Cheap things to do in Lyon: Top 9 affordable experiences

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Lyon is a beautiful city in the southeast of France, and is the second-largest urban area of the country, with about two million inhabitants. The city is well-known for its gastronomy, its beautiful sights, as well as its landmarks. Lyon is a perfect choice if you want to visit a big city but you want to avoid Paris. So to help you plan your visit, here are the top 9 free or cheap things to do in Lyon

#1 Cheap things to do in Lyon: Parc de la Tête d’Or

The “Park of the Golden Head” is a large urban park of approximately 117 hectares. You will find this beautiful park in the 6th arrondissement of the city. Inside it, there is a lake on which you can take a boat ride in the summer. The Parc de la Tête d’Or is very popular among joggers as well as cyclists. In addition, there is even a small zoo in the center of the park. You will also be able to enjoy the sports facilities such as the velodrome or the mini-golf. This is the perfect spot to relax and do some fun activities on a hot summer afternoon. 

#2: Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière

This beautiful basilica was built between 1872 and 1884 on a spot overlooking the city. Indeed, the basilica is on top of the Fourvière Hill. Everyone who has been to Lyon agrees to say that this landmark is one of the city’s must-sees. You will maybe be surprised by the contrast between the sober exterior and the well-decorated interior. You will, amongst other things, find gorgeous stained glass, and mosaics.

cheap things to do in Lyon, Basilica
Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière, Image from Flickr

#3 Cheap things to do in Lyon: Admire the street art

There are many places to see in Lyon which are marked with beautiful street art. On this page, you’ll find a map of the interesting places to see. That way, you can plan your own itinerary in order to see the works that interest you the most. Of course, some tours exist where a guide explains some things about the art. However, you can enjoy it just as well on your own and analyze the art through your own eyes and thoughts!

#4: Les Halles de Lyon

This huge market hall dates back to 1971 and houses about 60 shops and restaurants. This market is perfect if you want to have a taste of the authentic gastronomy of the city. In 2006, the hall was renamed “Halles de Lyon-Paul Bocuse” in order to pay tribute to the famous chef, who often came to this market. Whether you just want to buy a snack to eat during your day of visits, or you want some great ingredients to cook dinner, this is the place to go!

Parc de la Tête d'Or
Parc de la Tête d’Or, Image by Aga Marchewka from Pixabay

#5: Traboules du Vieux Lyon

“Traboules” is the name of secret covered passageways. In Lyon, silk manufacturers and merchants used them to transport their products. You will mainly find the traboules in the Croix-Rousse area of Lyon. Thanks to these passageways, we really realize how the city was a major trading center. They also show how the people found solutions to make life more practical in the city.

#6 Cheap things to do in Lyon: Musée des Beaux-Arts

The Musée des Beaux-Arts or Museum of Fine Arts is housed in a former Benedictine convent. Inside the museum, you will find many different collections, and the diversity of the works ensures that you will inevitably find many items that intrigue you. You will for example find all sorts of European paintings from the 14th to the 20th century, antiquities from ancient Egypt, and even some coins and medals. The Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon is one of the most important in Europe and regularly hosts important exhibitions.

Musée des Confluences
Musée des Confluences, Image by Ben Kerckx from Pixabay 

#7 Cheap things to do in Lyon: Jardin des Curiosités

This park is in the Saint-Just neighborhood, on the Fourvière Hill. It has many names, amongst which Jardin de Montréal or Belvédère. What is great about this park is that it is at an altitude of 232 meters. This allows you to have a panoramic view of the city while you are in the park. You should absolutely go there to see the sunset, to take stunning pictures. In addition, it is the perfect way to unwind after a day of visits and walking around Lyon. 

#8: Musée des Confluences

This Museum does not house art, it is about science and anthropology. You will find it in the 2nd arrondissement, at the confluence of the Rhône and the Saône rivers. The building itself is very interesting, of deconstructivist style. It resembles a floating crystal cloud of stainless steel and glass. There are 4 major exhibitions, which are: “Origins – Stories of the World“, “Species – the Web of Life“, “Societies – Human theatre,” and “Eternities – Visions of the beyond“. This is the perfect place to learn about scientific subjects in a fun way!

#9: Roman theaters

There are several remains from antiquity to see in Lyon. Indeed, The Romans founded Lyon or “Lugdunum” in Latin in 43 BC. Consequently, there are traces of this history in the city. First of all, on the hillside near the Fourvière Basilica, you will find the Ancient Theatre of Fourvière, the Odeon of Lyon, and there is even a Gallo-Roman museum. But there is also the Amphitheater of the Three Gauls, which is very impressive. 

cheap things to do in Lyon, amphitheater
Roman amphitheater in Lyon, Photo by Mike Benna on Unsplash

To continue reading, click here to learn about the best places to visit in London as well as some useful tips.