the palais dile area of annecy on a cloudy day

Annecy Itinerary: 2 Days to Discover the Venice of the French Alps

With its vibrant, colorful alleyways, pristine crystalline lake, and a picturesque backdrop of majestic mountains, Annecy, the capital of Haute-Savoie, is a testament to the modern art of living. 

If you’re looking for a scenic vacation destination, Annecy truly has it all: a picture-perfect setting surrounded by a stunning chain of mountains, historic neighborhoods crisscrossed by charming canals and, to top it all off, a truly impressive culinary scene. 

No wonder this gem has often been called the Venice of the Alps! 

⌛ Planning your Annecy trip in a hurry? Here are my quick picks.

🏰  Best Annecy Experiences
1. Annecy Traditional Food Group Walking Tour
2. Private Walking Tour of Annecy’s Historical Center
3. Annecy 1-Hour Small Group Segway Tour

🛏️ Best Annecy Hotels
1. Impérial Palace (lakefront luxury in a literal former palace)
2. Hôtel du Palais de l’Isle (balconies with iconic canal views)
3. Hôtel du Château (budget-friendly near the castle)
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A picturesque canal scene in a historic European town, bathed in sunlight. Quaint pastel-colored buildings with weathered facades and shuttered windows line the tranquil teal waters. Arched stone bridges connect the streets, and charming cafes spill out onto the canal's edge, offering waterside seating beneath large umbrellas. Bicycles, adorned with baskets of flowers, are casually parked along the iron railings

Nestled between the stunning Lake Annecy and the snow-capped French Alps, Annecy benefits from a breathtaking natural setting where life is sophisticated, elegant… and multifaceted!

You can immerse yourself in art and culture in the morning, and still have time to hit the slopes for an afternoon of skiing 

And, as if all that wasn’t enough, why not drive to a different country for a night out? The Swiss metropolis of Geneva is just 40 minutes away. 

Getting to Annecy

A vibrant European canal scene with colorful buildings, adorned with flags, overlooking clear blue waters. Elegant street lamps, blossoming flower boxes, and bicycles accent the tranquil walkway. In the distance, mountain peaks hint at the town's scenic location.

When traveling from Paris to Annecy, the TGV is unquestionably the best choice, providing a direct connection between the two cities multiple times a day with only 3 hours and 40 minutes of travel time. 

Alternatively, you can fly in through Geneva’s airport or just include Annecy on a day trip from Lyon or Grenoble

Two days in Annecy will give you just enough time to discover the best hidden gems and immerse yourself in the city’s uniquely sophisticated way of life.

Follow our Annecy itinerary to make sure you don’t miss out on what to see, what to do and where to eat! 

Day 1 of Your Annecy Itinerary

Spend the morning in the Old Town.

A quaint European street lined with multi-colored buildings, each showcasing distinct architectural features. On the right stands a stone structure with a prominent arched gateway, hinting at its historical significance. The street is adorned with lanterns, balconies, and storefronts, and a few bicycles and tables hint at everyday life in this picturesque setting.

Tucked away at the base of the castle, the enchanting historic district is a window into the past.

This setting is especially beautiful in the winter months, when the half-timbered houses (similar to that of Strasbourg) are delicately covered in an enchanting layer of fresh snow. 

The Thiou canal runs through the district, surrounded by revered landmarks, arcades, colorful houses and artisan boutiques, bars and cafés. 

On Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays, the local farmer’s market takes over – its an event no foodie should miss! 

Start your day early to escape the crowds, especially if you want to admire the beauty of Palais de l’Île

A picturesque European town scene in Annecy, with vibrant multicolored buildings lining a serene canal. A prominent stone structure with conical roofs sits at the convergence of the waterway. Balconies, outdoor cafes, and bridges add to the town's quaint charm, all under a cloudy sky.

Built in the 12th century on a small island in the Thiou River, the Palais de l’Île has lived many lifetimes over the centuries, including acting as a residence for the Lord of Annecy, a courthouse, a prison, and now a museum. 

Stop in for a delicious coffee and authentic breakfast at Café des Arts, located just a few steps from the Palais des Îles. 

