The 26 Best Things to Do in Lyon

Lyon, often hailed as the gastronomic capital of France, is a city that seamlessly blends history, culture, and culinary excellence. This city is a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be uncovered. Whether you’re a history buff, a food enthusiast, or an avid explorer, Lyon offers a diverse array of activities. Here, we’ll embark on a journey through the 26 Best Things to Do in Lyon.

Best Things to Do in Lyon

 1. Discover Vieux Lyon – The Old Town

Step back in time as you wander through the cobblestone streets of Vieux Lyon, the city’s charming old town. Admire the Renaissance architecture, pastel-colored buildings and narrow passageways that connect streets and courtyards. Don’t forget to visit Saint Jean Cathedral, a magnificent example of Gothic architecture. The Old Town’s ambiance is enchanting, and you can easily get lost in its maze of history.

 2. Confluence Museum

Witness the blend of modernity and history at the Confluence Museum. This architectural masterpiece is perched at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers and offers an impressive collection of science, anthropology, and ethnology exhibits. The museum’s cutting-edge design is as captivating as the exhibits it houses, making it a must-visit for lovers of art, science, and architecture.

 3. Indulge in Lyonnaise Cuisine

Lyon’s reputation as a culinary haven is well-deserved. Savor traditional Lyonnaise dishes like coq au vin, quenelles, andouillette, and the iconic Lyonnais salad. Venture into the bouchons, local bistros known for their hearty, homemade dishes and warm hospitality. Lyon is also famous for its food markets; Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse is a food lover’s paradise, offering a plethora of fresh produce and gourmet delights.

 4. Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière

Perched atop the Fourvière Hill, the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière offers breathtaking panoramic views of Lyon. This awe-inspiring basilica is a masterpiece of architecture, featuring intricate mosaics and stunning stained glass windows. It’s a place of solace and wonder, where you can appreciate the city’s beauty and religious heritage.

 5. Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse

For those with a love for all things gastronomic, Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse is a paradise. Named after the legendary chef, this indoor market is a treasure trove of culinary delights. Explore the stalls overflowing with artisan cheeses, charcuterie, chocolates, and wines. It’s a sensory journey that allows you to taste and take home the essence of Lyon’s rich food culture.

 6. Presqu’île – The Peninsula

The Presqu’île is Lyon’s bustling heart, situated between the Rhône and Saône rivers. It’s a hub of shopping, dining, and entertainment. Stroll through the Place Bellecour, one of Europe’s largest squares, and visit the many boutiques, cafes, and restaurants. Don’t miss the iconic Bartholdi Fountain and Terreaux Square, where you’ll find the Museum of Fine Arts and the striking City Hall.

 7. Parc de la Tête d’Or

Escape the city’s hustle and bustle by exploring Parc de la Tête d’Or, one of the largest urban parks in France. You can take leisurely walks around the lake, visit the zoo, or simply enjoy a picnic amidst lush greenery. The park’s serene atmosphere and diverse flora and fauna make it a perfect place to unwind and connect with nature.

 8. Mur des Canuts – The Fresco of the Silk Workers

Admire Lyon’s vibrant street art scene with a visit to the Mur des Canuts, a massive mural depicting the city’s silk workers. This masterpiece, located in the Croix-Rousse district, offers a glimpse into the history of Lyon’s textile industry. It’s a colorful testament to the city’s artistic spirit and working-class heritage.

 9. Croix-Rousse – The Silk District

Explore the Croix-Rousse district, where the echoes of Lyon’s silk-weaving past still resonate. Wander through the traboules and experience the bohemian atmosphere of this neighborhood. Visit Maison des Canuts to learn about the silk industry’s history and craftsmanship, and perhaps pick up some exquisite silk souvenirs.

 10. Musée des Confluences

For lovers of science and culture, the Musée des Confluences is a must-visit. This futuristic museum boasts a diverse collection that spans from prehistoric artifacts to contemporary science exhibitions. The building itself is a work of art, resembling a giant crystal resting at the confluence of the rivers.

 11. Traboules of Croix-Rousse

Delve even deeper into Lyon’s secret passageways by exploring the Traboules of Croix-Rousse. These hidden passages were once used by silk workers to transport their delicate wares. Today, they offer an intimate view of local life and architecture. Each traboule is a unique experience, like stepping into the city’s history.

 12. Musée des Beaux-Arts – Museum of Fine Arts

Lyon’s Museum of Fine Arts is a treasure trove for art enthusiasts. Housed in a majestic 17th-century building, it features a vast collection of European art, including works by Picasso, Rembrandt, and Monet. The museum’s beautifully curated galleries are an art lover’s dream, and its free admission makes it even more appealing.

