Are you looking for the best way to spend 2 days in Lyon, France? This Lyon itinerary will help you plan that trip!
In this guide, you will see how to spend a weekend in Lyon, from the best things to do to the top places to eat (and more!).
Did we miss anything on this Lyon 2 day itinerary? Let us know in the comments!
And, if you have 3 days in Lyon (or more), we include additional activities at the end of the post.
In this post...
How to Get Around Lyon
Undoubtedly, the best ways to make your way through Lyon are by walking and using public transportation.
Many of the best things to do in Lyon can be explored on foot, which will enable you to see quiet corners of the city better than you could have if you were to drive.
However, the city is a bit more spread out, so walking alone would not suffice if you want to see everything.
For places you can’t reach on foot, public transportation is by far the best option. TCL offers around 130 bus lines, as well as tram lines, metro lines, and funicular lines.
You can generally find public transportation between 5 AM and midnight every day, and prices for tickets start at €1,90 for one hour of travel.
Although you can drive or take a taxi, it’s not always recommended during the peak tourist seasons, as issues such as traffic jams are bound to take place.
Uber is also available in Lyon, but it is not the most cost-effective option.
Getting to Lyon is super easy and that is what makes it one of the best French weekend getaways for travelers!
Best Time to Visit Lyon
The summer months- June, July, and August- serve as the peak tourist season in Lyon, meaning that you’ll find large crowds and more expensive prices at many of the city’s top destinations.
It’s recommended that you visit around May, September, or October to guarantee warm weather without the larger crowds.
You will be able to find the best deals on hotels and airfare if you wish to travel between November and April, but keep in mind that it is colder during these months.
2 Days in Lyon Itinerary – Overview
- Gallo-Roman Museum of Lyon and theatre
- Basilica Notre Dame de Fourvière
- Walk around Vieux Lyon and through the traboules
- Cathedrale St Jean Baptiste
- Museum of Cinema and Miniatures
- Place Bellecour
- Place des Jacobins
- Place des Terreaux
- Musee des Beaux-Art
- Fresque des Lyonnais
- Escaliers Prunelle
- Mur de Canuts
- Parc de la Tête d’Or
Day 1 in Lyon
Go to the Gallo-Roman Museum of Lyon and Theatre
Peek into the Gallo-Roman cultural past of Lyon by visiting the Lugdunum in the hills of Fourvière.
The concrete theater highlighted by the lush landscape of the site is easy to miss as it blends perfectly with the complementary nature of the slopes.
Inside, you will find one of the finest archaeological collections in France.
From prehistoric times to the prevalence of Christianity, the Lugdunum museum presents displays of the ancient metropolis and its inhabitants’ lifestyle, ranging from urban layouts and culture to circus games, trade systems, armies, and currencies.
The most noteworthy sights are the Mosaic, which visitors can freely walk on, the theater, the Coligny calendar, and the various Celtic treasures dispersed throughout the museum’s interior.
Address: 17 Rue Cleberg, 69005 Lyon
Visit the Basilica Notre Dame de Fourvière
This iconic basilica at the top of the praying hills of Fourvière is arguably the insignia of Lyon.
Designed by the architects Pierre Bossan and Sainte-Marie Perrin, the two worked to establish a unique structure with a cultivated fusion of Romanesque, Byzantine, and Gothic styles.
The end result has since been undoubtedly considered to be the treasure of Lyon, and to the Virgin Mary, to whom it was built in dedication to.
The ornate interior decor using precious materials– gold, ivory, ebony, blue marble, pink granite– on gothic arches and columns in juxtaposition to the rich coloring of the arched ceilings, stained glass windows, and mosaics– compels an emotional experience to the millions of pilgrims the basilica hosts annually.
Address: 8 Pl. de Fourvière, 69005 Lyon
Walk around Vieux Lyon and Through the Traboules
During the Renaissance, when the population of Lyon exploded, new buildings were built behind the existing buildings without calling into question the design of the plots of the Middle Ages, which favored long streets without crossing streets to save space.
