When you’re planning a trip to France, it’s tempting to go to the most popular destinations, such as Paris or the French Riviera. But this country has so much more to offer than these classic vacation spots.
Lyon is France’s second-largest city, and it truly has it all: History, nature, culture, and so much more. There are so many things to do in Lyon, though, that it’s difficult to know where to start. That’s why we’ve made a list of Lyon tours, Lyon restaurants and Lyonnaise cooking, as well as other things to see in Lyon.
If you’re not sure where to start on your own, it’s a good idea to take a guided tour of Lyon. This will help you hit all the big spots and learn the basics of things to do in Lyon in a short amount of time.
There are plenty of tours to choose from depending on what you’re interested in. From the Women Who Left Their Mark on Lyon tour to the Presqu’ile Tour: 2,000 Years of History, there’s something for everyone.
Looking to delve deeper into the city’s character? Take one of the many district tours available to learn about specific parts of town, like the Bellecour district or the Terreaux district.
Lyon Restaurants & Cooking
French food is world-renowned, but Lyon has its own special way of cooking. This is why it’s known as the gastronomic capital of the world. Boasting over 4,000 restaurants and more than 20 with Michelin stars, this is the perfect destination for a foodie. Its location gives chefs access to the freshest high-quality ingredients, such as beef and chicken from Burgundy and incredible wine from the surrounding vineyards.
You may have heard the phrase “a la Lyonnaise,” meaning the meal was prepared with Lyonnaise sauce. This regional sauce is made of onions sauteed in butter, white wine and vinegar, providing an amazing flavor alongside your meat or potatoes.
For the most authentic culinary experience, head to one of les bouchons Lyonnaise, or certified Lyonnaise restaurants. One of the best Lyon restaurants is S06 La Saucissonnerie at Cabane. If you’re looking for something super high-quality, check out Food Traboule, a local favorite.
After a hearty Lyonnaise meal, you’ll want to wash it down with a few glasses of local wine. The nightlife in Lyon is unique across each district. You’ll find everything from local pubs to cozy wine bars to cafe-theaters and plenty of nightclubs.
For great cocktails, head to Brooklyn Bar. For wine, beer and rum, check out Les Valseuses. For a true French experience, however, head to Aromo. This bar has more than 150 wines from around the world and you can pair it with charcuterie and French cheese.
Old Lyon and Croix Rousse are known to be some of the best areas for nightlife in the city. You’ll also find plenty of bars on the banks of the river.
Once you’ve explored the food and drink scene, one of the best things to do in Lyon is to hit the museums. Lyon has plenty of them, so you’re sure to find something that will interest you.
Check out the Musée des Confluences for science and anthropology or Musée Cinema et Miniature which houses movie props and special effects exhibits. Film lovers will also love the Musée Lumiere, while those into contemporary art will appreciate a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts Lyon.
Other Lyon Attractions
Aside from food and museums, there are several other historical sights to see. These include La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière, la Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Place Bellecour and Parc de la Tête d’Or, among others.
Clearly, there are way more things to do in Lyon than meets the eye, especially for food-savvy travelers. This French city has just as much to offer, if not more, than classic destinations like Paris and the French Riviera. Since it’s a little more off the beaten path, that also means it will be less crowded, so you’ll have plenty of time and space to explore as you please. As a bonus, you can use SIXT ride services to make your way around the city or even to head to the nearby Alps for the day. If you’re flying into or out of Lyon-Saint-Exupéry Airport we also offer airport transfer service for a stress-free experience.