History, culture, food and wine are the reasons why it is worth visiting Lyon, a French city that in recent years has been able to attract more and more tourists. In 1998 the historic districts of Fourviere, Vieux Lyon, Croix Rousse and Presqu’ile were declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO and since then the success of the city has been growing. If you too are among those who can’t wait to leave for this French destination, here is our advice on what to do in Lyon.
After years of degradation, Old Lyon has been redeveloped and today is one of the most interesting and picturesque places in the city.
Among the alleys there are characteristic small squares, often dominated by impressive churches. This is where many of the attractions and museums are concentrated. Do not miss, for example, Place Des Terreaux with the Town Hall and the Museum of Fine Arts and the Cathedral of Sant Jean.
In the Old Town, there are also the famous traboules, a series of covered passages that connect the streets through gardens and courtyards. Today many of them are closed and private, but some are still freely passable.
Among the things to do in Lyon you cannot miss a lunch or dinner inside a bouchon, the typical family taverns of the city.
In these cozy and home-friendly taverns you can taste the true traditional cuisine of Lyon always accompanied by the excellent local wine. We suggest you taste Cervelle des Canuts, a cream spread based on goat’s or cow’s milk, garlic, chives, olive oil, salt and pepper, pike quenelle and macaronis gratin.
If you are a true gourmand and you are curious about the authentic Lyon, then we suggest you take part in our Food Tour.
During the food and wine tour of Lyon you will be accompanied by a local guide who will not only take you to discover the Saint-Jean neighborhood, but will also take you inside the best bouchons to taste the best traditional dishes.
Two of the most interesting areas of the city are located on the hills of Fourvière and Croix-Rousse. These two are known by the inhabitants as “the praying hill” and “the working hill”.
The hill of Fourvière can be considered the spiritual center of Lyon and there are many churches: among the most famous are the Basilica of Notre Dame and the Cathedral of Saint Jean.
The hill of the Croix-Rousse, on the other hand, is the place where, in the past, most of the silk factories and workshops of the city were located and for this reason it was nicknamed “the working hill”.
The Cathedral of Saint Jean was built between the 12th and 15th centuries and represents one of the best examples of the transition between the Romanesque and Gothic styles. When work on the church began, the style in vogue was Romanesque, but over the years needed to complete the construction, it was abandoned, and the Gothic architectural style emerged. The apse is in Romanesque style, but as you get closer to the facade you move on to the Gothic style (visible especially in the imposing rose window).
Inside the church is preserved one of the oldest astronomical clocks in Europe.
A curiosity: Lyon has the largest mural in Europe! To admire it you will have to sneak through the streets of the Croix-Rousse hill. It is here, between Boulevard des Canuts and Rue Denfert Rochereau, that you will find the Mur de Canuts, the so-called Wall of Lyons.
The huge painting depicts the neighborhood itself, with its buildings and its inhabitants. The work is often retouched to keep up with the times and immortalize the city in its everyday life.
Did you know that cinema was born in this French city? One of the reasons to visit Lyon is precisely this.
The Lumière brothers were born right here and you can retrace their history and that of the Seventh Art by visiting the interesting and exciting Musèe Lumière: an unmissable stop for film lovers and not.
Finally, among the tips on what to do in Lyon, you should not miss a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts housed in the 12th century Abbaye de Dames de Saint Pierre.
This museum is one of the most important in France and in addition to a huge collection of coins (about 50,000), it houses a collection of works ranging from painting to sculpture and archaeology.
If you are passionate about painting, here you can admire paintings by Italian (Tintoretto, Veronese and Perugino for example) and French artists (Delacroix Corot, Manet, Matisse, Gauguin and Cézanne).
We hope that our suggestions on what to do in Lyon will help you organize your trip to the French city. Don’t forget to book your food tour with us to taste the best traditional dishes of the city and discover the best bouchons to eat in Lyon.