Top 10 free things to do in Lyon

Written by on February 6, 2017 in Rhône Alpes


Lyon is the third biggest city in France. This is a city with a rich history, authentic feel, and the best French food plus the friendliest people. Experience real France in Lyon – not in Paris, not in Nice, not in Cannes…but in Lyon (where I live)! And what is more important, you can do it for FREE!

Here is my list Of My Top 10 Things to do in Lyon For Free. I hope you can find it useful. Here you are:

Parc de la Tete d’Or

Spend time in the Parc de la Tete d’Or – so called ‘green lungs’ of Lyon. It will surprise you with a few things which you may never thought you can do for free. There are indoor and outdoor areas to explore and an impressive collection of flowers. And, there is a free zoo to visit, and it’s not a small zoo but proper one with all animals like lions, giraffes, monkeys, crocodiles, pelicans, flamingos, deer and emus just to name the main ones. It’s pretty big.

Fourviere Hill

Explore the Fourvière Hill for its stunning views and the imposing Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere. If you have the stamina, I would recommend climbing. If you don’t mind paying the metro ticket fare you might want to use the very famous Funicular and have a ride up! For a special experience, visit on a Sunday when there is a Mass you can attend for free. Don’t miss the Esplanade de Fourvière, on the left side of the Basilique and the small garden which surrounds it.

The Traboules – ancient silk passages

Get to know the history of silk production by visiting the Vieux Lyon district. Follow the ‘traboules’. These are covered passageways that function as public hallways through the quarters of private houses which were used by silk workers to transport their fabrics. Visit the boutiques displaying the silk textiles and listen to the salesman who will tell you more about the silk production process.

Croix Rousse

Continue your free tour of the silk history of Lyon visiting more traboules located in the Croix Rousse. Colline de la Croix-Rousse was an important centre of weaving in the early 19th century. Use the Special Route which has arrows you follow for a self-guided tour. It’s great fun to wander around to explore the architectural curiosities of those hidden streets.

The Confluence District


Don’t miss the modern part of Lyon. Visit the Confluence district located in between the Saône and Rhône rivers. Here you’ll get to know a bit different Lyon for free – the modern, developed part, with its latest big investments. There are striking new buildings to admire and a great view of the city. There’s also an eye-catching modern bridge and the Confluence Museum and at the point where the two Lyonnais Rivers merge, there are riversides and garden areas to rest.

Perfect place for a picnic lunch

Save on your lunch! Prepare your packed sandwiches or visit the local Boulangerie for a fresh baguette. You can pick up fillings of ham and cheese from the local shops and I promise you, you will find the free picnic spots very easily. There are so many places where you can really enjoy lunch. Choose from the Parc de la Tete d’Or or the lovely river banks of Saône and Rhône. You could sit on the Fourviere Hill or the outstanding Gallo-Roman amphitheatre. You can also enjoy your lunch in the newly opened park of the Confluence Museum, in the Croix Rousse parks and benches at the main Lyonnais squares and feel the Lyonnais atmosphere!

Gallo Roman Museum

Visit the Gallo-Roman Museum to learn about the history of Lyon. On Thursdays the museum gives visitors free access. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity!

Free art – Lyon’s famous trompe-l’oeils

Pay tribute to Lyon being the capital of trompe-l’oeils (painted walls).  There are many mural paintings in Lyon to admire. Discover the most famous Lyonnais frescoes such as the Mural of Famous People from Lyon at the Quai Saint Vincent. This 800-square-meter mural features 31 famous people from Lyon: 25 historical figures and 6 contemporary figures. Don’t miss another famous one – Le Mur Des Canuts in the Croix Rousse. Continue to the Etats-Unis district to explore more! More than 25 unique murals celebrate the works of Lyon architect Tony Garnier Urban. Discover the Lyonnais Street Art for free!


Marche de Creation

The Marche de Creation is like an outdoor ‘Art Gallery’. It is very popular and it represents the Lyonnais artists. So you can explore this for free on Sunday mornings by the Saone River, next to Vieux Lyon. You should not miss this if you want to get to know the authentic Lyonnais artistic spirit.

Free Events

Find free events in Lyon, check at the tourist office or sites like Lyon Crunch City and MonWeekend a Lyon which have a lot of ideas and tips.

Lyon offers you the best of France and you don’t need to spend loads to benefit from it!

More on Lyon
Lyon city Guide
Lyon – Gastronomic capital of France
How to spend 3 days in Lyon – what to see and do…
Lyon – the town with a split personality

Find more tips on how to explore Lyon on a budget, keep an eye on my website: JadoreLyon by Shopaholicfromhome blog and FB page.

Aga Marchewka from Poland loves shopping and travel. After living in the UK she is now discovering France and lives in Lyon. She shares her observations and photos through her lively blog J’adore Lyon

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