Visitors that make an effort to explore Lyon will find a wealth of cultural offerings that are sometimes missed by those who just have a limited amount of time in the city.
Lyon has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its rich history stretching back to Roman times. The city is home to some of France’s most ancient remains, as well as medieval neighborhoods and beautiful Renaissance architecture.
Neighborhoods near the rivers Rhône and Saône in Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon) have kept much of the city’s historic charm. Romantic neighborhoods include Quartier Saint-Jean and Colline de la Croix-Rousse, while the Presqu’île is a model of 19th-century beauty. If you want to experience the old-world beauty of Lyon, your best bet is to spend a while in these fascinating historic neighborhoods.
Located only 10 kilometers from Lyon, the renowned Michelin-starred Auberge du Pont de Collonges has been a favorite dining destination for decades thanks to the management of great French chef Paul Bocuse. All across Lyon, you’ll find bouchons, or tiny, quiet bistros, where you can sample authentic Lyonnais cuisine.
Top 15 Tourist Attractions in Lyon
We’ve listed down some of the best and most popular attractions in the city of Lyon to help you get a better look at this amazing town’s charm and beauty. Have a great time!
- The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière
- Musee des Beaux-Arts de Lyon
- Parc de la Tete d’Or
- Vieux Lyon
- Chocolaterie Sève – MUSCO, Musée du Chocolat de Lyon
- Aquarium de Lyon
- The Silk Industry Museum
- Theatre of Fourviere
- Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste
- Lyon’s Murals
- Lyonnaise Cuisine
- Musée des Confluences
- The traboules of Lyon
- Place Bellecour
The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière
Lyon’s most visited and best attraction is the Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourvière, attracting almost two million visitors every year.
The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière sits on top of Lyon’s highest hill, making it visible from almost everywhere in the city. The neo-Byzantine church, which was constructed in the late 19th century to both worship the Virgin Mary and (not so modestly) display the city’s riches, has become the official icon of Lyon.
Because of its huge, circular body and four major towers that serve as legs, locals refer to it as the “upside-down elephant.” Within its walls are the crypt of Saint Joseph, the Museum of Sacred Art, and an abundance of stained glass and mosaics. Visiting the terrace or observatory atop Fourvière hill is a fantastic way to soak in the city of Lyon from afar after visiting the gorgeous interior of the basilica.
- Address: 8 Pl. de Fourvière, 69005 Lyon, France.
- Timings: every day from 7 AM to 8 PM.
Musee des Beaux-Arts de Lyon
Musee des Beaux-Arts de Lyon is another top attraction in Lyon. This fine arts museum is proof of Lyon’s rich cultural history and is often ranked second in France, just after the Louvre. The Abbaye Royale des Dames de Saint-Pierre, built in the 17th century, serves as the museum’s home in Place des Terreaux, not far from the Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall).
The museum’s collection covers the 14th to the 20th century and includes some of the most outstanding paintings and sculptures in Europe. There are also interesting collections of antiques, ancient coins, and graphic arts.
The museum has an impressive collection of contemporary and impressionist works. Works by Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso are among the highlights.
- Address: 20 Pl. des Terreaux, 69001 Lyon, France.
- Timings: Wednesday to Monday from 10 AM to 6 PM. Closed on Tuesdays.
Parc de la Tete d’Or
For anyone visiting Lyon, France, the first place to go should be the Parc de la Tête d’Or as it is one of the best attractions in Lyon. This stunning park spans over a hundred acres and has a zoo, lake, and botanical garden, among other attractions.
If you’re looking for a beautiful setting to spend the day with loved ones outside, go no further than the Parc de la Tête d’Or. The park is very well-kept, and it has many interesting attractions. Walk around the gardens, feed the ducks at the lake, and check out the zoo’s various exhibits; the park has something for everyone. Travelers to Lyon should not miss visiting the Parc de la Tête d’Or.
- Address: 69006 Lyon, France.
The area of Vieux Lyon is one of the biggest preserved Renaissance neighborhoods in Europe, and it is considered to be one of the top attractions in Lyon. Make sure you take a walk in this neighborhood whenever you are in Lyon to see the great history of this city and witness the charming architecture of this region.
