6 easy must-do weekend trips from Lyon

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Weekend trips from Lyon

Whether you spell it Lyon or Lyons, there's no denying that this major French city is a fantastic place to visit. Known as the home of French gastronomy, Lyon has some of the very best restaurants in all of France and is a food lover's paradise. It's also a historic town with fascinating Roman ruins to explore and plenty of beautiful architecture. Located at the junction of the Rhone and Saone rivers, Lyon can also be seen as a kind of hinge point of France, where the north of the country meets the sunny south. As a result, Lyon makes a fantastic base for exploring more of this part of the country.

The best Lyon day trips and weekend trips can show you everything from a medieval castle to beautiful villages to the scenic grandeur of the French Alps. And wherever you go in this region, you'll find incredible food, generally good weather, and lots of history and culture to explore.

Leave your bags behind in a Lyon city center luggage storage and bring only what you need on these weekend trips. Traveling light is the best way to enjoy not only this beautiful city but the best small towns in the area, and with your bags safely looked after, you'll be able to focus on enjoying yourself in and around this beautiful old town.

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Weekend trip from Lyon to Perouges

Perouges

This beautifully restored medieval village lies basically just outside Lyon, which makes it a popular day trip destination. The architecture of this small city will whisk you right back to the Middle Ages, and it's easy to get swept up in the atmosphere of this beautiful town.

Distance from Lyon:

It's around 40 km from the center of Lyon to Perouges. Requiring a drive of around half an hour and also reachable by train in about one hour, this old town is a great location for a day trip. But if you want a break from the city, you could spend a longer weekend trip in this medieval village and adjust to a slower pace of life in one of the favorite cities for trips in the Auvergne Rhône Alpes region.

Our activity recommendations:

Explore the Old Town: Probably the best thing to do in Perouges is just take a wander through the charming streets of the Old Town. Even just a short walk can turn up unexpected surprises since the heart of the town is packed with beautiful buildings that go back centuries. Many of these old buildings are now cafés, restaurants, and quaint shops where you can spend some time browsing, eating, drinking, and enjoying a slower pace of life. See why this is continually considered one of the most beautiful villages in France as you explore on a day trip or weekend trip from Lyon.

Dining: Close to Lyon as Perouges is, it shares some of the larger city's focus on incredible food. The ancient buildings of the town are full of great restaurants where you can try traditional dishes and enjoy the best produce of the region.

Best season to visit:

As a popular destination for day trips from Lyon, Perouges can get quite busy in the summer months. You might have a better time in this quaint town if you visit during the fall or the spring when the weather is usually still quite pleasant, but the crowds are smaller. Still, whatever time of year you go, you'll probably have a good time.

Weekend getaway from Lyon to Grenoble

Grenoble

This Alpine town couldn't ask for a more spectacular setting. Located in the French Alps close to the border with Switzerland, Grenoble is surrounded by scenic beauty wherever you look. And Grenoble has more to offer than just spectacular views. Immerse yourself in the cultural life of this town to enjoy one of the best weekend trips from Lyon.

Distance from Lyon:

Grenoble offers completely different scenery from Lyon, but it's really not that far away. Just over a hundred kilometers separate the two cities, so you can drive from Lyon to Grenoble in an hour and 20 minutes. Plus, you can also get a direct train which is just as fast as driving.

Our activity recommendations:

La Bastille: One of the most popular attractions in the city, this ancient fortress sits on top of Mount Rachais. Getting there is half the adventure, as it requires a ride in a cable car to reach the summit of the mountain. Once you're there, you'll have incredible views of the city, and you'll also be able to learn more about the history of Grenoble and its wars against its neighbors.

Grenoble Museum: Built in 1994, this museum houses works by modern masters like Andy Warhol, Kandinsky, Matisse, and Picasso. There is also an impressive collection of archaeological artifacts from around the world, including an Egyptian mummy. Dedicated to more than just the history of the town, this interesting museum takes you on a tour through the civilizations of the world.

Best season to visit:

Timing your visit to Grenoble depends on how you want to spend your time. Summer is a great time to wander the mountain hiking trails and enjoy the city. But Grenoble is also one of the top winter sports destinations in France, so if you want to do some skiing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing, a winter visit might be a better option.

Vienne weekend trips from Lyon

Vienne

This town flies under the radar compared to some of its neighbors. But it's close enough to Lyon to be a great destination for day trips as well as weekend trips, and the historic city forms a good base for exploring more of the region.

Distance from Lyon:

Follow the Rhône River south from Lyon for 33 km, and you'll find yourself in Vienne. You can reach Vienne in less than 40 minutes by car and only 25 minutes by train, so this is a great destination to visit if you don't want to go too far from the city.

Our activity recommendations:

Temple of Augustus and Livia: The main attraction in Vienne is this stunning Roman temple that, along with the Maison Carree in Nîmes, is one of the best-preserved Roman structures in all of France. The temple is all that remains of the forum area of this Roman city, and it was spared the demolition the rest of the buildings suffered because it was made a church in the sixth century. Now, it dominates the center of the small town and harkens back to a different time in Vienne's history.

