Lyon or Valencia – Which City to Visit?

Which city is for you? Lyon or Valencia

So you’re planning a city break but can’t decide between Lyon or Valencia? It’s not an easy choice, both cities have plenty to offer! Lyon, with its world-famous food scene and proximity to the Alps and Geneva. Valencia, with its sun, beaches and amazing food. This guide will dive into all the major factors when it comes to city breaks, hopefully by the end, you’ll have a better idea of which city to visit.


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 no known as the gastronomic capital of France


Located on the eastern coast of Spain, Valencia is a world-class destination that offers everything you need for a good break. With food, architecture, beaches and the sun, this city has something for everyone.

Pros and Cons of Lyon and Valencia



  • 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 – Compared to Valencia, Lyon isn’t as much of a tourist destination. Giving it a much more relaxed vibe.


  • No beach – Lyon is a landlocked city, so there are no beaches or seaside activities.
  • Weather – Lyon has a continental climate, which can be quite hot in the summer and cold in the winter.
  • Limited nightlife – While Lyon does have some nightlife options, it’s not as vibrant as in other European cities like Paris or Berlin.
  • Cost of living – The cost of living in Lyon is quite a lot more compared to Valencia.

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



  • Beautiful beaches – Valencia is known for its stunning beaches, including the famous Malvarrosa Beach and El Saler Beach.
  • City of Arts and Sciences – Valencia is home to the City of Arts and Sciences, a stunning complex of futuristic buildings, museums, and theatres.
  • Festivals and events – Valencia hosts a number of festivals throughout the year, including the famous Fallas festival.
  • Affordable – Valencia is much more affordable than Lyon.
  • Delicious cuisine – Valencia is known for its delicious cuisine, including paella, horchata, and other traditional dishes.
  • Weather – Compared to Lyon, the weather in Valencia is much better year-round.


  • Crowded in peak season – Like most beach destinations, Valencia can get very crowded during the summer months.
  • Summer heat – Valencian summers can get very hot with temperatures exceeding 35°C
  • Language – Spanish is the main language spoken in Valencia, which may be a challenge for some travellers who don’t speak Spanish.

Best for: Valencia is best for beach lovers, architecture enthusiasts, and foodies looking for a budget-friendly destination in Spain.

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 Valencia

Valencia is Spain’s third largest city so there’s plenty to see and do. We’d recommend staying for three to four days. You could easily stay for longer if you wanted to spend a few days lounging on the beach.

How much is food and drink in Lyon or Valencia?

Item Lyon Price Range (EUR) Valencia Price Range (EUR)
Beer €5 – €7 €2 – €4
Glass of wine €3 – €10 €3 – €6
Coffee €1.50 – €3 €1.20 – €2.50
Meal at a midrange restaurant €20 – €40 €15 – €30

How much is it to stay in Lyon?

Accommodation Type Lyon Price Range (EUR) Valencia Price Range (EUR)
Luxury Hotel €150 – €500 €150 – €500
Midrange Hotel €70 – €150 €70 – €150
Budget Hotel €40 – €70 €30 – €70
Hostel €20 – €40 €15 – €30

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 Valencia?

Valencia is a year-round destination. The best all-around times to visit are spring and autumn when the temperatures are mild and the city is quieter. Here are a few things to consider before booking your trip to Valencia:

Weather: Valencia is quite far south in Spain and can get very hot in the summer. Temperatures are usually around 30°C in the summer month but they can get considerably higher. Spring and autumn are a lot more comfortable. Even winters aren’t cold here with average temperatures between 6°C – 16°C, maybe not shorts and t-shirt temperatures but much warmer than most places in Europe.

Festivals: Valencia is famous for its festivals, there’s always something going on. La Tomatina is probably the most famous, a huge tomato fight held in the streets of the nearby town of Buñol. Check the festival calendar before visiting. Las Fallas is a festival held in March that involves burning papier-mâché sculptures and lots of pyrotechnics!

Crowds: Valencia is a popular summer destination so June to August tends to be very busy. If you want to avoid the crowds, visit in spring or autumn.

Average Monthly Temperatures

Here is a table with the average temperatures and rainfall per month for Lyon and Valencia:

Month Lyon Avg. Temperature (C) Lyon Avg. Rainfall (mm) Valencia Avg. Temperature (C) Valencia Avg. Rainfall (mm)
January 3 52 13 44
February 5 45 14 38
March 9 53 16 38
April 12 66 18 50
May 16 91 22 49
June 20 80 27 26
July 23 59 30 11
August 23 73 30 22
September 19 67 27 53
October 14 98 23 97
November 8 93 17 66
December 4 68 13 56

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 Valencia:

Valencia has an extensive public transport system including buses, trams and a metro system. Valenbisi is a bike-sharing system that is great if you want to explore the city on two wheels. Most of the city can be reached easily on food if you’d prefer to walk.

