The third largest city in France and certainly not the cheapest to visit, Lyon is gaining in popularity among travelers who want to see a more realistic view of France than they can get in central Paris. There’s plenty to keep you busy for two or three days, and many good options for backpackers and budget travelers on longer trips.
Conveniently located halfway between Paris and Marseille, Lyon is a major transit hub so there is a decent chance you’ll be going through it one way or another. Close to the mountains, you can take a ride with ouibus to nearby Annecy for a day for less than €20.
Lyon obviously doesn’t have a long list of blockbuster museums and attractions like in Paris, but there is plenty to see and it’s far less touristy than the capital. If you want to have an overview of the city, there is an excellent Alternative Free Walking tour by LyonExplorer, which is a great way to get oriented on your first day.
The prices of food and drinks are similar to Paris, but fortunately most of the attractions are free. Hotels and hostels in Lyon are typically cheaper than in Paris, although not by much. Beer drinkers will want to seek out pubs with happy hours, but good local Beaujolais and Côte du rhône are everywhere and prices start quite a bit cheaper than beer.