Often dismissed by travelers for Nice or Paris, Lyon is France’s true gem for those willing to dig deeper and explore some not-so-mainstream European cities. And if Lyon still hasn’t made it to your wanderlust radar, now is probably the right time.
Besides seeing what the city has to offer, chances are you’ll also wish to learn all about the best time to visit Lyon, when to steer away from the crowds, and how to explore the city on a budget.
Stay tuned as we cover all of these and so much more in our detailed Lyon guide.
The Best Time to Visit Lyon in 2023
The overall best time to visit Lyon is in summer (June–August). It’s officially the peak tourist season, with average temperatures hovering around 82°F during daytime and 57°F at night.
If you’re after scenic sunsets, head to some of the river quays and wait for the day to wrap up while soaking in the city’s beauty.
What makes the entire city come alive at this time is the possibility of endless outdoor activities. Be it cycling in the city or simply picnicking in some of the many quaint parks, Lyon summers have you covered.
Romantics should go for a walk in their preferred public gardens during Gardens Weekend in June when entrance is free of charge. If you’re a foodie, coming to Lyon in summer is a total blast, as you can enjoy stunning views on some of the best city terraces, as well as the best French cuisine.
There’s also Lyon’s Street Food Festival if you’re after finger-licking delicacies but wouldn’t want to spend on fine dining. To celebrate the beginning of the summer season, join Infiniment Cool, a free-of-charge event set on getting everyone into a proper summer mood.
Beyond that, the highlight of paying Lyon a visit in the summertime is the abundance of the different types of events across the city. June/July sees the opening of Les Nuits de Fourviere.
As one of the major Lyon-based festivals, it provides live music, dancing, and theatre performances. Then there’s Jazz a Vienne again in June/July with a lineup that gets better and better each year.
Attended by both locals and visitors, Lyon Pride is a yearly event accompanied by many after-parties around the city. Music enthusiasts can take advantage of the Fête de la Musique event and its free musical performance offers.
August is also known for the Woodstower festival, allowing visitors to enjoy plenty of concerts and dynamic activities.
Finally, note that thanks to summer being such a popular season in Lyon, booking your stay well in advance is a must to avoid scouring the Internet for any last-minute options (if any).
Cheapest Time to Visit Lyon
While Lyon isn’t the most budget-friendly destination, heading there during the shoulder months (March–May) might save you some money.
Expect more affordable hotel rates and reduced airfare tickets. These three months have temperatures between 39°F and 70°F.
Springs in the city are lovely because Lyon is waking up from its winter sleep, but things aren’t as chaotic or as touristy as they become during summer.
Sightseeing is pleasant, as the temperatures are milder, but occasional spells of rain may force you to adjust some of your plans. What makes Lyon charming at this time is the awakening greenery in general.
If keeping fit during your travel is important to you, consider taking part in the yearly Lyon Urban Trail. For a more laid-back experience, you can always cheer the runners instead.
April visitors should take note of Le Printemps des Docks, a trade show featuring jewelry, clothes, and household goods, to name a few. If you visit in May, make time for Nuits Sonores and enjoy the electronic music sounds echoing in the city since 2003.
Finally, if you happen to find yourself in Lyon just in time for the local Easter holiday celebrations, make sure to join some of the Easter egg hunts, festivities, and events.
Least Busy Time to Visit Lyon
Wish to avoid the annoying peak season crowds and take a stroll along more sleepy streets? Consider planning your Lyon getaway in the fall (September–November).
The fall foliage is a must-see attraction on its own, and climbing Fourvière is very pleasant thanks to fall’s temperatures between average lows of 40°F and highs of 73°F. With school back in business, Lyon all but empties out.
That said, the frequent rainfall at this time serves as a travel repellent, but the lack of crowds compensates for the rainy French experience.
Also, there’s nothing like heading to the nearby vineyards and wineries during the harvest season, so this is yet another must-have on your agenda. To truly sample French wines in all their flavors, consider the Beaujolais Nouveau wine celebrations taking place during the third week in November.
Other popular events at this time include Biennale de la Danse (September), an artistic extravaganza, Lumiere Festival (October) to satisfy all movie buffs’ expectations, and Run in Lyon (October) for a dynamic Lyon experience on the streets.
An event born out of the sheer desire to exploit Lyon’s capacity for hosting international events displaying modern art creations, the Biennal of Contemporary Art of Lyon gets better and better with time.
If you wish to see artists from places such as Canada, Russia, Germany, France, Belgium, Lebanon, and Greece all gathered in one place, consider attending Sens Interdits – International theater festival.
Care to add fashion to your Lyon experience? If so, consider Silk in Lyon Festival, where you can not only learn all there is to know about silk production but also treat yourself to some new attire.
Worst Time to Visit Lyon
Lyon is such a delight to visit that it feels wrong to discuss the worst time to visit such a magnificent city. That said, if we had to pick, we’d say winters in Lyon (December–February) aren’t that attractive, weather-wise.
Expect to see average temperatures fluctuating between 32°F and 47°F, and certain events result in much higher prices than you’d expect in an off-season.
The overall climate makes winters an off period, meaning the city isn’t very accommodating to tourists. Snowfall is rare, but rain is a bit more frequent, and when you combine it with the chilly temperatures, you get a limited amount of activities to enjoy in Lyon.
Also, certain tourist attractions may have limited working hours, so make sure to double-check such details before setting off to avoid unpleasant surprises.
That said, it may be just what you need to experience the city as a true local. Of course, indoor activities such as museum hopping are always on the table, but it’s a shame to miss out on the city’s beauty.
If the weather doesn’t turn you off, you can enjoy exploring the city without paying for overpriced accommodation. That said, Christmas sees an influx of tourists, and prices skyrocket.
