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Lyon

  • Lyon, Auberge-Rhone-Alpes, France

Last updated: 15 June, 2024
Expert travel writer: Anna Brooke

Sandwiched between the splendid steep vineyards of Beaujolais and the northern Cotes du Rhone, Lyon is renowned as France’s foodie city par excellence.

Culture vultures get their fill here too, thanks to an amazing array of venues, from Roman theatres that still entertain, to the birthplace of world cinema, via a world-class opera house.

Visitors marvel at the extent of the beautiful city centre, stretching along the rivers Rhone and Saone and up the Croix-Rousse and Fourviere hills.

The place appeals to romantics as much as business types. UNESCO, among those seduced, declared historic Lyon a World Heritage Site.

Orientation

Historic Lyon stands beside two major rivers, the Rhone and the Saone, and extends up two steep hills, Croix-Rousse and Fourviere.

Fourviere, west of the Saone, is renowned for its Roman and religious past and great views. Below lies Vieux Lyon’s touristy Renaissance quarter.

The Presqu’ile, or Peninsula, is the smart central area between Saone and Rhone.

Croix-Rousse above, once working-class, is trendy. East of the Rhone, posh areas lead to elegant Tête d’Or Park.

Tours, tickets & transfers

8

Our selection of the best Viator tours of this destination, plus helpful tickets and transfers

  • Lyon

Plunge into the exciting stories that Lyon hides. Stories, anecdotes and legends that create unforgettable memories - as do its outstanding museums, dynamic cultural life, its past as a France's foremost publishing center, capital of the Three Gauls and "capitale de la Résistance française" and all the facts that have turned Lyon into France's gastronomical capital. During the 3 hours we will spend together you will linger in the major monuments but also discover the most awe-inspiring hidden secret places. The world is a book and those who do not travel and discover read only one page.

Price €33

Min age 0

Rating 4.98 / 5 [501 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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  • Lyon

10:00 am/English | On this guided walking tour of the historic neighborhoods of Croix-Rousse and Vieux Lyon, you will learn a lot about the culture and history of Lyon. We start on Place des Terreauxwhere you'll see the impressive the Hôtel de Ville and Museum. The Bartholdi Fountain is another highlight. Then we walk through Croix-Rousse, where the silk workers used to work. It is filled with hidden passageways, the Traboules. We will talk about silk enjoy amazing views over the city. From the Roman Amphitheatre, we descend down towards Vieux Lyon, the most famous neighborhood of the city. We will see the Fresque des Lyonnais, an impressive wall painting and Rue Juiverie, with the amazing Gallerie Philibert Delorme. We'll finish in the busy part of Vieux Lyon, right in time for lunch! Tips are greatly appreciated. Our guides spend many hours of personal time increasing their knowledge to provide you with the best experience possible. Typical tip range has been e5-10 per person.

Price €3

Min age 1

Rating 4.92 / 5 [424 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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  • Lyon

Health and safety commitments: The tours have been suited to meet all of your requirements and provide you with a safe tour experience. Once you are comfortably seated in the electric pedicab, begin a tour of Lyon with a local guide who is passionate about the city. Learn about the history of Lyon from Roman times to the Renaissance and discover the city from another angle, in the heart of the historic districts. Discover the old town of Lyon, "Vieux Lyon", part of the city’s historic region that is now a designated UNESCO World Heritage, where you will be introduced to the city’s unique covered walkways, known as “traboules.” On an extended 2-hour tour, visit the area of "Presqu'île", which is at the heart of the city and continue along the banks of the Rhone to enjoy a panoramic view of the hills of Fourviere and Croix-Rousse. Hear stories, historical facts, and anecdotes, as you explore some of the highlights of the city. Up to 2 adults and one child under 6 years old. 1 or 2-hour guided tour. Total weight limit: 160kg - 350lbs

Price €25

Min age 0

Rating 4.97 / 5 [142 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Travel advice

When to go

While Lyon can heat up in summer, it’s rarely unbearable in the city. Winters don’t get particularly cold. Spring and autumn are often lovely times, though it can remain cool until surprisingly late in springtime.

Culture is on the agenda in Lyon throughout the year, but big festivals add excitement to a visit, for example the diverse June to July festival, Nuits de Fourvière, in the Roman theatres, or the early December Festival of Lights.

Getting there and away

Lyon St-Exupery airport lies 25km east of the centre. The Rhone Express shuttle bus to Vaulx-en-Velin La Soie metro station is the fastest route into town, though taxis may prove more straightforward for first-time visitors. The city has fantastic rail connections with Paris, Marseille and Lille, with a journey time from London of just five hours, via Lille and the Channel Tunnel. There are two big central stations: Perrache on the Presqu’ile, Part-Dieu east of the Rhône.

Getting around

Lyon is blessed with excellent public transport. The metro is modern, comfortable and efficient. The bus services are good. Taxis are relatively easy to find. You can hire a car at the two central railway stations, among other places. In a car, the city is relatively hard to negotiate, because of one-way systems and the constraints imposed by the rivers and two big hills. For cyclists, the city-wide Velo’v bike-hire scheme is excellent.

Where to stay

First-time visitors plump for Vieux Lyon and Fourvière west of the Saone, the obvious, romantic choice. These parts are beautiful, if very touristy, with loads to see and do, plus an abundance of places to eat.

The Presqu’Ile is great for shops and the main art museums; there are also many French squares with cafés and restaurants here. East of the Rhone, the quarters near Tête d’Or Park are more residential, though smart, with some shops and restaurants.

The Cite Internationale north of the park has some big, comfortable chain hotels popular with business travellers and tourists alike.

Where to shop

While there are some interesting boutiques in Vieux Lyon, touristy shops dominate here. You’ll find the greatest concentration of stylish establishments on the Presqu’Ile.

Broad Rue de la Republique is lined with the big-name stores. The Carre d’Or between the Bellecour and Cordeliers squares, is the nickname for a little quarter of posh designer boutiques. Rue Auguste Comte is the main street for antiques.

For more experimental addresses, try Croix-Rousse, notably Passage Thiaffait.