Located in the southeast of France, the city of Lyon is known for its quaint architecture, unique cuisine and vibrant cultural beauty. So, is Lyon worth visiting, how to visit Lyon, what to do in Lyon and how to plan a budget trip to Lyon for the first-time perfectly? Let’s check out our Lyon travel blog (Lyon blog) with the fullest Lyon travel guide (Lyon city guide, Lyon guide, Lyon France travel guide) from how to get to Lyon, best places to visit, best time to come, what to eat as well as top things to do in Lyon to help you maximize your trip as follows!
- What to buy in Paris? — 25+ must buy souvenirs, gifts & best things to buy in Paris
- Paris travel blog — The fullest Paris travel guide for first-timers
- Avignon travel blog — The fullest Avignon travel guide guide for first-timers
- Toulouse travel blog — The fullest Toulouse travel guide guide for first-timers
- Where to take best photos in Paris? — 17+ good spots & best places to take pictures in Paris you should know
Lyon or Lyons is the third largest city and second largest metropolitan area of France. It is located in the central-southeastern part of the country at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers, about 470 km (292 mi) south of Paris, 320 km (199 mi) north of Marseille and 56 km east of Saint north-Etienne. The inhabitants of the city are called Lyonnais.
If Paris is as crowded and vibrant as Hanoi or Saigon, perhaps Lyon is as gentle and pleasant as Danang of Vietnam. Having the opportunity to visit many cities in France, through each city, each place leaves its own impression and color. But for me, if I had to vote for an impressive city in France, it would be Lyon, where the festival of lights is located, where it is extremely clean and peaceful.
Overview of Lyon (#lyon travel blog)
Lyon is a city located in the southeast of France, at the confluence of two rivers, the Rhône and the Saône. Lyon is the capital of the Rhône department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes administrative region of France. In French the people of Lyon are called Lyonnais. The French city of Lyon has existed for a long time, formerly founded by the Romans in 43 BC and is one of the key cities. In the Middle Ages it was also an important trading city, dominating the routes that stretched from Northern Europe to the Mediterranean and Italy. Lyon became the capital of the textile industry in France and gradually became a major garment center of the country later.
Lyon nestled between the hills Fourvière and Croix Rousse. It is known as the second largest metropolitan area after Paris. Different from the noisy and bustling of the capital, Lyon always retains its full beauty of peace. Coming here, you can freely explore the long history, admire the poetic natural landscape or the magnificent architectural heritages recognized by UNESCO. Therefore, if you are interested in historical and cultural aspects, there is no better place than Lyon.
Today, the city of Lyon remains one of the largest industrial and commercial centers in France. With the transport link between the railway and the road, and one of the busiest airports in the country, it has made it easier to transport and import goods that contributing to the prosperity of the city.
When should you travel to Lyon? (#lyon blog)
Lyon has a typical temperate climate, with rainfall all year round. The winter months are dry, with summers usually quite hot. From May to September is summer season, pleasant weather. October is the wettest month you should avoid going during this time, it’s a good time to visit Lyon. The most beautiful time to travel to Lyon is in January when the trees are budding, the green color is flooding and the weather is pleasant and cool.
However, there is a time when you should avoid going to Lyon that is around the 2nd and 3rd week of August. This is the time when in Lyon there are often heavy rains accompanied by prolonged thunder and lightning, making the trip difficult.
Lyon is also home to many major cultural events, the most prominent of which is the globally famous Festival of Lights (French name is Fêtes des Lumieres), which is held annually in December.
Getting to Lyon (#lyon travel guide)
Lyon Saint Exupéry International Airport is about 25 km from the city center is the largest airport in the region, a great destination for airlines such as Vietnam Airlines, Air France, Thai Airways or Singapore Airlines, Emirates, United… Right here, you can also catch connecting flights to more than 100 other destinations.
Lyon has 2 train stations right in the heart of the city: Part-Dieu and Perrach. The 3rd station at Lyon Saint Exupéry Airport.
I took the train from Gare de Lyon, Paris to Lyon Part Dieu, Lyon for about 2 hours. All train tickets I bought at the website Thetrainline.com, the station is big, so it’s easy to go, convenient and easy to find, I almost have no any difficulty in finding the train.
Getting around Lyon (#lyon france travel guide)
As one of the most modern cities in France, public transport in Lyon is very developed. Using public buses, subways or trains is very easy when traveling to Lyon because they always have stops at the main attractions. You can also rent a bicycle to explore the city – there are plenty of bike rentals you can find on the street. Of course, you can also use Uber service.
