Lahore is a Royal city. It remained the seat of Mughal empire for a long time and it has maintained that touch of tradition, culture and a firm anchor in its past.
Modern Lahore is a metropolis and the cultural capital of the world. I have a special bond with Lahore since I spent a big chunk of my youth here. I learnt a lot from this gorgeous city which is always bustling with life even if it is behind doors. Lahore gay travel might not feel like an interesting idea but you will be thoroughly surprised how much the city has to offer.
Brace yourself for some insider, local tips and the best that city has to offer.
Check out my ultimate Pakistan travel guide to come fully prepared for this trip.
Getting to Lahore
Lahore has an international airport which has flights coming in from quite a few destinations and with new routes opening up with the new visa regime for foreigners. There is no public transport network from airport to the city unfortunately so you will have to take a taxi. A registered taxi from here to Gulberg is roughly PKR 1200. If you’re flying out of Lahore make sure you leave enough time because traffic in Lahore is crazy and you can easily missed a flight. I took my flight from London to Lahore on the Irgun airline which was a comfortable overnight flight.
If you’re a foreigner, Cantonment area is off limits, (Cantonment is army area) so avoid it because you will be stopped and searched for no reason and other than the fact that this area has nice residential houses, there’s nothing to see or do here so you won’t be missing anything.
Public Transport in Lahore
Lahore has crazy, crazy traffic. You must be REALLY brave to drive here. Public transport here is no different. There are new dedicated routes throughout the city but they are not straightforward and super crowded most of the time. The newer parts of Lahore are not served by any of them. The best way to travel is either hiring your own car with driver for the duration or using taxi hailing apps. The two most common ones are Uber and Careem. Both offer bikes, rickshaws (tuk tuk) and cars. There is another app Bykea just for bikes. During the rush hour, bikes are the best option.
Tip: Lahoris are not morning people at all, if you want to see the city in peace, wake up early and head to old Lahore by 7am to get relative peace and great lighting. It will really help you with the traffic problem.
Food in Lahore
Lahore’s entire social scene is based on food and eating out. In the absence of bars and clubs, the social life is all about food in Lahore so restaurants and cafes open and close down really fast depending on how quickly people get bored of them.
The exceptions are the legends and icons which provide the much loved traditional food. There’s also a deep tradition of specialisation. A restaurant in one part of Lahore will only do that dish famously (and some staples). I will recommend the following spots for some great experience.
The entire area is full of shops selling the famous Karahi which is meat cooked in clarified butter and tomato sauce. Find the original once from the picture below.
Grato Jalebi Liberty
Jalebi is the queen of desserts and this place serves the best, freshest jalebi. The place also serves great samosa.
This is another institution and they have restaurants in quite a few places. They are a safe choice and offer great food with perfect hygiene.
Located next to Badshahi Mosque and Lahore fort, it is a great place to have dinner after a day exploring the Mughal architecture. There are quite a few choices for food here with great ambience.
One of my favourite restaurants, the place offers an amazing experience. It is located in a typical house in the area designated for courtesans close to the king. They have kept the ambience and also offer amazing food. A must visit place!
Must Bring Items For Lahore
Sunglasses, sunscreen, wet wipes, loose baggy clothes.
Where to Stay in Lahore
I would suggest staying on the Mall Road. There are some good international hotels there. It is equidistant from old and new Lahore both and it is easy to get around. It is also a well maintained road with lots of colonial era buildings.
Alternatively, you can also stay in the neighbourhood of Gulberg which is also convenient and has more budget friendly options.
Best Time to Visit Lahore
The best time to visit Lahore is early spring from Mid February to Mid to late March. Any other than that and the city turns into a baking oven for most part of the day which the locals spend indoors with temperatures above 35-40 degrees. The worst time to visit in Monsoon season from July to August.
End of summer is also good but it is difficult to gauge as the heat of summer can last till late September or October.
How Many Days for Lahore?
If you really want to enjoy Lahore in all its glory you need 3-5 days. You can however see the very best in a couple of days but that won’t be enough to enjoy this beautiful city. I would suggest 3 days to do justice to this Royal city.
Is Lahore Safe?
Lahore is generally a safe city. During the day, it is easy to get around and the touristy areas are quite busy. After dark, I wouldn’t recommend walking around on your own. I would recommend making a local friend who can go around with you because of language barrier as well. Leave your valuable at the hotel and use Uber/Careem apps for taxi and you’ll be fine. The old Lahore area is not the best place to be after dark any way so head to new Lahore if you want to try some restaurants there.
Is Lahore Expensive?
Lahore is a cheap city. Even in good restaurants a meal costs little. Try the local spots and you will find them even cheaper. Getting around and accommodation both are cheap (obviously depending on the hotel you choose). A $50 budget a day will get you quite far. In most places tickets for foreigners are expensive but even with that average ticket costs less than $3/£2.
Gay Lahore/ Lahore Gay Travel
Officially there is nothing gay about Lahore but there is a big, thriving gay life in Lahore. There are regular house parties and it is slowly getting more mainstream with the addition of drugs. Not the right kind of advancement sadly.
I spent 6 years here and know the scene well. There’s 3 classes; the ultra rich, they usually get their full in Europe and don’t get involved in local scene. The middle class, these guys are most active, they host parties and are the queens of Lahore. The social life in this circle is a constant source of drama and scandal. The third class are the working class guys who are still stuck in ‘age, location and role’ question.
Gay guys in Lahore aren’t as friendly as the ones in Karachi, primarily because they think they are better looking.
If you’re a foreigner visiting all you need is one local guy which will be your way in to the scene. I wouldn’t recommend getting into the politics, it is very toxic.
The most used apps are Grindr and increasingly Blued. Some guys are also on Scruff, although it isn’t very common. You will need VPN for Grindr. Scruff works without VPN.
Some Grindr/Blued Lingo:
Rn = Right Now
Wp = with place/can host
Dp = display picture
ASL = age, sex, location
HF – High Fun (drugged up sex)
FnF – Friends and Fun
If you’re meeting guys make sure you do that outside first.
I would also suggest being careful attending house parties, it can be fun and dangerous at the same time.
Free Walking Tour Lahore
There are no free walking tours in Lahore but you will be easily able to find walking tours. You can also take a guide at most places who will explain the history to you. If you want to do it on your own, use my Top Things To Do Olin Lahore post where I listed things based on proximity.
How to Explore Lahore?
Lahore has two sides; The Old Lahore (also called Androon Lahore or Walled City of Lahore) and New Lahore. The Old Lahore has all the Mughal architecture and most tourist spots are located here. New Lahore on the other hand is mostly commercial and residential settlements. Both have their charm with New Lahore hosting some interesting restaurants. The two neighbourhoods to check out in new Lahore are Gulberg and DHA (Defence Housing Authority).
Top X Things To Do In Lahore
There’s tons to do in Lahore and you will not be bored, from architecture to food and chivalrous displays of power, Lahore is amazing. Check the list below. For complete details check my Top Things To Do In Lahore article.
- Wagah Atari Border Ceremony
- Baradari of Kamran Mirza
- Akbari Sarai & Jahangir’s Tomb
- Shalimar Garden
- Mall Road and The Colonial Architecture
- Bagh e Jinnah/ Lawrence Garden
- Delhi Gate
- The Royal Hammam (Shahi Hammam)
- Wazir Khan Mosque
- Lahore Fort
- Badshahi Mosque
- Minar e Pakistan
- Lahore Museum
- Hiran Minar
- M M Alam Road
I hope this helps you plan your stay in Lahore. Feel free to ask if you have more questions.