Lyon often escapes the list of must-sees in France, but the city and its surrounding areas offer a lot to do, see, and experience. Spend your time exploring historic neighborhoods filled with Renaissance-era architecture and hidden courtyards, tasting the internationally recognized Lyonaisse cuisine, savoring historic sites like the Fourviere Basilica, and exploring the traditional world of silk. With more time, take a day trip to the surrounding vineyards or historic cities like Annecy.

Getting Oriented

The historic and lively streets of Lyon.

Lyon might not be on everyone's radar, but it's France's second-largest urban area with plenty of appeal. The city sits at the confluence of two rivers, both well known for their vineyard-clad valleys (the Rhône and Saône). Lyon's historic center boasts Roman, medieval, and Renaissance architecture, and its entire Old Town is a  UNESCO site, second only to Venice in size. In addition, the city offers excellent access to the French Alps, so you get the best of all worlds—urban, gastronomic, and nature.

You can visit France any time of the year, but Lyon truly offers the seasonal diversity that visitors love. In the warmer months, explore the vineyards, enjoy Lyonnaise food at buzzy outdoor terraces, and hop down to the French Riviera. In the colder seasons, embrace fresh mountain air and skiing in the Alps and the decorative Christmas markets of the region. 

Discover the City

Despite not being on the tourist radar, Lyon is second to Venice when it comes to the size of its UNESCO area. That's why exploring the city on foot, by bike, or via your tastebuds is an essential experience. 

The Best of Lyon City Tour

Explore the charm of Lyon's historic and architecturally rich neighborhoods.

Explore Lyon like a local, starting in the always-lively Bellecour Square. Cross the Bonaparte Bridge toward the Old Town and take the ficelle cable car to the top of the city's hill, where you'll find the basilica and incredible views of the city below. Other highlights include St John’s Square filled with Renaissance architecture, the city's famous “traboules" (covered passageways through medieval structures), and a visit to a silk workshop. Read More

Culture & Gastronomy Tour

Try different specialties known to Lyonaisse cuisine.

One could argue that France in its entirety is a foodie haven, but Lyon takes it to another level. Enjoy bites of the city's signature Lyonnaise cuisine, one of the country's richest culinary heritage areas. Stroll through the heart of the historic town, in its Presqu’île (peninsula) and Vieux-Lyon (Old Town) districts, admiring the historic architecture, cobbled streets, and buzzy quays. Then dive into Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse, a labyrinthine municipal market with various food stalls. After filling up on tasty bites and culinary anecdotes, end the tour in the Croix-Rousse neighborhood, the weaver's district, which abounds with colorful houses and tree-filled plazas. Read More

Bike The City

The paved bike paths in Lyon.

Expand your city exploration by cruising around Lyon on a bike, taking advantage of the city's paved cycling paths. You'll use an e-bike, meaning without much effort, you can explore more of the city and conquer those hills! Some highlights of the tour include the scenic quays of the Rhône and Saône Rivers, the leafy Golden Head Park, and the buzzy Bellecour Square. Along the way, learn about Lyon's unique history, dating back to the Roman Empire when the city was the capital of Roman Gaul. Read More

Explore the Countryside

From sprawling vineyards to historic hamlets, Lyon's surrounding countryside is just as enchanting as its historic city center. Enjoy a day trip to discover a bit more about the region's history and gastronomy. 

Day Trip to Annecy

Explore the charm of "Alpine Venice," Annecy.

There's a reason why the alpine town of Annecy is a bucket-list item—known as "Alpine Venice," the town charms with twisting cobbled streets and trickling canals in its Vieille Ville (Old Town). Enjoy strolling by colorful 16th- and 17th-century buildings, popping into local bakeries and boutiques, and relaxing along the shores of Lake Annecy, said to be the cleanest waters in Europe. With an abundance of outdoor scenery, you'll notice locals out enjoying nature. Feel free to join them by rowing on the lake, biking along its shores, or discovering nearby trails for a leisurely walk or hike. Read More

Ballooning in Beaujolais

Enjoy views of vineyards, rolling hills, hilltop villages, and distant mountains as you glide over Beaujolais.

Get a bird's-eye-view of Lyon's picturesque countryside with a hot-air ballooning experience over the Beaujolais Province. Lyon is known as the "Gastronomic Capital of France" for a reason—its vineyards and agricultural fields along the Rhône and Saône Rivers are an important part of that title. Enjoy the views of patchwork fields, Tuscany-style hilltop villages, misty valleys, and the French Alps in the distance. Read More

Beaujolais Tour & Wine Tasting

The vineyards of the Beaujolais wine region.

Exploring the Beaujolais Province isn't complete without a wine tasting! If you're a wine enthusiast, you may have already tasted the region's signature wine by the same name, Beaujolais, which offers various berry flavors. But high-quality versions compare to Old World Pinot Noir, with more earthy and smoky notes. You'll explore the region's sprawling vineyards, towns with unique Beaujolais Nouveau architecture, and wine estates offering tastings. Read More

How to Craft the Perfect Lyon Itinerary

The Palais de la Bourse in Lyon.

France is a large country, but Lyon pairs well with many trip themes. For example, you can combine the city with other urban hubs, such as Paris to the north and Nice or Marseille to the south. To continue with a wine theme, you can also combine Paris and Lyon with the fairytale villages and sparkling wines of the Loire Valley, the deep reds of Bordeaux, and the rosés of Provence.

How many days you spend in France really depends on what cities or regions you combine. If you prefer just to see Lyon and its surrounding areas, give yourself at least three full days to enjoy the city and a day trip or two. If you'd like to add another city or region, plan to spend a few days in Lyon and up to one or two weeks in France. 

Past kimkim travelers have enjoyed the following itineraries that included experiences in Lyon: