EuropeThe Ultimate Guide to Visiting Lyon: What to Do in Lyon
The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Lyon: What to Do in Lyon

The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Lyon: What to Do in Lyon

Old town

It may not be your typical postcard-perfect old town with cobblestone streets and immaculate buildings, but that’s exactly why I love it. The authenticity of the area shines through in its unique charm and character. The city used to be located on a hill (the Fourvière Hill), but due to the decline of the Roman Empire and broken infrastructure, Lyon’s residents gradually moved closer and closer to the banks of the Saone River.

Best things to do in Old Town Lyon

  • – Explore charming Renaissance streets of Old Lyon.
  • Enjoy traditional cuisine at bouchon restaurants in Saint-Georges.
  • Check stunning architecture like Palais de Justice and Chamarier house.
  • See Gothic Cathedral of Saint-Jean and views of Old Town.
  • Visit Museums of Miniatures and Cinema at pink House of Lawyers.
  • Take funicular to Fourviere Hill for views, visit Notre-Dame Basilica.
  • Immerse in Roman history at ancient theater hosting music festival.
  • Photograph beautiful Rose Tower for its fascinating hue.
  • Experience hidden passageways originally for water, now perfect for exploring.

Discover the heart and soul of Lyon in Presqu’ile

Presqu’ile is a little peninsula is hugged by two rivers, the Rhone and the Saône, and boasts an abundance of architectural marvels from both the classical and modern eras. The city center of Lyon gradually shifted here in the 18th century, and since then, Presqu’ile has become the beating heart of the city. Spend a leisurely day exploring the city’s most interesting landmarks, including the Place Bellecour, the Opera House, and the Musée des Beaux-Arts.

Best things to do in Presqu’ile Lyon

Uncover the architectural wonders of Lyon’s peninsula

  • – The monument to André-Marie-Ampère is located in a modest but homely area in Lyon known as Place Carnot. It honors the physicist Ampère and his contributions to electricity.
  • Place Bellecour is the large central square of Lyon with an equestrian statue at its center. The nearby square contains a tourist information office and public restrooms.
  • Victor Hugo Street and Republic Street are two large pedestrian streets running through the Presqu’ile area with many shops.
  • The former Charité hospital once stood near the Rhone river but has since been demolished. The nearby Hôtel-Dieu building still remains and is being converted to retail and office space.
  • Place Celestin features a theater building that was originally built on land belonging to a Celestine Order monastery.
  • Jacobin Square and Republic Square have decorative fountains in different styles. Rue Mercière is a pedestrian street known for its restaurants.
  • Place des Terreaux is the most beautiful square, containing city hall and the Palace of Saint-Pierre.
  • Place Louis Pradelle features abstract metal statues and is adjacent to the Lyon Opera building.
  • The architecturally impressive Hotel-Dieu looks like a large palace with interior courtyards, while the Palace of Commerce has a small rear park. Two Gothic churches stand out, along with the famous Lyon Mural wall painting.
  • Other notable buildings include the Palace of Commerce, and churches of St. Niketas and St. Bonaventure. The Lyon Mural is a famous wall painting.

Croix-Rousse in Lyon

If you want to experience some of Lyon’s unique charm, head to the hill of Croix-Rousse. This lovely enclave is so distinct from the rest of the city that its residents even call themselves Croiroussians, not Lyonnais.

While the Fourvière hill is known as the hill that prays, Croix-Rousse is nicknamed the hill that works. Why? Because weavers have been settling here for centuries, making it the center of Lyon’s famous silk production. If you visit, you can start your tour from Place Terreault and admire the hill’s stunning surroundings. The Saône flows on the left while the Rhône is on the right, creating a beautiful natural frame.

Croix-Rousse hill

The hill starts from Place Terreault, it is framed on the left by the Saône, on the right by the Rhône. Previously, these rivers merged exactly where the area is now. The road tunnel of the same name runs right through the Croix-Rousse hill.

The Place de la Croix-Rousse is a large central square where you can find a monument to French inventor Joseph-Marie Jacquard, who revolutionized weaving. Around the square, there are lots of eateries, especially fast food joints for a quick bite.You explore the weaving workshops and shops, where you can indulge in locally produced silk products and immerse yourself in the history of weaving. On weekends, there is a fair and flea market.

Explore the roots of Antoine de Saint-Exupery in his childhood home near Lyon

Lyon is a city that takes great pride in its world-famous natives, and it shows. If you’re lucky enough to visit, you’ll notice portraits of famous citizens like Antoine de Saint-Exupery, François Rabelais, Andre Marie Ampère, and Jean Michel Jarre depicted on oil barrels at the entrance to the city.

