Best attractions in Lyon: Top 30

France is an amazing country with a rich historical past. The sights of Lyon in one way or another are an integral part of this culture. The third most populous city in Lyon will present what to see in Lyon will be a sheer pleasure.

What to see first in Lyon

The city’s amazing location has made it particularly attractive to tourists. The Alps surrounding Lyon and the European Central Massif provide the city with a cozy and warm climate.

1. Lyon Cathedral

Lyon Saint-Jean Cathedral or John the Baptist Cathedral Guillaume Baviere

Lyon’s main attractions are briefly related in one way or another to the city’s religious heritage. The Cathedral of John the Baptist is located in the medieval district of Lyon - Saint-Jean. The peculiarity of this architectural masterpiece is not only the age of construction of the cathedral, but also its status as a primatial temple. The Archbishop of Lyon conducts services in this very temple. Moreover, a trip to France can not avoid this temple, because the oldest astronomical clock in the world is located here. On the territory of the cathedral there is an archaeological garden, whose historical value is invaluable. Tourists wishing to visit the landmark should plan their day carefully, because the cathedral is not always open.

2. Lyon Museum of Fine Arts

Lyon Museum of Fine Arts (Museum of Fine Arts) Tancrede

The sights of Lyon are rich in cultural monuments from different eras. The Museum of Fine Arts is a valuable museum complex in France. Its historical past is rather ornate. The building used to be a monastery, then the Great French Revolution brought destruction here. However, the baroque features of the amazing construction have been preserved. The museum exposition is full of cultural monuments of different centuries and peoples. Recommendations for a visit are justified: the richest collection of coins, outstanding exhibits of sculpture, painting, and much more. In terms of importance, the museum has the status of an outstanding collection of masterpieces in all of Old Europe.

Official website:

3. Fusion Museum

Musee des Confluences in Lyon Guilhem Vellut

The dilemma of what to see in Lyon in 1 day can easily be solved by a visit to the Musee des Confluences. The futuristic, spaceship-like shape of the museum has managed to acquire the status of a Lyon landmark, which corresponds to the modern architectural trend. The unique combination of mottled shapes, glass and concrete has created a one-of-a-kind architectural structure. “Crystal” or “Hole,” as locals call the museum, was built in 2014 and has already managed to acquire the rating of the most visited place. A special feature of the museum’s exhibition is its narrow focus on anthropological themes. Visitors will enjoy an exhibition of unique monuments that testified to the process of evolution of the human species.

Official website: http://www.museedescon

4. Antique Theatre on the Fourviere Hill

Antique Theatre on Fourviere hill in Lyon Andrew and Annemarie

Lyon’s best sights are undoubtedly concentrated on the Fourviere Hill. The great era of the Roman Empire produced many priceless monuments. The Ancient Theatre of Lyon was built during the reign of Octavian Augustus, the founder of the Empire. Nowadays this place attracts thousands of tourists every year. Moreover, the famous festival “Nights on the Fourviere” is held there seasonally. The architectural ensemble also includes an ancient settlement and an odeon. Thanks to the natural acoustics of the theater, musical events can be held here with deafening success.

Official website: https://lugdunum

5. Bellecourt Square

Bellecour Square in Lyon

Sights of France are not only massive architectural structures, but also many spacious squares. Bellecourt, which means “beautiful garden”, is located in the center of Lyon. According to statistics, this square is the third largest in the country. In the distant past there was a large plantation of the same name grape variety. Guides in Lyon always take a tour of Bellecourt Square.

Be sure to watch this beautiful video about Lyon!

6. Museum of Gallo-Roman civilization

Museum of Gallo-Roman Civilization in Lyon Ken and Nyetta

Thanks to the country’s rich historical past, tourists have a lot to see in Lyon. The aforementioned theater on the Fourviere Hill also serves as a museum. The site, once occupied by the Roman settlement of Lugdun, now receives tourists from all over the world. The museum was opened at the end of the 20th century thanks to unique archaeological finds from the Roman period. The numerous positive comments about the museum are not in vain as the exhibition contains rare finds of Roman culture and life. Thanks to the painstaking work of historians and archaeologists, it was possible to ensure the amazing preservation of the exhibits.

Official website: https://lugdunum.gran

7. Aquarium du Grand Lyon

Aquarium du Grand Lyon in Lyon

If the question of where to go in Lyon is still relevant, the local aquarium is the best way out. The modern, multifunctional building allows you to enjoy the rich aquatic world to the full. Here swim rare species of fish, predatory sharks and many other families of the marine world.

