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The Best & Worst Times to Visit Lyon in 2024 (Our Take)

The Best & Worst Times to Visit Lyon in 2024 (Our Take)

What's the best time to visit Lyon?

The best time to visit Lyon is from May to early September, when warm weather allows for outdoor dining and exploring sights like the Roman theater under sunny skies. This period also features vibrant events such as Les Nuits de Fourvière and the Lyon Street Food Festival, offering a rich cultural experience despite the likelihood of larger crowds and higher accommodation costs.

The city of Lyon is an underrated destination in France, but the best place to go if you want an authentic French experience. Lyon is a historic industrial city, and you can still see some of the medieval weaving workshops when you visit.

Its old quarter, Vieux Lyon, and old churches such as the Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourvière, are beautiful sights. One of the best things to do in Lyon is eat—the city, home of legendary French chef Paul Bocuse, is the home of some of France’s best cuisine.

To eat, drink, and sightsee your way through Lyon, it’s important to know the best times to visit. This guide can help you plan your trip to make sure you make the most of the city.

The Overall Best Time to Visit Lyon

A vendor is preparing a pizza on his street food stall in Lyon during the overall best time to visit

LYON, FRANCE – January 2015: Street food stall at Lyon city, France/Sun_Shine/Shutterstock

The best time to visit Lyon is between May and early September, or the extended summer season, which is when the weather is at its best.

The weather is one of the main factors that determine when you should visit. Since many of the top sights, such as the Roman theater, are located outdoors, you’ll want sunny, warm weather to walk around.

Plus, during better weather, you can truly experience why Lyon is such a culinary darling for hedonists since the cafes and restaurants bring their tables outdoors. There’s nothing better than tucking into a gourmet French meal while watching the stylish locals go by.

The best time to visit for good weather is definitely between May and September, during summer and the months right before it. Lyon has a continental climate with pronounced four seasons.

In the summer, the weather is at its warmest, with regular daily temperatures between the high 70s and low 80s on the Fahrenheit scale. Lyon is generally a cloudy city, thanks to its proximity to the mountains.

The exception is the brief season from June to September, when there are frequent sunny days. If you dislike gray weather, you definitely want to visit during this time. The city of Lyon also organizes the most events during the summer.

When planning your trip, make sure to budget time to visit:

You should keep in mind though that the summer is the most popular time to visit Lyon. You should expect more crowds and higher hotel prices, but the crowds don’t get nearly as unbearable as in more popular tourist destinations such as Paris.

Cheapest Time to Visit Lyon

Photo of a cobblestone street pictured between old yellow and pink buildings during the cheapest time to visit Lyon

Lyon, France – January 30, 2022: Street view and buildings in the old town of Lyon (Vieux Lyon), France/ColorMaker/Shutterstock

The cheapest time to visit Lyon is during the winter months, from November to early March, when you can get discounts on transportation and on hotels.

Winter is generally the off-season for Lyon. The colder weather and gray skies aren’t very attractive to potential visitors. However, to visitors in the know, this is a good time to visit because you can save decent amounts of money.

Hotels during the winter usually cost the least. In January or February, you can save 20-30% on your room. This gives you more money to budget for a good dinner at Lyon’s top restaurants.

If you are flying into France, then winter is the best time to visit because flight prices tend to decline in January or February, once the major holidays are over.

If you are taking a train to Lyon from Paris or another European city, then prices are generally the same throughout the year (although some lines get more expensive during the summer). To save money on train tickets, just make sure to book them as soon as you know your travel plans.

They tend to cost the least three months before you travel. Lyon is generally the least expensive to visit in the winter, but the exception is December.

Besides the Christmas festivities you find in most European cities, December is also when Lyon puts on its Festival of Lights. Although this is a beautiful festival to see, be warned that hotel prices tend to increase by a lot during this time.

Least Busy Time to Visit Lyon

A small alley between old buildings is full of empty restaurant chairs.

LYON, FRANCE, JULY 22, 2017: a narrow street full of restaurants is waiting for first customers to come, Lyon, France/trabantos/Shutterstock

The least busy time to visit Lyon is during the low season, which lasts from November to April (as long as you avoid December and other major festivals). During this time, you’ll have many places in Lyon practically to yourself.

