If you are doing a chain trip, and making a lot of stops in many places in one go, most definitely there will be places where you can only visit for a day or two. If you are traveling through Europe and going through France, Lyon is most definitely has to be on your list of cities to visit. This city has a lot to offer, with beautiful landscapes, buildings, arts, and of course foods and desserts. But what if you only have one day to spend in Lyon, because you have to visit many other places? Will it be enough to see everything the city has to offer?
It is possible to do that! Here I will let you know the best route to visit the top must-see places in Lyon. You definitely could do this in one go, while you still can enjoying your time without hurry. So what are these places?
Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière
This is the most obvious place to visit in Lyon, so let’s give it a visit in the first place. Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière, or could simply be called Fourvière, is a big basilica built in 1872 on the top of the city dedicated to Virgin Mary. You can see the basilica from almost everywhere in Lyon; just look up a bit higher and there it is, the basilica stands tall with Virgin Mary watching the city from one of the towers. There were two choices as to how to reach the Fourvière: we can walk up the hill, or we can just take the Funiculaire directly to the Fourvière. If you chose to walk, you can walk up through Parc des Hauteurs, which is a beautiful garden that will take you directly to the back of the basilica. You can find the gate to this garden with following the path not far from Vieux Lyon. I chose to ride the Funiculaire because this is also an interesting thing to try and you could not find this means of transportation just anywhere. There are two routes of Funiculaire starts from Vieux Lyon metro station: F1 will go to Saint-Just Cathedral, and F2 will go to the Fourvière. The ticket for the Funiculaire is no different than a normal ticket, you can get it for €1.90 and valid for one hour.
After a short ride up the hill, you will arrive at Fourvière. You just can not miss this grand building with intricate Roman style architecture. You can get inside through the entryway on the south part of the building. There are several rooms inside that you can see, like the chapel, the crypt, and the mass room itself, where sometimes a mass being held there. If you go outside and take a look from the edge of the hill behind the basilica, you can see the whole city of Lyon which is just plainly a breathtaking view. Also from the back of the building, you can see Parc des Hauteurs and path to Rose Garden, and if you follow the path down there it will take you back to Vieux Lyon. There is also a museum not far south from the basilica.
Théâtre Gallo-Romain de Fourvière
Now let’s take a walk down the hill through the main road from the Fourvière. After 5-10 minutes walk, you will see an amazing historical site which on the first glance, reminds me of ruins of Greek buildings. This site is a big theater, and even until today still used for a big music festival on June called “Nuits de Fourvière”, and usually they have a big name as performers. There is also a museum on the side of the hill of the theater, which housing many historical collections, from sculpture to building remains. The entry ticket is €7, and they provide you with an audio guide. If you happen to visit on the first Sunday of every month, it is a free entry to the museum
Vieux Lyon (Old Town)
You probably aware that I mentioned Vieux Lyon a lot, but what exactly was that? Vieux Lyon is a part of the town with an ancient feel on it. Take a walk further down after the theater, and you will arrive at Vieux Lyon. The main path of this area was always bustling with people; tourists and locals alike. You can take time to explore every path in this area, there were also several quite part of this area where you can take a beautiful picture at. There were a lot of shops lining the sides of the main way, and if you craved for something sweet, there were also a lot of dessert places. Ice cream, pastry, frozen yogurt, chocolate, you name it and probably you could find it here. If you want to rest for a while and grab a bite, there were also a lot of cafe and restaurants in this area with various kind of delicacy, or if you prefer a more laid-back atmosphere, you can make a stop at one the pubs here.
At the end of the road of Vieux Lyon, you will find another cathedral and a square in front of it. This cathedral called Saint-Jean-Baptiste. You can freely make a quick stop and take a look inside the cathedral. They also housed several historical items from the church inside the cathedral. If you came at the right time, you can see events being held at Place Saint-Jean (the square in front of the cathedral). Sometimes you could see a Renaissance festival there and found a lot of people wearing Renaissance clothing.
Place Bellecour and Place des Jacobins
Now let’s leave the Vieux Lyon area and cross the Saône river through the bridge. Straight from the bridge, you can see a big open square with a statue of Louis XIV on the center of it. This is the biggest open square in Lyon with 62000 sqm in total area, and also put it as the 5th biggest square in France. At some particular time around the winter, you can see a big Ferris Wheel at this square. Take a walk around this area, you can find a lot of things. There is a big commercial area across the street from the square. Place des Jacobins still located in the same area, you can find it easily by walking through Bellecour and enjoying the area. It is an open square surrounded by buildings and you can see a beautiful big fountain in the center of the square. Make sure to also walk through Cèlestins, which is a theater building not far from this area.
The Side of The Rhône
After a day-long walk through several places, it’s time to enjoy the end of the day. Take a bit more walk from Bellecour, you will find another river, the Rhône river. If the weather is good, you can see people just sitting around on the side of the river, having a beer or doing a picnic. There were also several restaurant and cafe on the boat on the side of the Rhône, which is a perfect place to enjoy the afternoon. This will conclude our day trip in Lyon which covers some of the most attractive places to see. And if you have more than a day in Lyon? Worry not, there is still a lot of places to enjoy in this city!