Bonjour! Are you ready for a tres magnifique journey to the heart of France? Join us as we explore the charming city of Lyon in a three-day itinerary that will leave you enchanted. From immersing yourself in the historic streets of Vieux Lyon to marveling at the majestic Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière, we have it all covered.
But Lyon isn't just about its rich history and cultural pillars – it's also the gastronomic capital of France! Discover the must-try dishes and best Bouchons Lyonnais that will tantalize your taste buds. Plus, we'll share travel tips, hidden gems, and day trip ideas to make your Lyon adventure truly unforgettable. So pack your bags and get ready for an adventure like no other!
Lyon is served by Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport (LYS), which is located approximately 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) east of the city center. Many international and domestic flights operate to and from Lyon Airport, making it a convenient choice for travelers arriving from various destinations.
Lyon's vast train network connects it to key cities throughout France and Europe. Lyon Part-Dieu, located in the city's east, is the city's primary train station. Lyon Perrache, located in the city center, is another important station. TGV trains run at high speeds between Lyon and Paris, Marseille, and other French cities, and international trains go to and from adjacent countries.
Lyon, the gastronomic capital of France, is a year-round destination that offers something for everyone. However, the ideal time to visit Lyon is during spring (April to June) and autumn (September to October). In spring, you'll be greeted by pleasant weather, blooming flowers, and fewer crowds.
It's the perfect time to explore Lyon's vibrant food scene and indulge in the city's renowned cuisine. Autumn, on the other hand, shows Lyon's beautiful fall foliage and offers a vibrant food and wine scene. It's a great time to visit Lyon's outdoor markets and enjoy the city's culinary delights.
Navigating Lyon is a breeze with the city's extensive public transportation system, which includes buses, trams, and a metro. For seamless travel, consider the Lyon City Card, which grants unlimited access to public transportation and offers discounts on attractions. If you prefer a more active way of getting around, hop on a bike from one of Lyon's bike-sharing programs and explore the city's streets and dedicated bike lanes.
Walking is also a fantastic option, especially in Lyon's city center, where many attractions are within easy walking distance. And for those who prefer convenience and flexibility, taxis and ride-sharing services are readily available. With so many options at your disposal, getting around Lyon has never been easier!
Day 1: Vieux Lyon
Get ready to step back in time as you explore the historic streets of Vieux Lyon! This UNESCO World Heritage site is a treasure trove of narrow, winding streets and hidden passageways called traboules. Originally used by silk workers, these passageways now add a unique architectural charm to the city.
Embark on a walking tour and unveil the secrets of Vieux Lyon's Renaissance courtyards, charming shops, and traditional Lyonnais restaurants, and enjoy wine and cheese tastings. Don't forget to make your way up Fourvière Hill for a breathtaking panoramic view of Lyon and the iconic Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourvière. Get lost in the rich history and vibrant culture of this enchanting neighborhood.
When exploring Lyon, make sure to start your journey at Place Bellecour, one of Europe's largest public squares. This must-visit destination offers stunning views, beautiful sculptures, and plenty of space to relax and soak in the ambiance. From here, you can easily venture out and delve into Lyon's rich history and culture through the walking tour.
Take a leisurely stroll along the nearby Rhône River, just a short walk away. And with its central location, Place Bellecour serves as a convenient starting point for exploring Lyon's famous landmarks and attractions. So, begin your Lyon adventure in style and let the magic of this city unfold before you.
Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière
Experience the grandeur of Lyon by visiting the majestic Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière. This iconic landmark offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city, showcasing Lyon's beauty in all its splendor. Step inside and explore the stunning interior adorned with intricate mosaics and stunning stained glass windows that evoke a sense of wonder.
Don't miss the chance to climb the bell tower and witness the city's magnificence from a different perspective. Immerse yourself in the history and significance of this architectural masterpiece through guided tours or audio guides, and take a moment to appreciate the peaceful atmosphere and the spiritual significance of this sacred site.