Official website: https://www.aquarium

8. Blandan Park

City Park Blandan (Parc sergent Blandan) in Lyon Prométhée

A tourist who has not visited the notorious Parc sergent Blandan has clearly missed the opportunity to admire the unique beauty of Lyon. The modern, huge park is an extensive recreation area as well as a playground. The skateboard court is a separate, perfect structure. And the many playgrounds for children will allow you to dilute a languid visit to the city’s museums.

9. Municipal Botanical Gardens of Lyon

Municipal Botanical Gardens in the Parc de la Tete d'Or in Lyon Simlaurent

Connoisseurs of the delights of local nature, should choose the excursions in Lyon, which undoubtedly pass through the Lyon Park. It has more than one hundred hectares of clean ecological environment, a large number of recreational areas, clean water bodies. There is also a modern zoo. Golden Head Park is considered one of the largest botanical gardens in Europe.

10. Jacobins Square

Place des Jacobins in Lyon Koudkeu

As part of the exquisite architecture of the city, Place des Jacobins connects the main streets of Lyon. A visit to this landmark will give you the opportunity to admire the elegant fountain, and the close proximity of the city’s major sites will allow you to plan a successful trip.

Lyon sights: what else can I see in Lyon?

Thanks to the above information, Lyon sights photos with names and descriptions are now available to visit. However, this does not mean that the interesting places in Lyon are finished here.

11. Notre Dame de Fourviere Basilica

Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourviere in Lyon

What to visit in Lyon immediately? The Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourviere with its harmonious blend of neo-Gothic and neo-Byzantine styles. The Basilica, thanks to its location on the top of a hill, towers solemnly over the city. The peculiarity of its construction is that the temple consists of two parts: upper and lower.

12. The Wall of Canuts (Mur des Canuts)

The Wall of Canuts or "Wall of the Weavers of Lyon" (Mur des Canuts) in Lyon µµ

Traversing Lyon on your own<b>,</b> in the streets of the city you can find realistic murals that adorn the facades of many buildings. These murals are so realistic that sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between the drawing and reality. One of the most famous murals is called “Le Mur Des Canuts” - a whimsical picture covers the wall of the house 36 on Boulevard des Canuts and depicts the daily life of the inhabitants of the house and the neighborhood - here you can see the stairs, citizens relaxing on the terrace and people visiting the stores. Stands installed in the archway of this house testify that since its creation, this mural has repeatedly changed its appearance, transformed from a simple drawing into a complex three-dimensional composition. The greater the distance from the observer to the fresco, the more realistic everything that is depicted there seems. It requires some effort to climb up the slope to see it, but the beauty of the views compensates for the difficulty.

13. Croix-Rousse Hill

Croix-Rousse Hill in Lyon Philippe Ales

An overview of this picturesque area of Lyon needs the tourist to experience with his own eyes the grandeur of the residential area. The massive Croix-Rousse hill is famous for being the place where the famous Lyon silk is made.

14. Lumiere Institute

Lumiere Brothers Museum-Institute (Institut Lumiere) in Lyon Velvet

Art historians and connoisseurs of world cinema cannot pass by the Lumiere Brothers Museum in Lyon. The institute-museum clearly demonstrates the kinetoscope, the invention that changed the world and created cinema.

Official website: http://www.institut-lumiere

15. Mural of the Famous Lyons

Fresque des Lyonnais in Lyon dierk schaefer

The undeniable proof that art can change the world is the world-famous mural on a Lyon street. The facade of an ancient house became the canvas for the masterpiece. The fresco depicts prominent people of Lyon, both living and dead. Work on the perfect facade began back in the late 20th century and was ceremoniously completed in 2013.

16. Old Lyon

The sights of the medieval quarter in the western part of the French city of Lyon

Historic areas of cities are explored by tourists with special awe and interest, Old Lyon is no exception, whose ancient buildings reflect the rich history of this French city. This is the oldest Renaissance city in France, located at the foot of the Fourviere hill. Its area covers more than 400 hectares, so Old Lyon is also one of the largest Old Towns in all of Europe. In the 60’s the city authorities began to restore these territories, and today everyone can see the historical center of Lyon with his own eyes and plunge into the atmosphere of the Middle Ages. Among the first places worth seeing are the quarter of Saint-Paul with its church of the same name from the 6th century, the Palais Bondi with its regular exhibitions and vernissages, the quarter of Saint-Georges, where weaving workshops were once located, the Jewish quarter of Juiviers, the Gothic Saint John the Baptist Cathedral and the adjacent archaeological garden.

