I didn’t expect much from my trip to Lyon, but I have to say that I fell in love with this city. I loved its historical city center, which was in total contrast with the more modern buildings located a few bus stations away from the center.
My only regret is that I didn’t have the chance to spend more time in Lyon, but I’ll come back someday. Meanwhile, I’ve compiled a list of the best day trips from Lyon. Enjoy!
Best day trips from Lyon
1. Château de Val
Château de Val is a great option if you’re looking for places to visit near Lyon. It’s one of the best preserved historical sites in the region and is built upon a rock that’s over 40m (131 ft) high.
However, due to the valley being flooded its setting now looks very different and it can be found perched on the lakeside. Château de Val dates back to the 15th century, and you can explore its interior including gothic-style rooms and art exhibitions. It’s even possible to head up a staircase to the roof!
Getting to Château de Val – I recommend getting to this beautiful french castle by car. It’s a 3-hour drive from Lyon.
Pont-en-Royans is located in Southeast France and is situated along the Bourne River. This is one of the lesser-known tourist attractions near Lyon as there isn’t too much to do here.
However, it’s easily one of the most scenic destinations in the area as you’ll get to see charming medieval houses. Not only is the architecture unique, but these houses are suspended on top of a clifftop that lines the river!
Aside from admiring this unique view, you can also head to the Water Museum where you’ll get to learn about the water cycle and plastic pollution.
Getting to Pont-en-Royans – You can choose to take the train from Lyon to St Hilaire St Nazaire and then take a taxi for 11 km, or you can rent a car for the day to get to Pont-en-Royans.
This charming town is one of the most beautiful towns in Europe! It’s situated along Lake Annecy and offers the perfect nature escape. Surrounded by alpine peaks, turquoise waters, and lush forests – it’s easily one of the most beautiful cities in France.
During your visit to Annecy, you’ll want to spend some time relaxing by ‘Europe’s cleanest lake’. However, there are plenty of other attractions to visit, including the city’s old town, which is home to over 20 historical monuments.
Annecy is one of the best places to visit near Lyon!
Getting to Annecy – There are plenty of trains and buses to choose from if you plan a day trip from Lyon to Annecy. The journey will take about 2 hours. Tip – usually, buses are cheaper.
If you’re looking for day trips from Lyon by train then head to Geneva. It’s only a two-hour journey and it’s stunning. It’s also the country’s second most populated city and is one of Switzerland’s most scenic places with dramatic views of the Alps, the Jura Mountains, and Lake Geneva.
As with any capital city, there are tons of attractions waiting for you including St. Pierre Cathedral. This historic building offers the best view of the city as you can climb up its towers! Also, don’t miss a boat tour on Lake Geneva! You can admire the Geneva Water Fountain from up close!
Getting to Geneva – There are 12 daily trains to choose from if you want to get to Geneva. The ride takes about 2 hours. There are also buses available, but they’re much slower.
Surrounded by scenic mountain ranges and offering stunning views of the French Alps – Chambéry is one the best cities to visit from Lyon. Although it’s not one of the most popular destinations in France, this city has plenty to offer.
If you’re heading to Chambéry on a Saturday you’re in for a treat. This is when the public market is held so you’ll be able to find a variety of fresh produce including cheeses. During the summer months, the iconic Tour de France also runs through the city.
Getting to Chambéry – I recommend taking the train if you want to go on a day trip from Lyon to Chambéry. It’s a one and half hours train ride and tickets cost as little as 10 euros one-way, if booked in advance.
Clermont-Ferrand is situated in Central France and is one of the best places to visit from Lyon. It’s one of the oldest cities in the country and is thought to have been around since the 2nd Century AD.
The city is surrounded by a chain of around 80 volcanoes that stretch for 45km (28 miles). The area is named Chaîne des Puys and is just a 20-minute journey out of the city, making it a must-visit.
There are plenty of other attractions to see in Clermont-Ferrand too including Basilique Notre-Dame du Port, L’Aventure Michelin, and Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption Cathedral.
Getting to Clermont-Ferrand – a train ride from Lyon to Clermont-Ferrand takes a little over 2 hours and prices start at 15 euros. There are also buses between these 2 destinations, but they’re a slower option.
7. La Clusaz
La Clusaz has to be one of the most beautiful places near Lyon – especially during the winter months. It’s a mountain village that’s considered to be one of the best holiday destinations in the Alps – especially for keen skiers! There are plenty of ski lifts and opportunities for snowboarding too.
