Annecy is one of my favorite hidden gems of Europe. The small little city is full of beautifully colored flowers and houses and clear canals and lakes that are perched next to a beautiful scenery of mountains. Annecy is known as the “Venice of the Alps”, but you will not see as many tourists as you would in Venice, Italy. Also, in my opinion the canals in Annecy give Amsterdam and Venice a run for their money.
It was such a change of scenery to visit big cities like Paris and then to see Annecy. You can walk around and see families spending time together, admiring the same outdoor beauty you are. It is very small and the whole city can be seen in a day or two if you use your time wisely, but it is totally understood if you want to take more to admire its beauty. You could easily spend your time getting lost in the scenery or if you’re up for an adventure, hiking up the mountains. Here’s what I loved to do in Annecy:
Eat at a Cozy Restaurant
There are many restaurants next to the canals that allow you sit along the beautiful riverbank and soak in the view. From hand-tossed pizzas to French specialities, the restaurants are full of plates served with colorful vegetables and cheeses that represent a beautiful part of the French culture.
Visit a Castle
It would only make sense for a fairytale city like Annecy to have a castle in its borders. Built between the 12th to 16th century, the glorious Château d’Annecy towers over the town and offers incredible views of the city and the lake. The castle was once damaged by fire and abandoned and eventually restored back to its former glory before being turned into the museum it is today.
Enjoy the Clear Waters of Lake Annecy
I loved sitting along Lake Annecy because of its amazing views of the mountains and the alluring sight of the clear water. The lake in Annecy is actually Europe’s cleanest lake because the water comes from snow melting in the Alps. For the leisures travelers, there are also ways to sign up to take a boat tour, which is probably the way to get the best views of the lake and the city. The lake is also located next to some grassy areas where you can lay a blanket down for a nice picnic. If you are feeling more active, check out the incredible hiking spots in the city!
A one-hour boat tour around the lake costs €14,30 for adults and €9,70 for children 5–12. Check the website linked for times running and more information.
Visit a 12th Century Prison
The Palais de l’Isle is Annecy’s most famous and photographed buildings not only because of its historical background but because it is a beautiful picturesque piece of architecture that is perched on the canal. The castle-like building is now used as a museum but my favorite time to visit was when it was lit up at night!
There is so much beauty of the city to see just wandering around the canals and along the lake. I loved walking along the streets with glower-filled baskets hung outside the medieval houses and sitting along the canals and people-watching. See what hidden beauty you can find in this incredible city!
Annecy has awesome souvenir shops, French boutiques, and of course my favorite, chocolate shops (check out Pâtisserie Philippe Rigollot) that add to the delicate charm of the city.
What to Know:
- Annecy is located in the Haute-Savoie region of France, 50 km from Geneva, Switzerland.
- The nearest international airport is at Geneva (driving time is one hour). My roommate and I opted to take a bus ride from Geneva to Annecy.
- Annecy can be reached by TGV from Paris and by regional trains from throughout France.
Where to Stay:
Because Annecy is a small city there are limited options of where to stay.
We stayed in the Annecy Hostel (dorm 22 euros/ private bed 50 euros a night) which was a nice and clean stay but a long hike up a hill so I suggest a cab if you have a lot of luggage.
Honestly, I wish I splurged on getting a hotel in Annecy. I wanted to book a room at Atipik Hotel Alexandra or Hotel ibis Annecy Centre Vieille Ville because I felt they really went along with the magic and relaxation of the city. If you stayed there let me know your thoughts and I’ll try to not to be too jealous.
One of my favorite things about Annecy was that it was not a city filled with tourists. If you’re looking for a quiet day getaway from the crowded cities of Paris or Switzerland, Annecy is your place.
Have you been to Annecy before? Let me know in the comments!
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