What to do in Lyon for a weekend?
For months, many of you have been asking us a “what to do in Lyon” blog post, and now it’s finally here! For those of you who don’t know, we live in Lyon, even if our presence is very rare. We will therefore help you to plan your weekend in Lyon, a city listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site. This guide will be regularly updated according to your specific requests and our discoveries: must-see places in Lyon, restaurants, bars, hotels, good deals…
First of all, you should know that Lyon is known and recognized as the world capital of gastronomy. We are not particularly fan of Lyon’s specialties (quenelles, grattons, cardons, bugnes, Saint Marcelin, cervelle de Canut, calf’s liver, tripe… 😆). However, it is true that we eat (and drink very well 🍷) here. A city of bon vivants what!
Itinerary to visit Lyon in a weekend
This article is composed of several parts:
- Firstly, we guide you through the city with some places that we think are unmissable.
- In the second part, you will find all the practical information about your weekend in Lyon (where to sleep, when to go, where to eat and where to have a drink). Click here for those in a hurry
- Finally, we have found some unusual activities to visit Lyon differently! See you at the bottom of the page.
What to do during your weekend in Lyon?
First of all, we advise you to take the Lyon City Pass, which gives you access to guided tours at a lower cost, unlimited transport and free entry to 23 museums + other discounts.
Lyon is the 3rd largest city in France in terms of population and 2nd in size. You might think that it is difficult to explore a large part of the city in a short weekend, but we like the fact that the hyper centre is very concentrated. Indeed, we will give you the must-do’s in Lyon with a pedestrian route.
Visit the Place Bellecour
To begin our discovery of Lyon we have chosen the zero point of the city. Indeed, all distances from Lyon are calculated from the centre of the largest pedestrian square in Europe. We don’t hide from you that we would prefer to see trees, plants or a pond on these 6 hectares. But it remains a real attraction with the famous equestrian statue of LOUIX XIV.
Depending on the period, you will have the opportunity to get some height on the peninsula thanks to the 60 m high Ferris wheel 🎡.
💌 For the rest of this itinerary in Lyon, you will take the beginning of the Rue de la République to get to the Place des Jacobins in 10 minutes on foot through the Argue passage. This passage starts at 40 rue de la République (at the level of Printemps) and ends a few steps from the Place des Jacobins. This slight diversions allows you to discover the largest shopping and pedestrian street in Lyon.
The Place des Jacobins
Much smaller than Place Bellecour, this square has a lot of charm! We love its fountain, the views from the street corners, and the architecture of the buildings. It’s our favourite in the city.
Place des Célestins
Less than 200m southwest of the Place des Jacobins is the Place des Celestins. This is a very beautiful square, especially in spring! It changes its face with all the magnolias in bloom. 🌸
Go back along the Place des Jacobins and throw yourself into Rue Mercière. A picturesque pedestrian street, it is one of the oldest streets in Lyon. You will find many restaurants with the famous Lyon bouchons.
Must-See in Lyon : Visit Vieux Lyon during your weekend
If you’re wondering what to do in Lyon, you should know that this neighborhood is unmissable! To get to Vieux Lyon you have several options. We recommend you take the footbridge of the Palais de Justice to leave the peninsula and have a magnificent view of it and the Fourvière Cathedral.
Once on the other side of the Saône, from your departure point at Place Bellecour, you will have walked 2 km (about 30 minutes, not counting breaks).
Vieux Lyon, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is without doubt our favourite district in Lyon. Here, there are no cars but cobbled streets and historic buildings. Let yourself be guided through its narrow streets and don’t hesitate to visit the famous traboules. The latter, sometimes difficult to find, are real little treasures. During a stroll, we took the time to scan the entrances of the buildings to find some of them for you:The largest, with a double entrance: 27 rue du Bœuf or 54 rue Saint Jean
💌 The most beautiful to us: 22 rue du Bœuf (pink tower)
💌 One of the most beautiful spiral staircases: 10 rue Lainerie.
For the others, if you want to discover all the traboules of Lyon and their secrets, we advise you to take a guided tour.
The Vieux Lyon district
The historic district is the place that attracts the most tourists in Lyon. You will find beautiful monuments, many shops but also typical Lyon restaurants: the bouchons.
Among the most beautiful monuments, do not miss the magnificent Saint Jean cathedral.
The Basilica of Fourvière
To visit the Basilica of Fourvière, you have two options:
- The sportive one: in 15-20 minutes. Be careful, it climbs!
- The paying option: the funicular, which takes you up the hill for 2€ per person (or free if you have the Lyon City Pass).
Once up there, you can admire an incredible view of the whole city of Lyon. As soon as you have regained your strength, you can start your descent for a return to the peninsula.
What to do in Lyon? The Peninsula
Les Terreaux and the Opera
A lively district, both day and night, this must-see area is an essential part of your visit to Lyon. The Place des Terreaux has just been renovated after years of work. During the summer months, the vast sunny terraces are crowded. You can admire the magnificent town hall to the east of the square. It is one of the most beautiful historical buildings in Lyon. Behind it, you will find the Place de la Comédie and the Opera of Lyon.
🍸 Go on the rooftop of the Muses de l’Opéra bar, for a drink!
Still have the strength to climb?