Winter is the least busy period in Lyon due to colder, grayer weather, although you can get lucky and get a few sunnier days where it’s more fun to walk around. By the spring, you’ll end up having more luck with the weather.

By April and May, temperatures creep up to 16-20 degrees Celsius (60-68 degrees Fahrenheit). Although rain showers are frequent, you can also get lucky and get lots of sunny days.

Spring is also a great time for certain outdoor activities. The parks are in bloom in April and May, making it a good time for a walk. By May, the weather is warm enough to take a boat ride on the Rhone and Saone rivers, but it’s not as crowded yet.

The beauty of Lyon is that it’s a cosmopolitan, cultural city with plenty to do all year round, even when there are fewer crowds around.

In the spring, catch the Quais du Polar festival, a global literary festival celebrating crime novels. Earlier in the winter, you can catch many other cultural events, such as the Biennal of Contemporary Art of Lyon.

Worst Time to Visit Lyon

Famous Terreaux Square in Lyon pictured during the winter, the overall worst time to visit the city, with blue skies overhead and historic buildings all around the square

Prochasson Frederic/Shutterstock

The worst time to visit Lyson is from November to April, when the weather is gloomy and cold. However, you can find plenty of things to do despite the weather. From November to April, Lyon is enveloped in an almost perpetual blanket of gray weather.

The cloudy skies and dreary days drag on, with only rare moments of sun, and are usually punctuated by rain. This is hardly ideal weather for sipping some wine on an outdoor terrace or visiting parks.

The long stretches of bad weather can really drag on the soul. However, there are definitely benefits to visiting during this time. Now is a good time to check out Lyon’s indoor attractions, from museums to theaters to movie theaters.

Lyon is not one of those places that only lives for the high season, and you can find exciting cultural events and festivals happening all year long. The lack of crowds makes this one of the best times to enjoy Lyon’s famous gastronomic scene.

While you’ll still have to make reservations for some popular restaurants, you don’t have to worry as much that your dream restaurant will fill up during your entire trip. More restaurants are open to walk-ins as well.

Things to Consider

Night view of a purple sky over the church and town-lined river during the overall best time to visit Lyon, France

Prochasson Frederic/Shutterstock

Here are a few additional tips to help you prepare for your visit to Lyon:

  • Fall is a beautiful time to visit. The weather is usually nice in September and into October, and you can see the leaves changing color. The crowds decline once August ends, so you can take advantage of perfect al fresco dining conditions with fewer people around.
  • The best time of day to enjoy Lyon’s cuisine on a budget is lunch. If you’re a budget traveler, make lunch your big meal of the day instead of dinner. Many traditional restaurants called bouchons offer 10-, 12-, or 15-euro fixed price menus that allow you to sample the best of Lyon’s cuisine for much lower prices.
  • Bring warm clothes if visiting in the winter. The weather can get very cold.

Frequently Asked Questions

Morning view of Jacobins Square on a nice day with blue skies and a nice solar flare to the left pictured during the best time to visit Lyon


Here are some common questions people have asked about picking the best time to visit Lyon:

How many days do you need in Lyon?

Two or three days are usually enough to see everything there is to see in Lyon, and to squeeze in several leisurely meals.

What is the rainiest month in Lyon?

The two rainiest months are May and October, but you can save some money by visiting during this time and packing an umbrella.

Is Lyon worth visiting in summer?

Lyon is absolutely worth visiting in the summer, thanks to the warm weather and plenty of events. Just keep in mind that plenty of other people will be visiting then as well.

Is Lyon worth visiting in winter?

You’ll get the most bang for your buck by visiting Lyon in the winter since that is when prices are at their lowest. Just be prepared for the gray weather.

Is Lyon very expensive?

Lyon is not very expensive by French standards and is about 1/5th less expensive than the cost of visiting Paris. However, you can still expect to pay a lot for a hotel during the high season.

So, When Is the Best Time to Visit Lyon?

To get the most out of Lyon, visit during the summer (May-early September). Winter is long and gray but offers discounted prices and fewer crowds.