Gay Lyon: our travel guide: the best gay bars, clubs, hotels and more

Stefan Arestis

The hottest men of France are officially from Lyon!

According to me, of course. Well obviously, I'm biased – this is Seby's home ground, the city he was born and raised.

As well as the abundance of smokin’ hot French lovers, Lyon is also the foodie capital of France with a really pretty UNESCO listed Old Town (Vieux Lyon). Lyon has been a flourishing trading city since the Romans thanks to its strategic location at the confluence between two major rivers – the Rhône and Saône. The heart of city lies right at this point, an island-like peninsula called the Presqu'île…which is also where the bulk of the city’s gay scene can be found.

The southern section of the Presqu'île is the actual confluence point between the two rivers and is more residential. The northern side of the Presqu'île has a more commercial feel and has the main gay bars and clubs of Lyon, particularly between the two streets called: Place des Terreaux and Cordeliers. The Presqu’île is our favourite part of the city. Not only do the best gay parties happen right here, it’s also an exciting place to get lost in during the day, with cute narrow cobblestone streets, Renaissance-era mansions to awe at, hidden courtyards to explore and an abundance of excellent restaurants (called “bouchons”) everywhere!

Following our many trips to France's gastronomical capital, we've put together our gay travel guide to Lyon featuring the best gay hotels to stay, the best bars, clubs, events, things to do, and many more practical tips for LGBTQ travellers.

Join a gaily tour of Lyon to explore the city with a local gay guide

Get to know gay Lyon

We love the Gaily tour of Lyon and cannot recommend it enough. A handsome local will take your hand and show you around the Old City including the famous traboules. These are the hidden network of passageways built from the 4th century AD onwards, which allow people to manoeuvre between the buildings easier. This 3-hour tour will also take you round the main sites of the old city including the Musée des Beaux-Arts.

Find out more

Is Lyon safe for gay travellers?

Absolutely! France ranks as one of the gayest countries in the world. The French are famous for their “laissez-faire” attitude towards our LGBTQ community, namely, not interfering in matters that may seem too personal, and respecting the privacy of others.

All locals we met in Lyon did not bat an eyelid whenever they saw us holding hands or displaying other PDAs, particularly in the touristic areas – the Presqu’île and Vieux Lyon. To add to that, Lyon has a large student population with people from all over the world, which gives it an air of tolerance, open-mindedness and diversity.

The only downside, which applies to much of France generally is that gay bashing has increased exponentially in recent years due to religion-inspired homophobia. Thankfully, most of these attacks confined to the low-income suburbs outside of the city, which tourists are unlikely to ever venture to. However, in the rare occasion that this may spill out into the centre of town, we highly recommend being cautious about PDAs outside of the touristic central areas of Lyon, especially at night-time.

We would add that this is a practical concern we recommend for any major city whether it’s Barcelona, New York, Sydney or London. On the whole, Lyon is very safe, super gay friendly and a highly rewarding destination for all LGBTQ travellers.

Getting around Lyon

Pro tip for travellers to Lyon, get the Lyon City Card. It’s a time-saving bargain! It not only includes your transfer to/from the on the RhôneExpress train (€10 each way), it also gives you unlimited access to Lyon’s public transport. On top of this, the Lyon City Card gets you free entry to 23 museums and also includes 38 activities such as a river cruise or a guided tour in Vieux Lyon. It’s super easy to book online and you can pick up your card at the Airport's welcome desk.

Getting around Lyon is easy and quite fun as well!
Riding the funicular in Lyon is more fun than this driver makes it look!

Gay hotels in Lyon

You are unlikely to ever have any issues booking a double bed in any hotel in Lyon. They are more than accustomed to dealing with LGBTQ travellers and we only felt welcomed at the places we stayed at. We've set out below some of the places we tried and loved in Lyon, which we highly recommend checking out:

01

Cour des Loges

The Cour des Loges is one of the most exquisite hotels in all of Lyon, so romantic and gay friendly to boot!

Why we love it


  • Divine and lavish 5-star luxury, fit for a Queen!
  • Located in Lyon's Vieux Lyon (Old Town)
  • Michelin-starred restaurant of Paul Bocus
  • The Pure Altitude Spa will blow your mind!

