10 Day Trips from Dijon, France by Direct Train

sleeping on train

Burgundy is prime starting point for exploring very different regions in France⁠—it’s right between Alsace, known for its colorful houses and German influence, and the Rhône-Alpes, which offers mountain views and clear waters. For those hoping to go beyond France, Switzerland is only a couple hours away, and taking a flight from Paris isn’t too complicated either.

I spent one year in Dijon as an English lectrice, I spent a lot of my free time exploring nearby cities., I did a decent amount of research on places I could visit without a car and on a budget. To help those currently in the city (and to reminisce haha), I’ve compiled my 10 favorite spots for day/weekend trips, and given you a rundown on each destination.

These cities are all within 2.5 hours away by train, so you can make any individual visit in a day. There are some places, however, where I recommend spending at least a night. If I stayed overnight and had a particularly good experience, I linked my Airbnb/hotel.

My suggestions on “what to do” and “what to eat” are by no means comprehensive. They’re actually probably very biased, as I’m picky about activities and have a penchant for vegan food.

With that in mind, here’s an overview of 10 cities I’ll go over in this post.

This post contains affiliate links, meaning I earn a small commission on any bookings you make. This doesn’t cost you any extra, and this income helps me keep this blog running, so your support is much appreciated!

Map of Day Trips from Dijon, France by Direct Train

A note about transport: ticket costs vary significantly based when you book, your age, and whether you have a carte jeune (discount pass for those 12-27 years old). The carte jeune is 50€ and gives you a guaranteed 30% off on the TGV (high-speed rail). If you plan to take more than 3 TGV trips in a year, I would highly recommend getting one.

Many of the trips I recommend, however, are on the TER (local rail), so I would recommend playing around with your bookings and seeing how costs change with or without a discount pass before deciding to get one.

Day Trips from Dijon in France

1. Besançon

Population: 116,676
Distance: 1 hour 
Train stop: Besançon Viotte (NOT Besançon Franche-Comté TGV)

In my opinion, this city is one of the most underrated gems in France. I came 3 times over the course of my year in Dijon!

The city is very walkable, there’s good (vegan) food, and there’s amazing views from the fort overlooking the city. If you’re into hiking or trail running, there are also some moderately difficult and scenic trails.

What to do: 

  • La Citadelle, a historic fort overlooking the city⁠—the views are breathtaking, and there’s a zoo + several museums within the fort; cost is ~10-12€ depending on the season.
  • If you’re into trail running, check out the annual Trail des Forts in May, which offers shorter and longer events over the span of a weekend. They also have a couple free guided trail runs in February-March to go through some of the course for the races.
  • L’Occas à P’tit Prix Bric à Brac is a fun antique store on Rue Battant, which also has lots of ethnic bakeries and interesting shops.
  • Le Musée du Temps, a museum covering the history of local watchmaking; cost is 8€, but is free the first Sunday of the month.
  • L’Horloge astronomique, an astronomical clock from the 19th century; cost is 4€

See my Besançon travel guide for more ideas!

Where to eat:

Öst Café⁠—very aesthetic veggie café with juices, bowls, vegan desserts

Where to stay:

Besançon is very doable in a day, but I did stay overnight two of the three times I visited. You can get really nice accommodations in the historic city center for a reasonable price. For example, Hôtel Restaurant Spa Le Sauvage is in an old monastery near La Citadelle, and it has a terrace with a lovely view.

besancon centre ville
citadelle de besancon
La Citadelle

2. Chalon-sur-Saône

Population: 45,390
Distance: 40 mins

Chalon is very small, but it’s very charming⁠—come here for peaceful walks along the river and through the quaint city center with colorful houses.

What to do:

  • Walk around the town center, full of lovely half-timbered houses
  • Sit by the river in comfy chairs and watch the white swans/minnows
  • Visit the musée Nicéphore-Niépce, a free photography museum

Where to eat:

Dentelle et chocolat, a classic crêperie

chalon sur saone maison a colombages
chalon sur saone maison a colombages

3. Beaune

Population: 21,661
Distance: 20 minutes

Beaune is a classic recommendation for day trips from Dijon⁠—it’s a very small town best known for its vineyards.

