15 Best Things To Do In Lyon

Lyon is an often overlooked yet captivating city, full of cultural and historical sights. Located in the East-Central region of France, Lyon is home to many exciting activities, from exploring its UNESCO World Heritage Site Old Town to sampling the local cuisine. Whether you're looking for a romantic getaway or a place to explore with family and friends, Lyon offers endless opportunities for fun. Here are some of the best things to do in Lyon that you won't want to miss out on.

1. Fourvière Basilica

Fourvière Basilica

The Fourvière Basilica, located in Lyon city, is one of the most iconic and awe-inspiring cathedrals in Europe open to the public. Built on top of a hill that overlooks the city for miles around, the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière stands tall as a symbol of faith throughout the centuries. Constructed in 1872 and designed by Pierre Bossan, visitors to the basilica will be met with an impressive blend of Romanesque and Byzantine styles that have been carefully maintained to this day.

One of the most remarkable features of this historic structure is its stained glass windows that are featured throughout its interiors. These colorful designs tell stories while depicting religious symbols such as Jesus Christ on his crucifixion cross or Mary holding baby Jesus in her arms. One can also find depictions on important figures from history like St Peter and St Paul.

Contact:

Address: 8 Pl. de Fourvière, 69005 Lyon, France

Phone: +33 4 78 25 13 01

Accommodation: Best Hotels In Lyon

2. Vieux Lyon

Vieux Lyon(Old Town)

Vieux Lyon is one of the most historic and beautiful neighborhoods in Lyon, and one of the best places to go during your trip to Lyon. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was once home to many silk workers during the Renaissance period In the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. 

The old Lyon area consists of narrow streets lined with buildings that have been around for centuries, lending an air of old-world charm to the cityscape. Vieux Lyon has been carefully preserved so it still looks much like it did hundreds of years ago.

The narrow alleys and cobblestone streets of the old town are filled with cafes, restaurants, shops and galleries all housed in unique buildings constructed with intricate architecture of Vieux Lyon.

3. Traboules

Traboules in Lyon

The Traboules are a unique feature of the city and one of the best places to see on your visit to Lyon. These charming alleyways, or passages, have been used since the Middle Ages and are an integral part of life in Lyon. Traboules consist of narrow pathways that weave through buildings, allowing people to quickly pass from one street to another without having to go out onto the streets.

They are usually covered by an archway and have an open interior courtyard that is often decorated with plants and greenery. This creates a quieter atmosphere than walking on a busy street would have.

The Traboules also served as important trading routes during the Roman times when merchants needed speedy access between different areas of the city. During World War II they were also seen as sites for escaping from German troops as they provided hidden pathways into secret locations where resistance fighters could meet undetected.

4. Lyon Cathedral

Lyon Cathedral

Lyon Cathedral is one of the most iconic landmarks and one of the best things to see in Lyon. Located in the heart of the city, its towering spires dominate the historic skyline. Built in Gothic style in 1476, this cathedral has stood for centuries and is one of the oldest religious sites in France.

Its two bell towers reach a height of over 100 meters and are visible from all parts of old town Lyon. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1998 due to its historical value and architectural significance.

The interior contains several breathtaking features including enormous stained glass windows, intricate stone sculptures and high vaulted ceilings that create a majestic atmosphere. A number of prominent figures have been buried here throughout its history including Pope John XXIII who was canonized as a saint after his death in 1963.

Contact:

Address: Pl. Saint-Jean, 69005 Lyon, France

5. Parc de la Tête d'Or

Parc de la Tete d'Or

The Parc de la Tete d'Or is a stunningly beautiful public park that has been around since the late 19th century. Not only is it one of the largest urban parks in France, but it also contains an array of diverse Lyon attractions for visitors to explore and enjoy during your stay in Lyon.

The centerpiece of the park is its lake, which serves as a popular destination for boating and rowing activities. Throughout the year, there are even special boat trips available on the lake where people can take in some of the most picturesque views Lyon has to offer.

