While Paris has a substantial metro, RER, and bus network, sometimes it’s nice to get some fresh air by going for a walk. Why not explore the different amazing neighborhoods of Paris, for example? You can stretch your legs by wandering, or you can take yourself on a tour of Paris to take in the sights that way. If getting around town on foot is your cup of tea, read on to find out how to translate that into seeing Paris!
Free walking tours
It can be overwhelming to think of all there is to do in Paris, but with a walking tour, you can easily get the lay of the land while learning about the areas you’re seeing. For travelers on a budget, a free walking tour is always appealing. There are several in Paris (sometimes even offered by your hostel), but be aware that a free tour is more of a “pay what you will” tour so tipping the guide at the end is completely normal! Of the countless free walking tours, here’s our curated list of recommended companies:
New Europe Tours
A highly rated free tour of Paris is led by New Europe Tours. The tour starts at Place Saint Michel, and lasts three hours. The tour is run in English, Spanish, or French, and currently departs at 11:00 every day. They’ve been known to run up to four tours a day, but you can check online to prebook tickets for availability and timings.
For the widest variety of free tours, Discover Walks is the company to use. With eight different free walking tours, each at 90 minutes apiece, you could explore almost all of Paris on foot. Each tour has a different starting point and starting time, and it’s recommended you book in advance to ensure you save yourself a spot! Here’s a list of the available tours:
- Montmartre (available in English and in Spanish)
- Le Marais
- Paris Landmarks
- Hidden Paris and Secret Paris
- Latin Quarter Left Bank Tour
- Notre Dame
For a unique walking tour experience, give Paris Greeters a try. Endorsed by the Paris tourism office, you’ll be paired with a local greeter who will guide you around Paris. You’ll get to share a local’s experience in Paris, and have a very personal experience as you’re guided through the city. You must register online first to be able to book with a greeter.
City Free Tour
Another tour led by locals, City Free Tour offers three-hour guided tours of Montmartre, Le Marais, and Notre Dame, and the Latin Quarter. These small group tours run every day (at different times depending on the neighborhood you want to explore). Reservations are required and can be made via email or using SMS/Whatsapp.
While guided tours are great, and can offer you a lot of insight, sometimes you just want to do things at your own pace. If this sounds more like you, try a self-guided tour! These will compile a list of sights to see, along with their history or some interesting facts that you can follow. Some even come with audio! Here are our recommendations for excellent self-guided tours of Paris:
One of the most trusted travel guides, Rick Steves offers an audio self-guided tour of Paris. Download the Audio Europe App, or the mp3 files, and be guided by Steves around the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Pere Lachaise Cemetery, historic Paris, Rue Cler, or Versailles. There are also maps you can download to help navigate as you listen.
GPSmyCity is also a great resource for self-guided tours. With 18 prepared walking tours, you can pick from any of them to help you explore Paris. There’s even an option to create your own self-guided tour so you can be sure you see what you want to see. With a handy app, it’s easier than ever to guide yourself around Paris.
Can you walk around Paris in a day?
Short answer: yes! It’s even easier if you stay in an arrondissement with a small number (for advice on where to stay in Paris, check out our helpful blog post). Just make sure you know where you're going and you're able to find your way back!
Longer answer: It depends on how much you want to see. Paris is pretty easily walkable, so you could spend your entire time (barring getting to and from the CDG airport, or if you want to venture out to Versailles) on foot, you just have to allow more time to get from point A to point B. Depending on how long you have in Paris, and what you want to see, it might not be the most efficient means of transportation.
If you’re willing to start early in the morning, Discover Walks has an ideal self-guided itinerary to get around Paris on foot in one day and to see all the highlights!
Hidden Paris walking tours
For a free hidden Paris walking tour, Discover Walks is (again) your top choice. In this 90 minute tour, not only will you see secret gems of Paris, but you’ll also learn about Parisian secrets from a local guide. Advance booking is required.
If you’re looking for a paid walking tour, check out Hidden Paris Walking Tours who offers a variety of options. Indulge in their Gourmet Saint-Germain tour for 40€, or Paris in a Nutshell for 55€, along with several other themed tours at various price points. While they are costlier than free options, they have a 5-star rating on Tripadvisor spread out over 307 reviews.
Explore Paris with Pilot
Walking around Paris is a fabulous way to get to experience the city, and to potentially find gems you might miss when traveling via the metro. Whether you choose to join a free tour, guide yourself, or just wander, there are so many ways to explore Paris on foot! If your feet get tired though, consider jumping on a Hop On Hop Off bus tour to see some highlights.
For more tips on traveling to Paris, check out our helpful posts about what to eat in Paris, the best hostels, what to do at night, day trips to take, and what souvenirs to buy to ensure you’re fully prepared! Even if Paris isn’t where you want to go, we at Pilot want to help you plan your next trip. We’ve got itinerary planning ideas, destination inspiration, budgeting tips, and more to make travel a breeze, wherever you want to go.