Lyon’s 17 top sights
Lyon is called the city of a hundred squares. And in these squares, of course, stand hundreds of ancient and modern attractions, museums, and monuments. The old center of Lyon has been a World Heritage site since 1998. And there’s plenty to see in other areas too.
We will tell you about 17 main sights, without which you haven’t seen Lyon. Here they are on an interactive map:
Notre-Dame de Fourvière
The Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière (Basilique Notre-Damede Fourvière) was built on the Fourvière hill in 1872-1884. The unusual combination of neo-Gothic and neo-Byzantine style immediately attracts attention. It has an upper and a lower temple. The four towers and the bell tower topped with the figure of the Virgin Mary are visible from anywhere in the city.
Inside, you can look endlessly at the many frescoes, paintings, stained glass and mosaics.
The address is Place de Fourviere. Can be reached by cable car or on foot
Opening hours of the basilica are Sunday 8:30-10:30, 15:00-16:30, 18:00-19:00, and on other days 8:00-12:00 and 14:00-18:00
“Should I go to Lyon?
Saint-Jean Cathedral or Cathedral of Lyon
Saint-Jean Cathedral (Primatiale Saint-Jean-Baptiste) is the main temple of Lyon. It is located in the “spiritual center” of the city, in the quarter of Saint-Jean. The Romanesque-Gothic church is surrounded by an archaeological garden, where the remains of two ruined churches and a baptistery can be seen.
The biggest attraction for tourists is the oldest astronomical clock in France. It strikes only four times a day (from 12:00 to 16:00) and during this time there is an opportunity to see puppet religious scenes in the upper part of the ancient device.
Address: 70, Rue Saint-Jean
Visiting hours: weekdays 8:15 am to 7:45 pm, weekends until 7:00 pm.
The Amphitheatre Gallo-Romain, also called the Amphitheatre des Trois Gaules, dates back to 19 A.D. It was built by order of Emperor Tiberius and had two functions: a public spectacle (mainly public torture and executions) and a federal shrine where they swore allegiance to the Emperor and held meetings, which were necessarily attended by representatives of each of the Gallic tribes.
This amphitheater is literally 10 minutes from Piazza Terro.
A whole complex of Roman ruins can be seen on the Fourvière Hill. There is an amphitheater, an odeon and the temple of Cybele. And for those who simply wander among the stones is not so interesting, there is a Museum of Gallo-Roman civilization.
Museum address: 17, Rue Cleberg
Opening hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends
Prices for permanent exhibitions: 7€, children under 18 € 4.5€.
Traboule is a unique feature of Lyon architecture. Narrow, passageway-like alleyways were meant to speed up movement between streets. Some of them are simply corridors, but there are also complex passageways with stairs and ramifications.
The most impressive of these passageways extend from Place Saint-Paul to the Cathedral of Saint-Jean. There are about 500 in all in Lyon. There are a few in Marseille, Nantes and Besançon, but nowhere else in Lyon as many as there are.
The longest traboule connects 27 rue Beauf and 54 rue Saint-Jean. Try to find it. Walking through the traboules is a very exciting pastime for those who are not afraid of getting lost in the old town.
Opera in Lyon
The Opera de Lyon was built at the end of the XVIII century, but at the end of the twentieth century only the foyer and facades remained of the old building. A completely new building had to be added to the historic parts, and an urban-looking roof was added on top. On the facade there are muses, but for some reason there wasn’t enough space for one of them, the Urania, so there are only 8 of them. The capacity of the hall is just 1100 seats.
Address: 1, Place de la Comedie.
Starts at 12:30, 16:00, 19:00, 20:00.
Ticket prices: opera 13-94 €, ballet 10-47 €, various concerts 10-50 €.
There are three first-rate sights on this vast square:
Lyon City Hall or Hôtel de Ville, also known as the City Hall. This is where the improvement of this square began in the 17th century. The filthy medieval marketplace did not mix well with the opulent decor of the Baroque building.
The Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des Beaux-arts de Lyon) building remembers the market past of Place de Terreau. At that time it housed the convent of Saint-Pierre. Then the convent was replaced by a palace of commerce, and then by an imperial school of painting. Since 1801, there is a museum in these walls, and over the years, its collection is not only impressive, but the second most important in France after the Louvre.
Address: 20, Place des Terreaux
Opening hours: Every day except Tuesday 10:00-18:00, Friday 10:30-18:00. Some rooms are partly closed for lunch between 12:30 and 14:00.
Cost of admission: 8 €, 18-25 years old: 4 €, children: 3 €.
The fountain on Piazza Terro belongs to the hand of Bartholdi himself, author of the Statue of Liberty in New York. The sculptor originally won the competition to create a fountain on Place de la Cencons in Bordeaux. But the municipality of Bordeaux hesitated for a long time, and in the end they did not agree on the price. And for nothing! The magnificent figure of France in a chariot drawn by four rivers went to Lyon.
The Museum of Cloth
The Museum of Textiles and Arts and Crafts (Musée des Tissus et des Arts Décoratifs de Lyon) is located in a building that was once residence of the Duke of Villeroy. The first part of the exhibition presents samples of textiles from different ages and countries over the past 40 centuries. The second part focuses on furnishings, clothing and household objects: from antique Chinese porcelain to the complete furnishings of a house in eighteenth-century France.
Address: 34, Rue de la Charite
Open daily 10:00-17:30, except Mondays.
Ticket price: 12 €, 12-25 years old: 10 €
Your own Eiffel Tower
The Tour métallique de Fourvière is an exact replica of the third floor of the Eiffel Tower. It too was built in the late 19th century, but the Parisian symbol is still the original. Now the tower is used to transmit television and radio broadcasts. It is located on the hill of the same name, at the highest point of the city.
Lyon Aquarium (Aquarium) covers 5 thousand square meters, on this area there are 47 separate pools. Ocean, sea and river inhabitants from all over the world, except for the Arctic Ocean, can be seen there. It is possible to experience extreme sensations, going scuba diving (under the control of an instructor, of course) in a pool with sharks.
Address: 7, Rue Stephane Dechant
Open daily from 11:00 to 19:00
Ticket prices: ages 11 and over – 15 €, ages 5-10 – 11 € (student), ages 3-4 – 6 €
Place Bellecour and the Petit Princes
Place Bellecour is the third largest square in all of France and the largest square in Europe not occupied by buildings or plantations. In the middle of it stands only equestrian statue of Louis XIV. And at the western edge can be found a statue of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s most famous character, The Little Prince.
The buildings around the square were built in the 19th century, but it dates back to the XII century. The main streets of Lyon depart from Place Bellecour in different directions.
Church of Saint-Nizier
This church, not far from Place de Terreau, dates back to Roman times. It has been destroyed several times, but the modern building in Gothic style has stood since the 16th century and through the centuries is considered to be the most welcoming place in Lyon.
The left tower of the church is adorned by a clock that is slightly younger than the building itself.
Address: 1 Rue Saint-Nizier
Lumière Brothers Museum
Lyon is also known as the birthplace of the Lumière brothers. Their house has been preserved and is now a museum. And next to it, the Lumière Institute is organized. The first experimental cinematographic equipment and the results of their experiments are carefully preserved there.
The world’s first film set has been preserved and you can visit it. Both buildings are on a street which is named after the main event that took place on it, the Rue du Première Film.
Address: 25 Rue du Premier Film
Museum of Miniatures and Film Decorations
Since Lyon is so connected to the film industry, it’s not strange to have such a museum there. Here you can see props from many of your favorite movies, like Harry Potter or Star Wars, as well as miniature film set designs.
Explore the exhibits in the museum and get a glimpse behind the scenes of this popular industry and get a better understanding of how films are made.
Address: 60, rue Saint Jean
Opening hours: 10:00 – 18:30
Tickets: €9.50, ages 5-15 €6.50.
Enjoy your trip to Lyon!
Photos by OnlyLyon and images from public sources were used.
