Which city is for you? Lyon or Strasbourg
When it comes to French cities, Lyon and Strasbourg both offer unique experiences that captivate travellers seeking different aspects of French culture. In this blog post, we’ll examine Lyon, the esteemed gastronomic capital, and Strasbourg, a charming Alsatian city steeped in history and tradition. By exploring the attractions, culture, and atmosphere of these two destinations, we hope to provide you with valuable insights to help you choose the perfect city for your next adventure. Join us as we uncover the culinary delights of Lyon and the picturesque beauty of Strasbourg.
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. It is now known as the gastronomic capital of France
Located near the German border, Strasbourg is a beautiful city that has a unique blend of French and German cultures. Mostly due to the fact that both countries have been in control of the city at multiple points throughout history. Known for its unique architecture and pretty canals there’s plenty to see in this unique city.
Pro’s and Con’s of Bordeaux and Strasbourg
- 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.
- Not a tourist hotspot – Considering it’s Frances’s third biggest city, Lyon isn’t visited as much as other places Like Paris or Nice. Giving it a much more relaxed vibe.
- Weather – Lyon has a continental climate, which can be quite hot in the summer and cold in the winter.
- Hilly – Lyon is quite hilly, so it might be difficult getting around for those with kids or mobility issues.
- Expensive – Food and accommodation in Lyon can get expensive, especially in higher-end locations.
Best for: Lyon is best for foodies and culture lovers, as well as those looking to explore the French Alps.
- Unique culture – Strasbourg is a unique blend of French and German cultures, with a mix of influences in the city’s architecture, cuisine, and traditions.
- Beautiful architecture – Strasbourg is known for its stunning architecture, including the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral and the Petite France neighbourhood.
- Christmas markets – Strasbourg is home to one of the best Christmas markets in Europe, attracting visitors from around the world.
- Proximity to the Black Forest – Strasbourg is located near the Black Forest in Germany, offering opportunities for outdoor activities like hiking and skiing.
- Crowds – Strasbourg’s Christmas markets are renowned, so in winter they can get very crowded and busy.
- Weather – Strasbourg’s weather can be very cold and damp in the winter months, which might not be ideal for some travellers.
- Limited nightlife – While Strasbourg does have some nightlife options, there may not be as much on offer as Lyon.
Best for: Strasbourg is best for travellers looking for a unique blend of French and German culture, with beautiful architecture and a world-renowned Christmas market. It’s also a great choice for those looking to explore the Black Forest.
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 Strasbourg
Strasbourg may not be a huge city, but due to its history and unique location, we recommend staying for at least two to three days. If you have more time, its location on the German border means you can have lots of fun exploring both countries. The beautiful town of Colmar is worth a trip and Freiburg isn’t too far either.
How much is food and drink in Lyon and Strasbourg?
|Beer||€5 – €7||€4 – €7|
|Glass of wine||€3 – €10||€3 – €9|
|Coffee||€1.50 – €3||€1.50 – €3|
|Meal at a midrange restaurant||€20 – €40||€20 – €40|
How much is it to stay in Lyon?
|Luxury Hotel||€150 – €500+||€150 – €500+|
|Midrange Hotel||€70 – €150||€70 – €150|
|Budget Hotel||€40 – €70||€40 – €70|
|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 Strasbourg?
Strasbourg is a city that can be enjoyed year-round, but the best time to visit depends on what you want to experience. Here are some things to consider:
Weather: Strasbourg’s mild climate can be enjoyed all year round, but pay attention to the weather forecast before visiting. Summers are warm and sunny but winters can get very cold. Snow isn’t uncommon. Spring and autumn are the best times to be visiting for milder weather and smaller crowds.
Festivals: Strasbourg Christmas markets are a must-see if you’re visiting over the Christmas period. They’re the oldest markets in France and have been going since 1570! With over 300 Christmas chalets in various squares around the city, there’s plenty of food and drink to try. The mulled wine is especially good to warm up on a cold day! There are plenty of festivals during the summer months too including the Strasbourg Music Festival, which is held every June.
Crowds: Strasbourg can get crowded during peak travel seasons, especially during the Christmas markets. To avoid the crowds, visit in spring and autumn or during weekdays instead of weekends.