To avoid long detours, the traboule was the solution.
The first examples of traboules are thought to have been built in Lyon in the 4th century and are located primarily in the ‘old city‘ and the Croix Rousse, which are the 5th, 1st, and 4th arrondissements respectively.
Historically called a hidden gem of the city, only 5% of these secret passages are now available to the public.
The owners of the buildings have closed off the traboules to prevent traffic of any kind.
Check Out Cathedrale St Jean Baptiste
The towering Cathedral of St. Jean the Baptist rests in a waterfront, picturesque plaza near the shores of the Saône in Old Lyon.
Once known as the Primate of the Gauls, it is still the seat of the Archbishop of Lyon.
The architecture of the cathedral combines Gothic and Romanesque styles, and its construction took over three centuries to complete.
One of the most distinctive traits of its structure is the astronomical clock that was added in the 16th century.
This particular clock indicates the date, and positions of the sun, moon, and Earth, as well as the stars in the Lyonnaise sky.
The sacred rosette emblem above the symbolic three portals and the 12th-century stained glass windows contribute to its noteworthy beauty and historical significance.
Address: Pl. Saint-Jean, 69005 Lyon
Spend Time at the Museum of Cinema and Miniatures
The people of Lyon often boast of being the birthplace of cinema, and in their Renaissance District, you will find a museum featuring special effects used in films, and the art of miniatures– two museums in one!
There is no other museum like this one anywhere else in Europe– with collections highlighting techniques used in films prior to the rise of digital filmmaking.
Observe models of mythological characters, monsters and robots, prostheses, costumes of superheroes and historical figures, and animatronics by artists worldwide to miniatures of rooms carefully handcrafted by the artist and founder of the museum, Dan Ohlmann.
Not only does the museum showcase extraordinary artwork of various genres and themes, but also the surprising tricks of their respective studio artists.
Address: 60 Rue Saint-Jean, 69005 Lyon
Day 2 in Lyon
Peruse the Place Bellecour
Visit the largest pedestrian square in Europe and the third biggest square in France in the center of Lyon.
The square is the central focal point of the peninsula between the Saône and the Rhône in the 2nd arrondissement.
All distances in the city are counted from this square.
In it, there are two pavilions, one housing the tourist information office and the other an art gallery.
Place Bellecour is the heart of Lyon’s shopping streets, with the four major streets leading directly to other essential squares of the city.
In the middle of the square stands the equestrian statue of Louis XIV, and in the south, there are two fountains in the midst of trees and lush greenery, forming a complementary park.
Hang Out at Place des Jacobins
Another famous Lyonnaise square would be the Place des Jacobins, due to its paramount location in the center of the 2nd arrondissement in the Bellecour district, which 12 streets lead to.
The square stretches over a former convent destroyed centuries prior, in which belonged to the religious Jacobins of the Order of Saint-Dominique.
Over the course of its existence, it has been renamed and redesigned until its final and current display was completed in 2013.
The Place des Jacobins is now an open space for pedestrians to stroll, a desirable location to live, and a beautiful place to shop and dine.
The symbolic fountain sculpted from marble highlighted in the center of the square has become the emblem of the site.
Admire Place des Terreaux’s Architecture
At the bottom of the slope of La Croix-Rousse, between the Rhône and the Saône on the Presqu’île, you will find another gorgeous square in the 1st arrondissement.
It is bordered by the historic Hotel de Ville and Musee des Beaux-Art, both with impressively stunning architecture and at its axis sits the symbolic Fontaine Bartholdi, sculpted by the same artist that designed and created the Statue of Liberty.
The social atmosphere of this square draws locals there every night; behind the fountain is a line of boutique restaurants, cafes, and bars, where the servers come to assist you as you seat yourself under the tented tables and seating areas.
It is one of the most active places throughout the day.
Visit the Musee des Beaux-Art
The architecture of the museum is a sight to see itself, let alone the collection of fine art displayed within it.
