Ultimate Guide to Annecy in Winter & Top Things to do

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Annecy in winter is incredible. The snow-capped mountains in the distance across the lake are magnificent, the holiday markets around the town are dreamy, and what more excuses do you need to enjoy rich, hearty, alpine food than the chilly weather outside?

While some places are frightful in the cold, Annecy in the winter is downright delightful. 

I fell in love with Annecy upon my first visit years ago, which also happened to be in the middle of winter. The glassy lake stunned me beyond measure, as did the incredible farmers market bustling with sweater and jacket-clad merchants selling delicious treats. 

People don’t slow down in the town of Annecy during this time of year, in fact, everything just becomes cozier. So bundle up and let’s talk about the ultimate guide to Annecy in winter!

Why You Should Visit Annecy in Winter
Ultimate Guide to Winter in Annecy

Ultimate Guide to Annecy in Winter

After having visited Annecy quite a few times, I have to say, no matter when you visit, you’ll fall in love. However, an Annecy winter leaves a special place in one’s heart, so let’s dive into how to plan a visit for yourself! 

Annecy, France Winter Weather

Wintry day in Annecy France

First things first, you’re probably wondering what the weather is like in and around Lake Annecy in the winter. Here are the average temperatures in the winter months:

  • December: 30ºF (-1ºC) at night and 40ºF (4ºC) during the day. Average precipitation is around 3.2 in (8.1 cm). The sun rises between 8-8:15 am in the morning and sets between 4:50-5 pm in the evening.
  • January: 28ºF (-2ºC) at night and 38ºF (3ºC) during the day. Average precipitation is around 2.9 in (7.4 cm). The sun rises between 8-8:15 am in the morning and sets between 5-5:40 pm in the evening.
  • February: 30ºF (-1ºC) at night and 42ºF (6ºC) during the day. Average precipitation is around 2.9 in (7.4 cm). The sun rises between 7:15-8 am in the morning and sets between 5:40-6:20 pm in the evening.

In December and January, you can anticipate about 9 days of precipitation, and in February, that decreases to 7 days. While it definitely can snow a lot in the mountains, as Annecy is in the Valley, it rains more than it snows in a typical winter. 

What to Wear For an Annecy, France Winter

Kat in her skis at the top of a mountain

If you can’t tell from the above weather for Annecy, it gets pretty cold in the winter. So it is best to be prepared! There is a lot to see and do outside (including a couple of great events) around Lake Annecy in the winter that you’ll want to partake in! 

I highly recommend some cute, comfortable boots to wear as well as thick, wool socks to keep your feet warm. 

On particularly chilly days, definitely opt for either long underwear or tights to wear underneath jeans. And sweaters are a must! I absolutely love this sweater and bought it in two colors to wear in Europe in the winter! I also love this charming, pom-pom sweater

Kat dressed up in the winter in Europe

Of course, a scarf, earmuffs, and gloves are necessary. And a nice, thick trench coat is always popular in France! Or, I enjoy my long winter parka from The Northface as well. 

If you plan to get adventurous during your Lake Annecy winter, definitely opt for waterproof hiking boots (for things like snowshoeing), athletic sweat-wicking shirts and leggings, a sport jacket, and waterproof ski pants.  

Also for skiers, definitely opt for some ski goggles, ski gloves, and a helmet

Getting to Annecy in Winter and Getting Around

Palais de L'ile in Annecy - One Day in Annecy France Itinerary

Annecy actually has more options for arriving in the winter, as some smaller airports in the region operate in the winter for the ski season. So you can fly to those smaller airports if you wish then you can take the bus to Annecy from there! 

Airports nearby include Geneva (1 hour away), Lyon (2 hours away), Grenoble (1.5 hours away), and Chambery (35 minutes away). Both Grenoble and Chambery’s airports operate seasonally only in the winter.

The easiest way to get to Annecy is to fly into one of these airports and take the train or a bus to Annecy. For checking flight prices, I love Skyscanner for the best deals! 

As far as getting around Annecy, it is a walkable city on its own. However, if you want to explore the surrounding mountains and smaller towns, renting a car is necessary. If you just want to visit other larger towns in the area, taking the train is fine. 

Lastly, if you are planning a ski holiday and want to stay in Annecy, ski resorts in the area have bus routes to get there from Annecy! 

Top 10 Things to do in Annecy in Winter

From Christmas in Annecy to skiing in the mountains, here are the top things to do in Annecy in winter!

1. Explore Old Town Annecy

One Day in Annecy - Day Trip to Annecy - Palais de L'ile

Whether you’re staying in Annecy for a day or longer, you have to explore Old Town Annecy. While it is stunning year-round, it is far less crowded in the middle of winter. 

During my last visit in September, it was swarming with crowds by mid-day. I’m not saying there aren’t busy times, especially during the holiday season with Christmas markets, but it is less crowded than summer weekends. 

So take your time exploring the old town of Annecy including the Palais de L’ile, a Medieval palace in the middle of the Thiou Canal that was once a prison, royal residence, and administrative center before becoming a museum today. 

