Dijon is a city in mid-east France with a rich gastronomic history, a colourful city centre and plenty of attractions to fill one day in Dijon for any visitor. Our Dijon itinerary will take you around the mediaeval streets to see the half-timbered houses, Gothic churches, private mansions and momentous structures.
As the capital of Burgundy, Dijon not only has a charming historic centre, but also plenty of lively places to eat, drink and shop around the city, so you won’t be short of things to do over a day, or even a long weekend in Dijon.
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Dijon is a small city so you don’t need a lot of time to discover the entire city and each of the museums and monuments it showcases. A Dijon day trip is a great idea if you’re holidaying in the Beaune or Burgundy area, however, it’s also a lovely place to spend a weekend in if you’re looking for a quiet city break.
Over one day in Dijon, you can delight in walking around the city streets, taking in the wonderful buildings and tucking into a delicious local meal with a glass of wine, with a quick stop in one of the city’s art or history museums if you wish.
However, if you’re visiting Dijon for a long weekend, you can spend even more time enjoying every chance to indulge in the local cuisine, as well as take a cooking class, attend a wine-tasting event or take a peaceful stroll along the canalside.
If you have a car, you can also spend 4 to 5 days around Dijon, visiting the city as well as the surrounding vineyards, and have various day trips to see the Hospice of Beaune, the amazing motor vehicle museum of Savigny-lès-Beaune, and famed vineyards of Gevrey-Chambertin. Having more time here is an excellent option if you can’t decide between visiting Dijon or Beaune in Burgundy.
Dijon does not have any major airports close by so if you’re planning to arrive in the area from abroad, your best option is to fly or get the Eurostar to Paris and rent a car to drive down, get the bus or take the train.
The train from Paris to Dijon can take as little as one hour and a half, however, most options take around 3 hours. A bus takes around 4 hours from Paris and can be around the same price as the train, so it may be worth taking the train to save an hour and have a more pleasant journey enjoying the scenery. You can view schedules here.
You can also arrive in Dijon from Lyon in 2.5 to 3 hours by bus, 3.5 hours from Geneva and 4 hours from Basel, so while the city is not a stone’s throw from major cities, it is well accessible by bus, train and, of course, car.
You won’t need a car to explore Dijon, however, as it’s a small city that’s easy to get around on foot; it’s also best to wander the city on foot to take in the magnificent mediaeval architecture and make quick stops for delicious local snacks and to see the local boutiques.
There is a route around the town you can follow known as the Owl Trail (Parcours de la Chouette) as it’s indicated by numbered gold owl plaques, leading you around the city, finishing at Dijon’s famous stone owl carving. Pick up a map with the route from the Tourist Office to follow the owls and discover some of the centre’s best attractions.
The historic centre is completely pedestrianised to allow visitors to wander freely, however, if you wish to visit some of the sites that lie slightly out of the centre, you can easily reach them by bus or tram. Just make sure to buy a ticket before getting on, and validate your ticket once onboard.
1-Day Dijon Itinerary
Dijon has plenty to offer visitors, so get ready to immerse yourself in the colourful city streets, as you amble from park to museum to square to palace and much more – just don’t forget to keep an eye out for somewhere to dine, as Dijon is full of fantastic eateries and is well-known for its culinary history (there’s more than just cheese, wine and Maille Dijon mustard!) and expertise.
It is also possible to book a guided walking tour if you want to learn more about Dijon with a guide.
In the west of the city of Dijon lies a beautiful public garden first constructed in 1880 around a large reservoir that provided the city with water.
With its ever-changing flower beds, beautiful shrubs and exotic hardwoods, this is a lovely place to start your day in Dijon as you stroll through the gardens, past the famous Pompon bear sculpture and ornate waterfalls out of the park to the grand historic entrance to the city – Porte Guillaume.
The William Gate, as it’s known in English, was constructed in 1786 to replace the deteriorating gate that formed the entrance to the city built into the original ramparts, to provide a more impressive welcome to visitors arriving from Paris.
After the French Revolution, the magnificent archway was then given the name Guillaume, in memory of the local monk Guillaume de Volpiano who had built the nearby monastery and original city ramparts.
Place de la Libération
Heading into the city centre, you’ll reach the central square Place de la Libération. This is one of the most important squares in Dijon, surrounded by restaurants and bars with fantastic views of Dijon’s most famous building and town hall, the Palace of the Dukes and Estates of Bourgogne.
Built in the late 1600s, the square has remained the heart of Dijon for centuries, having been originally named the Place Royale, renamed the Place d’Armes during the French Revolution and later named Place du Maréchal Pétain in 1941.
It was then renamed in the latter half of the 1900s to reference the liberation of Dijon in 1944 from the Nazi occupation.
The square is well worth a stop for photos and to access the historic centre from the nearby streets, especially to see the beautiful Hôtel Particulier, or private mansion, Musée Magnin with its enormous collection of art. But the highlight of a Dijon day trip is a visit to the incredible Palace and its museum.
Palace of the Dukes and Estates of Burgundy
The Palais des Ducs et des États de Bourgogne is an amalgamation of architectural styles as it was rebuilt and repurposed over the centuries, creating the stunningly grand building that we see today.
The palace was originally built in the 14th century, with some remnants of the Gothic style still visible, but the majority of the palace was built in the classical style of the 17th century, with some additions in the 18th and 19th centuries, including the facade of the Musée des Beaux-Arts on the eastern side which is housed in the palace alongside Dijon town hall.
