3 Days in Lyon – The Perfect Itinerary

Looking to spend 3 days in Lyon?

While it might not seem like a lot of time for France’s third largest city, with the right itinerary, you’ll be able to enjoy all this vibrant city has to offer.

Since moving to France, I’ve been on a mission to explore every city in the country and uncover its hidden gems. And today I want to share with you what I discovered in Lyon.

In this three-day Lyon itinerary, you’ll explore secret passageways, marvel at life-like murals, tour ancient ruins, and indulge in traditional Lyonnaise food. I’ve included top sites to help you get acquainted with the city as well as a few off-the-beaten-path spots. It has everything you need to guarantee an amazing trip. 

3 Days in Lyon - The Perfect Itinerary
3 Days in Lyon – The Perfect Itinerary

Table of Contents

Map of 3 Days in Lyon Itinerary

Below is a map of this three days in Lyon itinerary. It’s color coded by day. You’ll notice each day focuses on a neighborhood so you don’t miss anything. Click the map below to open Google Maps.

Map of 3 Days in Lyon Itinerary
Map of 3 Days in Lyon Itinerary

Lyon Itinerary – Day 1

Watch the Sunrise over St. George’s Church

Sunrise over St. George's Cathedral in Lyon
Sunrise over St. George’s Church!

Saint George’s Church is one of the most picturesque buildings in Lyon. It’s been built and rebuilt several times. And the church you see today was completed in 1848.

It sits on the banks of the Saône next to some of the most colorful buildings in Lyon’s oldest district. So, why not wake up early and appreciate this neogothic masterpiece at sunrise? It’s the perfect way to start your trip!

Useful Tip: The best spot to watch the sunrise is at the corner of Passerelle Saint Georges de Lyon and Quai Tilsitt.

Nearest Metro Stop: Bellecour (Lines A and D)

You can book your customizable walk tour of Lyon’s Old District by clicking here.

Meander Around Vieux Lyon

Street in Vieux Lyon with Pink and Orange Buildings
Streets of Vieux Lyon

Vieux Lyon or Old Lyon is the oldest district in the city. And, in 1998, it received UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

Whether you want to explore a museum or enjoy an espresso on a terrace, there’s something for everyone. But I recommend spending the early morning hours wandering through the narrow cobblestoned streets and gazing at the pink-hued Renaissance-style buildings. It’s interesting to see what Lyon looked like before the more modern buildings started appearing.

Some of the most charming alleys include Rue de la Loge, Rue Saint-Jean, and Rue du Bœuf.

Nearest Metro Stop: Vieux Lyon – Cathédrale Saint-Jean (Line D) 

You can book your customizable walk tour of Lyon’s Old District by clicking here.

Admire Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste

The Ever-Beautiful Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste
Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste

This Gothic-style cathedral is one of the most impressive churches in France. Construction began in 1080 and didn’t finish until 300 years later. And when you visit, it’s easy to see why it took so long.

While the exterior of the church is beautiful, you’ll find several hidden gems inside. The most extraordinary is, of course, Lyon’s Astronomical Clock. Not only does it show the date but also the position of the planets. It’s something to see if you’re spending three days in Lyon!

Useful Tip: During the Festival of Lights, a candle is placed in the window of the church. It’s a tradition that has continued since 1643! So, if you’re in town during the festival, be sure to check it out.

Address: Place Saint-Jean

Nearest Metro Stop: Vieux Lyon – Cathédrale Saint-Jean (Line D)

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Visit Musée Cinéma et Miniature

Scene from Independence Day at the Cinema and Miniature Museum
Scene from Independence Day

Did you know that the first motion-picture projector was invented in Lyon?

So, of course, if you’re in Lyon you have to visit the Musée Cinéma et Miniature (Miniature and Cinema Museum)!

They have two permanent exhibits onsite. The first is dedicated to special effects. You’ll see how filmmakers created scenes from movies like Independence Day and the Matrix. They have an extensive collection of props, costumes, sets, and models to show you exactly how these effects were done.

The second collection contains miniature scenes from everyday life. And, despite their size, every figurine and object has been made with extreme precision. It’s something you have to see for yourself.