In December, there’s also the popular Fete des Lumieres, or Lyon’s popular Festival of Lights, transforming the city into a cool and visually mesmerizing space.
We can’t skip the city’s Christmas Market, either, Marché de Noël, opening sometime in late November, where you can enjoy mulled wine and holiday decorations, as well as buy Christmas gifts.
January’s Bocuse d’Or is a gastronomic experience that’s often referred to as “the culinary Olympics.” This contest is regarded as the most prestigious international chef competition in the world, with vibrant audiences cheering on the teams.
If you’re planning on celebrating New Year’s Eve in Lyon, expect a lot of fun, champagne, parties, decorations, music, and dancing. Note that accommodation prices at this time are also higher, but if you can afford it, it will be well worth it.
Things to Consider
Curious how you can make the most out of your Lyon trip? Follow along for the most useful travel tips:
- If you’re a US citizen with a valid passport, you can enter France visa-free and stay for 90 days in a six-month period.
- Generally speaking, Lyon is a safe, tourist-friendly city. However, exercising some degree of caution and having common sense is always encouraged.
- If you have hay fever, avoid visiting Lyon in spring, as that’s when the verdant terrain comes alive.
- Purchase the Lyon City Card and enjoy unlimited public transportation and easy access to plenty of museums, guided tours, and many other benefits.
- If you’re trying to visit Lyon on a budget, stick to free attractions, such as exploring Vieux Lyon, visiting the stalls of Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse, and enjoying the city’s Parc de la Tête d’Or, to name a few.
- The city has a solid public transportation system — note that single tickets bought onboard buses are more expensive as opposed to purchasing them in advance.
- Avoid scammers trying to sell you fake or expired metro tickets that will only get you in trouble. Such individuals typically approach confused tourists trying to figure out the slightly complicated system of buying metro tickets. If you have any trouble, consider asking the metro staff to assist you.
- Keep hydrated and reapply SPF in the summer. Many underestimate how hot Lyon summers can be, and by the time you realize it, it’ll be too late.
- Biking around the city isn’t only a way to keep fit but also save some money, as with options such as the city bike scheme, you get 30 minutes free and affordable hourly/day rates.
- While renting a car may appear to be convenient, avoid doing so, as the traffic, together with the city’s narrow streets, will only leave you frustrated.
- While the city’s primary language is French, many young people can communicate fairly well in English, especially in the tourism sector. That said, don’t set your expectations way too high and learn a few useful basic French phrases before your trip.
- The city’s hidden passageways — the traboules — aren’t that secretive, so try to avoid visiting them during peak time. It’s best to go explore them in the afternoon when most organized tours have wrapped up.
- Get travel insurance.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many days do you need in Lyon?
We recommend that you spend at least three days in Lyon to explore the city’s major points of interest, as well as its nightlife and gastronomy scene.
Is Lyon an expensive city?
While Lyon isn’t as expensive as Paris, it’s still not the most affordable city out there. If you’re coming to Lyon for a three-day trip on your own, you’ll need $975. Set aside $1,660 if you’re with a travel partner and $2,145 if you’re traveling as a family of four.
Hotel prices in the city center vary between $350 and $890 (on average, $440 per night). Past travel data suggests that you should set aside $105 per day for eating out and public transportation.
While budget figures based on previous travelers’ experiences are highly useful when it comes to planning your own expenses, always check out the latest data before you actually visit any place, including Lyon.
How walkable is Lyon?
On the whole, Lyon is a walkable city with plenty of areas to explore. For a more versatile experience and to make sure your stay is more organized, consider combining walking with some of the other transportation options we outlined in the Things to Consider section.
What area is best to stay in Lyon?
Lyon has many nice areas you can stay at — here’s what to pick based on what you hope to get out of your accommodation:
1. The Presqu’île, ideal for first-time visitors
2. Vieux Lyon Best area for sightseeing
3. 3rd Arrondissement, the most suitable area for business travelers
4. 6th Arrondissement, the best location for a luxurious Lyon getaway
5. 7th Arrondissement, the area approved by most budget travelers
What is the luxury street in Lyon?
Situated between Place Bellecor and Cordeliers lies a shopping area for those with deep pockets called Carré d’Or. With over 70 high-end stores, Carré d’Or features some of the most popular names in the fashion industry, such as Hermès, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton.
Over to You — Book Your Trip Today!
|👍 Best Time to Visit||June to August|
|💲 Cheapest Time to Visit||March to May|
|🗓️ Least Busy Time to Visit||September and November|
|👎 Worst Time to Visit||December to February|
- All in all, the best time to visit Lyon is in the summer (June–August). Travelers flock to the city to enjoy the warm weather, as well as Lyon’s vibrant festivals and the great outdoors. Note that accommodation may be scarce, though, thanks to high demand, so plan your stay in advance.
- If you’re trying to stick to a budget, consider heading there during the spring shoulder months (March–May). People suggest finding attractive deals and affordable accommodation at this time is way easier than any other period of the year.
- The least busy time to pay Lyon a visit is in the fall (September–November). While rain is fairly common at this time, it’s worth it if you wish to avoid large queues at attractions and steer away from crowds in general.
- We suggest that you avoid visiting Lyon in winter (December–February). It can get chilly, making city sightseeing a challenge, but if you don’t mind Lyon’s winter conditions, by all means, go for it.
Lyon’s interesting buildings and captivating urban landscapes are enough to charm all kinds of travelers.
Whether you end up visiting in winter when the weather is harsh or in spring when you can explore the city without breaking a sweat, you’re bound to have an authentic French experience. Happy travels!