Visit Lyon: 6 itineraries to discover the city

visiter lyon jardins curiosites

Do you want to visit Lyon for a weekend (or more) and you are wondering what to see in Lyon ? This article is made for you. I have been living in Lyon for 6 years now and I still enjoy going for a walk there. I share with you my advice to take full advantage of the capital of Gaul for a few days. In this article, discover my itineraries to visit all the unmissable places in Lyon . By following me step by step, you will be guided throughout your visit.

How to come to Lyon?

Part-Dieu station

The most common option when arriving in Lyon is to arrive at Part-Dieu station. Located in the 3rd arrondissement, in the business district, it allows you to easily connect all areas of Lyon via metro B, as well as numerous bus and tram stops. Depending on where you arrive, especially if you are on the TER, your journey may end in other stations in the city (Perrache, Jean Macé, etc.) which are also central.

Saint-Exupéry airport

By plane, you will land at Saint-Exupéry airport, which is quite far from the city (25 km to the east). To reach the center, you will then have to take the Rhône Express , a tram with a few stops that runs between Saint-Exupéry airport and the center of Lyon. The terminus is at Part-Dieu train station and the journey takes half an hour. The Rhône Express runs every 15 minutes and the price for one trip is around € 16 (a little less if you book several months in advance).

Another option is to book a BlaBlaCar, we sometimes find some that make the trip from the airport to the city center for € 4. If your schedules match, this is the cheapest and fastest way to reach the center of Lyon.

The bus line 47 has also just been set up by TCL, but it will then go take this bus in Meyzieu. It is very economical but the journey will then be very long. I do not recommend it to you.

Getting around Lyon

Lyon is a city on a human scale. To visit Lyon , you can easily do a lot of things on foot.

If you prefer public transport , you will find many lines of subways, trams, buses and funiculars which will allow you to save your strength. In this case, I recommend that you buy a 24 or 48 hour ticket which will be more economical if you plan to take public transport.

Finally, you can easily get around by bike in Lyon because there are many cycle paths and very nice walks (on the quays, at the Tête d’Or…). You can then use the Velo’V self-service bicycle rental services . All you need to do is take a day ticket for € 1.80. The first hour is free, I advise you to stop at a station after an hour, hang up your bike and take it back to avoid paying extra minutes.

Good deal alert: the Lyon City Card

IF you are planning to visit museums in Lyon, I have a great savings for you. Get the Lyon City Card here from € 27! You will thus be able to enjoy many attractions by skip-the-line at a much more economical rate. In addition, you will have access to a cruise on the Rhône or the Saône. You will also have a reduction on the rental of Velo’V. It’s all good! I really recommend this purchase which is worth it.

Visit Lyon: the unmissable in 6 itineraries

Here we are in the heart of the matter, what to do in Lyon . Lyon is full of points of interest in terms of architecture and panorama. I offer you the unmissable in an order that you can follow in the form of an itinerary to visit Lyon . You can then easily visit Lyon in two days, or in three days if you take a little more time.

Itinerary 1: visit the Lyon peninsula

I suggest you start with the historic center of Lyon, the peninsula, surrounded by the Saône and the Rhône. First visit Place Bellecour , the city’s largest square. Then continue towards the Hôtel Dieu . The building was recently renovated and has just reopened to the public. In addition to admiring its magnificent architecture, you can enjoy many shops and restaurants, including the halls that sell typical products.

visit lyon hoel god

After taking the time to walk under the arches of the Hôtel Dieu, go and admire the Place des Jacobins with its emblematic fountain, as well as nearby Place des Célestins where the theater is located.

visit lyon jacobins
visit lyon place celestins

A short break ?

Near the square, you can discover the rue Mercière, or “rue des restaurants” with its many signs. But don’t be fooled! This is not where you will find the best addresses in Lyon. To help you, I will soon start writing “Good addresses in Lyon”. On the other hand, if you fancy a little coffee, why not head to the Saône quays and stop at the Saint-Antoine refreshment bar? If the weather is nice, the setting is ideal for a short break.

