Best Day Trips from Lyon, France

Lyon, France’s second city, is an interesting metropolis infused with history, culture, and entertainment. It was home to the brothers who created the very first cinema, is woven with hidden passageways called traboules, and it’s the gastronomical capital of France!

But if you’ve visited Lyon before, or have seen all you need to see, where do you go next? With the French Alps and Switzerland, quaint medieval villages, lakes, and vineyards all on your doorstep, there are dozens of places to choose from.

Whether you wish to uncover the Roman heritage of Vienne, discover the subterranean wonders of Grottes de Cerdon, sample the gastronomical delights of Beaune or Dijon, or visit the home of green lentils, Le Puy, an intriguing excursion awaits!

Below, we’ll explore the best Lyon day trips within a one to two-hour drive and the best day trips from Lyon by train, so you can expand your horizons and explore deep into the scenic French hinterlands.

Read More: Visiting Lyon in Winter


The alpine town of Annecy is a delight to visit at any time of the year. The lakeside city sits amid meandering waterways flanked by pastel houses with plenty of historical attractions to explore.

One highlight is Palais de l’Île. The building stands on an island in the canal and was formerly a warehouse, chapel, prison, and barracks. Today, it boasts fine exhibits that showcase Annecy’s history and is open to visitors.

Saint-Pierre Cathedral dating to the 1500s is also a stunning display of Renaissance architecture, and if you’re feeling energetic, climb to Château d’Annecy to visit the impressive museum and admire spectacular views.

Head down to the lakeshore to discover beaches, gardens, and watersports activities, enjoy hiking trails in summer and winter sports too. With so much going on it’s no surprise that Annecy is one of the favourite Lyon day trips for couples and families.


A Lyon to Geneva day trip is easy to facilitate, either by local bus or car in under two hours. The stylish Swiss city resides on the shores of Lake Geneva, or Lake Léman as it’s known in French.

On a day trip, stroll along the promenade observing Jet d’Eau – a huge fountain on the lake. Jump on a water taxi to explore, venture to the 1930s-era open-air swimming baths – Bains des Pâquis, or flex a credit card in the city’s many elegant stores.

Geneva has several sites of cultural interest too, including the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum and Palais des Nations – the seat of the European United Nations, which make excellent winter activities.

If you decide to stay late into the evening, feast on fondue lakeside as lights twinkle across the water or try your hand at sunset paddle boarding before sampling Geneva’s upscale nightlife.

Read also: A Guide to Visiting Geneva in Winter

Le Puy

Le Puy-en-Velay, or simply Le Puy for short, is a natural wonder, located around two hours southwest of Lyon, and is reachable by car or train.

This hillside city is crowned with towering volcanic spires and statues standing tall on peaks. Romanesque churches and medieval houses huddle side by side, rising from the plains.

This town was once a gateway for pilgrims departing along the “Way of Saint James”, and it’s also famous for its lentil production! Puy lentils from here are classified in the same way as the finest French wines are, and they are exported throughout the world.

While in the city, there are a few key sites to see. The 12th-century Cathedral Notre Dame and the cloister arcades next door are impressive feats of architecture. Visit the immersive art gallery at Hôtel des Lumières and venture to Rue des Tables for shopping and dining around the central fountain. Naturally, it’s also a great place to try regional lentil dishes!


If you don’t wish to travel too far, one of the most interesting cities near Lyon is Valence. While wandering the charming streets, you can sample the rich history, gastronomic delights, and scenic beauty that’s enhanced by the city’s enviable position on the Rhone River.

Visit Grande Rue to see Maison des Têtes – a building so called for the sculpted stone heads etched into the façade. Take a picnic to picturesque Parc Jouvet or admire the majesty of Valence Cathedral – a structure that began its journey in the 1000s.

In the local squares visit weekly markets or find a seat under a shady tree with a glass of wine. Alternatively, drive to the Shoe Museum in nearby Romans. The collections are hidden away inside an old convent with a range of interesting shoes from stylish Louboutins, to early Egyptian sandals and medieval shoe designs.


