Just under 2 weeks and I’ll have moved to Cologne. Last minute preparations are majorly stressing me out (don’t ask me how many to do lists I have), but at least my inner millennial is glad she’ll finally have something new to post on Instagram. Anyway. I thought I’d try and put my knowledge of living in Lyon for 4 months to good use and write about the best things to do there. Here’s an example itinerary covering all the main places of interest.
Firstly, Lyon is quite a small city where everything is relatively close together. Therefore, it is definitely possible to get around just by foot, but if you want to save a bit of time it’s only just over 5 euros for the day for the metro, tram and bus.
1) Fourvière Cathedral and Roman ruins
Fourvière is definitely the must see here and should be at the top of your list. You’ll want to take the Fourvière funicular line from the old town right to the top. You can definitely walk to the top and you’ll get some great views going up, but be warned, it is steep. Firstly, take a look inside of the cathedral as the painted ceiling is very impressive. Then as you come out to the left, there’s arguably the best view you can get of the whole city, for free! On a good day you can see for miles. Next, a 5-minute walk takes you to the roman ruins and a museum. Right next to the ruins there’s another funicular line that goes back down to the old town.
2) Vieux Lyon
The old town is another really cool place here. As you come off the funicular just to the left there’s Place St. Jean and St. Jean Cathedral, one of the best places to come during the Lyon light festival. The old town isn’t that big, but have a wander and there’s some lovely cobbled streets with brightly coloured buildings. Pralinettes/pink praline brioche is one of the foods I think you can only get here and is really worth trying. One of the best places to get them is from a bakery called ‘Pralus’ that’s on the main road from the square (which is pricey but worth it). Also, if you’ve got a bit more time, in the middle of the main road there’s a miniature and cinema museum, and a bit further down there’s a marionette museum. The old town also has an abundance of ‘Bouchons’ which are traditional Lyon restaurants, but definitely avoid if you’re a vegetarian like me as you won’t find anything you can have.
3) The presqu’île
The presqu’île (peninsula) is the main part of Lyon situated in between the Saône and Rhône rivers, a stark change architecture wise compared to the old town. You can get metro D for one stop from the old town or just walk over the bridge to get here. First, one of the main points is Place Bellecour where there’s always something going on. To the left of the square on the Saône side there’s a lovely photo point of all the coloured buildings (Pont Bonaparte on the map) and to the right there’s an equally nice photo point on the Rhône side. Just 2 minutes away there’s Place des Jacobins where there’s a really cool fountain in the middle, and my favourite café ‘Slake’ just around the corner. Turn right and you’ll hit Rue de la République, the main shopping street of the city and the ‘Cordeliers’ area. Right at the end of the road there’s Place des Terraux and the very impressive Hôtel de Ville building. Also, if you’re into art, ‘Musée des Beaux Arts’ is worth a look, it has quite a few famous Monet paintings in it.
4) Croix Rousse
Croix Rousse is the ‘edgy’ area of the city, featuring many a street art wall and lots of bunting. This is somewhere I really, really don’t recommend walking to, as it is on one of the steepest hills I’ve ever seen. The best way is to take metro C from Hôtel de Ville to the top then to make your way down. This area is famous for its ‘trompe l’oeil’ style street art, the main one being the ‘Mur des Canuts’, which you can get to by getting off at the ‘Hénon’ metro stop. There are lots more scattered around, including ‘Fresque des Lyonnais’ and ‘Fresque la Bibliothèque de la Cité’. If you follow the path down from the main square there’s a really nice view of the city at the top. When you get to the bottom of the hill there’s another one of my favourite cafés ‘La Boîte à Café’.
5) If you have a bit more time
Places I recommend if you have a bit more time after going to all the main places are: The Confluence area of the city where I used to live is really nice, ‘Musée des Confluences’ is worth visiting even just to look at the building, and right next to it there’s a big sign that says ‘Only Lyon’ (like the I Amsterdam one but on a smaller scale). Also, ‘Parc de la Tête d’or’ is slightly further out from the centre but is a lovely place for a walk.
Thanks for reading!