The Most Interesting Things to Do in Lyon, France

Lyon is a significant UNESCO World Heritage Site, featuring a vast Renaissance old town, Roman ruins, medieval industrial districts, and the regal Presqu’île quarter from the 19th century. The city was formed 2,000 years ago at the junction of the Rhône and Saône Rivers and prospered thanks to the silk trade. In Vieux Lyon, where semi-hidden passages called Traboules connect courtyards with the Saône, this industry provided it with stunning Renaissance architecture.


Traboules are charming renaissance corridors that run beneath buildings in the direction of the Saône River and are unique to Vieux Lyon and La Croix-Rousse Saône. There are about 40 of them open to the public in Vieux Lyon and La Croix-Rousse Saône.

They provided direct access to the riverbed for the city’s silk weavers, making it quick and easy to carry fabrics while also providing shelter from the elements.

It’s a good idea to move softly because nearly all of these tunnels are part of residential buildings.

Rue des, Trois Maries, is the most pleasing area to start your adventure.

The Most Interesting Things to Do in Lyon

Basilica de Fourvière

This majestic church stands on the Fourvière hill to the west of the city, is a succession of famous late-nineteenth-century hill-top churches built-in critical French towns.

The basilica is located in the city’s oldest district, a popular pilgrimage destination and where various Roman sites have been uncovered.

Inside, you may visit the ornate interiors and the Museum of Sacred Art, as well as climb to the top of one of Lyon’s best photo opportunities.

The church is the focal point of the annual Fête des Lumières, which occurs at the beginning of December.

This is in honor of the Virgin Mary, to whom Fourvière is dedicated, for saving the city in the 17th century from the bubonic plague.

Lyon’s Old Town

You may go through one of Europe’s most significant Renaissance old quarters.

Lyon’s silk industry flourished from the 15th to the 17th centuries, attracting wealthy merchant families from France, Flanders, Germany, and Italy.

They constructed wealthy homes in the Gothic, Italian Renaissance, and French Renaissance styles, and there are still 300 of them in the Saint-Jean, Saint-Georges, and Saint-Paules districts.

There were an estimated 180,000 looms in the city during the 16th century, and the inventive ways this industry integrated with the city’s fabric may be seen in Vieux Lyon’s unique traboules.

The Tête d’Or Park

One of the country’s largest urban parks, featuring a zoo and France’s foremost botanical garden, is located just north of the city center.

The worldwide rose garden should be one of your first stops in the city if you’re visiting in the spring.

The botanical attractions are as impressive, with over 20,000 plant kinds and some of the most elegant 19th-century greenhouses you’ll ever see, dense with the aroma of chlorophyll.

The African Plain, with zebras, lions, giraffes, and the vast lake for epic pedal-boating adventures in the summer, makes the park a must-do for families with children.

Lyon’s Musée des Beaux-Arts

After the Louvre in Paris, the Musée des Beaux-Arts is France’s largest fine art museum, housed in a medieval abbey from the 1600s.

There are 70 rooms featuring paintings from the 1300s to the 1900s, sculptures, and Egyptian and Oriental art shows.

The wealth of prominent French and European artists on display will impress even those with only a passing knowledge: Degas, van Gogh, Renoir, Cézanne, El Greco, Canaletto, Picasso, Max Ernst, and Francis Bacon, to name a few.

The Antiquities department has around 600 Ancient Egyptian artifacts, including reliefs, busts, figurines, and sarcophagi, as well as massive gates found at the Medamud temple.

The Cathedral of Lyon

The city’s magnificent cathedral was mainly erected in the Gothic style between the 12th and 15th centuries.

The majority of the original stained-glass windows, which originate from the 1300s, are still in place.

They were dismantled and stowed away during World War II to protect them from bomb damage.

The nine-meter-tall astronomical clock within was installed in the 1300s.

An astrolabe, added in the 1600s, can depict the position of the earth, sun, and moon beneath the main clock face.

When the chimes are rung on the hour, automatic figures above it put on a little show.

Fourvière’s Ancient Theatre

This monument is also located high on the left bank of the Saône River.

It is still used as a performance venue during the Nuits de Fourvière theatre festival every June and July, 2,000 years after it was erected.

It could have held 10,000 spectators at its heyday, but only the cave’s middle and lower terraces survive.

However, where the seating has been removed, the cave’s interesting substructure may be seen, extending far up the hillside.

In the late 1800s, the theatre was rediscovered and repaired over the next 40 years.

The Gallo-Roman Museum described below houses artifacts discovered here and in the nearby Odeon.

Gadagne Museum

This attraction, which is essentially Lyon’s municipal museum, is named for the magnificent 16th-century Renaissance palace that houses it, erected by two Florentine brothers.

Around 80,000 artifacts, from medieval periods to the mid-nineteenth century, are housed in 30 rooms on four stories.

Antique maps and sketches depict how Lyon has evolved over time and the construction of some of the city’s most iconic structures.

With the help of artifacts and records, you’ll learn about the importance of the silk industry in the city’s development during the 1500s and 1600s, as well as the sumptuous lifestyles enjoyed by people who built their fortune here.

The Musée des Marionnettes, which has 2,000 ancient puppets, is also included as part of the event.