Average Monthly Temperatures
Here’s a table showing the average temperature and rainfall for each month in Lyon and Strasbourg:
|Month||Lyon – Average Temperature (°C)||Lyon – Average Rainfall (mm)||Strasbourg – Average Temperature (°C)||Strasbourg – Average Rainfall (mm)|
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 Strasbourg:
Strasbourg has a really good public transport system like most French cities. You probably won’t need to use anything other than the tram, it covers pretty much all of the main attractions. But, for the places the tram doesn’t reach the buses will get you there. A single ticket costs €1.70 and is valid for up to 1 hour of travel, with transfers allowed within that time frame. If you plan on using public transportation frequently, consider purchasing a 24-hour ticket for €4.50 or a 3-day pass for €12.50.
If the weather is good try and walk as much as you can. It’s the best way to see all the city’s unique architecture and take in all the sights.
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 Strasbourg
Visit Strasbourg Cathedral: This cathedral is a must-see when visiting Strasbourg. Try and visit on a nice day, you can climb the stairs to the top and get a magnificent view of the city! It’s also a good idea to go back at night and see it lit up. It’s very beautiful.
Explore Petite France: This beautiful neighbourhood is known for its canals, cobbled streets and half-timbered buildings. A UNESCO world heritage site, this area is so relaxing to stroll around on a nice day.
Visit the Palais Rohan: Once the residence of a noble family from Brittany. This 18th century is now home to three museums: the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Decorative Arts, and the Museum of Fine Arts. It’s a great way to learn about the history and culture of the region.
Take a Boat Tour: The boat tours here are well worth a visit, you get to see all the main attractions from the river and learn about the history of the city.
Explore La Grande Île: Grande Île literally means Grand Island. This island in the centre of Strasbourg has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1988. It’s a beautiful district filled with amazing buildings, relaxing squares and cute shops and cafes.
Visit the European Parliament: This impressive building hosts the European Parliament. You can go inside at certain times, there are exhibits to see and a recorded guide. It’s interesting but might not be for everyone.
Explore the Strasbourg Christmas Markets: Strasbourg’s markets are very famous. Definitely don’t miss them if you’re visiting over the festive period. There’s a reason Strasbourg is regarded as the ‘Christmas Capital of the World’.
Visit the Jardin des Deux Rives: Translated to ‘Two Shores Garden’ this park actually covers both sides of the river Rhine. Meaning one side is in France and the other is in Germany. There’s a bridge connecting the two sides so you can quite literally walk into Germany.
Explore the Musée Alsacien: This museum takes you on a tour through old Strasbourg homes and helps you see what life would have been like for residents hundreds of years ago.
Eat like a local: Due to its unique location, this city has both French and German influences in its cuisine. Make sure you try local favourites like Baeckeoffe, Spätzle and Lewerknepfle.
How to spend three days in Lyon
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.
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!
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 Strasbourg
Morning: Begin your day at the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg, try and get there early to beat the crowds. If you’re feeling fit, climb to the top of the tower to see the amazing view.
Afternoon: Take a stroll through Petite France. This picturesque neighbourhood is full of beautiful old houses and cute cafes. It almost feels like stepping back in time. Make sure you stop off for lunch and try some traditional Alsatian cuisine.
Evening: Spend the afternoon relaxing in Place Kléber, the main square in Strasbourg. This central square is lined with cafes, restaurants and shops. Perfect for people watching and shopping.
Morning: Spend your morning admiring the work of famous artists like Rubens and Botticelli in the Palais Rohan. This stunning 18th-century palace houses three museums, so you’ll have plenty to see!
Afternoon: After grabbing a nice lunch from a local restaurant, take a boat tour of the city’s canals. It’s a relaxing way to spend the afternoon, especially if you’ve eaten too much for lunch and want to let your stomach settle.
Evening: Have a romantic walk down the River III. This river runs around the historic centre of Strasbourg, and there are plenty of lovely bridges and weeping willows to admire along the way. Once you get tired stop off at a riverside restaurant for some good food and drinks. Just be sure not to drink too much and fall in!
Morning: Visit the Musée Alsacien. This museum showcases life in the Alsace region over the last few centuries. It’s very interesting and has lots of exhibits on traditional clothing, crafts and architecture.
Afternoon: Head over to the Jardin des Deux Rives and spend the afternoon exploring the park. If you walk over the bridge to the German side, there’s a really cool observation deck that offers great views of the city and down the Rhine. You could even stop off for some German food and beer!
Evening: Head back to the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg to see it lit up in all its splendour. Get some food at a local restaurant then go and enjoy one of the city’s fabulous beer gardens!
Ratings for Lyon and Strasbourg
|Category||Lyon Rating||Strasbourg Rating|
|Food and drink||9||9|
|Culture and history||9||9|