26 Best Things to Do in Lyon | 2024 (with Photos)

Rosalia Ignatova

Rosalia Ignatova - Travel Writer

Published: July 3, 2023

Hey there! I'm Rose, an avid explorer and travel enthusiast. In this article, I'll share my top recommendations for the best things to do in Lyon, backed by beautiful photos that will inspire you to uncover the city's hidden gems. Enjoy your adventure in Lyon and make unforgettable memories along the way!

 Fun & Unique Things to Do in Lyon, France

Lyon is a city of extraordinary contrasts. Old Lyon tells a story from the Middle Ages, while the new town spins a modern tale.

The city was founded 2,000 years ago at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône Rivers and built its fortune on the silk trade.

From the winding cobblestone streets of Vieux Lyon to the sleek glass facades of the city's cutting-edge museums and galleries, Lyon offers visitors a unique and unforgettable experience.

With its beautiful architecture, world-class French cuisine, and abundance of cultural attractions, Lyon is a city that is sure to capture the hearts of all who visit. So, let's look at 26 fun and unique things to do in Lyon.

Most Recommended Thing to Do

Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière

Top Choice Hotel

Ok. The top choice hotel in Lyon, France is Villa Florentine.

Our Top Choice Restaurant

Paul Bocuse.

Our Top Choice Bar for Nightlife

Le Sucre

Best Time to Visit

Ideal weather, cultural festivals, and vibrant food scene.

Average Temperature

The average temperature in Lyon, France is pleasant.

Transportation Options

Bicycles, metro, tram, bus, car-sharing, taxis, walking, electric scooters.

Average Cost ($, $$, $$$)


My Top Recommendation

Lyon, France, known for its rich history and vibrant culture, offers a plethora of activities for every type of traveler. Start your day by exploring the charming cobblestone streets of Vieux Lyon, where you can indulge in delectable pastries and sip on aromatic coffees at quaint bakeries that line the narrow alleys.

In the afternoon, take a leisurely stroll along the Rhône River and enjoy the breathtaking views of Lyon's iconic landmarks, such as the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière and the dazzling cityscape. Complete your day with a delightful dinner at a traditional Lyonnais bouchon, where you can savor tantalizing dishes like quenelles de brochet (pike dumplings) and coq au vin (chicken in red wine), immersing yourself in the authentic flavors of Lyon's gastronomic heritage.

What You'll Need to Bring

  1. Valid passport
  2. Suitable clothing for the season
  3. Comfortable walking shoes
  4. Travel adapter for European plugs
  5. Local currency (Euros)
  6. Maps or a navigation app
  7. Medications or any necessary prescriptions
  8. Travel insurance documents
  9. Language translation app or phrasebook
  10. Camera or smartphone for capturing memories

Lyon is a vibrant city in France with a rich history and culture. As you explore this beautiful destination, don't forget to bring your camera or smartphone to capture the stunning sights and create lasting memories. Comfortable walking shoes will come in handy as you stroll along Lyon's charming streets and picturesque neighborhoods. Don't forget to pack suitable clothing for the season, ensuring you are prepared for the weather during your visit.

To ensure a hassle-free trip, remember to bring your valid passport, travel insurance documents, and any necessary medications or prescriptions. Lyon uses European plugs, so a travel adapter will be useful for charging your electronic devices. It's also a good idea to have maps or a navigation app handy to help you navigate the city's streets. Additionally, having local currency (Euros) on hand will make your transactions easier.

While English is spoken in some places, having a language translation app or a phrasebook can be helpful for smoother communication with the locals. Enjoy your personalized travel experience in Lyon!

What Not to Miss

  1. Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière
  2. Vieux Lyon (Old Town)
  3. Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon
  4. La Croix-Rousse
  5. Parc de la Tête d'Or
  6. Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse
  7. Traboules in Lyon
  8. Place Bellecour
  9. Theatres Romains de Fourvière
  10. Hôtel de Ville de Lyon

What to Avoid

  1. Overpacking: Lyon is a walkable city with efficient public transportation, so avoid carrying heavy luggage that may hinder your mobility.

  2. Rushing: Take your time to explore Lyon's charm without rushing through the cultural sights, delicious cuisine, and vibrant atmosphere.

  3. Ignoring local customs: Be mindful of local etiquette and respect traditions, such as greeting people with a polite "bonjour" and adapting to local dining customs.

