By | 16th January 2018

Do you need a car in Lyon?

Do you need a car in Lyon > Should you rent a car in Lyon France > Lyon ( LYS ) Do you need a car in Lyon? Is it worth hiring a car in Lyon? Should you rent a car in Lyon?

Lyon Car hire summary

Overall drive rating

Based on a weighted score across all cost and quality factors. [Full notes - drive rating]


  • Price alone isn't the only factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Lyon but clearly it's an important one. See our "why" section for more figures.
  • Cost factors include - price of car hire (peak and off peak season), car hire extras, fuel, tolls and parking costs.
  • Quality factors include - scenic drives, road quality and upkeep, general safety and congestion levels.
  • A complete index of all 10 factors will be uploaded shortly.

Cheapest rate for one week

Based on cheapest economy car hire deal with no added extras. [full notes - basic costs]



  • This is the very lowest price we could find for a one week car rental period in Lyon during the quiet season.
  • You will almost always end up paying more than this figure, but any extra costs or supplementary charges are usually determined by the renter, so we cannot easily compare like with like.
  • In many cases, rental companies will offer a cheap rental and then expect you to take out expensive insurance waivers. There are always ways to avoid this!

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

Based on cheapest deal during the summer holiday season. (Unless otherwise noted) [full notes - seasonal variations]



  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "why not" section for more suggestions.
  • For most featured destinations, the peak season will be during the summer, typically July and August for northern hemisphere destinations. However, peak demand might occur at different times, for example in some ski resorts or winter sun destinations etc.

Free parking score

Based on the number of hotels which offer free parking. Total 459 - of which 140 have free parking. [full notes - parking]



  • Free hotel parking is very useful to have when you are hiring a car, and it's always worth checking ahead beforehand.
  • If free hotel parking is not available, you might want to consider renting a car for a single day, rather than for your whole trip.
  • The availability (or lack of) free hotel parking can be a really important factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Lyon, as it can be a significant extra daily cost which you won't usually be paying at home!
  • Parking costs play a very major part in our consideration of whether or not it's worth hiring a car in each destination.
  • By using public transport, walking or hiring a bicycle, you can avoid having to worry about parking charges altogether! See our "why not" section for more suggestions.

Lyon public transport quick facts

Train score

Higher scores go to the systems which don't just take you to the most amazing places, but also to the ones which are easy to use, fast, reliable and frequent. A good train system on its own is usually enough to determine that you don't need to hire a car in many destinations.


  • [full notes trains]
  • Trains include all kinds of urban rail system from trams up to metro and suburban networks.
  • Trains also include mountain railways and cable cars.
  • Generally, places with a good rail network will automatically mean that you don't "need" to hire a car, but you can still might find that on balance you are better off by having one.

Water travel score

This is a general rating for all types of water travel, including scheduled ferries, sea / rivers cruises and excursions in Lyon


  • [full notes - water score]
  • The water score looks at means of transport on water - it does not consider water based activities like surfing or kayaking.

Overall public transport score

This is a more practical rating based on bus and rail travel, and also including ferries and other boat services, where they are part of the public transport network.


  • [full notes - overall transit] buses | trams | metro | local & regional rail | national rail
  • Is public transport in Lyon good value, or is it worth hiring a car just because it is cheaper overall?
  • Even if public transport is cheap and reliable, you might still feel that you should hire a car in Lyon because it will still give you more flexibility to reach out-of-the-way places, especially in rural areas.

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

This overall rating considers walking and cycling in and around Lyon. It includes factors such as the quality of the street environment, and whether you are likely to feel safe walking or cycling, together with the availability of bicycle hire and the ease of linking walking or cycling routes with public transport.


  • [full notes - active score] walking (city) | hiking | cycling (city /  country).
  • A high active travel score means that you might not need a car in Lyon, because you can see everything you need to see using a combination of your own two feet and the public transport system.

Car rental in - Lyon Need v worth & should!

Whether you have come here asking "do I need a car in Lyon", "is it worth hiring a car in Lyon", or whether or not you "should" hire a car here, these are all slight variations on a similar theme. Here we break each one down according to the criteria we use for each question. This is a weighted score based on the values above. These are explained further in the text which follows - [#why] [#whynot]. Do you need a car in Lyon?

Do you need a car in Lyon?

This is essentially based on whether or not public transport and other "non car" options are good enough to get around and beyond the city. For the lowest "need" score, the destination should have a combination of excellent all-round public transport, great opportunities for walking and cycling, together with poor value car hire or generally poor quality roads. 
  • In destinations where both public transport and car hire options are excellent, the verdict for "do I need a car in  Lyon " will swing towards a strong no, because you can do absolutely fine without one).
Is it worth hiring a car in Lyon?

Is it worth hiring a car in Lyon?

Is car hire good value, especially during the peak season? How does this compare with transit fares? This question mainly looks at issues of cost and practicality.
  • In destinations where both public transport and car hire options are excellent, the verdict for "is it worth hiring a car in  Lyon" will swing towards whichever option offers the lowest overall cost for a group of 2-4 people travelling together.
Should you rent a car in Lyon?

