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Where to Stay in Paris for Your First Visit: 10 Best Neighborhoods & Hotels

Once you’ve chosen the dates for your trip to Paris and booked your flight reservations to France, the next decision you’ll make is the one that many people struggle with the most: What is the best neighborhood to stay in Paris?

Especially if you’re making your first visit to Paris, you may be wondering which district is closest to everything – all the top “bucket list” attractions such as the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, the Louvre? Which are the best places to stay in Paris for a first-time visit? Where should you stay if you’re traveling with kids? What areas look like the Paris you’ve seen in the movies? Which areas should you avoid?

Deciding where to book your hotel can feel overwhelming – but the good news is there is not just one or two best places to stay in Paris, but many wonderful neighborhoods.

So you really have to make just two choices: select the best neighborhood for what you want to see and do, and then pick the perfect hotel or apartment with the right mix of amenities and rates to fit your budget.

To make selecting the best place to stay in Paris easy for you, we’ve put together our recommendations for the best central Paris neighborhoods for first-time and returning visitors based on different interests with suggestions for hotels.

So how do you choose which neighborhood is perfect for your stay? We recommend 10 different areas for your first (or return) visit to Paris based on your interests, along with hotel recommendations at different budget levels. Keep in mind that Paris hotel rates vary a lot by season – so even “budget” hotels can seem pricey in the summer while winter rates at luxury hotels may offer you a bargain.

Want to check out a particular interest or neighborhood? Use these quick links:

Top photo: Cafe on Ile Saint-Louis, a quiet neighborhood in a central location near everything, (c) Paris Discovery Guide

Where to Find the Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Paris: A Paris District (Arrondissement) Map

Since we’re going to be talking neighborhoods in several different districts (called arrondissements in French), here’s a map that shows you the city’s layout at a glance:

Paris arrondissements map

Paris arrondissement map showing the city’s layout with all 20 districts, the Seine River, and the 2 forested parklands

As you can see, Paris has 20 arrondissements numbered 1 through 20, and they spiral out clockwise from the city’s center. The blue line is the Seine River. The area above it is the Right Bank, and those below are the Left Bank. See the two tiny islands in the middle of the Seine? The larger one is Île de la Cité where you’ll find Notre Dame Cathedral, Sainte-Chapelle, and other historical sites, and the smaller one is Île Saint-Louis, a mostly residential area packed with elegant 17th and 18th century homes.

Most of the best places to stay in Paris when you want to be close to everything are the central “single digit” districts numbered 1 through 9. This is where you’ll find most of the top “bucket list” Paris attractions, and staying in neighborhoods in these areas lets you make the best use of your time.

The 10 Best Neighborhoods in Paris for First-Time (& Return) Visitors

With only one exception, all of our recommended Paris neighborhoods are located in the city’s central core – the single-digit arrondissements (1-9) within close walking distance of most famous attractions and iconic experiences such as a cruise down the Seine River.

Only Montmartre is further out, but the metro makes getting around fast and easy.

1. Best Paris Neighborhood for First Time Visitors Who Want to Be Close to Top Attractions: Louvre/Palais Royal/Tuileries, 1st Arrondissement

Tuileries Garden and Palais du Louvre in May

Are you planning your first trip to Paris and want to experience as many of the city’s most famous attractions as possible?

Staying in the lively 1st arrondissement neighborhood around the Louvre Museum and Tuileries Garden – sometimes called “Royal Paris” because French kings and queens once called this area “home” – puts you close to many of Paris’s most famous sightseeing destinations. And, if you’re not sure about your ability to speak well (or at all) in French, you’ll appreciate how much English and other world languages are spoken in this district.

This is where you’ll find the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, spectacular stained glass at Sainte Chapelle, the almost-hidden Palais Royal Garden, designer boutiques along Rue Saint Honoré, sparkling jewelers around Place Vendôme, and one of the city’s elegant 19th century arcades, Galerie Vero Dodat. Tuileries Garden (Jardin du Tuileries) offers gorgeous places to sit and relax, a fun carnival in the summer, and the city’s liveliest Christmas Market in November and December. You can stroll along the Seine River or savor an evening dinner cruise, sip the rich hot chocolate at Angelina’s, and explore jazz clubs along Rue des Lombards.

You’ll see wonderful places to eat on just about every street and avenue in this neighborhood – everything from casual bakery/cafes to romantic bistros to Michelin-starred restaurants to the city’s best Asian cuisine along Rue Sainte Anne.

An easy walk or a short metro ride takes you to other top attractions: the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Orsay Museum famous for Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, the Arc de Triomphe, Champs Élysées, Sacre Coeur and Montmartre.

At first glance, bustling shopping streets such Rue de Rivoli, Avenue de l’Opéra, and Rue Saint Honoré make the neighborhood seem rather commercial, so explore the small side streets to experience the district’s quieter and more charming side.

Where to Stay in Louvre/Tuileries

5-Star Palace Hotels

  • Mandarin Oriental Paris – A courtyard garden, Eiffel Tower views from some windows, and serene decor make this 177 guestroom oasis a center of tranquility and luxury on a haute couture-filled block on Rue Saint-Honoré near Place Vendôme
  • Le Meurice – With lush decor and lovely Tuileries Garden views from many of its 160 guestrooms and suites, the Maurice offers family-friendly programs for kids and a wonderful spa with lots of pampering for adults
  • Le Ritz Paris – With museum quality antiques in some of its 142 guestrooms and suites plus an iconic location on Place Vendôme, the 5-star Ritz is considered an honorary member of the exclusive Palace Hotels group


    – Once a private manor house and now a luxury boutique hotel with only 19 rooms, beautiful decor, an excellent art collection, and a fantastic staff, La Tamise is designed to make you feel at home – The 5-star Hotel du Louvre exudes Parisian elegance in a top-notch location only a 2-minute walk from the Louvre Museum


    – Highly rated 4-star Hotel Moliere features an ideal location on a quiet side street just 5-minutes from the Louvre, super-comfortable beds, an elegance ambiance, and superb staff who will make you feel welcome – Located on Rue Saint Honoré just 2 short blocks from Tuileries Garden between the Louvre and Place Vendôme, this 4-star boutique hotel with 68 guestrooms and suites, many with balconies, offers an ideal locatio


    – This upscale 3-star hotel with air conditioning occupies a wonderful 17th century building on a quiet street near chic cafes and great boutiques – Wonderful location very close to Palais Royal Garden and about a 6-minute walk to the Louvre Museum – sleeps 2

2. Best Neighborhood in Paris for Foodies: Les Halles, 1st & 2nd Districts

Au Pied de Cochon in the Les Halles neighborhood

American writer Ernest Hemingway described Paris as “a moveable feast” and although he meant that as a metaphor, Paris might in fact be the best city in the world for foodies. If your vision of the perfect Paris holiday includes exploring famous market streets, savoring wonderful cuisine, and shopping for top-rated French cookware, the Les Halles neighborhood occupying the northeast corner of the 1st arrondissement and a slice of the 2nd may be the perfect spot for your stay.

