Last Updated on January 19, 2021
Paris holds the key to your heart ― if only you could afford to go there. Last year, 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.
Airbnb’s in Paris
Paris has plenty of Airbnb’s available in all price ranges. If you want to save money on accommodation, consider renting just a room inside an apartment, rather than the entire apartment. As you can see below, Airbnb’s can be super cheap in Paris (prices vary throughout the year), and if you don’t mind sharing a bathroom with someone else, you can find some really good deals for Airbnb’s in Paris.
Tip: If you don’t have an Airbnb account yet, use my referral code to sign up and get up to $40 off your first booking)
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, few will tell you that each of those adventures costs over $15, which means that just a single day of sight-seeing can easily break the bank.
Though there are plenty Parisian delights you cannot miss, you absolutely must plan ahead to prevent bankruptcy during your vacation. Most of the city’s museums are free on the first Sunday of the month, and there are a number of passes available at the Paris tourist office that bundle attraction tickets at a discount.