What to do:

There are plenty of ways to spend one day in Beaune. Here are a few tourist favorites:

  • les Hospices de Beaune, a hospital for the poor that was founded in 1443. It’s a prime example of classic Burgundian architecture, with the half-timbered detailing and tiled roof. You get a free audio tour with the entry fee of 8,50€.
  • Go for one of the many wine tastings in town (here’s a top-rated one at a château).
  • If you like running through vineyards, consider the Beaune 10k and half marathon held in November (each finisher gets a bottle of wine instead of a medal!)

Where to eat:

I’ve never actually eaten anything in Beaune, but you can try some traditional Burgundy cuisine, if you desire. A big favorite is escargots, or snails. They’re drenched in butter and herbs, so they’re actually quite tasty (I made a flexitarian exception to try some haha). Unfortunately, they can be quite expensive in restaurants for the amount of food you get⁠—if you want to save money, consider getting some frozen ones from the supermarket and heating them up in the oven; this is what I did.

The main square is also full of classic French restaurants, so you can give those a try too.

hospices de beaune puits
les Hospices de Beaune
beaune france

4. Lyon

Population: 513,275
Distance: 2 hours
Train station: Lyon Part Dieu

Lyon is one of my favorite cities in France⁠—the river views are so lovely, the old town is always bustling with people, and there’s a lot to do given the size of the city, but it’s still very walkable.

What to do: 

  • La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière (or just “la Fourvière”)⁠—a basilica overlooking the city with lovely views and a challenging climb up (you can also just take the funicular).
  • Le théâtre antique de Fourvière⁠⁠—an ancient Roman theatre right next to la Fourvière. Visiting the outdoor theatre is free, but you must pay a small fee for entry to the museum on the grounds.
  • le Musée Cinéma et Miniature⁠—a super cool film museum with real props from movies like The Hunger Games, Aliens, and Mary Poppins. They also have many intricate miniatures (tiny film sets) that are so cute to see. The museum is located in a historic old town building, and entry is 14€.
  • Piscine du Rhône⁠—an outdoor pool overlooking the river, with some waterpark-like features. Gets SUPER crowded in the summers; wouldn’t recommend for lap swimming, but it’s a good way to cool off.
  • la Fête des lumières⁠—an annual urban lights show in December, where colorful light installations are shone onto major buildings in the city over the course of a few days. The festival was created to express gratitude to Mary, the mother of Jesus. The Festival of Lights is now a pretty secular event that draws in millions of tourists. If you want to go, be sure to reserve housing WAY in advance.
  • If you like running, Run in Lyon is a large event offering a 10k, half marathon, and marathon in early October. There were almost 30,000 total finishers last year. I did the Lyon Half Marathon and really enjoyed the flat course and overall event.

Where to eat:

  • Be sure to try la brioche aux pralines, which is sweet brioche bread with pink pralines⁠—it’s a Lyon specialty.
  • Hank Burger⁠—a vegan fast food chain; the burgers are filling and affordable.
  • Le Roi Falafel⁠—a Lebanese restaurant in the heart of the city; the owner is super friendly and sassy in an endearing way. I didn’t love the wraps, but the falafel plate was delicious.

Where to stay:

There are a plethora of Airbnbs and hotels, but if you want something more unique, rent a houseboat on one of the two rivers running through the city.

musee cinema et miniature lyon
le Musée Cinéma et Miniature
french bakery pink pralines
lots of pink praline brioche in the window (*drools*)

5. Colmar

Population: 70,284
Distance: 2 hours (direct trains are infrequent, so plan ahead)

Colmar is trendy destination in France, and for good reason⁠—the colorful houses seem straight out of a fairytale, and the healthy dose of decorations during Christmastime only add to the charm. The city is still charming in the warmer months though, and you’ll see beautiful flowers along the canal.