Metro (#lyon travel blog)
For visitors to the city of Lyon, the public transport system is the number one choice. Whatever location has little distance needed to travel, most visitors can choose to get to use public transportation. Not only is it cheaper than a taxi, it’s a more challenging and authentic way to navigate around a new place. The distance from the old town to the train station is about 40 minutes on foot, so most of visitors prefer to take the subway.
Lyon’s Métro currently includes four routes and the fare is €1.80 for a single ticket and €5.60 for a 24-hour ticket.
What to do and where to go in Lyon?
Vieux Lyon (#lyon blog)
The oldest town in Lyon and the first to be protected under Malraux law – the French law protecting cultural heritage. Located at the foot of Fourviere hill, there are three famous churches: Saint Jean, Saint Paul and Saint Georges which are also attractions for tourists when traveling to Lyon.
In the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries, Lyon’s silk industry flourished and wealthy merchant families from across France, Flanders, Germany and Italy settled in the city. They built lavish, gothic, Italian renaissance and French renaissance houses, and there are still 300 of these remaining in the Saint-Jean, Saint-Georges and Saint-Paules districts.
The old town of Lyon was also recognized by UNESCO as a world cultural heritage in 1998. Although it is an old town, life here is always busy and bustling. Along with that are the beautiful, ancient architecture.
Lyon Opera House
Address: 1 Pl. de la Comédie, 69001 Lyon, France
The Opera House is designed to blend modern and traditional features, with a very pretty dome. Above all, this is the place for you to listen to the best operas.
Located to the west of the of Lyon city is a district and also a hill. This is the site of the original Roman settlement in 43 BC. Fourviere has many different religious buildings such as churches, convents, chapels. Most famous for its Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière. The festival of Lights held on December 8 every year attracts hundreds of thousands of participants each year, proving the strong attraction of Fourviere.
Croix Rousse Hill
Looking in the opposite direction to Fourvière hill is Croix Rousse also known as “The hill that works”. The reason for that name is because this place is the cradle of Lyon city industry, especially thanks to the silk weaving factories that helped Lyon become the world silk capital in the 19th century.
Typical architecture of Croix Rousse is high-walled houses, high windows, wood-reinforced ceilings to install looms. The most distinctive feature of this old town is the shortcut through the courtyards of the houses, including the famous La cour des Voraces house, where the weavers have continuously held uprising meetings for the right to life and dignity in the period 1831-1849.
St. Jean Cathedral
Address: Pl. Saint-Jean, 69005 Lyon, France
Hours: 8:15 AM–7:45 PM
Located in the heart of Vieux Lyon, St. Jean Cathedral was built in about 300 years and is a harmonious blend of many architectural styles. Upon entering the church, visitors can admire the beautiful stained-glass windows in the choir seats and the attractive patterns on the Gothic windows in the adjacent chapels.
If you go to the north wing, you will see the main attraction of the church, which is the astronomical clock more than 600 years old. If you visit at noon, around 2pm, 3pm, or 4pm, you’ll have the chance to hear its unique chime and observe its sophisticated mechanical movements.
Address: Rue du Premier Film, 69008 Lyon, France
The museum is the original home of the Lumière brothers, who created the Cinema and much more. The museum is located in a house built by one of the Lumière brothers and near their huge manufacturing plant where they made photographic paper and other documents, prints and films, the inventor of movies and the world’s first films they produced. A really nice museum for those interested in the history of cinema and old mansions. The villa itself is very impressive, a large and charming building.
Ancient Roman Theaters of Lyon
Address: 17 Rue Cleberg, 69005 Lyon, France
The Ancient Roman Theaters of Lyon located on the left bank of the Saône River. And 2,000 years after it was built, it remains a performance venue during the Nuits de Fourvière drama festival in June and July. At its peak, it will hold 10,000 spectators, but only the middle terraces remain and bottom of the cavity. The theater was rediscovered in the late 19th century and restored over the next 40 years.
Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière
Address: 8 Pl. de Fourvière, 69005 Lyon, France
Hours: 7 AM–8 PM
Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière really has a wonderful architectural block seen from the outside. You see it from almost anywhere in the city on the hilltop above the old part of the city, either day or night! The best view of Lyon and one of the most beautiful Basilicas in France. Outside the Basilique you can find sites with good views to the west and see both the Saone and Rhone rivers and a large part of Lyon.
This magnificent church seen on the Fourvière hill to the west of the city is one of a series of iconic churches built in major French cities in the late 19th century. It’s one of the city’s most visited sites and became a symbol of Lyon’s strong religious power.
Outside the Cathedral you can find sites with good views to the west and see both the Saone and Rhone rivers and a large part of Lyon.
