Grenoble is a city in Isére France and is a fantastic place to spend 2 or more days exploring. This 2,000-year-old city is simply brimming with history reflected through its archaeological sites, museums, and even its food. If adventure is your thing, you have endless possibilities for activities within the surrounding mountains and along the rivers.
Best Things to do Grenoble
If you are planning on visiting Grenoble for a short break then this list of best things to do will help. You’ll be able to visit the Bastille Fortress and Grenoble cable car, Musée de Grenoble, Saint-Laurent Archaeological Museum, and the old town. There are also suggestions on the type of French cuisine to try, where to eat, and places to have a drink over the 2 days.
I have made the assumption that you have 1 or 2 days in Grenoble and want to see the main sites. The itinerary is flexible, so you can change things around or add or take anything off. In addition, I have also included some amazing suggestions, the best area to stay in, and how to get around Grenoble on your short break.
Where is Grenoble?
Grenoble is located at the foot of the French Alps in southeastern France where the river Drac joins the Isère River. It is the capital of the department of Isère in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. Due to its distance to the ski resorts within France, Grenoble is known as the capital of the French Alps. Some of these renowned resorts areas are Alpe d’Huez, Vauany, and Oz Ski Resort
Lyon is only 112kms away and Geneva is just 143kms, both major cities have a good connection to Grenoble.
Getting around Grenoble
Grenoble city as a whole including the suburbs is quite big and spread out. However, the city and old town where most of the main attractions are located are small. Meaning getting around Grenoble in a day or weekend is easily doable by foot. Wear good lightweight walking shoes that are good for the conditions and temperature in Grenoble.
If you don’t want to walk or you get tired, using public transport is simple and you can get tickets for the day or singles rides.
One day in Grenoble
1. La Bastille Fortress
The number one thing to do in the city even if you are only in Grenoble for a day is to visit the Bastille Fortress. Perched on Mount Rachais overlooking the city, this century-old fortress dates back to the Middle Ages. In the 1800s it was used to defend France against invasions from its then rival: the Duchy of Savoy. Today together with the cable car to Bastille, it is the most popular tourist attraction in Grenoble.
There’s plenty to do from exploring the old Mandarin Caves beneath the fort, to visiting the military museum. For the more adventurous, you have the recreation park Acrobastille, where you can zip line from the top of the Fortress. You also have two restaurants and a snack bar.
Bastille is best known for its spectacular 360-degree views of the rugged mountain ranges surrounding the city. To the north lies the Chartreuse, to the south and west the Vercors, and to the east the Belledonne range. On days of good visibility, you can see Mont Blanc. The best spot for taking pictures of these views is from either the geologist terrace or the Vauban belvedere. Make sure to take your zoom lens for your mirrorless camera or smartphone.
- It is free to walk around the La Bastille Fortress if you don’t catch the cable car.
2. Take a ride on the Grenoble-Bastille cable car
As famous as the Bastille fortress is the clear bubble shaped Grenoble cable car that takes you up there. Opened in 1934, it was the first urban cable car in the world. The ride up is only 5 minutes and takes you to a height elevation of 263 meters.
The bubbles offer a wonderful vantage point, giving you views of the Isere River, the forest, as well as the city of Grenoble below. Then as you get higher you are presented with jaw-dropping views of the mountain ranges in the far distance. I found it best to use your GoPro to capture pictures on cable cars.
- If you don’t want to catch the cable car up to the Bastille, you can also walk or bike up the marked path.
- Price per person: Adult 9€ round trip or 6€ one way. Children 4.80€ round trip or 3.4€ one way. Under 5yrs are Free
- Dogs are allowed on the cable car
- Address: Quai Stéphane Jay, 38000 Grenoble, France
3. Museum of Grenoble (Musée de Grenoble)
Next head to the museum of Grenoble (or Musée de Grenoble in French), located on the Isére River and only a 5-8 minute walk from Bastille Grenoble cable car. This stylish modern building is one of Frances’s leading art museums and worth a visit. The museum of Grenoble houses collections of early, modern, and contemporary art, as well as antiquities.
Some of the collection includes work by many 20th century masters including Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet. There is also a great section of rare finds of ancient artefacts from the Egyptian, Greek, and Roman civilizations which are interesting to see.
