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Things to do in Lyon

Things to do in  Lyon

Welcome to Lyon

One of France’s largest cities, Lyon rivals Paris in beauty, culture, and cuisine. Two major rivers, the Rhône and Saône, divide Lyon into distinct districts: UNESCO World Heritage site Old Lyon, known as Vieux Lyon in French, sits on the small peninsula between the two rivers. Take a private or small-group tour around Lyon’s charming historic city by foot or bicycle; or travel with ease on a Segway, bus, or electric bike. Begin your tour at Place Bellecour in the historic center, one of the largest public squares in the country. Follow your guide to the ornate Basilica Notre Dame de Fourvière, with its gleaming marble, stained glass, and stunning ceilings. Lyon has been dubbed one of the gastronomic capitals of the world, so book a gourmet tour to taste your way across the city; stop at Les Halles de Lyon, an open-air market, to sample specialties like Galette Lyonnaise cheese and learn about Lyon’s culinary heritage from your guide. Then get ready to wine taste: Take a half- or full-day trip to nearby Côtes du Rhône to savor local wines and chocolate; or travel to Beaujolais, often compared to Tuscany for its rustic countryside, to learn about French terroir. Lyon is a quick two-hour train ride from Paris, and less than two hours by train from Marseille and Montpellier in France, and Geneva in Switzerland, making it a great starting place for touring the region.

Top 10 attractions in Lyon

#1
Old Lyon (Vieux Lyon)

Old Lyon (Vieux Lyon)

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At the foot of Fourviére Hill, the historical streets of Old Lyon (Vieux Lyon) offer a welcome change of pace from the modern city across the river. With elegant medieval churches, Renaissance-era monuments, and pastel-painted facades, this is Lyon’s most atmospheric district.More
#2
Lyon Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des Beaux Arts de Lyon)

Lyon Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des Beaux Arts de Lyon)

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Lyon's elegant Museum of Fine Art (Musee des Beaux Arts) is housed in a 17th-century palace that was designed for the Royal Abbess of the Dames de Saint Pierre and later remodeled to outrageous heights by Louis XIV.displays one of the finest collections in all France.More than 70 rooms display one of the finest art collections in all of France, including an outsanding array of antiquities and artwork, more than 600 Ancient Egyptian pieces, rare Asian ceramics and the second-largest numismatic collection in the country. Thirty-five rooms are dedicated to European paintings, from classic artists such as El Greco and Rembrandt to more modern masters such as Picasso and Renoir.The museum also offers temporary exhibitions, as well as activities and events for adults and children. The shady sculpture garden is often softly lit for visitors on special summer evenings.More
#3
Lyon Cathedral (Cathédrale St-Jean)

Lyon Cathedral (Cathédrale St-Jean)

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Stroll the cobblestoned streets of Old Town Lyon (Vieux Lyon) and Place St-Jean to discover the Lyon Cathedral (Cathédrale St-Jean). Among the draws of the 12th-century cathedral are stained-glass windows and a 16th-century astronomical clock. A top Lyon attraction, Cathédrale St-Jean is a must-see for Old Town visitors.More
#4
Croix-Rousse

Croix-Rousse

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Centered around the 254-meter hill of the same name, the Croix-Rousse district was the heart of Lyon’s 18th-century silk industry, with the influx of workers earning it the nickname ‘the hill that works’, while neighboring Fourvière was dubbed ‘the hill that prays’. The historic district makes a fascinating addition to a walking tour, with its unique traboules - narrow, tunnel-like passageways that served as the setting to the 19th-century silk-workers revolt - snaking between the historic workshops and running down to the riverside. Today, some of the traboules have been restored, most notably the Passage Thiaffait, which is now home to the ‘Village of Creators’ and lined with artist’s galleries, crafts workshops and fashion boutiques.The lively district retains its village-like atmosphere and is now crammed with bars, restaurants and cafes, many of which offer impressive views along the riverside. Additional highlights include the daily Croix-Rousse Market, the ruins of the Roman Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls, the landmark Gros Caillou (literally, a ‘Big Rock’) and the Croix-Rousse tunnel, a bus, bike and pedestrian route that burrows through the hill and is now the backdrop for a dazzling light and sound show.More
#5
Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière (Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière)

Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière (Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière)

