48 Hours in Lyon – Frenchly

48 Hours in Lyon - Frenchly

You are instantly smacked in your face by Big City Energy as you get off the train in Lyon. France’s gastronomic capital is teeming with folks of all stripes striving and thriving. Lyon is a city that you could spend a whole week in, but a weekend might be enough. So here’s how to see France’s third-largest city without getting lost in the shuffle.

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Friday in Lyon

Lyon is a city that is primarily a foodie. There are many restaurants in this metropolis of Michelin stars that cater to all tastes. You should make reservations early as the best places are often full. Start with dinner at a Bouchon, a Lyonnais traditional restaurant that serves local delicacies for reasonable prices. They are often heavy on meat and some items may not be suitable for everyone. You might be better off looking online before ordering. AndouilletteFor example, you might find a sausage made from pig intestinales on a bouchon menu. But don’t be turned off—the chefs here are so good, you’ll hardly care what you’re eating.

Take a look at our Lyon restaurant recommendations Here.

Lyon’s nightlife is as diverse as its cuisine, and there’s a little something for everyone. Bars are open until 3:45am and clubs until 6am, so night owls will be able to enjoy the bars.

You want to have a party on a yacht? Head to the bank of the Rhône River, where pénicheEach boat bar offers a different style of music and is docked at the dock. You can either sit on the riverbank terrace or on the boat for a drink, or go into the bowels to dance on the underwater dance floor. Enjoy the nightly porthole views of Lyon while you groove to reggaeton. La MarquiseOr hip hop at Le Sirius.

Step back in time at one of Lyon’s oldest bars, Look BarFor something intimate and jazzy, consider. You can sneak upstairs to a velvet armchair and a cocktail, while you look past the chandelier and into the leather-covered bar below.

You want to listen to live music? Bec de JazzIt is a famous spot within the Croix-Rousse neighbourhood. TroksonAnd Technoir on the Presqu’île cater to rockier crowds. You should keep your wits about and be alert in the city’s center at all times. Avoid side streets with pickpockets and rowdy partygoers.

Saturday in Lyon

Take a stroll through Vieux-Lyon’s colorful streets to discover an unexpected architectural cityscape. While the “newer” Presqu’île has a more Parisian feel thanks to its 19th century Haussmannian buildings, Vieux-Lyon transports you to Tuscany. The Renaissance saw an influx of Italian merchants to Lyon to create their pink, yellow, and orange-toned villas at the middle France. It is now known for its renowned restaurants. traboulesHidden passageways or crypts. Some are well-known and can easily be found on maps like this one. If in doubt, Vieux-Lyon offers the option of walking through any door to discover its secrets. When you’re tired of wandering, forgo the touristy restaurants on Place Saint-Jean in favor of a taste of everything at the Food Traboule.

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After lunch, go up to Fourvière, Lyon’s historic hilltop basilica in Vieux-Lyon. You can take in the whole city from the top, and it’s a popular sunset destination. It can get quite crowded. Although the guidebooks will tell you to take the historic funicular up the hill, it is best to walk if you can. It is a steep climb but well worth it. (The funicular ride goes through a dark tunnel, so the ride up isn’t exactly picturesque, and you have to wait for a while with other tourists before cramming, sardine-like, into the cars.)

If you’ve still got some fight in you before your dinner reservation, spend some time in the Croix-RousseLyon’s historic silk-working district. Visit the Maison des Canuts (the silk workers’ museum) or check out some street art. Picking up a scarf from one of the silk shops that are still available in this boho area quartierThis is a great choice for shopping with relatives or friends who have high souvenir expectations.

Sunday in Lyon

Film buffs can take advantage of Lyon’s reputation as the “birthplace of cinema”Visit the Institut Lumière. This museum, housed in the Beaux Arts mansion of the Lumière Brothers, is devoted to the early days of film, the invention of the cinematograph, and the technical feats that would one day make your favorite Marvel movie possible. Even if you’re not a film geek, you’ll get a kick out of the collection of 50-second movies from the turn of the century (though keeping an eye on cultural standards of the time would be wise).


Do you prefer to be outdoors? Take a trip to the Tête d’OrThe sprawling park also features a free zoo, and a botanic garden. Bask in the sun or sneak through a hidden underwater passage to get to the lake’s Memorial Island.

Once you’re done sunning yourself or geeking out over vintage film tech, grab a sweet snack on the way to your train home. Lyon is known for its pink pralines. praline tartOr praline-brioche. Try this local specialty: Boutique Pralus Lyon in Vieux-Lyon or on the Presqu’île.

Catherine Rickman is a professional francophile and writer who has lived in Paris and New York. She is currently located somewhere in Europe with a knife in one hand and an ink pen in the other. You can follow her adventures via Instagram @catrickman.

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