Top 10 Things to do in Lyon

Lyon is the best, and I want to tell you about it! There are plenty of things to do in Lyon, but here are my favorites. Obviously coming to one of my amazing wine tastings is priority so you should definitely do that.

My Top 10 Favorite Things to do in Lyon

I’ll be expanding on this on a regular basis, so keep in touch on facebook to read my top places for wine, coffee, restaurants, etc!

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Before we start, let’s recap why you need to come to Lyon.

Recap: Top 10 Reasons to Visit Lyon

My Top 10 Favorite Things to do in Lyon

yellow brick tower and stairs with yellow house and blue door in Lyon les pentes
Lyon is so beautiful!

1. Walk everywhere in Lyon

Honestly I think the best advice I could give anyone coming to Lyon is: don’t stress about how to get around.

This city is really very small. The locals call it taille humaine or “human sized”, which I find completely delightful and totally accurate.

If you’re always on the bus or the metro, you’ll miss out on the amazing details this city has to offer. Weird street art, tiny old buildings somehow crushed in between modern ones.

There are magical little portals to the past scattered everywhere throughout Lyon, and modern street art brushes against them in the coolest ways.

Street art of Botticelli's Venus upside down in an alcove in Lyon
Awesome street art

I choose to make time to walk as my primary method of transportation, not only has my fitness increased, but I think it improves my mental health as well by connecting me to this incredible city.

If you’re going to walk everywhere and want to visit the Croix-Rousse or Fourviere, be aware that you will have to deal with about 15 minutes of stairs.

Just power through, enjoy the views and the unique beauty of the staircases themselves, and you’ll be very proud of yourself at the top.

2. Rent a city bike

So I don’t have time to walk, what do I do? I’ll take out a Vélo’v, our bulky city bikes, with stations all over the place.

I won’t lie to you and say it’s like Munich or Amsterdam here, but there are some nice bike paths along both rivers.

I recommend CityMapper as my app of choice for biking, it will show me where there are bikes as well as parking and give me the “quiet” route.

This app is also great for public transport, which works just fine too.

Our buses are great, and the metro is small but perfectly formed, and not old and grimy.Keep your eyes peeled for a beautiful church in the Presqu’île with two big towers, one gothic, one brick. Can you spot it?

Pile of carrots at the Croix-Rousse market in Lyon, France
This guy always does the best displays, I asked him about them once and he said “well I have to get here early so I might as well do it” lol

3. Go to the market

I have to say that having the Croix-Rousse market literally footsteps from my apartment has increased my quality of life dramatically.

Back in San Francisco, the farmer’s market was a “thing” to do, super expensive and more of an outing than actual shopping for food. Here it is just a way of life, a way to connect with your community, support local farming, and do your actual shopping.

Greens at Guillotiere farmers market in Lyon
Greens at Guillotiere market

Lyon has so many markets, most of them once or twice a week, but Tuesday through Sunday you’ll always find a huge food market on the Quai Saint-Antoine along the Saône, and up here in the Croix-Rousse.

Look out for the stalls that say producteur, these are the stands selling directly from their farms and are the ones that will be showcasing only the seasonal produce.

Even if you don’t have a kitchen and can’t buy stuff, have a gentle wander through a market while you’re here.

Want to see regular market pics? Follow my personal instagram account @winedinecaroline

4. Have a picnic

Lyon is a very picnic friendly city. Not only do we have plenty of benches with views, but we also have a very impressive park.

Grab yourself a knife and buy a baguette, some charcuterie, and some cheese! For my Croix-Rousse life, I stick to Partisan Boulanger, Charcuterie Sibilia, and Fromagerie Galland.

close up of cheese, meat, pate en croute, and olives and nuts
Meat is delicious foie gras pâté en croûte with ham and rosette de Lyon. Cheese is old comté, tonnelet de Beaujolais, a deceptively mild goat cheese, and creamy St Félicien in the center. Oh yes.

