France Travel Inspiration

Best Day Trips from Lyon

01/12/2021

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Lyon is one of our favorite cities in France and will likely steal your heart too. Considered one of the most beautiful cities in France, Lyon is also a vibrant and cultural place to visit, and there’s great food too. However, if you have any more than two days in Lyon, take the opportunity to get out of the city and see more of the region; you won’t be disappointed!

These are our favorite day trips from Lyon, to inspire your trip, all close enough to Lyon to get there and back in one memorable day.

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Lyon Day Trip Planning

Except for the cities, easy day trips from Lyon by train, the best way to explore the French region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes on Lyon day trips is with your car. Visiting France by car is straightforward, click here to know all about driving in France.

If you don’t have one, we recommend booking your rental car with RentalCars.com. This site is excellent because it reviews all the major rental companies, such as Hertz, Avis, etc., and more and makes a price comparison for you.  This helps to ensure that you get a great price without all the time and work.

Click here to book your car in France with RentalCars

Add a couple of these Lyon day trips to your Lyon itinerary or combine them on this fun Lyon to Annecy road trip.

Best Day Trips from Lyon

Here’s the list of best day trips from Lyon, fun Lyon day trips in Eastern France with something for every taste:

  • Pérouges
  • Beaujolais Wine Route
  • Annecy
  • La Clusaz
  • Château de la Roche
  • Dijon
  • Aix-les-Bains
  • Abbey of Hautecombe
  • Grenoble
  • Gorges de la Loire – Monts du Forez

Pérouges

If medieval villages are your thing, you will love Pérouges, 40 minutes outside of Lyon. Perched on top of a small hill, overlooking the Ain River, the walled village of Pérouges is listed as one of the ‘Most Beautiful Villages in France.’

Pérouges has a well-preserved architecture and an authentic historic atmosphere. Its winding cobblestone streets and pretty squares will transport you back in time.

You can combine sightseeing with one of the many hiking routes in the stunning countryside around the village. These day hiking routes from Pérouges range from 40 minutes to 2.5 hours.

Beaujolais Wine Route

Escape Lyon’s hustle and bustle and follow the Beaujolais Wine Route to sip some good wine in the countryside.

With your car or a guided tour, this Lyon day trip will take you to explore pretty villages and their surrounding vineyards, visit wine cellars, do some wine tastings, and perhaps buy some bottles.

If you are without a car, this Beaujolais Gourmet Wine Tour with tastings takes off from Lyon, and it always has great reviews.

TIP: If you are planning to bring a few bottles home (who could resist?!), make sure you pack your wine properly so it arrives safely home!

Annecy

A day visit to the beautiful city of Annecy in Haute-Savoie is one of the most popular day trips from Lyon.  Sure, it is a long day (1 hr 20 min by car, 2.5 hours by train one way), but it is entirely worth it.

Located by the lake of the same name, Annecy has many historical and natural highlights to keep you busy for the whole day. Also, get ready for some serious food tasting; the Savoie cuisine is famous for specialties like fondue, raclette, rissoles, or polenta.

And there’s also the lake! Known to be the purest in Europe, the Annecy Lake offers visitors relaxing beaches and a wide range of nautical activities.

Whether you prioritize sightseeing and ticking landmarks off of your bucket list or simply soaking in the atmosphere of this pretty city, this Annecy itinerary comes with many ideas for your Lyon to Annecy day trip.

Click here to buy your train tickets to Annecy

La Clusaz (French Alps)

In wintertime, it’s ski time in the Alps, and some of the best ski resorts in the French Alps are not far from Lyon.

The ski resort of La Clusaz is less than a 2-hour drive from Lyon. La Clusaz is great for beginner and intermediate skiers (half the runs are rated blue), but more experienced people will also have fun with the challenging, long runs in the area of La Balme.

La Clusaz has 120km of pistes with magnificent views, but it is also an ideal spot for backcountry skiing, and there are even freeriding schools here. For après-ski (or non-skiers), La Clusaz has 10 bars and restaurants and 200 shops and services.

Château de la Roche

Chateau de la Roche - Rhône-Alpes
Photo courtesy: Stéphane Sélo Photographies ©

Château de la Roche is one of the most beautiful castles in France, with a very picturesque setting. Located in the Loire department, on an island in the lake formed by the Villerest dam, this is a 13-century castle that went through a deep restoration in the Gothic style in the 1900s.

