Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
Visit Annecy, the Pearl of the French Alps
The eastern regions of France remain vastly underrated, with Paris and the Riviera often getting top billing. But the gems around the French Alps and the Swiss border should be your next must-visit destination, with charming and authentic locations abound.
Annecy is one of the most beautiful cities in France and is the perfect addition to a weekend getaway or a road trip to the Alps. Its lakeside location oozes romance and character, and its medieval architecture has been left unspoiled.
Annecy is a well-connected city, and you can reach it from most major locations in France as well as from Geneva in Switzerland. Actually, day tours to Annecy from Geneva are very popular amongst travelers.
So what to do in Annecy? What are the main things to see in Annecy? Here is everything you need to know about this fabulous city and a look at the best things to do in Annecy, France.
Are you planning to visit Annecy last minute?
Below, are some of the best Annecy tours, hotels, and more!
Top Experiences and Tours in Annecy
Top Annecy Accommodation
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What to Do in Annecy, France
Most of the sights and Annecy things to do are concentrated in the Old Town and around Lake Annecy.
TIP: these French road trips cover Annecy and many other beautiful places in Eastern France!
1. Take a Walking Tour to Learn the City’s History
Annecy is a fascinating city; the best way to learn about its intrigue and history is through a walking tour of the Old Town. Many buildings date back to the 12th century, and they are best appreciated on foot.
The Old Town is one of the main places to visit in Annecy. Walk along the cobbled streets, appreciating the quaint pastel-colored houses and Venice-like canals as an expert guide fills you in on the city’s past. See sights like the Palais de l’Isle, catch a glimpse of the lake, cross the bridge of lovers, or customize your itinerary with a private walking tour.
Walking tours last around 2 hours, and you will still have plenty of time to admire the Annecy attractions you see along the way or spend your afternoon relaxing at a dainty café on one of the city’s old streets.
2. Relax by the Lake
The city sits on the northern edge of Lake Annecy, and this tranquil body of water is a special treat in the summer months. Lake Annecy’s crystal blue water and pristine coastline create an inviting haven for rest seekers.
Stroll along the many pathways and trails that surround the lake, sunbathe on the lakeside beaches, or take a ride on a small boat to see Annecy from a new perspective. The lake has perfect swimming conditions, with temperatures between 22°C and 24°C in the summer.
For more freedom, you can rent a boat in Annecy (different types available) to spend an afternoon or a day on the lake.
The lake is one of the main Annecy tourist attractions. The activities on the lake are numerous, with the discovery of the hidden beaches of Annecy, idleness, swimming, diving, stand-up paddle, and other water sports.
3. Relax at Les Jardins de l’Europe & Le Paquier
By the lake, don’t miss the Jardins de l’Europe, a lovely green setting perfect for a picnic or a siesta in the shade during the warmest days.
A path will take you to the famous Pont des Amours before ending with Le Paquier, the 7-hectare esplanade with a superb panorama. 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. A meeting place for locals and visitors, Le Paquier is one of the top things to do in Annecy and calls for relaxation and moments of sharing during a picnic.
4. Visit the Palais de l’Isle
Le Palais de l’Isle is, without a doubt, one of the most iconic places to visit in Annecy, thanks to its unique location and unusual architecture. This boat-shaped castle is built on a rocky islet in the middle of the Thiou River. It has served as a castle, prison, courthouse, and mint, but today it is an interesting art and history museum.
This remarkable 12th-century building should be appreciated from inside and out, and no visit to Annecy would be complete without a stop at the Palais de l’Isle.
5. Admire Annecy and its Lake from the Sky
The best way to admire Lake Annecy is to fly over it! From the skies, the lake will reveal itself in the most beautiful way, surrounded by the superb mountains of the Alps, including Mont Veyrier, Parmelan, or Tournette.
Lake Annecy is one of the most popular paragliding spots in France. La Forclaz and Planfait are the two classic take-off sites for paragliding baptisms.
Paragliding is one of the top things to do near Annecy. Supervised by qualified instructors, fly gently above the turquoise waters of Lake Annecy, surrounded by some of the highest peaks in the Alps.
6. Take a Segway Tour
Segway tours are a step up from walking and bike tours. These quirky contraptions make your journey just as much fun as the locations you visit, and a Segway tour in Annecy is sure to be an unforgettable experience.
Glide along the waterfront promenade and admire the lush lakeside gardens. Wizz through the old town and reach way further than you can on a normal walking tour (while having twice as much fun!).
These tours are also limited to small groups of around 8 people, so it is a good way to escape the pressures of large tour groups.
7. Tour Lake Annecy by Bike
A bicycle tour is a must-do in Annecy, another excellent way to keep active and see all the places to visit near Annecy at the same time. The bike paths around Lake Annecy are beautifully paved and flat, and even beginner riders can easily manage the ride.
If you are more adventurous, you can also take on the mountains around the lake with a mountain bike tour around Annecy. E-bikes allow you to conquer the alpine terrain with ease and enjoy unbeatable views that you might not otherwise have reached. Enjoy a picnic while up in the mountains and learn all about the storybook fauna and flora of these hills.
8. Taste Annecy’s specialties
One of the best things to do in Annecy, France, is to savor the local specialties. The local gastronomy is undoubtedly one of the main reasons to visit Annecy: from cheese to dry sausages and terrines, without forgetting the Savoyard fondue and tartiflette, food in the French Alps is a feast for your taste buds!
The best way to enjoy Annecy’s local food is to book a table in one of the restaurants in the city. Some of them even offer to taste fish caught that morning in Lake Annecy!
When the weather is good, the tables outside by the canals book out fast, so we recommend booking your table in the morning, when the restaurant opens, or the day before.
9. Visit the Museum at Château d’Annecy
Château d’Annecy is an imposing fortress that dominates the city’s skyline. It was home to the counts of Geneva, and its earliest structures date back to the 13th century. The castle showcases a unique blend of architecture as its purpose changed from a defense structure in its early years to a grand Renaissance residence in the 16th century.
In the 1950s, the château was transformed into a museum with various revolving exhibitions dedicated to everything from regional heritage to underwater archeology and contemporary art, and it is one of the main things to see in Annecy.
And there you have it, what to do in Annecy, France, for any kind of traveler. Which Annecy things to do tempt you most for your coming trip?