Nice or Lyon – Which City Will You Visit?

Nice or Lyon

Nice or LyonWhich city should you visit?

Picking between Nice or Lyon for your next trip can be tough. They’re both amazing places to visit. Nice, with its sunny beaches and buzzing markets, and Lyon, rich in history and a haven for foodies. So, how do you choose? Read this blog! It will tell you everything you need to know about both cities. From safety to food and everything in between, we’ll cover the lot to make your decision easier!


Nice, the jewel of the French Riviera! If you’re the kind of person who loves to bask in the sun while enjoying breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea, then Nice is your dream come true. It’s a vibrant, colourful city where the beach meets the streets, and there’s always something to see or do. Plus, the Old Town is just amazing – it’s like stepping back in time. And let’s not forget the food, which is a heavenly mix of French and Italian flavours.


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.

While we’re comparing Nice and Lyon in this post, we’ve also looked at how Nice stacks up against other cities like Strasbourg and Lille. We’ve linked to those articles below if you want to take a look!

Nice or Strasbourg

Nice or Lille

Pros and Cons of Nice and Lyon

Nice Pros:

  • 🏖 Beachfront Beauty: Nice’s location on the French Riviera gives it a stunning shoreline, complete with beautiful beaches and a vibrant promenade.
  • 🏛 Cultural Heritage: The city is rich in history and culture, with numerous museums, such as the Musée Matisse and the modern art museum, and historical sites.
  • ☀️ Fabulous Climate: Nice enjoys a pleasant Mediterranean climate, with sunshine most days of the year, making it a great choice for sun-lovers.
  • 🇲🇨 Proximity to Other Riviera Cities: Nice serves as an excellent base for exploring other glamorous cities on the French Riviera like Cannes and Monaco.

Nice Cons:

  • 👫 Crowded in Peak Season: As a popular tourist destination, Nice can become quite crowded during the summer months.
  • 💶 Expensive: Living costs and prices for tourists can be high, particularly during peak season.

Lyon Pros:

  • 🥐 Culinary Scene: Known as the gastronomic capital of France, Lyon offers food lovers an unforgettable experience.
  • 🏛 Historic Architecture: The city is famed for its Renaissance and Roman architecture, including the ancient Roman theatre and the beautiful Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière.
  • 🎉 Cultural Festivals: Lyon hosts numerous cultural events throughout the year, including the famous Festival of Lights.
  • 🍺 Vibrant Nightlife: Lyon boasts an active nightlife with a plethora of bars, clubs, and live music venues, particularly in the bustling district of Vieux Lyon.

Lyon Cons:

  • 🥶 Weather: The weather in Lyon can be quite variable, with cold winters and hot summers.
  • 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Not as Tourist-Friendly: Compared to Nice, Lyon may not have as many tourist-oriented services or English-speaking locals.

Which City Has Better Food? Nice or Lyon?

The eternal quest for the best food in France – a country famous for its culinary prowess. While Nice has a fantastic food scene with its Mediterranean flavours and Niçoise specialities like socca and salad Niçoise, Lyon takes the cake (or should I say croissant?) when it comes to gastronomy.

Often referred to as the ‘Gastronomic Capital of France’. Lyon is home to more restaurants per head than anywhere in France! It’s renowned for its local dishes like quenelles de brochet, andouillette and salade lyonnaise. The restaurant scene here is incredible, from cute little bistros to Michelin-starred restaurants Lyon has got it all.

So, if food is a major factor for you, then Lyon would be the better choice. But keep in mind, you won’t be disappointed in Nice either if you’re fond of Mediterranean cuisine.

Which City is Better For Couples? Nice or Lyon?

If you and your partner are all about that city life, bursting with culture, history, and foodie experiences, Lyon could be the perfect match for you. With its Renaissance old town, charming riverside paths, and world-class dining, Lyon is filled with romantic potential.

Nice offers a different type of couples holiday. Romantic walks along the stunning French Riviera, cosy beach picnics, and sunsets over the Mediterranean Sea. If that sounds like your kind of romance, then Nice would be a dreamy choice.

Both cities have their unique charms, so it’s all about picking the one that aligns with your shared interests and preferences.

Which City is Better For Families? Nice or Lyon?

If we’re talking about a family trip, both cities have their own appeal, but let’s dig a bit deeper.

Nice is the perfect outdoor holiday. Lovely beaches, a beautiful promenade and plenty of parks. There’s plenty to stop the kids getting bored. There’s also the Parc Phoenix, an animal park that will get any kid super excited!