With stunning alpine peaks, lush meadows, and beautiful lakes, this place has a lot to offer. Even if you’re not heading there during the winter, you can still get involved with plenty of other activities in the area including horse riding, rafting, and climbing during summer.
Getting to La Clusaz – There are no direct buses from Lyon to La Clusaz (you’ll have to change buses in Annecy). The same goes with trains. Therefore, I recommend renting a car.
If you’re looking for things to do around Lyon, then don’t miss out on a visit to Grenoble. Often referred to as the ‘Capital of the Alps’, Grenoble is famous for its breathtaking mountain backdrop, riverside museums, and tourist attractions.
One of the best things to do in Grenoble is taking the cable car up to the magnificent Bastille where you’ll get stunning views of the surrounding mountains. You can even go canoeing along the Isère River, explore the Grenoble Museum, or walk high within the treetops at L’Odyssée Verte.
There’s also a historic quarter full of authentic cafes!
Getting to Grenoble – The best option is to take the train from Lyon. There are trains every 30 minutes to one hour and the ride takes about one hour and a half.
9. Abbey of Hautecombe
Heading to the Abbey of Hautecombe is one of the best Lyon day trips! With over 900 years of history, this beautiful place has a lot to offer. The Abbey is situated on the edge of Le Bourget Lake and is Savoie’s most visited attraction.
You can’t explore the whole building as it’s still in use by the religious community that lives here. However, you can take an audio-guided tour of the church which I definitely recommend! This is where you’ll get to see a variety of intricate statues and paintings whilst learning about the Royal Abbey’s history.
Getting to Abbey of Hautecombe – The best way is to reach the abbey by car. The ride will take about one hour and a half from Lyon.
10. Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard
Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful castles in Europe. It’s one of the most popular tourist attractions near Lyon and offers striking scenery, as the castle is nestled within a lush wooded area and surrounded by forested peaks.
Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard has been occupied by the same family for nearly 1000 years, but don’t worry – you can still visit! There are guided tours available which last for around 45 minutes and will show you a variety of rooms including the chapel, library, kitchen, and one of the bedrooms.
Getting to Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard – The best way to visit this beautiful castle is by car.
Avignon is located in Southeast France and is set on the Rhone River. The city is most famous for events that occurred in the 14th century which is when the popes fled from Rome to Avignon.
For this reason, Le Palais des Papes (or Palace of the Popes) was built. Today, it’s one of the city’s most popular attractions and is one of the largest gothic buildings in the world.
Other popular things to do in Avignon include catching a ferry to the island of Barthelasse and heading to Le Pont Saint-Benezet which is a historic bridge that was built during the middle ages. Avignon is also known for its delicious wines. If you have enough time, make sure to book a tour and discover the vineyards!
Getting to Avignon – There are multiple daily high-speed trains from Lyon to Avignon and the ride takes about one hour and twenty minutes.
Vienne is located just 34 km (21 miles) from Lyon where the Gere and Rhone rivers meet. With stunning architecture, a charming small-town feel, and plenty of things to do, Vienne is one of the most beautiful towns in Europe.
The town’s most iconic attraction is Vienne Cathedral which dates back to the 11th century and was built in dedication to Saint Maurice. However, there are plenty of other places to visit too including the Temple of Augustus and Livia, the ancient Roman theatre, and the Museum of Saint-Romain-en-Gal-Vienne.
So, if you’re looking for day trips from Lyon – don’t miss out on this place!
Getting to Vienne – Traveling by train is the best option, as it only takes about 20 minutes to reach Vienne from Lyon. You can also choose a guided tour that includes wine tasting.
13.Château de la Roche (Saint Priest la Roche)
If you’re looking for beautiful places near Lyon, then make sure you head to Château de la Roche.
Translating to ‘Castle of the Rock’, this historical place sits out on the water overlooking the Loire. It’s also located on a small island now since the Villerest Dam was built in 1982.
Château de la Roche was built during the 1200s and was often used as a lookout point due to its strategic location or as a summer residence, depending on who owned the castle at the time.
Getting to Château de la Roche – The castle is located just one hour away from Lyon by car.
Dijon is another charming city in France and was designated a World Heritage Site in 2015. It’s the capital of Burgundy and has plenty of history as the city dates back to the middle ages!
