Lyon as the third-largest city in France is one of the country’s major tourist destinations and not without reason! Lyon is a magnificent city to visit, partly thanks to its history which attracts many tourists to the city each year!
So if you’ve chosen Lyon for your next trip, good choice!
If you’re still considering Lyon as a possible destination, forget about Paris! Discover Lyon instead!
In this historic city, there’s plenty to do so you definitely won’t get bored. Although in this post, I’ll talk about how to spend 2 days in Lyon, there’s is enough to see to make your trip longer if you have the time!
For a quick overview, take a look at the map I’ve included for you. All the activities I’ll write about are indicated on it! Plus, also don’t forget to take a look at the practicalities of visiting Lyon at the end of this post!
Let’s discover how to spend 2 days in Lyon!
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Lyon Itinerary Map
2 days in Lyon itinerary
One day in Lyon
Walk around Vieux Lyon
The historical town of Lyon has been listed as UNESCO World Heritage since 1998. The city dates back to Roman times (the first century!) and this is reflected in the historical buildings you’ll see when strolling around the old city center!
No need to mention that walking around the old city center is a very charming experience, right?
My advice is always to start in the heart of a city when visiting since most of its history can be found here. This is not different for Lyon. Start by strolling around and enjoy the atmosphere!
Seek for hidden passages in Rue Saint-Jean
One of the results of being an ancient city is having many hidden gems. One of these hidden gems is literally hidden!
Rue Saint-Jean is full of secret passages in between buildings that lead to small courtyards in the middle of the city or simply to another part of the city!
The tricky thing is that these hidden passages are located after what looks like a regular front door. So you need to know the right street numbers!
One of these spots is called ‘The Longue Traboule’ and I’ve indicated this one on the map you can find above. There are many more of these hidden passages at different street numbers.
In total there are about 400 hidden passages (also called traboules) in the city and 40 of them are open to the public.
Take a look here to find out the location of all the traboules open for the public and how to access them.
Another great way to see Lyon like this (with hidden gems) is to book a tour guide! Local guides will most likely also show you around here. A great way to do this is through Airbnb Experiences (see ‘how to make your trip to Lyon easier’ below).
Visit Cathedrale Saint-Jean
A great attraction you’ll discover on your way through the old city center of Lyon is Cathedrale Saint-Jean.
This historical church contains a very special astronomical clock that indicates the date, the position of the sun, the position of the moon and much more. You’ll find this clock when entering the building.
The cathedral itself played a very significant role in the history of Lyon and is several centuries old. The architecture and atmosphere inside will definitely not disappoint you!
Take a look at some murals: Mur Des Canuts & Fresque des Lyonnais
If you look carefully, you’ll be able to find some beautiful murals in Lyon.
These murals are real pieces of art and incredibly large! If you see one, you will definitely notice!
There are at least two locations where you’ll be able to find these. They are called Mur Des Canuts and Fresque Des Lyonnais. Both locations are indicated on the map above.
If you happen to be in the neighbourhood of either of these, you should definitely make a stop and take a look! It’s worth a visit!
Stroll along the riverside
The center of Lyon is where the rivers the Rhône and Saône merge into one. Hence, one of the most romantic places to walk is along the riverside!
Many large bridges cross those rivers which give you a very nice view. Along the river, you’ll also be able to find a city beach and floating restaurants!
So if you’re in for a more relaxed activity, take a walk along the river and enjoy the view!
Pass through Passage De L’Argue
When crossing either of these rivers, you’ll have the opportunity to pass through Passage De L’Argue. In this covered passage you’ll mainly find more luxurious shops, but also don’t forget to admire the architecture as this place dates back to the 18th century.
If you’re into a bit of shopping or want to see a bit of Lyon’s history, you should put this on your itinerary!
Two days in Lyon
Visit Basilique Notre Dame de la Fourvière
Another great religious place to visit is Basilique Notre Dame de la Fourvière.
This wonderful building is located on a hill right beside the old city center. Reaching this place requires a bit of a hike but you’ll be rewarded with a magnificent view over the old city of Lyon!
Climb up here (or take the metro or a taxi up) for the view and for the Basilique because the inside (and outside) is definitely worth a visit as well!
Walk along la Passerelle des Quatre Vents
Closeby the Basilique Notre Dame de la Fourvière you’ll find the Passerelle des Quatre Vents (or passage of the 4 winds) which is part of Le Parc des Hauteurs.
Besides a very instagrammable place (with the Basilique in the background and a wonderful view over Lyon) this is also a very beautiful passage that leads you to the cemetery of Loyasse.
So if you’re vising the Basilique, definitely consider making a walk here and enjoy this little piece of nature in a busy city.
Visit the ancient theater of Lugdunum
I already mentioned that the city of Lyon dates back to Roman times which means that you can still find the remains of this time period here!
The ancient theater of Lugdunum is perfect to combine with a visit to the Basilique or walk on the Passerelle des Quatre Vents as it’s very closely located to both attractions.
