With a well-earned reputation as the gastronomic capital of France, Lyon is a wonderful place to base yourself for a few days. As well as the excellent food, the city is home to intriguing hidden passageways, remarkable street art and ancient ruins.
Vieux Lyon (the old town) is as charming as you'd expect, with cobbled streets, elegant architecture and wide squares. But there are also many other areas in Lyon which are worth your time.
While many visitors may choose to base themselves in the central Presqu’ile for their stay, you many want to consider some other options. You could choose to immerse yourself in the Bohemian side of the city in La Croix Rouge, with its small boutiques and traditional restaurants.
If you enjoy cooking, stay near the Les Halles Market for easy access to delicious food, while those who enjoy morning strolls may appreciate being close to the stunning Parc de la Tête d’Or.
Lyon is a remarkable city, full of contrasts and beautiful neighbourhoods to discover. Here are some of our favourite places to stay when you visit Lyon.
Bordered by two rivers, the Presqu’ile neighbourhood is often thought of as the heart of Lyon. The commercial centre of the city, Presqu’ile is a bustling area which saw its first major development during the Renaissance and was significantly rebuilt in the 19th Century. As a result, it's home to impressive architecture, a range of shops and restaurants and some of city's most popular cultural sites.
One of the highlights is Place Bellecour, the largest pedestrian square in Europe. As you'd expect, it's lined with cafes and is a fun place to people-watch as you sip your coffee and get a bit of a feel for the city. In winter, there's also an ice skating rink and ferris wheel in the Square. Another beautiful square in the area is the Place des Terreaux which is bordered by the Lyon Musée des Beaux Arts, with works by Picasso, Matisse, Degas, Van Gogh and more. This square is particularly lovely at night, when its fountains and monuments are lit up.
If you enjoy shopping, head to Rue Victor-Hugo and the Rue de la Republique, the main shopping street in Lyon. Again, the buildings date from the 19th Century and are filled with restaurants and shops. If you enjoy antiques, the the Auguste Comte area is known for its antique shops. Other good places of interest in the area include the Opéra de Lyon, the Théâtre des Célestins and the Musée des Tissus which showcases Lyon's historic silk industry.
Stay at Honorê - Suites Bellecour situated in a convenient location between Place Bellecour and Place des Terreaux.
With winding, cobbled streets and charming Renaissance buildings, the Vieux Lyon quarter makes a gorgeous place to stay for a romantic getaway. Admire the building facades and see if you can spot the traboules (or secret passages) that Lyon is famous for. Along with the architecture, you can relax in the squares, visit the old churches, see the famous astronomical clock at the Lyon Cathedral, and eat at a bouchon, the traditional restaurant of Lyon. There are several museums in the area including the Automation Museum, the Lyon Historical Museum and the Museum of World Puppets.
This beautiful area of Lyon reached its peak during the Renaissance, with smaller neighbourhoods surrounding three major religious buildings. Saint George, in the south of the old town, was where the craftsmen lived. Saint John, in the centre, was reserved for the upper clergy and aristocracy; while Saint Paul, in the north was the district of the bourgeoisie, and the financial and commercial centre.
Large houses were built by bankers and merchants and the stunning architecture can still be seen today. Unfortunately, the area fell into disrepair, until it became protected in the 1960s and has been preserved almost in its entirety. Today, you can wander through the streets of Vieux Lyon and feel like you have somehow gone back in time.
Stay at the Chambres d'hôtes Artelit in a historic building in the middle of the old town.
Situated between the Tête d’Or Park and the Rhône, the Cité Internationale is one of Lyon’s new neighbourhoods, making it a wonderful place to base yourself for a family trip. Along with modern (and relatively large) accommodation options, the area is home to a cinema, the zoo, the Contemporary Art Museum, many restaurants and, of course, the huge park.
The Cité Internationale was designed to complement its natural environment. The buildings are constructed in arcs, mirroring the curve of the river, and the roof lines resemble the park’s glasshouses. Trees and greenery line the rivers and sculptures by the renowned French artist, Xavier Veilhan, are dotted through the neighbourhood. It's a peaceful and delightful place to spend a few days in the city.
