Paris is a city with many sights to see and great things to do. Getting around the whole city can be almost impossible unless you find the right way to do it. Organised excursions, personalised tours, metro, bus... There are many alternatives and, before arriving in Paris, you'll want to have considered them all.
As soon as you set foot in the French capital, you'll realise that there are metro stops, different buses, taxis and even alternative means of transport such as cycling. Depending on how you want to get around Paris, how much time you have or what you want to visit, I'd like to recommend one or the other, what do you think?
Walking in Paris on an organised tour, the most comfortable and safest way to get around Paris
I'm not going to deceive you, because I'm sure you already know this, but Paris is a huge city and getting around can sometimes be complicated if you don't know which route is best or which is the best way to get from one point to another. That's why I always opt for an organised tour of Paris that organises everything for me, so I can forget about maps, routes and directions and just focus on seeing the city without fear of getting lost or being late to a place I want to get to.
Another advantage is that the tours usually include entry to Paris landmarks, so you can be sure of getting in at the specified time. In the end, there is nothing more annoying than arriving at a site after walking halfway across the city only to miss your entrance ticket or to have it and not arrive on time because you got lost.
In short, if you don't want to go crazy, trust the professional guides who, in addition to explaining everything you see, will make getting around Paris seem simple. Moreover, depending on what you want to see or even what means of transport you want to use, you can book one type of tour or another.
Touring Paris on a walking tour
It is clear that walking is the best way to see more things, since you can make stops or get closer to the best museums in Paris or to the monuments of Paris that catch your attention. Of course, among so many streets and avenues you will probably end up getting lost, although if you have a specialised guide that won't be a problem.
Forget about taking detours and ending up exhausted before your time because you've gone in the wrong direction, something very common in Paris, and book a personalised walking tour, so that you can see exactly what you want to see and stop where you want to stop, without having to wait for a large group of people, which undoubtedly also makes it difficult and delays any trip around Paris.
The truth is that touring Paris at your own pace, but with the confidence that a guide has designed the route especially for you, is a luxury, believe me. Just make sure that before you book you make a list of the places you want to go so that the guide can include them in the tour or let you know whether or not entrance is included.
Cycle around Paris with a guide
If you like to cycle to places, you must try to see Paris on two wheels. Be warned, the traffic and streets of Paris can be a bit chaotic, so my recommendation is that if you're going to cycle around Paris, you should do it in the company of a guide and on an organised tour with a larger group of people. That way it's easier for other vehicles to see you and you'll also be clearer about manoeuvres, turns, signs... Better not to risk hesitation at a junction because you don't know which way to go, don't you think?
Although it may seem dangerous, the bicycle is a good means of transport for getting around Paris more quickly and getting to places a little further away from the centre in less time. If you're still worried about safety, you shouldn't be, because with an organised tour you'll have a bike and helmet in perfect condition, plus a guide will be leading the way, so you'll just have to follow him or her without having to stop in the middle of the route to check the map.
If you want to see as much of Paris as possible in a single day, I highly recommend a bike tour, as you'll actually get to more places than a walking tour. Keep in mind, though, that you won't make as many stops on a bike tour, so choose this route if you're looking for a general tour of Paris.
Get around Paris on a Segway
Want to get from one part of Paris to another even faster? You're in luck, because there are organised tours that take you around the city on Segways, a fast means of transport where you don't have to make any effort beyond controlling the handlebars and following the guide. No fatigue can get the better of you and you'll be able to see Paris with your eyes wide open.
If you've never ridden a Segway before, you might be a little apprehensive about doing it for the first time in Paris, especially if you don't know where you're allowed to ride, the speed limit or even how to park. Don't worry about that, because there will be a responsible person on the tour who will answer your questions and guide you through the city on your Segway tour.
If you are travelling to Paris with little time, perhaps staying only one day, the Segway tour is a good alternative, as you can move around the most important places in the French capital in a very short time, making the most of every minute.
Tour Paris on a sightseeing bus
One option for getting around Paris that I always consider is the Paris sightseeing bus. These vehicles run almost the entire length of Paris and you can hop on and off at the stops that interest you most. It's a great way to make sure you see everything but only spend time at the places that catch your eye.
If you're staying a couple of days in Paris, consider this option, because the ticket will be valid for both dates and you can use it as public transport, getting around Paris only on this bus that stops at places like Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower or the Moulin Rouge. When you get off, you can combine this bus tour with a walking tour.
What's more, the good thing about opting for this type of bus instead of a normal one is that they are prepared to see the city as you move around it, so they have two floors and one of them has an open roof, so you can see Paris from a different perspective.
Getting around Paris by metro and suburban train: the quickest way
There are a total of 16 lines in the Paris metro that connect hundreds of points in the city, so you can imagine that this will always be a fast, comfortable and accessible alternative for getting around Paris, as there are many stops and the frequency is about 5 minutes. In addition, many of the metro stations are connected to or have RER (Parisian suburban train) stops, which you can use to get to more distant places like Versailles.
When you start touring Paris, you'll notice that there are plenty of metro stops and that they're open from 5:30am to 1am (Saturdays and public holidays until 2am), so you can always take a metro to get around the city. However, when buying your ticket you must take into account the zones you are going to use.
Paris is divided into 5 zones, with the first 3 being the most central and cheapest and easily accessible by metro (approximately €2 for a single ticket and €23 for a 10-ticket pass). In these zones the RER behaves like a metro, so it is included in the ticket.
