Ten Free, or Nearly Free, Things to Do in Paris

things to do in paris

Is it possible to be bored in Paris?

Paris is a city filled to the brim with things to do, places to see, food to eat, and ambiance to soak in.

Seemingly every street in and around the center of Paris contains either architectural marvels, museums, art exhibitions, bars, jazz clubs, quaint boutiques, cafes, pastry shops, or restaurants.  It’s pretty impossible to be bored when visiting this city, there are a million and one things to do in Paris.

The list below reflects our selection of activities, especially when on a budget, in no particular order.

If you are a backpacker or a budget traveler visiting Paris take a look at our article on traveling to Paris on a budget!

Things to Do in Paris

Visit The Louvre

top ten things to do in paris

Ok, our first recommendation isn’t free. The Louvre is one of the largest museums in the world, and this beautiful former fortress is worth every penny of its €12.00 entrance fee.

You can spend all day wandering the vast hallways of the Lourve, checking out everything from French sculptures, to 10th century Islamic art, to Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. And much much more.

There is very good reason why this is the most visited museum in the world. A bit of a money saving tip for the Louvre – we didn’t have any issues with exit and re-entry. Meaning it is possible to skip the over priced museum cafeteria food and run out for a cheaper lunch before continuing getting your culture on.

Tip – Check out this cool article for some pro tips on skipping long lines in Paris!

Get Paid to Travel with TEFL

Take a Scenic Walk Along the River Seine

top ten things to do in paris

Paris is an amazing city to walk around in, and there is no place better to start than along the Seine river. Make sure to check out the many bridges spanning the river, especially Pont des Arts for its infamous “Love Locks” and the gorgeous Pont Alexandre III for its statues and sculptures.

Editor’s note – Right after we published this article officials in Paris decided to remove the iconic love lock railings from the Pont des Arts bridge. It’s still a lovely bridge to stroll over, although the distinct locks have been replaced by glass panels. Truth be told this makes us a little sad.  

Pay Your Respects at the Père Lachaise Cemetery

top ten things to do in paris

Some people people might consider walking around a cemetery to be morbid, or even a little creepy. Personally, we feel that cemeteries hold many fascinating stories and traditions. Exploring one can be great way to get a better feel for any given place you are visiting.

So, if you are like us, and you’re going to pick one cemetery in Paris to visit, Pere Lachaise might as well be the one.

Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison are but some of the legendary names buried here. Stop by and pay your respects to these cultural icons. Admission to Pere Lachaise Cemetery is totally free, and tons of interesting tombs and sculptures make this a worthwhile excursion for a couple of hours.

Things to do in Paris – Wander the Tuileries Garden


This immaculate, and sculpture adorned, garden separates the Louvre from the Place de la Concorde. The opulent garden is a popular chill out spot for locals and tourists alike. Pack a lunch on a sunny day and relax near the ponds, or one of the grassy lawns. Then stroll around and admire the numerous statues and sculptures, or laugh at all the tourists taking selfies. Or, take some selfies. We won’t judge you!

The Musée de l’Orangerie, where you can go to see some of the works of Claude Monet, is located right near the Tuileries so you can have a look in after you are done. And obviously, the Lourve is right there, making a trip to the gardens and the museum a great combination.

Get Local in St. Germain des Pres


The hip neighborhood of St. Germain des Pres is crammed with bustle and energy. You can almost feel the narrow corridors of St. Germain getting increasingly more exciting as day fades into night.  Tourists rub shoulders with locals in the many restaurants, creperies, cafes, bars, and galleries, from early morning into electric night .

If you are a backpacker in Paris you are probably going to want to hang out in  St. Germain as relatively inexpensive (for Paris) food can be procured here. Most bars have a happy hour for “cheaper” drinks, which will still run you an average of €6.00 a pint, but you’re in Paris so… might as well go for it.

If you want to get your local vibe on then hanging out in St. Germain is definitely one of the things to do in Paris.

