If you're looking for an ideal place to visit in France, it's hard to beat Lyon, a place that easily has about 2,000 years of history and sits at the foot of the Alps, sandwiched between two rivers. Truth be told, there is plenty to do in the area, regardless of how you prefer to spend your time throughout the course of a single day. Below are 20 things that you can do while you're there. Rest assured, no matter what you decide to do, you're bound to have a good time.
20. Vieux Lyon
This is easily one of the oldest areas in this entire region, and that's really saying something when you consider that a lot of the region stretches all the way back to the 16th century. Here, you can enjoy long walks, good food or simply perusing some local outdoor markets, all on original cobblestone streets that date back for hundreds of years. It truly feels like you've stepped out of your current time and stepped back into history in all the best ways possible.
One of the most interesting things about these places is that they were designed during the Renaissance period, with the express intention of giving silk workers direct access to the river. As a result, they run underneath the main streets and they give an entirely new life to the city that's all its own. They're beautifully designed and well-lit, so it works well if you want to walk around and explore them at night. It's also worth mentioning that there are roughly 40 of them in the area, each one of them having its own unique personality and atmosphere.
18. Fourvière Basilica
This enormous church has been sitting on the hill overlooking the city since the 17th century. It was designed in honor of the Virgin Mary and it's truly one of the most spectacular churches in the entire region, not to mention the largest one in the city itself. Just seeing if from a far is a sight to behold. Having the opportunity to actually walk up close and even tour the interior of the church is on an entirely different level and it's not something that you will soon forget.
17. Parc de la Tête d’Or
Do you fancy a trip to the zoo or perhaps to see the botanical gardens? This is the perfect place to do both of those things and you can do it all in one location. As a matter of fact, this particular location has long become one of the foremost authorities on both the wildlife and the types of plants housed there. It's an experience that you won't ever forget because it's one that's quite unlike anything you've probably ever experienced before. Whether you're typically a fan of going to the zoo or seeing the gardens or not, this is something that you don't want to miss.
This is the place that connects all the shops, restaurants and museums that you want to see throughout the entire area. It's a very small area that essentially serves as something of a footbridge between two rivers, but it's also widely regarded as one of the most important engineering feats of its time. If it weren't for this walkway, it would be much more difficult to get to all of the other attractions that the area offers. To be honest, it's an honor to be able to walk this area in its own right, especially when you have beautiful weather to enjoy it all. It's especially popular at night when all the lights are up and everyone can get perfect views that serve as ideal photoshoot opportunities.
15. Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon
Aside from the Louvre in Paris, this is the largest Fine Arts Museum in the entire country. It's also worth noting that it's housed in a building that served as an abbey during the 1600s. That particular atmosphere still permeates the area and it makes for an absolutely beautiful backdrop, whether you're looking at the pieces of art inside the building or you're simply outside walking along the grounds. It's something that you won't soon forget. As a matter of fact, it's probably something that will have you wanting to come back again and again.
14. Ancient Theatre of Fourvière
Imagine being able to visit this theater that is no less than 2,000 years old. During its heyday, it would commonly hold as many as 10,000 people who would come from all areas in order to see what was going on there. Whether you are a lover of the Arts or not, this is a place that you simply cannot miss because it's such an important piece of history.
13. Gallo-Roman Museum of Lyon-Fourvière
This is truly one of the most interesting museums in the area. Part of it is above ground and the rest has been dug into the adjacent hillside from the aforementioned ancient theater, giving you a bird's-eye view into what things might have looked like 2,000 years ago. The entire museum is made from concrete and is done in a modern, minimalistic design that features different types of displays. The museum itself is absolutely monstrous and it takes some time to get from beginning to end, but it's well worth the effort. It truly is a one-of-a-kind experience that you simply can't get anywhere else, so if you have the opportunity to enjoy it, you would be doing yourself a disservice not to take advantage of it.
12. Lyon Cathedral
This enormous cathedral was built over the course of several hundred years, between the 12th and 15th centuries. The windows weren't added until the late 1600s. Since then, the overwhelming majority of the building has remained unchanged, especially with regard to the exterior. It's an absolutely phenomenal building with exceptional architecture. It also feels like you're stepping back into history when you look at it, making it well worth the trip.
