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Things to Do in Annecy, France
Annecy is one of the most beautiful cities in France, and a must of any trip to the Alps. This small city in Eastern France has many highlights, such as a pretty old town, a pristine lake, and surrounding mountains. In addition, Annecy is a great place to enjoy great food and good life, and it always appears on the list of best places in France in which to live.
Annecy is a good idea for a romantic getaway in eastern France. With more time, it is also a great place for outdoor activities in and around the lake.
The city is small and one day in Annecy is enough to explore the main things to do in Annecy. However, we recommend spending at least 2 days in Annecy to explore also the lake and the surroundings.
What to do in Annecy? Here’s our proposed Annecy itinerary with the best things to do in Annecy.
Things to Do in Annecy in 2 Days Map
DID YOU KNOW? Annecy is a popular day trip from Geneva in Switzerland. Get a taste of France from Switzerland, click here to book your Annecy day tour from Geneva.
2 Days in Annecy, Day 1
THE OLD TOWN
1. Stroll around the Vieille Ville
Above all, Annecy is known for its old town, which is particularly beautiful to discover. Beyond its few canals and quays always full of flowers, this 2 days in Annecy itinerary necessarily involves a walk around its medieval city center, with narrow winding streets and a colorful architecture.
The list of beautiful things to see in Annecy Old Town includes:
- Palais de l’Isle, the symbol of Annecy, built on a little isle in the Thiou River
- Porte Perrière, one of the few remains of the medieval ramparts in Annecy.
- Place Sainte-Claire, one of the most beautiful squares in Annecy.
- Cathédrale Saint-Pierre, built in the 16th century
- Rue Royale. This commercial street is quite large compared to the surrounding streets and lined with beautiful buildings and stores.
2. Visit the Château d’Annecy
Inside the courtyard
This medieval fortress overlooking Annecy was built in the 14th century and it was home to the Counts of Geneva and later the Duques of Savoye. Today, it hosts temporary exhibitions dedicated to the regional heritage, archaeology, and beaux-arts.
The ticket to the château costs 5.50€. For 7,20€, however, there’s a combo ticket to visit the 3 museums of the city (Château d’Annecy, Palais de l’Île, Musée du Film d’Animation) which is valid for 2 days. You can buy these tickets on-site in any of these 3 museums.
3. Explore the Canals of Annecy
Often nicknamed the Little Venice of the Alps, the canals of Annecy offer great viewpoints of the city.
Annecy is crossed by the Thiou River which flows into the lake. This river splits into two branches at the Quai des Clarisses and Quai des Cordeliers and then continues its way through Annecy, sometimes flowing underground.
Take the time to look for the prettiest canals of Annecy, always full of flowers, for some perfect postcard pictures.
4. Relax by the Lake
Lake Annecy, with good weather, is a postcard landscape with its surrounding mountains, pristine waters, and flowered shores. Today, Lake Annecy is one of the purest lakes in Europe, with waters than can reach up to 24C during the hottest days of the year.
The best places for walking and relaxing on the shores of Lake Annecy are:
- The Gardens of Europe, great also for a picnic on the grass or a nap in the shade
- Le Pâquier, this 7 Hectare esplanade by the lake is the dream place for a picnic but also the corner of joggers and walkers.
- Plage des Marquisats, in the south of the city. This is a green space laid out like a “beach”, with showers, toilets, and other facilities.
- Plage de l’Impérial, similar to Plage des Marquisats but in the north of the city.
And of course, there are many water activities in the lake like paddling or boat cruises.
Apéro Time and Dinner
For the first evening out in Annecy, we recommend going back to the Old Town for the best choice of bars and restaurants.
Your stay in Annecy can be a great opportunity to taste some Savoyard specialties like fondue savoyarde, gratins, polente, or tartiflette. Potatoes, Savoyard cheeses, or charcuterie are part of the ingredients or preparations found on local tables. Also, expect dishes prepared with dried fruits, nuts, prunes, raisins, or apricots.
When the weather is good, it is very pleasant to have dinner outside, along the quays of the canals or along the bridges. You will find places to eat only along the most central canals and booking in advance is paramount, especially on weekends.
Two good addresses to taste local cuisine in the Old Town of Annecy are:
- Les Chineurs de la Cuisine (26 rue Sainte Claire). This restaurant with a flea market decoration proposes a traditional cuisine of quality and with generous portions and a good selection of wines. In the summer, it is also possible to eat outside.
- L’Esquisse (21 rue Royale). This is a small restaurant with a great, inspiring cuisine and a menu that changes with the seasons. This is a top place for a gourmet dinner in Annecy.
5. Dangle your Feet in the Water at Le Pâquier
After a hearty Savoyard dinner, leave the crowds of the Vielle Ville and go to the Pâquier for some fresh air and a stroll along the Canal du Vassé.
Between 1852 and 1863 the Pâquier (Savoyard word referring to a pasture) was cleansed and filled up and the quays were built up, giving the place its current, appearance. The Pâquier and the Gardens of Europe are linked via a metallic footbridge, nicknamed the “Pont des Amours” (Love Bridge) by locals.
This is one of the most picturesque places to visit in Annecy, especially beautiful in the afternoon and until sunset. Close to the Pont des Amours, there are some wooden pontoons, perfect for a last drink for two dangling your feet in the water. After walking all the day exploring the Old City, this was heaven for my feet!!!
2 Days in Annecy, Day 2
If you decide to spend 2 days in Annecy, use the second day for exploring the surroundings of Lake Annecy.
There are many ways to explore the lake. For example, Annecy is one of the top spots for paragliding in France, with awesome eye bird views guaranteed. If like us you opt for a bike ride, there are many places to rent one in the Old Town and you will have 42 km of cycle paths for your delight. You can decide the do the full tour, explore the lake’s small towns, or stop at one of the beaches.
We chose one of the hottest summer weekends to travel to Annecy and the beaches were jam-packed. Finally, we found a hidden spot perfect for a picnic on the grass and a bath with a view (#6 on the Google map but out of the screenshot).
The castle in the background is Château de Duingt, built on a small peninsula. Even if the spot is not marked as “beach” on Google, this is our recommendation for a relaxing bath far from the crowds.
A Relaxing Afternoon with a View
Annecy is a great place for a relaxing getaway. For this trip, we preferred to stay out of the hustle and bustle of the Old Village and we booked a room at the beautiful Black Bass Hotel, located on the outskirts of Annecy. With a pool and surrounding grounds with beautiful lake views, this lazy afternoon in the hotel was one of our favorite things to do in Annecy.