How to Plan Your Trip to Paris: Easy Steps Guide

Are you planning your first trip to Paris and want to make it an unforgettable experience? With more than a decade of traveling to the City of Light, we are happy to share our experience and knowledge with you.

Paris is not only one of our favorite cities in the world, but it also became our home.

There are so many things to see and do! That’s why we want to help you with our Paris Travel Planning Guide.

Our guide covers everything you need to know to organize a trip to Paris, including the best time to visit, where to stay, what activities to do, how to get around, and much more.

Need help planning your trip to Paris? Then let’s get started! Here’s how to plan an unforgettable trip to Paris, France, with simple steps that work for any trip, no matter how long you stay!

Follow this step-by-step guide and you’ll be on your way to Paris in no time.

Key Takeaways

  • Advance planning is essential for a successful trip to Paris.
  • Comparing options and booking flights and accommodations early is key to getting the best prices.
  • A flexible itinerary allows you to enjoy both iconic sites and spontaneous experiences.

Selection of Dates and Budget

Paris in spring

When planning a trip, I first focus on two main aspects: how much the trip will cost and choosing the best time to enjoy the city.

For a trip to Paris, I would not give too much thought to the date, as each season has its charm. But, of course, you have to choose according to your preferences.

Best Time To Visit Paris

Paris is charming all year round, but there are special moments depending on what you are looking for:

  • Spring (March-May): the gardens of Paris are in bloom, a spectacle to behold, although it is high season.
  • Summer (June-August): ideal for long days of sightseeing, although be prepared for crowds and high prices.
  • Fall (September-November): offers a perfect balance with fewer tourists and an autumnal color palette in the parks.
  • Winter (December-February): December is perfect to enjoy the Christmas illumination. January is perfect for the winter sales; the first weekend after the end of the year is when I have seen fewer tourists in Paris. February is perfect to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your special someone.

Cost Estimates

First, determine your budget. To do this, I consider different categories of expenses: lodging, food, transportation, activities, and a small contingency fund. Here is a brief breakdown of possible daily costs:

  • Accommodation: varies from 60 euros per night in a hostel to more than 200 euros in a four-star hotel.
  • Food: budget of approximately 40 euros per day for casual meals.
  • Transportation: about €2.15 ticket+ (1 ticket metro), €8.65 “Forfait Navigo jour” a ticket (all-day pass) if I use public transportation.
  • Activities: entrance fees to museums and attractions range from 10 to 30 euros each.
  • Souvenirs: here it depends a lot on what you want to buy, you can find key chains and magnets from 2 or 3 euros.
  • Unforeseen events: an unforeseen event does not have to be bad; it could be that you have seen a restaurant that goes beyond the amount you had planned, or you want to do an activity that was not in the plans, etc.


ETIAS Europe

Before traveling to Paris and making any reservations, check that your passport is valid and whether you need a visa or an ETIAS. This will vary, depending on your country of origin.

In addition, always have proof of accommodation and medical insurance with a minimum coverage of 30.000€, in case of emergencies.

Flight and Lodging Reservations

Hotel overlooking the Eiffel Tower

When planning your trip to Paris, start by securing your flights and accommodations. If you make your reservations in advance, you can find offers and better prices.

Flights to Paris

Airports in Paris:

  • Charles de Gaulle (CDG): This is the main international airport closest to the center of Paris. Most international flights arrive here.
  • Orly (ORY): Located south of Paris, it is a good alternative with European and international flights.
  • Beauvais Airport (BVA): More distant and commonly used by low-cost airlines such as Ryanair.

Book a Flight:

  1. Flexible Dates: Often, varying the departure or return date by a day or two can offer more economical rates.
  2. Compare Airlines: I use sites like Skyscanner to compare prices between different airlines and find deals that allow me to save up to 40%.

Searching for flights in advance gives you a better selection of schedules and prices.

Find the Best Hotel

To choose hotels, I use and the filters offered by this website to choose the accommodation I am most interested in.

Some of them are limiting the price of the room, date (obviously), rating, and type of accommodation. Then, I click the option to view the map to know the location.