Although the huge Les Halles marketplace where Parisians got their food supply since the 15th century has been gone for five decades, replaced by an immense shopping center/metro and train station, many of the nearby cookware stores, iconic restaurants, and a pedestrian-only market street overflowing with cheese shops, patisseries, fresh produce and appealing cafes remain.

Stay nearby, and you can stroll along Rue Montorgueil to Stohrer’s for your morning pain au chocolat, enjoy Burgundy snails stuffed with garlic and parsley butter at L’Escargot for lunch, and dine on charcouterie at Au Pied de Cochon – or opt for a gourmet meal at Frenchie, steak-frites at Poulette, or the splurge-worthy tasting menu at 3-Michelin-stars Kei Restaurant.

In between meals, stock up on French kitchen and cooking supplies at Dehellerin, Mora, A. Simon, and G. Detou, catch an organ concert at nearby Église Saint Eustache (the only Paris church with a stained glass panel depicting pork butchery), or stroll over to the nearby Marais neighborhood where you’ll find countless other fantastic bistros as well as wonderful boutiques and specialty shops.

Bonus #1: The Les Halles neighborhood offers almost the same convenient access to top attractions as the Louvre/Tuileries neighborhood but is somewhat quieter and a lot less touristy.

Bonus #2: You’re next door to the Marais, with all its wonderful bistros, bars, and nightlife.

Where to Stay near Les Halles


    – 5-star hotel with a calm contemporary vibe, indoor swimming pool, fitness area, and spa
  • The Hoxton – Luxurious 172-room hotel with super-comfy beds, high ceilings, and gorgeous windows in an elegant 18th century mansion


    – With 285 guestrooms, this 4-star hotel delivers the signature comfort of the Novotel brand in a wonderful location next to the glitzy Forum des Halles shopping mall – Wonderful location near Rue Montorgueil market street, Les Halles, gourmet cookware shops


    – This chic wallet-friendly 3-star hotel offers creative color-infused guestrooms and a fun ambiance in a terrific location – 19-room 3-star boutique hotel offering chic Parisian decor and excellent value in a 17th century building near the Louvre, Les Halles, and the Marais neighborhood

3. Best Neighborhood in Paris for Fashionistas: Champs Élysées / Golden Triangle, 8th Arrondissement

Shoppers in front of Chanel on Avenue Montaigne

Fashionistas know there’s a lot more to fashion than just shopping.

If you dream of immersing yourself in the world of design, checking out the latest trends in designer showrooms and flagship stores, and soaking up inspiration in Paris’ top fashion and design museums, opt for a hotel or apartment in the glamorous Golden Triangle neighborhood bordered by Champs Élysées, Avenue George V, and Avenue Montaigne – the most glamorous part of the 8th arrondissement.

This is where the world’s most famous designers and haute couture fashion houses such as Dior, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Saint Laurent, Chloé, Kenzo, Valentino, Tiffany, and Balmain dazzle a deep-pocketed international crowd.

Just over the border with the 16th district are two Paris museums high on every fashionista’s bucket list: Palais Galliera, featuring sensational temporary exhibits delving deep into fashion and fashion history, and Musée Yves Saint Laurent, devoted to showcasing the legendary couturier’s iconic pieces as well as the famous designer’s studio. Also close to the Golden Triangle in the 1st is the Museum of Decorative Arts where you can find inspiration in its superb exhibitions featuring design and decorative arts.

And of course if your budget doesn’t stretch to the latest high fashion creations, you’ll find plenty of affordable choices such as Sephora and H&M along Champs Élysées plus interesting French labels, especially

Where to Stay in Paris’s Golden Triangle

As you might suspect, this part of the city caters to the uber-wealthy. If that’s you, you’ll enjoy being right in the middle of the action in our luxury hotel recommendations. If not, no worries – this 5-star neighborhood also includes some surprisingly affordable bargains, plus plenty of cute cafes and wonderful bistros for lunch and dinner.

5-Star Palace Hotels

  • Four Seasons George V – Splurge at this fantastic Golden Triangle hotel with a lovely swimming pool, fantastic spa, and huge dressing rooms in the suites.
  • Le Plaza Athénée – From its glitzy chrome-and-crystal lobby to the 208 opulent guestrooms, suites, and apartments, this splendid palace hotel oozes sophisticated glamour


    – Housed in a historic residence with 50 rooms and suites, this luxury hotel offers amazing Eiffel Tower views from its terrace – Enjoy this new family-owned 5-star hotel’s fabulous Seine River and Eiffel Tower views, 44 rooms and suites in a luxurious mansion, and the indoor pool, sauna, spa, and wellness center


    – 4-star luxury hotel just one block from the Arc de Triomphe with beautiful decor featuring period furniture – With a spectacular glass roof and an Art Deco vibe, this 4-star hotel offers 104 charming rooms and suites
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    – This 3-star hotel offers excellent value, a fun 1970s vibe, helpful and friendly staff, and convenient location close to the Arc de Triomphe and Champs Elysees – treat yourself to a room with a balcony – This is highly-rated a “youth” hostel run by a Catholic religious community – but you can stay there regardless of your age. Decor is simple but you can’t beat the price or superb location – and there’s a lovely garden and even a shared kitchen

4. Best Paris Neighborhood in Paris for Families: Saint Germain des Prés, 6th Arrondissement

Children “sailing” wooden boats in Luxembourg Garden

Are you wondering which is the best neighborhood to stay in Paris with your family?

Although posh designer clothing boutiques, drool-worthy antique shops and home decor showrooms, and legendary sidewalk cafes and restaurants such as Café de Flore, Le Precope, and Les Deux Magots pack the très-chic Saint Germain des Prés neighborhood in the 6th arrondissement, it is also an ideal place for family visits.

The neighborhood’s largest park, Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Garden), may be best known by tourists for its tranquil Medici Fountain, flowering plants and trees, the many statues of queens and female saints installed by its 17th century creator, Marie de’ Medici, and best of all, the hundreds of green-painted steel chairs for relaxing in the sun or shade.

