Things to do in Lyon - Complete Guide

Nguyen Dang Hoang Nhu
January 2
Written by Elena Kostas

Discover the best things to do in Lyon and make the most of your visit to this incredible city. Explore the top attractions, activities, and more. Don't miss out!

Lyon is a city full of charm and beauty, with a rich history and an incredible cultural scene. If you're planning a trip to Lyon, there are plenty of things to see and do in this wonderful city.

One of the must-see attractions in Lyon is the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière. This magnificent church offers stunning views of the city from the top of the hill. You can also explore Lyon's old town, known as Vieux Lyon, with its cobbled streets and beautiful Renaissance buildings.

Another popular activity in Lyon is visiting the Museum of Fine Arts, which houses an impressive collection of art spanning from ancient times to the present day. You can also enjoy a leisurely stroll along the Rhône River or sample the delicious local cuisine at one of the many restaurants.

Don't miss the opportunity to visit Lyon, a city full of history, culture, and beauty.

1. Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière

Historical Monuments and Architecture
a large building with a clock tower on top of it
Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière / Florian K., Unsplash

Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière: A gem of Gothic architecture that dominates the Lyon skyline. Built in the 19th century, it offers a panoramic view of the city and is a very important pilgrimage site.

Art and beauty: Inside you will find impressive paintings, sculptures, and stained glass windows depicting religious scenes and historical moments.

A bit of history: The construction of the basilica began in 1872 as a thanksgiving for having saved the city from a cholera epidemic. Today, it is one of Lyon's most iconic sites and a symbol of faith and devotion for the local community.

2. Vieux Lyon

History and Cultural Heritage
brown buildings
Vieux Lyon / Poh Wei Chuen, Unsplash

Vieux Lyon is one of the most fascinating places to visit in Lyon. Located on the right bank of the Saône River, this medieval quarter will transport you back in time and show you the city's historical wealth.

Strolling through its narrow cobbled streets feels like entering a maze full of surprises. You will discover Renaissance houses with colorful facades, charming inner courtyards, and lively squares where you can experience the authentic local life.

In addition to its architectural beauty, Vieux Lyon is also home to a wide variety of bars, restaurants, and shops. Here, you can taste the delicious cuisine of Lyon, known as the world capital of gastronomy. Don't miss the opportunity to try typical dishes like quenelle de brochet or the famous wines of the region.

3. Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon

Museums and Art Galleries
a building with many windows
Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon / Free Nomad, Unsplash

The Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon is one of France's most prominent museums and houses an incredible art collection that spans from antiquity to contemporary art. Located in the heart of Lyon, this museum is a must-visit for art lovers visiting the city.

In its extensive collection, you can find works by great masters such as Picasso, Monet, and Van Gogh, as well as an impressive selection of sculptures and historical artifacts. The museum also features temporary exhibitions that offer a deeper insight into different artistic movements and artists.

In addition to its impressive collection, the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon is housed in a magnificent historic building that is worth exploring. Don't miss the opportunity to wander through its beautiful gardens and enjoy panoramic views of the city from its terrace.

4. Rhône River in Lyon

Natural Spaces and Parks

The Rhône River is one of the main tourist attractions in the charming city of Lyon. With its impressive flow and crystal-clear waters, the river offers visitors a unique experience full of natural beauty and exciting activities. Part of the city's cultural heritage, the Rhône River is a place you can't miss if you're visiting Lyon.

The Rhône River is perfect for enjoying pleasant walks along the water's edge. Its banks are filled with beautiful parks and gardens, ideal for relaxing and enjoying a sunny day. Additionally, along the river, you'll find numerous cafes, restaurants, and terraces where you can taste delicious local cuisine while admiring the tranquility of the river.

If you're looking for more excitement, the Rhône River also offers the opportunity to practice water sports such as kayaking, paddleboarding, or simply taking a refreshing swim in the summer. Don't miss the chance to enjoy these unique activities in a stunning natural setting.

5. Presqu'île de Lyon

History and Cultural Heritage
Presqu'île de Lyon is a gem of the city, located between the Rhône and Saône rivers. Surrounded by beautiful architecture, historical charm, and a lively cultural scene, this peninsula is one of Lyon's most visited places.

Explore its pedestrian streets filled with boutiques, cafés, and restaurants, where you can indulge in delicious local cuisine. You'll also find a wide range of fashion stores and elegant boutiques for shopping enthusiasts.

Presqu'île de Lyon is also known for hosting numerous historical landmarks, such as Place Bellecour with its impressive equestrian statue of Louis XIV, the Opera House, and the Basilica of Saint-Martin-d'Ainay.

6. Fourvière Hill

Historical Monuments and Architecture

Fourvière Hill is a must-visit attraction in Lyon. Located in the old town, it offers incredible panoramic views of the Rhône River and the entire city.

This iconic historical site is home to magnificent monuments and attractions, such as the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière and the Roman Theater. Moreover, strolling through its picturesque cobbled streets will transport you to charming bygone eras.

Visiting Fourvière Hill is a unique experience that combines history, impressive architecture, and unparalleled views. Don't miss this stunning place during your trip to Lyon.

7. Lyon Cathedral

Historical Monuments and Architecture

The Lyon Cathedral is an impressive Gothic monument that stands majestically over the old town of the city. Built in the 12th century, this architectural gem is an emblematic symbol of Lyon and an important place of worship for Catholics.

Admire its imposing towers, intricate decorative details, and magnificent facade. Inside, you will discover stunning stained glass windows, beautiful sculptures, and an atmosphere of serenity that invites reflection and contemplation.

From the heights of the Cathedral, you can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of Lyon and its surroundings. Don't miss the opportunity to climb the tower and marvel at the urban landscape, rivers, and mountains that surround the city.

8. Parc de la Tête d'Or

Natural Spaces and Parks

Parc de la Tête d'Or is one of Lyon's most popular tourist attractions, located in the heart of the city. With its extensive gardens, wide avenues, and diverse wildlife, this park offers a unique experience for nature lovers.

Strolling along its tree-lined paths is a pleasure at any time of year. In spring, the blooming trees create a magical atmosphere, while in autumn, fallen leaves cover the ground with warm colors. In summer, the park is the perfect place to relax in the shade of its trees.

One of the main highlights of Parc de la Tête d'Or is its lake, where you can rent a boat and enjoy a peaceful ride. The park also features a zoo that houses a wide variety of species, from elephants and giraffes to penguins and lions. Definitely a must-visit for the whole family.

9. Lyon Traboules

Historical Monuments and Architecture

The Lyon Traboules are one of the best-kept secrets of the city. These hidden passageways, dating back to medieval times, are a true architectural gem and a unique way to explore Lyon's history.

With over 400 Traboules scattered throughout the city, each with its own charm and mystery, exploring them becomes a fascinating adventure. These passageways connect inner courtyards, streets, and buildings, and are a symbol of the daily life of the locals over the centuries.

Step into the Traboules and be amazed by their stone arches, ancient staircases, and picturesque courtyards. Discover stories of intrigue, smuggling, and resistance in these underground mazes that have witnessed Lyon's history.