You know what, visiting Paris never gets old.
I firmly believe that no matter how many times you stay in this great city, there’s always something new and exciting to discover.
Sadly however, this incredible city isn’t known for its affordability … which isn’t ideal for us budget travellers!
Not one for being deterred by this however, I set out on my recent to Paris determined to see the best of the city for cheap!
And delighted to say I did!
So here’s my findings people – how to visit Paris on a budget, with 7 top tips for a cheap trip!
- 50 Best Places to Visit in Western Europe
- 11 Epic Paris Day Trips You Can’t Miss
- Top 21 Free Things To Do in London
My journey back from Paris was sponsored by Ouibus, but, as always, all views are my own.
This page contains affiliate links meaning Big World Small Pockets may receive a small commission on any purchases at no extra cost to you.
#1 Getting to Paris Cheaply
The high prices of visiting Paris can start as soon as you look how to get there.
However, with these handy travel tips, hopefully you’ll realise there are some cheaper ways of doing it too.
Budget airlines are generally considered the way to go if you want to get to Paris cheaply from other European countries.
Easyjet, Eurowings and Wizz Air are all good options and I recommend checking out Skyscanner for the best deals.
In my opinion, budget airlines are best for short weekend trips when you can get away with only carry-on luggage and don’t therefore have to pay additional fees.
Otherwise, many regular airlines can be very close in price to budget airlines once you start adding in baggage etc.
Sometimes they can even work out cheaper, especially if you belong to a points scheme like Avios or have airline membership like BA Executive Club.
Otherwise, if you are travelling to Paris from London and have a bit of luggage, then travelling with Eurostar may well be a better option for you.
It’s also much better for your carbon footprint!
The Eurostar runs from London St Pancras International to Paris Gare du Nord and you can easily compare prices between flights and the train using Skyscanner.
When travelling from other European countries besides the UK to Paris, trains can also be a good option.
There are overnight sleeper routes available from Portugal, Spain and Luxembourg to Paris, but you must book at least a few months in advance to score reasonable fares.
Check out my article on the top tips for cheap train travel in Europe for more information or take a look at Seat61.
As with all trains in Europe, including the Eurostar to Paris, I recommend booking through Trainline, because they just make everything so easy.
Check out their current deals here.
But probably the most cost-effective method of getting to Paris from around Europe is by bus.
Granted this may take you a little longer, but it can work out very, very cheap.
Learn just how cheap in this article I wrote specifically about catching the bus from London to Paris.
Taking you right to the heart of a city – unlike when you fly – and with good fares right up until the day of departure, getting a coach to the city is a great idea if you’re looking to visit Paris on a budget.
Again, I recommend booking through Trainline, because they compare rail and coach travel in English and allow you to book tickets in foreign currencies.
Getting into the City
If you catch a coach or a train into Paris, it’s worth remembering that you’ll also save the time and expense of travelling from an airport into the city.
If you’re flying however, remember Paris has 3 airports and it’s important to know where you’ll be landing.
The good news is that each of the 3 airports has good public transport…
- Paris Orly Airport has train links and bus links into the centre of the city.
- Paris Beauvais Airport has a direct bus link into the north of Paris for €17 or €15 when ordered online in advance! The bus operates for every flight and is quicker and more convenient than the train, although it still takes 75 minutes!
- Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) is the city’s largest airport. From here it’s an easy ride via the RER train line into the Gare du Nord and costs €10. Tickets can be bought at the airport station on the day of departure.
#2 Cheapest Time of Year to Visit Paris
I wouldn’t say Paris was particularly cheap at any time of year, but between May-September is definitely high season, when many overseas visitors descend on the city and accommodation prices rise.
July and August can be very hot and many locals flee the city during this month, while visitors plough in.
As such, I’d recommend the shoulder seasons of April-May and September-October as the best times to visit, when the weather is more pleasant and the crowds slightly less.
If you’re on a really tight budget and not bothered by the weather, then from November to February is definitely going to be the cheapest for flights and accommodation.
#3 Getting Around Paris on a Budget
Paris has a great public transport system, which is well worth getting to grips with if you want to see the best of this city on a budget.
Public Transport Tickets
Metro lines, RER trains, buses all connect different parts of the city. They can be accessed with…
- Single tickets costing €1.90
- Books of 10 tickets – “carnet” – costing €16
- Paris Visite passes which give unlimited travel over a period of time.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that transport is free for children under 4 and half price for children aged between 4 – 11 years old.
Paris Visite Pass
These passes are a great option if you are going to be doing a lot of moving across the city and want a cost-effective solution that is hassle-free.
I was definitely pleased to have one on my last trip and found them straightforward and easy to use.
Paris Visite passes are available for either 1, 2, 3 or 5 consecutive days and you can choose between tickets that include zones 1 to 3 (adequate for most visitors) or those that are valid in zones 1 to 5 (good if you want to see Disneyland Paris and/or the Palace de Versailles.)
Passes should be bought in advance and are activated on first use, so try to make use of them for full days, from early in the morning to get the best value.
Passes can be bought online or directly at any Metro, RER station counters (airports included) or Paris tourist office and you’ll receive a free map too!