During the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries, wealthy merchant families from France, Flanders, Germany, and Italy flocked to Lyon to take advantage of the city’s growing silk industry.
In the neighborhoods of Saint-Jean, Saint-Georges, and Saint-Paules, there are still some 300 grand mansions constructed in the Gothic, Italian Renaissance, and French Renaissance styles. It is believed that there were 180,000 looms in the city during the 16th century, and you can see how this business was integrated with the fabric of Vieux Lyon in the traboules.
Chocolaterie Sève – MUSCO, Musée du Chocolat de Lyon
One of the most visited tourist attractions in Lyon is the Chocolate Museum. This museum explores the development of chocolate and its many uses via a number of interactive learning displays. Visitors may see the chocolate-making process and hear the story of where chocolate came from.
A short video detailing the city of Lyon’s role in the chocolate industry is also available to watch. The museum also hosts several lectures and seminars. Many schools offer courses on chocolate-related topics, such as how to create chocolate from scratch, how to temper chocolate, and how to produce various chocolate-based treats.
The museum store sells chocolate-related goods, including books, cookware, and even clothing.
- Address: 324 All. des Frènes, 69760 Limonest, France.
- Timings: Tuesday to Saturday from 10 AM to 5:30 PM. Closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Aquarium de Lyon
The Lyon Aquarium, which was opened in 2002 and underwent renovations in 2010, is a public aquarium with a focus on ocean conservation and education. We may learn about different regions of the ocean, such as the tropics and the temperate zones, by visiting aquariums.
The Lyon Aquarium’s mission is to educate the public about the value of biodiversity conservation via displays of coral reefs and other rare marine creatures. The Aquarium of Lyon is one of the top attractions in the city, which is both educational and entertaining.
- Address: 7 Rue Stéphane Dechant, 69350 La Mulatière, France.
- Timings: every day from 10:30 AM to 6:30 PM.
La Maison des Canuts
Lyon’s Silk Industry Museum is quite popular among visitors, and it is considered to be one of the top attractions in Lyon. For several reasons. One important thing is the knowledge it provides on the city’s silk trade, which dates back hundreds of years. Visitors may see the many stages of silk production and get an understanding of the processes involved.
The museum also showcases examples of weaving and other textile-related crafts and displays a collection of vintage looms. La Maison des Canuts is housed in a historically significant structure (the former mansion of a prosperous silk trader).
Both the museum and its gardens are popular destinations for visitors. It’s no surprise that La Maison des Canuts is one of Lyon’s most popular destinations, given the city’s rich history and the museum’s picturesque location.
- Address: 10 Rue d’Ivry, 69004 Lyon, France.
Theatre of Fourviere (Teatro Galo-Romano)
The theatre of Fourviere is not only one of the best tourist attractions in Lyon but also one of the top ones in France. Augustus commissioned the construction of the earliest Roman theater in France, which was constructed between 17 and 15 BC and later enlarged under the reign of Hadrian. It was constructed near the hill of Fourvière, which served as the city’s focal point while it was controlled by the Romans.
There are high-sitting galleries, a beautifully adorned floor, and the beginnings of a massive stage in this theater. Across the street, the ruins of the Odeon may be seen; this was a much smaller theater where musical performances and poetry contests took place.
- Address: 17 Rue Cleberg, 69005 Lyon, France.
Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste is another one of Lyon’s top attractions that is worth a visit. Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Lyon, located in the center of the Vieux Lyon neighborhood, was constructed over a period of 300 years, and traces of each era are visible throughout the building. The crosses on either side of the altar and the stained glass windows date to the 1200s.
A technological marvel for its day was the astronomical clock from the fourteenth century. Three keyboards and 30 stops were added to the remarkable cathedral organ during its reconstruction in the 1800s. The neighboring archeological garden is also worthwhile to see because it contains fragments of buildings from the 4th century, which stood in this location before the cathedral was built.
- Address: Pl. Saint-Jean, 69005 Lyon, France.