But if you’re visiting with young children, you’ll discover Luxembourg Garden’s many child-friendly activities: a carousel, pony rides, a pool where you can rent little boats for your kids to “sail” across the water with long poles, an enclosed playground, carriage rides, and even a children’s puppet theater (look for the Théâtre des Marrionnettes sign). Snack bars and outdoor cafes make it easy to spend a whole day here.

For kids and teens (and the whole family), a favorite Saint Germain recreational spot is Parc Rives, the riverside park along the Seine where you’ll find games and sports, a climbing wall, wide expanses ideal for skateboards, running paths, seasonal snack bars and cafes, plenty of places to sit and relax, and even a floating gallery called Fluctuart dedicated to showcasing street art.

Be sure to explore St Germain’s other attractions as well. In addition to its superb shopping and iconic cafes, the neighborhood is home to two magnificent churches: Église de Saint Germain des Prés, where you can attend a concert and enjoy the seasonal Christmas market, and Église Saint Sulpice, filled with magnificent sculptures and murals painted by Delacroix (and also known by Da Vinci Code fans for the scene involving its “gnomen” astronomical instrument.

The Saint Germain des Prés neighborhood’s convenient location also puts you within walking distance (10-15 minutes or less) to other top attractions nearby: the Louvre, Tuileries Garden, and Les Halles across the river in the 1st arrondissement, the Eiffel Tower, Army Museum, and Orsay Museum in the 7th, the Catacombs in the 14th, and the Latin Quarter in the 5th (and part of the 6th). And numerous metro stations make getting to other Paris attractions fast and easy.

Where to Stay in Saint Germain des Prés

5-Star Palace Hotel

    – After a recent 4-year makeover, this Art Nouveau/Art Deco 5-star Palace hotel exudes glamour and offers an indoor swimming pool and spa, gorgeous guestrooms, and a family-friendly vibe


    – Gorgeous luxury 5-star hotel built on foundations of a 13th century abbey with a gated courtyard in a fantastic location near the Seine, 48 charming high-ceilinged guest rooms and suites with French country decor, and a fabulous spa featuring Guerlain products and fragrances – Sleekly beautiful contemporary decor with hints of its Art Deco roots, comfortable furnishings in its 50 guest rooms and suites, and a superb location near the Seine make this posh hotel a favorite with well-heeled travelers


    – Lovely 4-star boutique hotel with 50 rooms and suites across from Saint Germain des Prés church in a fantastic location near two metro stations – This charming 24-room boutique hotel on the Rue Buci market street features furnishings with a romantic Louis XV 18th century très-Parisian vibe


    – This charming 2-star boutique hotel with 28 guestrooms has air conditioning and an elevator, and serves a fantastic breakfast; great value near the Saint Germain Market and Saint Sulpice Church – This centrally-located 3-star boutique hotel features 30 guestrooms, air conditioning, and an elevator in an excellent location near the Seine River

5. Where to Stay to Experience a Paris “Village”: Montmartre, 18th Arrondissement

Climbing the steps up to Sacre Coeur in Montmartre

Do you dream of staying in the village-like Paris shown in movies like Amélie where you’ll stroll along narrow cobblestone lanes, relax over a café crème or glass of wine, and buy warm-from-the-oven croissants, French cheeses, and perfectly ripe strawberries from friendly shopkeepers on your way back to your hotel room or flat with spectacular views of the city from your balcony?

If so, Montmartre is the perfect Paris neighborhood to stay in during your visit. It’s an authentic village, separate from Paris until the 19th century, and still has all the charm and authenticity that has attracted artists to it for the last couple of centuries. You’ll find wonderful small museums and art galleries, lots of appealing boutiques along Rue des Abbesses, and appealing cafes and bistros on almost every corner.

Rue Tardieu in Montmartre near Sacre Coeur

On Montmartre’s highest hilltop, the gleaming white Sacre Coeur Basilica can be seen from all over Paris, but close up views are even better! Walk up the stairs or ride up on the funicular, and enjoy the panoramic views from the front plaza. Explore nearby Place du Tertre, where artists still set up their easels and sketch tourists. Treat yourself to champagne and a show at the legendary Moulin Rouge cabaret at the foot of Montmartre.

Montmartre’s location in the 18th arrondissement does place it farther from the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and other top attractions on many Paris visitors’ bucket lists – but nearby metro stations make getting to them easy. And if the huge Les Puces flea market at Saint Ouen is on your must-visit list, the metro will whisk you there in just a few minutes.

Where to Stay in Montmartre

As a bonus, Montmartre is one of the best areas in Paris to find affordable hotels for a budget-friendly vacation.

Our recommendations include hotels just in Montmartre, not other 18th arrondissement neighborhoods, and we avoid hotels on Boulevard de Clichy/Boulevard de Rochechouart, a noisy and rather charmless road.


    – Best know for its rooftop terrace bar offering spectacular Paris views, this 4-star hotel offers chic 92 rooms and suites in the Abbesses area about a 10 minute walk from Sacre Coeur – Enjoy having your own charming and well-equipped apartment by the famous Wall of Love in the lovely Abbesses area of Montmartre


    – Recently renovated, this high-rated 4-star hotel features vibrant yet soothing decor in its 50 guest rooms and a wonderful location – This “appart’hotel” (serviced apartments) offers studio and 1-bedroom apartments equipped with kitchenettes; breakfast is available if you choose, and there is an onsite fitness center – highly rated, and excellent value for the money


    – A very simple, no-frills 2-star hotel with 22 small rooms and cheap rates in a fantastic location – a great value if the hotel meets your needs. Note: the elevator does not go to the top 1-2 floors and there is no air conditioning – Another basic 2-star hotel with small rooms and bargain rates in an excellent location. Also no a/c, and the elevator does not go up to the top floor, but there is an in-room safe.

6. Best Place to Stay in Paris for Fantastic Boutiques, Galleries, Bistros, Bars, & Nightlife: The Marais, 3rd & 4th Arrondissements

Le Sévigné Brasserie near the Picasso Museum in the Upper Marais

You can find lots of compelling reasons why the Marais neighborhood, which includes large swaths of the 3rd and 4th arrondissements, is a popular place to stay. Stunning architecture, layers of history and culture including a vibrant Jewish community with roots dating back to the middle ages and a more recent LGBTQ community, gorgeous parks such as Place des Vosges, important museums, and fascinating historic churches make the Marais a truly special area.

