Paris is infamous for being known as the most expensive city in Europe and 2nd only to Singapore in the entire world. So needless to say Paris challenged our budget skills. However, don’t fret, it’s still possible to enjoy Paris on a budget and in this blog post we will show you how with our 7 tips for traveling Paris on a budget.
*When looking for the best price and biggest selection of hotels in Paris check prices on Booking.com, we’ve found they are the best option and have a great cancelation policy.
1. Get an Apartment
On our last 4 days trip to Paris, we booked an amazing apartment on the Isle de St Loius through Airbnb. For the same or less cost than a hotel room, we got a beautiful one-bedroom apartment in the center of Paris. The Isle de St. Louis is the oldest district in the city, and if you know Paris the newer districts wrap around the older in a spiral, leaving the island directly in the center. In addition to being right in the middle of many of the city’s sites, we are able to cook for ourselves too.
We found the prices in the grocery stores to be reasonable and similar to home. Overall it was a great experience renting an apartment in Paris for a few days, I will never rent a hotel in Paris again. Make sure to check out our where to stay in Paris guide to find the perfect part of Paris for you.
Renting an apartment with a kitchen can be a huge budget saver if your travel fund is low. Food in Paris is one of the biggest expenses. Cooking your own food a few times during your trip can easily save you the cost o the room if you have a group of people.
Hotel prices in the city can verge on the side of outrageous and eat heavily into your budget. Check out apartment rental sites like Airbnb for a place to stay at lower prices and better value. Renting an apartment with a kitchen can be a huge budget saver if your travel fund is low. Food in Paris is one of the biggest expenses. Cooking your own food a few times during your trip can easily save you the cost o the room if you have a group of people.
Airbnb first-timers, if you sign up through my referral link you get $35 credit when you book your first trip! –>> sign up here!
2. Eat away from the many tourist attractions
The restaurateurs aren’t stupid, they know they can charge more money near the city’s attraction. If you are on a budget you are better off finding a restaurant away from the big sites and sticking to side streets away from the crowds. An area of town we found to be good for this type of dining was the Latin Quarter. Another bonus of avoiding the tourist area restaurants is that you will probably get better food too!
Paris is full of amazing food so don’t settle for the choices right around the city’s main highlights. Restaurants around the hot spots are gear toward making money off of unknowing and hungry tourists. The prices will be very high and the food on the very low end. Do yourself a favor and dine far away from the Eiffel tower and alike.
In my opinion, the best way to expire Paris or any city for that matter is on your two feet. Walking allows you to run into interesting parts of the city you would have missed otherwise, and it saves you a taxi ride or metro ticket. If you taxi between tourist attractions your money will go as fast as your taxi around the arc de triumph. Instead, make sure you stay central and walk. You’ll be amazed at how many things you will see in Paris that you didn’t even realize were there.
4. Eat Like a Parisian
Instead of sitting down to a meal along the main street, plan a picnic in the park. Paris is filled with beautiful parks and they make a great spot to take a break from a busy day in the city for a Parisian lunch. Our favorite thing to do was go to a local market and buy a fresh baguette, some nice French cheese, and a couple hundred grams of deli meat and head to the closest park. If you throw in a bottle of French wine you have a great little lunch for just a few euros.
5. Go Free
Paris has no shortage of museums and historic sights to take in, but after awhile they can really add up. The savvy Paris traveler knows that there are many museums that are free on certain days and even more that are free every day. With some planning, you could save a bunch of money on your entertainment budget.
6. Watch your pockets
Nothing can eat into your budget quicker than getting robbed. Paris is full of scams and people trying to take advantage of tourist, so be prepared. We were ready for the scams and even caught a scammer on camera trying to pull the “Ring Scam” on us.
7. Picnic at the Eiffel Tower at Night
The iconic tower is no secret and a reason alone for some to make the trip to Paris, but while most go during the day it’s even better at night. Bring a blanket and a bottle of wine or champagne, and you have a perfectly affordable way to spend an evening in Paris on a budget.
8. Visit off-peak season
Paris is a busy tourist city most times of the year but the summer brings hordes of tourists and the prices of everything are affected. If your schedule allows book before or after the summer months. If you are really looking for fewer tourists try visiting during the offseason in late fall to just before Christmas. The temperatures will be lower but so will the tourist populations and most importantly, the prices.
9. Shop around for flights
Don’t start your trip off on the wrong foot and in the hole. Shop online for cheap flights to Paris and don’t overpay. Save your money for doing fun things around the city, not on getting into Paris. Also don’t forget check for cheap flights to other major European hubs like Rome, London, and Frankfurt – because regional flights are super cheap in Europe.
10. Stay central
Make sure to read our Paris neighborhood guide first. Book a hotel in the middle of the action a walk around. Staying far outside the city may save a little bit on accommodation, but will quickly add up in transportation cost. Alternatively finding an affordable hotel near a subway line may be a good option as well. Make sure to take into account what activities and landmarks you want to see while in Paris and book a room in the area of town that is close to save on transportation costs.
As expensive as Paris is, it’s still possible to enjoy your trip no matter what your budget. It’s a city that should be on any European travel itinerary, Paris is a one of a kind city that shouldn’t be missed. For some of the best views of Paris’ head to the Montparnasse tower for only 10 euros no other view will compare.
Paris on a budget may seem like an oxymoron, but it doesn’t have to be. The city is almost always near the top of the most expensive places list, but if you do it right Paris can still be fun on a budget. Follow a few of these simple tips for Paris on a budget.
Tuesday 10th of November 2015
Don't forget the museum pass - will save you some money but loads of time.
Jessica C. (A Wanderlust For Life)
Saturday 21st of March 2015
We just went to Paris and completely agree with all of these! Sadly we weren't there when museums are free, but we'll be back :) Eating like a Parisian was fun and cheap! Can't get better than that. Someone tried the friendship bracelet scam on us. It's so easy to just say no and keep walking.
Monday 8th of December 2014
When I lived in France - I think this is still the case, the Louvre was free on the first Sunday of each month. My Louvre visit was on... the first Sunday of the month (April 2006, if I remember correctly).
Saturday 27th of December 2014
Bummer wish we would have been there on a free day!
Tuesday 9th of September 2014
These are some great tips! This post is being bookmarked for when I get to Paris. Thank you for sharing!
Thursday 11th of September 2014
Glad you plan on using them on your upcoming trip to Paris, they will save you a good chunk of money!
Thursday 4th of September 2014
DEFINITELY go with an apartment. We were really lucky and scored a great deal on an apartment for a week - took a gamble on first-time Airbnbers (our first, their first). They've since raised their rates a ton!
Thursday 11th of September 2014
I can't imagine not having an apartment in Paris. Glad your apartment worked out, our first Airbnb wasn't a hit or our second...It's always a gamble!