The Rue Sainte Claire is another must-see stop on your walk through the old town.

Often called Annecy’s most beautiful street, Rue Sainte Claire is positively bursting with shops and restaurants, all while conserving Annecy’s charming medieval architecture. 

A charming European cobblestone street in Annecy, flanked by pastel-colored buildings with distinct architectural features. On the left, a vintage lantern hangs from a coral-pink building, while on the right, a lime-green structure showcases tall windows with red shutters. An archway in the distance offers a glimpse of the street beyond. The scene is peaceful, with empty cafe tables and chairs awaiting patrons.

If you didn’t stop off for breakfast already, Buvette du Marché comes highly recommended for a delicious meal on Rue Sainte Claire. 

Speaking of architectural gems, the city tries to preserve as much of its rich heritage as possible. 

Make sure to take a walk along the former ramparts of Annecy via the Impasse du Trippoz as you make your way to the majestic Château d’Annecy, the former residence of the Counts of Geneva and the next stop on this Annecy itinerary.

Tip: You can do this exploration of the Old Town independently, or you can opt for an experience like this Private Walking Tour of Annecy’s Historical Center

Visit the Château d’Annecy. 

A historic stone castle with distinctive red-tiled roofs and turrets, juxtaposed against the backdrop of a lush green mountain range under a clear blue sky. The castle walls, showing signs of age and character, stand tall, evoking history.

The Château d’Annecy stands atop a hill overlooking the town, with panoramic views of Lake Annecy and the French Alps. 

The castle’s fascinating history dates all the way back to the 12th century, when it was originally built to be a home for the Counts of Geneva.

But it’s lived many lifetimes, undergoing various expansions and retoolings, and its architecture reflects a that blend of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles, each which was prominent during a stage of the castle’s renovation.

Inside the Château, you can visit the castle’s museum, which showcases traditional Savoyard art and craftsmanship.

It also tells the story of the Château and its position in the Alps, and why Annecy was founded here.

Admire the astonishing Basilique de la Visitation.

The Basilique de la Visitation in Annecy, a church standing tall and prominent against a canvas of blue skies and a backdrop of woodlands. Built primarily from stone, its grayish-white facade shines under the sunlight, with the craftsmanship and design detailing visible.

The Basilique de la Visitation is an iconic piece of architecture in the Annecy skyline, with its impressive 72-meter bell tower standing out as a key landmark in town.

With intricate stonework, arched windows, and stone construction, the Basilica is a beautiful example of religious architecture in the 17th century.

Entry to the basilica is free, and you even have the option to ascend the bell tower for an unparalleled view of the city!

The basilica is open between 7 AM and noon and 2 PM to 6 PM daily (an hour later in July and August).

However, the bell tower keeps a more unpredictable schedule — to check, cal the basilica in advance to check the bell tower timings (phone: +33 4 50 45 22 76).

Adjacent to the Basilica is the old monastery, dating back to the 1600s, which you can also visit while exploring the Basilique.

Visit the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre.

Cathédrale Saint-Pierre in Annecy, with architecture that is pretty magnificent, with that towering spire pointing skywards and the intricate detailing on its facade, in a neo-gothic style

The Cathédrale Saint-Pierre in Annecy is another place you don’t want to miss on your Annecy itinerary, a fusion of Gothic and neo-Gothic design.

The church is a nice contrast to the rest of the town, its muted palate looking beautiful against the red-tiled rooftops all over town.

The interior is your standard cathedral fare: stained glass, high arched windows, vaulted ceilings, wooden pews — but it’s still beautiful.

There’s no entrance fee, either, so there’s nothing to stop you from popping by!

Admire the beauty of the L’Église Saint-François-de-Sales.

Church constructed primarily from what appears to be limestone or a similar pale stone, which gives it a warm and inviting glow, especially as it's kissed by the golden rays of the setting or rising sun. The façade is symmetrical and features a mix of classical architectural elements.

Here’s another church worth visiting in Annecy.

Standing since the 17th century, this church combines grandeur of the Baroque with the simplicity of the Classical.

Plus, it’s on the banks of the Thioule, which makes its appearance all the more lovely!