On the top of Fourvière Hill, you can indulge in breathtaking Lyon views alongside the ancient Roman ruins. Wander through the well-preserved Roman theater and odeon to immerse yourself in the rich history. And, of course, don't miss the iconic Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourvière.
Its intricate mosaics and stunning architecture are truly a sight to behold. Take a moment to soak in the historical beauty of Lyon as you marvel at this remarkable hilltop location. The peaceful ambiance and picturesque surroundings will transport you back in time, allowing you to truly appreciate Lyon's Roman heritage.
Musée des Beaux-Arts
Spend your day on a cultural feast at the Musée des Beaux-Arts, one of France's largest fine art museums. Step into a beautiful 17th-century building and immerse yourself in a world of artistic wonders. From ancient Egyptian artifacts to contemporary masterpieces, the museum's collection is truly impressive.
Admire the brushstrokes of Monet, the genius of Picasso, and the powerful strokes of Rembrandt. Every corner of the museum tells a story, offering a deeper understanding of Lyon's rich artistic heritage. Lose yourself in the beauty of the Musée des Beaux-Arts, and let the artwork transport you to a different time and place.
When you enter Saint-Georgers Church or Église Saint-Georges, you'll feel a sense of calm and reverence. With graceful columns, delicate stucco work, and gilded altars, the interior features a harmonious blend of Baroque and neoclassical elements. The nave of the church is adorned with wonderful religious artworks, such as paintings and sculptures, all of which contribute to the spiritual environment and artistic attraction.
The altarpiece, a great work of art representing the Last Supper, is one of the church's most remarkable characteristics. It is a monument to the era's aesthetic excellence. The Église Saint-Georges has witnessed important historical events and has played an important part in Lyon's religious and cultural life. The rich history of the church is entwined with the history of the city, reflecting its endurance and ongoing relevance.
Rue Saint-Jean is one of Vieux Lyon's key places to visit. This pedestrian street is a treasure trove of hidden gems, beautiful boutiques, and pleasant cafés that both locals and visitors flock to. A variety of shops, galleries, and boutiques along the Boulevard, offer local crafts, artisan products, and souvenirs. Rue Saint-Jean is a haven for shopping looking for one-of-a-kind and high-quality presents, with everything from traditional silk goods to artisan jewelry and gastronomic treats.
Keep a look out for historical sites along Rue Saint-Jean, such as the Maison du Crible, which has a remarkable wooden front going back to the 15th century. You'll also come across quaint squares and secret passageways that connect buildings and courtyards, adding to the neighborhood's mystery.
The Musée Gadagne houses both the Musée d'Histoire de Lyon (Lyon History Museum) and the Musée des Arts de la Marionnette (Museum of Puppetry Arts). Each museum gives an intriguing perspective on Lyon's history.
The Musée des Arts de la Marionnette honors the art of puppetry and its significance in the cultural life of Lyon. You'll find a fascinating selection of puppets from diverse areas and cultures here, demonstrating the versatility and ingenuity of this art form. The museum hosts puppet shows and performances on a regular basis, giving an exciting experience for visitors of all ages.
Where to Stay
A cozy apartment in the heart of the city.
Mid Range - Hotel du Théatre
Affordable hotel with a view.
Luxury - Collège Hôtel
Comfortable hotel with a green terrace and a view.
Day 2: Central Lyon
Welcome to Central Lyon, the historic city's pulsing core and a compelling blend of old-world beauty and modern vigor. The Presqu'île, as it is affectionately known, is a treasure trove of cultural, gastronomic, and architectural delights nestled between the converging rivers of the Rhône and Saône.
Central Lyon is a foodie's delight, with its abundance of bistros, brasseries, and Michelin-starred restaurants. The gastronomic legacy of the city is celebrated in the city's numerous bouchons, traditional Lyonnais eateries that provide robust and flavourful dishes like quenelles, sausage, and coq au vin. Taste the Secret Food of France and immerse yourself in Lyon's gastronomic culture.