But if you had to pick just one – ok, maybe five – things that make the Marais an outstanding place to stay, it might be the heady combination of unique locally owned boutiques, countless galleries featuring the work of established and emerging artists, welcoming bistros and bars, and a sizzling nightlife that give you an exhilarating ambiance you won’t find anywhere else in Paris – and choosing a hotel or apartment here puts you right in middle of it, day and night.

You could easily spend your entire vacation here – but the Marais’ location puts you within easy reach of all the city’s top attractions by foot or metro. As a bonus, you’re also close to top attractions in eastern Paris: the immersive digitized animated art and music shows at Atelier des Lumières, street art near the scenic drawbridges along Canal Saint-Martin, and the evocative tombstones on the hilly slopes of Pere Lachaise Cemetery.

Once you’ve experienced a stay in the Marais, you’ll most likely return again and again.

Where to Stay in Le Marais


    – This family-run 5-star hotel in a 17th century building across from Place des Vosges features a beautiful private garden and 56 exquisite rooms and suites – you’ll feel like you’re staying in a super-luxurious, super-comfortable private home with an onsite spa, fitness room, and restaurant – 4-star hotel with 22 rooms beautifully decorated in Swedish rococo style in the quiet Village Saint Paul (historic artisan village) area – With just 26 guest rooms and 3 suites and Deco designs by Philippe Starck, this 5-star luxury boutique hotel is a favorite with guests who love great its great style & comfort


    – 3-star hotel with 24 nicely decorated rooms, air conditioning, and comfortable beds; close to Place des Vosges and the Picasso Museum – Attractive 3-star boutique hotel with elevator near the Place des Vosges garden and the Picasso Museum on a quiet street; air conditioning is currently being installed – check with the hotel to see if it’s completed if this is important to you – This small (18 rooms) 3-star boutique hotel with air conditioning and an elevator offers nice decor and a convenient location near Rue de Rivoli


    – 3-star hotel with 23 guestrooms, rather basic decor, and a lift but no air-conditioning; excellent location and (usually) relatively cheap budget rates for this pricey area; request a room on the top floor for the best Notre Dame views – Charming 3-star hotel with an elevator, air conditioning, and 28 nicely decorated rooms of varying sizes – book the smallest to get budget rates or the junior suite for a huge space with a large private terrace. Close to Pompidou Center

7. Best Central Paris Neighborhood for Your Budget: The Latin Quarter, 5th District

Restaurants on Rue Mouffetard and Rue du Pot de Fer in the Latin Quarter

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly neighborhood in the heart of the city, the Latin Quarter, which straddles parts of the 5th and 6th arrondissements, offers a wonderful assortment of historic and modern attractions, appealing restaurants, and charming narrow streets with a medieval vibe.

The Latin Quarter has been the center of intellectual life in Paris ever since the Middle Ages when students from all over Europe came here to study at the Sorbonne University with Latin as their common language. Students still fill the neighborhood, which means you’ll find plenty of affordable places to eat and stay – although there are also some wonderful splurge-worthy options.

You’ll find plenty of fascinating places to explore and enjoy here, including the Cluny Museum with its Roman baths and Medieval treasures such as the Lady and the Unicorn tapestry masterpieces, a hidden Roman arena, the Pantheon, jazz clubs, Luxembourg Garden, and the famous Shakespeare and Company English language bookstore. In the quiet Jardin des Plantes neighborhood next door are even more top attractions: the Paris Botanical Garden, a small zoo, the Natural History Museum, the Grande Mosquée of Paris with its tearoom and beautiful indoor garden, and the fascinating Institut du Monde Arabe museum and rooftop terrace.

The Latin Quarter’s central location next to the Seine River means you’re within walking distance to most Paris’s top attractions, but there are also numerous metro stations for when you want to visit Montmartre or other most distant areas.

Where to Stay in the Latin Quarter


    – Boutique design hotel with 13 beautifully furnished rooms and apartments featuring 4-poster and canopy beds, located on a quiet street near the Sorbonne – Chic 4-star boutique hotel featuring antiques contrasted with creative modern design with a Parisian street lamp theme, 27 guest rooms, indoor pool and spa; popular for romantic getaways – Serene 27-room boutique 4-star hotel on a quiet street; splurge on a terrace room or suite


    – Freshly renovated 3-star hotel with 42 guestrooms, air conditioning, and an elevator; lots of charming cafes and shops nearby – Located directly across from the Pantheon (which mostly honors French men), this 4-star boutique hotel pays tribute to famous French and Francophone African women in the vibrant decor of its 35 rooms and suites


    – Highly recommended affordable family-run 2-star hotel with 51 rooms ranging from small to spacious, charming French country home decor, and a lovely shaded private terrace; no TVs (but lovely views of the garden or trees); paid onsite parking; very popular so book early! – Another highly recommended family-run 3-star affordable boutique hotel with 29 guestrooms, comfortable beds, and nice contemporary decor

8. Where to Stay Near the Eiffel Tower: 7th Arrondissement

View of the Eiffel Tower on Rue Sainte Dominique in the 7th arrondissement

If seeing the Eiffel Tower as much as possible during your visit to Paris is your dream, then consider staying near its location near the Seine River on Champ des Mars in the 7th arrondissement. Of course the “Iron Lady” can be seen from a number of places throughout the city – but nothing quite beats the thrill of looking up and seeing the soaring lacy spire close up.

You’ll find a lot more to enjoy in the bougie 7th district: superb shopping opportunities at the numerous small boutiques, wonderful bistros including Michelin-starred Christian Constant’s places along Rue Sainte Dominique, the fabulous Grande Épicerie de Paris next to the equally fab Bon Marché department store. And don’t miss the popular Rue Cler market street, one of the gems of this treasure-filled neighborhood.

If you need a dose of culture, visit the Rodin Museum and its sculpture garden, the Army Museum (Musée de l’Armée) and Napoleon’s Tomb on the Esplanade des Invalides, the Branly Museum for non-western art, and the Musée d’Orsay filled with Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces overlooking the Seine River.

But above all, immerse yourself in Eiffel Tower experiences.

