15 Top Tips To Visit Lyon On A Budget

Published: 2016/10/23
Travelling, visiting, discovering new places does not always have to be expensive. The most important thing is to get prepared and plan few things beforehand.


I know being spontaneous is so cool and rewarding and exciting, I do agree. This is a kind of other type of experience which sometime can turn out quite expensive though with booking expensive transport, with eating at places not recommended, with paying double for services unneeded.
Being spontaneous also means that you book a really hot last minute deal and save loads of money as the offer has just appeared and you are so quick to drop everything and go for a trip… anyway whatever you choose and whatever type of person you are who can handle more, less risk, I am going to help you out and plan visiting my beloved Lyon on the budget
So then if the hot last minute deal appears with Eurostar, or with Easyjet, you are ready to come over with this comprehensive list of 15 tips on how to explore Lyon on a budget. How does it sound to you? Well, check them out and I hope I will encourage you to discover this amazing French city.


Transport Tips To Explore Lyon on a Budget

Lyon City Card: free public transport pass

Lyon city pass 2024 prices

Purchase the Lyon City Card

This is very savvy way of discovering the city! Handy, useful & easy to get and help you experience all the best what the Lyon can offer. So you can buy it for a 1 or 2 or 3 days. It provides you with the FREE access to many museums, shows, guided tours, programmes etc; it gives you reduced prices on leisure activities, along with the unlimited use of the public transport system.
Discounts are also provided on the hop on hop off bus tour, the opera and theatres, bicycle and electric taxi tricycle hire, France Adventures and the aquarium.
Buy the Lyon City Card online and get 10% off or in the Lyon Tourist Office at the Place Bellecour or Vieux Lyon.


The funicular from Vieux Lyon to Fourvière and St-Just

Save on the transport in Lyon

Make the most of the tickets fares for the bus, tube. Depending on how long you are staying in Lyon, you can consider buying the Lyon City Card for a day, two or three. The very good deal is the all-day which costs €5.10, the only evening ticket costs €3 while the single ticket costs €1.80 and it allows you to use the transport within the hour. Remember if you buy it in the bus you will pay more €2 so ideally you get it at the tube stations and ideally you get the carnet of 10 so you pay less per ticket.

Lyon on a Budget with Lyon city card pass

Lyon City Card: a pass to save money when visiting the city


The TCL tickets allow you to use buses, trams, metro and two funiculars linking Vieux Lyon to Fourvière and St-Just. It is not worth trying to use the transport without a ticket in Lyon as there are many unexpected checks and you will pay a fine!

Use the Vélo’v System for the cheaper and hassle free sightseeing in Lyon

Another option for a cheaper way to go around Lyon is to use the Lyon’s bicycles which are available in the whole city for anyone. They are free to use for the first 30mins to get from one point to another, you just need to register before and pay a deposit and then depending on the type of subscription; you will pay a bit more when using one bike for a longer then free 30mins. Otherwise you can keep changing every half an hour… So its not only a good way to save on transport but also great way to exploreLyon.

Ride a velo'v to visit Lyon

Free things and discount codes


Use the voucher code websites to find a good discount

Find a good deal, offer, discount when shopping, using the parking, buying gifts or going out here in Lyon. There are few available around and the most popular seem to be: Reducavenue which is especially dedicated to Lyon

A bouchon in Lyon old town

Famous Lyon restaurants on a budget

Experience the Lyonnais Best Cuisine

Eat well in Lyon on a budget and in the famous Bouchon restaurants to get the authentic Lyonnais experience. To pay less, consider choosing the Set Menus which always provide you with the cheaper prices. You can then pay for 3 courses as little as 14.9 Euro.
And what is more, when you eat in Lyon, you are sure to be served a lot and the top quality of meal! So the food is worth its price!
Check out the bouchons prices beforehand and choose the ones which can serve you a meal for less than 20 Euro

Discounts to discover Lyon, France

Local group buying websites

Get a local deal with Groupon

Use this group buying website to find a local deal. Always check it before doing shopping, going out, buying gifts, getting ‘experience’ activity in Lyon. What makes it different from voucher code site is the fact that it doesn’t bring you the voucher to redeem but you buy a unique highly discounted voucher which you can use later.
The group buying websites have really great discounts – up to 80% off so they are worth using. I love them for the meal deals, hotels discounts, spa and hairdresser’s appointments.


Discover Cultural Lyon Cheaper

Get more out of the Lyon Events thanks to the cultural passes available at the Lyon Culture Website. You can also check for good offers here. There are many to choose from and the most popular are:

La Carte Musée

It costs 25 € for a year (free for under 18, homeless, handicapped etc). You can buy it at any museum which is included in the deal; you would need a photo of yourself. The museum carte will let you visit 6 Lyonnais museums unlimited times during one year.
The museums to choose from are:

Lyon Students Pass Culture

It costs €18 and you can use it to attend 4 shows at the following locations: Auditorium de Lyon, Complexe du rire, Espace Gerson, Espace 44, Les Subsistances, Maison de la Danse, Nouveau Théâtre du 8ème, Opéra de Lyon, Théâtre des Ateliers, Théâtre des Célestins, Théâtre de la Croix-Rousse, Théâtre des Marronniers, Théâtre Nouvelle Génération, Théâtre du Point du Jour, Théâtre National Populaire, Théâtre des Clochards Célestes, Fete Festival Nuits sonores (1/2 tariff appliqué), Choeur et Orchestre XIX – Direction Jean-Philippe Dubor, Institut Lumière, Théâtre de l’Elysée, Périscope, Théâtre Guignol de Lyon.

You can get all information to buy this pass on Lyon Campus website. It is important to know that when you want to use the discount you need to make relevant reservations beforehand (at least one week before the show).

