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Visit Annecy, France
Annecy is one of the most beautiful cities in France and a must on any trip to the French 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 the perfect destination for a romantic getaway in France. With more time, it is also a great place for outdoor activities in and around the lake.
How many days in Annecy? The city is small, and one day in Annecy is enough to explore the best things to do in Annecy. However, we always recommend spending at least 2 days in Annecy to explore also the lake and its surroundings.
Weekend in Annecy: Where to Stay?
For your Annecy trip, we recommend staying out of the Old Town, which is usually jam-packed and noisy until late at night.
Hotel des Alpes is located just opposite the train station, so it is a great option for train travelers. The rooms are on the small side but well equipped and decorated with style. Hotel des Alpes is only a 10-minute walk to the Old Town.
Les Filateries Chambres d’Hotes is a great option for those who prefer to stay in the Old Town and are tired of big hotels. The rooms are cozy and stylish, and the breakfast is excellent.
Black Bass Hotel is the perfect place for a relaxing weekend in Annecy. Located less than 3 km from the Old Town, it proposes stylish rooms (with lake or forest view) and beautiful grounds with views of the lake.
How to Spend 2 Days in Annecy – A Detailed Annecy Itinerary
If you are wondering what to do in Annecy for a weekend, this 2 days in Annecy itinerary is the perfect go-to guide for your Annecy trip.
TIP: these French road trips cover Annecy and many other beautiful places in Eastern France!
Two Days in Annecy: Day One
Stroll around the Old Town
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 two days in Annecy itinerary necessarily involves a walk around its medieval city center, with narrow winding streets and 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 is lined with beautiful buildings and stores.
Visit the Château d’Annecy
^Inside the courtyard
This medieval fortress overlooking Annecy dates back to 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 three museums in the city (Château d’Annecy, Palais de l’Île, Musée du Film d’Animation), which is valid for two days. You can buy these tickets on-site in any of these three museums.
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.
Relax by Lake Annecy
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 that can reach up to 24C during the hottest days of the year.
Hanging around the lake is one of the best things to do in Annecy. The best places for walking and relaxing on the shores of Lake Annecy are:
- The Gardens of Europe is also great 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 for 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. For more freedom, you can rent a boat in Annecy (different types available) to spend an afternoon or a day on the lake.
Dangle your Feet in the Water at Le Pâquier
After a hearty Savoyard dinner, leave the crowds of the Old Town and go to the Pâquier for some fresh air and a stroll along the Canal du Vassé.
Between 1852 and 1863, Le Pâquier (a Savoyard word that means “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.
Le Pâquier 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, some wooden pontoons are perfect for a last drink for two dangling your feet in the water. After walking all day exploring the Old Town, this was heaven for my feet!!!
Two Days in Annecy: Day Two
If you decide to spend 2 days in Annecy, France, use the second day to explore Lake Annecy’s surroundings.
Most of the best day trips from Annecy include activities in or around this lake. For example, Annecy is one of the top spots for paragliding in France, with awesome eye bird views guaranteed. If 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 around the lake 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 lake beaches were jam-packed. Finally, we found a hidden spot perfect for a picnic on the grass and a bath with a view (named ‘Plage du Château’ on Google maps). The castle in the background is Château de Duingt, built on a small peninsula.
A Relaxing Afternoon by the Lake
Lake Annecy’s extraordinary natural scenery is the perfect background for a relaxing afternoon. The shores of the lake are dotted with beach bars to chill out while sipping your favorite cocktail. There are also beautiful beachfront hotels offering great facilities for a relaxing stay like a private beach, bar-terrace, and even yoga classes with a view
For this Annecy trip, we preferred to stay out of the hustle and bustle of the Old Town, 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.
Practical Information for your Annecy Trip
How to Travel to Annecy
BY PLANE: Lyon-Saint-Exupéry (LYS) is the closest airport to visit Annecy. It has many international flights to Europe, Africa (Algeria, Morocco, Senegal, Tunisia), Asia (Turkey, Armenia), Middle-East (Emirates, Qatar), and America (Montréal in Canada). If you don’t plan to visit Paris during your next trip to France, consider booking a flight directly to Lyon. – Click here for flight schedules and prices. From Lyon airport, there’s a direct train to Annecy.
BY TRAIN: TGV trains leave Paris Gare de Lyon to Annecy (3 hrs 40 min). The train ride from Lyon is only 1 hr 50 min – Click here for schedules and prices.
BY CAR: You can also consider renting a car for exploring Annecy and other places in the Alps on a road trip. From Paris, it’s a 560 km drive (around 5 hours), and it takes only 1 hr 15 minutes from Lyon – Click here to rent your car.
WITH A GUIDED TOUR: Annecy is also a popular tour from Geneva in Switzerland (45 min drive). If you are staying in Geneva, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Annecy on a day tour for a taste of France!
2 Days in Annecy: Where to Eat
Your weekend 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.
LES CHINEURS DE LA CUISINE (26 Rue Sainte Claire). This restaurant with a flea market decoration proposes a traditional cuisine of quality and 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 great, inspiring cuisine and a menu that changes with the seasons. This is the top place for a gourmet dinner in Annecy.