Where to Stay near the Eiffel Tower & Rue Cler


    – Sumptuous fabrics, custom Italian furniture, and one-of-a-kind antiques and art make this 29-guestroom hotel an opulent 5-star retreat – plus you’ll love the serene indoor swimming pool, fully-equipped gym, and Sisley spa – This highly-rated 5-star hotel and spa features 37 elegant guestrooms, a swimming pool and jacuzzi, health club with gym, and superb service
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    – This 26-room 3-star boutique hotel designed to look like a Paris apartment with chic contemporary furnishings and classic touches such as the antique marble fireplace in the lobby; air conditioning, elevator, and a wonderful Rue Cler location – 4-star hotel with 53 guestrooms just off of Rue Cler and about a 7-minute walk to the Eiffel Tower; rooms are small but nicely furnished with contemporary decor


    – Lovely family-run 3-star hotel with air conditioning, a lift, and 40 stylish rooms including some with Eiffel Tower views – 3-star value hotel close to Rue Cler with air conditioning, a small elevator, and 34 attractive rooms; a couple have views of the top of the Eiffel Tower

Want a budget-friendlier alternative to the 7th? The 15th arrondissement borders the eastern side of Champ de Mars, so check out hotels in the mostly-residential 15th district, especially those in the Grenelle neighborhood. In general, hotel rates in the 15th trend somewhat lower.

9. Best “Hidden Secret” Paris Neighborhood: Île Saint Louis, 4th Arrondissement

Berthillon in Île Saint Louis

Remember the two small islands in the middle of the Seine on the map near the beginning of this article? The larger of the two, Île de la Cité, is packed with tourists drawn to its famous attractions: the magnificent Notre Dame Cathedral, Sainte-Chapelle and its superb stained glass, the medieval palace-turned-prison, La Conciergerie, where Marie Antoinette spent her final days.

In contrast, the smaller one, Île Saint Louis, offers little of interest to tourists other than the popular Berthillon ice cream shop and frankly, places to get superb glâce can be found all over Paris. The island is an enclave of elegant but somewhat austere 17th and 18th century buildings built for wealthy owners who liked privacy. An assortment of brasseries, bistros, cafes, boutiques, bakeries, produce stands, wine shops, and a fromagerie selling tantalizing cheeses occupy the ground floors along a main street, and a few have been converted to hotels. A rather magnificent church, Église Saint-Louis-en-l’Île, and a small but charming park anchor the eastern end.

But otherwise, Île Saint Louis is a quiet residential neighborhood, aside from periods during summer months when visitors spill over from Île de la Cité and stop for ice cream on their way to the nearby Marais.

Most Paris visitors overlook Île Saint Louis with choosing a place to stay – but you can’t beat the convenience of its central location and with 6 bridges to the Left and Right Banks and Île de la Cité, you have fast and easy access to everywhere else you might want to go. If you want to experience life, even for just a short time, in an almost-hidden Parisian neighborhood in the historic heart of the city, Île Saint Louis is a superb choice.

The catch? The island’s hotels are small boutique properties and relatively few short-term rental apartments are available – so if you want to stay during the busiest seasons, you should book up to months in advance, especially at the most popular properties where regulars reserve as much as a year ahead..

Where to Stay on Île Saint Louis


    – Large 2 and 3 bedroom apartments (sleeps up to 6) with views of the Seine River; highly rated – Wonderful large 1-bedroom apartment with views of the Seine River, elevator, and caretaker; also highly rated


    – Charming 3-star boutique hotel with 20 rooms, air conditioning, sound proofing, and historic details such as beamed ceilings; many return visitors so book early – Occupying a former royal indoor tennis court now designated as French Historical Monument, this 30-guest room is both charming and luxurious, and offers air conditioning, an onsite fitness room, and a hammam; 2 nearby apartments are also available


    – Small charming 23-room boutique hotel with air conditioning with welcoming staff on the island’s main street – Cheerful studio accommodations with beamed ceilings, air conditioning, and a kitchenette for up to 2 people; excellent value for the money

10. Best Neighborhood for Shoppers: Opéra / Grands Magasins, 9th Arrondissement

Holiday lights outside Au Printemps department store

If your dream visit to Paris involves lots of shopping and plenty of buying, stay in the lively Opéra / Grands Magasins neighborhood where every designer and every brand will conveniently be right at your fingertips. And so will your hotel, when you need to stash your overflowing shopping bags in your room before rushing out to shop some more.

Galeries Lafayette and Au Printemps, two legendary and enormous Belle Epoch Paris grands magasins (big department stores), dominate this part of the 9th. Under their roofs, you’ll find dedicated boutiques for virtually every famous luxury designer you can imagine – Gucci, Maje, Sandro, Armani, Hermès, Valentino, Tiffany, Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton, to name a few – plus a huge array of more affordable brands. This makes 1-stop-shopping incredibly convenient, but here’s an even bigger plus if you live outside the EU: you can combine your purchases of most brands to meet the 175€ minimum to claim your VAT tax rebate on the spot.

If that’s not enough, you can shop to your heart’s content along the grand Boulevard Haussmann, Boulevard des Capucines, and smaller rues at international emporiums such as Zara, Uniqlo, and H&M, affordable French labels like Comptoir des Cotonniers, Camaïeu, and Carroll, and luxury luggage and leather shops. Gaze (or perhaps drool) at dazzling jewels and watches along Boulevard des Capucines and Rue de la Paix. Load up on fancy teas and chocolates as you stroll down Avenue de l’Opéra.

For a culture break, attend a performance at nearby Palais Garnier (the Paris Opera House), or visit this legendary Baroque masterpiece. The Louvre Museum and Tuileries Gardens are about a 10 minute walk away, and multiple metro stations put the whole city within easy reach.

What is it like to stay in this busy commercial district? Tucked between the bustling boulevards are plenty of small, quiet side streets with small (but excellent) neighborhoods bistros, cafes, and bakeries. You get the ideal mix of Parisian charm – and easy access to world-class shopping.

Where to Stay in Opéra/Grands Magasins


    – Spectacular historic 5-star hotel with 470 guestrooms 1 block from Palais Garnier; the outdoor terrace of onsite Cafe de la Paix is an ideal people-watching spot – Fashion, style, and fabulous food by famed gourmet French food purveyor Fauchon converge in this small 5-star luxury boutique hotel in a superb location near the Paris Opera House, Champs Élysées, and some of the best shopping streets in Paris


    – Elegant 4-star boutique hotel with 69 guestrooms – request one with a balcony for superb views of Palais Garnier, about a 3-minute walk away – Use your Marriott points at this classy 5-star hotel located in an early 20th century bank building with a glass dome ceiling, Roman-style mosaic floors, and an exclusive art collection


    – Very highly rated 27-room boutique 3-star hotel with air conditioning between Opera Garnier and Madeleine Church – fills up fast so don’t wait to book – Lovely 3-star boutique hotel with 36 guest rooms and air conditioning near Galerie Lafayette and Au Printemps – great value for the money so book fast

Where NOT to Stay in Paris

Are there places in Paris where you should avoid staying, especially if you’re a first-time visitor?