Lyon offers a bit more of an educational experience for kids and their parents. The Musee des Confluences has several exhibits that kids will love, especially the choulans mammoth. A river cruise down the river Rhône will always be a hit with the kids too. There are plenty of other parks and museums that the kids will love like the Le Parc de Gerland and Lyon’s own zoo!

It all depends on what kind of experience your family is looking for. Whether it’s an outdoor adventure in Nice or a cultural immersion in Lyon, both cities have plenty to offer.

Which City is Better For Partying? Nice or Lyon?

If partying is your main priority, you might lean more towards Nice.

Known for its lively nightlife, Nice offers a variety of experiences, from trendy beach clubs to sophisticated wine bars and vibrant nightclubs. There are plenty of places to let your hair down and have a few drinks!

Lyon, while not as exuberant as Nice in terms of the party scene, Lyon also offers a good range of options. Its vibrant student population ensures a lively bar scene, particularly in areas such as the Quartier Saint-Jean and the slopes of Croix-Rousse. For late-night clubbing, the Confluence district is where the action is at.

Both cities have their fair share of clubs and bars to try out, it all depends on whether you want to be drinking in the Mediterranean sunshine on the French Riviera or in the beautiful Rhône-Alpes.

Which City is Safer? Nice or Lyon?

When it comes to safety, both Nice and Lyon are generally safe cities for tourists. However, like with any major city, some precautions are necessary.

In Nice, tourist areas are usually safe, but you might encounter some petty crimes like pickpocketing, especially in crowded areas. Lyon, on the other hand, also enjoys a reputation of being generally safe, with crime rates that are relatively low.

If you’re sensible, whilst keeping an eye on your belongings and not wandering into areas you’re unsure of you should be fine in both of these cities.

How long to stay in Nice

Deciding on the perfect duration for a trip to Nice can be a bit difficult, given the city’s stunning beaches, rich history, and flourishing art scene. Ultimately, the length of your stay will hinge on your personal preferences and how leisurely you plan to explore.

If you’re all about soaking up the sunshine, meandering through the charming Old Town, and indulging in the Riviera’s culinary delights, a stay of 2 to 3 days should suffice. This provides enough time to bask on the beautiful beaches, get lost in the winding alleyways of Vieux Nice, and savour mouth-watering local dishes like ‘Socca’ or ‘Salade Niçoise’.

However, if you’re intent on immersing yourself in Nice’s rich cultural tapestry and history, think about extending your visit to 4 to 5 days. This way, you can explore the exquisite art at the Musée Matisse and Musée Marc Chagall, soak in the views from the Colline du Château, and visit the iconic Cours Saleya market, all without feeling rushed.

For those desiring a deeper dive into the Côte d’Azur lifestyle, spending a week in Nice can be a fantastic choice. This period will not only provide time to thoroughly explore the city’s attractions but also offer opportunities for leisurely strolls along the Promenade des Anglais, indulging in the café culture, and embarking on day trips to nearby gems like the glamorous Cannes or the independent microstate of Monaco. A week in Nice allows you to truly immerse yourself in the relaxed yet vibrant Riviera lifestyle.

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.”

Which City is More Budget-Friendly? Nice or Lyon?

There’s not really much that separates these cities in terms of cost.

With Nice being a popular destination, naturally, it has higher prices, especially with accommodation. Food can also be expensive if you choose to eat in a prime location like Place Massena or anywhere with a sea view.

Lyon is more budget-friendly when it comes to accommodation. But can get very expensive when it comes to dining. But, as with all cities, if you do your research and try to eat where the locals do you’ll save some money.

When it boils down to it, neither of these cities is much cheaper than the other. Nice might work out cheaper over the course of a holiday just due to the fact you’ll probably end up spending more time outdoors. Whereas a visit to Lyon with consist of more museum visits and more entry fees!

How much is food and drink in Nice and Lyon?



Beer (€)



Glass of Wine (€)



Coffee (€)



Meal at Midrange Restaurant (€)



How much is it to stay in Nice or Lyon?



Luxury Hotel

€150 – €500

€150 – €500

Midrange Hotel

€70 – €150

€70 – €150

Budget Hotel

€40 – €70

€40 – €70


€20 – €40

€20 – €40

When is the best time to visit Nice?

Spring: From April to June, Nice enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate with temperatures ranging from 15-20°C (59-68°F). The city sparkles with the vibrant colours of blooming flowers, making it an ideal time to visit parks like the Colline du Château. Outdoor events and festivals also start popping up, creating an energetic atmosphere.

Summer: July to August in Nice is truly summertime. The temperatures can go up to 30°C (86°F), offering perfect weather for beach activities and enjoying the stunning coastline. However, be prepared for the crowd as these are the peak tourist months, and prices for accommodation and other services may also be higher.

