Lyon is a place worth visiting, due to its beautiful architecture, but it’s also an awesome city to live in, due to its atmosphere. It is a couple hours west from the French Alps, and an hour south from the Burgundy vineyards. 3 days are enough to visit most touristic sites, I’ve lived there 3 years and the city still surprises me with what it has to offer.
TRAVEL TO LYON – FRANCE
- AIRPLANE toLyon Saint Exupéry (Cheap airlines such as Easyjet and Germanwings fly there)
- OUIGO– low-cost TGVs from £8/10€/$11 (very fast trains) so you’ll reach the city in less than 2 hours, however they can only be reached in Paris Bercy and Marseille Saint Charles, and you’ll have to leave very early or arrive in Lyon very late.
- TER– a tiny bit more expensive than Ouigos and take a bit more time, but there usually are a lot of them so you can choose to arrive early or late, it’s up to you. (for example Geneva – Lyon costs £22/20€/$32 and takes 2 hours)
- TGVs –expensive, super-fast, and numerous (for example Madrid – Lyon costs £101/127€/$143 and takes8h25)
- BY RIDE SHARING– many people offer a ride on Blablacar, usually it is not expensive – from £16/20€/$22.50 Paris – Lyon – (sometimes Flixbus is the cheapest, but it stops a lot a takes a long time), you might want to check it out (for your own safety, make sure they have been recommended by other Blablacar users)
From the airport to the center
- The Rhone Express, a tramway, will take you from the airport to the city’s main train station in 25 minutes, a one-way tickets costs about£12/15€/$17
- BUS– Flixbus is available in Lyon
Once you reach Lyon there are many things to visit and see!
The Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière. (Take line D until Vieux Lyon, then takes the funicular railway or climb up) There is an absolutely amazing view of Lyon in the back of the Basilique, and the interior is very impressive too, especially since there are 2 « churches », one on each floor. You can go there using the funiculars, but I personally recommend climbing up from Vieux Lyon and passing by the antique amphitheater, then go down through the garden straight to the Vieux Lyon, there’s plenty to see on the way.
Vieux Lyon (Take line D and stop at Vieux Lyon). The atmosphere in the old town is really lovely. The area has several nice shops and restaurants, and, even if very touristic, there are not so many tourist traps. It’s a mandatory destination when going to Lyon. If you want Lyonnaise food on a budget, you might well find it here, however, some might not cook homemade or fresh food. If you want to try typical Lyonnaise and French food, I recommend Aux 24 colonnes (where you’ll most likely need to book a table) and Un Deux Trois. They’re both tasty yet affordable places!
The Vieux Lyon traboules. These small, “secret” passages are fun to explore. They are dark hallways between buildings, usually connecting courtyards. It is a completely different way of seeing the city, and you never know what you will stumble upon. Apart from their original use by the silk trade, they were used during WW2 for people to move around the city unseen by the Nazi invaders. But remain quite when taking them, people do live there.
Parc de la tête d’or (Take B line and stop at Gare Part Dieu, then take bus C1, C2 or C6 and stop at Parc Tête d’Or). Take at least half a day to explore this park (no entrance fee). There is an excellent walk around the lake with toilets and refreshments (expensive ones, you might want to get your own at a store before entering the park). After walking around the lake you can visit the free zoo and botanical gardens. The park is very popular with the locals and it is crowded during hot summer days. (It is allowed to lay on the grass).
The Presqu’ile = Almost-island. (Take D or A lines and stop at Bellecour). This is the neighborhood which is between the Rhone and the Saone rivers, a peninsula that has the main shopping district for Lyon. I recommend taking the A line to Bellecour and then walk on the whole Rue de la République until you reach Hotel de Ville and the Opera, and the Place des Terreaux, where you’ll see the beautiful Bartholdi Fountain.
TRAVEL AROUND LYON
1. TCL: public transport of Lyon
- Ticket costs£1.40/80€/$2 at the machines (2€ on the bus) and allows you to use any type of transport (bus, subway, tramway, funicular) for 60 minutes;
- Day ticket costs£4/5€/$5.6;
- The last subway/tramway/bus leaves the stations at 00:30am, and then you’ll need to get a cab or an uber driver, until 5am, when public transports start their shift.
2.VELO’v: public bikes
- If you want to rent a Velo’v for60 minutes, it’ll cost you £1.20/50€/$1.70;
- You won’t have to bring it back where you got it, you can just leave it at another velo’v station, and there are tons!
- However, you’ll need to have at least£119/150€/$169 on your account, which the Velo’v company uses as a deposit.
I truly recommend you to not drive to Lyon, unless you are willing to drive for hours in order to find a parking spot, and unless you are willing to pay tons of money for parking…
When your stomach starts to ask for some food there are many places I recommend you to go eat in Lyon. The best ice-cream you will find at Terre adélice in Vieux Lyon (D line)
For the best typical French restaurants I would recommend Paul Bocuse is a well-known restaurant in the surroundings of Lyon. However it is an expensive one. They opened many Bocuse brasseries all over Lyon (Le Nord, Le Sud, L’Est, L’Ouest) where you will eat delicious and affordable meals.
Cheapest/Freshest place to eat: Yaafa (A line until Hotel de Ville, walk until the Place des Terreaux, and it is right behind the corner). They make amazing vegetarian falafels. It’s a very good place to eat on the go; they also make homemade lemonade and iced-tea (you get free refills if you get a menu)
Best restaurant for coffee/tea time: Café des Négociants (A line until Cordeliers). It is a bit expensive but their hot chocolate made with real melted chocolate is the best thing you’ve never had (yet).