The courtyard at the entrance of the museum is a delightful place to sit and rest. You will find locals here all the time, enjoying the peace and serenity of its privacy amidst the sculpture garden.
Inside, there are collections ranging from paintings, sculptures, coins, and medallions, not only French and other European creations from the Renaissance and Middle Ages but also a collection of antiques from the Near East, such as the Egyptian sarcophaguses and gates of Ptolemy.
It is one of the largest art museums in France, the most visited in the region, and is nicknamed the “Little Louvre.”
Address: 20 Pl. des Terreaux, 69001 Lyon
Photograph the Fresque des Lyonnais
Just steps away from the Place des Terreaux and Lyon City near the Saône River sits a famous 800 square meter mural.
The entire facade of the building was painted over in impressive detail to highlight a quick visual of the history of Lyon and its’ famous citizens.
The mural represents twenty-four historical figures from Lyon and six contemporary figures, a few of them being Emperor Claudius, the fourth emperor of the Roman Empire, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the author of the popular children’s book “The Little Prince,” and the Lumiere brothers, the inventors of the Cinématographe motion picture system.
The muraled structure is easy to miss if you’re not paying attention– its fine detail might deceive you for another apartment building!
Address: 2 Rue de la Martinière, 69001 Lyon
Search for the Escaliers Prunelle
In addition to the many Lyonnaise murals, four staircases have been painted in various arrondissements throughout the city.
At the heart of La Croix-Rousse is the multicolored jacquard pattern of the Prunelle Stairs, with its inspiration taken directly from Brazil and Mexico.
On the slopes of the same district of Lyon, is the Escaliers Mermet– adorned with a blue, white, and yellow summer plant motif.
In the heart of the Berges du Rhône, in the 3rd arrondissement, is a stairway that depicts an optical illusion. Depending on where you sit, the face of a young woman surrounded by nature can be seen.
Finally, a fresco painted near the town hall of the 7th arrondissement illustrates an Asian coastline during the summer.
See the Mur de Canuts
La Croix-Rousse was an important economic center for Lyon’s booming silk industry during the 19th century.
A gigantic mural was painted to honor its history and employees, which were nearly half of the city’s population– hence the use of the word “canut” in its name.
The hyperrealistic imagery depicts an ordinary day and life in the neighborhood in intricate detail, showcasing a silk shop and the inhabitants of La Croix-Rousse.
The life-like, three-dimensional drawing style of the mural makes it a staple in the architectural identity of Lyon.
The illustrations of pastel-colored buildings with high windows and staircases show buildings that can be found to this day all around Lyon, especially on the waterfront of the rivers Rhône and Saône.
Address: 36 Bd des Canuts, 69004 Lyon
Relax at Parc de la Tête d’Or
One of the largest urban parks in France sits in the 6th arrondissement of Northern Lyon.
It covers over 105 hectares and includes four rose gardens, a botanical garden, a velodrome, and numerous greenhouses hosting plants and trees from all over the world, and statues dispersed throughout the park in addition to its stunning landscape.
The crystal clear lake can be enjoyed with a boat during the summer months, as for the rest of the park, the options are endless.
In addition to walking and observing the park’s abundant features and sights, locals come to cycle, run, picnic, or take their children to the playground.
There are also cafes and vendors with snacks, lunch, and coffee near the picturesque lake!
Where to Have Coffee and Eat in Lyon
Glacier Terre Adelice Lyon
At Glacier Terre Adelice, there is an overwhelming selection of unique pairings and novelty flavors.
The ice cream shop prides itself on its 100% organic products and sourcing of fresh fruit and regional whole milk and has 96 flavors to choose from.
Take the more convenient option of sitting down and enjoying the atmosphere of Vieux Lyon with not only your selected ice cream, but with any of their waffle, biscuit, or cookie combinations and coffee, as opposed to taking the treat to go.
Don’t be intimidated by the long queue–the service is efficient and friendly– it all comes down to the consumer making up their mind by the time they reach the front counter!