17. City Hall of Lyon

The facade of the Town Hall faces the Terreau Square in the center of the Presquiville quarter in Lyon Strapontin

Lyon’s Presquille is home to one of the city’s most elegant and imposing buildings, the City Hall, which has retained features from different eras. In the 17th century, the first town hall transformed the market square of Terreau, but its splendor lasted only two years, after which a huge fire burned it to the ground. This time the building was erected in the beautiful Baroque style, the facade was decorated with numerous sculptures, including two female figures representing the Rena and Sonu rivers. The tower houses one of the largest carillons in Europe, consisting of 65 bells. The inner courtyard is decorated with bas-reliefs and sculptures of Roman gods, while the interior abounds with baroque elements, gold sparkling decoration, stucco and carved wooden furniture. In the Armorial Hall, even paintings of the ceilings from the time of the first construction of the town hall have been preserved. Today the town hall is the seat of the town hall.

18. Traboules

Traboules in the courtyard of the Voras of 1840 Blaise LAUSTRIAT
Lyon traboules of several spans and covered galleries Guillaume Baviere

The historic center of Lyon, in addition to its architectural monuments, is memorable to tourists for its special ancient streets called traboules. This is a typically Lyon term referring to a narrow through corridor cutting through several consecutive buildings to connect a series of city streets. It can be both a covered gallery and an open-air alley. In each Traboule, Lyon seems to reveal one of its ancient secrets, leading through mysterious corridors to an unknown destination. The history of some of the traboules goes back to the 4th century, when they were used to fetch water from the River Saone. There are different kinds of traboules, from simple ones connecting 2 streets to the most complex multi-storey labyrinths - incidentally, thanks to such labyrinths many Lyonians could escape and even flee from the enemy during the revolutions and wars.

19. The Fountain of Bartholdi

Fountain of Bartholdi on Place de Terreau in Lyon Chabe01

On Place de Terreau you can admire Lyon’s most emblematic construction - the Bartholdi Fountain, which is beautiful both by day and by night - during the day its invigorating coolness saves from the sweltering heat, and at dusk the composition is illuminated by cozy illumination. However, it is not just the view of the construction that is interesting, but also the history of its creation. In general, originally the fountain was supposed to decorate one of the squares of Bordeaux. However, the price of the project indicated by the sculptor Bartholdi was considered as unreasonably high, so the city authorities refused to implement the project. The sculptor resold the piece to Lyon, and it has decorated Place de Terreau ever since. The fountain is in the form of a sculptural composition, the main character is a woman driving a chariot with 4 horses. The depicted lady symbolizes France, and the horses - the four great French rivers Seine, Rhone, Garonne and Loire.

20. Church of Saint-Georges

Church of Saint-Georges on the Saone Riverfront Matt Neale

In the south of the Old Lyons, where in antiquity there were port facilities and in the Middle Ages the craftsmen carried on their trade, there is the quarter of Saint-Georges, named by the church of Saint George, one of the oldest churches in Lyon, founded as early as the 6th century. This majestic Gothic structure rises on the seafront of the Saone River has existed for 1.5 millennia, but it got its present appearance only in the 16-17 centuries, and the reconstruction of the 19th century returned the temple to its original medieval appearance. The history of the church of St. George is not easy - it was repeatedly destroyed, restored, and at one time it was even used as a storehouse for hay. Today the restored graceful structure graces the city embankment, its neo-Gothic architectural style is a tribute to the early Middle Ages. Inside you can see antique furniture and a 16th-century altar depicting the coronation of the Virgin Mary.

