Things to do in Lille

Things to do in  Lille

A little bit French, a little bit Flemish

The capital of the Hauts-de-France region, Lille’s mix of Gallic and Flemish sensibilities is visible in the Grand Place's striking architecture; the cobblestoned beauty of its Old Town (known as Vieille Lille); and culinary preferences, which skew towards carbonnade, mussels, and beer. Home to one of France’s largest student populations, Lille’s open and youthful energy is complemented by its wealth of culture: the Palais des Beaux Arts houses France’s second-largest art collection after the Louvre, while admiring modern and contemporary art at LaM is one of the top things to do in Lille.

Top 15 attractions in Lille

Lille Museum of Fine Arts (Palais des Beaux Arts de Lille)

With a collection spanning the centuries, the Palais des Beaux-Arts has something for everyone. Inside, you’ll find works from some of Europe’s most celebrated artists, including Raphael, Bosch, Goya, Monet, and many others.More

Lille Old Town (Vieux Lille)

Vieux-Lille—the city’s Old Town—is its most historic quarter, with notable Flemish-style architecture and major landmarks. The area, located just north of the city center, dates back centuries. Come for the history, architecture, and its gourmet food and drink offerings.More

Lille Town Hall and Belfry (Beffroi de l'Hôtel de Ville de Lille)

Lille Town Hall is known for its quintessential red-brick Flemish architecture. But the municipal building’s real draw is its soaring 104-meter (341-foot) Belfry. A typical feature of Northern France and Belgium—so much so, they were granted UNESCO World Heritage protection—belfries once alerted citizens to imminent dangers or gatherings. Today, the structure offers panoramic views of the city.More

Hospice Comtesse Museum (Musée de l'Hospice Comtesse)

The Hospice Comtesse Museum is the city museum of Lille, housed in an old hospital founded by Jeanne, Countess of Flanders, in the 13th century. You’ll find paintings, tapestries, wood sculptures, and porcelain, and rooms furnished to reflect convent life in centuries past.More

Birthplace of Charles de Gaulle (Maison Natale de Charles de Gaulle)

Charles de Gaulle is one of the most celebrated Frenchmen of the past few centuries—and Lille’s Birthplace of Charles de Gaulle (Maison Natale de Charles de Gaulle) offers a glimpse into the early years of the French general and statesman. Visit his birthplace-turned-museum to see family keepsakes, documents, and other mementos.More

La Madeleine

La Madeleine church in Paris is one of the most striking buildings in the entire Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Designed as a tribute to Napoleon’s army and its glorious victories, the church is built in the neoclassical style of a lavish Greek temple and dominates the surrounding neighborhood with its 52 towering Corinthian columns.More

Lille Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-la-Treille)

Notre Dame de la Treille Cathedral in Lille is a Roman Catholic church that took almost 150 years to complete. The building is known for its modern stained glass panels and impressive organ.More

Grand Place

Lille’s main public square, the Grand Place—which also goes by the Place du Général de Gaulle—is a top gathering point in this northerly city. Grand Palace is ringed by many of the city’s historic buildings and attractions, including the Vieille Bourse, and located in Lille’s atmospheric Old Town (Vieux-Lille).More
Lille Natural History Museum (Musée d'Histoire Naturelle de Lille)

Lille Natural History Museum (Musée d'Histoire Naturelle de Lille)

One of France’s oldest museums, Lille's Natural History Museum (Musée d'Histoire Naturelle de Lille) has been open since 1822. Not only has it weathered two world wars, but this small zoological and geological museum now boasts more than 200,000 specimens. Highlights include taxidermied models of now-extinct species such as the Passenger Pigeon and the Tasmanian Tiger.More
La Piscine Museum (Musée d'Art et d’Industrie André Diligent)

La Piscine Museum (Musée d'Art et d’Industrie André Diligent)

Don’t let the name fool you (piscine means “swimming pool” in French). This ornate Art Deco-era building is actually an art museum. The sprawling collection—a mix of temporary and permanent exhibits—is housed in a former municipal pool in the small city of Roubaix, located just outside Lille. The museum is particularly famous for its textile works, ranging from Coptic Egyptian to contemporary fabrics.More
Science Forum (Forum Departmental Des Sciences)

Science Forum (Forum Departmental Des Sciences)

Dedicated to all things science, this cutting-edge center and exhibition space invites you to discover and participate in the world of scientific observation and research. The Forum is focused on making learning fun—regular interactive temporary exhibits are designed to appeal to kids as young as two, while the Forum also holds special events and workshops, called atéliers.More
Museum of the Gunners in Lille (Musée des Canonniers Sédentaires de Lille)

