15 Things To Do In Lyon, France

April 23, 2013

As you may be able to tell by now, we absolutely loved Lyon. And while the city may seem small, rest assured there is more than plenty to do during a visit. Here are some of our favourite ideas:

Get Your Art Fix

art gallery lyon chaplin

Lyon oozes creativity. From its various art museums to the fashionable designers of the Croix-Rousse, you can find something to inspire you all over the city. Don’t miss Rue Auguste Comte and the surrounding streets of the Auguste Comte district, with their galleries, shops and antiques. Another must-visit is Les Subsistances if you enjoy the performing arts.

Go Wine Tasting In Beaujolais

Located just 30km, Beaujolais is home of light, fruity red wines that are great for daytime drinking. Hire a car and do it yourself, or just relax on a guided tour of the region.

Become a Foodie

triperie lyon

If you don’t already love food, Lyon may just be the place to whet your appetite. Considered by many to be the gastronomic capital of France, the city is home to France’s most interesting cuisine. You’ll be tempted by the lively atmosphere of the city’s many bouchons (traditional restaurants) but it’s the meals you enjoy there that will leave lasting memories. For a more comprehensive exploration, look no further than the Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse food hall (102 cours Lafayette, hallesdelyon.free.fr).

Discover Ancient History

Lyon is over 2,000 years old. Whether you enjoy a wander in a place like the Gallo-Roman museum or a less structured exploration of the Renaissance facades in Old Lyon, the terribly old and romantic side of Lyon never shies from view.

lyon traboule

Visit a Market

Like any French city, Lyon has several markets of interest. Shop for food alongside the top Lyonnais chefs at the Saint-Antoine market (Tues-Thurs, 6am to 12.30 pm and Fri-Sun 6am to 1.30pm along the banks of the Saône near Place Bellecour). The Croix-Rousse food market operates at the same times at Place de la Croix Rousse. If you don’t mind heading just a little out of town, you have the Sunday flea markets at Villeurbanne (take the Rhone Express T3 tram to the commune of Villeurbanne) and Les Puces du Canal (1 rue du canal, end of the T1 tramline).

boules in lyon

Meet By a Mural

Incredible, life-like murals can be found all over the city and you’ll likely see the locals meeting up with their friends in front of them. Whether you need a meeting place or not, these tremendous creations must be examined on a tour of Lyon.

croix rousse terraces lyon france

Check Out a Museum

In Lyon, beautiful buildings house the history and culture of the city. Whatever you fancy, there will be a museum for it. Constantly changing exhibits mean there will be something new to see every time you visit Lyon. And don’t forget the grandest museum of all: the city itself.

tete d'or park lyon

Enjoy the Outdoors

If the weather is nice, don’t miss the remarkable Tête d’Or park with its botanical gardens, lake, zoo, rose garden and events. This is a great place to mix with the locals. The Île Barbe is also a nice place for a walk.

tete d'or park lyon bikes

Relax At Place Sathonay

This is probably the most popular square in the city, great for people-watching over a drink or getting involved in a game of boules.

place sathonay lyon france

Place Sathonay

Open Your Wallet

Lyon has fabulous shopping, from luxury brands and franchises to cutting edge designer boutiques with items that you won’t find anywhere else. The major French department stores, Printemps and Galleries Lafayette are also represented (bring your passport for 10% off). See our next post on practicalities for a guide to the shopping.

shop lyon france night

See a Show

The Lyon National Opera is world-famous and the Lyon Auditorium also has its own National Orchestra. The Maison de la Danse is the place for dance buffs, while Théâtre des Célestins offers drama. You can even see puppet shows across three different theaters. You should definitely get your culture on in Lyon.

shopping lyon

Count Your Lucky Stars

Michelin that is. Lyon boasts 14 Michelin-starred restaurants. So if you’ve ever had a hankering for a high-end meal, this is the place to splurge.

