Iconic cities are magnets for travellers. Unfortunately, they can also be extremely expensive. London and Paris are two such cities. As centres of art, fashion, history, music, and theatre they present many exciting opportunities for the traveller but they can also present serious financial challenges. Research your accommodation options carefully (check online for London and Paris) and follow these tips to make these cities affordable.

My Paris Greeter took me through the nooks and crannies of her neighborhood.

5 tips to save in London and Paris

There is much to do in London and Paris and what you do will depend on your interests. You’ll likely have to spend money on some of the special things so here’s how to save on some of the basics.

1. Connect with a local greeter. There are greeter programmes in both cities offering tours by volunteers who love their city so much that they want to share it with visitors. Book your greeter online before you go using Paris Greeters or London Greeters. Get a sense of the Greeter experience here: Friendly Paris: exploring the real Paris with a Greeter

2. Take an almost free walking tour. Sandeman’s is the original free walking tour that operates in London, Paris, and 16 other European cities. There are many others as well. All you have to do is search online for “free walking tours” with the name of your preferred city to find your options. Do remember that the guides are not being paid, so please tip generously.

Interior of St. Martin’s in the Field. I especially love the window over the alter which catches light beautifully during the days.

3. Explore the cathedrals. Much of the histories of London and Paris centre on Christianity and grand cathedrals. In Paris, go to the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris and the Basilique du Sacré Coeur. Visits to both are free. I especially like just wandering around Notre Dame de Paris in the evening. In London there are fees to enter Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral, however St. Martin in the Fields is open to the public with free concerts at noon most days. It’s located on Trafalgar Square.

The Paris Pantheon – perfect for a rainy day and free on the first Sunday of every month.

Visit museums on the cheap. While the churches of Paris are free, the museums are not. And while the churches of London charge an admission fee, the museums generally don’t. In London you can go to most museums and enjoy their permanent collections (not special exhibits) for free. In Paris, most of the museums are only free on the first Sunday of the month. You may want to avoid the Louvre that day as it will be very crowded but many of the other museums would be great options. The Musée d’Orsay has reduced ticket prices after 4:30 p.m. every day except Thursdays when it starts after 6:00 p.m. For those who want to spend lots of time at museums, consider a Paris Museum Pass which is available for two, four, or six days.

Get discounted theatre tickets. In Paris there is the Kiosque Théâtre offering half-price tickets for same-day performances in comedy, stand-up, cabaret, and theatre. The main Kiosque is opposite n° 15 Place de la Madeleine, but you’ll also find stands at Ternes and Montparnasse. In London you’ll see options for discounted tickets in many places but the theatres recommend going to the kiosk on the south end of Leicester Square. While they promote half-price tickets, not all tickets are half price.

Discounts and offerings can change so please confirm these tips before you go.

Now, what money-saving tips do you have for London and Paris?