Bridge towards Vieux Lyon is a landmark to visit when visiting Lyon in two days

Lyon in two days : tips from a local

I’ve lived Lyon for a year and I know every inch of it, but if you don’t have time to linger, it’s possible to see Lyon’s key sights in two days.

I really enjoyed writing this article, as Lyon holds the special title of being the first place I called “Home” away from home! Lyon is more than just a destination; it’s the place of vivid emotions and memories.

This city begs to be walked, and if you’re looking for a short getaway, save this post for your 2-day itinerary in Lyon. The narrow streets and pedestrianized squares of the city center make it easy to explore on foot. Let’s go then!

How to plan your itinerary

Lyon is the 3rd biggest city in France but 2 days are enough to visit all the main attractions over the weekend.

Explore the city by walking it’s undoubtedly a rewarding experience (and a great workout). I recommend taking public transport a couple of times to reach those attractions overlooking the city from the hills.

Lyon’s public transport TCL has a good and reasonable choice of tickets. The range is wide and offers booklets of 10 trips for 17.60€, or 24h, 48h or 72h for 6.20€, 12€ and 16€.

If you want to maximise your experience, grab a Lyon Card which gives you unlimited access to the transport network and access to more than 20 museums.

Now it’s time to wear comfy sneakers and start getting this beautiful city better!

Day 1 Itinerary

This city is made for walking, but there’s also a trick to it.

The best way to get to grips with its fascinating history is to spend two days pounding the cobbles.

Bridge towards Vieux Lyon is a landmark to visit when visiting Lyon in two days

Here’s how…Lyon’s most famous sights, the traboules (passageways) were built at the height of the Renaissance by wealthy silk merchants as shortcuts between their shops and homes.

You can still see them dotted throughout Vieux Lyon, which is also home to many art galleries and workshops. This makes it great to explore the city like a local! (traboules map).

If you want to create your custom map, use Google My Maps Trip Planner so you’re sure to not miss anything on your bucket list!

Vieux Lyon

Start off with some breakfast at a boulangerie or patisserie then head to the Vieux Lyon area.

The former commercial centre of Lyon is now a popular tourist destination. The main attractions are located between Place Bellecour and Place des Terreaux. The architecture of the neighbourhood consists mostly of Renaissance buildings, but you can spot also some medieval structures here.

This is the best-preserved Renaissance district in France. Wander down cobbled streets and admire 16th-century houses and small squares before heading to Cathédrale St-Jean.

Saint Jean Cathedral

This is the Roman and Gothic architectural jewel of this city. In fact, the cathedral has the best of both styles because it took more than three centuries to be completed. The facade faces a buzzing and vibrant square where many restaurants have opened their doors around these pretty alleys.

For this reason, visit Saint-Jean in the morning (especially over the weekend) if you want to capture its architectural beauty.

Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere

Notre Dame de Fouriviere is a landmark to visit when visiting Lyon in two days

After Vieux Lyon, the next stop is the beautiful Basilique de Notre Dame de Fouriviere which overlooks the city from the hills.

You have two choices: taking the funicular railway or facing an easy hike and enjoying the best view of Lyon.

If you’re fancy the latter, take the stairs in Monte’ des Chazeaux and follow the indications to the Basilica. You’ll be walking through the Jardin du Rosaire which boasts a gorgeous botanical collection of roses.

Give it a try and the view will repay the effort!

Why the Basilica is so special? First of all, the mosaics are impressive and are a masterpiece that you need to admire. They occupy large parts of the walls, so take your time!

Place des Terreaux

After enjoying the views from the hills, it’s time to go back to the vibrant Presqu’Ile – the land in the heart of Lyon between the rivers Rhone and Saone.

This square is flanked by the town hall on one side and the magnificent fountain called “Les Quatre Dauphins” on the other side.

Bartholdi is the artist behind the construction of the fountain dominating the square. And he’s the same Bartholdi, who also made the Statue of Liberty!

This place is especially beautiful at night when it’s all lit up and you’re sipping a drink in one of the bars along the square.

Place des Celestins

Presqu’Ile is home to the most beautiful squares in Lyon.