Address: 1 Pl. de la Baleine, 69005 Lyon
An excellent option for meat lovers would be found in the 5th arrondissement in the old part of town. It’s a place that the locals go to and a hidden gem that tourists miss out on.
Their hearty, authentic meals are cooked properly to perfection, with deep, robust flavors, and are served with generous, filling portions.
Notre Maison’s cozy, old-fashioned setting accented by various art hung on the wooden walls and beams in its vibrant atmosphere by their patient and caring staff truly makes you feel like you’re at home.
After trying the traditional Lyonnaise food at a Bouchon, lounge with friends over a bottle of their popular wines in the charming scenery of the neighborhood for the perfect close to the evening.
Address: 2 Rue de Gadagne, 69005 Lyon
La Mere Jean
For an authentic Lyonnaise experience, you’ll find a restaurant in the central-most, iconic parts of Lyon in Bellecour near Hotel Dieu, called La Mere Jean.
They almost exclusively accept customers by reservation only due to its popularity with the locals, so make sure you plan ahead if you’d like to dine here.
It is a small restaurant on a pedestrian-only UNESCO heritage street, with an old, rustic interior, offering a budget-friendly three or four-course traditional Lyonnaise meal, with respectable portions for the consumer. What a mouthful– literally!
Lyon, being the world capital of gastronomy, has a name to live up for itself; thus, being a popular Lyonnaise restaurant is a feat.
Lyon’s local delicacy– the praline tart, is their go-to dessert for a finish to the ultimate Lyonnaise culinary experience.
Address: 5 Rue des Marronniers, 69002 Lyon
Rose de Damas
Lebanese cuisine is an excellent option when traveling with a group of people that have a range of dietary preferences.
With meals ranging from dairy and meat-centric dishes to vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options, you’ll find satisfaction in every corner of the Lebanese kitchen.
Lyon’s Rose de Damas offers an authentic, flavorful Levantine experience, with a buffet-style lunch where you can eat to your heart’s desire.
The budget-friendly prices of the restaurant, the exceptional, caring service of the staff, and the quality and color of the food speak for itself!
End the meal with a Syrian coffee or mint tea to help you digest your fantastic meal!
Address: 24 Rue de la Viabert, 69006 Lyon
Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse
In the center of the Presqu’ile in Cordeliers sits Lyon’s first indoor food market.
It was opened in 1859 to honor Lyon’s dedication to gastronomy and has since then been hosting local vendors and businesses in its recently renovated 13,000-square-meter structure.
The master chef Paul Bocuse added his name to the title of the market, enhancing the already prestigious reputation of the market, as one of the finest places for ingredients, produce and gastronomical delicacies, anywhere.
There are over 48 vendors elegantly organized throughout the hall with a range of specialties, such as La Mère Richard, a highly-rated cheese shop, the Cave Fac&Spera, known for its wine and liquor, and the authentic Lyonnaise restaurant, Chez Les Gones.
Address: 102 Cr Lafayette F, 69003 Lyon
Slake Coffee House
Slake Coffee House prides itself on being a healthy restaurant that uses fresh products locally from Lyon.
With rotating weekly recipes depending on the seasonal market, their menu offers a wide selection of lunch and breakfast dishes ranging from savory to sweet, and classic to innovative meals, including granola bowls, mixed salads, toasted brioche, quiches, pastries, focaccias, soups, and croquet-monsieur.
Their beverage menu also presents a wide selection of coffee beverages– extracted in different ways, with various flavors and aromas, with origins tracing from all over the world!
Their specialty coffee primarily is sourced from the local Mokxa and Kaffa Roastery and can be tasted in their espressos, cappuccinos, and their assortment of lattes.
Teas, infusions, and cold drinks are also available.
Address: 9 Rue de l’Ancienne Préfecture, 69002 Lyon
Do You Have 3 Days in Lyon (or More)?
Check Out the Amphithéâtre des Trois Gaules
Take a seat and travel back in time to Roman Gaul at the Amphitheater. The historic monument was built at the foot of the hill of La Croix-Rousse to host shows and circus games.