Seby went all out for our 10-year anniversary when we came to Lyon to celebrate it…he booked us into this gem of a hotel, a place that blew our mind!

I was impressed…my Frenchman knows how to win my heart every time! This place just oozes grandeur, opulence and Renaissance majesty.

The Cour des Loges is one of the most exquisite hotels in all of Lyon, the sort of place you want to stay in if you're on a honeymoon, or celebrating a special occasion like our 10-year anniversary.

The Cour des Loges is set across four Renaissance townhouses, right slap bang in the heart of the most photogenic part of the city: Vieux Lyon! We love getting lost in the labyrinth of cobblestone narrow streets and traboules of the city. The inside of the hotel feels like an extension its medieval surroundings, with spiral staircases, wooden beamed ceilings, tight passageways and Italianate loggias. In short, this handsome hotel serves you grand palatial and majestic Louis XIV vibes…

As foodies, we were really excited to try the inhouse Michelin-starred restaurant called: Les Loges. It was one of the highlights of our stay which we'll never forget: super romantic and the most delicious food we tried in Lyon. We tried the five-course Renaissance menu which included creative culinary prizes like black truffle served with veal sweetbread and onion cream, char lake fish married with cocoa bean confit and meringue-crowned apples baked with celery and farm cider. That's a meal we won't be forgetting in a hurry! Other perks of the hotel include a well-equipped gym, the heavenly Pure Altitude Spa and an indoor pool with a waterfall.

STAY WITH A GAY LOCAL

Misterb&b is the Airbnb equivalent for the LGBTQ community. Unlike on Airbnb, you know your host is gay, avoiding any nasty surprises when you check in. It is also a great way to meet gay locals and discover the underground gay scene. Click below to get 10 € (or $10) off your first booking.

02

Collège Hôtel

The Collège Hôtel is a quirky spot in Lyon, designed to remind you of school and a fabulous location

Why we love it


  • Trendy medium-budget hotel in central Lyon
  • Quirky nostalgic school theme
  • Buffet breakfast served in a canteen style with vintage wooden table and chairs
  • Stay in a room with a private balcony or terrace

When my Seby brought me to Lyon to experience my first Light Festival in early December (we now try to go every year), he wanted to pick a place that wasn't too pricey but still trendy, and most importantly (in his words): “had a large corner bathtub to make our dreams come true”!

Voila – he booked our stay at the quirky Collège Hôtel. He nailed it! We absolutely loved our stay here. It's a unique and super hip hotel that isn't going to break the bank, and, is well located just by Vieux Lyon.

The Collège Hôtel is designed to feel like one big nostalgic flashback to your school days. It made us giggle quite a bit! For example, as you arrive at the hotel, a cute sign warns ‘the pupils' not to spit on the floors, not to stick pens in their ears and not to clean the blackboards with their tongues (oh the number of times I have to tell Seby not to do this on a daily basis…)! The reception desk is set across a vintage vaulting horse dating back to 1914, which was actually recuperated from a school gymnasium near Paris. In the bedrooms, the TVs are embedded in a blackboard and welcome pack lies on the desk just beneath the TV “blackboard” in the shape of a pupil’s pencil tin…you get the gist – super quirky and pretty unforgettable!

The location of the hotel was the other main reason we loved it. It's set in a 1930s building at the foot of the Fourvière Hill, just two blocks from the River Saône and right on the doorstep of Vieux Lyon. It was pretty gay as well. Whilst the bulk of their clientele seemed to be young trendy millennial couples, we spotted several gay couples also staying here.

And that large corner bathtub? We'll leave that to your imagination, but rest assured, my Seby sure made my dreams come true at Lyon's Collège Hôtel!

03

Alter'hostel

Alter'hostel is a gay friendly and very eco friendly hostel in Lyon that we love

Why we love it


  • Best gay friendly budget option in Lyon
  • Homemade compote for breakfast!
  • Eco-friendly hotel: dry toilets and collective composting
  • Offers DIY workshops and volunteer work in local organisations 

A young Nomadic Boys couple first stepped out onto the streets of Lyon, many many many many moons ago…and we stumbled on this eco-friendly place which we've been super proud to support ever since.