Château de la Roche is just 1 hour by car from Lyon, and it is one of the best family day trips from Lyon on this list. The castle hosts many costume events, treasure hunts, and other interesting activities great for kids and adults.

Dijon

Dijon - Bourgogne

In only two hours by car or train, you can reach the beautiful city of Dijon, a favorite for visitors to Lyon and Lyonnais themselves! Dijon is the capital of the historical region of Burgundy and a large thriving city with much to offer visitors.

Dijon was home to the Dukes of Burgundy, and as such, it has a fascinating cultural and architectural heritage. The list of fun things to see and do in Dijon includes a visit to the Musée des Beaux-Arts (former Palace of the Dukes), the Old Town, and the Central Market.

Dijon is also a great foodie destination in Burgundy, and you will also want to do some wine tastings. It is also the getaway to the Route des Grands Crus and other memorable French road trips in the Burgundy wine region.

Click here to buy your train tickets to Dijon

Aix-les-Bains

Nicknamed the Riviera of the French Alps, Aix-les-Bains is a 1 hr 30 min drive from Lyon, but it is also straightforward to visit by train (1 hr 10 min one way).

Aix-les-Bains is a beautiful small city and lakeside resort nestled between the mountains and the Lac du Bourget. Thanks to the city’s hot springs and the thermal baths, Aix-les-Bains attracted international tourism looking for the benefits of the sulfur springs. Without the thermal baths, Aix-les-Bains would never have had a casino, a racecourse, or such beautiful private mansions!

The city of Aix-les-Bains has some pretty sights and beautiful architecture. You can also enjoy a spa treatment at Chevalley Thermal Baths or one of the endless activities around Lac du Bourget, the biggest natural lake in France.

Click here to buy your train tickets to Aix-les-Bains  

Abbey of Hautecombe

For a more cultural day trip from Lyon, visit the Abbey of Hautecombe, located on Lake de Bourget’s western shore. This beautiful 12th-century Cistercian abbey is the location of the Maison de Savoie’s medieval tombs. Today, the House of Savoy is more well known as the ex-Royal Family in Italy.

The Abbey of Hautecombe is a tourist site that receives 15,000 visitors yearly. The ensemble (church, cloister, terrace, the King’s apartments, chapel and court Saint-André, lighthouse, and boat barn) are protected as a historic monument.

The drive from Lyon to the abbey takes 1 hr 23 min. If you decide to combine Aix-les-Bains and Hautecombe, take this boat cruise at Aix, which includes the visit to the abbey.

Grenoble

If you are interested in seeing other cities near Lyon, in the region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, then head over to Grenoble, as this is just 1 hr 20 min by train, 1 hr by car.

Nestled at the foot of the Alps and surrounded by snow-capped peaks and lush forests, Grenoble is a vibrant city with many world-class art galleries perfect for a cultural day trip from Lyon.

Another popular tourist attraction in the city is La Bastille, which is Grenoble’s clifftop fortress. This historic construction dates back to the Middle Ages and, in the 1800s, was used to defend France against invasions from the Duchy of Savoy.

La Bastille is reached by a steep hour-long climb or with a cable car. At the summit, you will be rewarded with spectacular views across the surrounding landscape. On days of good visibility, you can even see the tip of Mont Blanc!

Click here to buy your train tickets to Grenoble

Gorges de la Loire – Monts du Forez

The meanders of the Gorges de la Loire, between Saint-Paul-en-Cornillon and Chambles, are beautiful to see on a day trip from Lyon. If you follow the river’s zig-zags you will find beautiful spots like the Ile de Grangent, occupied by the remains of a medieval castle.

At the time of its construction, around 800, the Château de Grangent was standing on a rocky promontory  60 meters above the Loire River. The château dominated the gorges and offered an ideal point of surveillance over the surroundings.

With the construction of a dam in 1957, the former rocky promontory became a small island in a lake, the Lac de Grangent. Now offering a picturesque panorama to visitors, the ensemble is reminiscent of when the gorges were a strategic route between Forez and Velay.

The drive from Lyon to Ile de Grangent takes 1 hour. Château de Grangent is overlooked by a larger castle, the Château d’Essalois. You can visit both castles and the medieval village of Saint-Victor-sur-Loire on a busy but memorable Lyon day trip.

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