The basilica is located in the oldest part of the city with Roman style. Head inside to see the lavish interiors and the Art Museum then climb the north tower for one of Lyon’s best view.
Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon
Address: 20 Pl. des Terreaux, 69001 Lyon, France
Hours: 10 AM–6 PM/Tuesday: Closed
It is the largest museum in France after Louvre of Paris about the richness and artistic value, history of the works here. The museum is located in the center of the city, in the Benedictine monastery from the 17th century. This monastery has now become a tranquil garden – home to famous sculptures of Rodin and Bourdelle. Art collections from major civilizations around the world and art schools from antiquity to the present are displayed in the museum’s 5 areas and 70 galleries with paintings from the 1300s to the 1900s, sculptures and sculptures. carving and exhibiting both Egyptian and Oriental art.
The Antiquities Display Area is a repository of some 600 ancient Egyptian artifacts including reliefs, busts, figurines as well as monumental gates recovered from the temple of Medamud.
Musée d’Art Contemporain
Address: Cité Internationale, 81 Quai Charles de Gaulle, 69006 Lyon, France
Hours: 11 AM–6 PM/Monday, Tuesday: Closed
The museum is open for special exhibitions without any programs annual exhibitions. Make sure you check out specific exhibitions before making the attempt to visit.
These performances are held under the large roof of the Scenic on the banks of the Rhône. Old buildings are located in the hills just behind the old town.
Park Tête d’Or
Address: 69006 Lyon, France
Hours: 6:30 AM–10:30 PM
Parc de la Tête d’Or is a rather large park located in the middle of the city. With an area of up to 105 hectares, the park is a relaxing place for many people. Walking at the Park Tête d’Or you step on the beautiful grass lawns. However, some places are forbidden to step on the grass, so be careful!
Gallo-Roman Museum of Lyon (Lugdunum)
Address: 17 Rue Cleberg, 69005 Lyon, France
Hours: 11 AM–6 PM/Monday: Closed
Gallo-Roman Museum of Lyon was founded in 43 BC. This is now a place to keep many valuable ancient Roman artifacts. There are many ceramic items such as vases, statues, mosaics… The outstanding sculpture here is the Hercules monument made of decorative marble from the ancient bathroom. There are also mosaic floors depicting images related to the God of the Ocean.
Located right in the center and a famous Lyon tourist attraction between the Rhône and Saône rivers, this square is home to a statue of King Louis 14, a famous king of French history. It is also the favorite weekend shopping and entertainment center of the city residents.
Bellecour is considered the heart of the city of Lyon. Every corner here is imbued with the French atmosphere with passionate coffee aroma and romantic street tunes. This is also a familiar dating place for locals and domestic and foreign tourists.
La Fresque des Lyonnais
Address: 2 Rue de la Martinière, 69001 Lyon, France
La Fresque des Lyonnais, or Mural of Lyonnais, is a building mural covering the back and sides of a bright yellow building on the Saône side of District 1. It is one of the more popular historic sites, depicting some of the many Lyonnais who made the city what it is today.
It features 24 historical figures and six contemporary figures, with modern day figures drawn at street level to represent the interactions between residents and visitors today. The nine-month project took the windowless wall in the city center and turned it into a cultural destination for Lyonnais. La Fresque des Lyonnais is located on the corner of 49 St Vincent and 2 rue de la Martinière. The wall is 800 square meters, with 200 square meters of it on the St. Vincent and 600 square meters in rue Martinière.
Besides, the most famous attraction of Lyon city is the massive mural system with nearly 150 scattered paintings turning this place into the mural capital of Europe.
According to history books, the first historic mural of Lyon covering 1,200m², is located on Croix Rousse hill, called “Wall of the Silk Weavers”, done in 1987 by the collective painters of the Cité Création cooperative. In the picture that was updated twice in 1997 and 2013 with the aim of showing the changing neighborhood. In the first drawing, the artists depicted real character Marc Carbonare, 28 years old, carrying a bicycle up the stairs.
In the second drawing, he is present with a new bicycle, and in his arms is holding his first daughter. Until the third version of the painting, the man Marc was 54 years old, riding a Velov (the city’s public bicycle) with his wife, twenty-something eldest daughter and 12-year-old youngest son!
Tony Garnier Urban Museum
Address: 4 Rue des Serpollières, 69008 Lyon, France
Hours: 2–6 PM/Monday; Sunday: Closed
When visiting Lyon murals, surely visitors cannot ignore the museum named Tony Garnier. This is the author of the famous industrial town project – an ideal town combining modernity and humanity, which Garnier has realized with 164 detailed maps.
