9 Best Things To Do In Lyon France
Lyon may not be everyone's first choice when visiting France, but there are many reasons why this city is consistently rated as one of “The Most Underrated Cities in Europe” - Its history, UNESCO sites, its culinary scene, beautiful sceneries, enough shopping stores to make any shopaholic giggle with excitement, should I go on? So don’t judge a city by its size because you can rest assured there are plenty of things to in Lyon.
9 Fun Things To Do In Lyon France + Bonus
1. Visit the MUSÉE DES CONFLUENCE
The Museum of Confluence is one of my favorite museums. The deconstructive and ultra-modern design – a step outside the box from the conventional museums in France – makes it stand out from the rest and will surely captivate you. The museum opened in December of 2014 and it serves as a science center and an anthropology museum. I loved how the exhibitions were presented and the use of technology to showcase it. On top of their permanent collection, they have a second floor with different exhibits. Make sure to check their schedule before heading there.
2. Admire history at the MUSÉE DES BEAUX-ARTS DE LYON
In the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon you will find exhibitions dating back to the Roman Empire – If you didn’t know, Lyon was part of the Roman Empire - and their collection spans through different centuries including an Egyptian collection, antiquities from when Lyon was the Roman capital, to modern art. As a bonus, the museum has a lovely restaurant overlooking the courtyard gives you a chance to enjoy the beautiful day.
3. Take a stroll at Vieux Lyon
Travel back in time in Vieux Lyon to one of Europe’s biggest renaissance neighborhoods and explore the old town’s charm. Here, you will find the Cathedral of Saint Jean and the famed restaurant Bouchon Lyonnais for a traditional Lyonnaise lunch.
4. Have a picnic at PARC DE LA TETE D’OR
Parc de la Tete d’Or is one of my favorite parks - ever! Visiting the park is one of my favorite things to do in Lyon. On weekends, you will find many locals walking with their family, meeting with friends, biking, or having a picnic. The massive park features a rose garden, greenhouses, a botanical garden, and a zoo. Yes, this park has a zoo! But not the conventional zoo with animals behind bars. Here, animals here roam semi-freely with no restrictive bars.
5. Enjoy the view of the Colline de la Croix-Rousse
There’s nothing more iconic in Lyon than the view of Colline de la Croix-Rousse - a historical neighborhood famous for the 19th-century silk industry.
6. Cross the Passerelle St Georges
There are many brides in Lyon across the Saone and Rhone but there’s a little pedestrian passage called Passerelle St Georges that you have to check out. Aside from its charm, the passage makes a great photography spot. At a certain angle, you can capture the iconic Lyon architecture, St. Georges Church and Lyon’s famous La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere in the background.
7. Stroll The Heart of Lyon Place Bellecour
La Place Bellecour is a large plaza located in the heart of Lyon. I love taking a stroll around the square and then head to the shopping area – Rue de la Republique. I mean, I’m already there right?
8. Shop at Rue De La Republique
This shopping street is the place to go. If you visit Lyon, Rue de la Republique is a must even if it’s only to partake in window-shopping and people-watching. I love spending the day here shopping and eating my way through the street.
9. Visit The Farmer’s Market
One of my favorites thing to do while visiting a new town, is to go grocery shoping at the farmer's market. Even if I don't buy any groceries, I end up picking up a snack or a few goodies. Farmer Markets:
Bonus: Day Trip to Perouges
Have an extra day in Lyon? Go on a day trip and check out the nearby medieval village of Perouges. Is one of the most charming villages in the region, and one the best preserved as well! Read all about it here.
Where to stay in Lyon
There are many options when it comes to where to stay in Lyon. If you are going for a more local vibe rent an Airbnb. These districts are the best areas in the city: District 6 – Brotteaux is the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city. It’s at walking distance to Parc de la Tete d’Or and where I stayed the first time I visited. District 2 – Presqu’ile is located at the heart of the city. Everything is at a walking distance. To understand where is each district, you can check it out here.
If you want to pamper yourself in Lyon, check out:
I have never stayed at a hostel before - that's why I've never offered recommendations - but everybody in Lyon have suggested the Away Hostel & Coffee Shop. It doesn't feel like a hostel and it has a clean modern vibe.
First time using Airbnb? Here, get $40 OFF
Where to eat in Lyon
Lyon is a foodie’s paradise. With a plethora of bouchons and Michelin star restaurants, is no secret Lyon is the culinary capital of the world. So when in Lyon, one must dine at one of their traditional bouchons – quaint restaurants that serve traditional Lyonnaise cuisine.
Did you know?
Lyonnaise take pride in their bouchons! They even award certifications to the most authentic establishments in the city – you can find them here.
You may be surprised to find out that many Michelin star restaurants in Lyon are under 100€ and some are even under 50€. Go for lunch on weekdays and experience fine dining cuisine at a very affordable price.
Michelin Star Favorites
Les Trois Domes This restaurant is one my boyfriend’s favorite and the view from the restaurant is one of my favorite of the city. Their set lunch menu is only 50€. Les Terrasses de Lyon If you are looking for a more romantic setting, this may be for you. The view is gorgeous and the best part is: their set menu starts at 39€! Paul Bocuse If you want to visit the mother of Michelin star restaurants, you must check out Paul Bocuse. The restaurant holds the record for the longest three Michelin stars holder; not to mention Chef Paul Bocuse, he is a legacy in the culinary world. Although this is not the most innovative restaurant for a three Michelin star, it is indeed a place where all foodies must visit at least once in their lifetime. For more Michelin star restaurants visit the Michelin Travel Guide.
Budget Friendly Tip
If you want to give your wallet a break or you simply want to grab something quickly, convenient stores sell delicious and freshly prepped food. Tip: One of my favorite things to do when visiting a country, is to check out the grocery stores. I pick up a few of the local snacks and have fun tasting them back at the hotel. If I love something, I go back for more to bring them as a souvenir for myself friends and family.
Fête des Lumières
Lyon’s most famous festival is the Fête des Lumières. For three nights – December 7th-10th - the city transforms its buildings into a spectacle of lights. Although I have yet to attend this festival, thousands of visitors flocking to the city will agree, it’s the most spectacular event of the year.
If you are visiting during the holidays, don’t forget to check out the Christmas market and indulge in everything that you can only find during the holiday season.
The train and metro system in Lyon is very convenient and easy to navigate. For the metro, you can purchase individual tickets or a day pass. For more information check out their website here.
From the airport - there is an express train that takes you to Lyon Central Station. You can get one-way or a return ticket at the vending machine. From there you can take the metro. From the train station – if you are arriving by train, you can easily transfer to the metro. If you plan to visit the French capital and have a few days to spare, Lyon is a must. For less than 50€ and under 2 hours by train, you’ll get to enjoy a different side of France.