foie gras gourmet de seze lyon

Foie gras at Le Gourmet de Seze

Tour the Traboules

The most beautiful way to get from streets A to B is through a fancy historic passageway that you can only find in Lyon. Grab a map and discover the city’s hidden beauty.

traboules lyon france

Enjoy the Views

Lyon has two hills, which make excellent vantage points. On a clear day take the ‘ficelle’ to the top of Fourvière Hill, where you can gain extra height at the top of the Fourvière Basilica. The Croix-Rousse neighbourhood with its terraced slopes also allows for excellent viewing.

fourviere hill lyon

lyon ficelle

croix rousse view lyon

Take a Walk In the Dark

Lyon is simply gorgeous when night falls. Light bounces off the rivers and illuminates 325 of the city’s monuments and sites. If you really want to see the city at its brightest, come for the annual Festival of Lights in December

lyon at night illuminated

What’s your favourite thing to do in Lyon?

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15 things to do in Lyon, France

15 things to do in Lyon, France

Our time in Lyon was hosted by Rhône-Alpes Tourisme and ONLYLYON Tourisme et Congrès. All opinions, however, are always our own.

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  • http://www.budgettraveladventures.com/ Jeremy Branham

    So disappointed that you didn’t put a football match on this list :)

    • inspiringtravellers

      Thanks for the tip, Jeremy – can we add that under ‘show’? =)

  • http://www.hikebiketravel.com Leigh

    I haven’t been to Lyon in years but I do remember bopping over from Geneva for the day on a couple of occasions – with my Eurorail pass. Beautiful shops, excellent food, a great city for walking – these are my memories. A Beaujolais tasting sounds like a great idea – and some of the named village Beaujolais is quite delicious.

    • inspiringtravellers

      We did not have a chance to do a wine tasting there but it’s definitely on my list for next time!

  • http://adlibtraveller.com Ad-lib Traveller

    Great post, I’m heading to Lyon in two weeks for my first visit. Really looking forward to sampling the food but once I can pull myself away from that, I’ll be sure to try a few of these ideas :-)

    • inspiringtravellers

      Oh how wonderful – have a great time!

  • http://www.usedyorkcity.com Jess @UsedYorkCity

    What a lovely collection! I would love to do the wine tasting here and check out the murals:-)

    • inspiringtravellers

      So many fun things to do!

  • http://midlifewanderlust1965.wordpress.com Steve

    Great post about Lyon. As it is twinned with my home city Birmingham you have given me every reason to go and visit.

    • inspiringtravellers

      I did not know it was a sister city of Birmingham – definitely a great reason to visit!

  • Flashpackatforty – Craig

    Never really had Lyon on my travel radar, but you make it sound like well worth a visit. That image of the food, made me salivate. Oh the French and their food…

    • inspiringtravellers

      Ahhh – the food definitely keeps us coming back to France!

  • http://clickwinningcontent.com.au Mel

    Thanks for all your articles on Lyon, I haven’t been there but will definitely add it to my list of places to go when in Europe next.

    Cheers
    Mel

    • inspiringtravellers

      So glad you enjoyed them, Mel! Hope all is well with you guys – I miss our lunches…

  • http://www.ferretingoutthefun.com cosmoHallitan

    My husband and I were just talking about how much we’d like to go to Lyon, and then I come home and read this. Lyon is definitely going on the 2014 Europe itinerary!

    • inspiringtravellers

      I’m so glad!! You’ll love it =)

  • http://incometherapy.com Mike Carlson

    I haven’t really heard so much about Lyon. I like the idea of wine tasting while visiting the place. I’ve always love to do that when I visit France.

    • inspiringtravellers

      It’s a must, Mike! =)

  • http://allcolores.com Ayelet – All Colores

    It’s impressive that there’s so much to do and see there, especially since you say it’s a small city. I would probably want to see the murals first.

    • inspiringtravellers

      They’re hard to miss, Ayelet – glad they appeal =)

  • coq

    Personally, my friends and i like to get blackout drunk, climb fourviere, sneak into the amphitheater and just screw around before racing bikes down through vieux lyon.

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