27 sights in Lyon we recommend to visit
Lyon is the third largest city in France and the largest tourist destination. Founded 2,000 years ago, it is actually a living museum, with architecture, culture and traditions reflecting the nationalities that once inhabited it, so, you will always find something to see in Lyon. We’ve chosen 27 of the best sights to help you feel the atmosphere of this city.
The ambitious science and humanities museum, standing at the confluence of the Rhone and Saône rivers, is designed as a futuristic transparent crystal of steel and glass. This distorted structure is one of the city’s iconic landmarks. The museum’s artfully organized permanent exhibitions, thematically divided into four sections.
The “Origins” exhibition focuses respectively on the origins of the Earth and various theories of evolution. The “Eternity” exhibit focuses on death rites. “Society” explores how human communities are organized and interact, and the “Species” exhibit, focuses on natural history. Be sure to leave enough time to view the temporary exhibitions.
The address is Musée des Confluences, Quai de Perrache, Lyon, France.
Museum of Fine Arts
Museum of Fine Arts | Photo: Xuan Che / Flickr.
This stunning museum showcases the finest collection of sculptures and paintings of France outside of Paris, beginning with antiquity. The main exhibition includes works by Rodin, Monet and Picasso.
Be sure to stop at the delightful stone terrace next to the café-restaurant for a drink or a bite to eat. You can also spend time in the tranquil abbey garden.
Address: Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, Place du Terreau, Lyon, France.
Notre-Dame de Fourvière Basilica
Notre-Dame de Fourvière Basilica.
This magnificent example of late 19th century French ecclesiastical architecture is decorated with beautiful mosaics. The Basilica is built on a hill with a spectacular view of the city from its terrace.
From April to September, guests can visit the basilica and crypt for 30 minutes free of charge; in other months the 90-minute tours end at the top of the temple, and it is for these that it is best to reserve tickets in advance.
Address: La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière, Place Fourvière, Lyon, France.
Confluence neighborhood.| Photo: LUDOVIC. R / Flickr.
Leon’s aspirations for the future are epitomized in this revitalized industrial neighborhood near the southern tip of Presquille.
Once named Confluence, a landscape of abandoned warehouses and virtually a place of urban decay, it is now an area of modern architecture and innovative design covering 150 hectares.
After several years of construction and millions of euros of investment, the urban renewal project has brought new stores, restaurants, luxury housing and one innovative museum reminiscent of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to a previously abandoned part of the city.
The address is La Confluence, Lyon, France.
Saint-Jean-Baptiste Cathedral | Photo: Arnet / Flicrk.
The cathedral of Lyon, partly in Romanesque style, was erected between the end of the 11th and beginning of the 16th century. The portals of its colorful Gothic facade, completed in 1480 and recently restored, are decorated with 280 square stone medallions.
The highlight of the cathedral is an astronomical clock mounted in the northern transept. A small but nonetheless impressive collection of sacred works of art, including seventeenth-century Flemish tapestries and a stunning tenth-century Byzantine ivory carved chest, can be found in the adjacent treasury.
During the annual Fête des Lumières or festival of lights, the cathedral plays a major role, with bright projections illuminating the main facade.
Address: Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Place Saint-Jean, Lyon, France.
Housed in a 16th-century mansion built for two wealthy Florentine bankers, this double showroom includes an excellent local history museum, the Museum of Lyon History, which tells the story of the city’s layout as it developed in silk weaving, cinema and transportation.
In addition, there is the Puppet Museum, the Puppet Museum du Monde, which pays homage to Lyon’s famous puppet, Guignol. Located on the 4th floor, the café adjoins quiet, terraced 14th-century gardens.
Address: musées Gadagne, Place du Petit Collège, Lyon, France.
Place du Petit Collège. | Photo: Leandro Neumann Ciuffo / Flickr.
The main decoration of the magnificent central square of Presquille is the 19th-century fountain made of 21 tons of lead and molded by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, creator of the world-famous Statue of Liberty.