La Croix Rousse
You'll be fascinated by La Croix-Rousse's small, meandering lanes and quaint staircases that lead to stunning views of the city as you explore it. Take a trip through the traboules, underground tunnels that wind through buildings and courtyards, revealing hidden corners and local life.
La Croix-Rousse has long been a sanctuary for artists, and the neighborhood is dotted with galleries, studios, and creative spaces. The artistic energy is obvious, and the neighborhood has evolved into a thriving center for modern art, street art, and cultural events.
Maison des Canuts museum
When you visit the Maison des Canuts, you'll be taken back to the nineteenth century, when Lyon was at the forefront of Europe's silk trade. The museum is housed in a magnificently preserved canut, the name given to the region's skilled silk weavers. You'll find a treasure trove of artifacts, tools, and looms used by the craftspeople, letting you look into their complicated weaving skills and the passion that went into creating these sumptuous fabrics.
The museum guides, who are frequently former silk weavers, are enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge and experiences, making your visit even more fascinating. They'll take you on an enthralling tour of the silk production process, from silkworm harvesting through the laborious process of dyeing and weaving silk threads into outstanding textiles.
Jardin des Curiosités
The Jardin des Curiosités is recognized for its odd and whimsical sculptures, statues, and creative installations, as well as its eccentric and artistic ambiance. The diverse sculpture collection creates a charming environment, a great area for both adults and children to explore and enjoy.
The breathtaking panoramic view of the city and the Saône River is definitely something you can see here. You can unwind on the terraced slopes of the garden while admiring the stunning views of Lyon's ancient rooftops and the flowing river.
Opéra National de Lyon
Get ready for a night of pure magic at the Opéra National de Lyon! This renowned opera house is famous for its diverse repertoire, showcasing both classic and contemporary productions. Step into a stunning architectural masterpiece and prepare to be captivated by world-class performances.
If you're interested in its history and behind-the-scenes secrets, don't miss the guided tours that take you through the opera house's rich past, backstage areas, and exquisite interiors. With talented performers bringing captivating stories to life on stage, an evening at the Opéra National de Lyon promises an unforgettable experience of music, drama, and artistry.
Place des Terreaux
As the sun sets on Lyon, the historic square of Place des Terreaux comes alive with a magical ambiance. Illuminated buildings and a stunning fountain create a mesmerizing scene that beckons travelers to take a night-time stroll through its enchanting streets. Surrounded by important cultural landmarks such as the City Hall and the Museum of Fine Arts, this square offers not only beauty but also a vibrant atmosphere.
Visitors can enjoy live music performances and relax at outdoor cafes, experiencing the city's artistic soul. With its central location, Place des Terreaux serves as a convenient starting point for exploring Lyon's rich cultural attractions. So, grab a friend and immerse yourself in the charm of Lyon's night-time allure.
Musée des Confluences
Enjoy a captivating visit to the Musée des Confluences. This unique museum combines science, history, and art in a striking contemporary building. Explore the interactive exhibits that delve into the wonders of the natural world, human evolution, and cultural diversity. As you wander through the thought-provoking displays, challenge traditional perspectives on science and culture.
Don't forget to take a moment to admire the museum's captivating architecture, which is as mesmerizing as the exhibits themselves. Discover the rich heritage of Lyon and its position at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers. The Musée des Confluences offers a truly immersive experience that shouldn't be missed during your time in Lyon. Buy the tickets here!
Marché Quai Saint-Antoine
At the Marché Quai Saint-Antoine, you'll find a selection of fruits and vegetables, artisan cheeses, cured meats, baked goods, flowers, and other regional specialties. The market is a great place to get high-quality, seasonal vegetables and sample some of Lyon's well-known gourmet delights.
The proximity to the Saône River contributes to the charm of the Marché Quai Saint-Antoine, making it appealing to both locals and tourists. Many guests enjoy combining a market visit with a leisurely walk along the riverbanks or a picnic with freshly acquired snacks.
