Lyon is a city in the Rhone-Alpes region of France, a foodie favourite and with an Old Town that’s a UNESCO world heritage site. It’s easily reached by a 2 hour train from Paris, and now even a 4 1/2 hour train from London. There are so many things to do in Lyon, but here are some of our favourites…
1. Eat Your Way Through Les Halles de Lyon – Paul Bocuse
Welcome to foodie heaven, otherwise known as Les Halles de Lyon – Paul Bocuse. A large indoor market, here you can find everything from seafood to sweets. Buy some things to take away, or take a seat and indulge right there. We couldn’t resist buying some amazing sweets, and also sat down to enjoy some cheese and wine at Fromagarie Mons.
2. Visit The Free Zoo… In The Park
Zoo de Lyon is located in Parc de la Tete d’Or, a beautiful large park in Lyon. You could easily spend most of the day relaxing in the park and mingling with the animals.
3. Eat At A Bouchon
A Bouchon is a traditional restaurant that serves traditional Lyonnaise food. The food is often quite rich and hearty. We ate at Cafe des Federations, the standout dish was a poached egg in wine sauce. The food kept coming and we left extremely full. Although it’s not the type of food I would have regularly, eating at a Bouchon is an experience in itself.
4. Explore Lyon On Bicycle
I absolutely fell in love with the bicycle system in France. We used bikes as our main form of transport in Lyon. Just pick up a bike from one of the many Velo’v stands at one location and return it at the next. It’s free for the first 30 minutes. Lyon is also an easy city to cycle around, it became one of our favourite things to do in Lyon.
5. Stroll Through The Markets
Lyon has some beautiful markets where you can spend the morning shopping for food amongst the local chefs. Saint Antoine Market, located on the Soane River bank, is a favourite and open every day except Monday from 6am to lunch time.
6. See Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere and Take In The Views
If you want to work off all the food you’ve been eating, then take the stairs up to Fourviere Hill, and the funicular down. If your legs aren’t up to it, you can take the funicular both ways. If you take the stairs, you will pass the other ‘Eiffel Tower’ structure. Eventually you will get to a beautiful Basilica, Notre Dame. From here you will also have views for miles out over the city of Lyon that are worth the climb (or the funicular ride).
7. Discover The Chocolate Shops
If you like Chocolate, then you will like Lyon. So many to choose from and they are all different too. Some of our favourites include Chokola and Le Comptoir de Mathilde.
8. Try A Lyonnaise Salad
Lyonnaise salad, whose main ingredients are frisee, poached egg, pork lardons, and a punchy vinaigrette dressing, is one of my favourite salads. And what better place to try it then in Lyon, where it originated. We first tried this at Cafe Brasserie Chantecler in the Croix-Rousse neighbourhood.
9. Ride Through The Tunnel de la Croix-Rousse
The worlds first eco-friendly tunnel, this was something we stumbled upon by accident in Lyon. This tunnel has passageways for buses, pedestrians and cyclists, but what makes it really special is the sound effects and light projections on the tunnel walls. You come out the other end feeling like you’ve just had a meditation session.
10. Explore The Croix-Rousse Neighbourhood
This historic neighbourhood was once the location of Lyon’s 19th century Silk industry. Croix-Rousse is on a hill which gives you great views over Lyon, and also plenty of stairs to walk up! There are also some great markets, restaurants, galleries and traboules (traditional passageways).
11. Walk Along The Rivers
Lyon has two main rivers running through it’s city, the Rhone and the Saone, both of which are beautiful and will take you through different areas of Lyon.
12. Take The Funicular
There are two remaining funicular lines in Lyon, which are some of the oldest funiculars in the world. They are a great way to avoid the climb to Fourviere Hill, and a nice quick experience too.
13. Find The Street Murals
Hand painted murals appear on buildings all over Lyon, and they are so lifelike, it’s well worth the time to seek them out. One of our favourites was La Fresque des Lyonnais.
14. Explore Vieux Lyon (Old Town) On Foot
The Old Town of Lyon is a beautiful cobblestoned area with shops, restaurants and Renaissance architecture. Spend a few hours exploring and eating your way through.
15. Take A Day Trip
There are so many things to do in Lyon alone, but if you are there for long enough, there are also many day trip options, from the surrounding Beaujolais wine region, to nearby villages such as Pérouges to those a little further away like Annecy and Dijon.