What to do in Annecy?
Updated: May 10
The Alps, this beautiful chain of mountains, hiking, breathing fresh air, riding a bike along the river of Thiou… Isn’t it incredible? Well, if you are going to Annecy, you will be able to do all of this and even more, so if you are here just to know more about this beautiful French city, travel with us in this article, and if you are reading this because you plan to go there, we have two things to tell you, lucky you and enjoy! Let’s discover more about this medieval city, let’s go parakeets!
Le lac d’Annecy
The beautiful city of Annecy is well known for its lake, so to go to Annecy without going to the lake would be a crime! The lake is huge, you will find activities to delight everyone as we will see later.
The old town is a district of Annecy, it is the medieval district that is crossed by the waters of the Thiou, walking through the old town will give you the impression of changing the setting by entering a chivalrous place with its yellow, pink, and green buildings dating from the Middle Ages.
PS: be careful not to make a mistake when you arrive and follow the signs "Vieille Ville" and not "Annecy-Le-Vieux" if you want to visit the old town.
Other things to do
The Thiou is a river around which Annecy was built, and which has been very useful to the city for hundreds of years, whether for easy irrigation of the gardens or to keep the workshops running thanks to the force of its current... While walking along the river you will be able to see the sluice gates installed in 1874 to regulate the level of the water and to have a good constant flow. If you go near the old ones, you can see the most visible gate easily.
Le Palais de l’Île
While the castle of Annecy has changed owners in its history, the Palais de l'Île has changed its function. At the beginning it was a fortified house, then it was transformed into a prison, a courthouse and an administrative center and just like the castle of Annecy, it also ended up being transformed into a museum that you can always visit and where you will find temporary exhibitions and you will discover better the heritage of the region.
Le château d’Annecy
This old castle which was originally the home of the dukes of Geneva, later became the residence of the dukes of Savoy-Nemours, before becoming the museum that you can visit during your visit to Annecy.
The historical monument houses in its museum temporal exhibitions, collections on the regional heritage, and so on.
Hike in the mountains
If you go to Annecy, you must do at least one hike! The city being in the middle of the mountains, it is an activity not to be missed! You will find hikes for all levels, hikes that you can do even if you are not sporty or with children, as well as sporty or very sporty hikes! We advise you, for example, to go to the Nature Reserve of Bout-du-Lac, and in French "bout du lac" means at the end of the lake, so to have a nice walk to see a part of the lake which is less populated and where you won't find all the water activities and tourists in mass, moreover this walk is easy for the less sporty and the children. For those who are a bit more sporty, you can go for example to the Parc Naturel régional du Massif des Bauges where you will find hikes of many different levels, as well as having an idyllic setting!
Ski in winter
If you go to Annecy in winter and you are a beginner or you have children, go for a ski tour in the Montmin - Col de la Forclaz resort, this resort is one of the smallest in Europe, but it is still a nice activity that you can do one day during your stay (there are only 5 ski runs). But if you really want to ski, check out the ski resorts in France that might suit you!
With its large lake, Annecy has plenty of water activities to offer in this wonderful setting! You will be able to enjoy the beautiful landscapes around the lake by doing Stand Up Paddle on the lake, sailing, canoeing, or diving & snorkeling to discover the sea bed of the lake with all its fauna and flora; you will also find activities such as pedal boats to have fun with friends/family, or water skiing, wakeboarding, and so on. As for those who want something quieter, you will also be able to go fishing.
But also discover aquatic activities outside Lake Annecy, for example, canyoning to have fun with friends and family with easy canyons for the young and less athletic, but also canyons that will delight the most daring and sporty in search of adrenaline! But also rafting for even more sensations!
Other activities to book
You will also find many activities that you can book in advance to make your stay unforgettable, such as paragliding, hot air ballooning, a plane ride for more sensations, climbing or via Ferrata for a more sportive side, and so on!
How to get there
To get to Annecy you have several means of transportation:
You can take the freeway (A41) with two possible exits, either the n°16 if you come from Lyon, Marseille, Grenoble, or Chambéry, or the n°17 through the Mont Blanc tunnel if you come from Paris, Geneva, Bourg-en-Bresse, Chamonix, or Italy.
You can also take the departmental roads.
(Don't hesitate to also take carpools like on the Blablacar application.)
