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Free things to see and do in Lyon

Good tips

Last updated date : 16/04/2024

Here are a few ideas to discover Lyon for free!

Make the most of these entirely free ways to explore Lyon and the surrounding area, including the city’s streets, major institutions and more unusual places.

La façade de la basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière © Théophile Fournet

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Climb Fourvière hill and visit the basilica

An architectural gem Fourvière basilica is a must-visit place for several reasons!

First, there is the beauty of its interior, which is resplendent with gilded mosaic tiles. Then there is the stunning panoramic view of Lyon from the basilica’s esplanade, which is a unique vantage point to get familiar with the lie of the land.

Lastly, to get to the basilica, you can take the path through the lovely and peaceful Jardin du Rosaire (garden of the rosary).

Explore courtyards and traboules

To discover the soul of Lyon, don’t hesitate to open the doors of buildings that lead to its inner courtyards and traboules, famous hidden passageways between streets in the Renaissance district.

There are some 500 traboules in more than 230 of Lyon’s streets, dotted around the Vieux-Lyon (Old Lyon), Croix-Rousse and Presqu’île districts. Please note that only 80 of these are open to the public and you will be asked to avoid making noise as they are also places where people live.

Our tip: if you’re planning to visit the traboules of Vieux-Lyon, it’s better to go in the morning to avoid the crowds. You can also make the most of it by stopping at the beautiful hanging garden above the Gadagne museums, which can be accessed for free via the museum’s lift.

Admire Lyon’s murals

Mur peint des Canuts © Michel Djaoui

Among Lyon’s outstanding features are the striking murals located in iconic districts around the city, which offer a chance to learn about its history.

All of these artworks tell a story: that of the visionary architect Tony Garnier on the walls of the Etats-Unis district; of famous local figures on the ‘Fresque des Lyonnais’ in the Presqu’île district; of Lyonnais writers on the ‘Mur de la Bibliothèque’; and of public transport on the mural ‘Voyage dans la ville’ in the 3rd district.

And not to forget, of course, the ‘Mur des Canuts’, which tells the story of a district that has evolved over time while preserving its identity.

Go to the zoo

Plaine africaine, Zoo de Lyon - Parc de la Tête d'Or © Ville de Lyon

Unusually, entrance to the excellent zoo at Tête d’Or park is free
This is a place where the people of Lyon come regularly to see the zoo’s many residents, and an opportunity for visitors to discover the wonderful Tête d’Or park and its lake, which form one of Lyon’s green lungs.

Take a trip to Île Barbe

l'île Barbe, Lyon 9e © Brice Robert

Get a change of scenery in lush green surroundings without leaving Lyon.

Accessible by bike, from the northern tip of Lyon’s 9th district, the charming Ile Barbe is a bucolic haven of peace in the middle of the Saône.

It is an island steeped in legend, and home to charming residences and a medieval church, as well as walking paths and a gastronomic restaurant.

In July, the island comes to life with the ‘Dimanches de l’île Barbe’, an excellent programme of free concerts and street performances held on Sundays.

Learn about Lyon’s Gallo-Roman history

Mosaïque © Lugdunum Musée

Travel back two millennia and immerse yourself in Lyon’s ancient past with a visit to Lugdunum - Museum and Roman Theatres, which is free on the first Sunday of each month..

Combined with a visit to the ancient theatres of Fourvière (entrance to which is always free), the museum offers visitors a chance to admire some splendid mosaics and a few rare items, such as the famous Lyon Tablet and the Gallic Calendar.

Experience the Fête des Lumières

Fête des Lumières 2021"Le lapin dans la Lune" place des Terreaux © Brice Robert

An internationally renowned festival, the Fête des Lumières (Festival of Lights) is a magical time to be in Lyon!
Each year, for four days around the 8th of December, buildings around the city are lit up by world-famous light show specialists and artists.

In a festive atmosphere, with roast chestnuts and mulled wine to warm you up, you can stroll through the city as you discover its most beautiful buildings illuminated by artists.

An unforgettable experience!

Unearth a gem at Les Puces du Canal

An original place that attracts antique and second-hand enthusiasts, the flea market Les Puces du Canal in Villeurbanne is worth going out of your way to visit.

The second largest market of its kind in France, Les Puces du Canal is a place where people come to find rare objects and bargains on Saturday and Sunday mornings. It’s also well worth coming just to stroll and browse, even if you don’t buy anything.

If you have time, you can have lunch at one of the ‘guinguettes’ frequented by regulars who are Lyonnais to the bone.

Go up to the roof of the Musée des Confluences

Musée des Confluences

To contemplate Lyon on a sunny day and discover the amazing architecture of the Musée des Confluences, vous pouvez accéder gratuitement au toit du musée.

From the rooftop terrace, you get a 360-degree view of the city and the river Rhône. This is one of the finest panoramas of Lyon!

Cheer on the ladies of OL

Would you like to discover the secret to the success of our championship-winning women’s football team?
Some of the Olympique Lyonnais’ training sessions are open to the public.

The training schedule for these morning sessions at the Groupama OL Training Centre in Décines-Charpieu can be consulted online.

Go to a concert at the CNSMD

CNSMDL - © Jacques Leone / Grand Lyon

Are you a lover of early, classical, romantic or contemporary music?

Throughout the academic year, students at Lyon’s Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse regularly put on free concerts in the conservatory’s magnificent setting.

This programme is free and reservation is required.