- Duration: 1- 1 and a half hrs
- Price per person: 8€ reduced fee: 5€ Season ticket: 18€
- Free admission: under 26s, and the first Sunday of every month
- Audioguide: 2€
- Address: 5, place de Lavalette 38010 Grenoble cedex 1
4. Saint-Laurent Archeological Museum of Grenoble
Next, make your way to Musée archéologique Saint-Laurent located in one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Grenoble. It is only 15 minutes walk from the Museum of Grenoble but the walk is pleasant, especially through the Saint-Laurent area. Make sure to stop on the bridge crossing over the Isére River, where you can get some amazing pictures.
Musée archéologique Saint Laurent is brimming with history that dates back 2000 years. The structure was among the first to be classified as a Historic Monument of France. It is a great example displaying the constant evolution of architecture and burial practices in Grenoble. The museum is housed inside an old parish church with the newer section protected by a glass and steel canopy.
Most of the artefacts exhibited here were excavated from the site on which the museum is situated. Walkways have been specially built to allow you to see these artefacts and catacombs where they were originally found. The platform inside the church is impressive to see too, as it overlooks the different buildings that have succeeded each other with an underground crypt. On the roof, you can see up close the swastikas painted in 1910.
By far Musée archéologique Saint-Laurent was a historical highlight for me while in Grenoble for the 2 days. It is an interesting and different way of educating visitors about the history of the city. Not to mention it is one of the top free things to do in Grenoble.
- Open: daily from 10 am – 6 pm, except Tuesdays when it is closed
- Entry is Free
- Duration: 1-1.5hrs
- Address: Pl. Saint-Laurent, 38000 Grenoble, France
Things to do if you 2 days in Grenoble
5. Spend a half a day wandering around Grenoble’s old town
Spend at least one of your 2 days wandering around the cobbled streets of the old town of Grenoble. It is known as the heart of the city and the home of the marketplaces and squares. The old town contains numerous buildings reflecting its 2,000 years of history and also acted as a meeting place for centuries.
There are round medallions embedded in the streets showing the bounders of where the original city walls once stood. The old town contains historical houses, Roman walls, and beautiful churches. It is also filled with market stalls, cafes/restaurants, and specialist shops like Le Comptoir de Mathilde that sell beautiful chocolates.
6. Stroll through Place Grenette
Start your day strolling through Place Grenette, Main Square, and the market, as it is one of the best times to visit Grenoble old town because it is buzzing with local activities. Place Grenette has been used for grain and animal markets since the 17th century and it is no different today.
The Place aux Herbes farmers market is held here, every morning except Mondays. You can get everything from fresh fruit to cheeses. It is a great spot to grab some snacks for your day exploring the Grenoble sites.
Apart from the market, Place Grenette is lined with historical houses and is filled with cafés and restaurants offering outdoor seating to take in the atmosphere around you. In the centre of the square, you will see the stunning “Le Château d’Eau Lavalette”. A fountain, depicting winged cherubs and dolphins was carved by sculptor Victor Sappey. It is worth a look even if you stop for a couple of minutes to take pictures.
7. Les Halles Sainte-Claire
Another great local market and one of the top things I do in Grenoble is visit the Les Halles Saint Claire. Built-in 1874 this covered indoor food market is filled with a variety of local French delicacies and bistros (Bistrot in French). Outside the building is another local fruit and vegetable market.
The stalls had a great selection of patisserie, seafood, meat, vegetables, cheeses, different types of pasta, and wine. Les Halles Saint Claire is a great spot if you want to pick up some local cuisine like ravioles or Saint-Marcellin cheese. I bought one of my favourite cheeses here ‘cancoillotte’ from Laiterie Gilbert deli. For other local produce, I suggest trying gratin dauphinoise, bleu de Vercors-Sassenage cheese, and walnut of Grenoble.
- Open every day, except Mondays
- Address: 19 Pl. Sainte-Claire, 38000 Grenoble, France
6. Visit the last handmade glove-maker of Grenoble
If you love traditions and shopping, then you have to visit Granterie Lesdiguieres glove shop. This family run business is headed by Jean Strazzeri who is known as the last handmade glove maker of Grenoble.
Jean has been hand-making leather gloves with his shears for more than half a century, which has become a dying art. These gloves are so renowned and beautifully made that even the Queen of England has a pair. I tried on a pair and they felt so comfortable and soft.
