Lake, mountains, old town… Annecy, nicknamed the “Venice of the Alps”, is a destination with a wealth of wonders to enchant you. It’s also where I discovered that sometimes, you don’t have to go that far to recharge your batteries and find natural gems. For a short getaway or longer, take a breath of fresh air in the town of Annecy.

Where is Annecy?

Located in the Southeast of France, Annecy boasts some of the best outdoor activities, whether you visit in summer or winter. Nestled in the Alps, between lake and mountains, the region attracts many tourists, particularly during the months of June to September. Most people come to see the lake, known as one of the purest in Europe, and the breathtaking panoramas.

I won’t drag out the suspense any longer, so here are the best things to do in Annecy:

1. Annecy’s Lake

Best things to do in Annecy

Honestly, from the moment I set foot on the station platform, I couldn’t wait to see the lake. It doesn’t matter if I’m dropping my bags off at the hotel now or later, as soon as there’s a body of water somewhere, whether it’s the ocean or a lake, I feel like a kid again.

All I can say is that it was just as I’d imagined, only better. The calmness of the lake and the beauty of the scenery kept me coming back several times during the three days I spent in Annecy. It became my ideal place to rest and think of nothing.

That’s why I’m sure I don’t need to convince you to put it on your itinerary – you can’t miss it anyway!

2. Pont des Amours

Pont des Amours in Annecy

Located between the Jardins de l’Europe and the Esplanade du Pâquier, you’ll find the Pont des Amours, a symbolic spot where lovers from all over the world like to put a padlock on the bridge gates (it’s a bit everywhere now, isn’t it?).

You’ll also see couples kissing on the bridge, perhaps because “legend” says this guarantees you’ll spend your whole life with your partner.

On the Pont des Amours in Annecy

What I liked most about this place was the view of the canal and its greenish colors, and the boats moored in the shade of the trees. The whole area is an ideal setting for a romantic stroll, and has retained that authentic Annecy charm.

3. Jardins de l’Europe

Jardins de l'Europe in Annecy

As with most of Annecy’s tourist attractions, a stroll through the gardens will reveal splendid panoramic views. The same applies to the Jardins de l’Europe. After crossing the Pont des Amours, lose yourself in this natural park of over 600 trees.

You can picnic on the grass, smell the sweet fragrance of the flowers or simply admire the splendor of the famous lake.

4. Have a sweet treat at the Palais des Glaces

Annecy's ice cream

When you see a queue outside a store, it’s usually a good sign, isn’t it? A perfect warm-weather treat after strolling around the city, this ice cream was well worth the wait.

Everything, right down to the waffle, is homemade and quality. Some people couldn’t even wait for me to take a photo before taking a bite, as you can see in the photo above. Because it was SO GOOD!

Anyway, I’d definitely recommend the hazelnut and salted butter caramel flavors, because they’re simply delicious. My mouth is watering just thinking about them!

5. Water sports

Paddleboarding, freediving, wakeboarding, canyoning, the list goes on. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or not, Annecy has plenty to offer.

It’s also a great way to enjoy the scenery around you. Imagine standing on your paddleboard in the middle of the lake, gazing at the mountains in the distance. A magical experience, don’t you think?!?

6. The Old Town

Old Town in Annecy

Colorful houses, cafés – it’s easy to get lost in these narrow streets and spend hours admiring the medieval architecture.

Explore the markets on Rue Saint Claire and, after all that exercise, indulge in a local dish: tartiflette. Made with potatoes, onions, lardons and a whole reblochon cheese, it won’t disappoint cheese lovers.

In fact, if you love cheese, you’ll love Annecy!

7. The Canals

Canals in Annecy

It’s not for nothing that Annecy is nicknamed the “Venice of the Alps”. Here, you won’t find gondola rides accompanied by music and singers, but canals that you’ll love discovering as you stroll along. Arched bridge after arched bridge, wind your way through the narrow streets until you’re full or your stomach starts to grumble.

Don’t forget that the canals are the best place to grab a bite to eat and/or a drink before heading to the lake for some lounging or afternoon activities!

8. Gorges du Fier

Annecy
Photo by Hilderose C on Unsplash

Cost: $6.50 for an adult, around $3 for kids from 7-15 years old and free under
Best way to go: by car if you rented one or you can grab a taxi

> Another solution (longer) is to take 2 buses: from Annecy take line 1 to Poisy then line 12 to Lovagny. You’ll then have to walk for about 1km.

10 km west of Annecy, the Gorges du Fier is a natural site created by many years of erosion. You’ll cross the canyon on a footbridge 25 m above the river and see the impressive cliffs just above your head.

Finally, you’ll arrive at the Mer des Rochers, a labyrinth of rocks or “lapiaz” where the river Fier still flows.

A must-see if you’re in Annecy or the surrounding area, and an activity to delight all ages!

9. Palais de l’Île

Cost: $4 for an adult and around $2 for a child over 12 years old

The Palais de l’Île has served many functions over the years. Prison, courthouse, art school before being classified as a historic monument.
Today, it hosts numerous exhibitions throughout the year, and you can even visit the chapel, the courtrooms… from medieval times.

And if you just want to take the famous photo from the Périère bridge, be my guest!

10. Hike Mont Veyrier

Mount Veyrier in Annecy

One of my fondest memories of Annecy is arriving at the summit of Mont Veyrier after a not-so-easy hike, all sweaty and tired as I took in the breathtaking panorama unfolding before my eyes. The color of the water, the tranquility of the place and the sense of accomplishment made me forget everything.

I started the hike in the port of Annecy-le-Vieux before heading into the forest where the less fun part begins. It’s not that difficult if you’re a bit experienced, but the rocky path and constant slope were a bit challenging at times, I must admit.

There are other less strenuous and less difficult options: from the Col des Contrebandiers and from the Col du Pré Vernet. Check them out here.

In the end, it took me about 5 hours to complete this hike. Don’t forget to bring good shoes, plenty of water and a snack!

Viewpoint from Mount Veyrier in Annecy

As always, the rewards are well worth the effort!

How to get around Annecy?

The great thing about Annecy is that all the major sites are within walking distance, making it easy for you to explore.
And if you need to go somewhere outside the city, the bus network called SIBRA serves the various communes quite well too.

Now you know where to go on your next trip to France!

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8 Comments

  1. I love posts like this highlighting different attractions and things to do in a particular area. I don’t travel much, but seeing all the amazing sights and things to do in a particular country or city certainly makes me want to travel. Annecy looks like a great place to visit with a nice mix of things to do and see.

  2. I would love to stop there on our way to South of France this Summer. Any recommendation for accommodation? Old Town looks like there could be a few apartments.

    1. Summer is a great time to visit (more crowded, though)! Yes, definitely check out Airbnbs around the Old Town, there are a few options depending on your budget. 😊 Plus, you’ll be close to all the major attractions and only 100m from the lake!
      Have fun in Annecy and thanks for your comment, Monika!

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