Yes, absolutely – depending on your circumstances.

Here are our suggestions for where NOT to stay in Paris:

Don’t Stay Too Far from a Metro Station (Unless You Don’t Mind Extra Walking)

The metro gives you fast, easy access to every part of the city – so staying near a station saves you time and inconvenience.

Walking time of 5 minutes or less is ideal. For most people, that’s about a distance of a quarter of a mile – roughly 1,300 feet/400 meters. (For reference, once you’re on the metro, transit time between stations in the city’s center typically takes about 45 seconds – or 60 seconds if you’re crossing the Seine River.)

Before you book your Paris accommodations, find your hotel on a map and check out the distance to the closest metro station. As long as you’re booking in a single-digit district or in the Montmartre neighborhood in the 18th, you should be fine.

But if you have a special situation – for example, you’ll be pushing a baby carriage, or coddling a sore knee – find a hotel that’s just a block or two from a station. In a city with thousands of hotels and apartments and hundreds of metro stations, you have plenty of choices.

Avoid Paris’s Double-Digit Districts (If You’re a First-Time Visitor)

If you’re a first time Paris visitor and want to see the city’s most famous attractions, stay in the single-digit arrondissements (or Montmartre in the 18th district), especially if you’re not comfortable speaking at least a bit of French. You’ll love the ambiance of walking along the Seine, and being close to all the top sights, countless fantastic cafes and restaurants, and iconic neighborhoods such as the Latin Quarter and Champs Elysees.

The double-digit districts are also packed with delightful neighborhoods, interesting places to explore, and tantalizing bistros, fun nightlife, and great shopping, and yes, the outer districts are safe – but save them for a future visit because they are farther away from tourist attractions and you can’t assume that everyone will speak English.

Don’t Choose a Hotel Beyond the Périphérique (Except for a Few Special Exceptions)

If you’re looking online for hotels, you may notice lots of bargain rates at big tourist hotels just beyond the city’s periphery ring road – especially from big French hotel brands such Ibis and AccorHotels. Yes, the prices are downright cheap compared to central Paris – but if time is as important as money to you, why waste it traveling back and forth?

In addition, many of the tourist hotels beyond the periphery offer cookie-cutter generic rooms and not many amenities. And finally, many of them are located in industrial zones where you’re basically stuck in the hotel, saving money but losing the experience of being in Paris.

However, there are a few exceptions when you may want to spend a night or two outside of the city.

When Should You Stay Outside of Paris? Here Are the Exceptions.

Let’s say you’re planning to visit Paris for a week or more, and want to spend 2-3 days at a destination outside of the city – perhaps Versailles, Paris Disneyland, or even London.

In that case, it makes sense to spend a night or two at the location you’re visiting as it will be much more convenient than going back and forth, and might even save you a few euros compared with what you’d spend on a Paris hotel.

If you decide to do that, here are a couple of hotels for each destination to consider:

Versailles Palace – Where to Stay

Both of these hotels are located on the way to the chateau – so about a 5-6 minute walk from the train station:

    – Highly rated 2-star hotel with 17 relatively spacious guestrooms on a quiet street about a 5-7 minute walk to the chateau – Popular 4-star luxury hotel with 152 guestrooms, an appealing terrace, and fitness room 2 blocks from the chateau

Disneyland Paris – Best Places to Stay

This is the only hotel that’s actually within Disneyland Park – very convenient, but also the most expensive:

    – 5-star family-friendly hotel with 319 rooms inside the park and an indoor pool, fitness center, 2 restaurants, and the chance to meet Disney characters on the property; about a 5-minute walk from the entrance

Both of these hotels are next to the Disneyland Park – about about a 15-20 minute walk from the station due to the size of the park:

    – Affordable 2-star hotel with 1,000 guestrooms and the chance to meet Disney characters on the property; book a themed Pixar’s Cars room with a flat-screen TV with Disney and international channels; free shuttle to park entrance – 4-star hotel with 926 guestrooms, 2 heated swimming pools, a fitness center, and a chance to meet Disney characters on the property; book a themed Mickey Mouse room with a balcony; free shuttle to park entrance

London – Where to Stay near the Eurostar Station

Both of these Bloomsbury hotels are close to the Eurostar station at St Pancras/Kings Cross:

From Krakow to Auschwitz: 5 Best Ways to Get There

The Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial camps are a somber reminder of the darkest part of WWII. Built as extermination camps and partially destroyed by the Nazis at the end of the war to hide their “Final Solution” plans, the camps have been converted into museums and receive over two million visitors every year. They are easy to get to from Auschwitz by bus, train, or car or, even better, on an organized tour.

Although entry to the camps is free, anybody visiting between 10am and 4pm will be required to pay for and join a guided tour. Solo visitors can arrive outside those times and walk around the camps on their own, but groups of visitors (as in the case of a family or a group of friends) will be required to join a tour regardless of what time they arrive. The park opens at 8am throughout the year and closes as late as 7pm during the summer months.

Whether you’re planning on visiting the camps on your own using public transportation or you prefer the comfort and convenience of a guided tour, here are the best ways to get from Krakow to Auschwitz.

On This Page:

1. From Krakow to Auschwitz by Organized Small Group Tour

Railway tracks leading into Auschwitz

Railway tracks leading into Auschwitz

If you are considering whether to take a Krakow to Auschwitz guided tour or not, consider this: over one million people visit Auschwitz every year. The lines to get in are always long, no matter the season – during particularly busy times, you can easily wait two to three hours just to get in.

One of the benefits of joining a tour is that there’s no waiting time. Tours enter through a side entrance without any wait – plus you don’t have to worry about transportation, moving from one camp to the next, or finding the right English-language tour once you get there.

A good option is the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum and Memorial Guided Tour from Krakow , led by an English-speaking, professional guide.

On the day of the tour, an air-conditioned vehicle and an English-speaking tour guide will pick you up from your hotel or a central city point in Krakow. During the one-hour drive, you’ll be able to watch a documentary about the camps, so you can have a better understanding of WWII’s Holocaust and what happened at the camps.

Once you arrive, your guide will take you to the main buildings at the UNESCO-listed former Nazi concentration camp complex, including the gas chambers and crematoriums, old prison blocks and dormitories, and a number of exhibitions documenting the life of prisoners.

After touring the two camps, your driver will bring you back to your departure point in Krakow.