Whether you buy a pair of gloves or not, it is nice to just go into the store and browse around.
Address: 5 rue Raoul Blanchard 38000 Grenoble
Gastronomy in Grenoble
Food is a big part of Grenoble life and the city is beaming with amazing eateries. I was blown away by how many restaurants there were and the variety of choices on offer. You have places like Jeanette, a restaurant that only serves organic foods from France and is run by two female chefs. To La Chapelle, an infused Asian restaurant located inside a converted 19th century Chapel.
Some of the cuisines to try in the city are Bleu du Vercors-Sassenage a soft and mild cheese made in the west parts of Grenoble. Or Ravioles du Royans, wheat ravioli filled with cheese and chopped parsley from the Italian influence. Walnuts are also considered local cuisine, as the countryside around the city produces 15,000 tons a year.
Here are just a couple more suggestions for restaurants in Grenoble where I ate.
7. Eat the set menu with pairing wines at Le Rousseau
Le Rousseau is a small popular local restaurant located in the old town. It serves traditional French Haute cuisines that change seasonally with local products. The food is cleverly created and paired with a great selection of wines.
The restaurant has such a good reputation that it is part of the Michelin guide for Grenoble. You can select from a 3 course or a 5 course meal and add on pairing wines. Le Rousseau was my introduction to French gastronomy and it didn’t disappoint and was worth a visit.
Please note that the restaurant is closed Saturday and Sunday
Address: 3, rue Jean-Jacques-Rousseau Grenoble 38000
8. Eat at a Michelin Star restaurant Fantin Latour
If you want to splurge a little then I highly recommend award winning 1 Michelin Star restaurant Fantin Latour. The restaurant is run by Chef Stephane Froidevaux who gets his inspiration for his food from nature and mountains.
Fantin Latour is set in a historical 19th-century mansion in the heart of Grenoble. It boasts both an indoor area and a beautiful outdoor garden where you can dine in the warmer months. In the garden, you will find hens and roosters pecking around, rabbits, and even beehives. I think it’s this that gives Fantin Latour so much charm.
The restaurant has two distinct settings, lunch “brasserie” relaxed style and dinner in a more gourmet setting. Let’s not forget about the food which was beautifully presented, tasty, and looked like pieces of artwork
Certainly, a place to add to your must eat restaurants in Grenoble, if you want to indulge your sense.
- Please note that the Fantin Latour is closed on Sundays and Mondays
Address: 1 rue du, Rue Général de Beylie, 38000 Grenoble, France
9. Afternoon tea or Brunch at Gwendoline
If you’re wanting to do things at a slower pace while in Grenoble, I suggest having afternoon tea or brunch at Gwendoline Grenoble. This pretty shop is located on a street corner near Place Victor Hugo public square.
Gwendoline is a family owned café/wine bar that offers afternoon teas and light meals using seasonal ingredients. As well as a good selection of teas served in fancy tea posts and wines. This is a great spot to sit outside and relax while taking in the French world around.
Address: 6 Pl. Dr Léon Martin, 38000 Grenoble, France
10. Have a coffee break at Café Myro
If you are a coffee lover & you’re missing your fix of good coffee then you’ll love Café Myro. Magda, the manager of this cosy café discovered the coffee culture while living in my home city of Melbourne Australia.
Café Myro offers specialty coffees like espresso, cappuccino, flat white to even a latte. They also do homemade food, mainly vegetarian and cakes, using seasonal fruit and vegetables. This is a great place if you want to take a short break or a snack while exploring Grenoble.
- Please note this is closed on Monday
Address: 12 Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 38000 Grenoble, France
11. Try the local spirit Chartreuse
I always like to try the local drinks or spirits, wherever I am visiting.. If you are the same, then I suggest trying Chartreuse. This popular local spirit is offered in most restaurants and bars in Grenoble and across the ski resorts in the Isére area.
Chartreuse is usually drunk straight after a meal because it is a great digestif. However, it is also used in cocktails and as a mixer. Its natural green colour comes from the 130 plants, flowers, bark, roots, and spices used to create it.
- You can even head to the town of Chartreuse from Grenoble if you have time.
12. Have a drink or a cocktail at Blind Pig Cocktail bar
If you are looking for somewhere to have a drink before or after dinner in Grenoble, then I suggest the Blind Pig. It is a bar that specialises in cocktails that are original creations from the team. They also offer other spirits, beer, wine, and snacks.