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A gleaming retro-Byzantine confection of Roman columns and religious iconography, the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière (Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière) is visible, by design, from almost anywhere in Lyon. Today it is the symbol of the city and Lyon's most visited attraction, well worth the climb just to enter the outrageous interior.Completed in 1896 as a challenge to secular forces then gaining power in France (likeSacré-Coeur Montmartre), the basilica's gleaming marble, gold gilt, fantastic stained glass, and borderline hallucinogenic ceiling are meant to impress. And they do.In addition to the basilica and an adjacent chapel dedicated to a particularly miraculous Virgin Mary, both free to the public, this site also offers an observatory, museum, and fantastic views.More
#6
Lyon Les Halles Market (Les Halles Paul Bocuse)

Lyon Les Halles Market (Les Halles Paul Bocuse)

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The covered markets of the Les Halles de Lyon have been open since 1970. The full name of the markets includes the name Paul Bocuse, a legendary figure on both the French and international cooking scene. Many of the shops located here are star-rated by the Michelin guide, and more than 95% of the shops are run by business owners who really know their products. These are local businesses, which draws in loyal customers.There are approximately 60 shops in Les Halles selling products that have to do with cooking and food. You'll find butchers, bakers, caterers, fishmongers, and more selling their high quality fresh products. It is also a showcase for local food products and a great place to find good meats, poultry, seafood, cheeses, fruits, and vegetables. You can also enjoy a sit down meal with a glass of wine at the markets.More
#7
Bellecour Square (Place Bellecour)

Bellecour Square (Place Bellecour)

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At the heart of Lyon is Bellecour Square—more commonly known as Place Bellecour—an enormous, unbroken brick expanse (the third largest square in France) sprawled between theSaône and the Rhône Rivers. These are echoed by two sculptures, named for the waterways, that flank a famed statue of Louis the X1V, on horseback.The Sun King, in 1708, took this former vineyard, army barracks, and private gardens, and developed it into a public square. His architects framed the space with elegant facades, and it has since hosted public events and, more recently, an iconic Ferris wheel.The shadeless plaza is surrounded by excellent eateries and cool cafés - Lyon is, after all, the Gastronomic Capital of France - w here you'll find respite on steamy summer afternoons.More
#8
Lyon Opera House (Opéra National de Lyon)

Lyon Opera House (Opéra National de Lyon)

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Lyon Opera House (Opéra National de Lyon) is an arts hub and architectural gem noted for its combination of a modern shell and 18th-century facade. To fully experience it, attend a performance—from musical theater to dance. But whether it's to marvel at the building, or see a show, a visit to the opera should be on your Lyon itinerary.More
#9
Ancient Theatre of Fourvière (Théâtre Antique de Lyon)

Ancient Theatre of Fourvière (Théâtre Antique de Lyon)

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The oldest Roman theater in France, Lyon’s Ancient Theatre of Fourvière (Théâtre Antique de Lyon) was built under the orders of Augustus and expanded in Hadrian’s time. Completed in 17 B.C. with space for 10,000 people, today the Grand Theatre is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Lyon.Restored in the 20th century, the ancient theater is now used to stage popular cultural events such as the summertime Nuits de Fourvière festival, where dance, opera and circus performers play alongside international music acts like Franz Ferdinand.Situated on Fourvière Hill near the Notre Dame Basilica, from the theater you can also see the grand remains of the Odeon of Lyon, with its beautiful inlaid floor of marble and porphyry. Forming a pair with the main theater, the Odeon was built early in the second century with space for 3,000 people. Behind the Ancient Theatre of Fourvière, you can also visit the remains of an ancient Roman temple, dedicated in 160 A.D. to goddess Cybele.More
#10
Tête d'Or Park (Parc de la Tête d'Or)

Tête d'Or Park (Parc de la Tête d'Or)

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The 289-acre Tête d'Or Park (Parc de la Tête d'Or) was designed by landscape architect Denis Bühler and opened in 1856. It is also home to one of France's leading botanical gardens, with more than 20,000 plant varieties. There is an international rose garden that is popular in the spring when the flowers are in bloom. Another popular attraction is the African plain, which is a zoological area of more than 7 acres where zebras, giraffes, antelopes, lions, and other rare species roam free.The lake is a great place to participate in water activities such as boating and swimming. Children can enjoy mini boat rides in a pool dubbed the Little Lake. There are also pony rides, two tourist trains, quads with pedals, swings, go karts, and a carousel to make the day more fun for younger visitors. Bring your own picnic or stop at the park's shop for sweets, snacks and souvenirs.More