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 Valencia

City of Arts and Sciences: This iconic complex is a must-visit attraction in Valencia. Featuring several museums including the largest aquarium in Europe, a planetarium, an IMAX cinema and an interactive science museum.

Mercado Central: This stunning Art Nouveau market is a foodie’s paradise, offering an array of fresh produce, seafood, meats, and more. There’s plenty of food and local specialities to try out. Make sure you take cash as not all the vendors accept cards.

La Lonja de la Seda: Originally a silk exchange, these Gothic-style buildings are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Entry to this beautiful building is completely free!

Bioparc Valencia: This zoo has a unique design that immerses visitors in the animals’ habitats. It’s home to a wide range of animals all of which look very happy! It doesn’t feel like your typical zoo, you’re a lot closer to the animals, which adds to the experience.

Plaza de la Virgen: Located in the heart of Valencia’s historic centre, this square is surrounded by stunning architecture and features a fountain in the centre.

Turia Gardens: One of the largest urban parks in Spain, the gardens were once the riverbed of the Turia River before it was diverted. There are still original bridges left which would have crossed the river.

El Carmen: Part of Valencia’s old town and one of the oldest areas of the city. This neighbourhood is perfect for wandering around and soaking up the local atmosphere.

Albufera Natural Park: One of Valencia’s secret gems, this nature reserve is located just outside of the city. Take a boat ride or hire some bikes and cycle around, you won’t regret it!

La Malvarrosa Beach: Valencia’s most famous beach stretches for 1km along the seafront. It’s very spacious and clean with plenty of restaurants and bars nearby.

Torres de Serranos: Once one of twelve gates that formed the city’s walls, these impressive gothic towers over great views of the city. The steps to the top are quite steep but it’s definitely worth going up!

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 Valencia

Day 1:

Morning: Begin your day with a visit to the Central Market. One of the largest markets in Europe, there’s so much food on offer here, it’s crazy. Grab a coffee and a pasty at one of the cafes in the market and watch how busy it gets.

Afternoon: Take a walk around the historic centre of Valencia. Home to the city’s most iconic landmarks, including the Cathedral of Valencia and the Plaza de la Virgen. Stop off for a Valencian Paella at one of the many restaurants in the area.

Evening: Head to the City of Arts and Sciences, a modern complex featuring a huge aquarium, an opera house and an interactive science museum. Make sure to go up to the L’Umbracle terrace afterwards to see the sunset and views of the city.

Day 2:

Morning: Take a trip to Albufera Natural Park, which is located just outside Valencia. This beautiful wetland park is only a 40-minute bus ride away from the city centre. You can take a boat ride and explore the lagoon or hire a bike and ride along the edge of it.

Afternoon: Head back to the city to visit the Turia Gardens. Located on the former riverbed, these gardens are around 12km long! Take a picnic or grab some local street food to eat whilst relaxing.

Evening: Experience Valencia’s nightlife with a visit to the Ruzafa neighbourhood. This cool district is known for its trendy bars and restaurants. Spend the evening hopping from tapas bar to tapas bar, getting food and drinks at each one.

Day 3

Morning: Spend the morning at Bioparc Valencia. This unique zoo tries to recreate natural habitats for the animals living there. The enclosures look very big and comfortable for the animals, it feels like you get a lot closer than you do in most zoos too.

Afternoon: Visit the Mercado de Colón, a grand former market that has been converted into a shopping and dining complex. It takes some inspiration from Gaudi’s building in Barcelona and is filled with amazing restaurants and stalls. Make sure to try some horchata de Valencia a traditional drink made from tiger nuts, it’s very cold and refreshing on a hot day!

Evening: End your trip with dinner overlooking Malvarrosa Beach. Known for its golden sand and clear waters, it’s the perfect spot for a romantic walk along the beach after a nice dinner.

Our ratings for Lyon and Valencia

Category Lyon Rating Valencia Rating
Attractions 8 8
Accommodation 7 7
Food and drink 9 9
Safety 8 8
Transportation 7 7
Shopping 8 6
Culture and history 9 9
Nightlife 7 7
Total score 63 61
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