The four horses pulling the chariot symbolize the rivers heading towards the sea. The town hall, which stands on the eastern side of the square, was built in 1655, but did not receive its present lavishly decorated facade until 1702.
Here you can also see the peculiar “forest in polka dots” by Daniel Buren, consisting of 69 fountains embedded in the ground on most of the square.
Address: Place des Terreaux, Lyon, France.
Opera of Lyon
Lyon Opera | Photo: Fred Romero / Flickr.
A neoclassical opera house built in Lyon in 1831, it was modernized in 1993 by the famous French architect Jean Nouvel, who added a striking semi-cylindrical glass roof with a glass dome.
Address: Opéra de Lyon, Place de la Comédie, Lyon, France.
Parc de la Tête d’Or
Entrance to the Parc de la Tête d’Or.
When you’re done exploring the museums, head to this beautiful spot north of the center that is a green haven for nature lovers and families. This largest city park in France, covering 117 hectares, was landscaped in the 1860s.
It is decorated with a lake where you can rent a paddle boat, botanical gardens with greenhouses, rose gardens and a zoo. There is also a tourist train.
Address: Parc de la Tête d’Or – Carrousel, Balançoires, Voitures à pédales, Allée du Parc aux Daims, Lyon, France.
Center for the History of Resistance and Deportation
Center for the History of the Resistance and the Deportation.
The headquarters of Klaus Barbie, commander of the Gestapo during the Second World War, recalls through a modern multimedia exhibition the role of Lyon as “capital of the Resistance”.
The museum houses sound recordings of deportees and Resistance fighters and a diverse collection of everyday objects associated with the Resistance, including Jean Moulin’s parachute used to return to France in 1942.
Address: Centre d’Histoire de la Résistance et de la Déportation, Avenue Berthelot, Lyon, France.
Wall of Weavers Mural
Wall of Weavers Mural. | Photo: thierry llansades / Flickr.
This largest mural in Europe, done in the magnificent technique of trompe l’oeil or “deception of vision,” shows a piece of the daily life of Lyon residents.
The work is filled with intricate detail, and a nearby signboard explains its significance. The mural was created in 1987, but was later substantially updated to reflect the changing face of the neighborhood in 1997 and 2013.
Address: Mur des Canuts, Boulevard Canute, Lyon, France.
Lyon Mural | Photo: John and Melanie (Illingworth) Kotsopoulos / Flickr.
This beautifully rendered seven-story mural depicts famous Lyonians, including the inventor of the loom Joseph-Marie Jacquart (1752-1834), Renaissance poet Maurice Seuve (1499-1560), famous chef Paul Bocuse (1926-2018), a Guignol marionette doll and the Little Prince with Yellow Hair, created by aviation author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944).
Address: Fresque des Lyonnais, Rue de la Martinière, Lyon, France.
Lumière Brothers Museum
The Lumière Brothers Museum. | Photo: Marko Kudjerski / Flickr.
Lyon, the city in France whose sights are famous throughout the world, is the birthplace of cinematography.
The magnificent beginnings of cinema are shown in the home of Antoine Lumière, who moved to Lyon in 1870 with his sons Auguste and Louis. On March 19, 1895, the brothers shot the world’s first film, “Workers’ Exit from the Factory,” here.
Address: Musée Lumière, Rue du Premier Film, Lyon, France.
Atelier de Passembery
Atelier de Passembery.
Preserved by the association Soierie Vivante, this silk finishing workshop, operated until 1979, creating intricate intricate patterns.
Take a look at the fabrics in its boutique, learn the history of the looms and see them in action during a 30-minute afternoon tour.
Address: Association Soierie Vivante, Rue Richan, Lyon, France.
Museum of Decorative Arts
Museum of Decorative Arts.
This well-organized museum features eighteenth-century furniture, tapestries, wallpaper, ceramics and silverware. The ticket includes admission to the nearby Musée des Tissues, which displays extraordinary Lyon silks and similar matter from other countries.
Address: Musée des Tissus et des Arts Décoratifs, Rue de la Charité, Lyon, France.