Enjoy a delicious lunch.

Sign for a restaurant in Annecy with the red awning and lettering that reads restaurant

One of the best restaurants in Annecy is Racines, a passion project of two chefs, John and Eva.

They combine their travels with their love of their Haute-Savoie heritage to create unique dishes with Savoyard ingredients and heart.

Another option is the modern Miamici delle Alpi for Savoyard cooking with an Italian twist. 

It’s located in the lovely Galeries Lafayette, a beautiful setting worthy of the delicious food served here. 

The chef here is originally from Naples, but he was classically trained in Paris, so you truly get the best of both worlds when you eat here.

If you prefer a little more guidance — like the kind that a food tour offers — don’t worry, even a petite city like Annecy has got you covered here!

This Annecy Traditional Food Group Walking Tour covers all of the best of Savoyard cuisine in a well-paced food and walking tour!

Wander around the Jardin de l’Europe and spot the Île des Cygnes.

Iles des Cygnes, a famous artificial island on Lake Annecy with the French Alps in the background, flower boxes on the promenade and a blue sky and clear waters

From your lunch spot of choice, start to make your way toward the lake through the magnificent Jardin de l’Europe.

Picture a scene lifted straight from a postcard, a garden setting with a turquoise lakes and the beautiful Alps.

The park was designed in the English garden style, incorporating centuries-old trees, statues, and sculptures.

Across from the Jardins de l’Europe, between the Canal du Vassé and the Thiou, you can see the Île des Cygnes (Swan Island), an artificial island built between 1854 and 1859.

In 1857, the city of Annecy received a pair of swans as a gift from Geneva and the House of Savoy. 

These swans made their home on the island, which was then named in their honor!

Fall in love at Pont des Amours.

An ornate wrought-iron railing overlooking the serene waters of a lake, with the majestic backdrop of a mountain range. The sign "PONT des AMOURS" is prominently displayed, hinting at a romantic significance. A wooden dock extends into the lake where visitors are gathered, and swans gracefully float nearby. The sky above is dotted with clouds, casting gentle reflections on the water's surface.

The Pont des Amours, French for the Bridge of Love, is a charming pedestrian bridge on the edge of Lake Annecy.

Alongside Palais d’Ile, It’s one of the iconic landmarks of the city.

The bridges crosses the Canal du Vassé, connecting the Jardins de l’Europe you were walking in before to the nearby lakeside promenade.

The bridge has a romantic reputation, and many couples — those still going strong, and those long since parted — have placed padlocks or ribbons to the bridge as a symbol of their love.

Go for a drink at La Cave and enjoy a hearty dinner.

A picturesque evening view of Annecy's old town, with historic buildings lining a calm canal. Their warm, glowing lights create mesmerizing reflections on the water. Notable structures, including a tower and a stone gate, stand tall against the soft hues of the twilight sky. Riverside cafes and restaurants bustle with activity

La Cave is practically a household name in Annecy!

Located in the narrow Passage des Échoppes, the restaurant and bar serves as a popular meeting point for wine geeks.

The cellar has a whopping selection of 400 wines — and of that list, around 40 different wines are available by the glass!

Enjoy a glass of wine with the regional cured meats and cheeses if you want light bites as opposed to a more heavy meal.

For a dinner with true Savoyard ambiance, head to Le Clocher, honored by the Collège Culinaire de France. 

It’s also a great spot for wine geeks — its menu is so expansive, it was named one of the top 100 wine menus in all of France.

Another option is Café Brunet, which serves ‘cuisine canaille’, a bistro style menu, with a selection of hearty mains and shared plates.

Day 2 of your Annecy Itinerary

Spend the morning on the lake.

A serene lakeside scene on a sunny day, showcasing the vibrant turquoise waters of Lake Annecy. Wooden jetties extend into the crystal-clear lake, with boats anchored nearby and bicycles parked at one of the docks.

Lac d’Annecy is one of the most stunning lakes in Europe, for both its shockingly turquoise waters and alpine surroundings.

Lake Annecy’s beauty is due to the purity of its waters, fed by mountain springs, when snowmelt from the surrounding peaks all pools in the lake.

The best way to explore the lake and take in its the sights (the majestic villas, secret beaches, the bay of Talloires, and the nature reserves) is to take a private boat tour.

That said, this option is quite expensive — think prices starting at around €300 for two hours. 

A tranquil lakeside setting with a majestic mountain range serving as the backdrop. The towering mountains are lush at the base, gradually giving way to rocky cliffs towards the peaks. On the serene waters of the lake, a wooden jetty extends, where a solitary individual stands.

But if the weather is good and you’re only in Annecy for two days, this is an unforgettable experience that might be well worth the splurge.

If renting a boat is a bit out of your budget, don’t worry — there’s plenty to do that’s more friendly to the wallet, like renting a paddleboard, snorkeling, kayaking, or riding a bike around the lake. 

You can also loaf on the lake shores at one of the several beaches!

Tip: Grab something at the morning market, grab a bike rental, and pedal somewhere beautiful to enjoy a picnic in style.

Treat yourself to a lunch with a view.

For a lakeside lunch, try Terrasses du Lac. It has a beautiful patio in the summer!

Chef Hervé Getenet works magic here, emphasizing seasonal produce and local products that are special to Annecy.

Go for a hike in the mountains.

A breathtaking panoramic view from a high-altitude vantage point, showcasing a vast expanse of a blue lake below, embraced by a sprawling town and the landscape curving around its shores. Dominating the foreground are two hikers, navigating the rugged mountain terrain, adorned with patches of verdant grass and clusters of vibrant yellow flowers. The winding trails on the grassy mountain slope hint at the adventurous journey the hikers have undertaken.

Annecy is great for all types of hikers, from the more timid to the more adventurous!

Whether you want a peaceful stroll in nature or a heart-pumping hike, Annecy offers trails that are beautiful no matter the length or challenge.

For a more difficult hike, opt for the Tournette Trail. This trail is long — over 15 km — but it’s one of the the most popular hikes to do around Annecy.

Read more on this hike here — and expect about 4-6 hours for this hike, so be sure you get an early enough start to complete it safely if you choose it.

The ascent is quite a slog, but it’s worth it! In between panting as you ascend, you can admire gorgeous views of the mountains and lake below.

For a hike that’s a little easier (and arguably the most beautiful hike in Annecy), try the Taillefer Trail.

Unique and breathtaking, you’ll hike through beautiful alpine landscapes while passing sights such as the Château de d’Héré or the Grotte de Notre Dame du Lac.

Where to Stay in Annecy

A grand hotel with classical European architecture stands prominently against a blue sky dotted with fluffy white clouds. The white multi-storied building, adorned with symmetrical windows and gray roofing, displays the national flag on its pinnacle. Adjacent is a pristine annex with arched windows, with well-maintained green lawns

Luxury: Impérial Palace

Never has a place lived up to its name more than at the Impérial Palace, a gorgeous luxury hotel overlooking Lake Annecy with positively palatial vibes.

The hotel is massive, and so are its amenities, including a 600-square-meter spa area with a swimming pool, sauna, hammam, ice fountain, and treatment rooms.

The rooms are gorgeously designed, the bathrooms magnificent (soaking tubs? hell yes!) and the ones with balconies overlooking Lake Annecy are an extra-special treat!

Mid-Range: Hôtel du Palais de l’Isle

Imagine opening up your windows and stepping onto your balcony, only to see Annecy’s most iconic building — the cute little charmer at the intersection of two canals — right outside your window.

That’s exactly what you get here at Hôtel du Palais de l’Isle, rooms with a view!

Beyond that, the interiors are beautiful and modern, fairly understated with the occasional pop of bold blue accents. 

The rooms are a bit small, as is typical for an Old Town hotel, but the location truly can’t be beat!

Budget: Hôtel du Château

The surprisingly budget-friendly Hôtel du Château offers charming, comfortable rooms right at the foot of — you guessed it — Annecy Castle.

A bit of a walk from the old town, yet just steps away from the castle, this is the perfect blend of convenience and budget.

The rooms are admittedly a bit basic, but given your surroundings, you’ll likely hardly mind!

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