Family travel: 14 things to do in Lyon with kids

What to do in Lyon with kids

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Planning a family adventure to Lyon?

France’s capital of gastronomy was always on my list of places to visit due to its history and reputation for amazing food. To be honest, I had hoped to experience the city without the kids so we could bar and restaurant hop.

But circumstances conspired against us,  so it was a lovely surprise to find such a family friendly city that also satisfied our food cravings.

Lyon: visit Lyon with kids - things to do, where to stay - Place du Maréchal Lyautey

Lyon, France

Built on the confluence of the rivers Rhône and Saône, Lyon’s history was shaped by its strategic position on trade routes between Paris and Italy.

The city is the third biggest in France after Paris and Marseille, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has many wonderful parks and gardens, markets and interesting outdoor spaces.

So there is plenty to do for families with young children.

Best things to do in Lyon with kids

1 | Hang out riverside – we spotted some seriously cool parks along the banks of the Rhone

Cool playground by the river in Lyon

2 | Munch your way around the Marché Alimentaire on Quai St Antoine a typical and wonderful French open air fresh food market open every day except Monday 6am to 1pm

READ:   Paris for kids - ideas for a magical trip to the city of light

3 | Take a Lyon river cruise to the confluence of the Rhône and the Saône

Lyon a city of two rivers

3 | Pick up a cake or pastry at the amazing and decadent patisseries – you won’t have to look hard to find them

Patisserie in Lyon France

4 | Wander the massive and beautiful Parc de la Tête d’Or

things to do in Lyon with kids - visit Parc de la Tete D'Or

5 | Admire the elegant fountain and architecture surrounding the Place des Jacobins – kids love throwing coins in the fountain

6 | Stroll through the lovely Vieux (Old) Lyon and admire the medieval and renaissance architecture – especially the Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste. Don’t forget to explore the traboules or secret passageways dating from the 4th century. There are rumoured to be over 400!

7 | Visit Lyon Zoo in the grounds of the Parc de la Tête d’Or – quite lovely as far as zoos go as many of the animals are roaming in large enclosures. And it is free!

We spent ages trying to count the turtles at the Lyon Zoo – there are over 1,200! – many of which were rescued from the ecological disaster in Florida

8 | Explore the Musée des Confluences – this new museum devoted to the development of mankind is housed in a spectacular building that looks like an alien spaceship right on the confluence of Lyon’s famous rivers

Turtles at Lyon's Parc de la Tete D'Or

9 | Pick up a picnic at Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse – a gourmet mecca probably best experienced without toddlers but we made it work with the takeaway option!

10 | Admire the enormous space of the Place Bellecour and the imposing Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière which looks over the square – great place for kids to run around and let off steam.

There are also 2 great playgrounds, a cafe and tourist information located in the Place Bellecour – pictured below

Place Bellecour Lyon

12 | Save your pennies for a splurge at In Cuisine – a bookshop, cafe, ingredient store and cookery school – in the heart of Lyon. They have a great kids section (including books in English) and offer cooking lessons for kids too.

13 | Stroll across the city’s picturesque bridges and take in views of the majestic Rhône and Saône rivers

Lyon France - things to do

14 | Admire the lovely fountain, visit the playground and stop off for a casual dinner in the Place du Maréchal Lyautey. We stayed around the corner from here and it was the perfect spot

Passerelle du College bridge Lyon

Where to stay in Lyon with kids

Warwick Reine Astrid – a mid range hotel with an unbeatable position right next door to the Parc de la Tête d’Or. The Warwick Reine Astrid has family friendly suites, access to pubic transport and onsite parking so you can overlook the somewhat dated room decor. Check availability and prices

Hotel Particulier Ste Hélène – offering a range of modern apartments, this aparthotel is located on La Presqu’île close to the Place Bellecour. From this central location and its easy access to public transport you can explore all Lyon has to offer. Check availability and prices

Hotel Carlton Lyon – this upscale hotel is in a historic building with lots of character close to the Place Bellecour. The hotel has cosy family suites and can arrange babysitting should you wish to dine out Michelin style. Check prices and availability

For the best hotel deals in Lyon and France we recommend searching Hotels Combined

Save on your hotel -

Stopover in Lyon en route to the South of France or Italy

Lyon is a perfect stopover destination on the drive to the south of France or Italy from the UK.

