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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
Bellecour Square (Place Bellecour)

Bellecour Square (Place Bellecour)

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Lyon’s major hub, and one of the largest public squares in France, the Bellecour Square is located in the heart of the city on the Presqu'île peninsula. Spanning 15 acres (six hectares, the pedestrianized square is a popular meeting place and is also part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site that encompasses several key Lyon districts.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
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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Dominating the skyline in the city of Lyon, the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere is one of Lyon’s most recognizable buildings. With a fairytale castle exterior and ornate gilded interior, it attracts visitors from all over the world, especially those interested in sacred architecture.More
#5
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
#6
Ancient Theatre of Fourvière (Théâtre Antique de Lyon)

Ancient Theatre of Fourvière (Théâtre Antique de Lyon)

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One of Lyon’s most significant Roman–era landmarks, the UNESCO-listed Ancient Theatre of Fourvière (Théâtre Antique de Lyon is a living testament to the city’s millennia-long history. Built around 15 BC, when Lyon was still known as “Lugdunum,” the arena could once seat 10,000 spectators, and is still used for performances today.More
#7
Lyon Les Halles Market (Les Halles Paul Bocuse)

Lyon Les Halles Market (Les Halles Paul Bocuse)

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Lyon’s covered Les Halles Market (Les Halles Paul Bocuse has been open since 1970. They’re named in honor of Paul Bocuse, a legendary figure on both the French and international cooking scene. More than 95% of the shops are run by business owners who really know their products.More
#8
Tête d'Or Park (Parc de la Tête d'Or)

Tête d'Or Park (Parc de la Tête d'Or)

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Tête d'Or Park was designed by landscape architect Denis Bühler and opened in 1856. It’s home to one of France's leading botanical gardens, with more than 20,000 plant varieties, where you’ll find an international rose garden and a zoological area devoted to species of the African plains.More
#9
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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Home to one of France’s most outstanding art collections, the Lyon Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon is often described as the “little Louvre.” Housed in a restored, 17th-century convent, the museum’s collection spans from Antiquity to the Modern Age, from Egyptian artifacts to Cubist canvases.More
#10
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

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

Golden stones Beaujolais Wine Tour with Tastings from Lyon
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Beaujolais gourmet wine tour Small-Group Tour with Tasting from Lyon
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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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Lyon Highlights & Secrets Walking Guided Tour (small group) including Funicular
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Lyon Old Town Five Tasting Stops Walking Food Tour with Lunch
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Beaujolais half day
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Lyon Electric Bike Tour including Food Tasting with a Local Guide
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Lyon Old Town Half-Day Walking Food Tour with Local Specialties Tasting & Lunch
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Discover Lyon in an Unusual Way
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Lyon Small-Group Guided Electric Bike Tour with a Local Guide
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Beaujolais Wine tasting

Beaujolais Wine tasting

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$455.81
per group
Lyon Small Group Guided Electric Bike Tour with Food Tasting
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Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