11. Institut Lumière
If you love going to the cinema, you absolutely have to make this a priority. The entire museum is dedicated to the two brothers who share the same namesake as the museum itself. These two individuals are often considered to be responsible for the art of moviemaking as a whole. Even if you are only an occasional moviegoer, this is still an experience that can't be equaled. Anyone who genuinely loves going to the cinema should definitely take the opportunity to visit this location if they have the chance, because they won't regret that decision. Most people say that it's one that they cherish throughout their entire lives.
10. Musée Gadagne
This location basically serves as a museum for the entire city. If it happened in or near the city and it is of any amount of historical importance, then it is documented in this museum. As a result, it becomes an important record-keeper of things that happened in the area. It's also an important place to go for anyone who loves French culture or has some type of connection to the area.
9. Musée Miniature et Cinéma
This is probably one of the most unique locations you'll ever visit in France or anywhere else around the world. It's all about sets that are used in the cinema and it's divided into two distinct areas, one of which involves miniature scenes and others that are termed “hyper-realistic”. The building itself was built in the seventeenth century and is no less than five stories tall. All of its massive square footage is filled with different types of scenes from the cinema over the years, so if you love going to see movies and you want to see a bit of how they're done behind the scenes, you definitely don't want to miss this one.
8. Lyon’s Murals
The city is absolutely full of beautiful murals that have been painted on the sides of buildings throughout. It's truly one of the most majestic things that you will ever see. In addition, the sheer talent of these artists is something that shines through so readily that it's almost breathtaking. It's something that the locals have become very proud of over the years and it's also something that tourists are in complete awe of. If you want to see some of the best murals anywhere in the world, then this is the place to do it.
7. Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse
This is probably one of the most unique places you'll ever visit, but it's also the ideal place if you consider yourself a foodie. It's a place where people who love food can come together because the entire area is dedicated to exactly that. As such, you have the opportunity to try different types of food from different cultures and truly experience everything that the area has to offer.
6. Lyonnaise Cuisine
Speaking of food, who wouldn't want to try one of the most well-regarded restaurants in the entire city? If you really want to know what eating at one of the best public restaurants in the city is like, then this is the place that you need to be. They have all kinds of traditional French cuisine and a few other international options are on the menu as well. It's all prepared fresh by top rated chefs and it's something that you will remember fondly for the rest of your life.
5. Guided Sightseeing Cruise
If you really want to see everything the city has to offer and enjoy it all from the comfort of traveling across the water, then you can take a sightseeing cruise. One of the best things about this cruise is that it gives you the opportunity to enjoy so many different things all at one time.
4. Lyon City Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing Bus Tour
This is exactly what you would probably expect from a bus tour. You get the chance to sit still, in one place, and let all of the attractions come to you. It’s an opportunity to enjoy the sights of the city without having to navigate any of it yourself, which is great if you aren’t familiar with the area. It also gives you a chance to enjoy all of the sights without forcing you to be out in the weather in the same manner you would be if you were on foot.
3. Lyon Aquarium
Who doesn’t love an aquarium? This is easily one of the foremost aquariums in the entire country and it’s also a great place to go enjoy the day while simultaneously seeing some of the most interesting aquatic creatures in existence. It doesn’t matter if it’s rainy or if the sun is shining, this is a day that you won’t soon forget.
2. Take a walking tour with a local guide
What if you have a burning desire to see everything the city has to offer up close and personal, yet you don’t know the area well enough to enjoy it on your own? You can still walk through the city with a personalized walking tour that gives you a chance to enjoy everything you want to see, all without the worry that comes with getting lost. It’s definitely one of the best ways to enjoy the city without getting unintentionally sidetracked.
1. Take a guided audio tour on the tram
Last but not least, you have the chance to take an hour-long tram journey throughout the city, complete with audio to guide you through each landmark. It’s an excellent way to enjoy the city when you’re short on time, yet you still want to enjoy everything the city has to offer. If you’re interested in learning more information about any of these activities, you can find some good tips on Trip Advisor. That way, you can arrive with an idea of what you’d like to spend your time doing while you’re there. Of course, it’s also important to leave some room for the unexpected, as you don’t want to miss out on savoring the moment.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn