Lyon is often called a small Paris, with the charm of a smaller French village on one side of the river and a more modern Parisian look on the other. Colorful buildings wrap around the Saône river with hills behind them that allow for incredible views that overlook the city, making Lyon one of the most beautiful cities in France. With 3 days in Lyon, you’ll be able to visit each area of Lyon, through all the can’t-miss spots as well as a few hidden gems along the way.
This 3-day Lyon itinerary is split into 3 different main areas/neighborhoods in Lyon: Vieux Lyon & Fourviere, Presqu’île, and Croix Rousse.
You can switch around these days in any order that fits your travel plans best! If you are in Lyon for fewer days, it’s definitely possible to combine 2 of these days into 1.
In my opinion, if there is any area to skip because you are short on time, I would skip the Presqu’ile day! But you can look at all the stops below on each day and decide based on what you enjoy doing most.
Each location has the Google Maps location included so that it is easy to plan and even change around the itinerary if you choose to do so!
Where to Stay in Lyon
Lyon is one of those cities where it is super difficult to find really good-budget accommodation.
Check out this list if you’re looking for a luxurious, treat-yourself stay in Lyon.
If you’re looking for budget accommodation, HostelWorld is the best place to book. However, you need to be booking a month or more in advance or the prices are about the same as a hotel.
This hostel is only 26 euros for a dorm and it has great reviews, with a central location.
For a hotel stay, one of the best options is Fourviere Hotel Lyon, which is in an amazing location, has a pool, and still comes in at around $115 to $135 per night.
Day 1: Vieux Lyon & Fourviere
The first day is split between the two most visited areas of Lyon: Vieux Lyon and Fourviere.
Depending on where you are staying in Lyon, I recommend taking the metro to the first stop mentioned in the Day 1 Itinerary.
All of these days are set up so that if you choose to walk the whole day, you have plenty of time and it won’t be too much walking if you talk the metro to the first stop and then walk back to your accommodation or vice-versa.
One thing I wish we had done while in Lyon (especially Vieux Lyon) was taking a walking tour. It’s such a historic city and I definitely plan to head back and learn more about it next time.
Saint George’s Suspension Bridge (Passarelle)
The most iconic view of Lyon is our very first stop! This bridge gives you one of the best vantage points and leads you directly into Vieux Lyon.
Saint George Church
The beautiful Saint George Church is directly across the Saint George suspension bridge and is definitely worth a visit.
Traboule Passage #1
One of the greatest and most fun things about visiting Lyon is that you can go on a treasure hunt! Hidden all throughout the city are secret passageways through buildings to hidden courtyards that you can actually visit.
There is usually a door that looks like any other door on the street, except that it is unlocked and you are able to go through and see a beautiful, hidden area of Lyon!
Some of them you can spot even though the doors are locked and you can’t go inside, like this one we found in Vieux Lyon.
The traboules are also historically important because they were used for secret meetings during World War II, making it so that the Nazis were never able to occupy the city.
This first one is behind a red door, so use this map and keep your eye out for Traboule Passage #1!
Pretty Streets in Vieux Lyon
Of course, there are so many picturesque streets in Vieux Lyon that wandering them without a destination in mind is definitely a must!
I recommend wandering around the streets between the Saint George Church and the stop for the Funiculaire until you feel like you’ve seen it all!
If you are looking for some specific stops along the way, they are listed below.
La Maison de Guignol
The Maison de Guignol is the House of Puppets. Lyon is famous for its puppet shows, and if you would like to see one, this is the best place to do it!
You’ll most likely have to plan in advance and you can find the scheduled puppet shows on their website.
The shows last about 50 minutes and cost about 11 euros per person.
However, even if you’re not interested in viewing a puppet show, the outside of this shop is one of the most beautiful areas of Vieux Lyon.
Just up the small street next to the Maison de Guignol, you can visit the oldest wooden balconies of Lyon that date back to the 14th century. It’s a little dead-end street with the oldest buildings left in Lyon!
View from Impasse Turquet
As you exit the Impasse Turquet, don’t forget to look up and spot one of the most incredible views of Lyon! You can spot the Cathedral Saint-Jean Baptiste (where you’re headed next!) in the distance looming over the chimneys and rooftops of the city.
Place Saint-Jean & Cathedrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste (Lyon Cathedral)
The Place Saint-Jean and the Cathedrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste (also known as Lyon Cathedral) are just a short walk from the Impasse Turquet. You can enter the Cathedral for free as well as fill up your water bottle at the fountain in the middle of the place.
The Long Traboule
This pink Traboule is known as the “Long Traboule” because it winds through 4 different buildings between 54 Rue Saint-Jean and 27 Rue de Boeuf.
Boulangerie Du Palais & A La Marquise
A visit to Lyon wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Boulangerie Du Palais, which is so well-loved that there is a line out the door no matter what time of day you visit.
However long the wait, it is definitely worth it to get your hands on some of the best pastries in town.
The famous praline pastries, which are dyed deep red, are incredibly sweet and very unique to Lyon. I recommend the Allumettes aux Pralines, which are one the best pastries I’ve ever had!
The second best boulangerie in Vieux Lyon is La Marquise, only a few steps away from the Boulangerie du Palais.
We loved the pastries at the first bakery so much that we never got around to trying the second, although it came highly recommended!
If you’re a foodie, Lyon is the perfect city for you. Take a food tour to make sure you hit all the major spots famous for Lyonnaise cuisine while you’re there!
Court of Appeal of Lyon
After grabbing a pastry at Boulangerie du Palais, you can walk straight down that street toward the Saone river and you’ll immediately see the Court of Appeal of Lyon. It is a very impressive view, although you are not able to enter.
Where to Eat in Vieux Lyon
If you are looking for traditional restaurants in Lyon, then you would want to head to Bouchon and get some traditional Lyonnais dishes. I would definitely try a food tour or a dinner cruise along the river if you want to try some of the best food in Lyon.
However, this will definitely be quite expensive. We wanted to try to have this experience, but we leveled with the waiter at Bouchon Les Lyonnais and asked if he would allow us to share a dish or to just get one course and he said it wouldn’t be allowed.
Most of the French restaurants in this area are most likely the same. There is nothing wrong with this, of course! Here is the location if you’d like to try one of the most famous Bouchon restaurants in Lyon:
If you’d like to eat at a more budget-friendly place, there are two cheaper takeout restaurants further away from the main part of Vieux Lyon: Le Digor 2 and Rawal Tandoori. We chose Le Digor 2 to get a few cheap and delicious kebabs.
Since the cheaper restaurants are takeout, you can walk over to the Saone and find a place to sit and enjoy your meal.
Take the Funiculaire or the Stairs to Fourviere
After you’ve wandered every inch of Vieux Lyon, it’s time to head to Fourviere! Fourviere is the hill with the giant Cathedral on it that is immediately behind Vieux Lyon.
There are two ways to get up to Fourvière hill: by the stairs or by the Funiculaire. I highly recommend the stairs since the views on the way up are absolutely amazing.
However, the Funiculaire is quite cheap and will get you up much faster if you don’t want to walk!
A round-trip ticket on the Funiculaire costs 3 euros. You can catch one about every 5 to 10 minutes, so there is no need to buy tickets in advance. The hours may change according to the season.
Park Des Hauteurs
If you choose to walk to Fourviere, you will not only pass by some incredible views, but you also walk through the Park Des Hauteurs, which has some beautiful gardens and walkways.
If you take the Funiculaire, you can walk down from the Fourviere viewpoint and visit the park without walking too far.
Depending on the season, the Fourviere Viewpoint may be partially blocked by trees. Since we went in the fall, the trees were still there, however, in the winter the view is much more open.
Although the view is amazing, we found another one even better (which is mentioned further down in the itinerary).
La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière
Right next to the viewpoint, you can’t miss the giant Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere which was built in the late 19th century. It costs 6 euros per person to enter and it is definitely worth the cost.
You can also choose to go to the top of the Basilica for an extra fee.
Metallic Tower of Fourviere
In the same area as the viewpoint and Basilique, you can spot the Metallic Tower of Fourviere. There isn’t anything over there, so you can choose to walk over or just view it from the Basilique.
Theatre Gallo Romain
Next, you can head over to the Roman ruins at Theatre Gallo Romain, which is just a short walk from the Basilique.
Secret (and Best) Viewpoint of Lyon
If you are taking the Funiculaire down and do not want to walk a lot, you will probably just head back after viewing the Theatre Gallo Romain. T
The Fourviere Viewpoint that you visited earlier was probably packed with people, but if you continue on to this secret viewpoint, you will probably have it all to yourself.
On the way down the hill, you will spot a small park called the “Communitaire Garden” (Don’t worry, I have the location marked down below so you won’t miss it!)
It is very small and doesn’t look like much, but if you step up to the gate and look down, you’ll see an incredible, unobstructed view of Lyon below!
The only downside to this viewpoint is that there is a fence, but to get around that, I stuck my camera lens through the holes and was able to get some of my favorite pictures from the whole trip.
Day 2: Presqu’ile
Day 2 takes you to Presqu’ile, which is the area just opposite Vieux Lyon along the Saone River.
Saint Vincent Suspension Bridge
The first stop is at the Saint Vincent Suspension Bridge, where you can see the bend of the Saone and all the colorful buildings that line the edge of the river.
Fresque des Lyonnais
From the bridge, it’s just a short walk to the Fresque des Lyonnais. This building is completely covered in paintings that depict famous people from Lyon.
Around this area, you can spot several other murals besides the main building, so keep your eyes peeled!
Place des Terreaux, Lyon City Hall & Bartholdi Fountain
This large place has 3 stops in one. Don’t forget to head to the back of the Lyon City Hall as well for a different view!
Le Bal des Ardents
If you’re a fan of searching out quaint bookstores, you’ll love this little stop! You can find used and new books (although it was still a bit expensive).
Church of Saint-Nizier of Lyon
The Saint-Nizier church has two asymmetrical spires which you can see peeking above the buildings from multiple viewpoints in Lyon. The Gothic spire on the left dates back to the 15th century and is made of brick. The other spire was built in the 19th century and is made in nep-Gothic style.
The Church of Saint Nizier is closed on Mondays, so make sure to plan accordingly.
Palais de la Bourse & Church of Saint Bonaventure Lyon
These two stops are facing each other and are quite quick. However, this area is where you start seeing the department stores and shopping areas so there is plenty to do in this area if you love shopping!
If you are big into shopping, then Presqu’ile might be your favorite day in Lyon! You can find most major stores in this area as well as a few European favorites like Decathlon and Monoprix on the streets Rue de la République (a UNESCO-protected shopping street) and Rue Tupin.
Passage des Imprimeurs Traboule
At this traboule, you can head up the stairs and explore a bit! This is one of the more beautiful traboules in Lyon (according to me!)
Le Coin Vert & Place des Jacobins
Le Coin Vert is a covered passage with small shops and restaurants. It isn’t always open, so if you would like to visit, you’ll need to double check the day and time that you pass by.
If the Le Coin Vert is closed, it’s still worth visiting the Place des Jacobins nearby, with a beautiful fountain and multiple shopping streets branching off from it.
Place Bellecour is the third largest square in Paris and one of the largest in all of Europe. It spans 15 acres and is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Cheap Lunch Places
To save money, you can get pre-made sandwiches at Casino stores or small Carrefours. You can also buy a baguette, cheese, and meat and make your own fresh sandwiches!
There is also a McDonald’s and a Subway in Presqu’ile.
Day 3: Croix Rousse
Last day in Lyon, with some of the best views to go!
Mur des Canuts
The first stop is the Mur des Canuts. If you’re not interested in the giant murals, you can go ahead and skip this stop since it is a little out of the way.
If you plan to go, make sure you take the metro all the way to the nearest stop, which isn’t the main stop for Croix Rousse.