Discover the Croix-Rousse district
La Croix-Rousse is the bobo district of Lyon. You will find many small shops, art galleries, traditional restaurants, bars, a large market and a special atmosphere. Located on the heights of Lyon, just above the Place des Terreaux, this district has been transformed year after year. Indeed, the Croix-Rousse hill was for a long time inhabited by workers and sparsely populated with factories when Lyon was the silk capital. As in old Lyon, you can find many traboules! Full of history and charm, La Croix-Rousse is a must for your weekend in Lyon.
To get there, there is again the sporty option and the energy saving option. You can either take the metro to Hénon station or follow our walking route to discover some beautiful things:
- A 12-minute walk northwest of Place des Terreaux you can see the colourful Lyon staircase at no. 2 Rue Prunelle
- At the top of the stairs, turn right to cross the pretty jardin des plantes
- Then you will attack the climb to Croix-Rousse by taking the Grande Côte climb.
🌳 Now it’s time to settle down in the lung of the city, a 20-minute walk away (it’s downhill don’t worry): the Parc de la Tête d’Or.
The Parc de la Tête d’Or, to get into the green
To finish this visit of Lyon, we recommend you to go to the Parc de la Tête d’Or. This 117 hectare park is the largest urban park in France. It is the place to be for sportsmen and women, but also for Lyon’s families at the weekend. Many activities are offered, as botanical garden, zoo, pedalo on the lake, pony rides…
⏰ Summer opening hours (15 April – 14 October): 6.30am – 10.30pm. Winter hours (15 October – 14 April): 6.30am – 8.30pm.
📍To make it easier for you to carry out this pedestrian itinerary: we have entered the stages in Google Maps
Where to eat during your weekend in Lyon?
Ah, this section will be of interest to many 😋. So we’re going to list the restaurants and cafes we’ve tested and approved.
😋 Restaurants in Lyon: our addresses
- Carmelo Trattoria: atypical and excellent Italian. If you like Italian restaurants in general, this is a must stop! They only use fresh products from Italy, all the staff are Italian and the decoration is worth a look.
- La Quintessence: gastronomic restaurant located on the peninsula in a former Jesuit refectory. The setting is intimate and the food excellent! Perfect for a romantic dinner or to celebrate an event. The talented chef Anthony Baud will delight you! Vegetarian menu available 🙂
- La Mère Jean or Bouchon Bât-d’Argent: Lyon’s very famous Bouchons for tasting the city’s specialities.
- Ma Poké : A refreshing Poké bowl. For a fresh lunch, this is the address you need. The bowls are excellent and the welcome is top notch.
- Midi Minuit: excellent value for money. We have been going to this address for several years. On The Fork (use our code: “7F45F083” to get 10€ free), there is always 40% or 50% off for this restaurant.
- Les Desjeuneur: the ideal address for brunch! The products are fresh and the brunch is served every day. Plan to arrive early if it’s the weekend.
🍸 Where to have a drink in Lyon?
- La Barge : Our landmark when we want to have an aperitif on a barge. There is a wide choice of drinks with some small dishes to nibble on! The setting is beautiful with a view of Fourvière Cathedral and the Hôtel-Dieu. What’s more, you can order and pay for your drinks directly at the table with your mobile phone.
- Le Temps des Copains : A nice little bar where you can enjoy music from the old days.
- Le République: A must for football fans. Even if you’re not a football fan, the terrace at Le République is great and the location is ideal, right in the heart of the peninsula.
- The Mama Shelter: Hotel, restaurant and bar all in one, this place is hot. Its huge indoor bar is decorated with colourful helium balloons and its quiet terrace is very pleasant. Beware, it is often crowded and the wait can be very long…
- La Maison : to have a drink on the terrace in guinguette mode with a good atmosphere in the evening !
If you want to have a drink on the rooftop, go to the Mob Hôtel or the Sucre in the Confluence district.
Weekend in Lyon: tips
Where to sleep in Lyon?
As you know, we are from Lyon and have our own flat. However, we were lucky enough to stay twice in the most beautiful hotel in town: La Villa Florentine. It is a 5 star hotel with a magnificent view of the city, a heated pool and jacuzzi, a star restaurant and exceptional service. The price is obviously in line with the quality of the place but if you have the means or you have an event to celebrate, this is the hotel to choose.
For budgets around 150€ per night, here is a selection of 2 hotels:
For budgets below 100€ per night:
When to visit Lyon?
Even if for southerners Lyon is in the north of the country 😜, be aware that in July-August the temperatures climb very high and we are not lucky enough to have air like at the seaside. So we advise to visit Lyon from April to June or in September, October.
❄️ December can also be a good choice if you want to enjoy the Christmas markets or the famous Fête des Lumières. 🌟 This event attracts nearly 2 million visitors every year over 4 days around 8 December (Feast of the Immaculate Conception). The show is magnificent, all the monuments of the city are illuminated and the city is filled with light shows. If the crowds bother you, we strongly advise you to enjoy the show on Thursday evening, during the rehearsals! On Friday and Saturday, it’s packed with people… Don’t forget to book your accommodation as soon as possible, as prices soar during this weekend.
Unusual: What to do in Lyon differently
💌 Tour of Lyon by tuk tuk
The guide will take you through the city in this unusual means of transport. A change of scenery guaranteed: information & booking
💌 Cruise on the Saône
Must-do activity if you visit Lyon! click here
We hope to have helped you in the organization of your weekend in Lyon. We will complete this article as we discover more… 🥰