21. Church of Saint-Nizier

Church of Saint-Nizier in downtown Lyon Matt Neale

The Church of Saint-Nizier in the Presquille district is dedicated to Saint Nicetius, who, so to speak, was a hereditary saint - his grandfather was a revered saint, his sons and grandson were ordained bishops. And after of course Nicetius was buried in the Basilica of Peter and Paul, after which that place was marked by many miracles. The basilica itself was built in the 5th century on the site where the remains of the martyrs who had been executed there in the 2nd century AD were buried. After the glorification of Saint Nicetius, the church of Pora and Paul changed its name and took the name of Saint-Nizier. The ancient temple has been extensively reconstructed in various periods, the last of which was carried out in the 20th century, and some parts were rebuilt. That’s why today the facade has the features of eclecticism and some asymmetry, especially noticeable by the 2 heterogeneous towers erected at different times. An astronomical clock can be seen on one of the church towers, and the facade is decorated with sculptures and stucco decorations. The main value inside the temple is the altar of white marble with figures of Christ and the apostles.

22. Museum of Cinema and Miniatures

Facade of the Museum of Cinema and Miniatures in Old Lyon Micka13

The museums of Lyon are veritable treasuries and repositories of Lyon’s cultural heritage. One of the popular trends in contemporary art in France is the creation of miniatures, and one of the most famous collections of miniatures is located in Lyon. The museum’s collection of film and miniatures was founded by Dan Oldman, who traveled the world during his life and collected film props. Today the first part of the collection contains miniature models of hotels, bars, hospitals, workshops, temples and other establishments, which are copies of famous buildings in Lyon. The second part is devoted to sets and cinematic props for many world-famous films, including Star Wars, The X-Files, The Da Vinci Code, Harry Potter and many other masterpieces of cinema. A special place here is given to the props for the film “Perfumer” - dozens of different jars, test tubes, flasks, costumes and furniture - all this allows you to be transported into the eerie atmosphere of this unusual film.

Official site: https://www.museem

23. The Amphitheater of the Three Gallies

View of the ruins of the ancient Roman amphitheater of the Three Gallias on the slopes of Croix-Rousse in Lyon Cqui

The ruins of the Roman amphitheatre of the Three Gallies are located in the northern part of the historic center, on the slope of the Croix-Rousse hill. The time of construction is known to be approximately 1st century B.C. The amphitheatre received its name in honor of the three Roman provinces that were located on the territory of modern France. Representatives of these Gallic provinces gathered here for meetings and solving various issues. Later the legionaries were sworn here and in the 2nd century the first Christian martyrs were executed and tortured. Among them, one of the most famous martyrs was St Blandina, who died in the arena after the many torments she endured. In memory of this martyr, a monument was erected in the southeastern part of the amphitheater. Other evidence of the Roman era can be seen near the structure, such as the remains of an aqueduct, a temple, an odeon, and there is also a museum of Gallo-Roman civilization in the immediate vicinity.

Official website: https://en.lyon-france

24. Lyon Opera

Eight statues of muses on the central facade of the modern Lyon opera and ballet theater Manuel Farnlacher

Allegorically speaking, the Opera de Lyon is the soul of hospitable Lyon. Today its cohesive team includes ballet and opera companies, an opera chorus and a symphony orchestra. The modern theater bears the name of the architect who designed the building - Jacques Nouvel. The Opera Theater first opened in the middle of the 18th century, but by the beginning of the next century it did not contain the growing audience and in 1831 the new theater appeared on the place of the old building, the opening of which was marked by the play “The White Lady”. During the 19th and early 20th centuries a number of French and foreign premiers performed here, and in 1985 it was decided to erect a new building. The construction lasted 4 years, only a shell was left of the old structure, all the rooms were completely reconstructed inside, the lower floors were added, the height of the building was increased. And now the luxurious baroque theater, decorated with a colonnade and marble sculptures of muses, is a striking decoration of Lyons.

25. Hotel-Dieu

View of the seventeenth-century Hotel-Dieu from the Rhone River in Lyon Phinou

In the heart of Lyon there is an extraordinary complex, the House of God, also known as the Hotel-Dieu. It is a medieval hospital, famous especially for the stay here in the 16th century of the Benedictine monk Francois Rabelais, who wrote his famous work “Gargantua and Pantagruel”. Built in the Middle Ages, the hospital was originally a meeting place for pontiffs and a shelter for travelers. But after the first physician was hired, the Hotel-Dieu became a full-fledged hospital. Over the centuries, the hospital building was expanded several times, with additions and courtyards. Later, the building housed the Museum of Civilian Hospices, which tells the history of medicine. At the Hotel-Dieu there is a chapel, which today has been restored and is available for viewing - the beautiful Baroque structure is richly decorated with elements of relief and gilding. Here you can see the font, in which at least 40,000 townspeople were baptized from the 1940s to the 1970s.