Of the museums in Lyon, this one was my favorite.

Admission: €13.90

Opening Hours:

  • Monday to Friday – 10:00 am to 7:00 pm
  • Saturday and Sunday – 10:00 am to 6:00 pm

Address: 60 Rue Saint-Jean

Nearest Metro Stop: Vieux Lyon – Cathédrale Saint-Jean (Line D)

You can book your customizable walk tour of Lyon’s Old District by clicking here.

Dine at a Traditional Bouchon

Tucked away in the winding cobblestoned streets, these small eateries offer the best Lyonnaise cuisine. Some of the dishes you’ll find on the menu include coq-au-vin, quenelles, and duck pâté.

While many restaurants claim to be a traditional bouchon, there are only 20 ‘real’ ones in Lyon. So, make sure to keep your eyes peeled when choosing where to eat.

They should have a seal that says, “Les Bouchons Lyonnais.” Then, in small writing underneath it will say, “Éstablishement recommendé par l’Office de Tourisme et la CCI de Lyon.”

Below is a list of the best bouchons in Vieux Lyon:

  • Bouchon Les Lyonnais – 19 Rue de la Bombarde
  • Daniel & Denise Saint-Jean – 36 Rue Tramassac
  • Les Fines Gueules – 16 Rue Lainerie

Nearest Metro Stop: Vieux Lyon – Cathédrale Saint-Jean (Line D)

I recommend this food tour in Vieux Lyon.

Lyon Itinerary – Day 2

Tour the Fourvière Basilica

The interior of the Fourvière Basilica in Lyon
The Fourvière Basilica

Compared to the other churches in Lyon, Fourvière Basilica is quite young. Construction started in the late 19th century, and it took only 30 years to finish.

Today, it sits atop Fourvière hill overlooking the city. And, on a sunny day, its immaculate white exterior glistens in the sun, beckoning visitors. It’s a hike to see this beauty, but your efforts will be worth it.

From its courtyard, you’ll have unencumbered views of the city below. But that’s not all. The inside of the basilica is just as stunning. Its stained-glass windows and mosaic-lined ceiling are masterpieces in and of themselves.

Address: 8 Place de Fourvière

Nearest Metro Stop: Fourvière (Funiculars F2)

Visit the Gallo-Roman Amphitheater

The Gallo-Roman Amphitheater in Lyon
The Gallo-Roman Amphitheater

Lyon is home to several historical sites, but none is more fascinating than the Gallo-Roman Amphitheater. Built in 15 BC, this ancient stadium was mostly used for entertainment. And it could sit a whopping 10,000 people!

Today, you can explore the ruins and imagine what it must have been like during its heyday. They are remarkably intact, and, best of all, admission is free!

In summer, the amphitheater plays host to the Nuits de Fourvière, a yearly festival dedicated to the performing arts. From opera and dance to film, it’s a chance to take part in Lyonnaise culture and support local artists. Be sure to check it out if you’re in town.

Address: 17 Rue Cleberg

Nearest Metro Stop: Minimes Théatres Romains (Funiculars F2)

You can book your customizable walk tour of Lyon’s Old District by clicking here.

Enjoy the Lugdunum Museum

Located next to the amphitheater, the Lugdunum Museum is a must-visit if you’re spending three days in Lyon. It’s dedicated to preserving and displaying artifacts that date to prehistoric times.

While they have a massive collection, there are a few exhibits that you shouldn’t miss. The most significant include the Lyon Tablet and the Gallic Coligny calendar.

Useful Tip: The Lugdunum Museum was once called the Gallo-Roman Museum of Lyon-Fourvière. So, don’t get confused if you see both names. They are the same museum.

Admission: €7.00

Opening Hours:

  • Tuesday to Friday – 11:00 am to 6:00 pm
  • Saturday and Sunday – 10:00 am to 6:00 pm

Address: 17 Rue Cléberg

Nearest Metro Stop: Minimes Théatres Romains (Funiculars F2)

Relax in Jardin des Curiosités

View from the Jardin des Curiosités in Lyon
Look at that View!

After exploring all the wonderful sites in Fourvière, head to Jardin des Curiosités for a break.