Outside you’ll see the remains of the ancient theater and inside the museum, you’ll be able to find more information about Roman Lyon, some 2000 years ago.
Start shopping at Place Bellecour
If this history is nothing for you, there’s also the option of going shopping in Lyon!
The largest shopping streets here are undoubtedly Rue Gasparin and Rue du Président Édouard Herriot.
I advise you to start at Place Bellecour and work your way from here through the shopping center of Lyon. At Place Bellecour, which is the largest square of the city, you’ll also find Lyon’s Tourism Office and a statue of the former king of France, Louis XIV.
Musée Des Beaux Arts de Lyon
If you walk Rue du Président Édouard Herriot all the way to the end you’ll find Lyon’s Museum of Fine Arts.
You’ll be able to discover temporary expositions of famous artists and the museum’s permanent exhibitions here. This place should definitely feature on your bucket list as only the greatest artists get featured here!
Entrance for the permanent exhibitions will cost you €8 while temporary exhibitions cost €12 to visit. The museum is open all week except for Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
You can take a look at their current exhibitions.
Amphitheater Des Trois Gaulles
Another remaining from ancient times is the Amphitheater des Trois Gaulles.
Although this site is far less spectacular than the theater of Lugdunum, it’s definitely worth a look when you’re in the neighbourhood!
And guess what, If you walked the shopping street to the end and came out at the Museum of Fine Arts, you definitely are!
The amphitheater is located in a very regular street and protected with fences. It’s nothing big, but once more a reminder of the rich history of Lyon!
How to make your 2 days in Lyon easier
If you’ve taken a look at this itinerary and planning all of this is not really your thing, I also have a way easier option for you!
Have you ever considered taking guided tours in a city?
Instead of scrambling all the information online, you can also book a tour guide who will guide you through the best places to see in Lyon AND can tell you literally everything about this city!
Options range from private tours to group tours and come in different variants such as sightseeing or food-focused!
My favourite way to book such experiences no matter what city is Airbnb Experiences. I’ve tried it myself and loved it!
Now it’s your turn to discover the magic of getting in touch with locals and other tourists on your trip!
On the map below you can find all the tours available in Lyon.
Best time to visit
When should you visit Lyon, you ask?
Well, Lyon is gifted with a mild climate in winter (not below zero degrees Celsius) and very agreeable temperatures in summer (20-30 degrees Celsius).
Peak seasons in Lyon are late spring and early summer, so you might want to try to avoid these periods. Late summer, early autumn, or early spring are excellent moments to visit this amazing city!
How to get around the city
You’ll likely visit most parts of the city on foot, as not all locations are ideal for vehicles.
One of my favourite ways to get around the city when I visited was through the use of electrical steps! These steps are located everywhere in the city and you can easily rent them to get to another attraction and just drop them there.
Popular electric step platforms are Lime, Circ, Bird and many more. When walking through the city you’ll see about three different providers.
When traveling to Lyon, it’s very easy to arrive to the city center by train, as the train station is located close to everything. You can also decide to drive here and park your car at one of the many underground parkings during your stay (driving in Lyon itself is not recommended).
If you come from farther away, you can fly into the airport Lyon-Saint Exupéry and take a taxi, bus or subway to the city center.
Where to stay in Lyon
The place where I stayed during my time in Lyon is called Okko Hotels. With their unique concept, the French hotel chain is quite different from a regular hotel!
The hotel has a modern design, provides breakfast in the morning, and… appetizers in the evening! In their “club” (which is also where you’ll have breakfast), you can find a buffet of little snacks in the evening (free of charge) and you can order something to drink before you make your way to one of the local restaurants.
Plus, any time of the day you can take a drink from the common fridge in the club (included in the price).
That’s my kind of hotel!
They also have a small gym and are located in the center of Lyon at walking (or stepping) distance of all the major activities!
Where to eat in Lyon
In Lyon, you’ll find a lot of charming restaurants to choose from. Of course, be aware of the tourist traps as certain places can be very expensive for not even that decent food.
If you’re still looking for a wonderful place to eat during your 2 days in Lyon, I have some suggestions for you!
This cosy and very tiny tapas restaurant is one of the places in Lyon where you can get real local food for a decent price. Certainly don’t hesitate to listen to the suggestions of the chef!
The cuisine is quite simple but tasty, so you should come here for local charm and not for a fancy dinner.
Bouchon Les Lyonnais
This charming restaurant is also located in the city center and a very popular place to eat!
I actually tried to eat here during my stay but the restaurant was already fully booked. So definitely make a reservation beforehand!
It features traditional French cuisine and the atmosphere is great.
So, are you ready to plan your trip to Lyon?
This city has a lot to offer and hopefully, this 2 days in Lyon itinerary made you see what lovely activities are possible in this historical city!
Need more help planning your trip? Download my FREE travel planning workbook!
If Lyon is not really your thing or you’re still looking at other cities in France, you might want to take a look at my guide to Strasbourg as well!