A trip to Paris is a dream come true for many travelers! As many as 30 million tourists have been known to visit Paris annually, making it one of the most visited cities in the world. You’ll need some insider travel tips for visiting Paris to maximize your experience. There’s a lot to learn here.
If you were considering visiting Paris on a shoestring budget, you might be in for a nasty surprise: Paris is one of the most expensive European destinations.
While a trip to the gorgeous French capital city can be an amazing experience, it can get expensive if you don’t plan well. Even if you plan well, visiting Paris on a tight budget is far easier said than done. Even on a mid-range budget, Paris can be prohibitively expensive compared to other European cities.
We have developed helpful tips to help you enjoy Paris without breaking the bank. Now, let’s start with our top tips on traveling to Paris on a budget!
What We Cover
- 1. Save Money on Flights and Insurance
- 2. Avoid Dining in Tourist Traps
- 3. Take The Metro/Public Transport
- 4. Take Advantage of Free Museum Days
- 5. Have a Picnic For Lunch
- 6. Purchase a Paris Pass
- 7. Purchase a Paris Museum Pass
- 8. Purchase a Paris Passlib
- 9. Join one of the many Free Walking Tours of Paris
- 10. Use Velib Bikes
- 11. Stay in Hostels
- 12. Fill up your Water Bottle around town
- 13. Opt for Accommodation Outside of Central Paris
1. Save Money on Flights and Insurance
A big part of your budget will have to be devoted to flights, so if you can save money on plane tickets, you’ll have more for the rest of your budget. There are a number of sites that can help you snag cheap flights to Paris.
Going (formerly known as Scott’s Cheap Flights) is one site I highly recommend. Sign up, enter your desired destinations, and they’ll send you notifications on deals straight to your inbox.
While I’ll never tell you to forgo travel insurance or international travel, I’m actually a little bit reticent even to recommend cutting costs with travel insurance. Luckily, the market for budget travel insurance is about as good as ever, and many insurance companies offer affordable plans for any travel budget.
SafetyWing is one such insurance company I’ve been using as of late. Part of Safety Nest Inc., Safety Wing specializes in insurance for solo travelers and digital nomads. Plus, many insurance providers include COVID-19 coverage in their policies.
See Related: Best Cancel Anytime Travel Insurance
2. Avoid Dining in Tourist Traps
Paris is full of amazing eateries, but many restaurants are overpriced. Expensive tourist areas include the areas around major museums like the Louvre or famous landmarks like Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and Sacré-Coeur.
You could have dinner at Michelin-star eateries like Guy Savoy or Le Cinq, but you can expect to pay as much as $350 per person. Très yikes.
To save money, try to find restaurants away from these areas and opt for cafes or local bistros. Walk around and find some of the city’s hidden gems. One of the best areas to explore is the Latin Quarter – this area offers numerous restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, and bars that won’t break the bank.
The Latin Quarter is popular with locals and students as Sorbonne University is located there. For around 15 to 25 euros, you can have a three-course meal at one of the local eateries. One popular spot in the area is La Palette – this quaint bistro has great French cuisine and very reasonable prices.
Another non-tourist area with good picks is the 7th arrondissement. This neighborhood is a bit more upscale and has some pricier restaurants, but there is something for every budget. For example, you can grab a croissant at the local bakery La Patisserie des Reves.
Check out Le Baron Rouge in the same area for delicious seafood dishes and excellent Belgian beers. If you venture over to the more touristy Notre Dame, Bertrand’s Paris is affordable for a quick bite.
See Related: Best Castles in London You Need to See
3. Take The Metro/Public Transport
Paris has one of the oldest public transportation systems in the world. No matter where you’re staying, you’ll probably be within a few blocks of a metro station.
Most importantly, it’s one of the quickest and most convenient ways to get around the city. Even with the most princely budget, you have no excuse for not using the metro.
You can even use its metro system to come in from the airport. Once you arrive at Charles De Gaulle Airport, take the RER B train line to Paris. A one-way ticket will take about 45 minutes and cost around 10 euros. Once you reach the city center, you can connect to any metro line.
The best way to save money is to buy a carnet (10-pack) of metro tickets for about 15 euros instead of paying for individual rides. Depending on your stay in Paris, you can also purchase Mobilis day passes and Navigo week or month passes. These are great options if you plan to take the metro or bus more than four times daily.
The Paris Metro system is a great way to get around quickly, cheaply, and safely. It’s especially useful if you visit museums and major attractions in different parts of the city.
The pass is sold in 1-, 2-, and 5-day passes at various price points. You can buy the pass at any of the ticket machines in metro stations or from the information desk at any station.
See Related: How Much Is A Trip to Paris? Average Cost Guide
4. Take Advantage of Free Museum Days
Did you know that world-renowned art can be on your list of cheap things to do in Paris? If you are a fan of art and/or history, Paris is definitely the place to be. It has some of the most prestigious art museums in the world, such as The Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, and Centre Pompidou.