The Blind Pig has a very nice relaxed feel about it and offers both an indoor and outdoor seating area. It is located in the city centre and is a popular place with the locals. From Wednesday to Saturday the bar is open until 2 am.
- Try the house cocktail, like I did if you can’t decide on the choices
Address: 8 Rue de Turenne, 38000 Grenoble, France
Catching public transport around Grenoble in 2 days
The best way to explore the main sites of Grenoble in 2 days is on foot. Prepare to do a lot of walking and don’t wear fancy high-heeled shoes, especially in the old town. Comfortable shoes are a must like trainers or walking sandals. My go to walking shoes are my Merrell Women’s Siren, they are lightweight and comfortable.
Grenoble public transport
The Grenoble public transport system T.A.G is efficient and easy to use. There are 5 tram lines, 36 bus lines 18 park and ride spots. You can purchase 1 hour, 10 trips, or an all-day ticket for the buses and tram.
Park ’n’ ride allows you to combine parking and using public transport together. Meaning if you’re driving to Grenoble for a day trip from one of the ski resorts it’s doable. As you simply park the car and then use the public transport with one ticket. Park ’n’ ride you can get a 1 day ticket per person or a family ticket.
You can find out more information and the public network map here on T.A.G
Where to stay in Grenoble for 2 days
A lot of the main attractions and sites in Grenoble are based in or near the old town, so I recommend staying within this area. I stayed at Okko Hotel Grenoble which was a great base for walking and exploring the city centre for 2 days. It was located next to the Hoche Gardens and across from La Caserne de Bonne shopping centre. Perfect if you want to stay just one night or weekend in Grenoble.
This stylish modern hotel featured a lounge area with a terrace library, a fitness centre and sauna. During your stay tea, coffee and soft drinks are available and free in the lounge. In the evening guests are offered an appetiser buffet with antipasti and dips. My room was comfortable, had great Wi-Fi, and had all the modern day necessities required. I even had a nice view of the Bastille Fortress out my hotel window.
Check availability in Grenoble with Booking.com, I usually use them when booking just one night or a weekend break.
Best way to get to Grenoble for 2 days
Getting to Grenoble from the UK is pretty straightforward via plane, making it a great option for a weekend break in France. If you have more time, it is possible to get there by car or train from the UK. Being only an hour away from most of the Isére ski resorts makes a great day trip from skiing.
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I got there via plane to Lyon and then transfer to Grenoble before I spent a few days skiing in Vaujany and Oz. Here are a few ways to get to Grenoble too.
Flights to Grenoble from the UK
While Grenoble Alpes Isère Airport is only a short distance to the city centre, it is only open during the winter season. As it serves guests heading to the famous ski resorts in the Isere region, like Alpe d’Huez. However, these flights from the UK tend to be more expensive during this time.
I recommend flying to Lyon St Exupéry airport (LYS) and either getting a transfer or the direct train to Grenoble. Another option is Geneva, both airports have a bigger selection of airlines and the flights are more frequent from the UK.
I took a direct flight with Easyjet from London to Lyon which was only an hour and 40mins. From there I took a transfer which was only an hour from Lyon to the centre of Grenoble. If you are flexible on dates, then check out flight options on Supermarket.
Getting a train from Lyon to Grenoble
Another option is taking the train from Lyon to Grenoble which runs a minimum of once every hour. The train is only an hour and 20mins and takes you directly into the city centre. You can either buy your ticket at the station at one of the machines or buy them online. If you have an Interrail Card for France, it can also be used.
Discover other parts of France
You might be interested in reading some of these other articles on France:
- An evening on the Pic du Midi French Pyrenees
- Top 15 Non-Ski Activities You Shouldn’t Miss in Val Thorens
- Best Things to do around Chambéry France
- More to offer than skiing, A beautiful French village Les Gets
Thank you for reading my article on how to see the Best of Grenoble in 2 Days. I have made this itinerary flexible allowing you to add sites and miss attractions while in Grenoble. It really is a fantastic city to take a weekend break or spend a day, exploring the museums and taking in the history.
⇒ You can check hassle-free here and read what is required before travelling to France from the UK.
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Have you been to Grenoble France before for a day or weekend break? Or do you know any other things that you can do in Grenoble or the surrounding area? Please let me know in the comments below.