Halle Tony Garnier
As you approach Halle Tony Garnier, you'll notice its imposing façade and industrial characteristics, which are reminiscent of Lyon's industrial background. Halle Tony Garnier provides a memorable and immersive experience whether you attend a rock concert, a classical symphony, or a lively dance production. The configuration of the theater allows for exceptional vision and intimacy to the stage, making every member of the audience feel connected to the artists and performances.
Halle Tony Garnier has hosted several notable artists, musicians, and performers from around the world over the years, solidifying its position as a cultural hotspot in Lyon. Its history and versatility make it a treasured component of the city's artistic fabric, attracting music and entertainment fans from all walks of life.
Rue de la République
Rue de la République has a long history dating back to the 19th century when it was built as part of the city's urban expansion. The roadway was intended to be a broad and elegant boulevard connecting the Place Bellecour, Europe's largest pedestrian square, to the Place de la République.
The street is a hive of activity where locals and visitors alike come to shop, dine, and feel Lyon's vibrant pulse. Rue de la République offers a varied range of shopping and dining alternatives to satisfy all interests and preferences, from high-end boutiques and department stores to quaint cafes and bistros.
Where to Stay
Budget - Alter'hostel
Colorful hostel near the city center.
Mid Range - Hôtel Vaubecour
Fabulous hotel with a view of the city.
Luxury - Bayard Bellecour
3-star hotel in an actual historic house.
Day 3: East Lyon
East Lyon is a vibrant and diversified neighborhood with a mix of residential communities, cultural attractions, and recreational places. It is well-known for its contemporary developments, green spaces, and the presence of important institutions.
East Lyon is a nature lover's paradise, with various green spaces and parks for leisure and recreation. The Parc de la Tête d'Or, one of Europe's greatest urban parks, is the area's crown jewel. It has expansive lawns, a big lake with pedal boats, a zoo, botanical gardens, and rich flowerbeds, making it a tranquil respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse
Les Halles de Lyon is more than simply a market; it's a gastronomic celebration of the great French chef Paul Bocuse's heritage. Be amazed by plenty of colorful stalls from the minute you arrive, each selling an extraordinary selection of fresh, high-quality fruit, meats, cheeses, wines, and artisanal products originating from the Lyon region and beyond.
The market is a culinary treasure trove, and you'll get to sample some of the best local specialties, from creamy cheeses like Saint-Marcellin and Bleu d'Auvergne to cured meats like saucisson and jambon persillé. Don't miss out on the legendary Lyonnaise sausages and delectable quenelles - traditional delicacies that have earned Lyon the title of France's gourmet capital.
Parc de la Tête d'Or
Welcome to Parc de la Tête d'Or, the largest urban park in France! Spanning over 290 acres, this park is a true natural oasis in the heart of Lyon. As you explore, you'll come across a stunning lake, botanical gardens, and even a zoo with over 400 animals. Feel free to rent a boat or bike tour to fully immerse yourself in the park's beauty, or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll along its pathways.
Don't forget to stop by the iconic rose garden, where the fragrant scent of over 30,000 rose bushes fills the air. And if you're up for some fun, the park offers activities like mini-golf, a velodrome, and even a puppet theater. This afternoon at Parc de la Tête d'Or promises to be nothing short of delightful.
Take a cruise along the peaceful waters of the Saône River and relax to experience the region's different scenery. As you pass through the rolling hills and lovely countryside, you'll be bound by a sense of calm and tranquillity.
The possibility to see various attractive towns and communities that have grown along the Saône River is one of its highlights. Chalon-sur-Saône, Macon, and Tournus are historic towns with well-preserved architecture, charming streets, and friendly residents. Each town has its own distinct charm and cultural legacy, making it ideal for stopping and immersing yourself in the local way of life.
Part-Dieu Shopping Center
The Part-Dieu Shopping Center, also known as the Centre Commercial de la Part-Dieu, is a large four-level mall with an array of shops, boutiques, and restaurants. You'll find a varied choice of options to fulfill every shopper's interests, from high-end luxury brands to well-known international businesses and local boutiques.