First, we were nervous – it was our first outing as a gay couple and had no idea if this would be an issue. We needn't have worried! We were welcomed with open arms by the hilariously camp receptionist guy who blurted out “Oh mes petits choux, all ze gay boys are welcomed at ze Alter!”. Second, the eco-friendly commitment to a green lifestyle made a strong impression on us.

Alter'hostel takes it's green credentials very seriously. For example, the staff encourage all guests to minimise their carbon footprint in Lyon via the use of cycling. And from personal experience, Lyon is one very satisfying city to cycle in – bike lanes are everywhere. In addition, Alter uses dry toilets, has energy-saving thermal insulation, and, it gets its energy from Enercoop – a French company that works with small producers of renewable energy.

In terms of sleeping, Alter only offers dorms, so bear that in mind if you're a couple. We're not going to lie, this is far from luxury, but given what you pay, it's pretty impressive, homely and a fantastic way to make new friends. We highly recommend Alter to solo LGBTQ travellers and travellers who are counting the pennies. In relation to the location, it's located right by the River Saône, around 25 minutes walking distance northeast from Vieux Lyon, or a few stops on the metro. But like we said above, cycling is the way forward here!

Gay bars in Lyon

As you cross the River Saône from Vieux Lyon and enter the Presqu'île, a big wide fabulous French world opens up, particularly in the evening. We love the gay scene of Lyon because regardless of the season the gay bars are always buzzing. In the summer, the gay crowds spill out into the streets outside whereas in the winter months, it's super cozy with everyone huddled together inside, clutching a cup of vin chaud (mulled wine). These are some of our favourite gay bars in Lyon where you can vin chaud the night away…

La Ruche

La Ruche is Lyon's oldest and most famous gay bar with the best outdoor terrace vibe in the whole city

La Ruche is Lyon's oldest and most famous gay bar. First-timers to the Lyon scene should head here in our humble opinion. Look out for the iconic logo of two male bees engaged in a rather intense hand wrestle (La Ruche means The Beehive in French). For us, we love the vibe here in the summer months 'cause when the sun's out, La Ruche has the best outdoor terrace vibe in all of Lyon. We found the crowd to be in their 30s and older, with all shapes and sizes…whether you're looking for Mr Right or Mr Wrong – he'll be hanging out here at some stage in the evening!

La Ruche is located at 22 rue Gentil. It is open every evening until around 1am.


XS Bar

XS is a small and personable gay bar in Lyon where the city's fabulous bear boys hang out

XS is a smaller and more personable gay bar in Lyon where the city's fabulous bear boys hang out (aka, les ours). Just like La Ruche, XS has a really cool terrace, which we love hanging out because we always make new friends here. It's super friendly! XS is also famous for having one of the most popular bear nights in Lyon, called Apero Bear, which is usually on a Thursday evening. The boys of Lyon's very own GrrrizzLyon Bear Club often hang out here and often host many of their themed events in XS.

XS Bar is located at 19 rue Claudia. It is open every evening until around 3am.


L'Étoile Opéra

L'Étoile Opéra is a mixed restobar, famous for its burgers and themed nights like karaoke and bingo

L'Étoile Opéra (“the Opera Star”) is where you'll find us, sat in their outdoor terrace with a large plate of charcuterie and a few Kir Royales to hand. The burgers are also pretty impressive too, especially on a hangover day… L'Étoile is a mixed restobar, famous for its burgers and themed nights like karaoke and bingo. They also host large queer events for Lyon Pride called Le Soirée Spéciale Gay Pride. The crowd is mixed thanks to their focus on hosting events for the boys (like the Love's Freedom male-only party) and for the gals (like the Girlie Concept female-only party).

Opéra is located at 26 rue de l'Arbre Sec. It is open every evening until around 1am.


La Chapelle Café

La Chapelle is a trendy bar with romantic views of the Fourvière Hill

Chapelle is where my Seby often brings me for a more low-key cocktail. It's very romantic thanks to the views of the Fourvière Hill, especially at sunset. Inside it's trendy, friendly – a zero-attitude zone. Everyone is welcome, another huge plus as far as we're concerned. Chapelle has a large outside seating area on its terrace, which becomes the life and soul of the bar later in the evening. Overall, the crowd is a bit more on the younger side, mainly in their 20s and 30s, in part due to its student themed nights like “Back to School”. Also, we recommend checking out their “Latin Rainbow” nights which are a riot!