What to do:

  • Visit the Christmas Market in December for local goods, crafts, and classic holiday drinks/food like vin chaud (mulled wine).
  • Walk along la Petite Venise (rows of colorful houses along the canal) and through the old town.
  • Check out the neighboring fairytale villages, accessible by bus in the holiday season.
colmar at christmas
la petite venise colmar

6. Mulhouse

Population: 110,468
Distance: 1 hour
Train stop: Mulhouse Ville

Mulhouse (pronounced mull-ooze) is not the prettiest of the cities in this list, but there are some lovely spots near the town center. Overall, it feels more industrial/modern (don’t let my old town photos fool you), so it lacks the same charm as the others. I’m sure it’s lovelier in the spring, however, with the flowering plants and wisteria.

What to do:

I actually didn’t do much, other than going to the Christmas Market. There are several museums though, including the Musée Electropolis, which is all about electricity.

christmas market mulhouse
mulhouse france

7. Troyes

Population: 60,928
Distance: 2 hours

Troyes has a stunning medieval old town with colorful half-timbered houses.

Unfortunately, you can’t actually get here via direct train⁠—there are, however, several daily drivers through Facebook rideshare groups (look up “Dijon Troyes Covoiturage”), and through BlaBlaCar. I didn’t have a great experience with BlaBlaCar, so if you’re taking it for the first time, read about the pros and cons.

What to do:

The town is quite small, so there isn’t a ton to do outside of admiring the beautiful architecture. Definitely walk through the old town, and check out the area near Cathédrale Saint-Pierre Saint-Paul and Eglise Saint-Nizier for even more historic buildings.

You may also enjoy some of the local museums.

maison a colombages troyes
pink half timbered house

8. Strasbourg

Population: 283,515
Distance: a little over 2 hours (direct trains aren’t super frequent, so plan ahead)

Strasbourg is a charming city in Alsace full of colorful houses, beautiful parks, and historic sites. It attracts people from around the world for its Christmas market, which is the oldest in France and certainly worth a visit. In the warmer months, the city is gorgeous as well, with flowers and greenery along the canals coming alive.

What to do:

  • You’re probably tired of hearing about Christmas markets at this point, but Strasbourg’s Christmas Market is the most famous. The streets are decked out with decorations, and there are tons of market stands to explore.
  • Strasbourg also features some lovely colorful houses along its canals. Walk around or take a boat ride.
  • Visit the Alsatian Museum, dedicated to life in the region in the 18th and 19th centuries.
  • Explore the Palais Rohan, a beautiful palace in the heart of the city that was once home to a noble family from Brittany.
Street at night in Strasbourg lined with lights of angels playing trumpet
Christmas market stands in Strasbourg by the cathedral with the carousel in the foreground

Day Trips from Dijon in Switzerland

Dijon is close to the Swiss border, making day trips to this beautiful country possible as well.

A quick note about traveling to Switzerland: train tickets tend to be more expensive, and less flexible (some might be nonrefundable, or only 20% refundable). I would recommend staying for at least a night to make the most of your trip.

If you do stay overnight, you should know that Swiss hostels and hotels give you a free unlimited transport card, which can save you a ton of money on transportation within the city (a single bus/tram ticket can be 4 CHF!). You won’t get these cards with Airbnb, so you might want to look at hotels/hostels instead.

9. Lausanne

Population: 137,810
Distance: 2 hours

Dijon is surprisingly close to Switzerland⁠—if you want your dose of mountains, consider hopping on a train across the border (but remember your passport!). Lausanne is especially scenic since it’s surrounded by mountains, and right on Lake Geneva.

What to do:

When I visited Lausanne, I actually spent most of my time traveling to nearby towns like Vevey and the famous Château de Chillon. Vevey was charming, but I wasn’t impressed by the Chillon Castle⁠—I was expecting much more from the “most-visited castle in Switzerland.” The interior isn’t very engaging, as it’s pretty empty and only has dry educational panels. The exterior is very photogenic though!