Official website: https://grand

26. The Palace of the Exchange

The magnificent 19th-century Palace of the Exchange building in Lyon Chabe01

One of the most beautiful architectural structures in Lyon is the Palais du Bourse, a magnificent building combining Classicist and Baroque elements, a true embodiment of the financial power of Lyon in the 19th century. This beautiful building with its balconies, colonnade and carved stone decorations is hard to miss when walking along the Place de Terreau and Place Bellecour. The history of the Palais began in 1853, when the municipality decided to erect a building that would house not only the Stock Exchange, but also an art museum, stores and ateliers. Construction began three years later, and soon rose a beautiful building, the opening of which was attended by Napoleon III and his wife. Throughout its history, the Exchange Palace has witnessed many historical events and at various times has housed a credit bank, a commercial court, a workers’ rights council and a community of silk merchants. Today, the Palace houses the city’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

27. Mini World Lyon amusement park

Exhibits of Mini World Lyon amusement park Benoît Prieur
The cityscape in the animated miniature amusement park Mini World Lyon Benoît Prieur

Mini World Lyon amusement park opened in 2016 at the Silk Square entertainment center in Vaulx-en-Velin, a suburb of Lyon. Mini World Lyon is a 1:87 scale HO miniature park built entirely indoors on 4,500 square meters. Here you can see: animated scenes from life, moving vehicles, copies of world famous landmarks, models of famous world capitals. This largest amusement park in France is suitable for all ages.

Official website: https://miniworldlyon

28. Furviere Metal Tower

The Metal Tower on the Fourviere Hill in Lyon

As you travel into old Lyon, the guide will point out another landmark, the Metallic Tower of Fourviere, located on a picturesque hill near the Notre-Dame de Fourviere Basilica. This tower has long been one of the symbols of Lyon, and according to the original idea, it was to be an exact copy of the third level of the famous Eiffel Tower. This metal composition was built just a few years after its famous predecessor was presented at the World Expo. It is interesting that Fourviere as if ideologically “balances” the neighboring basilica - the Republicans were dissatisfied with the construction of the cathedral, and it was with their help the construction, which is an example of republican architecture, has grown. Today the tower impresses with its size - the height above ground is 86 meters, and here above the Rhone River it rises to a height of 350 meters. Up to the Fourviere a funicular takes visitors to the hill of the same name.

Official site: https://en.lyon-

29. Golden Head Park

The large greenhouses in the city's Golden Head Park in the northern French city of Lyon

Among the most picturesque places in Lyon is the Parc de la d’Or, located north of the historic center. This is a huge area of 117 hectares with well-groomed alleys, shady paths, beautiful meadows and fragrant flower gardens. There is also a large lake on which you can go boating, and a zoo, and stables, and various opportunities for outdoor activities - velodrome, mini-golf, playground for boules. The purpose of the creation of this park in the mid-19th century was to create a landscape complex, reminiscent of the famous Bois de Boulogne in Paris. Initially, to prevent flooding a dam was created, at the same time opened zoological garden with thousands of species of alpine plants, a rose garden with hundreds of species of wild roses. Later, greenhouses with tropical plants, orchids, cacti and azaleas were opened. At the north end of the park lake are two islands that can be reached by boat, and on one of them is a military monument.

30. Festival of Lights

The Saone Riverfront with "Thank You Mary" lighting during the traditional Festival of Lights in Lyon

Early December is a magical pre-Christmas period, and every European city is famous for something special. One of the best options for what to do in Lyon in winter is to pick a date and go to the festival of lights on December 8, which for a few days transforms the city into a center of mass entertainment and high art. At this time the local cathedrals, monuments, squares and fountains are magically transformed into colorful pictures, illuminated by hundreds of different lights from lanterns and floodlights. The history of this colorful feast dates back to December 1852, when Lyonians, in honor of the unveiling of the statue of the Virgin Mary on the Fourviere hill, at one time came to the open windows of their homes and lit candles. Since then, this event has become an annual tradition, technology has changed, light sources have been improved, but the only constant attribute of the holiday has remained the fire. The Lyon Festival of Lights is a wonderful excuse to see Lyon in winter and spend three nights of magic in the evening before New Year. Lyon is a city where many world cultures meet. The architectural richness of the city will give the visitors of France an unforgettable experience. The city’s architectural heritage will allow you to experience an unforgettable experience.

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