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25 Things to Do in Lyon in 2024

City Guide January 29, 2024

 

 

Bonjour and welcome to Lyon, France's vibrant heart of culture, history, and gastronomy! In 2024, this city is more alive than ever, buzzing with activities and sights to explore. Whether you're planning to visit Lyon in 2024 for its culinary delights, historical insights, or picturesque views, you'll find experiences waiting for you.

This city, rich in culture and heritage, offers extensive Lyon sightseeing opportunities, from exploring UNESCO World Heritage sites to discovering hidden corners of urban charm. Let's dive into the top 25 things to do in Lyon, where each adventure promises to be as enriching as it is exciting!

First off, travel smart! Drop your bags at Nannybag luggage storage Lyon Perrache and explore the city hassle-free. Now, let's kick off our Lyon adventure!

With your luggage safely stored, you're all set to embark on a walking tour, the perfect way to soak in the stunning views of Lyon and uncover the hidden gems of this vibrant city. Now, let's kick off our Lyon adventure!

 

1. Fourvière Hill for Stunning Views

Fourvière Hill is an experience. Dominating the Lyon skyline, this hill offers some of the most stunning panoramic views of the city. The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, a masterpiece of architecture with its intricate mosaics and majestic design, is a beacon of spiritual and cultural significance.

Just a short walk away, you can discover the ancient Roman theatre, an incredible relic from Lyon’s past, still used today for performances. The hill's serene environment and lush gardens make it a perfect spot for contemplation and enjoying the beauty of Lyon from above.

 

2. Parc de la Tête d'Or: Nature's Oasis

Parc de la Tête d'Or is a verdant oasis in the heart of the city. This sprawling park, one of France's largest urban parks, offers a variety of activities and attractions. You can enjoy a leisurely picnic by the lake, take a peaceful boat ride, or visit the park's zoo and botanical gardens, which are home to a wide range of plant and animal species. The park's vast green spaces and tranquil atmosphere provide a refreshing break from the urban bustle.

 

3. Explore La Croix Rousse

La Croix Rousse, known as the hill that works in contrast to Fourvière, the hill that prays, is a vibrant and historically rich neighborhood. Once the center of Lyon's thriving silk industry, its unique architecture includes tall, narrow buildings designed to accommodate large silk-weaving looms. Today, La Croix Rousse is renowned for its creative spirit, with numerous artists' studios, independent shops, and bustling cafes. The area's lively atmosphere and steep streets offer a glimpse into the daily life of traditional Lyonnais silk workers.

 

4. Musée des Confluences: A Modern Marvel

The Musée des Confluences is a striking piece of contemporary architecture at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers. This futuristic museum takes you on a journey through natural history and anthropology with its eclectic mix of exhibits. From dinosaur fossils to exhibits about the evolution of life and human cultures, the museum offers a fascinating exploration of the natural world and our place in it.

 

5. Gastronomic Delights at Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse

Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse is a culinary institution, a must-visit for food enthusiasts. Named after the famous Lyonnais chef, this indoor market offers a variety of gourmet delights. You can sample and purchase a variety of local specialties, including cheeses, charcuterie, pastries, and fine wines, all under one roof. The bustling atmosphere and the chance to taste the best of Lyon's gastronomic offerings make it a memorable experience.

 

6. Wander Through Lyon Old Town

Exploring Lyon Old Town (Vieux Lyon) is like stepping back in time. This UNESCO World Heritage-listed area is a labyrinth of cobblestone streets, hidden traboules, and Renaissance buildings. Wander through its streets to discover historic landmarks, charming boutiques, and cozy cafes. The area's rich history and well-preserved architecture make it a fascinating place to explore and learn about Lyon's past.

 

7. Artistic Journey at Musée des Beaux Arts

The Musée des Beaux-Arts, housed in a stunning 17th-century former Benedictine convent, is one of France's largest fine arts museums. Its extensive collection spans from ancient Egyptian artifacts to modern art, including paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts. The museum's peaceful courtyards and elegant rooms provide the perfect setting to appreciate works by artists ranging from Rembrandt to Matisse.

 

8. Learn About WWII History

The Centre d'Histoire de la Résistance et de la Déportation offers a deep and moving insight into Lyon's role during World War II. Located in the former headquarters of the Gestapo, the museum is dedicated to the history of the French Resistance and the deportation of Jews during the war. Through personal stories, photographs, and artifacts, the museum provides a powerful reminder of this dark chapter in history and Lyon's place in it.

 

9. Enjoy a Show at the Opera House

The Opera House in Lyon, with its striking blend of modern and traditional architecture, is a cultural landmark not to be missed. Known for its exceptional acoustics and elegant interior, it hosts a range of performances from world-class opera to captivating ballet shows. The programming is diverse, offering both classic productions and contemporary works. Attending a performance here is not just a cultural experience but also an opportunity to witness the artistic vibrancy of Lyon.

 

10. Cruise Along the Rhône River

A cruise along the Rhône River offers a serene and picturesque way to view Lyon from a different perspective. As you glide along the water, you'll pass by historical landmarks and get a unique view of the city's bridges and riverbanks. These cruises range from short sightseeing trips to leisurely dinner cruises, providing a relaxing way to enjoy the city's beauty while learning about its history.