I did like walking around Lausanne’s Ouchy neighborhood along the lake though, and I loved the Olympic Museum. It was pricey (20 CHF), but the interactive exhibits and artifacts were educational and plain cool. There were brief clips on the history of each Olympic Games, the story of the Olympic torches (plus the actual torches), and the real equipment of Olympic medalists, like Michael Phelps’ swimsuit (from Athens 2004 I think)!

lake geneva white swan
Lake Geneva
vevey switzerland
Vevey, a little town along Lake Geneva

10. Basel

Population: 171,017
Distance: 1.5 hours direct, 2 hours with one transfer in Mulhouse

Basel (prounounced bah-sul in English and bâle in French) was one of my favorite stops. Since the main language spoken is Swiss German, it was the most foreign-feeling place I visited near Dijon. Luckily, most locals spoke English too! Beyond the language novelty, Basel felt both quaint and modern. The buildings had that old charm but remained very clean, and not in the least run-down. 

What to do:

  • Go swimming in the Rhine with a Wickelfisch, a cute fish-shaped dry bag (you can buy these at the tourist center for 25-30 CHF). Locals use the bag to keep their valuables and clothes dry while taking a dip⁠—it’s also perfect for solo travelers who have no one to watch their stuff, since you can keep the bag with you in the water, and use it as a flotation device. The current can get pretty strong, so be careful! This was my favorite part of visiting Basel.
  • Musikmuseum, with collections of old instruments⁠—brass, string, acoustic, the works. Descriptions are only in Swiss German, unfortunately, but the instruments are cool to look at. Entry is free in the last hour before closing, except on Sundays and holidays.
  • Walk around the Old Town or along the Rhine⁠—there are lots of lovely ivy-covered buildings.

What to eat:

I didn’t really eat out since Switzerland is so expensive⁠—I ended up getting small things like pretzels and sandwiches, and supplementing them with supermarket food. There’s a nice fresh pretzel shop in the main train station though, and they even have vegan pretzels 🙂

Where to stay:

I splurged on a single room at Community Hostel & Lounge by Hyve Basel (unfortunately, they’re even more expensive than they were a few years ago). The common spaces were very aesthetic and the room was pretty comfy for a hostel. The location was also great⁠—it was only half a mile (800m) from the station.

basel old town
basel switzerland rhine

Where to Stay in Dijon, France

This section contains affiliate links, meaning that I may earn a small commission on any bookings you complete. This doesn’t cost you any extra, and any commissions earned help me keep my blog running 🙂

If you’re looking to make Dijon your starting point for travels in Burgundy and beyond, it’s important to have a comfy place to stay. Here are some recommendations for all budgets!

Luxury: Grand Hôtel la Cloche Dijon (150-350€)

This hotel overlooks Porte Guillaume, the main gate leading to the city. It’s an easy walk from the train station, and is right next to the Jardin Darcy, a public garden. The interior of the hotel looks modern and upscale, and amenities include a spa and restaurant.

Mid-range: City Loft AppartHotel (70-130€)

This hotel is based in city center and offers fully-furnished apartments for solo travelers, duos, or families. Each apartment has a kitchenette (with a microwave, stovetop, refrigerator), a TV, and air conditioning (which is SUPER rare in France).

Budget: Apartment near the train station (50€)

This one-bed apartment is close to the train station and the Jardin de l’Arquebuse. You’ll be a short walk from the city center.

I hope this was helpful, and that you discover lots of new places and food in your travels. If there are any cities you think I should add, definitely let me know 🙂

You may also like:

One Day in Dijon: Best Photo Spots + Things to Do

Christmas in Alsace: Fairytale Villages to Visit

Grenoble Hikes Accessible by Bus

Pros and Cons of BlaBlaCar

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