This small unsuspecting garden is around the corner and hidden from plain view. You’ll follow Place de l’Abbé Larue to a small footpath covered with tall trees. It doesn’t seem like much, but once you reach the end of the path, you’ll have one of the best views over Lyon.

It’s a small garden with only a few benches. So, if you want to enjoy a packed lunch, get there early.

Address: 8 Place de l’Abbé Larue

Nearest Metro Stop: Minimes Théatres Romains (Funiculars F2)

You can book your customizable walk tour of Lyon’s Old District by clicking here.

Admire the Church of Saint-Just

The Church of Saint-Just in Lyon
The Church of Saint-Just

The Church of Saint-Just is the most unsuspecting yet beautiful church in Lyon. I stumbled on this hidden gem while I was on my way to the Jardin des Curiosités. Its bright turquoise doors will no doubt catch your eye as well.

While most churches in Lyon are Catholic, the Church of Saint-Just is Orthodox. It first appeared in the 16th century but was destroyed during the French Revolution. So, the Neoclassical church that you see today is from the 18th century.

If you ever wonder why you should visit France, this is it. You no doubt stumble on something without even trying!

Address: 41 Rue des Farges

Nearest Metro Stop: Minimes Théatres Romains (Funiculars F2)

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Lyon Itinerary – Day 3

Marvel at the Fresque des Lyonnais

Fresque des Lyonnais in Lyon
The Fresque des Lyonnais!

The Fresque des Lyonnais is a gigantic mural located in the first arrondissement of Lyon. It was commissioned by the city in the mid-1990s and completed by a group of artists called Cité de la Création.

This remarkable masterpiece measures a whopping 800 square meters (8611 square feet)! It features 30 portraits of famous people from Lyon as well as a few everyday scenes. The painting is so detailed and life-like they look real!

Fun Fact: In French, such an optical illusion is called a trompe l’oeil.

Address: Corner of 49 Quai Saint Vincent et 2 Rue de la Martinière

Nearest Metro Stop: Hôtel de Ville L. Prade (Line A)

You can book your customizable walk tour of Lyon’s Old District by clicking here.

Get Lost in the Cour des Voraces

The Oldest Staircase in Lyon in the Cour des Voraces
Cour des Voraces

Lyon is full of secret passages or traboules. But the Cour des Voraces is the most famous.

In the late 19th century, it was used as a refuge for silk manufacturers during their revolts. Then, during World War II, locals used it to hide from the Germans.

Today, the Cour des Voraces is a symbol of resistance. It’s also home to the oldest and most photographed reinforced staircase in Lyon.

Useful Tip: Finding this staircase is quite an adventure. To do so, head to 14 Mont Saint-Sébastien and go through the door. Walk to the end of the alleyway then turn right. Before the staircase that leads down to another alley, there will be a doorway on your right. Enter and walk to the stairs. Behind you will be the famous staircase.

Address: 14 Mont Saint-Sébastien

Nearest Metro Stop: Croix Paquet (Line C)

Take in the Views from Jardin du Gros Caillou

View from Jardin du Gros Caillou in Lyon
Another Beautiful View!

There’s no denying that I’m a sucker for views and the one from Jardin du Gros Caillou doesn’t disappoint.

If you’re coming from the Cour des Voraces, it’s an uphill slog to the top and takes about 30 minutes. But your efforts will be worth it. The area isn’t known by many, so you’ll be able to enjoy Lyon from above without the crowds.

On the way down follow Rue des Fantasques. You’ll pass several small gardens with some unique vantage points.

Nearest Metro Stop: Croix-Rousse and Croix Paquet (Line C)

You can book your customizable walk tour of Lyon’s Old District by clicking here.

Explore La Croix-Rousse Neighborhood

Most Colorful Street in the Croix-Rousse neighborhood in Lyon
The Croix-Rousse Neighborhood

The sites listed here on day three as all in the Croix-Rousse neighborhood. But you should spend some time exploring the area in more depth. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to take a deep dive into Lyon’s culture.

This quaint arrondissement is full of colorful buildings, steep staircases, and cobbled streets. It was once home to silk workers and has retained much of its industrial heritage, including the iconic silk-weaving looms.