The city of Grenoble has a rich and fascinating history. If you delve deeply, you’ll find that events which took place here (The Day of the Tiles) ultimately lead to the French Revolution!

The city sits by the Isère and Drac rivers hemmed by the northern French Alps. The surrounding areas are perfect for hiking, biking, and relaxing by glacial lakes, and in winter the ski resorts are the place to be.

Those who enjoy marvelling at artwork can head to Musée de Grenoble. The iconic museum hosts a collection of over 1500 pieces from French, Dutch, and Italian masters.

Across 57 art-packed rooms, explore every era from the Renaissance to Fauvism and Pop Art. And don’t forget to discover the city’s other museums, displaying collections relating to archaeology, local history and even hydroelectricity!

For the best views, hop aboard a cable car and ride to the hilltop Bastille, or relax in a local restaurant feasting on Grenoble’s delicacies which are typically cheese-heavy.


Some of the most interesting things to do around Lyon are less than 40 minutes away. Vienne dates back to Roman times and evidence of this can be seen throughout the city. Visit the Roman Temple of Augustus and Livia. The stone architecture of the 1st century BC temple is an early architectural feat of stonemasonry and engineering.

Take a seat at one of the biggest amphitheatres of Roman Gaul. In its heyday, it accommodated over 13000 people. It’s the perfect place to watch summer jazz performances and concerts with views of the city. Afterwards, head to Vienne Cathedral and the archaeological site at Musée Gallo-Romain to learn more about the city’s Roman heritage.

If you’re visiting on a Saturday, Vienne local market is the second largest in France. Outdoor stalls stretch for several kilometres and there are plenty of cafes and restaurants nearby where you can simply soak up the atmosphere.


One of the most fun day trips from Lyon by car is to Beaune. Just south of Dijon, Beaune in Burgundy is home to wine tasting, hiking, and cycling, and has several interesting museums and châteaux with incredible architecture.

Visit the impressive Musée de l’Hôtel-Dieu, a medieval almshouse and hospice dating to the mid-1400s. It’s perhaps best known for its unusual Burgundian glazed tile roofs, although inside, also boasts a fine collection of art and religious artefacts.

Wander the city’s ramparts and see Square des Lions – home to statues and centuries-old ginkgo trees, or take a guided tour of one of the many picturesque vineyards on the edge of the city to sample Grand Cru wines.

Don’t leave without tasting Beaune’s gastronomical treats. The city and its surroundings are home to several Michelin-star restaurants which are ideal for a special occasion or romantic dinner.


While en route to Beaune, make a stop at Chalon-sur-Saône. The pretty riverside town in the heart of the Burgundy wine region has some wonderfully interesting museums to visit.

For anyone with an interest in photography, the Musée Nicephore-Niepce is a must-visit. The museum pays homage to the person who took the very first photograph and has a collection of over 1500 cameras and a whole host of photos dating back over the past two centuries.

Another museum to have on your radar is Musée Vivant-Denon, dedicated to a former Louvre director, it documents the history of Chalon.

The best way to explore Chalon is on foot. Take a short walk to view Doyenné Tower and marvel at the majestic cathedral before sampling local dishes at an authentic auberge in the centre.


Dijon is one of the most popular day trips from Lyon. Just two hours away by car and train, this medieval-era city is home to half-timber buildings, fabulous museums and great food and wines.

One of the best ways to uncover the history and mysteries of the city is along the Owl Trail. This well-marked walking trail covers over 20 city attractions and is one of the most fun things to do in Dijon.

Take in the grand Ducal Palace and imagine life in the 14th century when the Dukes of Burgundy lived here. Step inside Musée de la Vie Bourguignonne which showcases the cultural heritage of Burgundy. Wander along the historic Rue des Forges, or pay a visit to Les Halles covered market and the botanical gardens – Dijon has something for everyone.

Known for its most famous export – Dijon mustard – the region also produces excellent wines and crème de cassis. You can sample them in speciality shops throughout the city.