  4. Neglecting the language: Although many locals speak English, learning a few basic French phrases will enhance your experience and show your appreciation for the local culture.

  5. Overlooking hidden gems: Lyon offers more than just its famous landmarks; explore the city's secret alleys, lesser-known museums, and offbeat neighborhoods for a unique adventure.

  6. Neglecting Lyon's culinary scene: Lyon is known as the gastronomic capital of France, so don't miss the opportunity to indulge in authentic Lyonnaise dishes and explore the local food markets and bouchons (traditional Lyon restaurants).

  7. Disregarding safety precautions: While Lyon is generally a safe city, it's always important to remain cautious and aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded areas or at night.

  8. Missing out on the riverside charm: Lyon is blessed with two rivers, the Rhône and the Saône, offering scenic spots for walks, picnics, and boat rides. Don't forget to appreciate the city's beautiful riverbanks.

  9. Avoiding local transportation: Lyon's public transportation system is well-connected and convenient, so consider using trams, buses, and metros to navigate the city efficiently.

  10. Neglecting Lyon's rich cultural heritage: Lyon boasts impressive historical sites, museums, and heritage areas. Immerse yourself in the city's history and cultural treasures to truly appreciate its unique character.

1. Notre Dame De Fourvière on Fourvière Hill

Notre Dame De Fourvière

Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière is a stunning basilica located on the Lyon Fourvière Hill in France. The iconic Basilique Notre Dame De Fourvière is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Lyon and is a symbol of Lyon's history and French architecture.

The Basilica offers breathtaking views of the city. Visitors can enjoy these panoramic views of Lyon from the hilltop, making it a popular spot for photography.

The Basilique Notre Dame De Fourvière is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and is one of a series of hill-top churches built in major French cities in the late 19th century. Its stunning façade features intricate carvings and ornate decorations that highlight the architectural beauty of the building.

Fourvière Hill, where the basilica is located, is also home to other popular attractions, such as the Roman amphitheater and the ancient ruins of the Roman Forum.

The Basilica hosts a popular cultural festival every summer called Les Nuits de Fourvière, which features a wide range of performances, including theater, dance, music, and more. The festival attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world and is one of the highlights of the Lyon cultural calendar.

Overall, Notre Dame de Fourvière is an iconic landmark of Lyon and a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to the city.

2. Parc De La Tête d'Or

 Parc De La Tête d'Or

Parc de la Tête d'Or, or "Park of the Golden Head" in English, is a sprawling urban park located in the heart of Lyon, France. It is one of the largest urban parks in France, spanning over 117 hectares, and is known for its stunning gardens, walking paths, and wide range of recreational activities.

The park's origins date back to the mid-19th century when it was designed by landscape architect Denis Bühler. It was named after a legend of a buried treasure, and it is believed that the park's lake was once the site of the treasure.

Today, Parc de la Tête d'Or is a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike, with something to offer for visitors of all ages. The park features a wide range of attractions, including a large lake where visitors can rent boats and paddle around.

3. Cathédrale Saint-Jean Baptiste

Cathédrale Saint-Jean Baptiste

Saint-Jean is a charming and historic district in Lyon, France, known for its stunning Gothic cathedral, picturesque streets, and lively cultural scene. One of the most popular attractions in Saint-Jean is the Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste or Saint-Jean Cathedral.

This Romano-Gothic style cathedral features a huge stained-glass window and a 16th-century astronomical clock. It also features intricate carvings and a stunning rose window that is one of the largest in France.

The district is also home to a vibrant food and drink scene, with many restaurants and cafes offering traditional Lyonnaise cuisine. One popular spot nearby is Les Terrasses Saint-Pierre, a hidden gem located on the first floor of the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon.

The district is situated along the banks of the Saône River, and the Quai Saint-Antoine offers stunning views of the river and the city beyond. It's a great place to take a stroll, enjoy a picnic, or simply relax and take in the beauty of Lyon.

Also just steps away from the cathedral is La Maison du Chamarier (37 Rue Saint-Jean). This classified historical monument, built between the 13th century and the early 16th century, shows the evolution from Gothic to Renaissance architecture.

A la Marquise is a historic pâtisserie shop with a refined salon de thé that occupies the ground floor of La Maison du Chamarier.

4. Vieux Lyon

Vieux Lyon, or "Old Lyon" in English, is a historic district located on the west bank of the Saône River in Lyon, France. Vieux Lyon is one of the largest and most well-preserved Renaissance neighborhoods in Europe and is a popular destination for visitors to the city.

