Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
Visit Dijon, the Capital of Burgundy
Dijon, France, is the capital of Burgundy and is best known for its picturesque architecture and great wines. But there’s so much more to do in this city of rich culture and long history. And, of course, Dijon also has incredible food, just like the rest of France.
So, if you’re looking for the perfect weekend getaway or a longer stay, here’s a list of the best things to do in Dijon, France.
Are you planning your Dijon trip last minute?
Below, are some of the best Dijon tours, hotels, and more!
Top Experiences and Tours in Dijon
- City walking tour with an audio guide
- Dijon bike tour with tastings
- Bike tour and tastings in the vineyards of Burgundy
Top Dijon Accommodation and Lodging
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What to Do in Dijon, France
What to do in Dijon for a day or a weekend getaway? Here is the list of the best things to do in Dijon, France – things to do for an unforgettable holiday.
1. Stroll around the Old Town
Strolling around the Old Town is one of the best things to do in Dijon. This historic center became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2015 and is full of beautiful, half-timbered houses and little squares where the locals relax in charming little cafés.
Dijon’s tiny, tangled streets are so picturesque that you won’t want to miss a thing. That’s why you should stop by the tourist office on Rue des Forges to get the Owl Trail booklet. This one-hour trail will take you past all of the top sites in the district, and you will just need to follow the owls seen on brass plaques on the sidewalks and streets.
2. Visit the Ducal Palace
Any list of what to do in Dijon, France, must include a visit to the Ducal Palace. It’s actually hard to miss this one, as it’s right in the city center and close to other popular things to see in Dijon.
The Ducal Palace was home to the Dukes of Burgundy in the 14th and 15th centuries and is now the city’s town hall. The oldest part, the Tower of Philip the Good, was built in the 1450s and offers amazing views of the city. However, you will need to make a reservation to visit the tower and be ready to climb the 300 steps between the ground and the views.
3. Musée des Beaux-Arts
While you visit Dijon, you can also visit the Musée des Beaux-Arts or Fine Arts Museum, which is part of the Ducal Palace. Founded in 1787, this is where you’ll learn about the power and the excesses of the Dukes of Burgundy.
It also contains collections donated to the Museum throughout the years, so you’ll be able to see everything from Islamic glassware to Roman art.
While you’re at the Museum, make sure you see the tombs of Philip the Bold and John the Fearless. They both feature unique polychrome sculptures that date back to early Renaissance times.
4. Dijon’s Cathedral Saint Bénigne
This Gothic-style cathedral was built to resemble the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and is one of the best things to see in Dijon. Its most recent parts date back to the 15th century, but the building was under construction for years, so parts of it are hundreds of years older.
While you’re at the Cathedral, make sure you pay the couple of euros to see the crypt. This is the oldest part of the Cathedral, built in the 10th century to protect the relics of the local saint-martyr Saint Bénigne. The crypt is decorated with colored marble and carved capitals.
5. Food Shopping at Les Halles
Les Halles is the covered market in Dijon and has a friendly, busy atmosphere as well as great fresh produce. It’s one of the largest covered markets in all of France and was designed by Gustave Eiffel, designer of the famous Tower.
Les Halles is listed as a historical monument and was created in the 1870s from cast iron and glass. This unique architecture just adds to the bustling atmosphere of the market and makes the experience even better.
6. Relax in the Darcy Garden
If you enjoy getting out in nature in the middle of a city, then spend some time in the Darcy Garden. This beautiful Garden was inaugurated in 1880 and was the first public garden in Dijon.
The Neo-Renaissance-style Garden has beautiful fountains, a pond, and sculptures, including a polar bear that’s a replica of the work by Francois Pompon.
7. Learn about the Burgundy Wines with an Expert Sommelier
Before embarking on a trip to explore the vineyards, it’s good to learn the basics of Burgundy wines with a local sommelier (which are not that simple!). Learn about the “climats,” which are unique to Burgundy, and understand the Burgundy wines’ classification, areas, viticulture, and more.
The second part of this Burgundy wines masterclass will be about how to taste the Burgundy wines as a professional and the best pairings, which will be completed with a selection of local cheeses and charcuterie.
8. Take a Dijon Wine Tour with Tastings
Burgundy is one of the most famous wine regions in France, so a wine tour is an essential addition to any Dijon what-to-do list. There are lots of great vineyards in this area offering everything from Grand Crus to more modest (but also interesting) reds and whites.
If you’d like some guidance in choosing the best wines and vineyards, then try this full-day tasting tour with a guide and a driver from Dijon. For something more special, embark on a journey aboard a 1970 vintage car through the world-famous vineyards of Côte de Nuits.
If you prefer touring the vineyards with your car, check out this Route des Grand Crus road trip itinerary, which visits the best of Burgundy and its wines.
9. Visit Saint-Michel de Dijon Church
This Church is a bit of an architectural mix. The earliest sections are in the Gothic style, but construction was delayed because of a conflict between Louis XII and the Holy Roman Emperor. As a result, the Church was finished in the Renaissance style.
This mix works surprisingly well. The choir, the central nave, and the transept are Gothic and were completed in the early 1500s, and the dome tower and its ornaments were constructed in the late 1500s and 1600s in Renaissance styles.
The result is a beautiful and surprisingly coherent mix that showcases some of the best that both styles have to offer.
10. Taste Dijon’s Local Specialties
Dijon’s local cuisine uses the great diversity of Burgundy products to produce its own specialties, and you can enjoy them in most of the city’s restaurants.
The Dijon specialty is Parsley Ham, and it was originally cooked at home and eaten during the Easter Holidays in Dijon and the Côte d’Or department. You may also want to try the Burgundy coq au vin, Burgundy snails, beef Bourgignon, and the Burgundian hotpot, paired with excellent Burgundy wines.
Mustard is obviously a staple of Dijon cuisine. Its manufacture in Dijon dates back to the 12th century! A pot of moutarde de Dijon is always a much-appreciated souvenir from the city.
The most typical cheese of the city is Cîteaux cheese, made by the Cîteaux abbey, which is located between Beaune and Dijon. Burgundian cow’s milk cheeses are also very popular, especially the Époisses, which can be found in the Dijon salad, but also L’Ami du Chambertin, Le Trou du Cru, and the Petit Gaugry.
Last but not least, Dijon is well-known for its chocolates Lanvin, and gingerbread.
11. Explore the Most Beautiful Villages of Burgundy (on day trips)
You’ll find a lot to do and see when visiting Dijon, France. But this area has a lot more to offer than just the city. Make sure you take the time to explore some of the most beautiful villages in Burgundy on day trips around the region.
The best way to explore the nearby villages is by renting a car. This allows you to travel wherever you want to go and to spend as much or as little time in each village as you want – Click here for the best car rental rates in Dijon
However, if you don’t want to hire a car, then try taking this tour from Dijon to see the surrounding countryside. This tour includes two of the most beautiful villages in Burgundy and the UNESCO site Fontenay Abbey.