Which city is for you? Lyon or Strasbourg
Can’t decide to visit Lyon or Strasbourg for your next French getaway? It’s not an easy choice. But fear not, we’re here to help! Will it be the culinary capital or the Christmas capital? This blog post will cover everything you need to know about both cities to decide which is the one for you.
Lyon might not have the worldwide fame of Paris or the glamorous beaches of the Riviera, but boy, does it have charm! Set between two rivers, Lyon is like a treasure chest for history buffs. It’s crammed full of Renaissance-era architecture, with the old town, Vieux Lyon, being a UNESCO World Heritage site.
But that’s just scratching the surface. Lyon’s also known as France’s ‘culinary capital’, and once you’ve tried a local ‘bouchon’ restaurant, you’ll see why. The city is also famed for its vibrant cultural scene, with a host of museums, theatres, and festivals that keep the city lively throughout the year. If you love good food, rich history, and a city that pulses with life, Lyon’s got you covered.
Strasbourg, a city that straddles the border of France and Germany, offers an interesting fusion of cultures that’s definitely worth exploring. Its historic centre, known Grande Île, is a UNESCO world heritage site and is filled with beautiful cobblestone streets and half-timbered houses. But Strasbourg isn’t just about visiting the past. It’s a dynamic city brimming with a unique culture.
With plenty of museums, a great art scene and bustling local markets this is a city that caters to most travellers. Plus, the local cuisine is an interesting blend of French sophistication and hearty German food! If you’re looking for a somewhat different destination for your next holiday, Strasbourg should definitely be added to your list!
While we’re comparing Lyon and Strasbourg in this post, we’ve also looked at how Lyon stacks up against other cities like Lille, Toulouse and Nantes. We’ve linked to those articles below if you want to take a look!
Pros and Cons of Lyon and Strasbourg
- 🥐 Gastronomic Delight: Lyon is renowned as the culinary capital of France, offering a mouthwatering array of traditional dishes and Michelin-starred restaurants.
- 🏛 Rich Cultural Heritage: Lyon’s well-preserved Renaissance Old Town and its ancient Roman ruins showcase the city’s fascinating history and architectural beauty.
- 🎨 Vibrant Arts and Culture: The city is a cultural hotspot, boasting numerous museums, galleries, and theatres that cater to art enthusiasts and performance lovers.
- ⛴ Picturesque Location: Nestled between the Rhône and Saône rivers, Lyon offers stunning views and scenic riverbanks perfect for leisurely strolls.
- 👫 High Tourist Demand: Lyon’s popularity as a tourist destination means that some attractions and areas can get crowded, particularly during peak seasons.
- 🚗 Urban Noise: Being a bustling city, Lyon can have its fair share of traffic noise and urban hustle, which may not suit those seeking a more tranquil experience.
- 🏛 Architectural Beauty: Strasbourg’s captivating blend of French and German influences is reflected in its stunning architecture, including the iconic Gothic Cathedral and charming half-timbered houses.
- 🇪🇺 European Union Hub: As the official seat of the European Parliament, Strasbourg boasts a vibrant international atmosphere and hosts various European institutions, making it an intriguing hub of politics and diplomacy.
- 🎅 Festive Christmas Markets: Strasbourg’s Christmas markets are renowned worldwide, creating a magical atmosphere with their enchanting stalls, delicious treats, and festive decorations.
- ⛴ Quaint Canals and Petite France: The city’s picturesque canals, especially in the charming Petite France neighbourhood, offer idyllic settings for leisurely walks and boat rides.
- 🍟 Limited Diversity of Cuisine: While Strasbourg has its own regional culinary specialities, its dining scene may offer fewer options compared to Lyon’s renowned gastronomy.
- 👫 Crowded During Peak Seasons: Strasbourg’s popularity as a tourist destination, especially during the Christmas market season, can lead to larger crowds, making some areas busier and harder to navigate.
Which City Has Better Food? Lyon or Strasbourg?
Both Lyon and Strasbourg are renowned for having incredible cuisine but with their own distinct flavours and specialities.
Lyon is known as the food capital of France, which shows how good the food is. France is renowned for having one of the best cuisines in the world, so to be known as the food capital is seriously impressive. The city is a magnet for foodies, with an abundance of incredible restaurants, bistros and bouchon’s (traditional Lyonannise restaurants). You have to try Lyonannise dishes like quenelles, saucisson brioché and coq au vin if you visit. Due to its location, there are a lot of meat-based dishes and not as many seafood or vegetarian. Make sure you visit Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse market, there are beautiful displays of local products and artisanal meats and cheeses. We’d recommend going with an empty stomach so you can try all the different things!
Strasbourg, due to its location on the French/German border has a unique cuisine that has been influenced by both countries. As you can imagine, the food here is hearty, whole foods designed to keep the locals well-fed and warm during the cold winters. Tarte flambée, hearty choucroute garnie (sauerkraut with sausages and meats), and delicate Alsatian pastries like kougelhopf should all be added to your list of foods to try! The cute La Petite France district is the perfect place to savour these regional delicacies while enjoying the view of the canals and half-timbered houses.
Both of these cities will not disappoint the majority of foodies. Lyon offers a more sophisticated cuisine, whereas Strasbourg offers those hearty dishes that are perfect for cold winter days. Whichever you visit boils down to personal preference.
Which City is Better For Couples? Lyon or Strasbourg?
Lyon and Strasbourg are both fantastic options for a romantic getaway. Lyon, with its picturesque streets and incredible food scene, is perfect for couples that love nothing more than wandering around somewhere pretty, eating amazing food. Vieux Lyon (Lyon’s old town) is like something out of a Disney film, its cute winding streets and beautiful Renaissance architecture will have you captivated for hours. If you love a good view, head to Fourvière Hill and witness the breathtaking panoramic views of the city at sunset.
Strasbourg, known for its fairytale-like beauty isn’t to be missed either. Its timber-clad houses and network of canals are lovely to explore, you can even get a boat trip if you fancy a relaxing day on the water seeing the sights. Christmas is a special time to visit Strasbourg, known as the Christmas capital of France the whole city gets beautifully decorated in the Christmas spirit. The Christmas markets are extremely famous and attract visitors from all over Europe.
Both of these cities have plenty to offer for couples, which you visit boils down to what you prefer most! Whether you choose Lyon or Strasbourg, both cities provide a romantic backdrop for couples. Lyon’s historical charm and culinary delights make it perfect for foodie couples, while Strasbourg’s fairytale-like atmosphere and canal-lined streets create a beautiful backdrop, especially at Christmas.
Which City is Better For Families? Lyon or Strasbourg?
When it comes to family-friendly getaways in France, both Lyon and Strasbourg have their fair share of charms. Let’s start with Lyon. Packed with parks, museums, and kid-friendly activities, Lyon is an excellent choice for families. The city’s unique ‘traboules’ or hidden passages are a real hit with the little ones. Plus, let’s not forget the city’s aquarium and the Parc de la Tête d’Or with its zoo and botanical garden – an absolute win for a family day out.
Now, let’s hop over to Strasbourg. This Alsace gem is brimming with fairy-tale charm that kids (and adults too!) will absolutely adore. From boating in the canals, and exploring the enchanting Petite France quarter, to the educational delights of Le Vaisseau Science Centre, Strasbourg offers an array of family-oriented experiences. Honestly, it’s a tough choice between the two, but no matter where you choose, unforgettable family memories are guaranteed!
Which City is Better For Partying? Lyon or Strasbourg?
Lyon is known for its energetic vibe and offers a diverse range of options. The city is full of cool bars, bustling nightclubs and trendy wine bars. The vibrant Presqu’île district is known for its lively party atmosphere and variety of venues to choose from. Also, the Nuits Sonores festival, held annually in Lyon, attracts electronic music enthusiasts from around the world, making it a haven for party-goers.
On the other hand, Strasbourg offers a more relaxed and intimate party scene. La Petite France is known for its charming wine bars and cosy pubs, perfect for enjoying a relaxing evening and drinking some of the fabulous local beers. Visit the Krutenau district if you’re looking for a bit of a livelier night, this area is populated by students and is full of nightclubs and bars.
Which one is for you? It all depends on whether you prefer the energetic nightlife of Lyon or the relaxing pubs of Strasbourg. We’re sure whichever one you choose you’ll have a great time.
Which City is Safer? Lyon or Strasbourg?
Both Lyon and Strasbourg have reputations for being safe cities. With Lyon being a bigger city, it has a higher crime rate. But overall the centre is a safe place for tourists. Like any major city it can be a target for petty crime so keep an eye on your belongings and don’t go wandering around late at night alone.
Strasbourg is known as one of the safest cities in France. It’s well policed and hasn’t seen the violence that has troubled some parts of France recently. That being said, it is a popular tourist destination so always be aware of potential scams or pickpockets.
How long to stay in Lyon
Deciding how long to stay in Lyon truly depends on your personal interests and the pace at which you prefer to travel. Known as the gastronomical capital of France, with its rich history and vibrant cultural scene, Lyon offers a wide variety of experiences for every type of traveller.