Or if that’s too much work drop in to a traiteur and grab yourself some cold cuts and remoulade, a mayo and celery root salad that is perfect picnic fair. Hot Tip: Traiteurs are the OG ready meals of France, this is take-away at its finest.

A traiteur will have high quality prepared foods that are either ready to eat cold or can be heated up at home.

There are super oldschool traiteurs with all the traditional lyonnais dishes, but there are also some amazing new ones like my personal savior when I need healthy food but can’t handle cooking, Fruta Madre, a vegan traiteur of incredible creativity and flavor.

5. Drink a really good coffee

Latte with marshmallow bears at A Chacun Sa Tasse in Lyon
A Chacun Sa Tasse in the 1st arrondissement is one of my favorite coffee shops

So my first go in France was in 2012/13. I did a wine harvest in St Emilion (got to live here, pas mal!) and then was a chalet chef in the Savoie, before spending the spring and summer as Miss Lunch’s sidekick at her wonderful café in Paris.

I’m going to have some real talk right now. The French understand many things, but coffee is not (usually!) one of them. There is some extraordinarily bad coffee here.

They like it cheap and burned, and I would advise you to avoid coffee unless it is clearly being served to you by hipsters in a place that takes coffee seriously.

Luckily for me, Lyon has plenty of great coffee served by moustach’iod baristas!

I’ll be writing my list of favorite coffee spots asap, keep in touch by liking my page on facebook and subscribing to my monthly newsletter!

I’ll give you this one in advance. The first place I found here still remains a goodie, and that’s Slake Coffee House right next to Place des Jacobins.

6. Eat a delicious pastry

So I consider myself a great baker (I used to work at NOPA in San Francisco in their pastry kitchen) but my style of baking is resoundly American. What can I say? I love pie and big fluffy layer cakes.

Having said that, I also love French pastry, I just can’t be bothered to make it myself!

My personal favorite pastry to get here in Lyon is the coffee speculoos roulade from Partisan Boulanger. It manages to be buttery and rich and just sweet enough while having tons of nuanced flavor. It’s a little salty, a little bitter, and it’s just perfection.

pastry at Partisan bakery
Partisan bakery in the Croix-Rousse

7. Stop into a chocolate shop for a cheeky truffle

I have a sweet tooth. I love chocolate. I LOVE IT.

It’s a real problem, since there are so many amazing chocolatiers within spitting distance of my house.

For now I would highly encourage you to go to Sebastien Bouillet’s [Chokola]. Get yourself a box of Maca’Lyons, they’re salted butter caramel macarons enrobed in dark chocolate.

Sebastien Bouillet macaron dipped in chocolate
These are salted caramel macarons enrobed in dark chocolate by Sebastien Bouillet. They’re nuts.

Get a box for your friends and family back home, it’s my go-to Lyon gift.

8. Chat with a wine merchant

Lyon is full of cute independent wine shops who will be happy to chat with you about their wines.

After you’ve had your tasting with me, use your newfound knowledge to impress them!

For a shop that is devoted to Lyon’s OG favorite wine, Beaujolais, go to the brand new second branch of Le Troisième Fleuve. Fun Fact: Beaujolais is known as Le Troisième Fleuve, ie the third river of Lyon, because the Lyonnais have always drunk so much of it!

I’m working on yet another list of my top spots to buy wine, you know what to do to get the news.

Want to visit wineries on your own? Here are my top tips

9. Drink a beer on a terrace

Ok ok, I actually already made a list for this one, at least as far as my neighborhood goes.

Pint at Paddy's Irish Pub in the Croix-Rousse
Pint at Paddy’s Irish Pub in the Croix-Rousse

Check out my list of my favorite places to buy and drink beer in the Croix-Rousse on Lyon’s English guide, This is Lyon.

10. Check out cool local events

Give This is Lyon a browse to find out up to date listings on what’s on in the city. We have tons of stuff going on all the time, particularly music festivals all summer long.

This is also a great resource for museums!

Thanks for reading my list, hope it was helpful!

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