From Place des Terraux, head to Rue de Brest and walk for 10-15 minutes.

The Place des Célestins is located in the 2nd arrondissement of Lyon, a zone that UNESCO declared a World Heritage Site.

But who were the Celestins? They were a religious order who installed their monastery in this square for almost 400 years.

The Order of the Celestines gives the name to the square, as they lived here from 1407 to 1778. The original building was then replaced and how it’s home to a beautiful theatre.

Place des Jacobins

Place des Jacobins is a landmark to visit when visiting Lyon in two days

A 3 minutes walk divides Places des Celestins from Place des Jacobins: one of the most beautiful squares in France.

Once again, it all started with a religious order. The order of Jacobins had their monastery in this square but it was destroyed in 1808.

The stunning white marble fountain in the middle of the square was sculpted in 1885 by Gaspard André. It represents four famous local painters and architects: Philibert Delorme, Guillaume Coustou, Gérard Audran and Hippolyte Flandrin.

Place Bellecour

Here is the best spot to finish your first-day itinerary in Lyon.

This is the largest pedestrian square in Europe, and you’ll be amazed by its width and the surrounding buildings.

What’s special in Place Bellecour is the panoramic wheel. If you’re not suffering from vertigo, have a ride and enjoy a 360 view of Lyon at sunset.

It was my hidden surprise for family and friends when they visited me during my time living in Lyon. They still remember the beauty of the city and the warm colours of the sky!

Day 2 Itinerary

Croix Rousse

Here we are on day number 2, ready to explore The Croix Rousse, one of the most gorgeous bohemian districts not only in Lyon but in France.

It’s a traditionally working-class area of the city, it is located to the north of the city centre and is famous for its architecture and the beautiful installations during la Fete des Lumières festival in December.

The Croix-Rousse is one of the two hills of Lyon (the other being La Colline de Fourvière), separated from it by the Saône river.

Do you remember the traboules in Vieux Lyon? You can find a great selection of these secret passages in this part of the city as well.

Once again you can reach Croix Rousse by tube (line C – Cuire terminus) or take the stairs in Montée de la Grande Côte. If you opt for the stairs, prepare yourself to bump into many local shops selling art and leather products!

Mur des Canuts is a landmark to visit when visiting Lyon in two days

That’s not a surprise as the district was the vibrant heart of Lyon’s silk manufacturers and the major hub in Europe for textiles.

You will feel the different vibe characterising this district. It seems walking through a different city – or better a village – that combines its past with textile workshops and the modern design boutiques.

Mur des Canuts

Don’t leave the Croix Rousse without admiring the Mur des Canuts (Canuts’ Wall), a massive fresco dedicated to silk workers.

It’s located in Boulevard des Canuts and celebrates this category of workers who rebelled against the working conditions during the XIX century.

Parc de la Tete d’or

Parc de la Tete d'Or is a landmark to visit when visiting Lyon in two days

Tell me what’s better than taking your shoes off and relaxing in one of the most beautiful parks in town?

My final recommendation for your 2 days itinerary is La Tete d’Or Park, one of the most beautiful areas of Lyon and the largest urban park in France.

The Golden Head Park (Parc la Tete d’Or) is located in the 6th arrondissement of Lyon. Indeed, it has so much to offer that you can easily spend a day there!

Here are some of the main attractions that you should not miss when visiting this park:

The Rose Garden: It’s the perfect spot for taking beautiful pictures or just want something nice to post on Instagram You can find it in front of the zoo entrance.

Lakes and swans: the park has three large lakes where you can rent boats. There are also lots of swans swimming around these lakes which make you feel like a bucolic fairy tale.

I’m personally not a big fan of zoos as I would prefer seeing animals living free in their own natural environment. However, if you like to see some wildlife in the heart of a vibrant city, the park hosts a vast and free entry zoo.

After living in Lyon for a year, it was a challenge to keep the list doable for a 48-hour visit.

This city has a special place in my heart and I would talk about it for hours.

Would you spend more than 2 days in Lyon, one of the most beautiful cities in France?

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