If you’re mainly keen to absorb the unique vibe of the city, enjoy its amazing food, and stroll through its historical streets, a weekend getaway of 2-3 days might be sufficient. This gives you time to explore Vieux Lyon (Old Town), visit a traditional bouchon for some authentic Lyonnaise cuisine, and perhaps enjoy a relaxing evening walk along the Rhône River.
However, if you have a passion for art, history, or culture, I’d recommend staying in Lyon for around 4-5 days. This allows enough time to discover the city’s key cultural landmarks, including the Musée des Confluences, the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon, and the stunning Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière, without feeling rushed.
For those who prefer a more leisurely pace or wish to delve deeper into what Lyon and its surroundings have to offer, consider a week-long stay. This provides ample opportunity to fully appreciate the city’s charm, take day trips to the nearby vineyards or beautiful towns in the region like Annecy or Perouges, and truly immerse yourself in the Lyonnaise lifestyle.
How long to stay in Strasbourg
“Choosing the ideal duration for a trip to Strasbourg can be a bit of a challenge, given the city’s blend of German and French culture, its rich history, and captivating architecture. The length of your stay ultimately depends on your individual interests and the pace at which you wish to explore.
If your plan is to experience the city’s main attractions, wander through the charming La Petite France district, and taste the region’s mouth-watering dishes like ‘choucroute’ or ‘tarte flambée’, a stay of 2 to 3 days would be ample. This will provide enough time to marvel at the majestic Strasbourg Cathedral, get lost in the quaint, cobblestone streets, and savour the unique gastronomy that Strasbourg offers.
However, if you’re aiming to immerse yourself deeper into Strasbourg’s fascinating history and culture, consider extending your stay to 4 to 5 days. This will afford you the chance to explore the various museums and galleries, such as the Alsatian Museum or the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, visit the European Parliament, and take leisurely strolls along the scenic canals, all at a relaxed pace.
For those wanting to truly absorb the Alsatian lifestyle, spending a week in Strasbourg can be a fantastic option. This duration not only provides enough time to thoroughly explore the city’s nooks and crannies but also allows for relaxing café visits and day trips to nearby gems like the charming town of Colmar or the stunning Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle. A week in Strasbourg enables you to fully appreciate the unique blend of cultures and the relaxed pace of life in this beautiful city.”
Which City is More Budget Friendly? Lyon or Strasbourg?
Lyon, being a larger city has more budget-friendly options. Even though Lyon is known for its high-end dining experiences, there are plenty of reasonably priced ones like Le Bistrot Nicéphore and Empanadas Club. Both offer seriously good food at affordable prices. There are plenty of free things to do like visiting the Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourvière and the vibrant Croix-Rousse Market. When the weather is good, the Parc de la Tête d’Or is a great place to spend the day exploring, you could even take a picnic! Walks along the Rhône or Saône rivers are also perfect things to do for cost-conscious travellers.
Strasbourg on the other hand is known for being relatively expensive. Generally, food, drink and accommodation are more expensive here compared to Lyon. Probably because it’s more of a tourist destination. That being said, if you’re careful you don’t need to spend a fortune. The city’s picturesque streets and canals, arguably its biggest attraction, are obviously free to wander around and explore. The impressive Strasbourg Cathedral is free to enter, but if you want to go to the top and see the view you have to pay. We’d definitely recommend paying, the view of the city is incredible. L’Épicerie is a great place to visit for a cheap lunch or dinner.
Both cities offer affordable options for budget travellers. Overall Lyon probably wins this one because it has more options of places to eat, stay and visit. But that doesn’t necessarily mean Strasbourg is a bad option. Like every city, value can be found when you look for it!
How much is food and drink in Lyon and Strasbourg?
|€5 – €7
|€6 – €8
|Glass of wine
|€3 – €10
|€4 – €10
|€1.50 – €3
|€2 – €4
|Meal at midrange restaurant
|€20 – €40
|€30 – €50
Please note that these prices are estimates and may vary depending on the specific establishment and other factors.
How much is it to stay in Lyon or Strasbourg?
|€150 – €500+
|€180 – €500+
|€70 – €150
|€80 – €150
|€40 – €70
|€50 – €80
|€20 – €40
|€30 – €50
Please note that these prices are estimates and may vary depending on the specific hotel, location, and seasonal factors. Additionally, prices for accommodations can fluctuate based on demand and availability.
When is the best time to visit Lyon?
In Lyon, springtime (March to May) marks the city’s awakening post-winter. The temperatures are pleasant, and the city’s parks and gardens come alive with blooming flowers. If you appreciate outdoor activities and want to avoid the summer rush, this is an ideal time to visit.