- Timings: every day from 8:15 AM to 7:45 PM.
Another main attraction of Lyon city is its fascinating murals all over the city walls. Around the city, you’ll find around a hundred huge paintings on walls; most of them are located in working-class neighborhoods or on walls of social housing.
Still, here are a few of the most important to check out: There is an outdoor museum in the United States that features twenty-five murals painted primarily in the 1980s and chronicles the life and work of the architect Tony Garnier, who designed the area back in the 1920s.
Fresque des Lyonnais introduces you to 24 figures and 6 recent individuals (two of whom have since passed away) important to Lyon. The Croix-Rousse neighborhood’s history is shown on the Canuts Mural, Lyon’s original fresco, which is repainted every 10 years.
When you hear that Lyon is the finest location to dine in France, you know that the food there must be exceptional. In terms of French cuisine, Lyon is first and foremost, and one of Lyon’s top attractions is, without a doubt, its delicious food. This is where fine chefs practice their skills, and you get to benefit from their discoveries.
Visit a Bouchon for lunch or dinner to sample regional delicacies, including tablier de sapron, quenelles (a kind of French dumpling), Lyonnaise salad, and canut brain. Every dish is served in large portions, and the local Beaujolais or Côtes-du-Rhône wines are perfect for washing them down.
They create meals that workers in the past would have eaten, so they are hearty and rich and use portions of the body you may not think to use: Some restaurants offer deep-fried tripe that has been marinated and often comes with a garlicky herb sauce.
One of Lyon’s most fascinating and top attractions is La Presqu’Ile. It’s a little piece of land that was created by an engineering effort in the 18th century that connected this island to the rest of Lyon across the Rhône and Saône rivers. This neighborhood, filled with beautiful buildings from the 19th century, spacious plazas, stores, museums, cafés, bars, and nightclubs, is where the majority of the city’s action takes place.
Here you’ll find the city’s most exciting and vibrant attractions, including theaters, museums, galleries, cafes, restaurants, and boutiques, as well as civic landmarks like the Opera House and City Hall. This area of the city has everything a tourist might want, from shops and bars to museums and historical landmarks.
Musée des Confluences
One of the most popular attractions to visit in Lyon is Musée des Confluences which provides a fascinating look into the city’s history. The museum is a scientific center and anthropological museum located in Lyon’s Second District at the meeting of the Rhône and Saône rivers.
Natural science and Earth science collections, as well as displays of arts and crafts, may be found in this museum. Everything from the Big Bang hypothesis to the evolution of life in the universe is covered in detail. You’ll appreciate this museum whether you have kids or if you’re simply interested in the universe.
- Address: 86 Quai Perrache, 69002 Lyon, France.
- Timings: Tuesday to Sunday from 10:30 AM to 6:30 PM. Closed on Mondays.
The traboules of Lyon
It would be a shame to visit Lyon and miss out on viewing at least one or two of the city’s famous traboules as it is one of the main attractions in the city of Lyon. Thanks to its lengthy history, the city’s Old Town and the Croix-Rousse area are home to a network of hidden alleys and passageways. The city is filled with hundreds of these narrow alleys, yet only around 40 are accessible to visitors.
Shortcuts from the Saône River to the city center might be found through the traboules, which wind between buildings, upstairs, and past attractive courtyards. Some of them were covertly significant during the Canuts Revolution in the nineteenth century. During World War II, traboules were employed by the resistance to fend off German forces.
In the heart of Lyon, France, you’ll find the massive public area known as the Place Bellecour, which is one of the top attractions in the city of Lyon. Popular with both inhabitants and visitors, the square is the biggest pedestrian-only plaza in all of Europe.
The square features a number of significant monuments, including a statue of King Louis XIV, and is surrounded by cafes, restaurants, and retail establishments. The square is one of the most visited places in Lyon due to the numerous events and festivals held there throughout the year. Place Bellecour is a great place to go if you want to experience some parts of the local culture or just relax in a beautiful setting.
- Address: Pl. Bellecour, 69002 Lyon, France.