Unfortunately, these entry fees can add up. But don’t worry! There are plenty of days throughout the year when admission is free or discounted, not to mention a large variety of completely free museums in Paris.
Free for all EU citizens and residents under 26 years of age and for everyone every first Sunday of the month, visitors can enjoy free admission to several museums in Paris. The Picasso National Museum, the Museum of Hunting and Nature, the Museum of Arts and Crafts, and the popular Musee d/Orsay are just a few that have free 1st Sundays.
If you’ve dreamed of visiting the Louvre, they offer discounted entry every Wednesday night. In addition, every Thursday evening from 6 pm to 9:45 pm, most national museums offer free entry. This includes Musée d’Orsay, Centre Pompidou, and many more.
The permanent collections at Maison de Balzac, Musee Carnuschi, and Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris offer free admission year-round. In addition, each summer, the City of Paris organizes “Nuit Blanche,” a night when several museums remain open to the public until dawn.
5. Have a Picnic For Lunch
Eating out in Paris can be pricey, so why not pack a picnic? Head to one of the city’s famous markets, such as Rue Montorgueil or Marché des Enfants Rouges, for fresh produce and gourmet snacks. Monoprix is the most convenient supermarket, and they have locations throughout Paris.
It won’t hurt your budget to pick up a bottle of wine, various kinds of cheese, fresh fruits, and some charcuterie to make your picnic from a Monoprix or local market. Don’t you dare forget a fresh baguette! You can walk into any boulangerie for about a euro and get a warm, crusty baguette or delectable, flaky croissant.
Then, go to one of Paris’s many parks and gardens, including Jardin du Luxembourg, Parc du Champ-de-Mars, and Jardin des Tuileries. Enjoy a romantic picnic with your friends or family while enjoying the picturesque views.
Alternatively, you can kill two birds with one delicious stone by signing up for a cheap Paris food tour or excursion! This way, you can experience many French and Parisian cuisines, see the city, and take care of a meal in one fell swoop. For example:
- Paris’ Le Marais neighborhood is a great place to grab some grub, and you can sample a wide range of it on this extensive tasting tour for about $75 a head.
- This sightseeing cruise along the River Seine includes a romantic 3-course meal, all for about $60 a head.
- Wanna learn how to make macarons? For about $50 a head, you can learn how to make this popular French confectionary and take some treats home!
- This intimate wine-tasting experience offers guests a crash course in France’s most famous and popular varieties of wine and includes charcuterie for less than $50 a head.
- One of my favorite ways to explore new cities is via a pedal pub, and you can do that right here in Paris, enjoying some quality French brews and views as you pedal off the calories!
- Still thirsty? This pub crawl takes you to some of the best bars, pubs, and clubs in the Latin Quarter (known for its amazing food), all for less than $30 a head.
See Related: Best Traditional Cafes and Brasseries in Paris
6. Purchase a Paris Pass
You won’t be at a loss for major attractions in Paris. If you plan to visit several attractions in Paris, the Paris Pass will be your best friend. Coming in three distinct flavors, consisting of Platinum, Gold, and Silver Paris Passes, these passes may seem like a high up-front cost, but they can save you a mint on top attractions and get around the city.
While you may love planning your itinerary, the Paris Pass is a great way to access cheap Paris activities and save money while ensuring you don’t miss anything.
Plus, with your Paris Pass in hand, you’ll have priority access to popular attractions like Musée Grévin, The Louvre, and Musée d’Orsay without waiting in line! If you’ve ever seen how the line can wrap around the Eiffel Tower, you’ll know this is a great benefit.
The Paris Pass is your key to avoiding the long lines at popular attractions. Plus, you might get additional discounts at select restaurants or shops. Prices range from 59-199 euros depending on how many days you want your pass to last.
7. Purchase a Paris Museum Pass
Not to be confused with the aforementioned Paris Pass, the Paris Museum Pass is valid for 1, 2, 3, or 6 consecutive days and includes free entry to over 60 attractions and museums, walking tours, a Seine River Cruise, and more, depending on your purchase.
While this pass doesn’t include access to public transportation, it is significantly cheaper than the Paris Pass and still covers many of the same museums, landmarks, tours, and attractions.
See Related: Best Museums in Europe to Visit
8. Purchase a Paris Passlib
Oh yeah, the passes keep on coming! While the two aforementioned passes focus more on access to attractions and landmarks around Paris, the Paris Passlib (the city’s official pass) leans more into tours. Buying one of these is a great way to tour a lot of the city in a short amount of time.
With a similar price point to the Museum Pass, it also includes entry to a host of museums and the cost of city bike rental. Best of all? It’s valid for a whole year after the first use! Let the savings flow!
9. Join one of the many Free Walking Tours of Paris
Why not start with a city tour when looking for free things to do in Paris? The best way to explore a new city is on foot; there’s no better way to do that than by joining a free walking tour.