 13. Parc de la Cerisaie

Parc de la Cerisaie, or the Cherry Blossom Park, is a serene escape from the city’s buzz. In spring, the park bursts into a vibrant display of cherry blossoms, creating a picturesque setting for a leisurely walk or a picnic. It’s a local favorite and an enchanting spot to appreciate the fleeting beauty of nature.

 14. Silk Workshops

Lyon’s silk industry has left a profound mark on its culture. Dive into the art of silk production by attending a silk workshop. You can learn about silk weaving, dyeing, and even create your own silk souvenir. It’s a hands-on experience that connects you to Lyon’s artisanal heritage.

 15. Musée Miniature et Cinéma – Miniature and Cinema Museum

This captivating museum invites you to explore the world of miniature art and cinema. The collection includes meticulously crafted miniatures and an extensive exhibit on the history of cinema. It’s a fascinating journey through the art of illusion, showcasing the skills of model makers and filmmakers.

 16. Les Halles Paul Bocuse – Cooking Classes

For the culinary enthusiast, Les Halles Paul Bocuse offers cooking classes that allow you to learn the art of Lyonnais cuisine from local experts. Master the techniques of crafting traditional dishes, and take a piece of Lyon’s culinary heritage back home with you.

 17. Place des Terreaux – The Heart of the City

Stroll over to Place des Terreaux, the central square of Lyon, and behold the beauty of the Bartholdi Fountain and the opulent City Hall. This square is not only architecturally stunning but also a hub of activity and a fantastic place to people-watch.

 18. L’Île Barbe – Island of Tranquility

Escape the city’s hustle once more and visit L’Île Barbe, a serene island in the Saône River. This peaceful retreat offers historical sites, beautiful gardens, and a glimpse of rural life within the city. It’s the perfect spot to find solitude and unwind.

 19. Musée de l’Imprimerie – Printing Museum

Discover the evolution of printing at the Musée de l’Imprimerie. Lyon has a rich history in the printing industry, and this museum showcases the development of printing techniques, from Gutenberg’s press to modern technology. It’s an educational and visually engaging experience.

 20. La Croix-Rousse Market

Amble through the colorful La Croix-Rousse Market, which takes place every morning except Mondays. You’ll find a variety of local products, from fresh produce to artisanal crafts. Engage with local vendors and immerse yourself in Lyon’s vibrant market culture.

 21. La Fresque des Lyonnais – Wall of the Lyonnais

A fascinating piece of street art, La Fresque des Lyonnais is a mural that depicts 31 notable figures from Lyon’s history. Stroll through the Rue de la Martinière, and you’ll find yourself face-to-face with figures like the Lumière Brothers and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, all part of Lyon’s rich cultural legacy.

 22. Theatrical Experiences

Lyon’s thriving theater scene offers a diverse range of performances, from classic plays to contemporary works. Venues like the Théâtre des Célestins and the Théâtre des Marronniers provide an opportunity to immerse yourself in the world of French drama and artistic expression.

 23. The Ruins of Lugdunum

Step back in time at the Roman Theater of Fourvière and the Odeon of Lyon. These remarkably preserved ruins date back to the Roman Empire and offer an insight into the history of Lugdunum, the ancient city that eventually became Lyon. The hillside setting also provides sweeping views of the city.

 24. Musée Gadagne – Lyon History Museum

Uncover Lyon’s history and traditions at the Musée Gadagne, located in a beautifully restored Renaissance building. The museum houses exhibitions on puppetry and the history of Lyon, providing a captivating journey through the city’s heritage.

 25. The Mur des Canuts – A Tale of Two Murals

In addition to the famous Mur des Canuts in Croix-Rousse, there’s another mural you shouldn’t miss. The Mur des Canuts is another example of Lyon’s affinity for street art. This vibrant depiction of the neighborhood’s history is both eye-catching and a testament to Lyon’s vibrant artistic spirit.

 26. Cité Internationale

End your Lyon journey with a visit to the Cité Internationale. This modern complex houses the Musée d’Art Contemporain and the luxurious Parc de la Tête d’Or. It’s a fitting finale to your exploration of Lyon, symbolizing the city’s harmonious blend of tradition and contemporary culture.

As we conclude our journey through the 26 Best Things to Do in Lyon, remember that this list merely scratches the surface of what this magnificent city has to offer. Lyon, with its blend of culture, history, and culinary excellence, is a destination that will linger in your heart long after you’ve left.

Whether you’re savoring the flavors of a traditional Lyonnais meal or immersing yourself in the city’s artistic treasures, Lyon is a place where the past and present coexist harmoniously. It’s a city that invites you to explore, taste, and experience the essence of France in a truly unique and unforgettable way.

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