The iconic Eiffel Tower, the cinematic Arc de Triomphe, the glamorous Champs-Élysées, the world famous Notre Dame Cathedral and the list goes on. Paris needs no introduction. It is one of the most visited cities in the world. This Paris travel guide gives you all the information you need on visa, transit options, survival tips and things to do in the city of lights.
Paris is a walking city. It has an excellent public transit system as well, which makes getting around and visiting attractions in the city much easier. The city is a bit on the expensive side, so plan your budget accordingly. You will need at least one week to explore Paris.
Refer to Schengen Visa Guide for detailed information on visa requirements, application process and documentation.
There are 3 international airports in Paris.
- Paris-Orly (ORY) – ORY airport is the closest of all three airports. Many major airlines fly to this airport.
- Charles De Gaulle (CDG) – CDG airport is the second closest. It’s about an hour from the city center. Many national and international airlines fly to this airport.
- Beauvais (BVA) – BVA airport is the farthest of all three. It’s about 90 minutes from the city center. Budget airlines Ryanair and Wizzair fly to this airport. Prefer this airport only if the price is much cheaper than flying to the other two.
Paris is a walkable city. There are attractions in every part of the city. Metro and RER cover pretty much the entire city. It doesn’t matter where you are staying, you will be able to get to anywhere in the city using the metro. All neighborhoods offer great accommodation options, both hotels and Airbnbs.
In addition to this Paris travel guide, I suggest you to check out the below guides to plan your trip.
Transport from/to airport
There are different transport options available from/to all 3 airports.
- Aéroport Beauvais (BVA) – The Aeroport Beauvais Bus runs between BVA airport and Porte Maillot. Once you exit the airport, walk straight towards the parking lot. The bus station is next to the Starbucks. A one way ride ticket at the ticket counter costs €17.00. If you purchase the ticket in advance online, it costs €15.90. The ride takes about 80 minutes. Porte Maillot is right at the beginning of the city. You can transfer to Metro Line 1 at Porte Maillot.
- Aéroport Charles De Gaulle (CDG) – The RER B train connects CDG airport to the city. A one way ride ticket costs €10.00. The fares on RER trains are based on the zones. CDG airport is in zone 5. Once you reach the city, you can transfer to Metro on the same ticket. No need to purchase another ticket for Metro.
Le-Bus Direct also connects CDG airport to the city. A one way ride ticket costs €17.00. You can catch Metro at either Porte Maillot or Champs-Élysées. Check Le-Bus Direct website for more details.
RoissyBus also connects CDG airport to the city. It runs between CDG airport and Paris-Opéra. A one way ride ticket costs €11.50. Check RAPT website for more details.
- Aéroport Orly (ORY) – Le-Bus Direct connects ORY airport to the city. A one way ride ticket costs €12.00. The bus makes several stops in the city from Gare Montparnasse to Tour Eiffel. You can transfer to Metro at one of these stops. Check Le-Bus Direct website for more details.
OrlyBus also connects ORY airport to the city. It runs between ORY airport and Denfert Rochereau Metro stop in the city. A one way ride ticket costs €8.00. Check RAPT website for more details.
Paris has two train systems – Metro and RER. Metro covers pretty much the entire city of Paris. RER connects the city with suburbs. The city of Paris is within Zone 1, that means you can use a Metro ticket on a RER train if you are traveling within the city.
Buses connect the city where Metro doesn’t. You can use all Metro passes on the buses.
Taxis are widely available all over the city
Uber is also available in the city.
Paris is a walkable city. But the city is huge. You have to take metro or bus to get around. Depending on how much and how frequent you will be using public transit, you can buy one way tickets or a pass.
- One way ride metro ticket – Each one way ride ticket on metro or bus costs €1.90. You can purchase one way ride tickets at any metro station from the vending machine or ticket counter. You can purchase tickets using cash or credit card.
- 10 ride metro ticket (Carnet) – You can purchase 10 one way tickets at a time at a cheaper price. It’s called a Carnet and costs €14.50. It is 10 individual tickets. You can purchase a Carnet at the vending machine or ticket counter.