Discover the city of Lyon through its famous citizens

While Saint-Exupery might be the most well-known of the bunch, few people know that the Château de Saint-Maurice-de-Rémens, where the beloved writer spent his entire childhood, is actually located 50 km outside of Lyon’s city center.

Saint-Exupery monument

But even in the heart of Lyon, visitors can pay homage to Saint-Exupery at a monument located on the corner of Place Bellecour. It’s a friendly reminder of the city’s rich cultural heritage, and it’s truly just the beginning of all that Lyon has to offer.

Lyon bridges

  • – St George’s Bridge – Elegant bridge between Old Town and modern Lyon connecting the past and present.
  • University Bridge – High bridge built in 1903 connecting Lyon center to universities built in 19th century.
  • Guillotier Bridge – Beautiful 1953 bridge replacing a medieval wooden one built on surviving oak piles.
  • Bonaparte Bridge – Dedicated to Napoleon, it resembles his squat figure but lights up beautifully at night.
  • Bridge de Palais de Justis – A rainbow-shaped bridge opposite the courthouse, it glistens like a thin luminous garland over the river at night.
  • Winston Churchill Bridge – Originally an imposing 1874 metal structure, it had an innovative design and was restored in 1982 after wartime damage.
  • Morand Bridge – Lyon’s oldest bridge at 208m built in 1774 of wood with several name changes over time.

Unusual things to do in Lyon: Discover the history of Barb Island- L’Île Barbe

The mysterious island of Barb, also known as L’Île Barbe! This secluded island, located north of Lyon, has been shrouded in secrets and legends for centuries. From Druidic sacrifices to medieval witchcraft, the stories that surround this island are truly intriguing. It’s no wonder why – the island’s first bridge was only built in 1734, leaving it wild and untamed for centuries. Despite its isolation, several monasteries and abbeys were built on the island throughout history. One legend even claims that Longinus, the Roman soldier who pierced Christ’s chest with his spear, built the first abbey on the island. Rumors abound that the Holy Grail was hidden here as well.

Lyon Museums

The Confluence Museum

If you’re one of those travelers that love to pack a lot of activities into just one day, Lyon might be a challenge. How do you choose what to see when there are so many interesting sights to discover? Luckily, there’s a solution that will make your decision much easier. The Confluence Museum is a must-visit when in Lyon. Firstly, there’s the architecture. The spaceship-like shape of the building is unlike anything you’ve seen before and it’s quickly become a Lyon landmark. The unique combination of forms, glass and concrete is a modern architectural wonder. The locals call it the “Crystal” or the “Hole” and it’s easy to see why. But the museum is more than just a pretty face. The anthropological exhibition inside is fascinating, focusing on the evolution of the human species.

Museum of Gallo-Roman Civilization

If you’re a history buff and visiting Lyon, then you absolutely cannot miss the Museum of Gallo-Roman Civilization. Built on the site of the Roman settlement of Lugdunum, this museum is a treasure trove of rare archaeological finds dating back to the Roman period. The museum has become a must-see destination for tourists from all over the world thanks to its unique collections and amazing preservation of the exhibits. With lots of positive reviews, it’s clear that visitors to the museum are not disappointed. So if you’re in Lyon, be sure to visit this spectacular museum and step back in time to the fascinating world of Ancient Rome.

Museum of Fine Arts

From Chagall to Renoir, Gauguin to Cezanne, Monet to Manet, the museum houses works of some of the most acclaimed artists in history. Not only that, but the museum’s collection also includes over a thousand sculptures, about 400 objects of ancient Egyptian art, and a lot more. No wonder it’s considered one of the most valuable museum complexes in all of France! If you’re a lover of art, this museum should definitely be on your list of places to visit in Lyon.

House of Lawyers- the Museum of Miniatures and Cinema today

This ancient building, constructed in the 16th century with Tuscan arcades and painted in a vibrant pinkish hue, is not only a sight to behold but also houses the Museum of Miniatures and Cinema. Here, you can marvel at the intricate details of small-scale reproductions of interiors of Lyon buildings and get a glimpse of the city’s past through scenes of daily life. And let’s not forget the lion statue standing tall right beside the House of Lawyers

I believe that you can travel the world without quitting your job. I believe that you can experience all the magic, the foodies and the cultures of the world while having a normal life. And, perhaps, two dogs. This is exactly what I’ve been doing for 15 years. This is exactly what my blog is about. Love, Lilia

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