Depending on how far you are prepared to drive in one day, you can make it for dinner the same day you leave. If you are not driving you can get there in just over 4 and a half hours by Eurostar which sounds a lot more civilised!

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More about France on Untold Morsels

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18 thoughts on “Family travel: 14 things to do in Lyon with kids

  1. Wander Mum says:

    Oooh – very helpful post – will keep this in mind now we are pros at driving down to the south of France. Looks like a perfect stop off. Thanks for sharing on #citytripping

    • Katy says:

      I can’t recommend it enough. Another lovely place en route to Italy or France is Annecy. We went in winter but it would be just as nice in summer I think.

  2. MummyTravels says:

    This is incredibly tempting! I knew Lyon’s reputation as a foodie city but had no idea it was so family-friendly. I’ve been half planning a trip to France as it’s ages since I’ve been and generally dithering about organising something, but this has shot to the top of the list… #citytripping

    • Katy says:

      We could have spent a lot longer there. You could make a nice trip of that region. We visited Annecy last year as well and apart from the beautiful lake and pretty town there are a lot of nice walks to do. Keep me posted!

  3. Vlad says:

    Lyon is incredibly pretty, I had no idea. Now I definitely want to include it in a future trip to France. I saw some turtles in a park recently lined up like that, they were too cute, haha.

  4. Phoebe @ Lou Messugo says:

    I love Lyon, and just like you say, it’s a perfect place for a stopover driving between the SoF and UK. We stay there at least once a year when doing exactly that. Recently we were trying to fit in a long weekend to explore more but somehow it’s already June and it hasn’t happened. I know it will but just not when. Incidently I recommend Lyon as a stopover place in a blog post I wrote about driving to the SoF too, so great minds think alike. Thanks for linking to #AllAboutFrance

    • Katy says:

      Thanks Phoebe, I’m trying to work out how we can fit in another Lyon stop this year but I don’t think it will work. Shame! It’s such a great city.

  5. Caro says:

    One of my favourite cities and I’m so lucky living in the Haute Savoie it’s only about an hour and a half away. With more than 3000 restaurants to visit and dubbed the gastronomique capital of France – I don’t think I’ll ever tire of walking the streets and river banks of this wonderful city. I’ve written a few posts on my blog Taste of Saveoi of restaurants I’ve visited so far in Lyon – so next time you visit…

    • Katy says:

      Ooh will be checking out that chocolate for sure. We had a sneaky look into the Traboules but it was a bit hard to negotiate with a double pram so we will wait until the children are older or until Mary Poppins flies in for a visit! Hope to read about your visit soon 🙂

  6. Emily Commander says:

    This is a great list. I would add, taking a trip through some of the city’s hidden traboules – the Tourist Office can advise you of where to find the entrances – and kids love the mystery of them.

  7. CatherineRose says:

    I would argue that this is a great list to do in Lyon whether or not you have kids! I love all these things! I’m happy to see you featured the park areas along the Rhône – I would love to slide down that tunnel slide were I not several decades too old. The Rhône is also nice for parents with strollers, since the quais are much wider than the Saône’s and it has separate areas for pedestrians and bikes in many areas. I think Parc de la Tête d’Or and its zoo and botanical gardens could keep you busy for days – I didn’t know the turtles were rescued from Florida! Thanks for sharing that tidbit 🙂

    • Katy says:

      Thanks so much Catherine. I adored Lyon and would love to return one day. Parc de la Tête d’Or is a treasure of the city isn’t it? And I would definitely join you in having a go on the slide. Being a parent means you can get away with some of those things 🙂

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