Annecy is surely one of the prettiest towns in France…I don’t exaggerate to say, it is one of the most beautiful towns in Europe. If you planned a trip to France and skip Annecy, you would miss out. So, whether you have only a day or a bit longer, here are the best places to see in Annecy in one day (or two days).
Though I cannot really remember, I am pretty sure that I first heard about Annecy on Instagram, and that must have been the trigger to wanting to visit it.
What is better than colorful medieval houses, clean, alpine air, and in the case of Annecy, proximity to a gorgeous, pristine lake that is set against the Alps?
Not much, and so I finally made my way to visit for two days. And I can easily say that this picturesque town was a pleasure to see!
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TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR ONE DAY IN ANNECY
Here is some important information for your Annecy trip!
How to Get to Annecy from Geneva
By Plane: The nearest airport to Annecy is the airport in Geneva.
By Car: Departing from Switzerland, I visited Annecy via car. Annecy is located close to the Swiss border, and though it is just a 30 minutes drive from Geneva, the motorway toll for France is about 20€ (on return).
How to Get Around
Annecy itself is pretty small and for the old town you do not need any buses etc. so I mostly walked. However, you can rent bikes, take the bus, or drive easily by yourself if you are leaving the old town.
Where to Stay
If you stay only for a few hours, you will not need accommodation but check out these places if you stay in overnight. I booked an Airbnb apartment near Annecy (Cran Grenier) which was a 12-minutes walk from the old town (btw: if you use my Airbnb link to book accommodation via Airbnb you get a 35€ discount on your first booking).
I recommend booking a hotel in the old town of Annecy though. It might be tricky if you come by car to find parking so double check if the hotel offers (free) parking.
Luxury Accommodation: Check out this luxury accommodation in Annecy
Mid-Range Accommodation: If you are looking for a well-rated hotel for less money, check out this mid-range accommodation in Annecy
Tips for Solo Female Traveler
I visited Annecy with my little dog only so I am not sure it is considered solo travel. Our accommodation was outside the old town and we did not walk around at night, but I felt totally safe during the say. Since it is quite busy in summer, I recommend watching your bag/purse but other than that I loved exploring Annecy as a solo traveler.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN ANNECY IN ONE DAY
I suggest starting the morning by visiting the old town of Annecy.
Annecy Old Town
I started at the old town and since I was coming from “outside“, I “entered“ the old town and I strolled along the streets without any real plan (which is sometimes the best) and then there it was. The famous castle, that I had seen many pictures of.
Palais de L´Isle
As seen in the pic above, this castle is one of the main tourist attraction in Annecy. It is very small and from outside, but it serves now as an art and history museum.
But it has a long history – it was used as a prison, a courthouse and an administrative centre. It is an original structure and the oldest parts of which date from the 12th century. According to the website of the castle, a visit takes about one hour.
Even if you do not go inside, it is such a lovely setting with all the flower pots everywhere – indeed very Instagram worthy (and something I did not see in Venice).
Get Lost in the Streets
Annecy is so pretty that I could have easily just strolled around for hours without a goal. It is such an unreal place that you should explore so make sure to plan in some time for exploring the old town without a real goal in mind.
The houses around the castle are so charming and reminded me pretty much of beautiful Italy and after strolling around, I had lunch in one of the numerous restaurants.
Besides the many colored houses and flower pots, you´ll find plenty of restaurants and cafes – seriously, there are so many options to dine or grab gelato (or real snacks) that you´ll definitely find something for every budget and taste.
I opted for Restaurant Duck. Though the food was not great, but the waiter was nice and the location ideal (just next to the Palais de L`isle and it had WiFi).
If you don´t rush, take your time and have lunch/dinner. I guess it might take a few hours to see all the little narrow streets and souvenir shops.
Be warned: you´ll be only one of many tourists there but it does not surprise that this one of the most famous Annecy points of interest.
Château d’Annecy is a hilltop castle located right next to Lake Annecy in the heart of the old town.
It is one of the numerous beautiful castles in France and though the castle was built many years ago, it was just in the 1950s when it was rebuilt by the town of Annecy and it has become a popular tourist attraction as it has become a museum, Le musée-château d’Annecy. The castle is also listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture in 1959.
My dog and I walked up (not that steep and quite an easy walk up) but since dogs were not allowed to enter the castle (which is now a museum), we did not enter.
Prices are around 5,50€ for adults.
I cropped off the day at the stunning Lake Annecy. Lake Annecy is seriously beautiful and one of the top places to visit in Annecy. I suggest, planning in the afternoon (at least 3-4 hours if you do some activities in and around Lake Annecy).
I have been to Switzerland many times and I am used to pristine lakes that make you wanna jump in. Lake Annecy is not less clear and in the sunshine, the water shimmers in several beautiful greenish/bluish colors.
A boat tour is one of the best Annecy activities. I took a boat tour which costs about 15€ (no admission for dogs or children under 5 years). It was a great way to cool off and see more of the beautiful lake and the Alps.
The audio guide on the boat was in French which is a pity but I still enjoyed my boat trip. The lake also offers options to rent pedal boats, and do some other kind of watersportst activities.
A park surrounds Lake Annecy so there is also enough other options to rest or chill (and Annecy is a great place to visit with kids).
After coming from Switzerland, I enjoyed little snacks at the lake which are a bit cheaper than in pricey Switzerland, though probably still more expensive than in many other parts of France.
Stroll the Lake
Also, take your time to stroll the lake. It is worth it even if you are tired. There are enough places to take a rest (including parks where you can lay down and have a picnic).
There are many activities you can do on and in the water – go kayaking, swimming or enjoy other water activities on Lake Annecy.
Rent a Bike
After that, I´d suggest to rent a bike and tour the lake. Most of the path, though not all of it, should be pretty good to ride or just hike around in the area. With 1 day in Annecy, you should have time to do that.
Enjoy Outdoor Adventure
Though for me Annecy is mostly about the old town – the beautiful old town – with its colourful buildings and flower pots and Lake Anncey, the area itself is also very well-known as a place for outdoor sports lovers.
Depending on what your focus is, you can also do some outdoor adventure. As mentioned, you can do a lot on Lake Annecy, including SUP and biking around the lake but you can also go paragliding hiking,via ferrata, canyoning, and more.
With only one day in Annecy it might be a busy itinerary but since Annecy is so small and you could also add a little adventure to your list.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN ANNCEY
Annecy´s old town is probably one of the most beautiful places (in Europe?) and, together with its lake, probably the main reason to visit Annecy.
However, Annecy also has some more modern parts which you can discover with a short sightseeing bus tour (though I often hop on one of those, I did not do so in Annecy since I think it cannot get much better than the old town and the lake). They start at the lake and might be a good thing to get a quick view over other places of Annecy.
I left Annecy with a good feeling. Despite the crowds, I loved the pretty Alp town and I would be happy to return for another weekend in the summer and though it is a small place with not THAT many attractions it is still full of beauty and I hope, this post has helped you finding out about the best things to do in Annecy in one day.