This attracted rich merchant families from across Italy, Germany, and France who settled in Lyon. Vieux Lyon is known for its stunning architecture, with colorful Renaissance-era buildings lining the narrow, winding streets.

Visitors can explore the Vieux Lyon's hidden passageways, known as traboules, which are narrow covered passageways that connect the buildings and were used by silk merchants to transport their goods.

Vieux Lyon is also home to a wide range of restaurants and cafes, offering everything from traditional Lyonnaise cuisine to international fare. One popular spot in Vieux Lyon is Rue Saint-Jean, a pedestrian street that is lined with charming cafes, restaurants, and shops.

5. Gallo-Roman Museum of Lyon-Fourvière

Gallo-Roman Museum of Lyon-Fourvière

The Gallo-Roman Museum of Lyon-Fourvière is a world-class museum that showcases the Ancient Roman ruins, history, and culture of the Gallo-Roman civilization that once thrived in Lyon and the surrounding region. This museum focuses on the history of the Gallo-Roman civilization in Lyon.

The museum is housed in a strikingly modern building that was designed by the architect Bernard Zehrfuss and opened in 1975.

The Circus Games Mosaic is a remarkable piece of Roman art located in Lyon, France. The mosaic was discovered in 1806 during the excavation of a Roman site in the city, and it dates back to the 2nd century AD.

The mosaic is also known as the "Lyon Tablet" due to its size and shape, which resemble a tablet. It measures 5.57 meters long and 4.36 meters wide, and it is made up of more than 20,000 small colored tiles.

6. The Croix-Rousse Neighborhood

Croix-Rousse Neighborhood

La Croix-Rousse is a historic neighborhood in Lyon that is known for its bohemian vibe, lively markets, and stunning views of the city. Located on a hill overlooking the city center, La Croix-Rousse is a popular destination for visitors to Lyon.

One of the highlights of La Croix-Rousse is the weekly market, which takes place every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday morning. The La Croix-Rousse Market offers a wide range of goods, including fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and handmade crafts. Visitors can browse the stalls and sample local specialties like saucisson and fresh-baked bread.

Another popular attraction in the neighborhood is the stunning panoramic views of the city that can be seen from the hilltop. Visitors can climb to the top of the hill and enjoy the views, or take the funicular for a more leisurely ascent. This is one of the nicest things to do in Lyon.

7. Musée Des Beaux Arts

Musée Des Beaux Arts

The Musée des Beaux-Arts is a renowned fine arts museum located in the heart of Lyon, France.

Unlike the nearby Musée d'Histoire de Lyon and Musée des Confluences, which focus on specific themes or periods, the Musée des Beaux-Arts is dedicated to the study and exhibition of works of art spanning a wide range of eras and genres.

Its collections include works by renowned artists such as Rubens, Monet, and Picasso, as well as lesser-known artists and local treasures. With its world-class collections and beautiful setting, the Musée des Beaux-Arts is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the history and culture of Lyon and the wider world.

The Musée des Confluences is an eye-catching ultra-modern building and science center in Lyon. This is another of the fun and unique things to do in Lyon.

8. Visit the Stunning Place Bellecour

Place Bellecour

Place Bellecour is a large public square located in the center of Lyon. It is one of the largest open squares in Europe that has no green spaces. The square is home to a statue of Louis XIV, which stands at the center of the square.

Place Bellecour is not far from other squares that boast major tourist attractions in the city. Check out the Place de la Comédie, which is home to the famous Opéra de Lyon, and the Place des Terreaux, which is home to the City Hall and the Museum of Fine Arts.

9. Pick Up Fresh Ingredients at Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse

Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse

Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse is a renowned food market located in Lyon, France. Named after the famous French chef, Paul Bocuse, the market is a popular destination for foodies and locals alike.

The Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse features over 60 stalls selling a wide range of high-quality products, including fresh produce, meats, cheeses, pastries, and wine. It has a strong reputation for quality and is considered one of the best food markets in France.

Visitors can explore the market, sample the many delicious foods on offer, and purchase fresh ingredients to cook with at home. Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the rich culinary traditions of Lyon and France.

This is one of the most authentic and local things to do in Lyon for tourists.