Chapelle is located at 8 quai des Célestins. It is open every evening until around 3am.


It Bar

It Bar is a late opening gay bar which specialises in 80s hits and is a fun spot for dancing in Lyon

The It Bar is where we'd often head at around 1am on weekends when we just wanted a place to hang out at over a few drinks. It Bar is a late opening gay bar which specialises in 80s hits – all the classics from Whitney, WHAM, Madonna, Eurythmics, Culture Club, Tears for Fears, Bonnie Tyler…it's a rich nostalgic dream, which gives me the feels every time we hang out here! The It Bar also has a small dancing area where you can show off your MC Hammer moves…for us it's always HAMMER TIME at The It Bar! The crowd is usually a mix of both gays and gals, united by their love of punk rock and new-wave electro music.

It Bar is located at 20 Bis Montée Saint Sébastien. It is only open on Friday and Saturday evenings after midnight until around 4am.


Gay cafes in Lyon

Lyon has a hip cafe culture, popular with its students and (ahem!) digital nomad laptop-clad punters(!) who want a place to hang out during the day over a coffee and a few croissants. There are a few gay cafes to check out in Lyon which are one of our favourite hangout spots during the daytime before the bars get busy:

Le Broc Bar

Le Broc Bar is one of our favourite cafes in Lyon with a fabulous outdoor terrace

Le Broc Bar is one of our favourite cafes in Lyon to hang out. It's always full of cute local Lyonnais guys, which makes people-watching here a very rewarding experience! The large outdoor terrace is the best spot to hang out at whether it's summer or winter – during the cold months, they give out blankets to guests to keep warm. Le Brock is located at 20 rue Lanterne. It is open every day from early morning until around 1am.


Drôle de Zèbre

Drole de zebre is a quirky cafe in Lyon

This dinky little cafe is heaps of fun! The name itself is a sign of how quirky it is – the funny zebra…but this is one especially funny zebra that is stuck in the 1980s! Drôle de Zèbre has a nostalgic feel, with 1980s hits (both French and English) playing all day long…Émile & Images anyone? Also, look out for their morning €1 coffee happy hour. Drôle de Zèbre is located at 6 rue de Cuire. It is open every day (except Sundays) from 10am until around 1am.


Gay clubs in Lyon

For us, it's all about Garçon Sauvage, a place you can really let yourself go! Lyon also has a handful of other excellent gay clubs to check out whether you want to see a few drag shows or you prefer a more Berlin-underground-style place with lots of dark spaces! These are the main gay clubs in Lyon we think you should check out:

Garçon Sauvage

Garçon Sauvage is a monthly queer event that takes place in Lyon

Unique, completely mad and a terrific night out! Garçon Sauvage is our favourite gay party in Lyon. It's a huge colourful monthly queer event with the most outlandish gender-bending you've ever seen! Imagine bearded drag queens, glitter-clad bear boys, boy dolls in high heels, and more. It's spread over two rooms – one for electro-house music, the other for pop/disco beats. Check out the Events section on their Facebook page for details of the next party. Garçon Sauvage usually takes place at “Le Sucre” which is at 50 quai Rambaud, towards the southern end of the Presqu'île near the Confluence.


United Café

United Café (aka L'UC) is the oldest gay club in Lyon with lots of fun themed nights

United Café (aka L'UC) is the oldest gay club in Lyon. It has a themed event every evening including Pop-Crazy on Fridays, Electro-Dance on Saturdays, drag nights and the Tuesday karaoke party. We love UC because it's always buzzy thanks to the studenty crowd – it's the only gay club in Lyon that is busy almost every night of the week. UC is located at Impasse de la Pecherie. It is open every day from midnight until around 6am the next day.