Zones 4 and 5, on the other hand, are further away and to get there you need to take the RER suburban train, which is not included in the single ticket but is included in the île-de-France ticket. The price varies according to the distance you have to travel, but you can check it on the official website. Note that the RER opens at the same time as the metro (5.30am) but closes at midnight, so keep an eye on the time if you need to get back to the centre by RER.
If you're going to be in Paris for a week or more and will be using the metro or train, my advice is to get a Navigo travel pass, which allows you to travel freely in all the areas you choose without having to worry about running out of single tickets. If you're not staying that long, you can always get a Paris Visite Card, which is specially designed for tourists who want to travel around Paris on the metro for the days they're visiting the city.
These passes are good alternatives, but I would also recommend the Paris Pass, a card that not only allows you to take public transport in Paris, but also includes priority access to many of the city's tourist attractions.
Getting around Paris by bus
Although the metro is faster, the bus is more charming, as you can see the outskirts of Paris as you move around the city. In fact, the bus is one of the most popular means of transport for Parisians too, with 59 routes and a very cheap price (around €2). Don't forget, however, that buses are not as punctual, running every 15-20 minutes or so, and are available for less time (from 7:30am to 8:30pm).
The lines you will use the most if you want to get around the centre of Paris are the ones from 20 to 99, as the later ones run on the outskirts. In any case, you can consult the available routes on the official map.
It is very easy to buy your ticket from the ticket machines at any station or point of sale, although you can also buy it when you get on the bus. However, if you do so, it will be a little more expensive and you won't be able to transfer to other means of transport such as the metro or train. To save even more money, you can always buy a pass such as the Navigo or Paris Visite.
Even if you prefer not to use the bus during the day, if you want to enjoy Paris' nightlife and get around the city at night you'll need to take one of the 42 Noctilien buses (marked with an N) that run in Paris from midnight to 5:30am and you can use the same ticket.
Getting around Paris by taxi
I'm not going to kid you, the Parisian taxi is not the cheapest way to get around the city (approximately €1.06 per kilometre), but it's still a good option, especially if you don't want to worry about finding the metro or bus stops or if you prefer a professional driver to pick you up and drop you off exactly where you want to go. It is also a very safe option, especially if you have to travel at night, although the fare is a bit higher.
If you have just arrived at one of the Paris airports and want to go to the city centre, it is easy to recognise an official taxi because they are the ones that are at the specific taxi rank. If you are already in the city centre, only trust the ones with the luminous sign.
Getting around Paris by bike: a sustainable option
What could be more idyllic than cycling around places like the Eiffel Tower or the Place Vendome? I don't think so, which is why when I go to Paris I always rent a bike on some days. It's a quick way to see the city without missing anything. Plus, it doesn't contribute to Parisian pollution and it's quite economical, as the city itself has bikes for rent (the famous Vélib) for about €5 every 24 hours.
Beyond the sustainability of cycling, it's a very accessible mode of transport, as there are plenty of bike parking stations (you can check the official ones here) and lots of bike lanes, so you'll be sure to be able to get to all the places you want to go without having to mix too much with cars.
Getting around Paris by car: the more expensive alternative
If you want to get around Paris by car, be aware that traffic can be overwhelming, especially if you're not used to driving in big cities. Central areas such as the Arc de Triomphe, where the roundabout seems impossible, but if you are going to take advantage of your trip to Paris to do some sightseeing around Paris and you have rented a car, you can also use it in the centre so that you always have a vehicle available for your needs.
If you are an EU citizen, your national driving licence is enough to rent and drive a car in Paris or anywhere else in France. However, be sure to check the official regulations so that you don't come back from your trip with a fine. In general, the rules are the same as in other European countries (drive on the right, wear a seatbelt and respect the rules and signs on the roads).
Apart from the traffic jams and traffic jams in Paris, the tricky part of getting around by car is parking, because it's always expensive. For example, parking on the street is only possible for 2 hours maximum and costs between 2.40€ and 4€ approximately (every day from 9am to 8pm except on public holidays and Sundays in some streets).
If you want to opt for a safer option, there are always the underground car parks, which are open and guarded 24 hours a day. However, rates vary from neighbourhood to neighbourhood and cost around €2.50 per hour. If you know you're going to be driving around Paris and you'll need parking, you can get a multi-day parking pass.
Other fun ways to see the city
But in addition to the usual transport options described in this article, there are other tour options that allow you to get to know Paris without giving up the fun. With the classic car tour with driver, you can drive through the main Parisian streets in an authentic French classic car. For the more lively ones, there is also the option with wine tasting.
Rediscover Paris from a different perspective with the private sidecar tour of Paris and its wide range of tours. Or maybe you fancy something a little more peaceful and eco-friendly like the tuk tuk tours of Paris
Walking around Paris: only if you're only going to get around a single neighbourhood
Walking around while seeing some of the most famous and special places in the world is a pleasure, I won't deny it, but you have to understand that Paris is a city with many neighbourhoods and tourist centres. Walking is a fun, cheap and charming alternative for getting around, yes, but you'll waste a lot of time getting from one place to another. What you can do is go to a specific neighbourhood and, once there, move around it to visit the most emblematic sights.
Isn't it advisable to walk around Paris? Quite the opposite! It's a great way to get to know the city, but my advice is to go to a specific neighbourhood quickly and, once there, move around on foot. For example, going from the Eiffel Tower to the Montmartre neighbourhood will take you more than an hour and when you get there you'll be exhausted and without energy to walk through the streets full of artists. It's much better to get to Montmartre by metro and walk from there.
Have you decided how to get around Paris? As you can see, there are several options and some of them can be combined with each other, so I have no doubt that you will be able to see as much as you want on your trip.