10. Relax at the Grand Parc Miribel Jonage

Grand Parc Miribel Jonage

The Grand Parc Miribel Jonage is a beautiful natural park located just outside of Lyon, France. With over 2,200 hectares of forests, lakes, and rivers, the park offers a wide range of outdoor activities for visitors of all ages and interests.

Some of the popular activities at the Grand Parc Miribel Jonage include hiking, cycling, swimming, boating, fishing, and birdwatching.

11. Visit the animals at Lyon Zoo

Lyon Zoo

Lyon Zoo, also known as Parc Zoologique de Lyon, is a popular animal park located in the heart of the Parc de la Tête d'Or in Lyon, France.

The zoo spans over 8 hectares and is home to over 400 animal species from all over the world, including lions, tigers, giraffes, elephants, and many others.

One of the unique features of Lyon Zoo is its focus on conservation and education. The zoo's mission is to protect and preserve endangered species, and to educate visitors about the importance of biodiversity and the role humans can play in conservation efforts.

12. The Hôtel De Ville

Hôtel De Ville

The Hôtel de Ville, or Town Hall, is a stunning historical building located in the heart of Lyon, France. The building dates back to the mid-17th century and is considered one of the most impressive examples of French Renaissance architecture in the country.

Today, the Hôtel de Ville serves as the administrative headquarters for the city of Lyon. It is also a popular destination for visitors who are interested in Lyon's rich history and architecture. The building features an ornate façade, intricate stone carvings, and a magnificent bell tower.

13. The Resistance and Deportation Museum

Resistance and Deportation Museum

The Resistance and Deportation Museum, or Centre d'Histoire de la Résistance et de la Déportation, is an impressive museum located in Lyon, France.

The museum is dedicated to educating visitors about the history of the French Resistance and Nazi occupation during World War II.

14. Visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site or Two

UNESCO World Heritage Site at Lyon, France

A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place or landmark that has been recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as having outstanding cultural or natural significance to humanity.

Around 10% of Lyon, including 162 buildings, is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The aim of this program is to protect and preserve such sites for future generations, as they are considered to be important examples of human creativity and achievement, and irreplaceable sources of cultural and natural heritage.

15. Visit Rue de la République

Rue de la République

Rue de la République is a major street in Lyon, France, that is known for its shopping and historical significance.

The street runs from Place Bellecour, one of the largest public squares in Europe, to the Opéra Nouvel, a stunning 19th-century opera house.

Today, the street is lined with high-end boutiques, luxury shops, and trendy restaurants, making it a popular destination for both locals and tourists.

16. Rue des Trois Maries

Rue des Trois Maries

Rue des Trois is a picturesque street located in the historic district of Vieux Lyon in Lyon, France. The street is named after three sisters who were renowned for their beauty and were said to have lived there in the 16th century.

One of the highlights near the Rue des Trois Maries is the Maison des Avocats, a stunning 16th-century mansion that is now home to the Lyon Bar Association. The house features a beautiful courtyard with a fountain and is open to the public during certain times of the year.

17. Maison des Canuts

Maison des Canuts

The Maison des Canuts, or the Silk Workers' Center, is a museum and cultural center in Lyon, France that is dedicated to the city's rich silk-weaving heritage.

The museum is located in the historic district of Croix-Rousse, which was once the center of the silk industry in Lyon.

The Maison offers visitors a fascinating look into the history of silk weaving in Lyon, from its origins in the Middle Ages to its heyday in the 19th century.

18. Walk the Rhône River

Rhône River

The Rhône is one of the major rivers in Europe, flowing from its source in the Swiss Alps through southeastern France and into the Mediterranean Sea.

The river is spanned by several historic bridges, including the Pont de la Guillotière and the Pont Lafayette, both of which offer stunning views of the city skyline.

19. Walk the Saône river

The Saône River is another important river in Lyon, flowing from its source in the Vosges Mountains of eastern France and joining the Rhône River in the heart of the city. It is approximately 480 kilometers long and is known for its calm, picturesque waters, and scenic landscapes.

The Saône River is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, offering numerous opportunities for recreational activities such as boating, kayaking, and fishing. Take a river cruise for some unique and fun Lyon sightseeing.

20. The Institut Lumiere

Institut Lumiere

The Institut Lumière is a museum of sacred art and a cultural center located in Lyon that is dedicated to the Lumière brothers, Auguste and Louis Lumière, who were pioneers in the field of cinema.

The Institut Lumière is housed in the Lumière family's former residence and features a permanent exhibition that showcases the history and development of cinema, as well as the Lumière brothers' contributions to the field.