Costs for adult tickets in zones 1-3 (correct at time of publication) are…
- 1 Day = €12.85
- 2 Days = €12.00
- 3 Days = €28.50
- 5 Days = €41.00
The best thing is to work out roughly how much you are going to be travelling across Paris and then decide if a book of 10 tickets costing €16 and valid across multiple days, or a Paris Visite Pass might work better for you.
Vélib’ Bike Hire
If you want to be independent of public transport, then another great option for visiting Paris on a budget is to hire a bike.
Vélib’ is a self-service bike system available 24 hours a day, all year round, that is excellent value for money.
To access the service, you just buy a 1-day or a 7-day ticket online or at any Vélib’ station.
Then no need to book, just go to any terminal at a Vélib’ station and follow the on-screen instructions.
The first 30 minutes of each trip is always free meaning locals love it as much as tourists!
Of course, walking in Paris is always free and there’s nothing quite like a stroll along the Seine or through the historic Latin Quarter to really make you feel that quintessential Parisian vibe.
There’s also some super gardens and squares that are worth wandering, with my favourites being Le Jardin Du Luxembourg and Places des Vosges, which are both free to enter.
There are also many free walking tours in Paris, check out Discover Walks for more info.
#4 Sightseeing in Paris on a Budget
It’s amazing but there are really tons of budget-friendly things to do in this iconic city.
Check out my list of the top 10 free things to do in Paris for more ideas about how to see some of the city’s most famous attractions for nothing!
Or consider the below…
It’s worth pointing out that on the first Sunday of each month, many museums in Paris are free.
Obviously, you need to be prepared for the crowds on these days, but you can’t argue with free!
Other museums offer free entry all year round for EU citizens under 26.
Another great money-saving option if you want to visit lots of attractions in Paris is to buy a Paris Pass.
These give free entrance to over 60 attractions across the city, including all the favourites such as The Louvre, Musée D’Orsay, Arc de Triomphe, Towers of Notre-Dame, a cruise on the Seine and more.
Paris Passes can be purchased for multiple days and include a free Paris Visite Pass for use on public transport as well.
They can be a great money-saver and I loved having one during my last trip to Paris.
Read my full review Is the Paris Pass Worth It? for more info.
One of the only attractions not included in the Paris Pass is the Eiffel Tower, which you must buy a ticket for separately if you want to ascend it.
This can be done online here and if you do it in advance you get to skip all the queues!
I suggest booking 6-8 weeks before your trip, as places fill up really quickly.
It actually only costs €11.00 to get up the Eiffel Tower, which is pretty good value I think for visiting one of the most recognisable icons in the world!
#5 Eating Cheaply in Paris
Eating cheaply in Paris is one thing it can be harder to do, but luckily there are a few tips and tricks to know…
Heading to one of Paris’ many markets is a great way to keep food costs down when you’re in the city and there are some super ones to choose from.
My favourite was Market St-Quentin near Gard du Nord and Gare de L’Est. We had a fabulous time here buying picnic goods surrounded by local shoppers and delicious local produce.
Supermarkets across the city – such as Carrefour Metro – are also worth stopping in to pick up some cheap picnic bits.
You can then take all your goodies down to the bank of the Seine and join the locals who love to dine alfresco here most nights of the week in warmer weather.
When it comes to finding cheap food in Paris café and restaurants, the key is to steer away from the major tourist areas.
Don’t eat near the main tourist attractions or along the bank of the Seine. Try to find some smaller, hidden eateries that are favourites by locals.
We found the Marais district good for this and the student area around the Left Bank is another good option.
#6 Budget Accommodation in Paris
When it comes to budget accommodation in Paris, the area around Gare du Nord is an excellent place to start looking.
Not only is this district far enough away from central Paris for it to be affordable, but it also boasts wonderful transport links that give quick and easy access to both Paris’ major airport – Charles de Gaulle – and the city centre.
On my last trip to Paris, I stayed at the wonderful St Christopher’s Inn: Gare du Nord, a fabulous hostel that also boasted ensuite private rooms at very affordable rates.
With free wifi and breakfast thrown in, it was hard to argue with the price of this top spot.
You can read the full review of my stay at St Christopher’s Inn: Gare du Nord here.
And it’s worth bearing in mind these guys, also have a sister property nearby – St Christopher’s Inn: Canal – which has gorgeous waterside views.
#7 Travel Insurance for Paris
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Save this Article For Later!
So there you have it, my complete guide on how to visit Paris on a budget.
Please let me know if you have any other tips to share – I’d love to collect even more information about seeing Paris on the cheap!
2 thoughts on “How to Visit Paris on a Budget: 7 Top Tips”
Stephanie, I really enjoy/appreciate your insights. I think I speak for many Americans when I say I’d like to visit Paris but have real concerns about safety/security. I have been to Europe (never France though) and while I don’t walk around draped in the American flag and do my best not to be “the ugly American”, I have reservations about being in a city where I’d feel like I need to look over my shoulder all the time. Did you have any safety issues in Paris?
Hi Brad, thanks for expressing your concerns so honestly and respectfully. No I never had any safety concerns in Paris and would go again in a heart beat. While there are dangers associated with travelling in any major city nowadays, I think it’s important to remember just that – there are dangers in EVERY city, indeed everywhere, and that safety is largely donw to common sense and luck