The palace is a mighty sight from the outside, however, it’s worth entering the palace to visit the Fine Arts Museum if you have time, to gaze at the superb collection of 1500 works of art, one of the largest in the whole of France.
You can also enter the palace to ascend the Mediaeval Philip the Good Tower which provides fantastic views over the city of Lyon from the terrace of the 46-metre tall watchtower.
Dijon’s Old Town
While Place de la Libération is in the heart of the old town of Dijon, you should take the time to explore the neighbouring streets to uncover some picturesque corners, buildings and monuments that make up the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Behind the palace, you’ll find the spectacularly dramatic Gothic cathedral of the Notre Dame de Dijon. This 13th-century wonder has an unusual rectangular facade lined with incredible gargoyles giving the cathedral an amazing and curious appearance, that’s worth seeing even if you don’t enter to see the stained glass windows and 15th-century secco.
On the outside of this cathedral, you can also find the owl carving that has become a symbol of the city, demonstrated by the Owl Trail.
Added to the cathedral in the 16th century, this little creature has been giving passersby good luck for over 400 years; make sure to stroke his head with your left hand as you make a wish and he’ll make it come true.
Also, make sure to take in the lovely Rue des Forges, a gorgeous street lined with historic houses.
A short walk away from the cathedral, you’ll come across another iconic part of Dijon – Place Francois Rude. This small square is a lovely place to stop for a coffee or find a nearby brasserie for your lunch as it looks over the picture-perfect fountain in the centre of the square, with its classic carousel behind and stunning red half-timbered house in the background.
After exploring the Old Town, consider popping into the Les Halles Market, a central marketplace selling lots of local produce and cuisine – the perfect place to pick up a great picnic lunch!
International Cité of Gastronomy and Wine
Just a 20-minute walk towards the canal is the new Gastronomy Centre of Dijon, the Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie et du Vin.
The former Hôtel-Dieu was converted and opened in 2022 and now houses a huge collection of boutique food shops as well as a four-star hotel, a cooking school, a wine school and opportunities to learn more about both local gastronomic traditions and winemaking.
This is a great space to marvel at the architecture of the old hospice as well as learn more about French cuisine and buy some goodies to take home with you and do some tastings, so whether you have enough time to attend a class or simply sample and shop, head down to the International Cité of Gastronomy and Wine. It’s definitely one of the best things to do in Dijon.
The Well of Moses
From the Hôtel-Dieu, you can take a pleasant walk via the Ouche River or up through the beautiful Arquebuse Botanical Garden to the fascinating sculpture, the Well of Moses.
Walking through this green area, you come across the stunning and grand 14th-century former monastery, the Champmol Charterhouse. Surrounded on three sides by the building, standing proudly seven metres tall in the centre of the courtyard is the spectacular Well of Moses statue.
This remarkable statue created by Dutch artist Claus Sluter in the late 14th century stands above a spring and is one of the most beautiful works of art in Dijon.
With six prophets surrounding the hexagonal sculpture, Moses, David, Jeremiah, Zachariah, Daniel and Isaiah, with remnants of their original paint still on them, the monument, made in a realist style, represents the crucifixion scene although it no longer holds the cross on top. If you want to learn more from a guide, you can book a guided tour.
The amazing talent that created this well makes this sculpture worth seeing over one day in Dijon, as well as the walk back to find a restaurant in the city centre via the huge Cathédrale Saint-Bénigne de Dijon and the Romanesque abbey that holds Dijon Archeological museum.
Although one day is plenty to sightsee in the city centre, this part of Burgundy is a beautiful place to spend a longer holiday and make the most of the activities on offer nearby.
Within the city, if you’ve got 2 days in Dijon, you should take the opportunity to visit one of the city’s fantastic art museums or take part in a cookery class to learn more about the local gastronomy.
Or if you have a car, you should head down to the nearby town of Beaune, to visit the Hospice Museum and take in the stunning and colourful tiled roofs of the town before heading into one of the caves to taste the famous Burgundy red wine.
In Beaune, you can also find the oldest traditional mustard factory in the area, La Moutarderie Fallot, which you can visit as part of a guided tour and even learn how to make mustard the old-fashioned way.
Fans of vehicles and history shouldn’t miss out on a trip to the epic collection held at the Château de Savigny-lès-Beaune, just 40 minutes south of Dijon by car.
With hundreds of old motorbikes, tractors, fire engines, aeroplanes and race cars, you can spend a whole day marvelling at this incredible collection. Even if you’re not a petrolhead, the rare collection of Fiat Abarth race car prototypes is an amazing sight.
Where to Stay in Dijon
Hôtel des Ducs – Situated in the historic centre of Dijon, this 3-star hotel has plenty of modern double rooms, family rooms and even a studio apartment option. There is also a buffet breakfast and an on-site bar.
Hostellerie Du Chapeau Rouge – A chic and modern 4-star hotel, this is a great option for an upscale yet central stay in Dijon. There are several types of rooms on offer, a spa/wellness centre, a bar and a great breakfast each morning.
City Loft Apparthotel – Offering a range of furnished apartments, this hotel also has breakfast available and private parking for those who are travelling with a car.
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Dijon is a small city bursting with character, making it a perfect place for a day trip in Burgundy. Whether you love wine, food, architecture, history or simply wandering around charming city streets, you’re sure to love a trip to Dijon.
Are you planning to visit Dijon? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!