Born into a family of weavers in Lyon, from a young age Garnier experienced the poverty of the working class, he raised the desire to improve their lives with architecture. Inspired by utopia, in 1904, Garnier proposed an industrial city model when the influx of immigrants from the countryside to the streets created a housing problem.
Then, when he was appointed by the mayor of Lyon – Edouard Herriot – as chief architect, Garnier expressed his views on urban planning through many large projects such as animal markets, slaughterhouses, stadiums, hospitals… The most typical are the first low-cost apartments for working people. Although cheap, but Garnier’s top concern for more than 1,400 apartments built in the 1930s is the quality of life of residents, including: aesthetics, comfort, height restrictions, green space between streets…
This is a district located between the two rivers Rhone and Saone, this is the most famous place for tourists from all over the world when traveling to Lyon. The blend between a modern town but still ancient and majestic is the most outstanding feature of this neighborhood. This is also the place where the most luxurious and vibrant shopping streets in Lyon are concentrated.
Don’t miss the Presqu’île peninsula on this trip. This is a good opportunity for visitors to see firsthand the beautiful natural scenery. In addition, on the peninsula, there are many other fun spots waiting for you. Large commercial centers, famous squares or cultural streets of medieval architecture are also very attractive. Coming to the Presqu’île peninsula, you can admire the medieval architecture marking the 19th century.
An afternoon stroll
Lyon is extremely favored by nature when there are two major rivers of France flowing through, the Rhône and the Saône. The two rivers are fresh and green with embankments that are meticulously built to create tourism and cool conditions for the people here. There is nothing more wonderful than walking around the river and enjoying the fresh air in the evening!
This was an additional idea when we were a bit stuck, because we didn’t know where to go, we decided to take a walk around the river area on an autumn afternoon. Lyon is a city located in the southeast of France, at the confluence of two rivers, the Rhône and Saône rivers. Therefore, people in the city also love to have sports activities such as jogging, exercising or simply walking their dogs along the river. It looks calm, but I heard that these two rivers have flooded many times for the residents on the banks.
What and where to eat in Lyon?
Once known as the culinary capital of France, Lyon is an attractive tourist destination, with many interesting places to visit, and also a place to organize many major events throughout the year. In particular, visitors will have a wonderful culinary experience when coming to famous restaurants here. Not only famous Michelin restaurants, but there are also many traditional eateries with fresh dishes, local specialties at reasonable prices.
Besides, Lyon is also famous for the development of the wine industry. Located in the Côtes du Rhone vineyard to the south and Beaujolais, Burgundy to the north, this is definitely a must-visit for foreign wine lovers.
There are countless delicacies in Lyon waiting for you to discover such as Lyon salad or Salad Lyonnaise (Warm bacon & egg salad), white sausage with mustard sauce, Bresse poultry or beef intestine, quenelles cake.
Lyon salad (Lyonnaise lettuce) is often eaten with fried eggs, salted bacon, cilantro, croûtons and tomatoes.
St. Marcellin: St. Marcellin is the name of Lyon’s most characteristic cheese. Pieces of cheese are small round discs, soft and fibrous. The dish is made from cow’s milk, marinated with white wine or the skins and grapes left in the winemaking process. From there, the finished product is smooth and has an enchanting taste.
Chicken Lyonnaise: People often use the chicken from Bresse next to Lyon with the best quality in France. Grilled chicken in the oven with aromatic herbs or topped with fragrant truffle.
Quenelle de brochet: Shaped like a large dumpling. Quenelle de brochet has an outer shell made of flour, egg butter and milk that wraps the smooth Brochet fish inside. This dish must be served with shrimp – crab sauce or crayfish sauce, if possible.
Boulangerie du Palais (Address: 8 Rue du Palais de Justice, 69005 Lyon, France), the best bakery in Lyon. This popular cookie located downtown is fresh and handmade daily.
The famous restaurant in Lyon is Canut et les Gones (Address: 29 Rue de Belfort, 69004 Lyon, France) with a unique design of dining rooms like pickup trucks, caves with scrumptious dishes from the great chef Junzo Matsuno (Japan) that will satisfy those the most demanding diners.
Here is a list of 10 famous restaurants in Lyon France.