Factory Club

Factory Club is an exciting late-night club that's only open on Saturday nights in Lyon

Factory Club is where the late-night party boys head on Saturday evenings. It has everything you want from a good gay club including live DJs, hot exotic dancers, drag queens, handsome topless guys, laser shows and more handsome topless guys everywhere! Be sure to spot exotic dancer Magic Mike – let's just say he's very magical…! The Factory Club is located at 73 rue du Bourbonnais, which is outside of the Presqu'île in the 9th Arrondissement. It is open only on Saturday evenings from 11:30pm until around 7am.


Gay cruising in Lyon

There are several well known gay clubs in Lyon where you can go for good old fashioned hanky panky fun. We've set out the main ones below. Top tip from us – if you want to top up your outfit with a new pup mask, plugs, harness or any leather accessories, we recommend the DOGklub.

Premier Sous-Sol

Premier Sous-Sol is pretty big, spread over two floors with lots of space for dancing with Mr Right, then wooing Mr Wrong in the dark spaces! Over in the pitch-black areas you'll find all sorts of a maze, private cabins and a range of different sized pleasure holes! Premier Sous-Sol is located at rue Puit Gaillot 7. It is open every afternoon from 2pm until 4am the next day. On weekends it's open until 7am, making it a popular stopover for the post-clubbing boys looking for a bit of rumpy pumpy…

Le Trou

Le Trou means “the hole” in French…enough said! Le Trou is most famous for its unapologetically blunt themed nights ranging from “Soirée Fist”, “All Nude” and “BlackOut Night”. Le Trou tends to attract a slightly younger crowd thanks to their “Free for Under 26s” on Fridays. Le Trou is located at rue Romarin 6. It is open every afternoon from 2pm until 2am the next morning and 5am on weekends. Friday and Saturday are the busiest nights, especially on Fridays when it's free for under 26s.

Le Trou is one of the best gay cruising clubs in Lyon

Gay saunas in Lyon

Lyon is rich with several gay saunas to check out, even boasting one of the largest in all of Europe!

Le Sun

Allegedly the largest gay sauna in Europe. It has a large Bollywood(!) inspired maze as well as a gym, swimming pool and bar. On Sundays, they have a really fun Foam Party or “Mousse Party” which gets wonderfully messy! Also note, the first Sunday of each month is a very popular Bear party. Le Sun is located at rue Sainte-Marie des Terreaux 3. It is only open 3 days a week: Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays from midday until 1am.

DoubleSide

DoubleSide is not as big as Le Sun, but is equally as popular because it's open 7 days a week. They have themed nights to encourage all ages: Tuesdays discounted entry for 26-36-year-olds, Thursdays discounted entry for under 26s and the 3rd Saturday of the month is their big bear party. DoubleSide is located at 8 rue Constantine. It is open every day from midday until 1am, and until 5am on weekends.

Oasis Club Sauna

Oasis Club is unique because they cater to the entire LGBTQ family rather than just gay men. For example, Fridays 12-7pm is for men only, then from 9pm on Fridays it becomes “Bi Night”. On Saturday evenings it's an “All Inclusive Mixed” night where all women are allowed, and on Tuesdays, they have an event for transgender people called “Mardi Travestis“. Oasis is located at 2 rue Coustou. It is open every day from midday until 9pm, and until 3am on weekends.

There are some great saunas in Lyon, including the largest one in Europe
Who's ready to slip into this hot gay sauna in Lyon?

Gay Pride in Lyon and events

Lyon has one of the best LGBTQ film festivals in all of France, a super cool Pride event, and of course, the very famous Light Festival in early December. Although the light festival is not specifically gay, it's where all the local gay guys will be hanging out, and it is often regarded as one of the top French festivals.

Queer Film Festival (March)

The “Écrans Mixtes Festival” takes place over nine days every March. We always try to attend at least one of the events – Seby is super proud of it because it is recognised as one of France's finest LGBTQ film festivals. It includes parties, exhibitions, screenings, public discussions (which get super passionate!) and concludes with an Oscar-style awards ceremony honouring the best film in each category.

Lyon Pride (June)

The “Fierté Lesbian and Gay Pride” has been taking place in mid-June every year since it started in 1996. What began as a small protest is now a wonderful colourful fortnight-long festival honouring the city's LGBTQ community. It includes art exhibitions, film screenings, discussion focus groups and of course plenty of parties. The climax is the large colourful parade that makes its way through the streets of Vieux Lyon and the Presqu'île. Lyon Pride is so popular that it's now  It has grown massively in popularity to become the second-largest Pride event in France after Paris Pride.