Should you rent a car in Lyon?

Weighing up the above questions, if you are here for the first time AND asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
  • The final "carometer" swing is much more opinion based, and it takes into account which options will give you the truly best travel experience (n our humble opinion of course). Where a destination offers an excellent score with or without a car, the swing will go towards whichever option we feel gives the most truly unforgettable experience.
  • Ultimately, it's your choice whether or not you rent a car here. We're trying to give you something that's sufficiently far enough away from a "maybe" to help you make that choice. Ultimately, people only come to us because they are uncertain, but we don't really know what each person's preferences are. Whether we say you should or you shouldn't rent a car in  Lyon, you might also want to look up some of our other cities to see how  Lyon compares with other destinations in  France or  Europe.
  • By using public transport, walking or hiring a bicycle, you can avoid having to worry about parking charges altogether! See our "why not" section for more suggestions.

What does everyone else do?

Do most people hire a car in Lyon?

This is based on our observations of (a) car rental facilities and (b) what we think most people will do here. It's not an exact figure, just an estimate of how likely people are to get hold of a rental car here.
  • his is based on the percentage of people "in the market" who we think are likely to hire a car. This includes anyone arriving on holiday here who would usually hire a car on their travels, so it doesn't include people who don't usually drive (or don't drive), people staying with friends etc.


Visitors per year (million)

  • Cities with more visitors are more likely to have more complex airport car rental arrangements, and generally they will also have better public transport, but this is not always the case, especially in North America.


  • [full notes - do as everyone else does?]
  • You may wish to go with the flow, or you might prefer to avoid doing the most popular or obvious option. This will vary according to the range of choice available. This tends to be much higher in destinations which are closer to the middle of the car or no car scale.

Who is travelling?

Your group size and travel budget has a major impact on whether or not getting a rental car is good value compared to using public transport as your main means of getting around. Ultimately, these are all "worth" questions:

Is it worth renting a car in Lyon if I am a solo / budget traveller?

Generally, hiring a car is not good value for solo travellers for multiple reasons, especially as most of the costs of renting apply to the car, not the occupants. With public transport, the reverse is usually true! However, there are always some places where you will need a car, simply because they are almost impossible to reach using public transport.

Is it worth renting a car in Lyon for 2 people travelling together?

A rental car can be good value for couples or for friends travelling together, but since most cars come with at least four seats, it's often still better value to use public transport. However, if you prefer to keep yourselves to yourselves, then you might still want to rent.

Is it worth renting a car in Lyon for families?

Families of groups of 3-4 people travelling together will always get the best value from a rental car. However, you may also be burdened with extra costs for car seat hire, and you well also prefer to use local trains and buses, if they are quicker than getting stuck in heavy traffic.

Where are you staying?

The place you are staying, together with the sort of places you want to see, will have a large impact on whether or not you "need" to rent a car:

Do you need a car in Lyon if we are staying in the city centre / main resort area?

Most large towns or purpose built holiday resorts will have some kind of public transport, whereas parking provision will vary greatly from one place to the next. 

Do you need a car in Lyon if we are staying on the edge of the urban area?

Typically you may be staying in an apartment or hmall house on the edge of a resort or urban area. These places usually have some level of public transport, but not as much as city / resort centres.

Do you need a car in Lyon if we are staying in a rural area?

Rural proprties might include larger villas or apartments, but they can still be within a short walk of a bus stop or local railway station, and the opportunities for hiking and cycling might also be substantial, depending on the destination.

What is your attitude towards driving?

We can give you suggestions based on whatever we consider to be a "typical" visitor to Lyon, but ultimately your decision is also going to be influenced by whether or not you ususally prefer to hire a car in the first place.

Should I hire a car in Lyon if I prefer not to drive?

This is especially the case when there is only one main driver in the group, and it's based on the attitude of the driver rather than their passengers! The main driver may also simply prefer to use public transport, or they may prefer to take scenic train journeys where available.

Should we rent a car in Lyon if we are easy either way?

This is more aimed at the typical visitor who isn't that bothered about how they get around, as long as it is the most convenient / best value option.

Should I rent a car in Lyon if I prefer to drive?

For people who usually prefer the freedom and flexibility of having a hire car. Is it still best to rent a car in Lyon, or are there good reasons not to?

As is also the case with a city like Toulouse, Lyon airport serves two quite distinct functions — firstly, it caters for passengers who actually want to visit the city of Lyon itself, and secondly it caters for people who want to head east into the Alps, and who have very little interest in the city of Lyon. In terms of car hire, most of our advice concerns people in the first group, or for people who want to visit the Alps in summer, as transfers to and from ski resorts are usually provided as part of a ski holiday package anyway. For looking at anywhere to the east of Lyon, much of this advice is similar to what we would say for people looking at picking up a hire car in Geneva, as there is a great deal of overlap.