Beyond its stunning lake, Parc de la Tete d'Or also features a large botanical garden with four greenhouses containing rare species from different parts of the world.

Best Flights To Lyon

Quickly search the best flights from the widest selection of airlines flying to Lyon. Regardless of what airline you go with, you can save money by comparing. Skyscanner is the best airline price comparison service specifically for Lyon.

6. Presqu'île

Place des Jacobins in the Presqu' île

Presqu' île lies in the heart of Lyon. This picturesque peninsula is located along the banks of the Rhône and Saône Rivers, providing stunning views of both rivers and their surrounding areas. It is here that some of Lyon its most iconic landmarks are located, ranging from its ancient amphitheater to its historic churches. Aside from these attractions in Lyon, Presqu' île also offers visitors a variety of shopping outlets such as stores selling local products, souvenirs and art galleries.

The area itself has undergone major transformation in recent years with several new developments being built in order to turn it into an urban center. A number of modern buildings now line the streets while keeping in mind preservation efforts for existing structures like those found in Vieux Lyon (or Old Town).

7. Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon

Musée des Beaux-Arts in lyon

The Musée des Beaux-Arts is an impressive art museum located in the city of Lyon, France. Established in 1801, the museum has a rich history and hosts a vast collection of artwork from around the world. Visitors can learn about the art movements of different countries and centuries while browsing through its galleries.

The museum of fine arts is home to more than 8,000 works from esteemed artists like Raphael, Monet, Picasso, and Renoir. Its notable collections include Ancient Greek sculptures as well as paintings from the 17th century Dutch school. In addition to classical collections, there are also modern pieces that feature contemporary styles such as abstract expressionism and pop art.

The Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon also organizes various events throughout the year including exhibitions focusing on specific themes or artists' work.

Contact:

Address: 20 Pl. des Terreaux, 69001 Lyon, France

Phone: +33 4 72 10 17 40

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8. Ancient Theatre of Fourvière

Ancient Theatre of Fourvière

The Ancient Theatre of Fourvière was built during the Roman period and restored in 1923 by Paul Boeswillwald. The theatre is considered to be one of the best-preserved ancient theatres in Europe. It is situated on Fourvière hill, which overlooks Lyon and offers stunning views.

The theatre has been used for different events such as concerts and shows since the 18th century. In 1900, it hosted regular performances from local artists and companies from around Europe. Today, it continues to be an important location for arts activities such as plays, ballets and operas every year. Guests can explore its ancient ruins or take part in other activities like guided tours with expert guides who discuss its history and significance to Lyon its culture.

Contact:

Address: 17 Rue Cleberg, 69005 Lyon, France

Phone: +33 4 72 38 49 30

9. Gallo-Roman Museum of Lyon-Fourvière

Gallo-Roman Museum of Lyon-Fourvière

The Gallo-Roman Museum is a museum that showcases the history and development of the Romans in Lyon from 43 BC to the 5th century. This museum displays archaeological artifacts, including sculptures, mosaics and tombs, as well as providing informative interactive exhibits. It provides a comprehensive overview of the Roman period and its impact on Lyon.

Visitors to this museum will be able to explore two hundred years’ worth of Roman sites and the array of artefacts found there. The site includes an amphitheater, baths, public monuments and residential buildings; all dating back to this period. Through these excavations, travelers can gain insight into what life was like for Romans living in Lyon during those times.

10. Institut Lumière

Institut Lumière

Institut Lumière in the center of Lyon is a non-profit film and cultural center that was established in 1982 to celebrate the legacy of the Lumiere Brothers, inventors of the cinematograph. The Institute is dedicated to promoting film culture, preserving rare audio and audiovisual materials, and providing educational opportunities for all ages. Its collection includes works from over 90 countries, making it one of Europe’s leading centers for film research.

The Institute offers a range of activities throughout the year including screenings, workshops and seminars on topics related to cinema history and technology. It also provides resources for filmmakers such as equipment rental services, access to archives and costumes, digital restoration services as well as theatrical production assistance.