- Canut et les Gones: Address 29 rue Belfort, phone: + 33 478 291723. Lunch €10.50, Dinner 3-course menu €28.50
- Le Jean-Moulin: Address 22 Rue Gentil, phone: +33 478 373797. Lunch 3-course menu €13.50, dinner €24.90
- Bouchon Le Jura: Address 25 rue Tupin, phone: +33 478 422057. Lunch €13, Dinner €26.50
- In Cuisine: Address 1 place Bellecour, + phone: 33 472 411800. Lunch/dinner €13.50
- Le Bouchon des Filles: Address 20 rue Sergent-Blandon, phone: + 33 478 304044. 4-course menu €25
- Brasserie Chantecler: Address 51 Boulevard de la Croix-Rousse, phone: +33 478 281369. Two-course menu €12.50
- Le Sud: Address 11 place Antonin Poncet, phone: + 33 472 778000. 2 course menu €22.10
- Le Comptoir du Vin: Address 2 rue Belfort, phone: +33 478 398995. Daily menu €10.50
- AOC Les Halles: 102 Cours Lafayette, phone: +33 472 607957. Daily menu €11.50
Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse Food Market
This food market is named after one of the great food giants of France, in the culinary capital of France so you can be sure of the quality of the food here.
It’s a foodie’s dream, a craft market run by the best food merchants in the area, selling charcuterie, cheese, meats, fruits and vegetables…
There are also a number of niche restaurants in the complex, and it’s packed with locals at lunch. So this is the place to go grocery shopping, enjoy a delicious Lyonnaise meal and buy regional specialties to take home. As with most French food markets, Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse is suitable for a morning visit.
What to buy in Lyon?
Are you wondering what to buy as a gift when traveling to Lyon, France? So chocolate will be an delectable, but very meaningful gift. To buy delicious chocolate, you can buy it at some famous and quality chocolate shops in Lyon such as:
- Bernachon factory: The place to create delicious chocolate bars, leading in the world. Address: 42 Cours Franklin Roosevelt, 69006 Lyon.
- Bouillet shop: A place specializing in chocolate sales. Address: 15 Place de la Croix-Rousse, 69004 Lyon.
- Voisin shop: With more than 1000 years of experience specializing in selling chocolate, this place has become the most prestigious chocolate shop in Lyon that is loved by many people. That’s why the store has expanded to many more branches, everywhere, one of which must be mentioned is the 3 most popular shopping locations: Address 1: 32 Rue Grenette. (Tel: +33 4 78 37 55 61) / Address 2: 28 Rue de la Republique. (Tel: +33 4 78 42 46 24) / Address 3:10 Cours Vitton. (Tel: +33 4 78 24 29 25).
- With more than 400 stores, the large and small exhibition hall Les Puces Du Canal in the northern suburbs is an interesting place to shop, especially for second-hand goods, antiques, and furniture.
- Le Village Des Createurs is again the exclusive domain of local fashion creators with unique products with typical individual styles.
Where to stay?
Lyon is quite small, but if you don’t have a car, you should stay near the city center for easy travel and close to attractions. My tip is that I choose the places to stay in Lyon Old Town as much as possible, within a 2km radius for easy walking back and forth. Because I find Lyon Old Town quite central and close to many places to eat, museums, and cathedrals.
Travel through many cities, many different lands. The impression left on each person will certainly be a little different, but if I were to ask myself which is the most livable city in France, I would say it is Lyon. Lyon is big enough, vibrant enough for young people full of dreams and ambitions, Lyon is peaceful enough, and also brings idyllic and serenity to the elderly to rest. Lyon is warm, welcoming and offers many attractive destinations enough to attract tourists from all over the world to explore. Come to Lyon at least once in your life, to know what you are looking for.
Below we recommend more best budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- MEININGER Hotel Lyon Centre Berthelot (Agoda, Booking)
- Radisson Blu Hotel, Lyon (Agoda, Booking)
- Hotelo Lyon Charité (Agoda, Booking)
- Hotel des Celestins (Agoda, Booking)
- Première Classe Lyon Centre Gare Part Dieu (Agoda, Booking)
- Hotel Carlton Lyon – MGallery Collection (Agoda, Booking)
- Fourviere Hotel (Agoda, Booking)
- Hotel Des Artistes (Agoda, Booking)
- Campanile Lyon Centre Part-Dieu (Agoda, Booking)
- MOB HOTEL Lyon Confluence (Agoda, Booking)
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Lyon you can refer to
- Lunch Cruise On the Saone by Les Bateaux Lyonnais Hermes
- Dinner Cruise on the Saone by Les Bateaux Lyonnais Hermes II
- Dinner Cruise on the Saone by Les Bateaux Lyonnais Hermes I
- Lyon City Card
- Highlights Of Lyon Small Group Walking Tour
- Lyon 24 or 48-Hour Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour (Open-Top)
- Gourmet Dinner Cruise in Lyon
- Lyon Sightseeing Cruise
- Rhône & Saône Lunch Cruise in Lyon
- Lyon City 1 Hour Tram Tour
- Old Lyon Customizable Private Walking Tour
Read more France guide here.