Whether you're a frequent shopper or simply seeking a place to unwind and explore, the Part-Dieu Shopping Center provides a dynamic and colorful experience that highlights the finest of Lyon's retail and entertainment scene. Come shop, dine, and enjoy the bustling ambiance of this amazing commercial complex!
La Part-Dieu is a vibrant and bustling district of Lyon, located in the city's 3rd arrondissement. It is known as the city's business district and is distinguished by modern skyscrapers, lively streets, and a diverse array of commercial and leisure facilities.
In addition to its commercial significance, La Part-Dieu serves as an important transportation hub. The Gare de Lyon Part-Dieu, one of the city's principal train stations and an important transport hub connecting Lyon to other major cities in France and Europe is located in this district. The futuristic architecture of the station adds to the district's trendy and international ambiance. Another significant landmark in the region is the Tour Part-Dieu, a 42-story skyscraper. It is one of Lyon's tallest buildings and provides panoramic views of the city.
Auditorium Maurice Ravel
The Auditorium Maurice Ravel is a work of architectural art, with a distinctive and modern façade that matches the artistic energy within. The magnificence of the performance hall, which can seat over 2,000 people, will astound you as you enter. The creative and precise acoustics of the hall ensure that every note, from delicate pianissimos to thundering crescendos, flows with clarity and brilliance.
Attending a performance at the Maurice Ravel Auditorium is a memorable experience. As the suspense grows, the hall comes alive with the sound of great musicians producing harmonizing magic. The singers' enthusiasm and talent, paired with the superb acoustics, take the audience on an emotional journey through the power of music.
The Saint-Pothin Church is named after Saint Pothinus, the first Bishop of Lyon who lived in the second century AD. The church's origins date back to the early Christian era, making it one of Lyon's oldest churches. It has undergone multiple reconstructions and modifications over the ages, each contributing to its distinctive blend of architectural styles.
For those interested in history and religious heritage, Église Saint-Pothin provides a look into Lyon's spiritual past as well as the region's lasting influence of Christianity. This old cathedral delivers a captivating and significant experience, whether you need a moment of peaceful contemplation, an appreciation for architectural beauty, or a connection to the city's spiritual heritage.
Cours Lafayette is a lively and bustling street in Lyon, 6th arrondissement. It is a major avenue in the city, known for its large boulevards and bustling atmosphere. The beautiful Haussmannian-style buildings on Cours Lafayette provide a touch of vintage French elegance to the bustling metropolitan backdrop. You'll be surrounded by a mix of historical architecture and contemporary stores as you walk down the road, creating a delightful juxtaposition of old and new.
Cours Lafayette is also a culinary destination, with numerous cafes, restaurants, and bakeries. Whether you're looking for traditional French cuisine, cosmopolitan cuisines, or gourmet pleasures, the Avenue has a wide range of dining alternatives to suit your tastes. Cours Lafayette guarantees an interesting and wonderful experience, whether you're a fashionista looking for the latest trends, a food lover eager to savor the local cuisine, or simply seeking to experience the bustling pulse of Lyon's urban life.
Le Mur des Canuts
Le Mur des Canuts is a beautiful trompe-l'oeil mural that covers the facade of a building in the Croix-Rousse district. CitéCréation, a collective recognized for its stunning paintings that adorn many locations throughout the world, produced it in 1987.
The mural depicts the daily lives of canuts, who played an important part in Lyon's silk industry throughout the nineteenth century. Canuts at work on their looms, women winding silk threads, and scenes of daily life in the bright silk factories are depicted in the extremely realistic artwork. The realistic portrayal creates the sense that the mural is a three-dimensional window into the past, immersing you in the history and culture of Lyon's silk trade.
Where to Stay
Budget - HO36 Hostel
Affordable hostel, just a 15-minute walk from the Place Bellecour.
Mid Range - Campanile Lyon Centre - Berges du Rhône
Good hotel for a good price.
Luxury - Mercure Lyon Centre Saxe Lafayette
Elegant hotel in East Lyon, with an indoor pool, near the river.