The representatives of the various Gallic nations met at the theater to pledge fealty to Rome and Augustus around the federal altar and sanctuary every year.
It is most known for the martyrs of the first Christians of Gaul, Sainte-Blandine, and Saint Irénée, who perished in the theater.
Today, it is a free archaeological site you can visit in Lyon, in which many people stop to enjoy their lunch, have a picnic, or enjoy the panoramic view of the city from above whilst sitting on its remnants.
Visit the Fort de Vaise
The Fort de Vaise was a very important fortress that aligned with two other forts to create a military barrier on the Saône.
Today, it is preserved as an events space due to its unique location, interesting structure and design, and pleasing hilltop views of Fourvière and Croix-Rousse– two iconic visuals of Lyon– on its 600m² terrace.
The tours of the underground passages are a great excursion back in time to its completion in 1848 and will have you pondering on the workmanship of the builders and the lives of the soldiers of the fortress.
Today, it is a stunning accent to Lyon’s waterfront and is used as a venue for shows and exhibitions in addition to private events and parties.
Address: 27 Bd Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, 69009 Lyon
Walk along the Saône River
One of the most essential natural beauties that highlight the city of Lyon is its signature Saône River.
Joining Rhone in Lyon as its right tributary at the southern end of the Presqu’île, it actually begins farther north in the Vosges mountains.
Walking along the riverbanks is one of the best free attractions of Lyon. Soak in the calming breeze and sounds of the river and see some of the most important sights of Lyon as you walk along the riverfront.
On the riverbanks, locals sit with friends and family all throughout the week to socialize and have picnics, take a break from the bustling city, or catch a glass of wine amongst the setting sun over the river.
Take a Day Trip to Aix-Les-Bains
Aix-Les-Bains, the Riviera of the Alps, is perhaps one of the most raved destinations in which even Lyonnaise locals go for a weekend escapade.
From water sports and cruises in their crystal clear Lake Bourget to swimming and dining on their beaches, in addition to their hiking activities in their lush mountain range, you’ll find just about anything to decompress from the city life or vice versa– to enhance it!
There is an abundance of things to do- the Archaeological Museum, the monastery of Abbey of Hautecombe, and the Faure Museum are excellent options for the art and history enthusiast, whereas the Casino, Golf Course, and the Marlioz racecourse are more for the thrill seeker.
This is easily one of the top day trips from Lyon!
Spend the Day at Parc Naturel Regional du Pilat
Explore the mountainous countryside of the Rhône-Alpes region, spanning over a total of 65,000 hectares, from the Alps to the Massif Central.
Hike the mountains to the top of the remarkable summits of the Pilat, such as the le Crêt de la Perdrix or the Crêt de l’Oeillon, both giving excellent panoramas overlooking the Alps.
Either overlook the Rhone from the ravines and gorges of the river valley or head down toward its island, L’île du beurre, to see the many species of the famous beaver and other indigenous wildlife.
The Rhône Valley is also a gourmet destination, rich with a thousand-year-old history of wine-growing.
The Côtes du Rhône vineyards have three renowned appellations, described as ‘wines of character.’
Where to Stay in Lyon
If you’re looking for the best place to stay in Lyon for your trip, these are some of our top recommendations!
- La Nuit Saint Georges
- MHL- Maison Hotel Lyon
- InterContinental Lyon
- Hotel Park Saone
- Villa Florentine
Did we miss any of the best things to do if you have only 2 days in Lyon?
Please let us know your tips for a Lyon itinerary below in the comments. Thanks!
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Aram is a travel blogger and writer from Armenia who spends his time between Spain and his home country. He is passionate about music and football (the European kind) and covers a lot of Western European destinations on the blog. Aram is a laidback traveler who enjoys meeting new people and finding the best food in each city that he visits (hence his frequent trips to France, Italy, and Greece!). He has been featured in (or written for) Forbes, BBC, The Guardian, Fodor’s Travel, and more.