Meander through the streets, pop in local shops, or hang out at one of the trendy cafés.

Useful Tip: For the most colorful buildings head to Mont de la Grande-Côte. It’s a pedestrian-only street that runs the length of the neighborhood.

Nearest Metro Stop: Croix-Rousse and Croix Paquet (Line C)

Discover Parc de la Tête d’Or

Rose Gardens in Parc de la Tête d'Or in Lyon
Beautiful Roses in Parc de la Tête d’Or

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and head to Parc de la Tête d’Or. Located in the sixth arrondissement, this urban park is one of Lyon’s best-kept secrets. It’s filled with lush gardens, picnic areas, and peaceful lakes – all perfect for exploring on foot or by bike.

If you’re visiting in summer, make sure to stop by the rose garden. They have thousands of varieties in every color imaginable. It’s definitely something to see!

Entrance to the Park: Corner of Boulevard Anatole France and Avenue Verguin

Nearest Metro Stop: Masséna (Line A)

If you’re looking for a great tour of Parc de la Tête d’Or, I can highly recommend this tour.

Best Hotels in Lyon

There is no shortage of hotels in Lyon. So, I’ve put together a list of the best hotels in Lyon. And there’s something for every budget!

  • MEININGER Hotel Lyon Centre Berthelot – The best budget option in the city. The rooms are immaculate and well-designed. They have parking, a bar, and an amazing breakfast.
  • Boscolo Lyon Hotel & Spa – A magnificent hotel located in the center of Lyon. The staff is friendly, and the rooms are spacious. It’s a luxury hotel, but worth every penny.
  • Radisson Blu Hotel, Lyon – A beautiful hotel with stunning panoramic views. The rooms are modern and comfortable. There’s even a restaurant and bar on site!

Best Restaurants in Lyon

Lyon is the gastronomy capital of France, so, of course, there are tons of restaurants. I listed a few places above, but here are a few more that are worth checking out.

  • Boulangerie Du Palais – Best sandwiches in town, no questions asked. There’s always a line, so try to get there before the afternoon rush. I couldn’t get enough of this place!
  • BAP Restaurant Coréen – If you’re looking for something different, this is the best Korean restaurant in town. The food is fresh, tasty, and full of flavor.
  • L’Atelier des Augustins – Fine dining at its best. It’s a modern restaurant with a unique menu. And they even pair the wine with your dish. Prices are higher than the other options on this list, but you won’t regret it!

How to Get to Lyon

By Plane – Lyon has two airports – Lyon Saint-Exupéry International Airport and Lyon-Bron Business Airport. If you’re looking to travel to Lyon by plane, you’ll use Lyon Saint-Exupéry International Airport. It’s well-served by several major airlines.

I use and recommend Skyscanner to save on flights!

By Train – Trains from bigger cities like Paris, Marseille, and Strasbourg have regular trains that go to and from Lyon. Since so many high-speed trains run to Lyon, you’ll most likely use the train to get in. It’s fast, efficient, and cheap.

Lyon has three train stations and those are listed below:

  • Lyon Part Dieu is the main station in the city center. It’s used by most incoming and outgoing trains in France (like TGV, TER, and OUIGO).
  • Lyon Perrache used to be the main station and is still used by some companies.
  • Lyon Saint-Exupéry Airport Station is used to get to and from Lyon’s international airport. The ride takes about 30 minutes.

You can book and buy your train tickets to Lyon by clicking here.

By Car – Driving to Lyon is another option. There are private hires, or you can rent a car in any city (Paris, Strasbourg, etc.).

If you’re looking to rent a car, I recommend and use Discover Cars. They search local and international companies to find you the best deals.

By Bus – Buses from most major cities go to Lyon. From Paris, buses run regularly and take about six hours. Buses leave and arrive at Lyon Perrache (Central Bus Station).

You can book and buy your bus tickets by clicking here.

Getting Around Lyon

There are several options for getting around Lyon.