Museum of Tissue and Applied Arts
Museum of textiles and arts and crafts.
Extraordinary Lyon and international silks are on display here. The ticket includes admission to the nearby Musée des Arts Décoratifs, which displays 18th-century furniture, tapestries, wallpaper, ceramics and silverware.
Address: Musée des Tissus et des Arts Décoratifs, Rue de la Charité, Lyon, France.
Museum of the Gallo-Roman Civilization
Museum of Gallo-Roman civilization.
To learn about the city’s historical past, go to the archaeological museum, located on the hillside of Fourvière. It has an extensive collection of ancient artifacts found in the Rhone Valley, as well as magnificent mosaics.
Address: LUGDUNUM – Musée & Théâtres romains, Rue Cleberg, Lyon, France.
Museum of Modern Art
Museum of Modern Art. | Photo: Fred Romero / Flickr.
The Musée d’Art Moderne de Lyon organizes temporary exhibitions and there has been a constant rotation of art collections here since 1960.
Sometimes it is closed for a few weeks between exhibitions, so you should make sure there is something there before planning a trip to the museum.
Address: Musée d’Art Contemporain, Quai Charles de Gaulle, Lyon, France.
Palais de Justice
Palais de Justice | Photo: Elliott Brown / Flickr.
This grand, neoclassical Palais de Justice, overlooking the river in old Lyon, is a must-see.
The address is Cour d’Appel de Lyon, Rue du Palais de Justice, Lyon, France.
Place Bellecourt. | Photo: Gilles Péris y Saborit / Flickr.
One of the largest public squares in Europe. Bellecourt Square was laid out in the 17th century. The centerpiece is an equestrian statue of Louis XIV and the entire square is strewn with gravel.
Address: Place Bellecour Place, 69002 Lyon, France.
On a 50-minute tour, you’ll learn about the labor-intensive lives of weavers and the evolution of the industry, see manual looms at work, and visit a silk boutique.
Address: La Maison des Canuts, Rue d’Ivry, Lyon, France.
Aquarium du Grand Lyon
Aquarium du Grand Lyon | Photo: samir / Flickr.
West of the Confluence neighborhood, Lyon’s well-organized aquarium is home to about 300 marine species, including more than 5,000 fish. It can be reached from Place Bellecourt by bus number 15.
The address is Aquarium de Lyon, Rue Stéphane Dechant, La Moulatier, France.
Atelier de Tissage
Atelier de Tissage.
This wonderful old workshop can only be accessed with a guided tour. Here you can see the looms that produced a large amount of fabric. It is best visited in conjunction with the nearby Atelier de Passembery.
Address: Atelier Municipal de Tissage: Municipal Weaving Workshop, montée J. Godart, Lyon, France.
Guignol’s little fantasy museum
Guignol’s little fantasy museum.
The star of this tiny two-story museum is Guignol, a Lyon puppet known for his antics and political commentary. Various animated scenes, as well as an audio guide, give you detailed information about the beloved puppet.
Address: Le Petit Musée de Guignol, Rue Saint-Jean, Lyon, France.
Roman amphitheater.| Photo: Esther Westerveld / Flickr.
The Roman theater in Lyon, built around 15 B.C. and expanded in 120 B.C., had a capacity of 10,000 spectators.
Address: Théâtre Gallo Romain, Rue de l’Antiquaille, Lyon, France.
Henri Malartre Museum
Henri Malartre Museum.
The Renault Espace of Pope Jean-Paul II, Hitler’s Mercedes, 50-plus motorcycles, bicycles and historic public transport are on display in this 15th-century chateau. The museum is 11 km north of Lyon, along the D433.
Address: Musée de l’automobile Henri Malartre, Rue du Musée, Rochetaille-sur-Saône, France.
Jardin des Roses du Monde
Jardin des Roses du Monde.| Photo: Thomas Boutreux.
The Jardin Rosa Mir is a walled garden decorated with thousands of shells overlooking a narrow pathway.
Address: Jardin Rosa Mir, Grande Rue de la Croix-Rousse, Lyon, France.