Additionally, Institut Lumière organizes special events like conferences with renowned authors from around the world or festivals devoted exclusively to new French films.

Contact:

Address: 25 Rue du Premier Film, 69008 Lyon, France

Phone: +33 4 78 78 18 95

Best Flights To Lyon

Quickly search the best flights from the widest selection of airlines flying to Lyon. Regardless of what airline you go with, you can save money by comparing. Skyscanner is the best airline price comparison service specifically for Lyon.

11. Musée Gadagne

Musée Gadagne

The Musée Gadagne is a complex of two Renaissance palaces that houses two fascinating museums. It has something for everyone, and it's the perfect place to spend an afternoon exploring the history and culture of the area. Visitors to the museum can learn more about Lyon’s history through its collections of decorative arts, costumes, masks and dolls from around Europe. They can also explore a variety of temporary exhibitions that focus on different aspects of art, design and cultural events.

One highlight of this museum is its grand sculptures on display in the courtyard outside — they've been there since 1547. Inside as well are beautiful frescoes from Pisanello's workshop dating back to 1413-1419; these remarkable works represent some of the earliest examples of Renaissance art in Europe.

Contact:

Address: 1 Pl. du Petit Collège, 69005 Lyon, France

Phone: +33 4 78 42 03 61

12. Musée Miniature et Cinéma

Musée Miniature et Cinéma

Musée Miniature et Cinéma is a unique museum dedicated to the art of miniatures and cinema. It has four permanent collections that feature both traditional and modern miniature works, as well as more than 10,000 documents related to cinematography from all over the world. Tourists can explore the wide variety of miniature objects on display at the museum, ranging from tiny dolls to intricate scenes created using complex techniques by acclaimed miniature artists.

The museum also houses an impressive collection of vintage movie cameras and props used in some of history’s most iconic films. It even offers you the chance to make your own mini-film through its special workshops.

Contact:

Address: 60 Rue Saint-Jean, 69005 Lyon, France

13. Lyon's Murals

Lyon's Murals

Lyon's Murals are a wonderful display of artistry and creativity. Located in the heart of downtown Lyon, these murals have been painted since 1971 and can be found on many buildings across the city. From depictions of French culture to vibrant abstract pieces, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

The murals have become an iconic symbol of Lyon's identity, as each mural tells a unique story about the city and its people. Created by various local artists over the years, each mural reflects themes from life in France such as culture, history and politics. The bright colors bring life to otherwise dull walls while still keeping in line with traditional French art styles like cubism or surrealism.

Whether you're visiting Lyon or just admiring them online, these murals will captivate viewers with their incredible details and deep meaning behind them.

14. Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse

Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse

Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse is a world-renowned food market that has been serving locals and tourists for over 150 years, offering a wide selection of fresh produce, artisanal specialties, fine wines and other mouthwatering delicacies to tantalize even the most discerning palate.

The market is famous for its vibrant atmosphere: merchants call out their wares in a French dialect that dates back to the 19th century; colorful displays are piled high with fragrant fruits and vegetables; local fishmongers show off their catch of the day.

The name “Les Halles” derives from the Latin word “halla” which means marketplace. The market is named after none other than Paul Bocuse – one of France’s most celebrated chefs who also hailed from Lyon.

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15. Lyonnaise Cuisine

Lyonnaise Cuisine

Lyonnaise dishes have a unique, flavorful character that sets it apart from other French dishes. This cuisine is heavily reliant on the use of pork fat, garlic, onions, and butter; all of which can be found in abundance in traditional dishes in this part of France.

These ingredients are used to enhance the flavors of meats like pork, poultry and beef. In addition to these common elements, herbs like thyme, rosemary and bay leaves are often incorporated into recipes for added depth and complexity.

One of the most iconic dishes from this region is quenelles de brochet - pike dumplings in a creamy lobster sauce - that have been made since the 18th century. Lyonnaise potatoes are another staple dish; diced potatoes cooked with lardon (bacon), onions and parsley until golden-brown.