Montmartre and Basilica of the Sacre Coeur

things to do in paris

This famous neighborhood is host to the Basilica Sacre Couer, but there is so much more to do and see in Montmarte. It’s winding streets are home to a eclectic array of upscale clothing shops, second hand stores, restaurants, and cafes.

Make sure to climb Montmartre Hill to see the Basilica and to get breathtaking views of the city.

The Eiffel Tower…of Course


The iconic Eiffel Tower might not be the most beautiful structure in Paris, but it’s probably the most well known. You can picnic in the near vicinity at the Parc du Champ de Mars, or wait in line and pay to ride to the top. We skipped the latter, and just hung out on the lawn watching the tourists go by. It’s certainly a great place to people watch in Paris, just don’t fall for any of the tourist trap cafes around the square, as you will likely end up unknowingly buying a 6 Euro espresso.

Pedal Around Paris

Best Hostels in Paris

Paris has a large system of affordable rental bikes in place for those who prefer to pedal from one location to another instead of walking. It’s a cost effective, eco-friendly, and fun way to get around the City of Lights. For more details click here.

Tasty Treats: Crepes, Baguettes, Croissants, Pastries

things to do in paris
Baguette français” by Julie Kertesz is licensed under CC BY 2.0

You can’t go to Paris and not sample the eclectic and delicious array of pastries, breads, and orgasmic crepes. Do yourself a favor and walk into one of the seemingly thousands of bakeries and stuff your face! Just try to look refined, you are in Paris after all. How does one do that with a face full of fantastic fluffy dough? Don’s ask us! I’m sure we put off a few locals with our Cookie Monster impression.

People Watching at a Corner Cafe

things to do in paris
Paris Cafe” by Pat Guiney is licensed under CC BY 2.0

If you are unfamiliar with the charming nature of outdoor cafes we highly recommend taking some time to experience this relaxing custom. Find a nice cafe on a random street corner (they are literally everywhere), take a load off, and enjoy a fine brew of your choosing. The world would be a better place if this was a globally adopted custom. We love the idea of sitting outdoors and chatting with our friends and peers, having a coffee, maybe a smoke, and slowing things down for a bit. In the middle of the day no less! That’s nearly unheard of in a place like our home town of New York City.

A word of caution, however. Some cafes, especially near highly touristy landmarks, have steep markups on the price of their beverages. Make sure you check the menu before ordering. We sat down near the Eiffel Tower and walked away with a €12.00 bill for two small coffees. As amusing as it was ridiculous. Lesson learned! If you are a soda drinker be aware that a can of Coke will run you anything from €3.00 – €7.00  almost everywhere but the super market. Yikes.

Check out the Notre Dame

things to do in paris

You literally can’t miss Norte Dame.

Man-kind really outdid itself when it built this colossus. As one of the largest cathedrals in the world Norte Dame is an awe inspiring structure. Completed in the 1300’s Notre Dame stands tall and Gothic, inspiring one to wonder at the toil and ingenuity it took to build it. Gawk like all the other tourists around you are doing, and then go inside for a free look around. Notre Dame is just as impressive within. Did we mention it was free?

Ok, All of that is Cool BUT…Is Paris Too Expensive to Visit?

NOPE! It’s not.

There’s are plenty of other things to do in Paris, and many of them don’t have to cost you a dime. We encourage everyone who thinks that Paris is prohibitively expensive to reconsider. Sure, accommodations might be pricey, but if you  stay in hostels and plan your trip right you can totally manage to see some of the best the City of Lights has to offer.

Be sure to check out our guide on how to travel on a budget in Paris, for tips on keep costs WAY down!

Pin It!

Top Free Things to do in Paris


Disclaimer – We have included a few handy little affiliate links in case any of our readers want to book accommodations. We receive a small commission for any sales made, without any additional cost to you, our dear reader.

One thought on “Ten Free, or Nearly Free, Things to Do in Paris

  1. Paris is one of our favorite cities and we think this is a great list! Makes us want to go back to Paris, soon! Our favorite cafe is Le Relais Odeon in Germain des Pres. Good prices, good food and it seems like everyone in the world walks by that location.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *