Often referred to as the ‘Venice of the Savoie’, Annecy is a picturesque town with a beautifully preserved 14th century medieval town centre. Only a short 45-minute drive away from Geneva, Annecy is the perfect day trip if you are looking to immerse yourself in fascinating history, rich culture, and superb food.
Because Annecy has so much to offer, it is a great idea to arrive with a rough itinerary already planned, so you can get on with exploring the town instead of battling with tourist maps. Moreover, due to the short distance between Annecy and Geneva, you can stay into the evening and see Annecy’s nocturnal side before heading back for dinner in the city.
Explore Annecy’s Day Markets
A fabulous way of getting to know the atmosphere, culture, and gastronomy of the town you are visiting is by exploring its day markets. Annecy has a good number of food markets and you should be able to visit one of them whichever day of the week you happen to be visiting:
- There is a lovely little market on Rue Sainte Claire three times a week, on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays from 07:00h to 13:00h. The variety of produce is impressive, from fresh fruit and vegetables to all kinds of cured meats and cheeses, as well as freshly baked bread.
- At Place des Romains, you will find a similar market open on Tuesdays between 07:00h and 19:00h, although produce tends to run short by the afternoon.
- Saturdays are for visiting the quaint and well-stocked market at Boulevard Taine, open from 07:00h to 13:00h.
If you happen to have time to also explore an arts or flea market, there are two great options:
- The flea market takes place in the centre of town, and with over 150 stalls on show you will be able to browse to your heart’s content. It opens the last Saturday of every month between 08:00h and 17:00h.
- The arts market, where you can find over 30 painters and artists – both amateur and professional – with some of their works, takes place at the same time as the flea market.
Palais de l’Ile
Being the most popular building in Annecy, this imposing medieval palace is hard to miss. Built in 1132 and used for numerous purposes, from aristocratic residence to courthouse and even a prison, it is a History Museum nowadays. The museum holds a modern art exhibition, and you can see the prison cells that still remain as well as read up about the town and its historical context.
3 Passage de l’Ile, 74000. Open between 10:00h and 17:00h Wednesday to Monday between June and September. Closed between 12:00h and 14:00h between October and May.
Adults pay €3.70.
Excellent Pit Stop for Lunch
Une Autre Histoire Restaurant
Rave reviews back up this modern restaurant, where you can not only have a tasty, original, and filling lunch, but you can do so at surprisingly affordable prices! Their lunchtime menu offers you a main dish for 12€, a two-course meal for 16€, and a three-course meal for 19€. Taking into account the quality of the ingredients, the magnificent serving, and the restaurant’s perfect location in central Annecy, it is very much worth it.
If you want to treat yourself a bit more, Une Autre Histoire also has a 35€ three-course menu with a wider variety of dishes.
A Rambling Afternoon
You can’t leave Annecy behind without having visited its famous lake, and a comfortable and affordable way to do so is by jumping onto one of several lake cruises that depart every day and take you around the water for a couple of hours before dropping you off at the shore. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting on a bright and sunny day, you will be charmed by the lake’s stunning blue-green waters shimmering just before your eyes.
Annecy Croisieres offers a variety of cruises around Lake Annecy. You can find their prices and timetables here.
Overlooking the town up on a hill, this castle dates back to the 12th century, although construction was on-going until the 16th century – something which is reflected in the architecture and style of the building. Numerous Counts of Geneva lived in the castle, but it was damaged by fire several times and abandoned in the 17th century.
After being restored in 1953, it was turned into a museum that showcases modern art, an animal exhibition, modern sculptures, and a few other small collections that are not actually related to the castle. The castle’s surroundings are more interesting, boasting impressive views and offering the perfect setting for an afternoon stroll as the sun begins to set down.
Open between 10:30h and 18:00h daily June to September, and 10:00h-12:00h and 14:00-17:00h Wednesday to Monday between October and May.
Entrance fees are €5.20 for adults.
A Lovely Evening to Round Up the Day
Pont des Amours
A picturesque spot overlooking Lake Annecy and the Can du Vasse, this bridge is a wonderful spot to wind down and relax after a busy day of exploration. You might even get to see the last of the fishing boats returning to dock after a hard day’s work!
From here, you can easily walk back to the bus station or to your taxi’s pick up point and head back to Geneva in time for dinner.
How to Get to Annecy
Since it is such a short distance away from Geneva, that is the ideal airport to fly to if you’re intending to visit Annecy. There are multiple daily flights between London and Geneva, and average prices for non-budget airlines average around £90-£100 for a return trip per person.
The easiest way to travel between Geneva Airport and Annecy is by booking one of the multiple comfortable Geneva airport transfers available. The drive is just 45 minutes, and hiring a private car with driver will allow you to be picked up right upon arrival, and to enjoy the wonderful views while avoiding the confusion of having to drive on the ‘wrong’ (right) side of the road.