Admire the gorgeous canals, the stunning historic churches, and charming buildings of the old city. 

And if you have time, wander up to Annecy Castle on the hill overlooking Annecy. It was once home to the Lords of Geneva! 

2. Visit the Old Town Market

Sausages at the Market in Annecy

While most farmer’s markets are open throughout the summer, this market is open year-round! On Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays from 7 am-1 pm, you can wander around the Old Town in search of the best seasonal fruits and veggies, as well as tasty treats like local cheeses and nougat!

On Tuesdays, there is a lot of great produce, and on Fridays and Sundays, there are textiles and other goods as well! 

I absolutely love visiting the market for the best nougat and to find all the things to make an incredible picnic. 

3. Explore Lake Annecy in Winter

Annecy in Winter with a chilly winter morning on the lake

Lake Annecy is incredible for boating in the summer months, but the winter also has its charms, especially with views of the snowy mountains on the other side. 

If you don’t mind bundling up, take your goodies from the Old Town Market and make a picnic along Lake Annecy. I love Jardins de l’Europe as it has plenty of grassy spots for the perfect picnic. 

Wander along the lake and admire the beautiful water during the winter in Annecy. 

4. Visiting the Christmas Markets in Annecy in December is a Must! 

Annecy in Winter- Christmas Markets in Annecy

From late November until early January, you can enjoy Christmas markets in the city full of stalls selling incredible French fare including sausages, raclette, and, of course, vin chaud, or mulled wine. 

Admire the sparkly lights and decorated stands as you wind your way along, finding the best goodies to snack on or souvenirs to take home. 

There is also ice skating at the Village des Alpes at the Christmas market! Don’t forget the light show in front of City Hall. There are light animations projected onto the building. 

And, of course, don’t forget to enjoy the many concerts in the area! Annecy is a great place to visit during the month of December!

5. Stay For the Shopping in January

One Day in Annecy - Canal with a small dam in the middle

Did you know that in January and June in France they have huge sales all over the country to move inventory? 

So if you stick around in January, similar to visiting Paris in January, you’ll be able to get some great deals! So shop until you drop while hanging out in Annecy in the winter! 

A great place to go shopping is the department store Galeries Lafayette, but many other boutique shops also have sales this time of year. 

PS- After the post-holiday buzz in January, you’ll also find great hotel deals and such as it isn’t as busy this time of year compared to summer! 

6. Celebrate Carnival

Depending on the year, Carnival is either in February or March. Hundreds of people are dressed up in masks just like in Venice! 

I mean if you’re going to be in the “Venice of the Alps” you may as well celebrate Carnival as the Venetians do. 

Wander the streets and canals of Annecy as you witness the mystery of the masked masses passing by. 

7. Eat ALL the Hearty French Alpine Food

Fromagerie in Annecy

First of all, it’s winter. It is the perfect time of year for eating comfort food. Second, you’re in the middle of the French Alps- a place known for incredibly cheesy, hearty alpine delights. They sort of go hand in hand. 

So enjoy all the traditional alpine fare like raclette, fondue, and tartiflette. It makes for the perfect apres-ski treat or a great way to warm up after being outdoors. 

L’Etage is one of my favorite restaurants to enjoy these French alpine classics! 

8. Have a Ski Holiday in Annecy

Skier on the slopes in France

Did you know that Annecy had bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics? Thanks to nearby Mont Blanc and plenty of ski resorts close by, it makes sense that you could definitely make a ski holiday in Annecy. 

While you’re not right in the mountains like you would be in Chamonix, many ski resorts, as I mentioned above, are on bus routes to take you right up to the slopes! 

Resorts like La Clusaz, Semnoz, and Le Grand Bornand nearby are accessible via bus from Annecy. It takes about an hour or so to go each way. 

For ski day passes, expect to pay between €15-40 plus rentals which cost around €20-30 depending on what you need and where you get it. 

If you have a car, you could definitely check out other ski resorts further away too! 

9. Other Outdoor Adventures Near Annecy

Chamonix France in the winter

There are other adventurous things to do in the winter aside from skiing! 

Why not go snowshoeing? Or what about paragliding over those snow-covered mountains? While some of the ski resorts above offer snowshoeing, I love Activ’Annecy which offers guided snowshoe hikes, paragliding, alpine flights, and more! 

Get your adrenaline pumping with incredible outdoor activities! 

10. Stay in a Cozy Hotel in Annecy During Winter

Small Annecy canal in the early morning

Annecy has some great hotels to choose from, especially closer to the old part of the city. But some cozy hotels I love include the Atipik Hotel Alexandra with great views of the city and mountains, Le Boutik Hotel with the most beautifully decorated rooms and quaint building, and the Hotel Du Palais de L’isle Annecy with incredible canal views! 

All of these hotels cost about $120 per night! 

Annecy in winter is a true delight. You can’t beat gorgeous canals leading to an alpine lake with snow-capped mountain views. Plus, with all of the winter activities in Annecy, you can’t go wrong with visiting this time of year! 

Would you visit Annecy in winter? 

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