Lyon or Biarritz – Which French City to Visit?

Lyon or Biarritz

Which city is for you? Lyon or Biarritz

France has plenty of amazing city breaks on offer, with lots of amazing experiences to be found all over the country. But, if you’ve landed on this page you must be considering visiting Lyon or Biarritz!

Both these cities are great city break destinations, but they offer very different things! Lyon is known for its world-class gastronomy, it’s actually known as the gastronomic capital of France. So the food must be pretty damn good! There’s much more on offer than just food though, it’s a beautiful city with plenty to do. Biarritz is an elegant coastal city in the Basque Country. It’s famous for its beaches, surfing and basque cuisine. A perfect city break for those that want to visit a nice city, but still want to spend a bit of time on the beach.


A beautiful city located in the Rhône-Alpes region of France, Lyon is the third largest city in France. Once known for its role in the production and weaving of silk.


Located in the Basque region of France, Biarritz is a small coastal town known for its beautiful beaches and world-class surfing. It’s no wonder Biarritz is a popular destination for surfers, sun-seekers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Pro’s and Con’s of Bordeaux and Biarritz



  • Gastronomy – Lyon is known for its world-renowned cuisine, with many Michelin-starred restaurants and local specialities like sausages and quenelles.
  • Cultural attractions – Lyon is home to a number of museums, galleries, and historic landmarks, including the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière and the Vieux Lyon neighbourhood.
  • Festivals and events – Lyon hosts a number of festivals throughout the year, including the Festival of Lights, which attracts millions of visitors.
  • Proximity to the Alps – Lyon is located near the French Alps, making it an ideal base for skiing and other outdoor activities.


  • No beach – Lyon is a landlocked city, so there are no beaches or seaside activities, unlike in Biarritz.
  • Weather – Lyon has a continental climate, which can be quite hot in the summer and cold in the winter.
  • Expensive: Some aspects of Lyon can be pricey in particular, dining and accommodation.

Best for: Lyon is best for foodies and culture lovers, as well as those looking to explore the French Alps.



  • Stunning beaches – Biarritz is known for its beautiful beaches, including the Grande Plage and Cote des Basques.
  • Surfing – Biarritz is a popular destination for surfers, with many surf schools and competitions taking place throughout the year.
  • Basque culture – Biarritz is located in the Basque Country, with a unique culture, cuisine, and language.
  • Golf – Biarritz is home to several world-class golf courses, making it a great destination for golf enthusiasts.
  • Beautiful architecture – Biarritz has a number of beautiful buildings, including the iconic Hôtel du Palais.


  • Expensive – Biarritz is known for being an expensive destination, with high-end hotels, restaurants, and shops.
  • Crowded in peak season – During the summer months, Biarritz can get very crowded with tourists.
  • Weather – Biarritz has a temperate oceanic climate, which can be rainy and grey at times.
  • Seasonal appeal – Biarritz is primarily a summer destination, so you might find some tourist attractions are closed during the off-season.

Best for: Biarritz is best for travellers looking for a beautiful beach destination with a unique culture, great surfing, and world-class golf. It’s also a great choice for those looking for a luxurious and upscale getaway.

How long to stay in Lyon

With Lyon being the third largest city in France, there’s plenty to see and do. We’d recommend staying for at least two to three days, but you wouldn’t get bored if you stayed for a bit longer. There are plenty of museums, parks and landmarks to see. There are also plenty of interesting places to visit nearby. You could even visit Geneva, which is only two hours away by train.

How long to stay in Biarritz

Biarritz is a relatively small town and can easily be seen in two to three days. However, there are plenty of other cities in the Basque country that are definitely worth a day trip to.

How much is food and drink in Lyon and Biarritz?

Item Lyon Estimated Average Price Biarritz Estimated Average Price
Beer €5-€7 €4-€7
Glass of wine €3-€10 €4-€10
Coffee €1.50-€3 €2-€4
Meal at a midrange restaurant €20-€40 €20-€40

How much is it to stay in Lyon or Biarritz?

Accommodation Type Lyon Estimated Average Price Biarritz Estimated Average Price
Luxury Hotel €150-€500 (or higher) €200-€600 (or higher)
Midrange Hotel €70-€150 €80-€200
Budget Hotel €40-€70 €50-€80
Hostel €20-€40 €20-€40

When is the best time to visit Lyon?

Lyon has mild weather year-round, making it a great destination to visit at any time of the year. Here are some things to consider:

Weather: The weather in Lyon is pretty mild throughout the year. Summers can be dry and hot, luckily there’s plenty of outdoor space to enjoy the weather. Lyon does get colder in winter than other French cities like Bordeaux or Toulouse. It regularly drops below freezing and does snow on occasion. Luckily Lyon is famous for hot chocolate so make sure you warm up with one on a cold day.

Festivals: Lyon hosts a variety of festivals and events throughout the year, including the Festival of Lights in December, which is a must-see. The locals light candles in their windows in homage to the Virgin Mary and there are light installations throughout the city, it’s pretty spectacular.

Crowds: As with most European cities peak time in Lyon is during the summer. But it doesn’t suffer from the over-tourism as much as other better-known European cities like Paris or Barcelona. Spring is a good time to visit, as the weather is nice but the city isn’t too busy.

When is the best time to visit Biarritz?

Biarritz is a popular destination all year round. But, the best time to visit all comes down to personal preference really. Here are a few things to consider before booking your trip to Biarritz:

Weather: Biarritz has a mild oceanic climate, winters are cool and summers are warm. There’s usually a sea breeze so even in summer it’s a good idea to pack a light jacket or sweater. September and October are good months to visit, the temperatures are mild and the summer crowds have gone home.

Festivals: Biarritz hosts a number of festivals throughout the year. The Wheels and Waves Festival is worth a visit and brings together bikers, surfers and skateboarders for four days of fun!

Crowds: Biarritz gets very busy during the summer months as it’s a popular holiday destination for the French. To avoid the crowds visit during spring or autumn.

Average Monthly Temperatures

Average temperatures (°C) and rainfall (mm) per month for Lyon and Biarritz:

Month Lyon Avg Temp Lyon Rainfall Biarritz Avg Temp Biarritz Rainfall
January 3.3 52 7.8 100
February 4.7 50 8.4 90
March 8.4 51 10.4 85
April 11.4 60 12.4 110
May 15.4 81 15.4 100
June 19.1 79 18.7 85
July 21.7 68 20.8 65
August 21.2 68 20.8 90
September 17.6 81 18.6 105
October 13.1 96 15.0 120
November 7.6 79 11.1 140
December 4.2 57 8.5 110

Getting around

Getting around Lyon:

Lyon has a great public transport system. With buses, trams and a metro system it’s very easy to get around the city. If you’re planning on making the most of the public transport here, make sure you get a City Card they’re great for saving money. Walking is always a good option, it is a big city but it doesn’t take hours to walk between attractions like Paris can do.

Taxis are readily available but not particularly cheap.

Getting around Biarritz:

Biarritz is a small town so you can get around easily on foot. If you’re looking to explore the surrounding areas, it might be a good idea to hire a car. There are also buses and trains that run between Biarritz and the nearby towns and cities.

Top things to do in Lyon

Visit the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière: This hilltop basilica is very impressive, and the unique architecture is very beautiful. Due to its location at the top of a hill, it offers amazing views of the city and river.

Explore the historic Vieux Lyon: Wander through the narrow streets of Vieux Lyon, the city’s beautiful old town. This area is full of charming old houses, traditional restaurants and secret passageways called (les Traboules).

Check out the Musée des Beaux-Arts: This art museum in a former 17th century Abbey features an expansive collection of paintings, sculptures and decorative arts. It’s definitely worth visiting!

Visit the Parc de la Tête d’Or: With an area of approximately 117 hectares, this is Lyon’s largest urban park and a great place to relax and unwind on a nice day. There’s a botanical garden, a boating lake and even a zoo. Take a picnic on a warm day, you won’t regret it!

Taste the local cuisine: World-renowned for its cuisine, there are more restaurants per head here than anywhere in France! Ensure you allow plenty of time to try local specialities like quenelle de brochet or poulet de Bresse.

See the Hôtel de Ville: This Renaissance building is the third building that has stood there, the last building was burned down in 1871. The current building played an important role during the liberation of the city from German occupation in 1944

Take a river tour: There are plenty of tour operators on the river, tours generally take about an hour and are an interesting way to see the city and learn about its history.

Visit the Musée des Confluences: This modern science and anthropology museum is located at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers. It features interactive exhibits and a stunning architectural design.

Wander around the Croix-Rousse district: Formerly the location of Lyon’s silk industry, this area is now known for its street art and lively nightlife.

See the Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste: Home to Lyon’s own astronomical clock, this cathedral is located in Vieux Lyon and is famous for its stunning architecture. Built on the ruins of a 6th-century church, it was finished in 1476.

Top things to do in Biarritz

Visit La Grande Plage: This beautiful sandy beach is a must-visit when visiting Biarritz. Swimmers, surfers and sunbathers all love this beach and for good reason! There are showers to use and lifeguards so you can swim safely.

Go to the Aquarium de Biarritz: Built into the side of a hill, this aquarium features a wide range of marine creatures from the Bay of Biscay and beyond. It’s a great afternoon of entertainment for adults and kids alike.

Explore the Rocher de la Vierge: The rock formation is connected to the mainland by a footbridge. It offers amazing views of the ocean and coastline and also has a statue of the Virgin Mary. Try to visit at sunset for a spectacular view.

Musée Asiatica: This museum features an extensive collection of Asian art from China, Nepal, Tebet and the rest of the Asian subcontinent. It’s crazy to find such a collection in a small beachside resort in France. It €10 to enter and is definitely worth spending a couple of hours there.

Take a stroll around the Port des Pêcheurs: The little fishing port is nice for a relaxing afternoon watching the fishermen unload their catch and listening to the sound of the sea. There are little restaurants so you can grab a bit to eat while you unwind.

Walk along the La Côte des Basques: This scenic coastal path runs along the cliff tops between Biarritz and Saint-Jean-de-Luz. Its a relatively easy route and offers plenty of good spots to get amazing photos of the sea and the coastline.

Enjoy some local produce at Les Halles de Biarritz: This covered market is a food lover’s paradise. It is packed with stalls selling fresh local produce, such as cheese, seafood, and charcuterie. It’s the perfect place to snack on local food whilst taking in the ambience.

Visit the Église Orthodoxe: This Russian Orthodox church is located on a hill overlooking Biarritz. The building itself is beautiful but could do with a renovation.

Play golf at Le Phare Golf Course: Located right in the heart of Biarritz, this stunning golf course offers spectacular views of the ocean. It’s actually one of the oldest courses in France and has hosted plenty of prestigious tournaments.

Relax at Les Bains de Biarritz: This luxurious spa is located on the beachfront and offers a range of treatments and facilities, including a heated seawater pool, sauna, and hammam. It is the perfect place to unwind after a day of sightseeing.

Take a day trip to Bayonne: This charming town is known for its picturesque streets and delicious Basque food and is only a 30-minute bus ride away.

How to spend three days in Lyon

Day 1:

Morning: Begin the day with a coffee and a croissant in Lyon’s beautiful old town, Vieux Lyon. Spend the morning wandering around admiring medieval architecture whilst the city wakes up. Stop off and see Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste which has its own astronomical clock.

Afternoon: Take the funicular to the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière to see the amazing views of the city. Have a look inside the Basilique for an interesting mix of Byzantine, Gothic and Romanesque inspiration. The stained glass windows are especially impressive.

Evening: Try some typical Lyonnaise dishes at a local restaurant make sure you try some local wines too. After dinner take a walk along the Rhône River and enjoy the beautiful views of the city and its skyline.

Day 2:

Morning: Visit the Musée des Beaux-Arts, one of the country’s most impressive art museums. You can see works by world-renowned artists such as Rubens, Monet and Picasso.

Afternoon: Spend a relaxing afternoon at Parc de la Tête d’Or. Take in the scenery and see the botanical gardens, you could even rent a boat out on the boating lake!

Evening: Spend the evening getting a feel for the Croix-Rousse, this trendy district used to be known for its silk production but now it’s full of great restaurants and cool bars. It’s a bit hilly, so take some comfortable shoes!

Day 3:

Morning: One for the history buffs. Visit the Musée Gallo-Romain, this museum shows Lyon’s Roman past. Entry is pretty cheap and there’s plenty of mosaics, sculptures and other artefacts to see.

Afternoon: Take a guided tour of the city’s traboules. There are as many as 400 of these hidden passageways throughout the city. A guided tour is definitely the best way to find and learn about them!

Evening: End your trip with dinner in the old town, this beautiful area is fantastic to visit at night. Make sure you go and try some local wines afterwards at a bar.

How to spend three days in Biarritz

Day 1:

Morning: Start your day with a walk along Grande Plage and take in the views of the ocean. Maybe go for a morning swim if the weather is nice.

Afternoon: Head to Biarritz Aquarium to the marine life of the Bay of Biscay. This aquarium has over 150 different species of fish and 7 species of shark. If you get there at 10:30 or 17:00 you can see them feeding the seals, very cute!

Evening: Enjoy a drink and some pintxos at one of the many bars in the Old Port area. It’s a great place to relax and watch the sunset.

Day 2:

Morning: Biarritz is one of Europe’s most famous surf destinations so why not give it a go? There are plenty of surf schools along the coast that cater to all levels, so there’s really no excuse!

Afternoon: After lunch and drying off! Go for a walk along the Rocher de la Vierge. A rock formation that sits in the sea, connected to the land by a bridge. This is a great spot for photos of the ocean and the Biarritz coastline.

Evening: Wander down to the Port des Pêcheurs, this charming fishing port is filled with seafood restaurants. It’s a perfect place to spend the evening eating and drinking whilst looking out over the harbour.

Day 3:

Morning: Get an early start and visit Les Halles de Biarritz. This market offers a great range of local produce, from cheeses to meats there’s plenty to choose from. You could grab a coffee and nibble on some bits from the market.

Afternoon: Catch the bus to Bayonne. Located just 30 minutes from Biarritz, the charming town of Bayonne is a beautiful little city. Known for its picturesque streets and Basque cuisine it’s a great day out. Make sure to try some of the famous Bayonne ham!

Evening: Get dinner in Bayonne’s old town before heading back to Biarritz for a few drinks overlooking the ocean.

Lyon and Biarritz Ratings

Category Lyon Rating Biarritz Rating
Attractions 8 8
Accommodation 7 7
Food and drink 9 9
Safety 8 8
Transportation 7 6
Shopping 8 7
Culture and history 9 6
Nightlife 7 8
Total score 63 59

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