Autumn: In the months of September and October, the temperature stays around 20-25°C (68-77°F). The city is less crowded during this period, and the changing colours of foliage give the city a beautiful look, ideal for walks and bike rides along the Promenade des Anglais.

Winter: From November to March, temperatures in Nice can drop to around 10-15°C (50-59°F). While it’s not the ideal time for beach activities, it’s an excellent opportunity to explore Nice’s museums, like the Matisse Museum, and enjoy indoor events without the tourist rush.

When is the best time to visit Lyon?

Spring: 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.

Summer: (June to August) Summers 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) Autumn 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) Winter 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.

Average Monthly Temperatures





12° / 8° 5 days

6° / 0° 9 days


12° / 7° 4 days

8° / 1° 8 days


14° / 9° 4 days

13° / 4° 9 days


16° / 11° 5 days

16° / 6° 8 days


20° / 14° 4 days

20° / 10° 10 days


24° / 18° 3 days

24° / 14° 8 days


27° / 21° 1 day

27° / 16° 6 days


27° / 21° 2 days

27° / 15° 7 days


24° / 19° 3 days

22° / 12° 7 days


20° / 15° 6 days

17° / 9° 9 days


16° / 11° 6 days

11° / 4° 8 days


13° / 9° 5 days

7° / 1° 9 days

This table provides the average high and low temperatures, along with the number of rainy days, for each month in both Nice and Lyon. Remember that these values are approximate and can vary from year to year.

Getting around Nice:

Nice has a well-connected public transportation system, with trams and buses covering the city comprehensively. Tickets are interchangeable between buses and trams, making transfers easy. For those preferring a more active exploration, the city offers a bike-sharing scheme, Vélo Bleu, and plenty of bike lanes.

Walking is another great way to explore, especially in the Old Town and along the Promenade des Anglais. Taxis and Uber are also available, but keep an eye on fares during peak tourist seasons.

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.

Top things to do in Nice

  1. Promenade des Anglais: Stroll along this famous seafront walkway, taking in the stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea and Nice’s elegant architecture. Don’t miss the iconic Hotel Negresco, an architectural marvel.
  2. Vieux Nice (Old Town): Lose yourself in the narrow, winding streets of Nice’s old town, filled with vibrant markets, charming shops, and delightful eateries. Check out the Cours Saleya Market for fresh produce and local specialities.
  3. Colline du Château (Castle Hill): While the castle itself no longer stands, this hill offers panoramic views of Nice and the surrounding coastline. It’s also home to a beautiful park, ideal for a picnic.
  4. Matisse Museum: Art enthusiasts must visit this museum, housing an extensive collection of works by the French painter Henri Matisse, who lived and worked in Nice for many years.
  5. Take a day trip to Monaco: Only a short train ride away, this glamorous city-state offers a slice of luxury with its casinos, yacht-filled harbor, and the royal Prince’s Palace.

Top things to do in Lyon

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

How to spend three days in Nice

Day 1: Discovering the Charms of Nice

Start your day with a stroll along the famous Promenade des Anglais, enjoying the stunning views of the Mediterranean. Follow this with a visit to the iconic Hotel Negresco, an architectural gem with a fascinating history.

Head to the Old Town, Vieux Nice, for lunch. Lose yourself in the narrow, winding streets filled with vibrant markets and charming shops. Don’t miss the Cours Saleya Market for some local produce.

In the afternoon, visit the stunning Nice Cathedral with its richly decorated Baroque interior. Then, make your way up to Colline du Château, or Castle Hill. Even though the castle is no longer there, the hill offers breathtaking panoramic views of Nice and the coastline.

Day 2: Artistic Endeavors and a Monaco Adventure

Kick off your second day with a visit to the Matisse Museum, showcasing a vast collection of works by the famous artist Henri Matisse who lived in Nice.

In the afternoon, take a short train ride for a day trip to glamorous Monaco. Explore the Royal Prince’s Palace, the luxurious casinos, and the yacht-filled harbour. Back in Nice, enjoy dinner at a chic restaurant on the beach.

Day 3: Riviera Relaxation

Your last day in Nice is all about leisure. Spend the day on one of Nice’s beautiful pebble beaches, soaking up the sun and swimming in the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean. For lunch, try a beachside café for some fresh seafood.

In the evening, enjoy some shopping in the city’s chic boutiques and souvenir shops. End your Nice adventure with a delicious farewell dinner in one of the city’s gourmet restaurants, reminiscing about the highlights of your visit.

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.




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