My trip to Lyon, France was the first trip I did while Studying Abroad in Paris. It was a last-minute trip that my new friends and I booked less than two days before departure. Although very last minute, it was a great way to kick off my semester of travel.
We decided to take a 6 hour-ish overnight bus from Paris, leaving at midnight. Our bus ended up being delayed, but we still happened to make it in before 7 am. At this point, everything was closed and it was still pitch black outside. Once we got to town, we regrouped, figured out which direction to go, and headed on our way. We ended up wandering to a bakery that opened 10 minutes after we got there, but they were so kind and let us in early. After we ate, we wandered around the dark streets of Lyon until the sun rose. And from there, we started our day. Here are the top 6 things to do in Lyon, France.
Hike Up to the Notre Dame Basilica
Okay with this one, we were very wary about at first. It is not an exceptionally strenuous hike, but after 6 hours on a bus with very little sleep, it was more difficult than it should have been. (Note: do NOT do it right after 6 hours on a bus and very little sleep!!). I will say though, although our hike was a bit rough, the views were so incredibly worth it. At the top, you can look out and see the entire city. Also, entry to the church is free, with a suggested donation. The views of the city were spectacular, but also walking into the church was breathtaking. The high arches, stained glass, and sense of peace in the room was extraordinary. Highly Recommend.
Wander Through Old Town (Vieux Lyon)
On your way down from the Notre Dame Basilica, make sure to take a pit stop in the Old Town. The charming cobblestone streets are filled with unique artisan shops, delicious food, and so much more!!
Parc de la Tête d’Or
This park is on the northern side of town but so worth a visit. It is around 290 acres big with plenty of fields, a lake, walking paths, and even a zoo!! You’re greeted at the entrance of the park by huge black and gold gates. The zoo was opened back in the mid-1800s and houses 300 animals across 6 different species.
Shopping in the 2nd Arrondissement
The streets of Rue de la République and Rue de Président Édouard Herriot are lined with different shops. Ranging from Zara and Uniquo to comic shops and specialty shops. No matter what your taste is, and no matter if you want to window shop or actually shop, there is something for you!!
Walk Along the Water
There are two rivers that run through Lyon, the Rhône, and the Saône. Walking along the Saône will give you great views of the Basilica on the hill. The Rhône will give you views on the city from the other side of the middle peninsula. No matter which side you walk along, you’re guaranteed to get breathtaking views!
La Place Bellecour is a 15-acre public square, ranked as one of the largest in Europe and third largest in France. In it sits a large Ferris wheel and an equestrian statue of Louis XIV, king of France from 1643 to 1715. Place Bellecour is also the central focus of the peninsula as well as the main shopping streets of the city. The square also represents Mile 0 (Km 0) of the city of Lyon.