Best Flights To Lyon

Quickly search the best flights from the widest selection of airlines flying to Lyon. Regardless of what airline you go with, you can save money by comparing. Skyscanner is the best airline price comparison service specifically for Lyon.

FAQ

Q: What is Lyon France best known for?

A: Lyon is best known for its rich history, delectable cuisine, and vibrant cultural scene. With roots dating back to Roman times, Lyon is steeped in fascinating historical significance. It was once the capital of Gaul during the Roman Empire and played a prominent role in shaping European civilization. Today, visitors can explore the city's ancient ruins and marvel at its architectural gems such as the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière and the imposing Vieux Lyon (Old Town).

Q: Is there much to do in Lyon?

A: Lyon offers a plethora of attractions and activities that will keep you entertained throughout your stay. Admire the well-preserved Renaissance buildings, wander through narrow cobblestone streets, and soak up the atmosphere of this historical neighborhood. Don't miss out on visiting the impressive Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste or taking a stroll along the picturesque Saône River.

Q: Is Lyon a foodie city?

A: When it comes to food, Lyon is often hailed as the gastronomic capital of France. Its culinary traditions are deeply rooted in French culture, with renowned chefs like Paul Bocuse making their mark on international cuisine. The city boasts an abundance of bouchons - traditional Lyonnaise bistros serving hearty dishes such as Coq au Vin and Quenelles de Brochet.

Q: Is Lyon a party place?

A: Well, the answer is yes! Lyon may not have the same reputation as cities like Paris or Berlin when it comes to parties, but that doesn't mean it falls short in terms of entertainment and fun after dark.

Lyon offers an array of options for those seeking a lively night out. The city boasts a thriving bar scene with numerous trendy establishments scattered throughout its various neighborhoods. Whether you're into craft cocktails, local beers, or fine wines from the nearby Beaujolais region, Lyon has something to cater to every taste.

Q: Do I need a car in Lyon?

A: Lyon is known for its well-developed public transportation system, making it easy to navigate without the need for a personal vehicle. The city boasts an extensive tram and bus network that covers all major areas, including popular tourist destinations. With frequent and reliable service, tourists can easily explore Lyon's attractions without the hassle of finding parking or dealing with traffic congestion.

Moreover, Lyon is incredibly pedestrian-friendly, with plenty of sidewalks and pedestrian zones throughout the city center. Walking is one of the best ways to experience Lyon's charm as you stroll through hidden traboules (narrow passageways) and discover local cafes and shops.

Q: Is Lyon a safe place to visit?

A: Rest assured, Lyon is generally considered a safe city for tourists. The city boasts a low crime rate compared to other major European cities, making it a relatively secure destination for visitors.

Lyon's dedication to maintaining safety can be seen through its well-lit streets and active police presence throughout the city. The picturesque neighborhoods like Vieux Lyon and Croix-Rousse are particularly known for their safety due to regular patrols by law enforcement officials.

PLAN YOUR TRIP TO LYON

Book Your Hotel In Lyon

You can book your hotel in Lyon with Booking.com as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hotel, they also return the cheapest rates for accommodations like guesthouses and apartments.

Book Your Flight To Lyon

Use Skyscanner to find your flights to Lyon. They are my favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know you get the best rates.

Need a Rental Car In Lyon?

Here is a budget-friendly car rental resource. No matter where you’re traveling, you’ll be able to find the best car rentals in Lyon here.

Looking for an Airport Transfer Service In Lyon?

If you are looking for a convenient and affordable option to get to and from the airport in Lyon, here you will find all the answers to book your next airport transfer in Lyon.

Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance

Travel insurance will protect you against illnesses, an injury, luggage theft, and even trip cancellations. It’s a comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong during your trip. I never travel to Lyon without it as I’ve had to use it several times in the past. My favorite travel insurance companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the Best Travel Companies to Save Money With?

Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you go to Lyon. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m taking a trip. They will save you money when you travel too.

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