Lyon, the capital of France’s Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, is a city full of history and iconic landmarks which are a part of the UNESCO World Heritage list. The city is located at the confluence of rivers Rhone and Saone and is the second-largest urban area in France. Its Roman history is still visible, even though modern-day Lyon was developed later on. During World War II, the city was a center for the occupying Nazi forces, and many tunnels were built and used to help people escape from the Gestapo. They can still be visited today, but this is a city also known for its cuisine and gastronomy, for its rustic and rich French foods such as pork sausages, foie gras, pastry or macarons.
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Plan your trip to Lyon
1. What’s the Best Time to Visit Lyon?
2. A few facts about Lyon
3. One day in Lyon Itinerary
3.1. Have a Nice Breakfast at Le Comptoir JOA
3.2. Visit Parc de la tête d’Or
3.3. Visit the Old Town
3.4. Explore the Iconic Traboules
3.5. Visit the Presqu’ile
3.6. Head to The Fourvière
3.7. Have Dinner at a Michelin Restaurant
3.8. Enjoy a Party of Péniche Loupika
4. Where to stay in Lyon?
5. Best Day Trips from Lyon
6. Extra Tips for Visiting Lyon
What’s the Best Time to Visit Lyon?
Lyon is known for its light festival, but there are plenty of activities you can do all year round. Temperatures in Lyon vary greatly. The winters are very cold, with very low temperatures (0°C), but for the other half of the year, the weather can be nice and warm.
The hottest months in Lyon are from June to August, when it is also the tourist season and the city is more crowded. During the hottest month of all, July, the temperatures in Lyon are about 29°C (83.9°F).
If you want to visit a less crowded Lyon, the best time to do this is from September to October, even though the weather is cooler now than during summertime. But by now, the autumn has already arrived in Lyon, and the city looks amazing.
Lyon is nice during winter too, with its amazing Christmas Market that takes place every year from the 24th of November until Christmas Eve. At the beginning of December, it’s time for Fete de Lumiere,, the well-known festival of lights that brings more than 40 light installations to create a magical atmosphere, just in time for Christmas.
A few facts about Lyon
Lyon and New York have in common statues built by the same sculptor. Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, who sculpted the Statue of Liberty, which was a gift from France to the USA, has created the Fontaine Bartholdi, which can be visited in Lyon.
Lyon is known for production and weaving of silk, whose start dates back to the 16th century. Here you can find high-quality French silk.
Lyon is the birthplace of cinema.. Here, the Lumiere brothers created in 1895 the first motion picture.
One day in Lyon Itinerary
If you are looking for things to visit while you wander during your one day in Lyon, here are some of the best things you should see and try. Ideally, you would need more than one day to catch a glimpse of the mystery and elegance of Lyon, but that can also be done quicker. Here are the most iconic places to visit and activities to do in Lyon in one day.
Have a Nice Breakfast at Le Comptoir JOA
Le Comptoir JOA is a nice bistro with a lovely terrace where you can begin your day. You can choose from a variety of crepes, waffles, omelets, pastries, and fresh salads and fruits. The bistro is located near Parc de la tête d’Or, which is an iconic place of Lyon you can start your tour with. Their service is fast and effective and you can try a traditional French breakfast and get a taste of their eating habits and cuisine.
Visit Parc de la tête d’Or
Parc de la tête d’Or or the Park of the Golden Head is one of the few parks in Lyon. Its area is 117 hectares (290 acres) and it has rose gardens, but also greenhouses, a velodrome, a botanical garden, and a zoo.
You can catch a glimpse of the elegance of Lyon by visiting this amazing park. It is kind of an unusual zoo, as animals do not live in cages and confined spaces as you would see in other zoos, but on large areas of land in freedom. You can see about 130 different species of animals, some of which are endangered.
During summer, the park is usually crowded and you will see joggers and bicycle riders everywhere. There are also different areas designed for mini-golf and horse riding.
Visit the Old Town
After you have explored the Park of the Golden Head, you go towards the Old Town. Unfortunately, there is no public transportation from the park to the Old Town, but there are only 2.5 km (1.5 miles). It would take you a walk of 30 minutes and on the way, you can admire the impressive architecture of Lyon.
The Old Town (also known as Vieux Lyon) is one of the most iconic places in Lyon. It is the largest Renaissance district of Lyon. You can visit the Cathedral Saint Jean Baptiste, the Movies & Miniature Museum, and the cobbled streets filled with delicious pastry shops, where you can have Lunch.
