If I were to select just one word to sum up my time in Lyon it would be ‘stairs’. Up and down, down and up, the city is set across a plethora of levels, often giving way to breathtaking views and requiring a fair bit of energy along the way! Here’s where to find the best view of Lyon…
#1 Quai Tilsitt
If you’ve ever seen snaps of Lyon before, then no doubt you’ll have come across the most iconic image of all. Best seen at sunrise or sunset so as to make the most of the light, Quai Tilsitt offers the perfect picnic spot to enjoy time with friends during the summer months.
Lyon attractions to be spotted from Quai Tilsitt (aside from the Basilica and Metal Tower which preside over the city), you’ll soon spy the candy coloured houses that line the river banks, as well as the rather impressive Église Saint-Georges.
#2 Buvette Saint Antoine
Overlooking Lyon’s might cathedral, one of the best places to enjoy drinks with friends as the sun goes down is Buvette Saint- Antoine. This mobile bar is set up along the River Saône on a nightly basis and offers all kinds of drinks (soft and alcoholic) en plein air. Though service is a little on the slow side, there’s no other place where you can sit by the water quite like it in Lyon!
#3 Place Rouville
Of all the viewpoints in Lyon, Place Rouville is one of the places that is well worth the wander up the stairs. Situated in the fringes of the Croix-Rousse district, an area that’s best known for its history of silk production (and where you’ll find all of the Traboules that Lyon is so famed for), Place Rouville is home to the iconic Maison Brunet.
Also known as the maison aux 365 fenêtres (the house of 365 windows), the building was constructed during the late 19th-century. The plateau in front of the house is home to a myriad of benches and lounge chairs, all providing picture-perfect views of Lyon below.
#4 Ancient Theatre of Fourvière
High up on the hill of Fourvière, the ancient Roman site actually comprises of two theatres, side by side. Free to visit, the main sprawling Theatre dates back to around 15 BCE and its ruins are some of the best preserved of any Roman elements to be found in France today. Nearby, the free museum is well worth a wander around if you want to learn more about how the ancients contributed to the Lyon of today.
#5 Basilica of Fourvière
If you’re looking to tick two attractions off your Lyon bucket list at once, be sure to pay a visit to the Parvis between the mosaic-filled basilica and the Tour Metallique de Fourvière (which is surprisingly reminiscent of the Eiffel Tower in Paris).
For here, next to the 19th-century ecclesiastical building, you’ll soon be amazed by one of the best views Lyon has to offer. From the top, it’s possible to see highlights such as Lyon’s Gothic cathedral and the glittering River Saône. Though the stairs to reach the basilica are pretty steep, the Funiculaire de Fourvière provides step-free access to the church!
#6 La Vue du Coquillat
A few flights of steps up from the banks of the River, La Vue du Coquillat offers a great view of Lyon without the crowds of the steps in the Vieux Lyon Quarter of the city. Providing a viewpoint which offers a glimpse of the River Rhône and plenty of Lyonnaise rooftops, La Vue du Coquillat is in the Croix-Rousse district of the city.
While in the area, be sure to head to the Cour des Voraces. This impressive courtyard is a traditional “traboule” which is typical of the quartier. Also known as Maison de la République, this space has been used in several films and is now classed as a Monument Historique.
Things to know before visiting Lyon
Situated in Eastern France, not far from the Swiss border, the beautiful French city of Lyon is famed for its history of silk production and gastronomic scene. Though you’ll likely find plenty of people who speak English, it never helps to be prepared with a simple French phrase book like this one.
Planning to see many of the city’s main attractions and take lots of public transport? Consider purchasing a Lyon City Card to help you save money! Thanks to the city’s prominent position between two hills (Fourviere- the hill that prays and Croix-Rousse- the hill that works), walking or cycling requires plenty of steep climbs, meaning that good shoes are a must!
If you’re looking to stay in the city for several days, then you should know that as the third largest city in France, there are always events in the city and the best accommodation often sells out well ahead of time. In order to secure the best rates and rooms, check Lyon accommodation prices here.