Lyon Light Festival

The famous “Fête des Lumières” takes place over 4 nights around 8th December each year. The Light Festival honours Mary, mother of Jesus, who allegedly saved the city from a terrible plague in 1643. During the festival, a dramatic light display takes place on the iconic buildings of the city every evening. In addition, the residents of the city place candles outside their windows to produce a spectacular effect throughout the streets. It's not a gay event, but popular with both LGBTQ residents of Lyon as well as gay travellers. We always try to come each year and highly recommend you do as well!

 

Gay restaurants in Lyon

Lyon is a foodie destination, famous for being France's gastronomical capital. There are many highly-rated “bouchons” (the French word for the traditional restaurants of the city) to check out including a few excellent gay ones that we love, we passionately support and urge you to check out! We summarise some of the best ones right here:

Chez Les Garçons

For a warm welcome and rustic French cuisine, head to Chez les Garcons restaurant in Lyon

Chez Les Garçons is a cheap and cheerful local restaurant that's popular with locals. The owners Bruno and Hubert are always so warm when welcoming customers. We love the quirky decor as well as the delicious, rustic French cuisine. The menu changes daily and focuses on fresh ingredients as well as a pretty incredible dessert selection.

Chez Le Garçons is located at 5 rue Cuvier, just outside of the Presqu'île on the East side. It's open daily for breakfast and lunch from 7am – 4pm but only open for dinner on Thursday when they stay open until 11pm.


Le Francois Villon

Le Francois Villon is a restaurant in the touristy part of Lyon which serves traditional Lyonnaise cuisine

Le Francois Villon is one of our favourite restaurant in Vieux Lyon. We love LOVE the food here – some of the tastiest traditional Lyon dishes. You cannot say you've been to Lyon until you've tried a Lyonnaise sausage (ooh er!) or two! Another highlight from Le Francois Villon was the escargot in herbal cream sauce – perfect for dipping the delicious crusty baguette. The restaurant surrounding is really cosy, built into the hillside. It reminded me of Bruce Wayne's Batcave!

Located at 20 rue du Boeuf in the heart of Vieux Lyon. Le Francois Villon is open daily for dinner from 7-11pm and on weekends for lunch from midday.


Les Loges

Les Loges is the main restaurant at the gorgeous Cour des Loges hotel, with a Michelin star and truly romantic setting

Les Loges is the main restaurant at the gorgeous Cour des Loges hotel and it is divine! Not only does it have a Michelin star, it's also absolutely stunning – the most romantic setting we've ever seen! It's set in a Florentine-style courtyard ringed by three floors of galleries. 17 metres above there's a glass ceiling – everything about this place is just EXTRA, especially the food! You get to enjoy multiple incredible courses, with dishes like foie gras cooked inside an orange, duck, chicken or even a pigeon (!) as well as an amazing dessert of an apple and celery confection covered with shattered meringue!

Les Loges is located inside the Cour des Loges hotel at 6 rue du Boeuf. It's open Tuesday – Saturday for dinner from 7.30pm and on Sundays for lunch.


Cinq Mains

Cinq Mains is a gay friendly restaurant in Lyon that serves excellent seasonal cuisine

Cinq Mains (also written as 5inq Mains) means five hands. It is a cool “neobistro” restaurant, particularly popular with locals. The food is excellent and seasonal while the staff are super cute and very friendly. There's a loft-style mezzanine level which is fun to sit in during the cold winter months. Outside there's a buzzy terrace, perfect for people watching. Our favourite culinary prizes from Cinq Mains was the rabbit terrine (the best rabbit terrine in the whole city according to my Seby!) and the sea bass with leek.

Cinq Mains is located at 12 rue Monseigneur Lavarenne. It is open daily for lunch from 12-3pm and then for dinner from 6-9.30pm.


Top things to do in Lyon

Just grab your camera and get lost in the narrow cobblestone labyrinth streets of Vieux Lyon and its hidden traboules. Then grab a bike and cycle around the Presqu'île – I actually learnt to cycle here on the streets of Lyon in my late twenties when I first met Seby – I never came of stabilizers as a child!

