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Thursday, June 8, 2023

12 Best Things To Do In Annecy, France


















                                                    
        Best Things to Do in Annecy, France!



ANNECY, FRANCE

While France is full of charming places, my favorite has to be the mountain town of Annecy. From lake cruising to farmer’s markets — here are the best things to do in Annecy, France!

Annecy is a beautiful lake town in the Haute-Savoie region of France surrounded by mountains on the edge of the Swiss border. The lake, Lac d’Annecy, boasts some of the freshest water in Europe, replenished each year from the snow melt.

The town isn’t too big — or too small either. With a very walk-able and bike friendly atmosphere, you can spend many lazy afternoons exploring local shops, snacking at fresh food markets, or take a picnic in one of the many parks.

We spent 2-months living in Annecy as digital nomads with our two kids and cat, and absolutely loved it! So here are some of our best tips for activities and great things to do in Annecy, France.

Annecy France Travel Guide

1: Explore Annecy’s Old Town

Old Town Annecy


One of the reasons Annecy is so picturesque is the network of canals that make their way through the old town. It’s sometimes called the “Venice of France”. Annecy’s canals are shallow, and not really used for boating, but it still gives the town a charming feel.

Combined with the colorful old buildings, cobblestone streets, and flower boxes, a walk through the Old Town neighborhood of Annecy is always a treat.

You’ll catch glimpses of the mountains and lake in the distance, while enjoying the town’s many street-side restaurants, cafes, and ice cream shops.

2: Boating On Lake Annecy

Rent a Boat on Lake Annecy


Arguably Annecy’s top highlight is Lac d’Annecy, a stunning large blue lake located right on the edge of town. Lake Annecy is France’s 3rd largest lake and regularly receives accolades for being the freshest lake in Europe (due to snow melt from the Alps).

The lake is surrounded by mountains, and while cold, is a perfect place to cool off in the summer heat. There are biking paths around it, plenty of beaches, and many opportunities to go boating!

  • Rent A Pedal Boat – You’ll find all kinds of pedal boats available to rent along the lake’s edge at Jacquet Promenade. The boats cost about €15 EURO for 30 minutes, depending on size. Some even have slides or diving boards attached!
  • Rent A Motor Boat – Small 4-5 person motor boats can be rented, and you don’t need a boat license either. Some have sunshades, and rentals cost about €65 EURO for an hour.
  • Join A Lake Tour – There are some large tour boats that will take you around the lake while describing key points of interest. You can even book a table for dinner on the boat!
  • Go Waterskiing – Waterskiing is a popular pastime on Lake Annecy, and it’s possible to book a trip with one of the local water-skiing companies.
  • Take A Sailing Lesson – You can rent a small sail boat to cruise around the lake, or take a beginner sailing lesson too!

3: Walk Across Lover’s Bridge

Pont des Amours


Pont des Amours is an extra pretty and famous bridge on the edge of Lac d’Annecy that spans the Vassé canal and connects the Jardins de l’Europe with the Jacquet Promenade.

Local legend says that lovers who kiss on the bridge will stay together for life.

The bridge has two great views. One looking at the lake itself with mountains in the background, and if you turn around, you’ll enjoy a tree-lined canal with wooden boats moored on each side.

4: Picnic At Jardins de l’Europe

Go For A Picnic


When the weather is nice, walking or biking down to Jardins de l’Europe is a wonderful family friendly activity. This massive park sits on the edge of the lake, with large green fields, boardwalks, and playgrounds.

There’s even an old wooden Carousel, originally built in 1871, for kids to ride.

The park is popular for late afternoon picnics — just bring down some wine, cheese, and bread from the markets and a blanket to enjoy the mountain views. A French experience you just can’t miss!

5: Explore Annecy Castle

Chateau Annecy


Château d’Annecy is a castle in the heart of Annecy, located on a hill above the town. Originally built as a residence for the Counts of Geneva and the Dukes of Genevois-Nemours from the 13th to 16th centuries.

These days the Chateau houses a museum (Musée-Château d’Annecy), featuring local sculpture, art, and a nature exhibit of animals and fish that are found around the lake. The castle also has some good views of the lake and town from the edge of its walls.

Entry tickets cost about €5 EURO for adults, and are free for kids under 12.

6: Walk The Promenade du Thiou

                                                                        Annecy’s Urban Hiking Trail

The Promenade du Thiou is a nice easy walk through the old town of Annecy along the crystal blue Thiou River, that progressively gets more wooded and secluded as you move out of town. There are paths on both sides of the river.

The trail is bike and stroller friendly too. It’s a wonderful way to spend an hour or two, enjoying nature (and getting away from the busy tourist-filled city center). There are some playgrounds, sitting areas, and bridges spread out along the tree-shaded trail.

