All you need to know about Lyon

27 Nov 2020
View from the Fourviere Hill

Lyon is one of the largest cities in France, famous for its architecture, history and gastronomy. If you have already been to Paris, you should definitely go to Lyon! Find out what to see, what to eat and how to get to Lyon all the necessary information is in this article.

How to get to Lyon

The easiest way to get to Lyon is by plane. Lyon Saint-Exupery Airport is a half-hour drive from the city and accepts both local and international flights.

You can get to Lyon by train from major cities such as Geneva, Marseille, and Paris. TGV high-speed railroads will take you to Lyon in just two hours from any city.

The Paris-Lyon line was actually the very first line for express trains. Trains run every half an hour. The average cost of a Paris-Lyon ticket is 70 euros. Find ticket prices for your travel date on this site.

» READ MORE - How to get to Lyon

When to go to Lyon

Fete des Lumieres

Any time of year is good, but the highest tourist season for Lyon is December. At this time the city hosts a great Festival of Light, which is visited by up to 4 million people annually.

More fun in Lyon happens on the third Thursday of November, when the day of Beaujolais Nouveau is celebrated. On this night, the wine flows like a river.

It is convenient to travel from Lyon to the ski resorts of the French Alps: Grenoble, Courchevel, Annecy, Chambery, and others. The best season for skiing in the Alps is January and February. On the way, you can visit this interesting city.

» READ MORE - How to get from Lyon airport to Grenoble and other resorts

What to see in Lyon

Place Bellecour

Lyon is a very beautiful city with a two thousand year history. Unlike many European cities, it has never been destroyed: wars, fires, and revolutions all bypassed Lyon.

Walking around Lyon, it's as if you're traveling through time: you'll move from the ruins of Roman theaters to the Middle Ages, from a quarter with Renaissance houses to quarters in the Art Nouveau style, and on to modern architecture. In general, there always is something to see, and everyone will find something to their liking.

Lyon's main attractions

Basilique de Fourviere

Lyon's main historical sights are located quite close together, in the Old Town and the Presquile district across the river. You can see the major attractions in a couple of days, but it will take at least a week to get acquainted with Lyon.

Do not miss the following sights in Lyon:

  • The Fourvière Basilica on the city's highest hill, with a copy of the top of the Eiffel Tower nearby.

  • The old city, listed as a UNESCO heritage site. It has a lot of unique features. First, it is located on a hillside, and second, it is threaded with traboules—passageways designed to shorten the way from street to street in a densely built environment.

  • There are two ancient Roman amphitheaters and odeon, and if you have time, you can also visit the Museum of Gallo-Roman Civilization.

  • The central quarter of Terreaux, along Republique street, with architecture from the 17th and 18th centuries, where you can admire the City Hall of Lyon, as well as the Lyon Opera.

» READ MORE - 17 main sights in Lyon

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If you stay in Lyon for a few days, do not forget to visit these places as well.

  • Confluence: the most modern quarter of Lyon, located at the confluence of two rivers: the Rhône and the Saône. Once an industrial district, it is now home to museums, residences and shopping centers.

  • Cité International: the headquarters of Interpol and the Euronews TV channel are located here, as well as the Museum of Modern Art and a huge cinema. It is a very interesting example of modern architecture.

  • Lumière Brothers Museum: The inventors of cinema lived in Lyon. Their family factory was located here, and the first film in history was shot here. Today you can walk around the brothers' house-museum, learn the history of their experiments, and go through the very gates from which the workers once left the factory.

  • Museum of Miniatures and Film Decorations: follow the development of film technology from the moment of the invention of this new art to the present day.

We've written about the most interesting churches and cathedrals in Lyon in our article about the main sights of Lyon.

Where to stay in Lyon

Fourviere Hill

The best place to stay is in the Old Town or the Presquile shopping area. Then you can quickly reach all the sights on foot.

Wherever you choose a hotel, you will not lose much time for travel. Public transportation in Lyon works  smoothly. The main rule for Lyon is to book accommodation as early as possible.

Book a hotel in Lyon

» READ MORE - Where to stay in Lyon: city districts

How to have fun in Lyon

Night panorama of Lyon

  • Get lost in the traboules of the Old Town and then drink wine in one of the small bars.

  • Stroll along the promenades of the Saône and Rhône, especially in the evening when the lights come on.

  • Visit the Tet d'Or, a huge park with a wonderful zoo, a rich botanical garden, a rosary. Along the shores of this lake there is a small tourist train. Everything except the train is completely free!

  • Young people may be interested in visiting one of the night clubs on the river barge in the district of Gerland.

  • Take a walking tour, or a sightseeing tour on a black streetcar.

What to eat in Lyon

Lyonnaise salad

Lyon is famous all over the world for its cuisine. You'll want to have lunch or dinner in the Lyon's bouchon, as the traditional restaurant is called. You can find them in any district of the city, but the special concentration is in the Presquile District and the Old Town.

We recommend trying Lyonnaise salad. Be aware that it is not an appetizer, but a full dish. Another time, order kennel, a dish of fish under a delicate sauce. Do not miss Lyon sausages and blood sausages. But you'll probably want to skip the anduillette, something many non-french people don't have a taste for. For dessert, get the cheese (yes, cheese for dessert is very French) or a praline tartlette.

Best souvenirs from Lyon

  • The best souvenir is a scarf made of Lyon silk! Lyon has been famous for its silk production since ancient times. There is even a very interesting Museum of Fabric in the city where you can learn more about the city's history as a silk producing capital.

  • We also recommend bringing home a box of chocolate "pillows" (Coussin de Lyon).

  • Lyon is the nearest large city to the region of Beaujolais, where the famous Beaujolais Nouveau is made. Pay attention to the local wines and cheeses. Of course, this advice is universal for all regions of France.

A trip to Lyon is sure to be interesting!

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