Explore the Iconic Traboules
The Traboules of Lyon are secret passageways that helped people escape the Gestapo. They are part of the Vieux Lyon and are iconic for the silk trade. They were used by silk traders and manufacturers to transport the goods and is also the place where the Canut revolt began (the revolt of silk workers).
Visit the Presqu’ile
The Presqu’ile is the business district of Lyon, full of luxury stores. You will be impressed by the amazing architecture of these buildings. Here you will also see the Fountain Bartholdi, designed by the same sculptor who designed the Statue of Liberty. The Presqu’ile is just near the Old Town, at only 10 minutes walking distance.
Head to The Fourvière
The Fourvière is a district of Lyon that is located on a hill that rises from the river Saone. You can take the funicular from Vieux Lyon to get to this district, which is home to the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière. Here you can visit also Théâtre Gallo Romain and attend an open-air concert.
Have Dinner at a Michelin Restaurant
After a long day of exploring the hidden passageways of Lyon and admiring its architecture, a delicious dinner is needed. Lyon is known for its rich cuisine and gastronomy, being the city that trains chefs from all over the world. Here you can choose from 20 Michelin stars restaurants and prepare your taste buds to be amazed.
We recommend the Restaurant Gastronomique Christian Tetedoie, at 7 minutes’ walk from the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière. It has an amazing view and it offers real fine-dining experience.
Enjoy a Party of Péniche Loupika
Péniche Loupika is an amazing bar that offers delicious cocktails and light meals, and on top of that, an incredible view. This bar is located on a boat and in the evening the party gets started. It looks like an Ibiza boat party and you cannot resist the temptation to be part of it.
Where to stay in Lyon?
If you have a flight in the evening, you should know that there are regular buses to the airport that start at different points in the city, so you can easily get to the airport. If you have your flight tomorrow morning, you need to book a room at a hotel.
Here are the hotels that we recommend:
23 rue Roger Radisson, 5th arr., 69005 Lyon, France
Amazing Fourvière Hôtel is close to the metro station and only 1 km away from the city center. The best thing about it is the view. It is located on the Fourvière Hill, so you will see the Old Town from the window of your hotel room. And if you are looking for an accommodation where you can relax, this hotel has a sauna, hammam and aromatherapy rain showers.
Novotel Lyon Gerland Musée des Confluences
70 Avenue Leclerc, 7th arr., 69007 Lyon, France
Novotel Lyon Gerland Musée des Confluences has modern decor and architecture and it offers you everything you need. It is suitable for two travelers and it’s close to Rhone River and tram stations. This 4-star hotel provides a daily buffet breakfast where you can try traditional French foods prepared by the Best Chefs in town.
Campanile Lyon Centre – Berges du Rhône
4-6, rue Mortier, 3rd arr., 69003 Lyon, France
Campanile Lyon Centre is decorated in a simplistic, but chic way. It’s not a too big hotel and aims to offer its visitors a comfy and cozy atmosphere. It is located in the most popular and nice area of Lyon, so you might want to be close to iconic places in the city.
36 rue Montesquieu, 7th arr., 69007 Lyon, France
ho36 Hostel is only 500m from the city center, so it can turn out to be the best option. If you are traveling on a budget or you just simply want to get to know people and interact with locals, this hostel is the perfect choice for you. There is a shared lounge where you can play board games and make new friends.
Best Day Trips from Lyon
If you have several days in this wonderful city, why not make one of day trips from Lyon to the surrounding part of France? There are so many things to see and experience that you will fall in love with this country even more. Here are a few suggestions:
You can take a day trip from Lyon and visit the young wine region of Beaujolais. The region is known as the “little Tuscany” and it turns into amazing reddish colors during autumn. To explore the entire region, you can rent a bike and admire the scenery.
If you prefer to sunbathe on a nice beach near an emerald lake, then a day trip to Lac d’Aiguebelette is what you need. This lake is the warmest glacial lake in France, so it is worth taking a day trip, sunbathing on the grassy beaches and admiring the mountains.
Annecy is an old town at 2 hours’ distance from Lyon. A day trip to this town would be so interesting, as it is known as the Venice of the Alps. You can explore its canals while being surrounded by snowy mountains.
Extra Tips for Visiting Lyon
Take the train – If your plane doesn’t land in Lyon, you should know that the train is the most popular means of transportation within the France area.
Buy a Lyon City Card – as soon as you get to Lyon you should buy the city card that helps you save money on public transportation and museum fees.
Rent a Bike or an Electric Scooter– explore the city by bike or scooter and admire its incredible architecture.
Eat at Bouchon Lyonnais – if you want to taste the traditional cuisine of Lyon, find those restaurants that have a Les Bouchons Lyonnais label to have an authentic culinary experience.
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