Promenade du Thiou starts around the Quai des Cordeliers (just past the famous Le Palais de I’Île), in the center of Old Annecy and you simply walk up river from there.

7: Visit Annecy le Vieux

Exploring Annecy Le Vieux

Annecy le Vieux is a different part of town, a residential area raised up on a hill overlooking the rest of the lake. It features a nice park, old buildings and churches, some restaurants & bars, and is generally a more relaxed place compared to the busy old city down below.

Some highlights here include the Clocher Roman Church, Parc Gabriel Fauré, and Les Quatre Gourmets Restaurant.

8: Shop At The Farmer’s Markets

Fresh Cheese at the Market
One of my favorite parts of living in Annecy was the many fresh food markets that line the streets of the old town. You’ll find a variety of produce, cheese, sausage, wine, olives, bread, flowers, crafts, and more.

The Annecy street markets happen every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday from 7am–1pm. Make sure to try some of the local reblochon cheese, used in many local dishes.

9: Chateau de Menthon-Saint Bernard

Chateau Menthon

Chateau de Menthon is an impressive medieval castle just outside of Annecy. Home to the same family for over 100 years, it’s open to visitors from April to October on weekends.

The castle towers over Lake Annecy, the Roc de Chère National Nature Reserve, and Menthon-Saint-Bernard, with wonderful views of each.

Guided tours of the castle (in French only) are in the afternoons, and last about an hour. There’s also a small garden along with sheep, pigs, and peacocks.

10: Bike Around The Lake

Biking Around the Lake

Annecy is very bicycle friendly, with many dedicated bike paths and trails that will take you all around the town. There is wonderful bike path that encircles the lake too, and it’s a great way to kill a few hours while enjoying the mountain scenery.

This 35 km paved greenway follows the old route of a railroad that connected Annecy with Albertville, and stops in smaller villages along the way like Sévrier, Saint-Jorioz, Duingt, Lathuile and Doussard.

You can rent a bike from many shops in Annecy, and even get a trailer for kids (like we did).

11: Palais de l’Île

Attempting a Family Photo…

Palais de l’Isle is probably the most postcard-famous spot in Annecy. A unique castle-like building that sits in the middle of the Thiou River, surrounded by restaurants and shops in Annecy’s old town.

Often described as a “house in the shape of a ship” — the building has been a prison, a courthouse and an administrative center. The original structure was constructed in the 12th century.

These days it is a museum (about €4 to enter), featuring an old courtroom, dungeon, prison cells and chapel that you can visit. The most famous photos are taken from the bridge out in front.

12: Go For A Hike

La Tournette Hike

Annecy is located at the base of the French Alps, and a great place to base yourself for visiting the mountains. There are many local hikes nearby, as well as day trips to excellent skiing and trekking opportunities.

From easy walks, to extreme mountaineering, there’s something for everyone. Hikes around Annecy can include waterfalls, mountain lakes, and wildlife sightings of ibex mountain goats.

Here are some popular hiking trails around Annecy:

  • La Tournette – The highest peak near the lake, La Tournette is a very difficult hike. But the views are amazing. About 6-hours round-trip. Experienced hikers only.
  • Mont Baron & Veyrier – A moderate 2-hour loop hike that visits two mountain peaks, with wonderful views.
  • Gorges du Fier – An easy walk for the whole family, this hike takes you across suspension bridges in the middle of a gorge.
  • Cascade d’Angon – Beautiful shaded waterfall hike that’s not too difficult, and gives you nice views of the lake. About 2-hours round trip.
When to Visit Annecy

Best Time To Visit Annecy

March – May

We visited Annecy in the Spring, primarily in April and May. The weather in this part of France can be unpredictable, and it snowed on us a couple times. In between sunny days filled with wildflowers. The mountains will still have snow on them, but the weather isn’t too hot yet in town.

June – August

This is Annecy’s high season, and while beautiful, it can get very crowded. Many tourists visit Annecy as a day trip while traveling through Switzerland, because it’s so close to the border. It’s difficult to find accommodation in the summer, unless you book months in advance.

September – November

This is probably the best time to visit Annecy. Most of the high-season tourists are gone, the weather is cool, but the snow hasn’t come yet. There’s also a great festival in October called the Return Of The Alpine Pastures Festival.

How To Visit Annecy, France

Where Is Annecy (Getting There)

Annecy, France is located 44 km West of Geneva (Switzerland) about a 40-minute drive away. Most people get to Annecy after flying into Geneva International Airport, and then driving over the border.

However it’s also possible to fly into Paris and take a train. Search for the cheapest flights to Geneva on Skyscanner.com.

Staying in Annecy

Where To Stay In Annecy

Accommodation in Annecy can range from backpacker friendly to luxurious. As we were staying there long-term, we rented a wonderful holiday apartment from My Sweet Home Annecy that was close to everything.