Summers (June to August) in Lyon are warm and energetic, making it an excellent time for exploring the city’s historical old town and lively food markets. The city comes alive with numerous festivals, such as the Fête de la Musique, a nationwide music festival celebrating the summer solstice.
Autumn (September to November) in Lyon brings mild weather and a change of colours, painting the city in vibrant hues. The falling leaves in the city parks offer a delightful visual treat, creating an ideal environment for photography enthusiasts.
Winter (December to February) in Lyon can be quite chilly, but it’s also when the city exudes a festive charm. The Festival of Lights (Fête des Lumières), one of Lyon’s most renowned events, transforms the city into a mesmerizing display of light, offering a unique experience despite the cold weather.
When is the best time to visit Strasbourg?
Spring (March to May) in Strasbourg is a delightful period, with comfortable temperatures and the cityscape coming alive with blooming flowers. This is an excellent time to explore the picturesque streets of Petite France or take a leisurely boat ride along the Ill River.
Summers (June to August) in Strasbourg are warm, ideal for outdoor exploration of the city’s rich historical sites and the stunning Parc de l’Orangerie. This season also coincides with several festivals such as the Strasbourg Summer Festival and the Longevity Music Festival, adding an extra layer of excitement for visitors.
Autumn (September to November) is a special time in Strasbourg, being a part of the Alsace wine region, it marks the period of grape harvest and wine-making. This season allows visitors to witness the wine-making process and taste some of the finest wines. The weather during this period remains pleasant, and the changing hues of the vine leaves create a stunning backdrop.
Winter (December to February) in Strasbourg is truly enchanting. The city is famed for hosting one of the oldest Christmas Markets in Europe, turning the city into a twinkling fairytale land. While it can be quite cold, the festive spirit and fewer tourists make it a unique time to visit.
Weather: The weather in Strasbourg is typically temperate, with mild summers and chilly winters. For the most comfortable weather, consider planning your visit during the shoulder season of April to June or September to October.
Average Monthly Temperatures
|Lyon (High/Low °C)
|Lyon Rainy Days
|Strasbourg (High/Low °C)
|Strasbourg Rainy Days
|6° / 0°
|5° / -1°
|8° / 1°
|7° / -1°
|13° / 4°
|12° / 2°
|16° / 6°
|16° / 5°
|20° / 10°
|20° / 9°
|24° / 14°
|23° / 13°
|27° / 16°
|26° / 14°
|27° / 15°
|25° / 14°
|22° / 12°
|21° / 10°
|17° / 9°
|15° / 7°
|11° / 4°
|9° / 3°
|7° / 1°
|5° / 0°
Please note that the values represent the average high and low temperatures for each month, followed by the average number of rainy days.
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 boasts an efficient public transportation system, primarily made up of trams and buses, operated by the Compagnie des Transports Strasbourgeois (CTS). The city’s tram network is one of the most extensive in France, connecting various parts of the city and making it easy to move around.
The ‘Strasbourg à Vélo’ bike-sharing scheme is an excellent option for those preferring a more active way to explore the city. The city is bicycle-friendly with numerous dedicated bike lanes and routes, making it a delight to navigate on two wheels.
Walking is another wonderful way to experience Strasbourg, especially within the Grande Île, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and contains many of the city’s historic attractions.
Taxis and ride-hailing services like Uber are also readily available, but fares may be higher during peak tourist seasons or during rush hours. Be sure to check rates before your journey.”
Top things to do in Lyon
- Visit Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière: Perched on the top of Fourvière Hill, this magnificent basilica offers breathtaking panoramic views over Lyon. Whether you’re a history buff, architecture enthusiast, or just looking for a great view, this is a must-visit.
- Stroll Through Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon): This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the largest Renaissance neighbourhoods in Europe. Its narrow, cobbled streets, charming courtyards, and historic traboules (hidden passageways) are super cool!
- Explore Parc de la Tête d’Or: This expansive urban park is perfect for a leisurely day out. It houses a zoo, botanical gardens, and a beautiful large lake. Whether you want to picnic, boat, or just relax, this park has something for everyone.
- Discover Lyon’s Culinary Scene: Lyon is often referred to as the gastronomic capital of France. Try local specialities at a traditional “bouchon,” visit a local market like Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse, or take a cooking class.
- Visit the Musée des Confluences: This science and anthropology museum is renowned for its modern architecture. It’s located at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers, thus the name. The exhibitions are as impressive as the building itself.