Museum of the Gunners in Lille (Musée des Canonniers Sédentaires de Lille)

One of Lille’s oldest museums, the Museum of the Gunners of Lille (Musée des Canonniers Sédentaires de Lille) is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in military history. Housed in a historic former convent in the center of the city, this intimate museum is dedicated to one of the oldest artillery corps in Europe: The gunners have defended Lille since 1483.More
Le Fresnoy National Studio for Contemporary Arts (Le Fresnoy Studio National des Arts Contemporains)

Le Fresnoy National Studio for Contemporary Arts (Le Fresnoy Studio National des Arts Contemporains)

Located in the suburbs of Lille, Le Fresnoy is an educational center and an exhibition space. It trains French and international artists working on various audiovisual and multimedia projects in a state-of-the-art residency center. Le Fresnoy is also open to the public for contemporary art exhibits, films, theater performances, lectures, and concerts.More
Bondues Museum of the Resistance (Musée de la Résistance)

Bondues Museum of the Resistance (Musée de la Résistance)

During the Second World War, 68 members of the French Resistance were executed by Nazi firing squad at the Fort of Bondues. Today, the ruins of this defensive fort are home to the Museum of the Resistance. The permanent exhibition explores the makeup and background of the Resistance of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region from 1940-1944, and honors the Resistance fighters.More
La Manufacture de Roubaix

La Manufacture de Roubaix

Dedicated to the textile industry, this innovative museum goes beyond explaining how wool is turned into fabric (although it does that, too.) It also spotlights oral histories from various textile workers, from weavers and spinners to designers and factory foremen. The museum contains seven short videos that explain the history of the industry through personal testimonies.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in Lille

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All about Lille

When to visit

The most popular time to visit Lille is in June and July, when the warm summer temperatures and sunlight make exploring the city’s picturesque, Flemish-inspired Old Town pleasant. That said, it’s also a good idea to aim for the shoulder season: Spring sees the arrival of the Lille 3000 Biennale, while September is host to the enormously popular Lille Flea Market, among the largest flea markets in France.

Getting around

Lille has a robust public transportation network comprising two metro lines, two tram lines, and dozens of bus routes. The city is served by the Lille Airport and two train stations—the regional Lille-Flandres Station and the international Lille-Europe station which, thanks to Eurostar services, connects the city with destinations including Paris, London, and Brussels. Much of Lille’s Old Town (Vieux-Lille) is best explored on foot or by bike.

Traveler tips

If you have time to spare during your Lille trip, it’s worth hopping on a quick train to the adjacent city of Roubaix, which was once the heart of France’s textile industry and has since been reborn as a cutting-edge arts destination. Head to La Piscine, a swimming pool turned into a museum of arts and industry, and visit Le Vestiaire, where dozens of independent fashion designers show off their wares.


People Also Ask

What is Lille most known for?

Lille is the capital of the Hauts-de-France region and is located near the Belgian border. It is a lively university city and cultural hub. It’s renowned for the Flemish-inspired architecture of its Old Town, its vibrant nightlife scene, and its boundary-pushing art museums.

How do I spend a day in Lille?

There’s much to do in vibrant Lille. Begin your day exploring its Old Town, Vieux Lille (including highlights like the UNESCO-listed Lille Town Hall) on foot. In the afternoon, visit an art museum such as the Lille Museum of Fine Arts before enjoying dinner and drinks out on the town.

What is there to do near Lille?

There’s plenty to do beyond Lille’s central Old Town. The Citadel is a major military landmark dating to the 17th century, while top museums—including La Piscine Museum and Lille Métropole Museum of Modern, Contemporary and Outsider Art—are located on the outskirts. Neighboring Roubaix boasts historical landmarks and cycling history, too.

Is Lille worth visiting?

Yes, Lille is absolutely worth visiting. The city is sizable for France, and its historic Old Town is packed with medieval landmarks and home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As a university city, Lille is also vibrant, with cutting-edge museums and top-rated restaurants.

Is Lille a nice city?

Yes, Lille is a very nice city. Its Old Town, Vieux Lille, is renowned for scenic cobblestone streets, Flemish-inspired medieval architecture, and highlights like the UNESCO-listed Town Hall. Its Michelin-starred restaurants, many leading art museums, shopping streets, and markets are further draws.

Is Lille good for tourists?

Yes, Lille is a great place for tourists, though compared to hubs like Paris and Lyon, it is an underrated destination. Visitors who make the trip will discover plenty to be impressed by, from Lille’s UNESCO site and medieval Old Town to its dynamic restaurant, shopping, and cultural scenes.

Frequently Asked Questions