The best areas to stay in Annecy are near the old town for easy access to the markets and the lake.











Friday, June 2, 2023

THE 11 BEST CITIES FOR PARTYING

 

Last Updated: 3/23/23 | March 23rd, 2023

Some people travel to explore ancient historical sites, others to sample the culture or food or language of new and exciting destinations.

And, sometimes, people travel to party.

When it comes to budget backpacking, one of the most common ways travelers break the ice is over a drink. Or two. Or three. 

Whether it’s at bars, clubs, lounges, beach parties, or just in small groups sitting around talking while sipping a bottle of wine, alcohol — for better or worse — is often a staple of life on the road.

If you’re looking to embrace your wild side and party hard with other travelers, here’s my thoroughly researched list. I’ve been to over one hundred countries and have drunk heavily around the world, so I know a good party when I see one!

If you are looking to party when you travel, visit one of these places:

1. Bangkok, Thailand


Bangkok is a hub for budget travelers. It’s where the infamous Khao San Road is located. All travel roads lead in and out of this backpacker/tourist street, and it’s always filled with travelers taking after locals and drinking out of alcohol-filled buckets every night. Then, when official bars close, everyone heads out to the after-hours clubs until 5am.

Visiting Bangkok won’t do anything good for your liver, but the city is a must for backpackers and partiers. Besides Khao San Road, there’s Patpong, Thong Lor, Silom (Smalls, a speakeasy cocktail bar, is my favorite in this area), and the new cocktail scene in Chinatown. Bangkok truly has a party for everyone.

Just remember to stick to beer if you’re on a budget. Cocktails and wine are mostly imported with high taxes and therefore cost a lot more than the local beer.

Where to StayMad Monkey Hostel – A backpacker institution near Khao San Road, this hostel has a restaurant, pool, and tour desk with some of best prices in town.

For more hostel suggestions be sure to check out my list of best hostels in Bangkok. And, to find out exactly where in the city you should stay, here’s a post that breaks down the best neighborhoods in Bangkok.

2. Barcelona, Spain


Any city where people eat dinner at midnight is a city that will start and go late. Barcelona is a city for night owls. The clubs here don’t get busy until about 2am and stay packed until dawn. Here, tourists can enjoy the nice weather and rooftop gin bars, drink sangria until the sun rises, go on a pub crawl, get wasted at the famous Kabul hostel, and roam the medieval Barri Gothic looking for hole-in-the-wall pubs. The waterfront gets especially nuts on a weekend.
 

Where to StayKabul Party Hostel – This is one of my favorite hostels in Europe. It’s a full-on party place, where they organize nightly events and pub crawls. It’s super social and really easy to meet people here.

For more hostel suggestions, check out my complete list of the best hostels in Barcelona, and to figure out what area of the city you should stay in, check out this guide to the best neighborhoods in the city. 

3. Rome, Italy


Rome is a great city to party in. There are lots of bars, lots of clubs, and lots of beautiful people. If you’re traveling solo, the pub crawl tours are a great way to meet other travelers. While Romans themselves are a bit tame, the backpacker party scene here is crazy, with tons and tons of bar crawls littering the city. The Spanish Steps Bar Crawl (aka Rome’s Ultimate Party) gets especially wild. Come prepared for a hangover.

Where to StayAlessandro Palace Hostel and Bar – A party hostel that’s also one of the cheapest places to stay in the city, there’s not one but two bars here with cheap drinks (including one on the roof). It’s just 5 minutes from the Termini station too.

For more hostel suggestions, check out my list of the best hostels in Rome, and to learn more about the different areas of the city (such as the best ones for nightlife), here’s a post that breaks down the best neighborhoods in Rome.

4. Prague, Czechia


Cheap beer (and cheap flights) makes this city a major party destination for people around the world. While I didn’t encounter any of those notorious stag parties, the nightlife in this city will leave you in a haze wondering what you did last night and whose phone number is scribbled on your arm. Multiple-story clubs, strong cocktail bars, cheap beer halls — Prague has it all.

Where to StayMadHouse – This place really lives up to its name — it truly is a madhouse! The décor includes very cool murals, giving the hostel a very unique feel and the knowledgeable staff organizes events every night.

For more hostel suggestions, check out my complete list of the best hostels in Prague!


 
5. Miami, Florida


Miami is where you go for fun in the sun. People come to Miami to get wild, visit nightclubs, lounge on the beach, and drink the nights away. It’s not cheap, but it’s a great place for the clubbers out there. There’s lots of music, lots of great DJs, lots of dancing, lots of pretty people, and most importantly, lots of booze.

Check out E11even (where the party is 24/7), LIV Miami (the city’s most famous), or Basement (complete with an ice-skating rink and bowling lanes). There is usually a $30-60 USD cover to get in and most drinks are at least $15-20 USD so be prepared to splash out, though even on a backpacker budget, you’ll be able to find some fun. Maybe you’ll even run into a celebrity or two.

