Visiting Paris on a budget might seem like a pipe dream, but it's a lot easier than you think.
Sure, the admission fees to Paris' world-class museums add up quickly. And yes, savoring the gastronomic delights of this food-obsessed city is an easy way to put a dent in your travel budget. But there's still plenty of value to be found in the City of Light. You just need to know where to look.
So whether you're looking for the best places to see the Eiffel Tower, the tastiest cheap eats, or museums with free admission days, here are our top tips for visiting Paris on a budget.
Free and cheap things to do in Paris
Earn your Eiffel Tower view
It’s completely free to admire the Eiffel Tower from afar but going up to the top will cost you. However, if you’re willing to work for it and can settle for the second floor, you can save over €15 by taking the stairs up to the second floor for just €10,50.
Visit the beautiful Basilique du Sacré-Coeur
Commonly referred to as simply Sacré-Coeur, this breathtaking Roman Catholic is one of Paris’ top attractions. Fortunately for budget travelers, the church doesn’t charge an admission fee unless you want to visit the top of the dome or go down into the crypt beneath the church. To make your visit more informative, you can use your smartphone to take a free audio tour of the church.
Have a Parisian picnic at Parc du Champ de Mars
The idea of a picnic in a Paris park is so romantic that it’s almost cliche. Add in the fact that this expanse offers an incredible view of the Eiffel Tower and you can see why it’s one of the best budget-friendly ways to enjoy Paris. Hit the market, grab a blanket, and head to Parc du Champ de Mars for a Parisian picnic with a view. Just be sure to stick around for the evening light show.
Enjoy a cheap boat ride on the Seine
There’s no doubt that taking a boat ride on the Seine River is touristy but that doesn’t make it any less worthwhile. It’s a great way to see this beautiful city from a different perspective. Plus, it’s nice to get off your feet for a bit. You can find boat tours for as little as €10 - €12. Vedettes du Pont Neuf 's 1-hour cruise is a popular budget cruise option.
Notre Dame Cathedral
Unfortunately, after the tragic fire in 2019, the world-famous Notre Dame Cathedral will likely remain closed until 2024. Of course, you can still pay a visit and admire the stunning cathedral from the outside. Plus, the underground crypt was reopened in late 2020 before being closed due to COVID.
Take in the view from Place Du Trocadéro
The Place du Trocadéro is worth a visit in itself, but it’s the elevated, wide-open view of the Eiffel Tower that makes this one of the most coveted photo spots in the city. Come for the view of the tower, stay for the beautiful sculptures, fountains, and local vendors.
Visit famous gravesites at Père Lachaise Cemetery
Cemeteries aren’t always at the top of our travel lists, but with 3.5 million visitors annually, Père Lachaise Cemetery is more than your average cemetery. In this sprawling part-park, part-cemetery hybrid, you’ll find the graves of famous, notable figures that range from poet Oscar Wilde to The Doors frontman Jim Morrison.
Where to stay on a budget in Paris
Generator is a European hostel chain that has locations everywhere from Paris and London to Washington DC and Miami. This stylish, modern hostel offers reliably comfortable shared dorms and cozy private rooms, as well as its own rooftop bar with incredible views of the city.
St. Christopher’s Paris (2 Locations)
St. Christopher’s is another chain that consistently delivers fun, comfortable, reliable hostels in some of Europe’s most popular cities. The chain has 2 outposts in Paris, St. Christopher’s Canal and St. Christopher’s Gare du Nord. You can’t go wrong with either.
Les Piaules is a fairly new, modern hostel that takes hospitality seriously. In addition to comfortable rooms and an awesome on-site cafe/bar, they’ve actually designed their own hostel bed called Le Plumard, a “custom bunk bed that suits all the needs of the modern-day traveler.” There are 2 locations in the city.
Cheap flights to Paris
Recently, Dollar Flight Club members have saved between 70-90% on cheap flights to Paris. On average, our members spent $305 on their tickets to Paris and saved over $189 per ticket. Here are a few samples of cheap flight deals that Dollar Flight Club members have received recently.
Chicago (ORD) to Paris (ORY)
Price with Dollar Flight Club: $340
Average Price: $550
New York City (JFK) to Paris (CDG)
Price with Dollar Flight Club: $265
Average Price: $400
Minneapolis (MSP) to Paris (ORY)
Price with Dollar Flight Club: $340
Average Price: $580
Best cheap eats in Paris
Bakeries and Sandwiches
Is there anything more quintessentially France than a trip to the boulangerie? From €1 croissants to affordable jambon beurre (ham and butter) or jambon fromage (ham and cheese) sandwiches served on delightfully flakey, yet soft French baguettes, Parisian bakeries are a must-visit on any budget.
Savory or sweet. Vegetarian or not. Eaten at a table or on the street. Paris crepes are the perfect budget food to please everyone. For anywhere from €3-10 Euro, you can find a creperie or street vendor serving these delightful treats all over the city.
Falafel, kebabs, and shawarma
You might not think of middle eastern food when you think of Paris, but the city, especially on Rue des Rosiers in Le Marais, is loaded with delicious, affordable falafel joints. Favorites include the world-renowned L’As du Fallafel (expect a long line), Chez Hanna, King Falafel Palace, and MI-VA-MI.
Picnics in Paris
This isn’t so much a cuisine as it is a way to avoid the high cost of Paris restaurants, especially those near the touristy areas.
With plenty of markets, ample bakeries, and an abundance of affordable grocery store wine, it just makes sense to take in the city from the comfort of your picnic blanket. In addition to the Champ de Mars listed above, other great picnic spots include Luxembourg Gardens, Buttes Chaumont, and Quai de la Tournelle, located directly across from Notre Dame Cathedral on the banks of the Seine River.
Start planning your trip to Paris
Paris is certainly a city with a love for the finer things. But that doesn't mean that you can't still plan an incredible trip to Paris on a budget.
BY: ZACH ANDERSON, CONTENT MARKETING & FLIGHT EXPERT
Zach is a digital marketer, copywriter, and flight deal expert at Dollar Flight Club where he helps 1 million people travel more. As a digital nomad, he is deeply passionate about location independence, Thai food, and helping others see the world affordably.