Musée Gallo-Romain de Saint-Romain-en-Gal: To learn more about Vienne's Roman past, visit this state-of-the-art museum in town. The most important artifacts from the frequent archaeological excavations carried out here are displayed in this museum, and it's the best place to learn about the rise and fall of this Roman town and how Roman culture continues to shape the region to this day.

Best season to visit:

This historic town is a great place to visit at any time of year. Don't let bad weather put you off, as there are plenty of indoor attractions here to keep you out of the cold and the rain.

Weekend trip from Lyon to Aix-les-Bains

Aix-les-Bains

This classic resort town is located on the banks of France's largest freshwater lake. Back in the 19th century, this was one of the trendiest vacation destinations in Europe and was visited by royalty, aristocrats, and the growing wealthy capitalist class. Now, the town exudes old-world glamor, but it still offers plenty to modern visitors.

Distance from Lyon:

It's just over 100 km from Lyon to Aix. That means around an hour and a half in the car or about the same amount of time on a train.

Our activity recommendations:

Thermal baths: The natural mineral springs of the town are what drew many visitors here in the 19th century and even before. The curative power of taking the waters may not be as highly regarded by modern doctors as it was back then, but that doesn't stop thousands of people from visiting the springs every year. There are tons of spas in Aix-les-Bains where you can go for a swim, work out in the gym, or get a range of relaxing and rejuvenating health and beauty treatments. If you're looking to pamper yourself like a 19th-century monarch, this is the place to do it.

Lac du Bourget: The lake is one of the most iconic things about Aix-les-Bains, and there are multiple ways to enjoy it. Spend a summer day lounging on one of the sandy beaches, or rent a kayak or motorboat to explore the calm waters and enjoy the mountainous scenery. There are also several trails that take the lake as a starting point to let you explore the beautiful countryside around this dramatic water feature.

Best season to visit:

Aix has enough to do that you don't need to worry too much about when to visit. Summer by the lake can be a lovely time, but the city is also home to some great museums, galleries, and restaurants where you can happily spend a cold day feeding your body and your mind.

Weekend trip from Lyon to Annecy

Annecy

This beautiful town sits next to the lake of the same name and is rightly regarded as one of the most enchanting cities in all of France. Sometimes referred to as the Venice of the Alps thanks to the canals that flow through the medieval core of the town, this is about as beautiful as French towns get and is a fantastic destination for weekend trips from Lyon.

Distance from Lyon:

At a distance of around 150 km, expect to spend more than an hour and a half driving from Lyon to Annecy. If you don't feel like driving, you can also take the train, changing in Aix-les-Bains for a trip time of around two hours, depending on how long it takes to switch trains.

Our activity recommendations:

Château d'Annecy: Dating back to the 12th century, this castle was once the home of the Counts of Geneva, and it's the perfect place to get acquainted with the history of this town. As well as an interesting history, the château offers wonderful views over the city that make it worth visiting all by themselves.

Palais de l’Île: Are you really going to come all this way and not take advantage of one of the best photo opportunities anywhere in Europe? This fortified island dates back to the 11th century, and you can explore the hallways and dungeons for yourself after getting an iconic photo of this striking building.

Best season to visit:

Annecy is another year-round destination. Although the warmer summer months may be better for outdoor activities, there's always something to do in this town.

Bourg-en-Bresse weekend trip from Lyon

Bourg-en-Bresse

Another of the striking medieval towns close to Lyon, Bourg-en-Bresse is the final destination for many day trips from Lyon. As soon as you arrive in the city, you'll see exactly why.

Distance from Lyon:

Eighty kilometers from Lyon, this charming town can be reached by car in one hour. It's also possible to make the journey by train in roughly the same amount of time.

Our activity recommendations:

Royal Monastery: Built on the orders of Margaret of Austria, one of the most powerful women in Europe during the Renaissance, this 17th-century monastery is now the resting place of this remarkable woman. Enjoy the incredible architecture and learn the story of an often-forgotten historical figure at this unique attraction.

Old Town: The medieval half-timbered houses of Bourg are an attraction in their own right. Wandering the narrow streets of the old town is an experience not to be missed in this historic city and about the closest you're going to get to traveling back in time.

Best season to visit:

This is another destination that you can visit at any time of year. Don't let bad weather keep you from the historical magnificence of this place.

Conclusion

If you only have three days in Lyon, you don't have nearly enough time to enjoy everything the city has to offer. But if you do have a little more time in the area, or you're lucky enough to live nearby, check out some of these destinations for unforgettable weekend trips.

Many of these destinations are close enough to be considered the best day trips from Lyon. But all of them have enough to explore that they justify longer weekend trips, too. Leave your bags behind and discover for yourself what makes this part of France so special.

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