I find Lyon to be such a rewarding city – encompassing food, gay parties, UNESCO listed buildings, cute guys, and so much more. Here are some of our favourite things to do in Lyon to help inspire your travel planning:

Discover the traboules of Lyon on a gay tour

Lyon's traboules are an architectural feature unique to the city and fascinating to explore

Lyon's traboules are an architectural feature unique to the city. They are narrow passageways that pass through buildings and link the streets on each side. These are mostly found in the neighbourhoods of Vieux Lyon and Croix-Rousse. Some of these traboules date to the 4th century AD. They are remarkable, absolutely fascinating to explore! We recommend doing the Gaily tour of Lyon where a cute local takes your hand and shows you around Vieux Lyon, revealing some of the darker and wilder secrets of these famous traboules!


Learn about Vieux Lyon through food!

A foodie walking tour of Lyon is a fun way to explore the city while having a taste of all the city's delicacies

What better (and appropriate) way to take in Lyon's magnificent Vieux Lyon than on a foodie tour?! Remember, this is France's gastronomic capital. I personally get bored very quickly when in museums or going from one building to another without purpose, but throw me into a foodie group and the city comes alive for me! On this 4-hour food tasting tour, we explored Lyon's old town going from building to building but trying a new dish each time – each one has its own story and historical significance…now THAT'S rewarding sightseeing as far as I'm concerned!


Go on a romantic dinner cruise

For something truly romantic, go on a dinner cruise on the river in Lyon

My favourite way of seeing a city is on a river cruise. It's super romantic, and if you go at night time, it's all lit up, which adds to the intimate ambience. When we spent Valentine's Day in Lyon, I surprised my Seby with this romantic dinner cruise on the luxurious Hermès restaurant boat. We sailed up the Rhône River at sunset, which included commentary for each sight. Then the fun started with the three-course gourmet meal, which included wine and champagne. The result, Seby was completely blown away and said I was the most romantic (and cheesy) person he's ever dated!


Explore the city by bike

Going on an e-bike tour is a way and healthy way to see all the sights in Lyon

Lyon is a city made for cycling. There is nothing better than cycling down the streets of the Presqu'île when it's nice and sunny. We both love it and always try to make plenty of time for cycling when we visit in the summer months. Cycling is also a quicker way to see more of Lyon, particularly one of the e-bike tours. On this two-hour tour, you'll get to learn about the city's history while riding to each major site including Lyon Cathedral, Place Bellecour and Tête D’Or Park. My favourite part was riding through the Croix Rousse tunnel, which is lined with coloured lights and has music playing.


Beaujolais and wine tasting tour

While you're in Lyon you should visit the nearby wine region of Beaujolais and sample some of the best local wines

The Beaujolais wine region is just outside of Lyon. It is a beautiful area filled with different wineries. We definitely recommend getting out of the city for a bit to enjoy the countryside while sampling some of the fruity red wines made from the Gamay grape variety. Remember, you're in the country with THE best wines in the world! We recommend joining a half-day wine tour which will take you to a family-run winery as well as Villefranche, the capital of Beaujolais. Here you visit the local farmer’s market and try Mâchon, a hearty traditional breakfast. And remember, what did the grape say when it was crushed? Nothing…it just let out a little wine!


Travel recommendations to Lyon

We've put together some handy hints and tips to help you plan your own trip to Lyon. Read on to find out everything the gay traveller should know before they go.

How to get there: You can fly directly to Lyon airport with many budget carriers, catch the train from within France or even the Eurostar from other countries or reach the city by driving. If you do fly into the city then we recommend pre-booking a private airport transfer with Welcome Pickups so you can relax without trying to navigate public transport while juggling your luggage at the same time. You'll also be guaranteed a professional, English-speaking driver who will wait at the airport for you even if your flight is delayed.


Visa requirements: As part of the Schengen Area, many travellers to Lyon won't need a visa to visit France and other Schengen countries for up to 90 days. Travellers from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and many countries in South America can visit France visa-free, but make sure you check your personal visa requirements before making any travel arrangements.