Some of the areas where we have stayed before living here are Montparnasse, you can walk to a lot of places, and the area is good; La Défense, there is the line one that takes you to the main destinations of the city.

We also rented an apartment in Saint Germain de Prés. This area is my favorite, but it is the most expensive.

Of course, you have many more options; here’s a list of hotels overlooking the Eiffel Tower.

Hotel Selection:

  • Mercure Hotel: There are many hotels located all over Paris. We have been to the one in La Défense and the one in Montparnasse. I recommend either one.
  • Hotel Le Compostelle: Located in Le Marais, this is a charming option with a historic ambiance.
  • Hotel Londres Saint Honoré: A more sophisticated option close to landmarks such as the Louvre and the Opera.

Tips for the Reserve:

  • Location: Choose hotels well connected to the places you plan to visit. Paris has an excellent metro network, so make sure your hotel is close to a station.
  • Budget: Define how much you are willing to spend. Then, use the price search filters to find hotels that fit your budget.
  • Reviews: Read reviews from previous guests to verify the quality of service and facilities.

Book your accommodation in advance, especially in high season, as the best options are booked fast.

Travel Insurance

Once you have your airline tickets and hotel booked, it is time to take out your travel insurance. Insurance will give you more peace of mind and save you from more than one unforeseen event.

Imagine that your flight is canceled or delayed, and you miss a night of hotel and activities; well, the travel insurance covers all those expenses, not only medical expenses.

We always travel with insurance, and we have a 5% discount for our blog readers. Click on the link and ask for your budget; you will see that it is cheaper than you think.

Metro Paris

Transportation in Paris

Exploring Paris is a wonderful experience and its public transportation system is essential for getting around the city. Here’s a detailed look at the metro, sightseeing bus, and discount card options that will make your Parisian adventure easier.

Paris Metro System

The Paris metro is my favorite way to get around quickly. With more than 300 stations, it connects all key areas, providing easy access to famous attractions.

Currently, the Navigo Pass is required to use public transport; paper tickets are going to disappear this year.

Read this post with all the information about the Paris metro.

Tourist Bus Options

Using the tourist bus is perfect if you prefer to enjoy the sights of the city without the rush. Several routes cover the most outstanding monuments and neighborhoods. I love that you can hop on and off at any of the designated stops at your leisure.

Book Activities in Advance

Louvre Museum, Selfi Vero with the Mona Lisa

One recommendation that I hope you will keep in mind is that tickets to some activities must be reserved in advance.

Two of the most visited places in Paris are the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum, to visit them you need to buy your tickets in advance, for the Tower, you need them well in advance, depending on the season, for more than two months.

Tickets to the Eiffel Tower are cheaper on the official website; if you see that it is complete for the dates of your trip, take a look at Civitatis and Get Your Guide. These sites are a little more expensive, but they usually have the places that the official site does not have and also offer free cancellation.

TIP: Create an itinerary before booking activities.

Here are some examples of itineraries

Itinerary through the Main Attractions and Museums

If it’s your first time in Paris, here are the must-see places you’ll want to visit.

Visit the Eiffel Tower

Views of the Seine from the Eiffel Tower

Start the day at the Eiffel Tower, the quintessential symbol of Paris. I recommend booking tickets in advance to avoid being left without a ticket.

I also recommend that you arrive at least half an hour before your entrance time and consider that the security controls are like those at the airport.

Once at the top, enjoy the panoramic views of the city.

Visit the Louvre Museum

The Louvre jellyfish

The Louvre Museum is famous for being home to works such as La Gioconda. Plan to spend at least half a day here, as it is one of the largest museums in the world. Buying the Paris Pass can be an excellent option for skip-the-line access.

Montmartre and Other Historic Neighborhoods

Montmartre deserves a whole afternoon with its cobblestone streets and bohemian atmosphere. I love visiting the Sacré Coeur Basilica and strolling through its squares, which are full of artists.

Be sure to explore other historic neighborhoods, such as Le Marais and the Latin Quarter, where you will find the Pantheon and the Luxembourg Gardens.

Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe

Visit the Notre Dame Cathedral, a masterpiece of French Gothic architecture. Despite the fire damage, its structure continues to impress.