As the name might suggest, Dijon is famous for its mustard so don’t forget to try it during your visit. It’s also one of the best wine regions in France so leave some time to go on a vineyard tour. You can also spend some time at the Museum of Fine Arts or explore the indoor market hall!
Getting to Dijon – The best way to get to Dijon is by train. The trip will take around 2 hours.
Chalon-sur-Saône is situated along the Saône River and is one of the best places to visit from Lyon! With a historic center, stunning architecture, and a beautiful location – it’s got so much to offer.
There are also plenty of things to do in Chalon-sur-Saône like strolling around the old town and walking up Tour du Doyenné Tower. From here, you’ll have stunning views of the city!
During your trip, make sure you head to the Nicéphore Niépce Museum too, which is dedicated to the inventor of photography who lived in the city.
Getting to Chalon-sur-Saône – A train ride from Lyon takes about one hour and 20 minutes.
Yvoire was built in the 14th century and is one of the most charming medieval villages in France. Located on the shores of Lake Geneva, this village offers spectacular views of the surrounding area and over 700 years of history.
It’s one of the best day trips from Lyon and there’s plenty to see including the Garden of Five Senses. As the name suggests, this garden aims to envelop all the senses and is quite the experience! You’ll also want to explore the center of Yvoire with its 14th-century castle, fortified gates, and ramparts.
Getting to Yvoire – There is no direct public transport from Lyon to Yvoire, so the best way to reach this incredible city is by car.
Visiting Aix-les-Bains is one of the best things to do around Lyon! Just a 1.5-hour drive away, Aix-les-Bains is a beautiful thermal spa town that’s known as the ‘Riviera of the Alps’.
The town is situated on Lac du Bourget which is the largest natural lake in France. There’s even a 10-hectare park right by the lakeside that offers stunning views of the area! If that’s not enough to convince you then you can also hike up Mont Revard which is the town’s backdrop, or spend some time in one of the many spa resorts!
Getting to Aix-les-Bains – There are a few daily direct trains from Lyon to Aix-les-Bains and the train ride takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
18. Grottes du Cerdon
Grottes du Cerdon is one of the best natural attractions in France and is where you’ll find a variety of awesome caves to explore. Guided tours are available or you can explore them by yourself.
These caves were once inhabited by prehistoric men around 10,000-12,000 years ago which is AMAZING to think about! This site is also a prehistoric leisure park where you can get involved with archaeological excavations, create natural ocher paintings, and produce your own neolithic pottery.
There’s so much to do here, and it’s a great day out for all the family!
Getting to Grottes du Cerdon – The best way to visit this natural wonder is by car.
If you’re looking for Lyon day trips, then don’t miss out on Pérouges! It’s another beautiful medieval village that’s situated within the French Alps, and it almost looks like something out of a fairytale.
Offering scenic views of the Dombes Plateau, charming cobbled streets, and winding alleyways – you’ll want to spend a lot of time here. Pérouges is one of the best preserved medieval sites in the country, and you’ll understand why once you wander through the gates of En Haut! During your time here make sure you check out the scenic Place du Tilleul square too.
Getting to Pérouges – There are many daily trains from Lyon to Pérouges to choose from. The trip takes around 40 minutes.
20. Château de Meillant
Meillant Castle or Château de Meillant as it’s often known is one of the best day trips from Lyon! With spectacular architecture, a unique gothic style, and beautiful surroundings, it’s not hard to see why this place is so popular.
Not only can you explore the castle and its grounds, but themed evenings and events also occur here. You can even take part in a ‘Murder at the Castle’ game! Guided tours are also available, and the castle is pet-friendly so the whole family can come along for the trip.
Getting to Château de Meillant – It’s a 3-hours drive from Lyon to Château de Meillant, but the trip is well worth it!
Where to stay in Lyon
Lyon is an incredible city, with lots of tourist attractions to choose from. It deserves at least a 2-day stay. If you’re planning to spend a few nights in Lyon, I’ve got you covered.
Here are the best accommodation options, for every budget:
- Budget – Meininger Hotel – good location, clean and spacious rooms, good value-for-money
- Mid-Range – Lyon Marriott Hotel – modern rooms, good amenities, friendly staff, access to gym, good restaurant
- Luxury – Villa Maya – luxurious and modern rooms, excellent amenities and services, incredible pool, excellent location, fabulous place
I hope that you enjoyed these destinations, they’re the best day trips from Lyon! No matter which one you choose, I’m sure you’ll have a great time discovering these french hidden gems.
May the travel bug bite you!