Getting around: It's easy to get around Lyon via the public transport system which includes buses, trams, a four-line metro and two funiculars. Our top tip is to pre-order the Lyon city card for your trip so you can take advantage of unlimited public transport access, including the RhôneExpress tickets to and from the airport. The card also includes free entry to 23 museums as well as 38 activities such as a river cruise or a guided tour in Vieux Lyon.


Power Plugs: France uses the typical European power plug and socket type, so if you're visiting Lyon from outside of Europe you will need to bring a travel adaptor with you.


Travel insurance: We never travel without the security of travel insurance and recommend all travellers do the same. For your trip to Lyon make sure you are covered in case of accidents, missed flights or lost luggage by contacting World Nomads Travel Insurance. We've been using them for years and cannot recommend them highly enough. Their coverage is very comprehensive and affordable, plus it's easy to make a claim online.


Safety and Security: While Lyon is a pretty safe destination overall, there's always the chance when travelling that you may find yourself in a situation where you need immediate help. We use Close Circle's “virtual bodyguard” app when we're travelling so that we know we can access advice and assistance even up to the point of evacuation if needed. Read more about Close Circle in our guide on how to stay safe while travelling.


Currency: The currency used in France is the Euro. The symbol for the euro is € and $1 US converts to about 90 euro cents while £1 is worth around €1.17.


Tipping culture: Since France as a whole (and Lyon in particular) are popular tourist destinations, tipping is widely expected as a reward for good service. It's actually a law in France that the service charge is included on restaurant bills so you don't need to tip on top of that unless you received good service. Generally, a few euros or ten percent of a bill is a normal amount to tip for good service. You can read more about tipping in France here.


Internet access: Free WiFi is available at nearly every hotel, restaurant, cafe and bar in Lyon. If you will need a reliable connection for work or want to be able to connect multiple devices at once, we suggest organising a portable WiFi device to use during your trip.


Accommodation: For more gorgeous accommodation options in Lyon, check out Booking.com. We always use them to find places to stay as they have a huge range of properties at the best prices, often with free cancellation included. The online booking process is simple to use and their 24/7 online support is also excellent.


Sightseeing and adventure: There are lots more exciting things to see and do in Lyon besides what we've mentioned in this guide. We like to use GetYourGuide to plan our adventures since they have many wonderful options, an easy to use online booking system and 24/7 online customer support.


When to visit: Like much of Europe, summer in Lyon (June – August) is lovely, but also very busy and quite expensive. Lyon Pride takes place in June, so you might want to visit then. The shoulder seasons of autumn and spring are often cheaper, plus you can enjoy spring blossoms or autumn leaves with fewer tourists. Winter can be pretty grim, but the Fête des Lumières in December is quite magical as are the Christmas festivities.


Gay map of Lyon

Here's our gay map of Lyon which includes all the gay bars, clubs, hotels and sightseeing highlights we've mentioned in this post. Use it to plan your own amazing gay trip to Lyon!

Check out our gay map of Lyon with all the best things to do and see

Happy travels are safe travels

We recommend you always take out travel insurance before your next vacation. What happens if you suffer from illness, injury, theft or a cancellation? With travel insurance, you can have peace of mind and not worry. We love World Nomads travel insurance and have been using it for years. Their comprehensive coverage is second to none and their online claims process is very user friendly.


For more inspiration:

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Check out our gay guide to the French city of Lyon, with the best places to stay, eat, party and more!

Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase through them, we receive a small commission. This will never cost you extra and in many cases you receive a special discount. We appreciate your support!

Stefan Arestis

Stefan is the co-founder, editor and author of the gay travel blog nomadicboys.com. As a travel nerd, he has explored more than 80 countries across 5 continents. What he loves the most about travelling is discovering the local gay scene, making new friends and learning new cultures. His advice about LGBTQ travel has been featured in Gay Times, Gaycities, Pink News, Gay Star News, Attitude and Towleroad. He has also written about gay travel for other non-gay specific publications including Lonely Planet, The New York Times, The Guardian and The Huffington Post. Stefan is also a qualified lawyer, having practised as a commercial property litigator in London for over 10 years. He left his lawyer days behind to work full time on Nomadic Boys with his husband Sebastien. Find out more about Nomadic Boys.

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