Croix Rousse Place Area
Around Croix Rousse Place, you can get a feel of the hill above Lyon before heading down to some of the destinations listed for the day.
La Vue du Coquillat
La Vue du Coquillat is down a flight of steep stairs, so some may need to skip this viewpoint. However, if you can make it, you will be rewarded with some of the best views of the chimneys of Vieux Lyon.
Cour des Voraces Traboule
Not far from the viewpoint, you can head to the last traboule of your trip to Lyon! (Unless, of course, you choose to go hunting for some on your own!)
Montee de la Grande-Cote – An Incredibly Beautiful Street
After the last traboule, you have to make a stop at one of the hidden gems Jake and I found while in Lyon. This street wasn’t on our original itinerary, but it is definitely worth a stop!
Head to the Librairie-Café Un Petit Noir and from there, enjoy an incredible view of the street from above.
This street is a Scenic UNESCO protected street, as well!
You can choose later on in this day to head back to this street and walk all the way back down the Saone, so don’t worry about heading down there just yet.
The next stop is a set of Instagram-friendly colored stairs. You can definitely skip these if you aren’t interested, though.
These next two stops though should not be skipped as they are two of the best viewpoints in Lyon! The first is Place Rouville, which has a great view although it’s a little more obstructed than the next one.
Jardin Des Rigolards
The Jardin Des Rigolards is a small park area with benches and one of the most incredible views of Lyon that you’ll ever see. You can sit and soak in the view for a while, if you like, or take a million pictures like I did!
Head Back to Montee de la Grande-Cote & Walk Down the Hill
Next, head back to Montee de la Grande-Cote Street and walk down the hill until you hit the Saone. There are tons of little shops and beautiful buildings on the way down.
The street doesn’t lead straight down to the Saone, so you’ll need to head to the right towards the Saint Vincent Suspension bridge.
Once you get to the bottom, you can still take a metro back to your hotel/accommodation.
Cheap Lunch Places
At the bottom, if you’re looking for a meal under 10 euros for two people, I recommend Planete Tandoori or Frite Alors!
The spicy Poulet Tikka Tandoori (Chicken wrap) is only 4 euros and was super delicious.
Walk Down the Saône River
If you still have time (or the energy!) after walking down the Croix Rousse hill, you can take a stroll along the Saone River. There are some really beautiful buildings right in front of the bend of the river and you can choose how far you’d like to walk.
Grab some lunch or snacks and rest a while!
If you have some extra time (or maybe you’re a little tired of walking!!), you can also take a 1-hour river cruise down the Saône for a more relaxing way to see Lyon from the water.
See Lyon at Night
One more thing you need to do before leaving Lyon is to find a night to see Lyon at night.
One of the days, we chose to head back to our hotel for a few hours to conserve some energy, and then we went back and walked around the Saone while Lyon was lit up.
Markets in Lyon
I saved this for last because depending on the days that you plan to visit Lyon, you may have to switch around your itinerary a tad so that you don’t miss these!
We only made it to a few, but they were beautiful and had tons of great food.
1. Mercato Ortfrutticolo (Along the Saone)
I couldn’t find the hours for this market, however, it was set up at the same time as the next market, so I’ve included the hours for that in the next section.
2. Marché alimentaire Saint-Antoine Célestins
This market runs every day except Monday. Tuesday through Thursday it is open from 6 am to 1 pm and Friday through Sunday it is open from 6 am to 1:30 pm.
3. Marché Alimentaire de la Croix-Rousse
This market also runs every day except Monday. Tuesday through Thursday it is open from 6 am to 1 pm and Friday through Sunday it is open from 6 am to 1:30 pm.
This market stands out from the others because it also sells clothes and other items along with meats and fresh produce.
4. Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse Market
This is the only market I have listed that we didn’t make it to. This covered market is in Presqu’ile and has fresh meats and fruits.
The Halles Market website shows all of the vendors that will be at the market so you know what you expect. It is also a great place to head for lunch.
It is open every day of the week starting at 7 am and stays open until 10:30 pm except for Sundays when it closes at 4:30 pm.