2. From Krakow to Auschwitz by Private Tour

View over Krakow and Wawel Castle

View over Krakow and Wawel Castle

If you’re looking to get a deeper understanding of the WWII events that led to the construction of the camps, the seven-hour Auschwitz-Birkenau Guided Tour by Private Transport from Krakow will give you just that.

This half-day tour starts right at your hotel, where a driver will pick you up in an air-conditioned vehicle anywhere between 7:30am and 11am, based on your preferences. From there, it’s a one-hour trip to the main camp and museum, where you will join an English-speaking guided tour for a two-hour tour of Auschwitz I, followed by a one-hour tour of Auschwitz II-Birkenau.

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The tours include both indoor and outdoor spaces. You will see the permanent exhibitions and main buildings at Auschwitz I before you move on to Camp II, where you’ll see the unloading platform (ramp) and a train carriage, the ruins of crematoria and gas chambers, and the barracks where prisoners lived.

You will be provided with headsets, so you can hear your guide clearly, as the museum requests that people keep their voices down while walking through Auschwitz.

On your way back to the hotel, you can ask your driver to stop for a quick lunch somewhere. You will be dropped off at your hotel no later than 4pm.

3. From Krakow to Auschwitz by Bus

Krakow Market Square at sunrise

Krakow Market Square at sunrise

If you are planning on using public transportation, buses are the cheapest and easiest way to get to the camps. From the Kraków MDA main bus station, you can catch a local bus in the direction of Oswiecim and get off at the stop called “Oswiecim Muzeum.” This is right at the entrance of the Auschwitz Museum.

Make sure you check the bus schedules in advance on the official MDA Bus Transportation website, as not all buses traveling in that direction stop at Auschwitz.

Your other option is the Lajkonik buses. Choose the bus covering the route – Kraków – Chrzanów – Libiaz – Oswiecim, and get off at the last stop, right at the museum. You can book a seat online – a particularly good idea in summer, as the number of visitors increases, and you might not get a space otherwise. The first bus leaves for Auschwitz at 6:20, and the last one back to Krakow departs from the museum at 7:45pm, so plan accordingly.

Keep in mind that these buses take you only to Auschwitz-Camp I. To reach the second camp, Birkenau, you can walk the three kilometers that separate the camps or look for the museum shuttles that run back and forth between the two camps.

4. From Krakow to Auschwitz by Train

Auschwitz Concentration Camp

Auschwitz Concentration Camp

Kraków Glówny, the main train station near Krakow Old Town, has a number of trains that can get you close to the camps. You can check schedules on the Polish railway website to pick the best option.

Most trains have an average travel time of just under two hours and can get crowded on weekends, so pick an early morning one if you don’t have tickets in advance and want to make sure you get a seat.

Trains leave every hour starting just after midnight. For the camps, taking the 6:14am train is the best option, as you’ll arrive in Oświęcim around 8am.

All trains drop you off at Oswiecim’s central station, two kilometers away from Auschwitz. There are no connecting buses from here to the camps, so your only options are to walk (about 25 minutes) or jump in a taxi.

5. From Krakow to Auschwitz by Car

Guard towers in Auschwitz-Birkenau camp

Guard towers in Auschwitz-Birkenau camp

The Auschwitz-Birkenau camp and museum is located in the city of Oświęcim, about 70 kilometers from the center of Krakow. The trip takes about an hour and 15 minutes in normal travel conditions if you take the A4 motorway in the direction of Oświęcim.

Take the exit onto Stanisławy Leszczyńskiej to get to the museum. As signs aren’t in English here, having a GPS is essential, or you might find yourself taking the wrong turn here or there.

The A4 is a toll road, and you will need to pay for it in advance (this can be done electronically). If you’re renting a car, it’s possible the toll has already been covered in advance, so make sure you confirm this with the rental agency to avoid a fine when driving.

There are paid parking areas at the camps. Both Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau camps have their own parking, but keep in mind that you should start your visit at Auschwitz I, so if you park at the other camp, you will need to walk back to Birkenau. The camps are 3.5 kilometers away from each other.

How to Visit Auschwitz: Complete Guide

Visiting Auschwitz

The sort of place you don’t necessarily get excited about going to, but the sort of place you feel you need to go to, visiting Auschwitz can be something of a moral gauntlet when it comes to travel plans.

Situated in the eastern European country of Poland, this is a place with a dark history, a place that has withstood the test of time to tell its sad, horrifying and graphic story.

From that perspective, I do think its important to go and see this place, to bear witness to the atrocities and to remember them.

If you feel the same, then here’s my practical guide to visiting Auschwitz for independent travellers, which I’ve updated for 2022 and beyond.

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How to Visit Auschwitz: The Basics

Poland, Auschwitz, Quarters

Most people visit Auschwitz on a day trip from the city of Krakow in Poland.

Not only is picturesque Krakow worth a visit in its own right, but it’s also the closest major city to the Auschwitz concentration camp and therefore serves as a good base for those who want to visit this important site too.

There are 3 main options when it comes to visiting Auschwitz from Krakow and because this is how the vast majority of people make their visit there, I’ve decided to concentrate this practical guide on them.

They are numbered below so you can easily choose the best option for you.

#1 Taking a fully guided tour from Krakow to Auschwitz where everything is arranhed for you.

#2 Taking public transport to Auschwitz from Krakow and then joining a museum tour once at the site.

#3 Fully independent visit that doesn’t involve any guides.

Do be aware that Auschwitz really is a full day trip from Krakow.

The drive there takes around 1.5 – 2 hours, as does the ride back.

Plus you’ll need to allow around 4 hours to tour the site itself.

That’s because there’s actually 2 different parts within the area known as Auschwitz.

The first is the main area, or Auschwitz I – which was largely a concentration camp.

The second area is Birkenau – which was mostly an extermination camp and is known as Auschwitz II.

I highly recommend you visit both to get a full sense of the site.

Shuttle buses run between the 2 parts free of charge and tickets include entry to both.

In the winter months, the shuttle buses are hourly.

In the summer months, the shuttle bus runs every 30 minutes.

You can also choose to walk the 3.5km between the 2 sites if you wish.

I’d suggest having a short break between the 2, because the unending litany of horrors can be a lot to handle in one unrelenting afternoon.

Unsurprisingly, there’s no doubt visiting Auschwitz is an unnerving, emotional and intense experience.

I’m not going to go further into how you will / might / should feel or what I felt visiting there either.