La Carte D

La Carte D is FREE for students. They can use it in the following places: Le théâtre des Marronniers; Le théâtre des Clochards Célestes; L’Espace 44; Le théâre de l’Elysée; A Thou bout d’chant Le Marché Gare; Le Croiseur ; Le Périscope ; 6ème Continent; L’Ecole de Cirque de Lyon.
You will buy it in any of the above places once you proved you are a student.


L’auditorium in Lyon

It costs €72.00 for a year for free entrance to about 50 shows. You can buy it online at their website.

Carte ONL

It costs €15 for a year and it provides you with the discount of 30% across all the shows plus you get invites for the exclusive events. You can buy it here

things to do on a budget in Lyon, france

9. Get even more discounts on Things To Do in the Rhone Alps Area

There is a very good discount cart which you can request here for Free and it will provide you with the offers for the activities, museums, shows in Lyon as well as outside the city.

cheap accommodation in Lyon, France

10. Choose the alternative accommodation option and dine at home

If you really want to save money on accommodation in Lyon I would highly recommend choosing other than hotel options. You can simply book an apartment on airbnb or use a service called Nightswapping which let you swap a night with the locals. The above two options are very economical because you not only can get a really good price per night but what is more it will let you dine at the place. This is really useful, if you consider visiting Lyon for longer than going to restaurant every day will be very expensive.

When you stay at the hotel you won’t have an opportunity to cook but when you stay at the apartment, it comes with the equipped kitchen therefore your food spending per day can be much cheaper and…healthier. Go for the picnic/packed lunches options during the day and simple dinners cooked in the evening at the apartment – these are the massive savings you can make when visiting Lyon.

If you are not a fan of apartments and love your hotel stays & restaurants on evenings, use the most comprehensive hotel booking website – booking.com in Lyon.
There are over 300 properties different price range to choose from.


11. Save on your travel to Lyon

When coming over to Lyon, from whatever place you are now; I would recommend using the latest offers available at the transport websites. The most popular and budget friendly ways of coming to Lyon are obviously trains, low cost airlines.

When coming by train you need to check for the latest deals and discounts available on the SNCF website here. Thanks to the really good 10 Euro tickets via Ouigo you might also consider doing some trips out from Lyon to discover more of France.

Flights to and from Lyon are still pretty expensive. The most popular airline is Lufthansa which provides the best quality and is very comprehensive when it comes to the destinations to Lyon. But don’t be put off, there are few low cost airlines available, a bit limited with the destinations but you can get a good deal.
There are also additional destinations being introduced for the ski season and you can consider other airports around. The Grenoble and Saint Etienne airports instead of Lyon-Saint Exupéry (LYS)

Lyon on a budget: discount shops

12. Use 2 Euro Shops

Yes, this it true! The expensive France will have budget cheap 2 Euro shops and I have already found 2 of them in the centre of Lyon. They are very small so you can miss them when passing by. The one is located next to the Terreaux Place and the other one near Bellecour, They are very good for everyday products, small presents, stationary, kitchen and bathroom items.

You can save a lot but you need to be careful as paying only 2 Euro per product, will make you want more so you can end up topping up the shopping basket and spending much more than the symbolic 2 Euro.

Lyon on a budget, free toilets

13. Don’t pay to have a pee

In France they will charge you for using the toilet. You are sure to pay even at the shopping centre! This is ridiculous! They should encourage you to enjoy time when doing shopping and keeping you in this place as long as possible rather than making it more inconvenient to complete your basic needs!

Anyway, I have not been happy with the idea as I don’t like to pay for things that in my opinion should be for FREE. So I have discovered few places where you can use public toilets for FREE. This is at the Bellecour and View Lyon area, near the tube stations and next to the ONLYLyon offices. As this is actually the ONLYLYON which offers us the Free Public Toilets in Lyon.
So thank you ONLYLyon! I am sure there are more places where you don’t need to pay and to discover them you might want to use the WCPUblics site or simple Google Map for all public toilets locations.

Free parking in Lyon, France

14. Save on car parking

Parking in Lyon can be really expensive so before bringing a car here or hiring it, make sure that the hotel or apartment you booked, will provide you with the parking place. Also, when using your car in the centre, you are usually forced to leave it at the parking.
There are plenty to choose from parking and off street parking slots but for an hour you will need to pay about 2 Euro! So imagine going to the Shopping Centre and doing ‘relaxing shopping’. So what you should consider when using your car in Lyon is:

  • Weekend FREE off street parking– yes on weekends you can park for free but be sure it’s very hard to find a empty parking spot
  • Leave your car in the Gare De Vaise Metro Station and use the public traffic. The parking here is very big so you will find a place and what is more when you buy a metro ticket you don’t need to pay for the parking!

Picnic in Lyon: a sandwich for lunch on a budget in Lyon, France

15. Save money on lunches

This is really simple and easy as well as fun and enjoyable. Basically instead of spending each time over 10 Euro for a decent lunch meal, you can buy the fresh baguette from the local boulangerie, some cheese and ham & fruits from the local small Casino shop and I will assure you will be left with the money to treat yourself to the delicious Lyonnais speciality – the Praline! What is more, there are plenty of picnic spots you can find to enjoy your lunch: the parks, the squares, the riversides, even the Galo Roman Amphitheatre is a great place to sit and eat! Cheap & healthy and close to the nature!

So what do you think? Ready to book and come to Lyon? Will you still stay in your holiday budget? If you are a bit over, be sure those are the top tips some really cheesy but all checked and proved by myself.
If you have any other to add, I would love to hear them. I am saying NO to expensive France with my savvy shopping spirit. And how about you?