⚠️ Don't forget to bring snow tires or socks for your tires if you come between November 1st and March 31st.
From Paris, you can take the TGV (high-speed train) for 4 hours to Annecy station, and there are also TER (regional trains) from Lyon, Valence, Grenoble, Chambéry, and Chamonix.
Moreover, the station is located in the center of the city.
You can also take the bus, certainly, it is the longest and less comfortable means of transport, but the least expensive, allowing you to make beautiful savings sometimes! Moreover, you have buses that leave from all the big cities of France, so whether you are in Paris, Rouen, Strasbourg, Marseille and so on, you can go to Annecy by bus (the bus station is in the same place as the train station, so in the city center).
You can use the companies FlixBus, BlaBlabus, Kelbus, Eurolines, Megabus, Starshipper, and Isilines.
Being a very touristic city, Annecy is expensive. So, if you go to the restaurant, to souvenir stores... the price will be high.
If you want to take public transport, the rates in the Grand Annecy Sibra area are 1.50€ for a one-way ticket, 4.90€ for a 24h pass, and 16.40€ for a 7-day pass.
When to go there
Depending on your preferences for the season we will advise you:
In January because the season has started but it is not too busy because it is between two school vacations (so avoid the Christmas vacations that end after New Year's, and the vacations that are in February-March, to watch the exact dates that may change slightly from one year to another).
Depending on the weather, at the end of March/beginning of April, there may still be snow in the mountains.
The rest of the year
During the rest of the year, we advise you to go there in June, it's a less busy period for tourists. In general, French people are still working in this period, and most of the young ones still have school or are in exam period. Plus, this is a nice period, this is the beginning of good weather, this is the beginning of the nice period for the hikes.
Or in September, this is the end of the Summer Holidays in France, everybody is getting back to work, so this is the beginning of the empty season again, with still nice weather.
What to be aware of
The things to be careful with is if you are going on a hike, to listen to the advice and warnings that the guides (books as humans) about the danger of some hikes that can be complicated and require a special level to do them or special equipment. But if a hike is risky this is always well warned, so if you listen and obey some signalizations, there is no problem.
And if you are going on a hike, take enough water and some snacks to keep a good level of energy and don’t be dehydrated.
Same in winter, to obey warning signs about avalanches and other risks.
And don’t forget to have snow tires or an adequate anti-skid accessory as we said earlier.
Apart from these basic risks in mountains that you have to take into account no matter on which mountain you are going, the city is pretty safe.
What to eat
Going in Annecy, you have to try the cheeses of the region like the Beaufort!
And all the famous dishes like tartiflette which is a famous dish all around France, made of a typical cheese called Reblochon, with bacon, potatoes, onions, and cream!
Or try the fondue savoyarde also typical, this is different types of cheese (Comté, Beaufort, and Emmental) melted together with wine, and where you dip pieces of bread in it, nothing better in winter!
And if you want to discover more about the typical dishes, don’t worry there are plenty of them that you can discover in our article about the food and drinks in Haute Savoie.
Fête du lac (August)
This celebration which highlights the lake is a show of fireworks and music, each year the first Saturday of August (except exceptions), you can admire it by buying a ticket to be on the stands, bleachers, grass, or you can admire it for free from the mountains, or some places around.
International Animation Film Festival (June)
Existing for 60 years, this festival is now Internationally known, and attracts each year all the best professionals of the animation sector.
You will find during the festival a selection of animated films using various techniques classified in different categories.
This festival happens each year beginning of June.
Venetian Carnival (March)
With its Venice feel and canals running through the city, Annecy that is also called the “Venice of the Alps”, has obviously its own Venetian Carnival, with the costumes like you can find them in Venice. The carnival takes place in the old Annecy, so if you are around, go take a look at it!
Descent from the mountain pastures (October)
Since 1973, Annecy welcomes the descent from the mountain pastures, where there will be a parade of the herds and folklore groups.
You will find also lots of local productions and lots of animation! (Enough to not get bored)
It generally happens the second Saturday of October.
We hope that this article helps you to dream to travel there, or to help you to organize your trip properly! For more articles, you can follow our Instagram page @thewalkingparrot where we will advert you when we publish new articles. And if you plan to go to Annecy, Lyon isn’t that far, so don’t hesitate to read our article about visiting Lyon!
See you soon for new adventures little parakeets!