Nearby is the Sainte Chapelle, with its impressive stained glass windows. A visit to the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs Elysées, the Tuileries Gardens… is a must.


Outfit Planner

EXTRA TIP: plan what you will wear in advance so you take everything you need and do not have to make extra expenses at the destination. You can download the PDF here; the price is up to you!

Culture and Gastronomy

When planning a trip, always keep in mind that a city’s culture and gastronomy are essential for an authentic experience.

Amelie Cafe PAris

French Cuisine Tasting

Freshly baked croissants in the morning are my favorite way to start the day. I can’t resist the crunchy texture on the outside and softness on the inside, which is essential in any Parisian breakfast.

For lunch, try the formule, midday menu of the bistros and restaurants. They are available in all price ranges.

You can ask for a pitcher of tap water, as in Paris it is of good quality and free of charge. Finally, for something sweet, I wouldn’t know where to start…. You can order something in the hundreds of boulangeries and pastry shops in the city, chocolate shops, ice cream parlors, cafes…

Cultural Events

I love exploring Paris’s diverse cultural options throughout the year. It is best to take a look at the cultural agenda of the tourist office for the dates of your trip. Or if you’re interested in one area in particular, check the quartier agenda. I do that all the time to learn about new places, free activities, etc.

Paris Packing List

When planning your trip to Paris, never underestimate the importance of bringing the right luggage for the season in which you are traveling. This ensures that your stay is as comfortable and hassle-free as possible.

Vero at the Eiffel Tower

Adequate Baggage

When packing for Paris, always keep in mind the weather and the activities you have planned.

For example, winter in Paris can be quite cold, so don’t forget your coat, scarf and gloves. Also, include a pair of comfortable walking shoes since walking around the city is the best way to get to know it.

Here’s a complete post with everything you need to know to pack for your trip to Paris packing your suitcase for your trip to Paris according to the season.

  • Spring/Summer:
    • Lightweight T-shirts
    • Shorts/skirts
    • Sun hat
    • Sunscreen
  • Fall/Winter:
    • Warm jacket
    • Thermal clothing
    • Waterproof boots
    • Umbrella

For an unforgettable trip to Paris, in addition to visiting the Eiffel Tower and strolling through its charming streets, I recommend exploring unique activities that will enrich your experience. Here are some of my favorites.

Additional Experiences and Activities

Unique Strolls on the Seine

Sena boat

A boat ride on the Seine is an experience you should not miss. From the comfort of the boat, you will be able to contemplate many of the emblematic monuments of Paris, such as Notre Dame and the Louvre Museum, from a different perspective.

I suggest buying tickets in advance to avoid long lines, and if you have a Paris Pass, the tour might be included.

  • Where to buy tickets: Online at Civitatis or official points of sale near the Seine.
  • Tip: Choose a sunset walk to enjoy the majestic view of Paris illuminated.

Day Trip to Versailles and Disneyland Paris

Hall of Mirrors at Versailles

For those looking for memorable getaways, Versailles is a must-see. The opulence and history of this palace are dazzling, and its gallery of mirrors and impeccably manicured gardens are a sight to behold.

My recommendation is to buy tickets in advance and consider an audio guide to understand the history of the place better.

On the other hand, Disneyland Paris offers a magical experience for young and old alike.

With one-day tickets, you can enjoy attractions and shows that will transport you to the world of your favorite movies. A tip: check out packages that include transportation from the center of Paris for convenience.

  • Where to buy tickets for Versailles: Official website of the Palace of Versailles or through organized tours.
  • Where to buy Disneyland tickets: Disneyland Paris official website or through authorized travel agencies.
  • Advice for Versailles: Arrive early to make the most of the day and avoid crowds.
  • Disneyland tip: Check the park calendar to plan your visit according to stop and show times.

Practical Tips for Travelers

When planning my trip to Paris, I make sure to take into account two key aspects: the purchase of tickets and passes for places of interest and urban mobility. These points are crucial for a smooth and satisfactory experience.