Walk to Terreaux

To continue your walk, I invite you to take the Rue de la République, the main street of the peninsula which goes up its entire length. Another alternative is the Rue du Président Edouard Herriot, where there are a number of rather high-end boutiques if you want to window shop. Near the Place de la République, you can admire the Passage de l’Argue . I really like this covered gallery, the arches of which are among the oldest in France. Continue up the street, you will then pass in front of the Place de la Bourse , very nicely flowered in spring. Finally, you will finally arrive at the Place de la Comédie . You can then admire the Opéra National de Lyonon your right. It faces the Town Hall . Walk along the latter to discover Place des Terreaux , another emblematic square with its Bartholdi fountain  as well as works by Buren.

visit lyon place de la bourse
visit lyon city hall

Need a guide to visit Lyon?

Do you want to follow this route with a guide? This seems ideal to me because all the places and buildings mentioned above have a history that it would be a shame not to know. Civitatis suggests that you book a guide to visit the peninsula. The visit lasts 2:30 and the center of Lyon will no longer hold any secrets for you. The reservation is made here and can be canceled free of charge if you change your mind.

visit lyon rue de la republique

Route 2: slopes to Croix-Rousse

Still in good shape after this first itinerary to visit Lyon? That’s good, this second is the logical continuation and will allow you to continue your ride. Be careful, it climbs a bit!

The slopes of Croix-Rousse, district of creators

From Place des Terreaux, take some time to stroll through the old streets around. Then head towards the Montée de la Grande Côte , this is where our walk continues. Bordered by numerous designer shops, this is the direct route to reach the Croix-Rousse plateau. Moreover, if you like designer boutiques , take a detour through Passage Thiaffait , a legendary traboule where you will find the Creators’ Village . Not far from there, you can admire the Amphitheater of the Three Gauls , where the Roman shows were held.

Then resume your ascent of the rise of the Grande Côte. You will arrive at a part in steps which crosses the Gardens of the Esplanade . And here you are on the set! You just have to catch your breath while enjoying the incredible panorama of the city that awaits you!

climb of the grande cote lyon

La Croix-Rousse, Canuts hill, visit historic Lyon

You are now on the Croix Rousse plateau , an emblematic district in the history of the silk industry in Lyon. It is in Croix-Rousse that the silk workers known as canuts lived and worked . The buildings are very high because the looms were installed there and the workers lived in the same rooms. Once poor, it is now the bohemian district of Lyon!

Stroll along the Grande Rue de la Croix Rousse where you will find many shops. On Saturdays in spring and summer, at n ° 87, you can discover a curiosity: the Rosa Mir Garden . 400m² of interior courtyard transformed into a fantastic garden thanks to constructions in pebbles and shells.

On the Boulevard de la Croix Rousse , every morning is one of the largest food markets in Lyon.

If the history of the Canuts interests you, I recommend a visit to the Maison des Canuts , au10 d’Ivry. Entrance is free with the Lyon City Card . You will then be unbeatable on the history of Lyon silks.

Then come and admire the Fresco des Lyonnais . This huge 1200 m² painting on a building traces the history of construction in the district.

Finally, I recommend a passage on the Gros Caillou esplanade , where you can once again admire a magnificent view of Lyon.

And there you have it, it’s already the end of our second route. Coming down from the plateau, you can discover the Cour des Voraces , famous for its monumental staircase.

Itinerary 3: visit Saint-Just, Fourvière and Vieux-Lyon

It is impossible to visit Lyon without exploring the surroundings of Fourvière. This route is one of my favorite walks, I find that you never tire of the atmosphere and the panoramas.

Saint Just

To start, I suggest you take the funicular to Saint-Just. It works with the same tickets as public transport. Once at the top, head towards the Garden of Curiosities . This garden offered to the city of Lyon by Montreal is for me the most beautiful view that one can have on Lyon. The panorama is exceptional and makes you dizzy.

After this passage, cross the pretty Parc de la Visitation . Then, if you like Roman ruins, you will be impressed by the Odeon and the Ancient Theater .

visit lyon amphitheater

Then, set sail for the famous Basilica of Fourvière . Obviously, you cannot visit Lyon without going up to Fourvière! Enjoy the view but do not forget to enter to admire the incredible architecture of this basilica.

Fourviere seen from the 4 winds footbridge

After your visit, it’s time to explore Old Lyon . Going down through the Parc des Hauteurs then taking the Montée des Chazeaux staircase , you will easily reach the Saint-Jean district .