By Public Transportation – Lyon has an extensive public transportation network. It’s made up of trains, metros, and buses. Within the city, you’ll only need the metro lines and buses. Single tickets cost €1.90 while purchasing a carnet (book of ten tickets) is €17.60. In general, both the metros and buses are easy and convenient to use.

Useful Tip: Lyon also has a series of funiculars (or cable cars). They are used to reach the Croix-Rousse and Fourvière neighborhoods, which are both on a steep hill. If you don’t want to walk, these funiculars are very convenient.

By Car – Driving around Lyon is not as practical as using public transportation. Streets are narrow and parking is limited. You’ll most likely end up walking more because you’ll have to park so far away. If you’re doing a road trip or you want to explore the smaller cities around Lyon, then renting a car is the best option.

By Taxi – There are both taxis and Uber in Lyon. If you don’t want to use public transportation, this is the next fastest option.

By Walking – Lyon is a walker-friendly city. This is always my preferred mode of transportation. You can take the metro to the neighborhood you want to visit, then explore on foot!

Best Time to Visit Lyon

View of Lyon from the Fourvière Basilica in November
Lyon in November!
  • April to June – This is one of the best times to visit Lyon. The weather is pleasant, and the summer crowds have yet to arrive. Prices are low and there are plenty of accommodation options.
  • July to August – This is the worst time to visit Lyon. The sun is shining, and the weather is good, but the crowds are unbearable. Prices are at the highest and you’ll have a difficult time finding accommodation.
  • September to November – Another amazing time to visit Lyon. The weather is cool but not cold. The summer crowds have left, and prices start to drop. It’s also a great time to see some fall colors. If I had to choose, this is my absolute favorite time to visit Lyon!
  • December to March – While the winters in Lyon are mild, they can also be gloomy and grey. If you plan to ski in the Alps, then this is a good time to visit.

Free Three Days in Lyon Itinerary

Sign up for a free copy of my Three Days in Lyon Itinerary. It has everything you need to guarantee an amazing trip!

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FAQs About Visiting Lyon

Is 3 Days Enough in Lyon?

Yes, three days is enough in Lyon. You’ll have time to get lost in secret passages, visit world-class museums, and sample local dishes. It’s more than enough time to see the main attractions as well as some local hidden gems.

Why is Lyon so Popular?

Lyon is popular because it is a beautiful city full of culture, history, and character. The city’s narrow cobbled streets are filled with quaint cafes and shops that will no doubt keep you enthralled for hours. It also boasts several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, fantastic museums, and art galleries. It’s an incredible mix of old-world and modern architecture. Then, of course, there’s the food. As the gastronomy capital of France, you’ll have your choice of restaurants. Finally, Lyon is so well connected to the rest of the country, it’s easy to add to any eastern France itinerary.

Is Lyon a Walkable City?

Yes, Lyon is a very walkable city. It’s best to visit a single neighborhood (or area) at a time. Each one has tons of things to do but they are small enough to explore on foot. Then, if you want to move to another area, you can pass through a traboule to shorten your walk!

Is There a High-Speed Train from Lyon to Paris?

Yes, there is a high-speed train from Lyon to Paris. Trains leave from Lyon Part Dieu and arrive in Paris’ Gare de Lyon. There’s usually a train every hour.

How Long is the TGV Ride from Paris to Lyon?

The TGV ride from Paris to Lyon takes two hours.

How Much is it From Lyon to Paris?

The train from Lyon to Paris costs anywhere from €30 to €100. The price depends on when you buy the ticket and the type of train you take.

Typically, high-speed TGV trains are more expensive than OUIGO trains. So, if you want to take a high-speed train, you should plan to buy your tickets at least two weeks in advance.

You can book and buy your train tickets by clicking here.

Is There a Train from Lyon to Switzerland?

Yes, there is a train from Lyon to Geneva, Switzerland. Trains leave from Lyon Part Dieu and arrive at Geneva’s main train station. Travel time is about two hours.

***

Lyon is a bustling city full of life. Its energy is contagious. And with all that there is to see and do, it’s no wonder people flock to this effervescent city. You could spend weeks on end here, but three days is more than enough. So, all that’s left to do is pack your bags, print your three days in Lyon guide, and get ready for an amazing adventure!


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