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Lyon, known for its large concentration of 3-star Michelin restaurants, is the third largest city in France. Its history goes back to the Gallo-Roman period, and it has maintained a high level of importance throughout the centuries. Today, it serves as a centre for culture, art, winemaking, and French food. If you’re thinking of travelling to Lyon, keep reading this guide.

Lyon city scape with river in foreground

Basics of visiting Lyon

Like all other French cities and towns, Lyon uses French as its official language. English has a growing importance in the city, so you will surely find many people who speak it as a second language.

The northern regions of the city have the fewest English speakers. With that in mind, it would help to learn a few French phrases. A translation app will also come in handy.

When it comes to making payments in stores, you should plan to use credit cards, debit cards or cash. Visa and Mastercard are the most widely-accepted cards.

AMEX is rarely used in the city. As any experienced traveller would tell you, always be vigilant when moving around with cash and bank cards.

Many people in Lyon use the metro to get around the city. However, you will find it more convenient to get a car hire in Lyon Airport. This will let you stop at different points and will help you save money.

Hiring a car also lets you enhance your trip with a comfortable car ride.

When to visit Lyon

Most people visit Lyon between Spring and Fall as the pleasant weather makes many activities possible. If you don’t want to deal with crowds of tourists, you can plan your visit in September or October.

The weather is cooler in this period, but you can still enjoy activities like wine tasting and cycling comfortably.

The months between November and April are the coldest, so you can expect to find great travel deals.

Around Christmas, the city is usually properly lit and enjoys many festivals.

Must-Do Activities in Lyon

If you like French food, you must try out Lyonnaise cuisine. The city has more than 20 Michelin-star restaurants, which is quite impressive for a city of its size.

Make sure you stop at one of these food hotspots on your trip. If you want to enjoy a taste of traditional food, you should head to the Bouchons.

These are unique eateries that don’t have any equivalents in other parts of the world. In a Bouchon, you will enjoy Lyonnaise specialities, and these are meant to be washed down with a pitcher of regional wine.

Your trip must also include a visit to the Roman ruins of the city. As you may know, the city once served as a major centre of the Roman Empire.

Traces of the city’s Roman history are particularly prevalent on the Fourvière Hill. The most popular ruin in the city is the Ancient Theatre of Fourvière. You can visit this theatre for free.

When touring the old town of Lyon (Vieux Lyon), you can explore Renaissance mansion houses and passageways. The streets in this region are also cobbled, so you will actually be taking a trip through history.

If you’re planning to visit the city in December, you should make sure you attend the Light Festival or Fête des Lumières. This is a centuries-old tradition that sees different light displays across the city.

It is usually held around the 8th of December and is meant to show gratitude to the Virgin Mary. During the festival, residents of the city place candles or tea lights outside their windows to create a spectacular effect. The main light shows are typically at the Basilica of Fourviere and Place des Terreaux.


Lyon is a great travel destination. It is full of history and is an excellent place for food enthusiasts. It is essential to make a list of activities you want to enjoy so that you plan the visit appropriately. Also, make sure you at least understand some French as this is the main language used in the city.

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