- Navigo pass – A Navigo pass can be monthly or weekly. The weekly pass is valid for one week from Monday to Sunday. It gives you unlimited rides within that week. It costs €22.15. The card itself will cost an additional €5.00
- Paris Visite – A Paris Visite pass is an unlimited ride pass for 1 to 5 days. A 1 day pass costs €11.65, where as a 5 day pass costs €37.25. You can purchase these passes from the vending machine or ticket counter at any metro station.
ATMs are available in all airports and everywhere in the city. There may be an ATM fee for using foreign ATM/debit cards.
Tip: PNB Paribas has no ATM fee for foreign ATM/debit cards.
All hotels, restaurants, bars and stores accept credit cards. Make sure your credit card is chip enabled.
Currency exchanges are available in all airports.
Paris city has very good internet speeds. All cafes have fast wifi.
Tap water is perfectly fine to drink in Paris. No need to purchase bottled water.
Food is expensive in restaurants. Lunch options usually cost €14-€20 in restaurants. If you are looking for cheap eats, there are a ton of shawarma and kabab places where you can get a sandwich for €6.00 and a plate for €9.00.
Parisians drink beer, wine or cocktails when they are out. You must purchase your drink from the bar. There won’t be any table service in the bars.
Tip is not required in Paris. You should only consider tipping in very expensive high end restaurants. For regular restaurants, cafes and bars, there is no need to tip.
It can be very cold and rainy in the winter. Bring a winter jacket, hat and gloves.
Self service coin laundry facilities are available at most places.
Mostly people use toilet paper. Used toilet paper is thrown into the toilet and flushed.
Paris is safe but just like any other big city there is some crime. Exercise caution while walking in the night.
Things to do and places to explore in Paris.
La Tour Eiffel
One cannot imagine Paris without the iconic Eiffel Tower. It has become the icon of Paris and the most recognizable structure in the world. It is a global landmark and was featured in many films, books and TV shows.
This 324 meter tall wrought iron tower was designed and constructed by Gustave Eiffel in 1889. The entrance to the top of the tower costs €17.00. Long lines for the elevators are common.
Arc de Triomphe
At the Place de l’Étoile, facing the glamorous Champs-Élysées stands the magnificent Arc de Triomphe. It is a monument built in 1836 to commemorate Napolean’s victory at Austerlitz.
At the ground level of the arch lies a tomb of an unknown soldier, which honors the 1.3 million French soldiers who lost their lives in WWI. The flame at the tomb is rekindled every day.
Musée du Louvre
Musée du Louvre is the world’s largest museum and a historic landmark. It showcases works of art from artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, etc. The main attraction of the museum is Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
The original Palais du Louvre was a fortress, which was turned into a royal residence and later into a national museum in 1793. Entry to the museum costs €15.00. There are ticket counters and vending machines to purchase tickets inside. Tickets are valid for the entire day, so you can leave and enter back on the same ticket.
Cathédrale Notre Dame
Cathédrale Notre Dame is the gem of French Gothic architecture and the most popular monument of Paris. It is located on a small island called Ile de la Cité. The cathedral was constructed between 1163 and 1345.
It is still an active catholic church. Religious events of national significance still takes place here. The stained glass windows of the cathedral remain the most notable collection of 13th century Gothic art. The square in front of the cathedral is the point zero of Paris. Entry into the cathedral is free.
Basilique du Sacré-Cœur
The Sacré-Cœur Basilica is located on the highest summit of the city called Butte Montmarte. The church and the summit offers great panoramic views of the city. It is constructed between 1875 and 1914. Entry into the church is free.
Moulin Rouge was popularized by Baz Luhrmann in the musical Moulin Rouge. The 1925 replica of the original windmill still stands on the top of the theater. Advance booking is required.
There are many other attractions in Paris. It would take about a week to visit most of them. Refer a good travel guide such as Lonely Planet or Paris Info for the list.
Paris needs no introduction. The city of lights is one of the most visited cities in the world. It has the best public transit system. It makes getting around and visiting the attractions much easier. You will need at least one week to explore Paris.