There are many great free things to do in Lyon. Here you find some tips of free things to do in Lyon. Some of these would cost a lot of money in other cities, but here, they are free, like the zoo, the botanical gardens and the Roman theatres. Lyon is a great place to explore and the good news is, many things are for free!
This beautiful church is visible from almost everywhere in the city. It is a highlight of Lyon and you really have to visit it. The good news is that it’s completely free. You also have amazing views from the fourviere Hill overlooking the city. However, it is quite a walk up here, so you might want to pay a metro ticket to take the funicular up here.
The Roman theatres are also located on Fourvière Hill and are free to visit. They are very well preserved and show that Lyon once was a big and powerful Roman city. In the summer, a music festival is organized here and famous artists come to play (this costs money though).
The Parc de la Tête d’Or
This park is located next to the Rhône River and is free to visit. Many Lyonnais come here on Saturday and Sunday with their families. It is a stunning park and very big. There is an island in the lake that you can access by tunnel. The Free Zoo is inside, as are the botanical garden of Lyon (also free). There is a rose garden, bars and restaurants and in the warm season, you can rent bikes to go around. It is also an excellent place to go jogging.
Inside the Parc de la tête d’or, you find the the free zoo. It is filled with monkeys, lemurs, giraffes, lions and bears. It is not too big, but it’s completely free, so you can’t complain. Don’t go to late in the afternoon as it might close.
Next to the zoo, you find the free botanical gardens. They were moved here in the 19th century from croix-rousse. There are quite a few stunning greenhouses that are filled with tropical plants. You just push open the door to visit them. I really love going to the botanical gardens. Even in winter it is nice and tropically warm inside. There are different greenhouses with plants from different regions of the world.
The Traboules of Vieux Lyon and Croix-Rousse
These are the secret passages in Lyon. They are free to visit, but they can be a bit hard to find. On some free city maps you find a list of addresses. Just press the service button to get into the building or push the door open. The famous Traboules are open from 7am to 7pm. The hundreds of others stay open until midday. Join me on a free tour of Lyon to find them easily!
The open air Produce Markets
Lyon is called the culinary capital of France. The markets are great. My favorite is the market on the Boulevard de la Croix-Rousse and the weekend markets on the Quai Saint Antoine. They’re there until midday, except Monday. Another great one is the Thursday afternoon and evening market on the Quai de Rhône.
Hike up the Saône
If you feel like hiking and don’t want to get out of the city, walking upriver next to the Saône is great. You can get all the way to the Île Barbe, a lovely little island with a Michelin starred restaurant on it (not free). Along the river you find a lot of modern art and beautiful views and nature.
Futuristic Architecture in Confluence
A walk around confluence, the area where the two rivers come together is fun. This part of the city doesn’t look anything like the rest of the city. The city redeveloped Confluence and now looks very futuristic. If you like modern architecture, take a walk from the confluence shopping center along the Saône to the point where the two rivers come together. There is an enormous, spaceship-like new museum there. You can take the elevator inside for free to the top for the view over the scenery.
This is my new favorite addition to this list. I had heard of this park for a long time, but was always a bit too lazy to visit it. It is located on the Fourvière hill, sort of close to the Roman Theaters. It is a bit hidden away, but you have one of the most stunning views over Lyon from there. There are some fixed chairs put up in the park, which lend themselves for a great photo shoot.
I couldn’t leave this list without promoting my free tour! Join if you want to learn a lot about the city and get a lot more tips. You can book for free on this website.