Abbaye d’Hautecombe

If you’re heading to Annecy or Aix-les-Bains by car, Abbaye d’Hautecombe is a beautiful place to break for an hour or two en route. The 12th-century abbey on the shores of Lac du Bourget is both scenic and intriguing.

Originally the home of Benedictine monks, the abbey was a prime location during the Middle Ages, until it fell into ruin. Following the French Revolution, it was restored by the Sardinian king in the early 1800s.  

Today, the Savoy landmark is open for guided discovery tours and is reasonably priced to enter. Housing sepulchres, frescos, and sculptures, it’s a great place to immerse yourself in local history, before relaxing in the seasonal café and enjoying the vistas.

Grottes de Cerdon

Grottes de Cerdon is the ideal destination for a family day trip from Lyon. The prehistoric caves are also the perfect scenic stop-off point if you’re heading further afield to Geneva or the Haut-Jura Natural Park.

While here, you’ll learn how people lived in prehistoric times, and discover how to create fires and stone jewellery, before trying your hand at Neolithic pottery and prehistoric painting.

Gain insight into archaeological excavations and learn all about the history of the caves as you delve deep into the subterranean wonderland.

During summer months local craft markets take place here and there are prehistoric scenes and performances held nearby.


Located an hour northeast of Lyon, the medieval city of Bourg-en-Bresse was once a Savoy capital. It’s a charming place punctuated with half-timbered houses, intriguing museums and quaint shops selling chocolate, wine, and cheese.

The historic Old Town is a highlight – akin to stepping onto a film set. With 15th-century buildings, cobbled streets, and an old-world atmosphere, you can lose yourself here for hours.

Don’t miss Maison de Bois – a well-preserved property from the 1400s on Rue Gambetta. And wander inside an ancient pharmacy dating back to 1782. It’s now a museum, filled with shelves of antique books and jars, as well as a laboratory.

Musée de Brou is the city’s main museum dedicated primarily to artworks from Flemish and French artists. Housed inside the Royal Monastery, the building is art itself, with its Burgundian roof tiles and stunning stained glass windows.

Parc de Loisirs de Bouvent

Parc de Loisirs de Bouvent lies an hour northeast of Lyon just outside Bourg-en-Bresse. It’s a family-friendly nature destination, perfect to pair with a day in the nearby city.

With over 50 hectares of verdant parkland, golf courses and a lake with golden beaches, it’s a great place for picnics, hiking and watersports.

It’s possible to hire kayaks and boats from the activity centre and you can compete with friends at volleyball, pétanque or table tennis. There’s also a snack bar for dining and refreshments by the water’s edge.

The beach is open from mid-May to late August for swimming and the activity centre opens in mid-March through to mid-October.


Those preferring not to venture too far on a day tour can drive to the medieval town of Pérouges just over 30 minutes outside of Lyon.

The medieval town is known as a set for the famous Three Musketeers movies. Here, half-timbered and honey-coloured stone houses are clad with ivy and wisteria, and along cobblestone streets, shops and restaurants are hidden inside unassuming historic buildings.

Discover the Church of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, an unusual structure designed to defend the town complete with arrow slits for windows. Or enter inside the Museum of Old Pérouges dedicated to the Princes of Savoy with an incredible viewpoint and details of everyday life in 14th-century Pérouges.

With abundant historic monuments to see and a famous chocolaterie, you won’t be stuck for things to do in this alluring town.

Wine Route of Beaujolais

Of all the places to visit near Lyon, the Beaujolais wine route is one of the most popular. Covering 140 kilometres from Lyon to Mâcon, it takes in some of the finest vineyards and beautiful scenery within the Beaujolais region.

It’s a route peppered with ancient landmarks such as Arginy Castle, said to house treasures of the Templars and there are the 39 beautiful villages of the golden stones – Pierres Dorées – to explore along the route.

Wineries and cellars await in the villages, and you can enjoy dinner in a bistro or auberge to pair wine tastings with local cuisine. If you fancy staying over, there are even winemaker B&Bs – making this one of the best weekend trips from Lyon.