Top things to do in Strasbourg
- Strasbourg Cathedral: The Strasbourg Cathedral, also known as Notre Dame Cathedral, is a stunning masterpiece of Gothic architecture. Its astronomical clock is an engineering marvel that shouldn’t be missed. Climb to the top for panoramic views of Strasbourg and the surrounding region.
- Petite France: This is the city’s most picturesque district, filled with half-timbered houses, quaint canals, and narrow streets. Petite France is a UNESCO World Heritage site and truly is the essence of Strasbourg’s charm.
- European Parliament: Strasbourg is home to the European Parliament, one of the main institutions of the European Union. When in session, you can take a guided tour of the Hemicycle – the parliamentary assembly room.
- Boat Tour: A boat tour on the Ill River is a perfect way to appreciate the city’s mix of French and German architecture, as well as the beautiful nature that surrounds it.
- Parc de l’Orangerie: A visit to this lovely park makes for a relaxing break from sightseeing. Here, you can find a small zoo, a boating lake, and beautifully landscaped gardens.
How to spend three days in Lyon
Day 1: Introduction to Lyon and Its Historical Centre
Start your Lyon journey by wandering the streets of Vieux Lyon, the city’s old quarter. Appreciate the charm of Renaissance architecture, visit the majestic Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste, and perhaps engage in a little retail therapy at some chic boutiques. After lunch, make your way over to the Place Bellecour, one of the largest open squares in Europe, where you can admire the statue of Louis XIV and the stunning surrounding buildings. Finish off your day with a delightful meal at one of the local ‘bouchon’ restaurants in the area, savouring Lyon’s unique culinary heritage.
Day 2: Delve into Lyon’s Cultural Riches and Parks
Start your second day by immersing yourself in some of Lyon’s renowned museums. Visit the Musée des Beaux-Arts to appreciate masterpieces from artists like Rubens, Monet, and Picasso. After lunch, take a leisurely stroll or have a picnic in the Parc de la Tête d’Or, home to a zoo and a beautiful lake. In the evening, venture back to Vieux Lyon for dinner, opting for a cosy bistro to experience the enchanting nighttime atmosphere of this historic district.
Day 3: Embrace the Local Atmosphere and Farewell Meal
On your final day, delve into the local vibe at Lyon’s Croix-Rousse district in the morning. Known for its history of silk production, the area is now teeming with local markets and boutique shops. Consider having lunch at one of the quaint cafes in the area, sampling some more Lyonnaise delicacies. In the afternoon, pay a visit to the Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourvière, offering breathtaking views over the city. To wrap up your Lyon trip, enjoy a farewell dinner at a restaurant serving traditional Lyonnaise cuisine.”
How to spend three days in Strasbourg
Day 1: Exploring Strasbourg’s Historic Core
Begin your first day in Strasbourg by visiting the impressive Strasbourg Cathedral. Climb up the tower for a stunning panorama of the city. Once you’ve marvelled at the cathedral’s Gothic splendour, take a leisurely stroll through the charming district of Petite France, with its beautiful half-timbered houses and picturesque canals.
For lunch, savour a local delicacy like Tarte Flambée at one of the traditional Alsatian winstubs (wine lounges) in the area. Spend your afternoon exploring the museums around the city centre such as the Alsatian Museum or the Fine Arts Museum.
As the day draws to a close, enjoy a river cruise on the Ill for a unique perspective on Strasbourg’s beautiful architecture.
Day 2: A Day at the European Institutions
Start your second day with a visit to the European Parliament. Take a guided tour of the Hemicycle and learn about the workings of the EU. From there, head to the nearby European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe, which are also part of the European Quarter.
In the afternoon, relax in the Parc de l’Orangerie. Take a peaceful boat ride on the lake, visit the small zoo, or just enjoy a leisurely stroll in the gardens.
Day 3: Exploring the Surrounding Region
On your final day, embark on a day trip to one of the nearby attractions. The Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle, about an hour’s drive from Strasbourg, offers stunning views of the Alsace region. Alternatively, the city of Colmar, with its charming old town and the famous Unterlinden Museum, is also worth a visit.
Back in Strasbourg, conclude your visit with a farewell dinner at one of the city’s excellent restaurants, perhaps trying another Alsatian speciality, such as Coq au Riesling or Choucroute Garnie.
Gareth is an avid city adventurer with a particular passion for finding amazing food! There’s quite literally nothing he doesn’t like. He spends most of his travelling time trying to find great restaurants and cafes to eat at. Alongside trying local street food which he loves! He’s done most of his travelling in Europe so far but would love to visit Japan and Mexico
When not travelling you can find Gareth boxing, running, or in the gym. He’s got a passion for exercise and loves physical challenges.
You can contact him at email@example.com