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European Capitals of Smart Tourism

Lyon - Winner of 2019 European Capitals of Smart Tourism

Through sustainable, cutting-edge development, Lyon has become an essential European tourist destination in barely two decades. Boasting 2,000 years of history, the city is long established as France’s capital of gastronomy, silk and cinema. 

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Lyon has become an essential European tourist destination two decades

Through sustainable, cutting-edge development, Lyon has become an essential European tourist destination in barely two decades. Boasting 2,000 years of history, for which it is recognised by UNESCO, the city is long established as France’s capital of gastronomy, and lays claim to being the continent’s cradle of silk and cinema. The annual Festival of Lights, which attracts around three million visitors over four days, is another major reason why tourism has boomed, becoming a €1 billion-a-year industry.

Lyon has won several accolades for accessibility — including the 2017 Access City Award — having put its plan at the centre of urban life. Visitors with disabilities and reduced mobility can move around the city with complete autonomy, taking advantage of a completely adapted transport network and smart signage. Lyon’s museums offer adapted tours — those with hearing impairments are allowed to touch works of art — and many restaurants provide speaking menus.

This year, 40,000 visitors to the city experienced the benefits of the Lyon City Card, which provides users with free public transport, entrance to 23 museums and other attractions, discounts and more. In future, visitors will be able to take advantage of the ONLYLYON Experience, receiving live geo-located tourist information direct to their smartphones to reduce congestion.

Lyon hero image
Lyon hero image


A city where sustainability and culinary traditions go hand in hand

Lyon-Saint-Exupery is one of 25 airports in just nine countries to be classed as carbon neutral, and sustainable development is one of the city’s main priorities. An example of this is the ‘Lyon, Ville Equitable et Durable’ label which identifies companies, shops, producers and events encouraging responsible consumption. Artists taking part in the Festival of Lights, meanwhile, are rewarded for taking a sustainable approach to their installations.

For more details, visit

Lyon hero


France’s capital of gastronomy

Food is an important part of Lyon life, and the city’s culinary heritage has been used to create a TV film, web series and website dedicated to the mysterious Chef Factory culinary school, whose alumni and former teachers include Paul Bocuse and Eugenie Brazier. If you’re visiting Lyon to taste its gastronomic delights, look out for the ‘Bouchons Lyonnais’ quality label — 100,000 Chef Factory wooden spoons have been handed out in 10 cities around the world. This mark guarantees the restaurateurs follow strict traditions, serving local dishes in a convivial environment.

Once you’ve eaten, you can walk off lunch by meandering through the Traboules (historic secret passages dotted around the city), or check out the UNESCO-listed Painted Murals. Both experiences can be enhanced using augmented reality apps.


General publications15 April 2021
Lyon preliminary programme of activities as 2019 European Capital of Smart Tourism
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Find out more about Lyon´s activities


Helsinki news
5 December 2019

Lyon attends the Digital Tourism Think-thanks held in Helsinki

Helsinki, the 2019 European Capital of Smart Tourism, hosted the Digital Tourism Think Tank (DTTT) Global on 4 & 5 December 2019, with their main topic being Sustainability. The DTTT Global is an annual event that hosts high-ranking speakers, discussions and workshops, all with the aim of shaping a sustainable future for tourism and the overall travel industry. Lyon attended the event and talked about their significant win and becoming the 2019 European Capital of Smart Tourism. Helsinki too shared their best practices as tourism destination in Sustainability, Digitalisation, Accessibility and Cultural Heritage & Creativity. Find out more about the DTTT Global here.

Helsinki video series
8 August 2019

Lyon launches a new series of videos to celebrate its status as European Capital of Smart Tourism

In the first of the series Valérie Heitz, one of Lyon’s City Greeters, explains how her colleagues are helping provide original experiences for tourists. You can view other videos in the series on the ONLYLYON twitter page.

Lyon experience
10 July 2019

OnlyLyon experience launched

ONLYLYON Experience launched in 2019. An innovative CRM tool which involves city wide innovation and involvement from both private and public sectors. The principle of ONLYLYON Experience is to collate information and insights from key actors in the destination such as hotels, museums, services providers etc, to compile a central database that will facilitate valuable data sharing. This data can then be used in future communication plans to all the key actors in an omni-channel / omni-partner marketing approach, ‘Marketing Collectively’.

For example, for a first time visitor, all partners can share and use data to tailor and customise the message. Together, they agree through a ‘communications architecture’ on what messages will be communicated to different profile groups.

Lyon ambassadors meeting
4 June 2019

OnlyLyon ambassadors meeting

300 ONLYLYON Ambassadors gathered on a sunny evening in Lyon to enjoy local cuisine and discuss how smart measures are improving the tourism experience in the French city.

Lyon boasts a unique global network of 19,000 ambassadors, who play an important role in promoting the city around the world. The 300 ambassadors in attendance at the event were keen to get a picture with the European Capital of Smart Tourism trophy and are looking forward to informing future visitors about staying smart during their stay in the city.

See more pictures from this special event here and learn more about Lyon’s smart initiatives here (French).

Lyon at IMEX 2019
14 May 2019

Lyon attends IMEX 2019

Lyon took part in the IMEX tourism fair in Frankfurt, Germany. Together with Helsinki, the two European Capitals of Smart Tourism presented themselves as smart tourism destinations and also as leading locations to host congresses, corporate meetings, events and seminars.

For Lyon, the tourism fair coincided with the news that Lonely Planet had named the city one of its top 10 destinations for 2019.

Find out more here (French).

Different type of tourism
18 April 2019

A different type of tourism 

All week, the city of Lyon is running a campaign  in the city for a “different type of tourism”. This is encompasses the goals of the European Capital of Smart Tourism initiative, which supports the evolution of digital tools, products and services; equal opportunity and access for all visitors. This form of sustainable development is targeted at ensuring local heritage can be enjoyed by all, for the long-term.

Find out more about the initiative here.

Lyon hashtag sculpture
13 February 2019

Arrival of Lyon´s sculpture

Lyon welcomed its 3-meter-high hashtag sculpture awarded by the EU right outside the city’s Musée des Confluences. The Museum, named after its position where the Rhône and Saône rivers meet, largely focuses on natural sciences, displaying diverse exhibitions about human origins and destiny, the diversity of cultures and humanity. Located right in the city centre, this location is very easy to reach with public transport. Come, see it!

Lyon ambassador network
5 January 2019

Mobilisation of Lyon´s Ambassador Network 

Lyon is proud to boast an international network of 19,000 ambassadors. These representatives of the city have now been supplied with communication kits related to Lyon’s success as European Capital of Smart Tourism and are thus now able to act as spokespeople for the initiative.

Find out more about Lyon’s ambassador network here.

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