Where to StayViajero Miami – Located in South Beach, this hostel offers a host of amenities, including three swimming pools. The poolside bar is a great place to hang out and meet people and it’s also located just a block from the beach.

For more hostel suggestions, check out my complete list of the best hostels in Miami!

6. Sydney, Australia


Aussies know how to party and party well. The hostels in Sydney organize great hostel parties to meet other travelers but if that is not your thing, you can find your own crowd at any of the clubs and bars around King’s Cross, the backpacker area. This is where the beer is inexpensive and the backpackers (and locals) party late. For a less traveler-centric time, head to Manly, The Rocks, or the CBD (Central Business District) where there are more locals and fewer travelers (but more expensive drinks). Aussies love to party and are more than happy to welcome newcomers with a drink. You can also use the app The Happiest Hour to find the cheapest happy hours in the city. It’s an awesome resource for going out in Australia!

Where to StayMad Monkey Bayswater – There’s a party every night, a movie room, yoga classes, a rooftop BBQ, and delicious free breakfast at the Mad Monkey Restaurant each morning.

For more suggestions on where to stay, check out my complete list of the best hostels in Sydney as well as the best neighborhoods in Sydney. 

7. Ios, Greece


Any top party list has to include a place in Greece. Ios is party central (though Corfu does give it a good run for its money). During the summer, the Greek Isles heave with people — especially Ios, with travelers coming here to party all night so they can sleep on the beach all day. On Ios, travelers come with the goal of getting drunk, and…well, that’s about it. There are shot bars and bar crawls and bars that make you drink while playing weird games. For epic parties on the beach, head to Far Out Beach Club, which has swimming pools, DJs, beach bars, and more. Ios is where morals, sanity, and dignity are left on the ferry to be picked up when you get ready to leave. It’s one of the wildest places I’ve ever been.

8. Bali (Kuta), Indonesia


Bali is a great place to get down. After a long day in the sun, all backpackers want to do is relax and get silly on Kuta Beach, where there are crazy bars, giant cups of alcohol, and huge clubs that open until dawn. It’s a hotspot on the travel trail for a reason. The foam party is a blast (any foam party is) and, in Bali, you’ll spend your days hurting your skin in the sun and the nights hurting your liver with alcohol.

Where to StayClandestino – This hostel has a second-floor restaurant/bar that always seems to be bustling, as well as a pool complete with a swim-up bar. All the dorm beds come with lockers, lamps, electrical outlets to charge your phone, and curtains for privacy.

For more recommendations, check out this list of the best hostels in Bali. 

9. Florianópolis, Brazil


Also known as Floripa, this popular vacation destination in Brazil is known for its hot weather, hot bodies, and hot parties. In fact, everything is just hot here. In the summer, most of the nightlife is concentrated around the beaches, while in the winter, the fun moves to the town of Lagoa da Conceição. In the north of the island at Jurerê International Beach, P12, Cafe de la Musique, and Milk all throw wild parties.

If you’re here during February for Carnival, the streets fill with revelers dancing, having parades, and enjoying street food and copious drinks. (Just book your accommodation well in advance if you plan to come here during this time.)

Where to StayThe Search House Beachfront Hostel – Offers private beach access, a pool, surfboard rentals and connections for lessons, and an outdoor bar with a daily happy hour. The staff are very welcoming and there’s a hostel WhatsApp group to meet other travelers. 

10. Ko Phangan, Thailand



This island in Thailand is home to the monthly Full Moon Party, a giant beach rave which sees 20,000 people on average and goes until dawn. Each bar has its own sound system, and the beach is lined with people selling alcohol, fire dancers put on shows, and little booths selling glow-in-the-dark face paint. ’nuff said.

(But if I had to say more, I would also say that there are jungle parties, half-moon parties, people getting wild on the beach, going down slides, and playing tons of drinking games. It’s one of the biggest party places in the entire region.)

Where to StayBodega Hostel – A lively party hostel with tons of social activities going on. This is the quintessential backpacker party place, with pub crawls, beach volleyball, a swimming pool, a huge bar/lounge area, and events almost every night. 

11. Cancun


Cancun is famous for its nightlife. Most of the nightlife is concentrated around the Hotel Zone in an area aptly known as “party central.” Many of the world’s biggest DJs make regular appearances in the many clubs. During spring break, things get even more crowded and more expensive so be sure to book early if you’re visiting then. Coco Bongo, Señor Frog’s, and La Vaquita are among the most popular places to go.

Where to StayMayan Monkey Hostel – Located in the heart of the Hotel Zone, this is a bumping party hostel with themed nights, live music, and other social activities (like beer pong and jenga), a bar on-site, plunge pool, and great views over the ocean.