Do you need a car in Lyon? Introduction

When someone asks "Do you need a car in Lyon?", this often breaks down to two key questions:
  1. Can you actually get around using public transport, or is a car all but essential?
  2. Is it worth hiring a car in Lyon? Is it good value for money, compared with non-car options?
Over the next few sections, we wil look at the pros and cons of driving in Lyon as a tourist, and ultimately weigh these up, so we can answer the key question of Should you rent a car in Lyon?
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Why should you rent a car in Lyon?

What are the main reasons for hiring a car here? Do you just want to drive locally? Do you want to go further afield, or should you even look at taking a road trip? In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Lyon?
  • Scenic drives — it doesn’t matter which direction you head out of Lyon, the scenery is superb. Even if it is perhaps not as well celebrated as some of the more popular tourist areas closer to the Mediterranean coast, there is still much to see.
  • Driving a couple hours east will take you into some excellent walking territory in the Alps, whereas heading west you can visit the stunning volcanic landscape of the Auvergne.
  • Flexibility — Lyon might be France’s second city, but unless you are wanting to travel on one of the few railway routes out of Lyon which are heavily trafficked (mainly the north-south TGV Mediterranean route, but also intercity routes to Chambery, Grenoble and St Etienne), you will find that trained in this part of the world are not actually very frequent, and sometimes torturously slow.
  • Ski car hire — although you can easily take resort transfers from Lyon, hiring a car gives you more flexibility to visit different ski resorts, and naturally, to do so at your own pace.
  • Cycling – Alpe D’Huez is perhaps the most famous climb anywhere in the cycle racing world. It’s just under a 2 hour drive from the centre of Lyon to the start of the climb. So here’s the challenge – if you are already planning a cycling holiday to France, then chances are, you will already have the transport sorted for your bikes. The closest you will be able to get to Alpe D’Huez by train is Grenoble. So what if you’d just like to include a climb of Alpe D’Huez as a single event, in the middle of touring round the French Alps? Well this is where it gets quite difficult. First you’d have to get to Grenoble, then take a local bus to Bourg D’Oisans, then do the same on the way back. It’s by no means impossible, but it’s just going ot be a lot easier to, well, park and ride! However you do it, various bike hire options are available locally.

Why not? Visiting Lyon without a car

What is public transport like in Lyon? What about local conditions for walking or cycling? Can you rely on public transport and maybe a few taxis for most or all of your trip? Are there some times of year when it's easier to get by without a car than others? When should you rent a car in 4?
  • City of Lyon — Lyon has plenty to offer, whether you are looking for ancient or modern attractions. The city has a huge Roman quarter, whilst also having extensive northern areas around Part Dieu.
  • Gastronomy — if France is home to the world’s best cuisine, then it is Lyon that is its capital, not Paris. There are numerous fine restaurants all over the city, but no car is needed to get there.
  • Metro — as with other major French regional cities like Marseille, Toulouse and Lille; Lyon is served by an excellent and modern metro system. Four lines spread out from the city centre area, so you’ll have no problem getting around.
  • Other nearby cities — basing yourself in Lyon, you can easily make day trips to nearby St Etienne, Chambery or Grenoble. These are all around an hour by train from Lyon. Alternatively, you can take the much faster TGV link and head as far south as the Papal city of Avignon or even Aix-en-Provence, in a similar amount of time.
  • Le Puy-en-Velay — of the many volcanic rock formations which can be found around the Auvergne, the most impressive must be the volcanic plug at Le Puy-en-Velay. This particular location can easily be visited by train from Lyon with one change in St Etienne.
  • Combine with Paris — by TGV, Lyon is just two hours away from the French capital Paris. This makes it easy to combine two of France’s great cities into one trip, especially as there is a much wider choice of flights to Paris than there is to Lyon.
  • Lyon airport station — the natural inclination when you arrive at any airport is to get out as quickly as you can, and to head straight for your destination, but in the case of Lyon airport, the TGV railway station, designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, really is something quite special. The station is highly worth a visit, even if you do only turn round and go straight back to the car hire lot.
    For many years, you can only board trains heading north or south away from the airport, but in 2010 the “Rhonexpress” tram link was finally opened into the centre of Lyon itself. This journey now takes around 25 minutes, with easy connections into the rest of the Lyon Metro system.
  • Ski transfers — most ski holiday packages will include a coach transfer to your resort, whereas if you are making your own dynamic package, these can easily be added at the time of booking. Alternatively, it is easy to take the train direct from Lyon airport to the cities of Chambery and Grenoble, and continue onwards towards resorts such as Albertville, Aime for La Plagne and Bourg-St-Maurice in the Isere Valley.
[ratings2 num=”158″]

There is certainly no need to hire a car in Lyon if you are just planning on staying in and around the city itself, but we think that the scenery nearby deserves more attention than it often gets. To get the most out of this, a hire car is strongly recommended.

Note — outside the ski season, the range of flights to Lyon from UK regional airports is quite limited, but you can easily transfer from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport to either Part Dieu or Perrache station in the centre of Lyon in just two hours. In the winter, you can also look at flights to Chambery or Grenoble.

Would you hire a car in Lyon?

Have you driven in Lyon? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Lyon}? Do you need a car in Lyon? For some or all of the time? Tell us what you think using the comments section below:


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