Last Updated on July 25, 2022
Paris holds the key to your heart ― if only you could afford to go there. France earned top spots on multiple lists for “Most Expensive Places to Visit.” Though the Euro is not nearly at its healthiest, American travelers still pay a hefty price to see the City of Lights. But fear not: with a few simple tricks, it is possible to visit Paris on a budget!
How to get to Paris on the cheap
Airfare will be your biggest expense on your trip to Paris, but you can use some travel hacks to find cheap flights.
If you live in the U.S., sign up for a credit card that offers travel rewards, including free flights. To get started, read my quick guide on how to start travel hacking. If there’s an airline that you use regularly, sign up for frequent flyer miles.
I also recommend signing up for the free daily secret airfare deals over at SecretFlying.com. There are regularly amazing deals from major U.S. airports to Paris listed.
If you are based in Europe, use Omio or The Trainline to find cheap tickets. Omio is great for buses, flights and trains across Europe, the Trainline has the best prices for train tickets. Both websites offer discount prices if you buy train tickets in advance, so make sure to buy your tickets a few weeks in advance, not a couple of days.
How to get around Paris on a budget
First of all: walking! Walking is obviously the cheapest option, because it’s free, but Paris is also a very walkable city, and you can see all of the famous sights without taking public transportation or Uber / taxi. Get these steps in! Paris has so much iconic architecture to offer – you won’t get bored just wandering the streets and boulevards.
If your Airbnb or hotel is a little further away from central Paris, however, you’ll have to use public transportation. No need to fork out money for an Uber: the metro, Paris’ subway, is cheap and safe. You can also use it late at night without worrying. Just be aware that the metro does NOT run 24/7 – it stops running just before 1am (an hour later on Fridays, Saturdays and on days before a public holiday) and then starts running again around 5.30am.
I recommend downloading a map of the Paris subway system onto your smartphone.
One single ride is €1.90; and if you buy a package of 10 (a “carnet”), you’ll slightly reduce the ticket price: a carnet is €16.90. If you don’t like walking all that much and prefer getting around on public transportation, I recommend getting the Paris Visite Travel Pass, which gives you unlimited rides for the entire day for €5.80 – on subways, buses, trams and RER commuter trains.
Where to Stay in Paris on a Budget
Though you may dream of renting a luxury suite with panoramic views of the Seine and the Eiffel Tower, it’d mean forking out big bucks. In fact, staying anywhere near the tourist district is going to cost you a lot, since those rooms are highly sought-after year around. Instead, you should look to less-expensive neighborhoods, like the Latin Quarter (which is popular among students) or Le Marais. Here are your best options for cheap accommodation in Paris:
Hostels in Paris
If you are willing to stay in shared accommodation, there are plenty of hostels in Paris, and the advantage of these hostels is that they’re more centrally located than most Airbnb’s.
Here are some of the best-rated hostels in Paris:
- Hostel Le Village Montmartre by Hiphophostels: A 1—min walk from Montmartre and Sacré Cœur Basilica. Boutique hostel with a lovely terrace, hammocks and a shared kitchen. Dorm beds in small dorms (4 beds) from US$38, double rooms from US$106 per night.
- The Loft Hostel: Located in the 20th arrondissement, has a terrace, a bar and has both private and shared rooms. Dorm beds start at US$28 (4-bed dorm); private rooms start at US$108 per night.
- The People Hostel: The hostel is located in the 12th Arrondissement and has a garden, a bar and a shared lounge. Dorm beds start at US$32 in a 6-bed dorm, double rooms start at US$93 per night.
Apartments in Paris
But if you want to experience Paris like a local, I recommend staying in an apartment. There are plenty of different apartment rental companies: VRBO, Plumguide or Airbnb are just three examples.
The first time I stayed in a Parisian appartement and opened the classic French window shutters in the morning and stepped out onto my tiny balcony, I truly felt like I was living the Parisian dream. During the week I spent in the Marais, which is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Paris, I found a local boulangerie (bakery), a fromagerie (cheese shop), a small local supermarket, and a patisserie (pastry shop) – and I was able to make elaborate cheese boards with local cheeses and French wine in my small kitchen. I devoured them while watching street life from my window – and I appreciated having a kitchen to make breakfast at home.