There are good transport links to other areas in Lyon and, if you have older children, you can walk to some of the other sites from the Cité Internationale. You can also take a stroll along the beautiful promenade by the river for some lovely views of the city.
Stay at the Warwick Reine Astrid - Lyon for family rooms near the park.
Lyon is has the distinction of being the culinary capital of France, and some of the best food in the city can be found Les Brotteaux. The quaint area is known for its bouchons, Lyonnese brasseries that specialise in rustic French cooking, along with many excellent fine-dining restaurants. Les Brotteaux is also home to one of the best chocolatiers and patisseries in the country, the Michelin-starred Bernachon. Head to the tearoom to try the beautiful chocolate and petit fours, or wander to the shop and savour the cozy interior and welcoming chocolate scent.
From Les Brotteaux, it's just a short walk to Les Halles de Lyon, a local market famous for locally sourced gourmet foods and fresh seafood and meat. This is a wonderful way to sample classic French dishes like escargots and frogs legs, and experience an authentic French market for yourself. If you can, go on a Sunday when it's buzzing with local families. If the idea of exploring on your own seems a bit intimidating, you can also visit as part of a Lyon food tour.
Once you've eaten your fill, there are also several other interesting things to do in Les Brotteaux. The area is very close to the Tête d’Or Park so it's easy to enjoy all the park has to offer and there are lovely walks along the river - head to the Quai de Serbie which is lined with trees and has stunning views. The Musée des Moulages, a sculpture museum, and the old, grand railway station, Gare de Brotteaux, are also well worth visiting.
Stay at the Hôtel Edmond W Lyon Part-Dieu for comfortable rooms and a wonderful breakfast.
These neighbouring areas in the 7th arrondissement give you easy access to the major sites, at more affordable prices. Located just across the Rhône from Presqu’ile, you'll find several hostels as well as lower-priced hotels and affordable bars and restaurants. La Guillotière-Sud is a multicultural area, so you can expect some great restaurants offering a range of international foods, and the local Chinatown can also be found here.
While La Guillotière-Sud is known for its vibrant and lively atmosphere, it's a grittier part of the city compared to the other areas in this article. The 7th arrondissement has been gentrifying over the last few years, however there has been an increase in crime in La Guillotière over the last few months, especially around the station, so you may want to stay closer to the river at night. Jean-Mace is a quieter, mostly residential alternative, and close enough that you enjoy the nearby restaurants and bars.
Some other highlights include the Centre Nautique Tony Bertrand, a swimming pool on the banks of the river; visiting the market in Jean-Macé Square on a Saturday morning; and the Centre d’Histoire de la Résistance et de la Déportation, a museum dedicated to Lyon’s WWII history. The Saint-Louis area round the back of Jean Macé is a must-see, with a beautiful church, great restaurants and wine bars, and a food market a couple of days a week.
Historically, the Croix-Rousse was where Lyon's silk manufacturers lived and worked. In the 19th Century, the neighbourhood was a hive of activity and you can see the remnants of Lyon's famous industry when you wander through the area today. Many buildings were built to house the weaving looms and the area is connected through a maze of traboules (passageways) and staircases. To learn more about the area's history and the people who lived here, visit the Maison des Canuts - you can also see the historical weaving looms there.
Nowadays, the Croix-Rousse is known as Lyon's the bohemian district, filled with bars, restaurants and indie shops. Some of the best restaurants can be found on Rue de Belfort, Rue Pailleron, Rue du Mail, and at Place Tabareau. Along with the old buildings, you'll find a couple of lovely parks, street art on the walls and a lively, neighbourly spirit in the area. In many ways, the Croix-Rousse still seems to be a village in the middle of the city.
Spend your time wandering the streets, visiting traditional silk workshops and the boutiques of up-and-coming designers. The views from the hills are stunning, especially at night, and the street art is sure to surprise and delight you when you stumble across it. The Croix-Rousse is also home to several historical landmarks, a couple of beautiful, old theatres and the Croix-Rousse Market, one of the oldest and biggest markets in the city. Just be prepared for some exercise - the Croix-Rousse is on a hill, after all!
Stay in this charming apartment in a 19th Century building in the middle of La Croix-Rousse.