Things to do in Lyon
Lyon is France’s third largest city and a major tourist destination founded 2000 years ago. The city hosts a mixture of architecture, culture and traditions reflecting the different populations who have inherited it. The River Saône and the Rhône divide Lyon and provide stunning scenery across the bridges. I was really impressed with Lyon as a city break and set out below some of the best things to do in Lyon.
Wine tour in Lyon
Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere
I would definitely recommend walking to the Notre-Dame taking in the stunning views of Lyon as you go. For those more faint hearted there is a funicular which costs €3 one way. Before walking up the steep hills, stop off at Saint Jean Cathedral which is a beautiful building.
The white Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere sits on the top of Fourvière hill, also referred to as the “praying hill”. Some locals believe that it resembles an upside down elephant! Designed by Pierre Bossan, Fourvière basilica draws from both Romanesque and Byzantine architecture and is actually one church on top of another! The inside displays gorgeous mosaics and stained glass and is both classic and elegant.
The best bit is the Notre-Dame is FREE to enter and free to admire the views. There are guided tours to the basilica which run daily but you must book in advance.
Ancient Theatre of Fourviere
The Ancient Theatre of Fourviere is (unsurprisingly) located on Fourviere Hill and is a 10 minute walk from the Notre Dame. Combining the two landmarks makes for a perfect morning or afternoon!
The ancient ruins are over 2000 years old and, quite honestly, not something I expected to see in Lyon! You can easily walk around the ruins in 30 minutes or so and, again, they are FREE.
Parc de la Tête d’or
North of the City is the gorgeous Parc de la Tête d’or which you can reach on the Metro or in a taxi for around €10. It is absolutely worth the visit, especially if it is a sunny day! The park is absolutely huge so definitely hire a bike if you feel up to it. The botanical gardens and rose gardens are absolutely gorgeous and free to enter.
If you walk further north of the park, you reach some stunning lakes where you can hire a pedalo. We found a little steam train which was €2.50 to take us around the lake – designed for children but absolutely fine for adults – we had a great time!
The Vieux Lyon (old Lyon) is the largest Renaissance district of Lyon covering the foot of the Fourvière hill. There are three distinct sections: Saint Jean, Saint Paul and Saint Georges. We sadly did not get a chance to wander around as much as we wanted to!
The First Arrondissement
There are a few things to do in Lyon around the first arronidssement which is where our Hotel was and features some of the most classic French architecture in the city. The main square is the Place Des Terreaux which is home to the Hotel de Ville, the opera house, and the Musee des Beuax Arts. It is a great place for alfresco drinking and dining and has a lovely community feel.
Don’t forget to check out the Batholdi Fountain, created by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi who also designed the Statue of Liberty. The features are stunning and really lifelike!