of petanque in this picturesque green space.
21. Annecy Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Pierre)
Admire the beautiful architecture of the Annecy Cathedral, a Gothic-style church dating back to the 16th century. Step inside to appreciate its impressive stained glass windows, intricate woodwork, and serene atmosphere
22. Annecy Venetian Carnival
Annecy pays homage to its “Venice of the Alps” nickname with the annual Venetian Carnival. During this colorful event, the canals and streets come alive with participants donning Venetian masks and costumes, creating a festive and lively atmosphere.
23. Les Trésoms Gardens
Located near the lake, Les Trésoms Gardens provide a peaceful escape from the bustling city. Enjoy a leisurely walk amidst the lush greenery, beautiful flowers, and stunning lake views. The gardens also offer a panoramic terrace where you can relax and soak in the serene ambiance.
24. Try Local Cheese
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Annecy is famous for its delicious cheese, particularly Reblochon, Tomme de Savoie, and Abondance. Visit one of the local cheese shops or markets to sample and purchase these savory delights. You can also pair them with fresh bread, charcuterie, and a glass of regional wine for a delightful gastronomic experience.
25. Day Trip to Geneva
Annecy’s proximity to the Swiss border makes it an excellent base for a day trip to Geneva. Explore this cosmopolitan city known for its diplomatic significance, picturesque Old Town, and beautiful Lake Geneva. Don’t miss attractions like the Jet d’Eau, St. Pierre Cathedral, and the United Nations headquarters.
26. Annecy Street Art
Explore the vibrant street art scene in Annecy. As you wander through the city’s streets and alleyways, you’ll come across colorful murals, creative graffiti, and artistic expressions that add a contemporary touch to the city’s historic charm. Keep an eye out for the works of local and international street artists.
27. Annecy at Night
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Annecy transforms into a magical place at night, with the illuminated buildings, canals, and bridges casting a romantic glow over the city. Take an evening stroll along the canals, enjoy dinner at one of the waterside restaurants, or simply sit by the lake and appreciate the tranquil ambiance under the starry sky.
28. Semnoz Mountain
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Just a short drive from Annecy, Semnoz Mountain offers a fantastic escape for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. In the summer, hike through its picturesque trails, go mountain biking, or enjoy a picnic amidst the stunning alpine scenery. In winter, Semnoz becomes a haven for skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing.
29. Lake Annecy Water Sports
Make the most of Lake Annecy’s crystal-clear waters by engaging in various water sports activities. Try your hand at paddleboarding, waterskiing, wakeboarding, or sailing. You can also rent a boat or join a guided tour to explore the lake and discover its hidden coves and secluded beaches.
30. Thônes Market
If you’re visiting Annecy on a Saturday, make your way to the nearby town of Thônes and explore its vibrant market. The market is known for its local produce, including cheese, honey, sausages, and seasonal fruits and vegetables. Immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere and savor the flavors of the region.
31. Parc des Jardins de Haute-Savoie
Located in the town of Annecy-le-Vieux, Parc des Jardins de Haute-Savoie is a picturesque park with beautifully landscaped gardens, walking paths, and scenic viewpoints. It offers a peaceful retreat where you can enjoy a leisurely stroll, have a picnic, or simply relax surrounded by nature’s beauty.
32. Annecy Casino
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If you’re feeling lucky or want to experience some entertainment, visit the Annecy Casino. Try your hand at the slot machines, play table games like blackjack or roulette, or enjoy a drink at the bar. The casino also hosts live shows and performances, adding to the vibrant nightlife of Annecy.
33. Visit the Annecy Outdoors Festival
Annecy hosts the Annecy Outdoors Festival, celebrating outdoor sports, adventure, and nature. The festival features a wide range of activities such as hiking, climbing, trail running, paragliding, and more. Engage in adrenaline-pumping adventures, attend workshops, and connect with fellow outdoor enthusiasts.
34. Annecy Lakeside Promenade
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Take a leisurely stroll along the lakeside promenade, which stretches from Annecy to Sevrier. Enjoy the fresh air, beautiful views of the lake, and the opportunity to stop at lakeside cafes, bars, and ice cream shops along the way. It’s a delightful way to soak up the charm of Annecy.
35. Les Halles Market
Indulge in a culinary adventure at Les Halles Market, located in the heart of Annecy. This vibrant indoor market is a treasure trove of fresh produce, local specialties, cheese, meats, pastries, and more. Immerse yourself in the bustling atmosphere and sample the flavors of Savoie.
36. La Petite Venise
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Discover another charming neighborhood in Annecy known as “La Petite Venise.” This area along the Thiou Canal features picturesque canalside houses, colorful facades, and quaint bridges. Enjoy a leisurely walk, take photos, and appreciate the romantic ambiance reminiscent of the famous Italian city.
37. Les Confiseries Florian
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Delight your taste buds with a visit to Les Confiseries Florian, a confectionery shop in Annecy. Explore the world of sweets, chocolates, and candied fruits through guided tours and tastings. Learn about the art of confectionery making and savor delectable treats made with high-quality ingredients.
Places and Things To Do