Walk around Old Lyon

At the foot of the Fourvière hill, stretches the historic district of Vieux-Lyon, from the medieval and Renaissance periods. You will be able to stroll through its pretty cobbled streets. The district is perfectly suited to a visit on Sundays, all shops are open and there is no shortage of entertainment.

Follow rue du Boeuf , the main street of the district where shops and restaurants are concentrated. It will take you to Place Saint-Jean , one of the oldest squares in the city, on which is the Cathedral of the same name with its astronomical clock which comes alive at 2 p.m. Then, at 37 rue Saint Jean, discover the 15th century Maison du Chamarier , whose interior courtyard is remarkable.

At n ° 60 rue Saint-Jean , you will find the Miniature and Cinema Museum . Then at n ° 54, you are in the longest traboule in Lyon . You can take it, you will then cross 4 buildings and exit Rue du Bœuf . Then approach the Saône to admire the 24 columns of the Palais de Justice , and the sublime view you will have from the Passerelle du Palais de Justice .

visit old lyon
view of old lyon

Route 4: The Confluences district

Since we left in Old Lyon, I suggest you take the Vaporetto , a small river shuttle that will take you to the Confluences district. The stop is in Saint-Paul, on the Saône. The trip costs € 5 per person and takes around half an hour. So you can enjoy the lovely view of the boat. An unusual and relaxing way to join Confluences. The Vaporetto will drop you off at the nautical square where the Confluences shopping center is located with its many shops and restaurant terraces.

visit lyon vaporetto

This futuristic district is a showcase of architectures, each more original than the next. Great for some, horrible for others, it’s up to you to make your opinion. It is in this part of Lyon that the Rhône and the Saône meet, forming the small tip of the peninsula . You can walk to the end of the point, just behind the Musée des Confluences , which you can visit if you are interested in science. It is also included in the Lyon City Card .

visit lyon confluences museum
visit lyon route 5

Route 5: visit Lyon via the Saône quays

Another very nice ride is to go up the Saône quays by bike. The docks are totally adapted to the ride. You can start your walk from Confluences along Quai Rambaud .

You will pass along old hangars such as the Sucrière, which today serves as an event venue. Following the quays of the Saône, you will then cross the whole town and arrive as far as the small Île Barbe . In the middle of the Saône, just after Vaise, this tiny island is perfect for a short break. You can then continue to towns to the north of Lyon, such as Fontaine sur Saône , where the banks are also ideal for a stroll.

visit lyon ile barbe

Route 6: from the Rhône to the Tête d’Or park

Finally, I suggest you follow the banks of the Rhône. Along the banks you will find many barges where you can stop for a beer. Continue on your way to the Parc de la Tête d’Or, in the 6th arrondissement. Impossible to visit Lyon without going to this magnificent park. After 6 years I still like to walk there.

If you prefer to get there by bus, the different park entrances are very well served with many stops:

  • Stalingrad / Bus 70, C2, C26
  • Duquesne / Bus 27, 38, C1, C6
  • Churchill / Bus 38, C1, C4, C5

Plan a good half day or even a day to visit the park. It covers more than 117 hectares and has many spaces such as a botanical garden, rose gardens, a zoological park, rides, an equestrian center, etc. The tour of the Park can be done by rosalie or by the little train.

The park is as beautiful in autumn with its orange leaves as in summer when the gardens are in bloom. I really advise you to take a look, it would be a shame to miss it!

visit tete d or lyon park
visit lyon tete d'or park
tete d or lyon park

Since you are in the 6ᵉ, walk towards Brotteaux to admire the Brotteaux station, the first station in Lyon, today classified as a historic monument.

Unusual visits to Lyon

Change your habits with a new visit format to discover Lyon. Civitatis offers many more unusual activities, which allow visits that we would hardly have thought of.

All can be canceled free of charge, a real plus in these uncertain times for tourism.

Among the ones that I highly recommend: Night tour around the legends of Lyon , the Tour of Lyon in a tuktuk , and to treat yourself, the gastronomic tour of Vieux-Lyon .

If time permits, I also advise you to book an excursion around the wines of the Rhône Valley , because it would be a shame to miss out on these delicacies.

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