 

11. Guided Tour of Vieux Lyon

Embark on a guided tour through the cobblestone streets of Vieux Lyon, one of Europe's largest Renaissance neighborhoods. These tours are led by knowledgeable guides who share insights into the area's rich history and architecture. You'll learn about the district's past as a thriving silk trade center and explore hidden traboules, and secret passageways that are a hallmark of this historic area.

 

 

12. Contemporary Art at the Musée d'Art Contemporain

The Musée d'Art Contemporain in Lyon, often referred to as MAC Lyon, is a hub for contemporary art lovers. The museum, known for its dynamic and innovative exhibitions, showcases works from both established and emerging artists. With a focus on cutting-edge contemporary art, the museum provides an insightful look into the current art scene and trends.

 

13. Visit the Historic Traboules

Lyon's traboules, hidden passageways primarily found in the Vieux Lyon and Croix Rousse areas, are steeped in history. Originally used by silk workers in the 19th century to transport their goods, these traboules are now fascinating pathways connecting streets and courtyards. Exploring these hidden passageways gives a glimpse into a unique aspect of Lyon's architectural and social history.

 

14. Attend the Festival of Lights

The Festival of Lights is a spectacular event that transforms Lyon into a dazzling display of light and creativity. Held annually in December, this tradition sees the city's buildings, streets, and parks lit up with elaborate light installations created by artists worldwide. The festival attracts millions of visitors and is a testament to Lyon's reputation as a city of art and culture.

 

15. Discover the Presqu'île District

The Presqu'île district, nestled between the Rhône and Saône rivers, is the bustling heart of Lyon. This area combines elegant 19th-century architecture with trendy shops, cafes, and restaurants. A walk through Presqu'île offers a blend of cultural sites, shopping opportunities, and culinary delights, making it a lively destination for all.

 

16. Visit Saint Jean Cathedral

Saint Jean Cathedral, a prime example of Gothic architecture, is a historic jewel in Vieux Lyon. Renowned for its stunning stained glass windows and the intricate astronomical clock, the cathedral is a site of both religious significance and architectural beauty. Visitors can explore the rich history of this cathedral, which has witnessed significant events over the centuries.

 

17. Relax at the Rhône Riverbanks

The riverbanks of the Rhône River offer a perfect urban retreat. Recently redeveloped, they provide a serene environment ideal for a stroll, jogging, or a relaxing picnic by the water. The promenade is lined with beautifully landscaped gardens, modern art installations, and offers several cafes where you can sit back and enjoy the scenic river views. In the evenings, the riverbanks come alive with locals and tourists alike, making it a vibrant spot to experience Lyon’s lively atmosphere.

 

18. Enjoy a Wine Tasting Experience

Being close to renowned wine regions like Beaujolais and the Côtes du Rhône, Lyon is an ideal base for wine enthusiasts. The city itself boasts numerous wine bars and shops offering tasting sessions where you can sample a variety of regional wines. For a more immersive experience, take a short trip to one of the nearby vineyards to learn about winemaking and enjoy tastings amidst the picturesque vine-covered hills.

 

19. Take a Cooking Class

Lyon's reputation as a gastronomic capital makes it the perfect place to sharpen your culinary skills. Join a local cooking class to learn how to prepare traditional Lyonnais dishes. These classes often include visiting a local market to choose fresh ingredients, followed by a hands-on cooking session with an expert chef, culminating in a delightful meal you've helped prepare.

 

20. Visit the Ancient Theatre of Fourvière

The Ancient Theatre of Fourvière, dating back to the Roman era, is one of Lyon's most significant historical sites. This well-preserved theatre is still used for performances, particularly during the summer months when it hosts concerts and the Nuits de Fourvière festival. Visiting this ancient site offers a glimpse into the city's Roman past and an opportunity to enjoy cultural events in a historic setting.

 

 

21. Explore the Confluence District

The Confluence district, located at the southern tip of Lyon's peninsula, is a striking example of modern urban redevelopment. Known for its futuristic architecture, this area is home to the Musée des Confluences, a science center and anthropology museum with an otherworldly design. The district also features shopping centers, leisure facilities, and riverside dining options, making it a vibrant area to explore.

 

22. Stroll Through the Jardin Rosa Mir

Located in the heart of the Croix Rousse district, the Jardin Rosa Mir is a secret garden created by Spanish artisan Jules Senis. This unique space is filled with intricate mosaics, shells, and various stones, all meticulously arranged to create a tranquil and enchanting atmosphere. It's a hidden gem that offers a quiet escape from the bustling city.

 

23. Attend a Football Match at Groupama Stadium

Football fans should not miss the opportunity to watch a match at Groupama Stadium, the home of Olympique Lyonnais. This modern stadium offers an electric atmosphere during match days. Experience the passion of French football and cheer along with the local supporters for an unforgettable sporting experience.

 

24. Visit the Institut Lumière

The Institut Lumière is dedicated to the Lumière brothers, who played a pivotal role in the invention of cinema. Located in the Monplaisir district, the birthplace of cinema, this museum is housed in the Lumière family’s former home. It offers fascinating exhibits about the history of film and the brothers' contributions to the art of filmmaking.

 

25. Day Trip to Beaujolais Wine Region

A day trip to the Beaujolais wine region is a must for any visitor to Lyon. Known for its picturesque villages and high-quality wines, particularly its famous Beaujolais Nouveau, the region offers a delightful experience for wine lovers. Explore charming wine villages, tour vineyards, and indulge in tastings of some of the best wines France has to offer.

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