One of the top three spa towns in France, Aix-les-Bains can be reached in an hour and 15 minutes from Lyon. This wholesome town of wellbeing is tucked between mountains and lakes boasting historic sites ranging from Roman ruins to glamorous hotels from the Belle Époque era.

The beach and Esplanade du Lac are ideal spots for a leisurely walk. Dramatic emerald mountain landscapes and plane trees set against a canvas of aquarium blue waters make for excellent photographs.

Step inside the famous casino – an impressive building inside and out, fringed by palm trees and floral displays. Alternatively, take a dip in the town’s healing mineral waters, booking a treatment at one of the spas. Many feature pools fed by natural springs which are said to help with all manner of physical ailments.

Gorges de la Loire

Near the city of Saint-Etienne, you’ll discover the impressive Gorges de la Loire. The natural landscapes alone are worth the drive from Lyon (just over one hour).

With woodland glades, endemic flora and fauna, lakes, and medieval villages, this is a place for nature and history lovers alike. The small village of Chambles set upon a rocky promontory offers views of the gorges or visit Château Lavoute-Polignac to see a vast collection of artworks.

If you have brought your hiking boots, you’ll adore the trails around the gorges. They cater to all experience levels and are well-marked. Or if water sports are more your thing, sailing, water skiing and canoeing are all available to enjoy.

Massif de la Chartreuse

Nestled between Lac du Bourget to the north and the city of Grenoble to the south, Massif de la Chartreuse mesmerises with verdant landscapes and rugged peaks.

In spring and summer, carpets of grass dotted with pretty windflowers attract hikers, and in winter, peaks are iced with snow and the ground transforms into a haven for Nordic ski sports including cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

A few highlights to discover amidst the 76,000 hectares include Gorges du Guiers, Fort Barraux and Cirque de St. Même with its stunning waterfalls.

The trails are well-marked making it easy to navigate. It’s also possible to hire a mountain bike (manual or electric) and stop for a glass of wine in Savoy vineyards in the foothills. To cool off after a day’s hike, head for Lake Aiguebelette for a spot of stand-up paddle boarding or canoeing.

Parc Naturel Regional du Haut-Jura

Near the Swiss border in the Alpine foothills, Haut-Jura Parc covers a mammoth 165,000 hectares. This is a place to connect with nature, forest bathe, admire thundering cascades and hike along trails through lush fairytale forests dating back to the Jurassic era.

The scenery is stunning, and in the surrounding areas, lakes, mountain villages and vineyards are all ripe for discovery.

Visit Maison du Parc in Lajoux which showcases exhibitions focused on the wildlife, scenery, local crafts, and forests of Jura. Visitors can take nature walks and participate in workshops here, and learn about the lynx, capercaillie and a variety of other species that live in this natural space.

If arriving in winter, the area is blanketed with snow, allowing for fun snowshoe expeditions and magical wonderland landscapes.

If you’ve been exploring the towns and cities around Lyon for a while and are seeking a slower pace for your day trip, Haut-Jura Regional Naturel Parc is the place to be.


If all things fashion fascinate, take a day trip to Chazelles-sur-Lyon just over an hour away from the city centre of Lyon. The main highlight, and why most visitors make the trip, is to see Atelier-Musée du Chapeau. The town was once famed for crafting exquisite headwear and at the interactive museum you can learn just how it’s done.

There are films, a hall of celebrity hats and a knowledgeable guide also conducts group tours in English if specified during the booking process. A visit to the museum is an interesting way to spend a few hours, and if a special occasion is coming up, you can custom-order your own hat for the event!

Although the museum is the top site in Chazelles-sur-Lyon, its neighbouring restaurant also has rave reviews – a charming place where you can sample gourmet local gastronomy.

There are a wealth of places to visit within a short journey by car or public transport from Lyon. From lakeside towns and historic abbeys to wine routes, mountain landscapes, and historic towns and cities, everyone can find their perfect day trip from Lyon.

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