Purchase of Tickets and Passes

When I plan to visit Paris, the first thing I do is research the tickets and passes needed for the sites I want to explore. Depending on how many days you’ll be in, whether you want a quick 3-day getaway or a deeper 5-day, choose passes that fit the itinerary.

  • Paris Pass: This pass allows you to enter many attractions in the city without queuing, which saves me time. It is ideal if you plan to visit multiple locations, such as the Louvre or Disneyland Paris.
  • Individual tickets: For specific attractions, it is sometimes more convenient to buy tickets directly. For example, if you only want to visit the Eiffel Tower and Shakespeare & Co., you can buy those tickets independently to maximize your time and budget.

Urban Mobility

Paris Metro Map

Navigating Paris is an experience, and the efficient use of public transport allows you to discover the city in a practical way. This is what I have learned about urban mobility in Paris:

  • Transport maps: I always carry the IDF Mobilités app with me; it is useful to see the routes, if there are any incidents on the network, and also to recharge the Navigo pass.
  • Types of transportation:
    • Metro: This is the fastest way to move between the different districts of Paris.
    • Buses: Ideal to enjoy the urban landscape while moving from one place to another.
    • RER (regional train): I use it when I plan longer trips, such as a visit to Disneyland Paris.

My advice is to buy a transport card, such as the Navigo or the Paris Visite, which offers unlimited travel within certain areas and is perfect if your stay exceeds 3 days.

Learn a few phrases in French

Here is a table with useful French words and phrases to learn before your trip to Paris:

EnglishFrenchApproximate Pronunciation
GoodbyeAu revoiroh rev-wahr
PleaseS’il vous plaîtseel voo pleh
Thank youMercimehr-see
Excuse meExcusez-moiex-kew-zay mwah
Where is…?Où est…?oo eh…?
Train stationGaregar
Bus stopArrêt de busah-ray de boos
How much is it?Combien ça coûte?kohm-byen sa koot?
Credit cardCarte de créditkart duh kray-dee
Do you speak English?Parlez-vous anglais?par-lay voo ahn-glay?

These words and phrases will help you deal with everyday situations during your trip to Paris. I hope you find them useful!

What to Know Before Traveling to Paris

When planning your trip to Paris, consider not only the attractions but also the uncomfortable or problematic situations that can be avoided to make the most of your stay.

Common Travel Mistakes

  • Not researching before you go: I often take the time to understand the local etiquette and some basic phrases of the country I am traveling to. Parisians appreciate it when visitors try to communicate in their language and respect their customs.
  • Underestimating the budget: Paris can be quite expensive. Plan daily expenses and always have a small margin for unforeseen events.
  • Pickpockets: to avoid disappointment, pay attention to your belongings in the subway and in most tourist places. Many pickpockets target distracted tourists.
  • Hustlers/Scams: especially around the Eiffel Tower and at other tourist sites such as the Notre Dame Cathedral, among others, you may encounter scammers. There are two that are the most typical; one is the shell game operators; it’s all rigged, don’t bet, and if you do, be careful with your belongings while you’re distracted playing, you might get robbed.” The second most common scam is the “surveys” and petition signatures for causes that do not exist, they ask you for your data, your card and/or money. It’s all a scam; you will not help anyone, only the one who manages these people.

Areas to Avoid

  • Some peripheral areas: While Paris is generally a safe city, there are certain areas in the suburbs, such as certain sectors of Saint-Denis, that I prefer to avoid, especially at night.
  • Too close to popular attractions: For accommodation, I choose places a bit away from the main tourist attractions; this way I avoid the crowds and find more reasonable prices.

More Tips for Your Trip to Paris

  • Wear comfortable walking shoes.
  • Make time to see Paris from the heights, such as the Montparnasse Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Galeries Lafayette, Printemps, rooftops, etc.
  • Visit Paris for as long as possible
  • Don’t expect to see all of Paris in one trip.
  • Group activities by proximity and public transport connectivity.
  • Paris is a city to visit all year round
  • Take a food tour, a cheese tour, a wine tour, a bakery tour, or something related to gastronomy. There are even tours to learn how to make macarons.
  • Use public transportation.

Plan Your Trip to Paris

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