While there are many reasons to visit Lyon, one of the best is its fantastic location in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. There are plenty of great day trips from Lyon within a couple of hours drive; here are five of my favourites which vaut le voyage.
Lyon itself has a lot to offer visitors, but once you’ve thoroughly explored the city you may want to venture further and discover some of the region’s other highlights.
From picturesque villages to mountain vistas, there is so much to see only a short journey away.
No matter your interests, I’ve got you covered for the best day trips from Lyon that are all less than two hours away.
Top 5 day trips from Lyon
1. Beaujolais region – the wine lover’s day trip
Famous for its ‘young’ wine, Beaujolais Nouveau, there are many more varieties to discover in the Beaujolais region. The area is particularly beautiful just before the harvest in the autumn when the vines have turned a russet red and juicy grapes are bulging from the vine.
The south of the region is famous for its gold stone villages, known as ‘Beaujolais des pierres dorées’ and sometimes referred to as ‘little Tuscany’.
A great way to explore the area is to hire bikes from Beaujeu and follow the way-marked cycle routes that lead you from vineyard to village. Pack a picnic lunch in your panniers and you have a perfect afternoon!
If you haven’t been on a bike in a while, don’t worry, the routes are beginner-friendly and electric bikes are available – just don’t sample too many verres du vin if you want to stay steady.
If you prefer to admire the landscape without pedalling, there’s also a sign-posted driving route, the route des vins which you can follow between Mâcon and Lyon. Another alternative is to take one of the organised day trips from Lyon.
How to get there: drive or take a tour from Lyon.
2. Aix-les-Bains & the Massif des Bauges – the adventure lover’s day trip
Just over an hour from Lyon by car or train is the spa town of Aix-les-Bains. The town is on the shore of Lac Bourget and at the foot of the stunning Massif des Bauges mountain range, so there are a wealth of adventure activities on offer if you’re so inclined.
Aix-les-Bains is a perfect day trip destination year-round, as there’s something suitable for every season and temperature.
Some of the adrenaline-fuelled pursuits in the immediate surroundings include water sports on the lake; skiing and snowshoeing in the winter; hiking in the pristine national park in the summer and – when wind and weather permit – even paragliding off Mont Revard, the peak which overlooks the town.
If you’re more of a fan of spas than of sports, you can also indulge in the eaux thermales and try a spot of ‘balneotherapy’ at one of the local spas, which utilise the mineral-rich thermal waters.
The town itself is really worth a wander as there is some very interesting architecture, including Roman ruins, grand Belle Époque hotels and a 20th century chateau perched on the hillside above the town.
How to get there: drive, or take the train.
3. Pérouges – the history lover’s day trip
At only 30km away, Pérouges is one of the easiest day trips from Lyon. A pretty medieval walled town, Pérouges is extremely well-preserved and often used as a historical film set.
As clichéd as this may sound, as you walk into the town you truly have the sense of having stepped into the past; such is the lack of modern-day signifiers.
One of the delights of the tiny town is its artisan community, including a papeterie artisanale (paper making workshop) and a créatrice de robes de mariées (silk wedding dress workshop) which you can pop into.
They also have frequent workshop events where you have the opportunity to try traditional crafts, as well as various market days.
You can opt for a guided tour through the Pérouges tourist information centre, but since the town is fairly compact it’s easy enough to stroll through the winding cobbled streets on your own. There’s a free audio guide app you can download from the official website.
How to get there: drive, take bus 132, or train plus a short walk.
4. Lac d’Aiguebelette – the sun-worshipper’s day trip
If you fancy a day of sunbathing, then Lac d’Aiguebelette will be one of the best day trips from Lyon for you.
A beautiful emerald lake dotted with both sandy and grassy beaches (some free-of-charge, some cost a few euros to enter) and with a stunning view of the mountains, it’s a great place to go in the summer to relax.
Just bring sunscreen and something to read!
Unlike the glacial water of other lakes in the surrounding area, Lac d’Aiguebelette is renowned for being one of the warmest natural lakes in France, with the water temperature in the summer reaching a bath-like 28°C.
Some of the beaches have snack bars where you buy drinks, snacks and ice-cream. You can also hire boats, pedalos, kayaks and paddle boards if you want to explore the lake – there’s often a lot of wildlife to spot.
How to get there: drive, train.
5. Annecy – the culture lover’s day trip
Known as ‘Venice of the Alps’ (at least by the tourist board) because of its pretty canals winding through the Old Town, Annecy is a picture-perfect French town on the edge of Lac Annecy, surrounded by snow-capped mountains.
The old part of the town, or vieille ville, is absolutely beautiful, with colourful buildings lined with flower-filled window boxes, pavement cafés, and cute stone bridges over the canals.
Above the vieille ville sits Château d’Annecy, dating from the 12th century. It now houses a museum. More local history displays can be found at the Palais de l’Isle, in the middle of one of the canals.
Don’t miss the markets!
The Old Town holds a food market each Tuesday and an additional textile market each Friday and Sunday. Watch out for others throughout the week in different parts of town.
Annecy is also a great place to sample la cuisine savoyarde – traditional mountain fare – which is generally heavy on the cheese and potatoes. You may want to take a walk along the lakeside afterwards!
How to get there: drive, train or by bus
France really is a country of diverse landscapes, and the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes has its own unique charm that should be discovered. If planning a trip to Lyon, make sure you pop these day trips on your list too.
Have you experienced other day trips from Lyon? Which are your favourites? Share your recommendations with us in the comments.
1. ‘Road’ by Unsplash, via Pixabay
2. ‘Ouigo train’ by David Gubler, via Wikipedia
3. ‘Trayne-Cul Street in Oingt, Beaujolais’ by Barbara Walter, via Wikimedia Commons
6. ‘Société des Eaux d’Aix-les-Bains’ by Florian Pépellin, via Wikimedia Commons
7. ‘Pérouges’ by Arnaud 25, via Wikimedia Commons
8. ‘Rue des Princes, Pérouges’ by Alizée Vandermolen, via Wikipedia
9. ‘Lac d’Aiguebelette’ by Florian Pépellin, via Wikimedia Commons
11. ‘Annecy’ by Kaeptn_Pixel, via Pixabay
Images 4, 5, 10 & 12 courtesy of Sophia Marci Anderson