Budget hotels in Paris
Be aware that most of Paris’ cheaper hotels are located further away from the city center. If you prefer a budget hotel over an Airbnb, check out these excellent budget hotels in Paris. Note that breakfast (usually buffet breakfast) is available at all hotels for an extra charge, but a coffee and a croissant at a bakery will cost you less.
- Severin-Paris Hotel: This hotel wins with regards to location: right by the Seine River in the Latin Quarter, 8 mins walking from Notre Dame, 15 mins walking from the Louvre. The hotel has a restaurant on-site and a creperie next door. Double rooms from US$108 (small room) / US$130 traditional room per night
- Grand Hotel Francais: A small design hotel near the Place de la Nacion and a 15-min walk from Père Lachaise Cemetery. The contemporary rooms are individually designed, and the hotel has a bar. Double rooms from US$127 per night
- Hôtel de Sévigné: Small hotel near the Arc de Triomphe (10 min walk) with modern rooms, some of which have a classic French balcony. Double rooms from US$120 / US$125 with balcony
- La Manufacture: Budget hotel in a classic Parisian 19th century building. Some rooms have balconies. A 5-min walk from the bustling Butte aux Cailles area with many bars and restaurants. Double rooms from US$93, with balcony US$103.
Shopping in Paris on a Budget
It is hard not to lust after French fashion, and the haute couture you’ll spot around Paris will tempt you to empty your wallet at the most expensive boutiques. However, the secret to French style is not cost, it’s creativity and control. By shopping pop-up markets instead of high-fashion districts, you can find exceptional items worth wearing, and you don’t have to take out personal loans to cover them.
Eating on a Budget in Paris
Food is a major factor of Parisian culture, which fortunately makes it one of the more affordable indulgences of your trip to the City of Lights. Though luxury French cuisine will deplete your savings, you can find classic and tasty French food in cheap cafes and bistros. Check out these articles for some recommendations:
- 8 dinners in Paris for €15 or less
- 16 sensational cheap eats in Paris
- 27 Of The Most Delicious Cheap Eats In Paris
You’ll also find supermarkets throughout the city, and while they’re small, you’ll still be able to grab a few things for a picnic in the park. Look out for these three supermarkets: Franprix, Monoprix, Carrefour / Carrefour Express.
Tip: Pack a cork screw so that you can enjoy these cheap French wines with your picnic lunches! Having alcohol in public is allowed, and you’ll see many people enjoying a bottle of wine in the park or on the banks of the Seine River.
Paris Sightseeing On the cheap
Everyone who visits Paris goes to the top of the Eiffel Tower, sees the “Mona Lisa” in the Louvre, and tours the Palais-Royal Gardens. However, when you pay $15 and more for each of those adventures, just a single day of packed sightseeing can break the bank.
Though there are plenty Parisian sights you cannot miss, and it pays off to plan ahead. Most of the city’s museums are free on the first Sunday of the month, and there are a number of sightseeing passes available that bundle attraction tickets at a discount.
Museum Pass: With the Paris Museum Pass, you get skip-the-line access to over 60 museums and monuments in and around Paris including the Louvre, Orsay Museum, and Centre Pompidou. You can choose between a 2-day, a 4-day and a 6-day option. All museums included in the pass can be visited for FREE while the pass is valid, and you get to skip the lines!
Attraction Pass: The Paris Attraction Pass includes 80 sights and attractions, including a Hop On Hop Off bus, a Seine River cruise, Historic Houses, skip-the-line access at most attractions, Paris Experiences and several walking tours. You can choose between a 2-day, 3-day and 4-day pass. Depending on how many attractions you’re planning to visit, an Attraction Pass can save you a lot of money, and it includes a broader range of Paris sights than the museum pass above.
Monday 31st of October 2016
I also went to Paris on a budget and glad I found this tips. Thanks
Thursday 25th of August 2016
Thanks for the tips! I'm doing my very first solo travel to Paris in December! I'm hoping to complete my trip under $500 including everything(without using reward points)! I was able to snag a flight for $298 from JFK and now onto the search for a cheap and decent hostel! determineddivatravels.com
Wednesday 18th of May 2016
Thanks for the info! A very detailed report for those who want to reduce the cost of travel. Especially true for Paris. Be sure to give your friends to check out.