Trip ideas

Exploring the Traboules of Lyon

Exploring the Traboules of Lyon

How to Spend 3 Days in Lyon

How to Spend 3 Days in Lyon

Ancient Roman Theaters in Lyon

Ancient Roman Theaters in Lyon

Top activities in Lyon

Beaujolais Gourmet Wine Tour with Tastings from Lyon
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Lyon Old Town Half-Day Walking Food Tour with Local Specialties Tasting & Lunch
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Lyon Old Town Five Tasting Stops Walking Food Tour with Lunch
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Northern Rhône Valley Day Tour with Wine Tasting from Lyon
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Lyon Old Town Walking Guided Food Tour
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Recent reviews from experiences in Lyon

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A Great Time in Lyon
Fred_T, Jul 2021
Lyon Hop-On Hop-Off Tour with Audio Commentary
Great way to see key points in the city and just as importantly to learn about what we are seeing.
star-5
Excellent tour, highly recommended
Angela, Aug 2020
Vieux Lyon Cultural & Historical Walking Guided Tour (English)
The guide was excellent, spoke perfect English and gave a very interesting account of the history, culture and development of Lyon.
star-4
Good tour
robertwI5120DZ, Oct 2019
Lyon Old Town Half-Day Walking Food Tour with Local Specialties Tasting & Lunch
A great way to see the Old Town as well
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THOROUGH AND VERY NICE
RCIRVINE, Sep 2019
Lyon Big Traboules in Little City Stories from the Past Private Guided Tour
Excellent English!!
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Fun tour through Lyon
mattderby2019, Aug 2019
Lyon Small-Group Guided Electric Bike Tour with a Local Guide
Once you go on about 3 tours of Lyon you start hearing the same stories - but I really appreciated how much of the city we got to see in a short amount of time.
star-5
What a fun experience!
Janna F, Jun 2019
Lyon Electric Bike Tour including Food Tasting with a Local Guide
With only one day in the city we wanted to see a lot and also feel connected with the people.
star-5
Great tour of Lyon
TrinityNZ, May 2019
Lyon Hop-On Hop-Off Tour with Audio Commentary
Enjoyed this hop on, hop off bus tour of Lyon with commentary in English.
star-5
Our guide Pauline was great. The...
linda60118, Sep 2017
Lyon Electric Bike Tour including Food Tasting with a Local Guide
Wonderful way to see the lovely Lyon.
star-4
Tour was great, but our tour guide...
Al W, Jul 2017
Lyon Small-Group Guided Electric Bike Tour with a Local Guide
Tour was great, but our tour guide was late so we walked around to see if we were at the right place.
star-5
The Lyon City card is the best deal...
jpcwi, Sep 2017
Lyon Attractions & Museums Card & Guide with City Map
I recommend this card because Lyon does have hills, and sooo many places you will want to visit.
star-5
Great value and great museums to...
Featle, Oct 2016
Lyon Attractions & Museums Card & Guide with City Map
Great value and great museums to visit.
star-5
Our tour driver and guide was...
Alan B, May 2017
Beaujolais Gourmet Wine Tour with Tastings from Lyon
She was extremely knowledgeable and answered all our questions in understandable English.
star-5
Perfect experience!
sold, Feb 2020
The Original Syrah Wine Tour (2:00 pm - 6:30 pm) - Small Group Tour from Lyon
He also speaks perfect English which was a huge plus for our group.
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Be ready with an EMPTY STOMACH
mantgardner, Feb 2020
Lyon Old Town Food & Wine Tasting Tour including a Bouchon Lyonnais
He answered all our questions and gave us additional places to visit.
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Old Lyon by Pedicab
Andrew_Chakrit, Nov 2019
Discover Lyon in an Unusual Way
This was a great way to see and hear abiout the history of old Lyon.
star-5
What a lovely experience
Kim H, Aug 2019
Beaujolais Crus Wines & Castles (2:00 pm - 6:30 pm) - Small Group Tour from Lyon
Then we went on to visit 2x vineyard cellars and tasted their wines.
star-5
Fabulous tour with first rate tour guide
ttnoble, Aug 2019
Discover Lyon in an Unusual Way
His English was excellent...
star-5
Absolutely enjoyable. While billed...
Barry S, Jun 2018
Beaujolais Gourmet Wine Tour with Tastings from Lyon
All this company needs to do is, while still in Lyon and not yet in the van, provide an introduction to the tour's activities and agenda.
star-5
We did this tour on our first day in...
Katherine B, Sep 2016
Lyon Electric Bike Tour including Food Tasting with a Local Guide
We did this tour on our first day in Lyon and it was a great way to see the city and figure out where you want to go back to.
star-4
Really enjoyable way to see basic...
Marlene R, Jun 2016
Lyon Electric Bike Tour including Food Tasting with a Local Guide
Really enjoyable way to see basic sights of Lyon.
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