Most tours start in the morning and offer you an insider’s view of the city with knowledgeable guides who are passionate about their hometown.
These tours take you through some of the city’s most iconic sites, such as the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame, while exploring its hidden gems that locals may not know. The routes change weekly, so you can join multiple times and always find something new.
Want to know how to find these tours? It’s simple. First, check with your hotel, hostel, or rental to find out if they offer free walking tours in the city. Some may even have their tours! You can also try searching on websites such as Paris Tourist Office, Free Tours By Foot, Viator, and GetYourGuide for more options.
A great site for finding groups in cities around the world is Meetup.com. You can search for Paris and scroll through the various available meetups or even start your own.
These walking tours are also great for meeting other travelers and making new friends. So, if you want to explore Paris in a more budget-friendly way and learn about its history, then sign up for one of the many free walking tours available!
See Related: Best Night Tours in Paris
10. Use Velib Bikes
If you’re looking for an economical and eco-friendly way to get around, renting one of the city’s Velib bikes is the way to go. The Parisian bike rental system provides a cost-effective and convenient way to explore the city at your own pace.
Only in town for a day? Get a day pass for only 5 euros, or extend your trip and get a 3-day pass for 20 euros. Occasional users pay low fees by the minute. For example, only spend one euro if you need the bike for 30 minutes or less.
You can rent and return the bikes at any of their numerous bike stations around the city. After renting, you must follow instructions on unlocking your bike, and then you’re ready to go!
The Velib system is perfect for those who are looking to explore Paris while getting some exercise. Enjoy the freedom of going wherever you please and take advantage of the bike lanes leading you to some of the most beautiful parts of town.
It’s worth looking into the various city passes I mentioned, as some of these also include the use of Velib bikes. So yeah, if you’re looking for a cheap way to get around Paris and work off all that wine, cheese, and pastry, then the Velib bikes are just what you need!
11. Stay in Hostels
Finding accommodations in Paris is where people often spend the most money; after all, Paris is drowning in luxury hotels. However, don’t forget about the possibility of hostels.
Hostels offer comfortable accommodation at very low prices compared to hotels, and they are often located in more convenient places close to the action. The best part is that there are a variety of hostels to choose from, so you can find one that fits your needs and budget.
If you’re traveling with friends, some hostels offer private rooms for two or more people. The typical hostel dorm-style rooms are also available to meet other travelers and make new friends.
Many of these hostels also have women-only dorms if you’re uncomfortable in a mixed dorm. While the amenities may vary, most hostels offer a kitchen, a paid laundry facility, and a common area where travelers can socialize.
There are a few popular hostels that enjoy a central location in Paris, such as St. Christophers Inn and Generator Hostel, which are a far cry from the stereotypically dank, dingy, and dirty hostels of yesteryear. That said, there are plenty of smaller hostels if you want that quintessential hostel experience.
If you’re worried about privacy and overall grossness, hostels like St. Christophers often have beds with privacy curtains. This chain also has a restaurant/pub where residents can get a discount on good food and drinks. It’s actually a pretty cool spot to hang out.
You can save even more money by booking on your mobile device or at the hostels’ website. So, don’t forget about hostels when finding accommodations in Paris! They offer great savings without sacrificing comfort and style.
See Related: Hotels in Paris With a View of the Eiffel Tower
12. Fill up your Water Bottle around town
Purchasing water on the go can add up quickly. To save money, you should bring a water bottle (like my sexy Yeti Rambler) and fill it up from one of the many drinking fountains around Paris.
You’ll find them near public parks and squares, often marked by a blue sign that reads Eau Potable (that’s drinking water to you and me). These fountains are free to use, and (unlike water in parts of the French countryside) the water is safe to drink.
You can also find public drinking fountains in certain metro stations, bus stops, and train stations, so you can fill up your bottle while on the go.
If you have breakfast at your accommodations, you may also have access to a water station in the dining area before breakfast ends. So, don’t forget to bring your refillable water bottle when exploring Paris and take advantage of all the free water.
13. Opt for Accommodation Outside of Central Paris
As mentioned, the Paris metro goes all over the city – even to the suburbs and airport. This makes it easy to stay in a place that is outside the city center and still be able to access the city’s tourist attractions with ease.
Finding a cheaper room outside the inner city can save you money as most areas further away from town are cheaper. You can easily find accommodations from private rooms, guesthouses, apartment rentals, B&Bs, budget hotels, and hostels.
When looking for a place to stay outside the city center, check how far it is from the nearest metro station. Staying in an arrondissement further away from the city center can be a good money-saving option. Heck, this branch of
By staying in areas outside of the inner city and utilizing public transport, you can save money while still having easy access to all of Paris’ attractions. There are many cheap hotels outside the city center and who knows? You may come across a hidden gem that keeps you returning repeatedly.
As you can see, with a little planning, you can find cheap things to do in the city of lights that will gel with even the most modest travel budget. Hopefully, this list of the best Paris travel tips for saving money on your budget trip makes a difference!