21. Visit Fresque des Lyonnais

Fresque des Lyonnais

The Fresque des Lyonnais, or "Lyon's Fresco," is a large-scale mural located in the 1st arrondissement of Lyon, France. The mural measures 800 square meters and depicts 30 famous figures from Lyon's history, culture, and industry.

The Fresque des Lyonnais was created in 1994 by a team of artists led by CitéCréation, a Lyon-based mural company known for its public art installations. It is one of many things to do in Lyon related to mural art and definitely worth checking out.

22. Eat at Brasserie Le Sud

Brasserie Le Sud

Brasserie Le Sud is a popular restaurant located in the heart of Lyon. The restaurant offers a menu that is inspired by the culinary traditions of the Mediterranean, particularly the cuisine of the southern region of France.

23. The Museum of Printing and Graphic Communication

Museum of Printing and Graphic Communication

The Museum of Printing and Graphic Communication, or Musée de l'Imprimerie et de la Communication Graphique in French, is a fascinating museum located in Lyon.

It is dedicated to the art and science of printing, including the history of the printing press, typography, and graphic design. The museum houses an impressive collection of printing presses, tools, and machines from different periods in history.

24. Explore Lyon's Opera House

Lyon's Opera House

The Lyon Opera House, or Opéra de Lyon in French, is a world-renowned opera company located in Lyon, France.

The current opera house building, which was inaugurated in 1993, is a stunning example of modern architecture, featuring a sleek and minimalist design.

The Lyon Opera House is famous for its innovative and eclectic programming, which includes a mix of classical and contemporary operas, ballets, and other performances.

25. Explore the Rue Victor Hugo

Rue Victor Hugo

Rue Victor Hugo is a pedestrian street located in the heart of Lyon, France.

It is named after Victor Hugo, one of France's most celebrated writers and poets, who is best known for his novels Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

The street stretches for approximately 2.6 kilometers from Place Bellecour to Place de la République and is lined with numerous shops, restaurants, and cafes.

26. Coq au Vin: Try a Regional Specialty al Fresco

Coq au Vin

In Lyon, there are several restaurants where you can try coq au vin, including Le Bouchon des Cordeliers, a cozy bistro located in the city's historic center.

Le Bouchon des Cordeliers is known for its authentic Lyonnaise cuisine. Dine al fresco under the stars for a fulfilling and tranquil experience.

FAQs Regarding Things to Do in Lyon

Let's look at some of your most frequently asked questions relating to things to do in Lyon, France.

Is Lyon worth visiting?

Yes, Lyon is definitely worth visiting. The city is the third-largest in France and is known for its rich history, vibrant culture, and exceptional cuisine. Make sure to visit the top Lyon attractions when you visit Lyon, such as the Cathédrale Saint Jean Baptiste and its spectacular stained glass windows that date back to the 1300s, which were packed away during the Second World War to preserve them.

What is Lyon famous for?

Lyon is famous for several things, including its Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière and its Festival of Lights (Fête des Lumières). This is a four-day event that takes place every December and features light installations, music, and other artistic performances.

What to do in Lyon in 3 days?

If you're planning to spend three days in Lyon, you should explore Vieux Lyon and the Croix Rousse neighborhood. Check out the Lyon Cathedral, La Maison des Canuts, and the Parc de la Tête d'Or, one of Europe's largest urban parks.

In the evenings, head to the Place des Terreaux, a beautiful square in the heart of the city, and enjoy a drink or meal in one of the many restaurants or bars. There is a lot of quintessential French architecture around the Place des Terreaux.

How many days in Lyon is enough?

With so many things to do in Lyon, you can spend anything from a couple of days to a week here. Most visitors find that two to three days in Lyon is enough to see many of the city's main attractions and get a feel for its culture and cuisine. Make sure to plan a busy schedule when visiting Lyon so you can see its main hot spots.

Summing Up: Best Things to Do in Lyon, France

As you can see, there are many fun and unique things to do in Lyon. From the stunning Vieux Lyon to the world-renowned cuisine, there's something here for everyone.

During your stay, you can explore the city's rich cultural and historical heritage, including its Fine Arts Museum and the Croix Rousse neighborhood.

Lyon is a city that has something for everyone, whether you're interested in history, art, food, or simply exploring a new place. It is one of the best places to visit in France.

So, save this list of things to do in Lyon and start planning your French vacation now.