I’m simply going to say I think it is important to visit and witness the horrors of the past to ensure the stories are not forgotten and repeated.

The rest of this article will deal with the practical dimensions of visiting Auschwitz.

#1 Guided Tour from Krakow

Pros: Easy, straightforward, everything is organised, guided tour of the site

Cons: Most costly options, lack of flexibility

Poland, Auschwitz, Entrance

The easiest and therefore most expensive way to visit Auschwitz from Krakow is to take a fully organised day tour.

If you’re feeling lazy, tired, are travelling with a family or like things easy, then this could be the option for you.

Normally these trips include transport to and from Krakow to the Auschwitz, entrance fees and a guide inside the site and a private tour of the Auschwitz museum.

They involve paying a one-off price that takes all the hard work out of arranging the trip for you.

Instead you can sit back, let someone else do the legwork and spend your time learning about the events that took place here, rather than having your energy taken up the organisational elements of visiting Auschwitz.

Taking an organised tour from Krakow is also the best way to ensure you get an English-speaking guide who knows a lot about the site and how to explain what happened there.

You can also get tours that include lunch, skip-the-line access, or even pair Auschwitz with a trip to Wieliczka Salt Mine – another key historical site near Krakow.

To learn more about fully guided tours that visit Auschwitz from Krakow, check out these options, which offer a range of experiences and prices.

#2 Public Transport & Museum Tour

Pros: Flexibility, price, guided tour of the site

Poland, Auschwitz, Birkenau

Cons: Need to organise things in advance and navigate public transport

Step 1: Book your Auschwitz Museum Tour

The second option for visiting Auschwitz is to take public transport there from Krakow and then, when you arrive, to take a guide / tour operated by the museum to talk and guide you through the site.

The first thing to note about this is that you’ll have to book a museum guide / tour in advance – and in the summer if you want an English speaking guide, this could be quite far in advance!

If you know which day you want to visit Auschwitz, I’d honestly advise booking your guide (or “educator” as the museum calls it) at least 2 weeks in advance.

Entrance to the museum complex is free, but the guide costs a small amount.

Here’s a full guide to the prices you can expect to pay, but in general tickets for a single adult cost around $20 USD.

The guided tours take around 3 and a half hours and are available in many major European languages including English, Polish, French, Spanish and Italian.

Bookings for such guides can easily be made through the Auschwitz-Birkenau website – simply select a time for your tour and the language you want the tour in.

Visitors in groups must take a guide, while it’s optional for solo travellers – although I still highly recommend it.

Alternatively, you can chance it and leave booking your guide until the day of your visit.

That said, chances are that in high season you’ll struggle to find an English guide / educator last minute and will likely get put in another language group with partial tour translation offered through a headset.

If you factor in getting a bus from Krakow and the 1.5 – 2 hour journey time, I wouldn’t suggest booking your guide / tour for 9am!

Instead, I’d opted for around 2pm, which was perfect as it meant I could have a lazy morning and also miss many of the crowds at Auschwitz, because the latter part of the day tends to be a lot quieter with visitor numbers.

Step 2: Take Public Transport / Drive from Krakow to Auschwitz

If your tour starts at 2pm, I’d suggest getting to Auschwitz at least 20 mins before the start of your tour.

That’s because on arrival, you’ll need to register, store any large bags, pick up your headset and get your tour sticker.

As my tour was at 2pm, I actually got the bus from Krakow at 12pm, which meant being at the station in the city at 11:45am – see what I mean about this being a full day trip!

It’s normally the number 14 Zolty Bus from Krakow’s main station that goes to Osweicim.

Prices are around 20 PLN one way and you can view the timetable here.

The journey time is around 2 hours and the bus will drop you directly at the Auschwitz museum entrance.

I’d arrive at the station in Krakow at least 15 minutes early to buy your ticket from the Central Office – not only because there’s often queues here, but because sometimes tickets run out.

Also, my bus left early and didn’t wait for all the seats to be filled – you have been warned!

Don’t buy a return bus ticket either, just get a one-way.

The reason I say this is because there are many different buses back from Auschwitz to Krakow and you don’t want to be limited by a set return option when getting a ticket from the driver on any return bus is easy.

You can also drive to Auschwitz from Krakow. This takes just over an hour and there is plenty of paid parking available by the main site entrance. If you’re looking to rent a car in Poland, check out these deals.

Step 3: Arriving at the Auschwitz Museum

When you arrive at the Auschwitz Museum things can be a little confusing – there’s lots of people, but no real directions for where to go!

But don’t fear, if you’re visiting Auschwitz and have your tour booked, simply head to the Visitor Centre (the main building you can see opposite the bus stop), where you can use the bathroom and store your bag – this is a requirement for anything larger than a small handbag.

According to the official website, “the maximum size of backpacks or handbags brought into the museum should not exceed 30 x 20 x 10 cm”.

Basically, I’d advise bringing as little as possible with you here to make life easier.

15 minutes before your tour starts you are allowed to pass through the far left entrance (if you’re facing the Visitor Centre) to clear security, collect your headphones for the tour and meet your guide.

Your tour will include a visit to both Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II (Birkenau), as well as a short break and the shuttle bus between the 2.

You’ll then be taken back to Auschwitz I at the end of the day, from where you can catch a bus back to Krakow from the same stop you were dropped at.

#3 Fully Independent Visit

Pros: Flexibility, cheapest option

Cons: Need to organise things in advance, no guided tour of the site

Poland, Auschwitz, Beds

And finally, you can see Auschwitz fully independently by getting a bus from Krakow and then touring the museum by yourself without a guide or tour, as long as you’re not part of a group (10+ people).

This is free (outside of the bus fare) so maybe the best option for any real shoestring travellers among you.

That said, even as a hardened budget traveller myself, I’d really suggest visiting Auschwitz with a guide / tour, because you’ll be able to appreciate the magnitude of what you’re seeing on a whole, new level.

I seem to have visited quite a few “dark” tourism sites in my adventures (largely unplanned and unintentional), but I can tell you that from the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem to the Genocide Memorial in Rwanda, Auschwitz was by far the most powerful for me.

Perhaps this is because you’re physically walking through the location where the atrocities you’re hearing about happened – it’s undeniably more real and visceral as a result.

Also, Auschwitz was the only 1 of these 3 sites where I took a guide and there’s no question it greatly enhanced the experience for me and was well worth the small extra expenditure.

Things to Know Before Your Auschwitz Visit

Poland, Auschwitz, Buildings

There’s a few other practical guidelines it may be useful to know about when visiting Auschwitz…




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