Recent reviews from experiences in Lyon

star-5
Great Experience
Shane_Z, Jun 2022
Lyon Small-Group Guided Electric Bike Tour with a Local Guide
This was a perfect way to see Lyon.
star-5
Great intro to the city and their treasures
Pedro_B, Jun 2022
Lyon Old Town Walking Guided Food Tour
Good knowledge and sharing of Lyon history and tips on food, restaurants and places to visit.
star-5
HIGHLY RECOMMEND this pedi-cab tour of Lyon.
Tamara_C, Jun 2022
Discover Lyon in an Unusual Way
Was a great way to see the old city and many of its secret places.
star-5
Lyon Walking Tour with Great Guide Toni
Laura_L, Jun 2022
Lyon Highlights & Secrets Walking Guided Tour (small group) including Funicular
Seeing the old town and taking the funicular up to see 2000 year old Roman ruins was amazing.
star-5
Had a great time and our...
Brecken_L, Jun 2022
Segway Grand Tour of Lyon - 2-hours
She spoke to us in English and the others in French.
star-5
The way to go !!
Annette_T, May 2022
Discover Lyon in an Unusual Way
Great fun witness our guide Thomas All in English Weather was fabulous A fantastic way to discover Lyon
star-5
5-Star Experience
Paul_T, Mar 2022
Lyon Highlights & Secrets Walking Guided Tour (small group) including Funicular
He was very knowledgeable, extremely friendly and helpful in recommending other activities especially restaurants.
star-4
Enjoyed our tour
Beth_D, Jun 2022
Lyon Private Walking Tour With A Professional Guide
Our guide was lovely and informed, but her English was not as understandable as we felt it should be for the quality of tour this was.
star-5
Professional and Informative
kathrinemusgrove, May 2022
Lyon Big Traboules in Little City Stories from the Past Private Guided Tour
His English was very easy to understand (something we had struggled with on other tours) he was extremely knowledgeable, and he was also able to give us information on anything extra we showed interest in.
star-5
All about Lyon
LacyCamp, Sep 2021
Lyon Like a Local Customized Private Guided Tour
He was very responsive to what we wanted to see and exceptionally well educated in information about Lyon.
star-5
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_C, 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
robert_w, 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
star-5
THOROUGH AND VERY NICE
ROBERT_I, Sep 2019
Lyon Big Traboules in Little City Stories from the Past Private Guided Tour
Excellent English!!
star-5
Fun tour through Lyon
Matthew_D, 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
Patricia_J, 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
The Lyon City card is the best deal...
James_P, 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
Perfect. Vincent was...
Bruno_V, Apr 2022
Discover Lyon in an Unusual Way
We are first time in Lyon, and this tour is the best way to visit many things, part of history, part of wanderful buildings, small streets, old town, gallerys, restorants...
star-5
Our guide Pauline was great. The...
Linda_I, Sep 2017
Lyon Electric Bike Tour including Food Tasting with a Local Guide
Wonderful way to see the lovely Lyon.
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All about Lyon

Time Zone
CEST (UTC +1)

People Also Ask

What is Lyon famous for?

Silk-making traditions and UNESCO neighborhoods aside, Lyon is best known as the French gastronomic capital. Home of the lauded chef Paul Bocuse, the city is acclaimed for its rustic and rich cuisine, its cozy bouchon Lyonnais eateries, and impressive food markets like the historic Les Halles de Lyon.

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What is there to do in Lyon for one day?

Browse Les Halles de Lyon early to see the food market with fewer people. Sit-down bistro fare or food-to-go are your lunch options; picnic-perfect Tête d'Or Park is a stroll away. After lingering at the in-park zoo, cross town to Vieux Lyon, where traboules and bouchon Lyonnais eateries await.

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How long should you spend in Lyon?

An easy hop by train from Paris or plane from London, Lyon is ideal for a long weekend getaway. Spend two full days to see the city’s markets and museums and your nights reveling in the city's abundant evening food and drink options.

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What should I not miss in Lyon?

One of Lyon’s main attractions is the Ancient Theatre of Fourvière, which offers history and views in one fell swoop. Built around 17 BC, the site is one of the oldest Roman theaters in France with seating for some 10,000 people. Impressive history aside, the views alone wow.

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What does Lyon mean in English?

There are two explanations behind the meaning of Lyon. Some believe the name derived from the French word for lion—meaning courageous warrior—while others suggest that the city’s original Roman name Lugdunum, the Latin form of a word for hill fortress, evolved to become Lyon.

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Is Lyon worth visiting?

Yes. Less touristy than Paris, the city offers both authentic French culture and cuisine and is worth making a part of your European trip. Lyon is also a good jumping-off point for wine and scenery lovers, as the Beaujolais wine region and Lake Annecy are within easy reach.

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Frequently Asked Questions
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