If you’re heading to Paris soon, you’ll likely be visiting some iconic sites. You can save big with a sightseeing pass, but which pass is right for you? In this review, we’ll compare the Paris Pass and the Paris Explorer Pass to determine which is best for you. Enjoy!
The City of Light is one of Europe’s most popular destinations, and with good reason. Paris is simply iconic.
Sites like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre draw troves of travelers from all over the world. Foodies flock to Paris for its renowned wine and cuisine. Art lovers delight at the treasures found within the Louvre and the Orsay Museum.
As you might expect, experiencing everything Paris has to offer gets expensive. Sightseeing alone can set you back hundreds.
Luckily, you don’t have to pay the gate price at all of the attractions you’re dying to see. Paris has a number of great passes that can help reduce your sightseeing costs. Today, we’ll compare two of them – the Paris Pass and the Paris Explorer Pass.
Let’s check them out!
Paris Pass vs. Paris Explorer Pass: The Basics
Now, you might assume that the two passes are pretty similar – but you’d be wrong. Although they’re both designed to save you money on sightseeing in Paris, they function differently and work best for specific types of travelers.
Here’s how they both work.
How Does the Paris Pass Work?
The Paris Pass is an all inclusive sightseeing pass that includes entry to over 60 of Paris’ most sought-after museums and attractions. Besides saving you money on regular admission, it also saves you time by offering fast-track entry to select sites.
It’s special because it’s actually three passes in one:
- Paris Museum Pass
- Paris Visite Travelcard
- Paris Attractions Pass
You get Paris’ official museum pass, additional attractions with the Paris Attractions Pass, and unlimited use of public transit within central Paris. It comes complete with a free guidebook and discounts for local shops and restaurants.
The Paris Pass is available as a two, three, four, or six consecutive day pass. You can visit as many of the included attractions as you like within the life of your pass – the more you do, the more you save (up to a point – the Paris Pass is subject to a purse value).
To use the Paris Pass, present your paper or electronic pass at each attraction. It’s automatically activated upon first use and you’re on the clock from there.
How Does the Paris Explorer Pass Work?
While the goal with the Paris Pass is to squeeze as much sightseeing as possible into a set number of days, the Paris Explorer Pass takes a more relaxed approach.
Rather than buying a pass that’s valid for a certain number of days, the Paris Explorer Pass works for a set number of attractions. You can buy a 3, 5, or 7-attraction pass, choosing as you go from the 19 included sites.
The Paris Explorer Pass is valid for 30 days, which is ideal for travelers who plan to spread out their sightseeing.
Like the Paris Pass, the Paris Explorer Pass is available in paper or digital form and is activated the first time you use it at an attraction.
Which Paris Attractions Are Included?
The Paris Pass includes over 60 attractions, and the Paris Explorer Pass includes 19 – I don’t have space to list them all.
Both cards include major attractions like Montparnasse Tower, Paris Aquarium Cineaqua, Ô Château Wine Tasting, The Paris Story, Seine River Cruise, Opera Garnier Guided Tour, Stade de France Tour, and a hop-on hop-off bus tour.
Obviously, the Paris Pass comes with many more options than the Paris Explorer Pass, including biggies like:
- Louvre Museum
- Palace de Versailles
- Arc de Triomphe
- Centre Pompidou
- The Orsay Museum
But the Paris Explorer Pass has one big advantage over the Paris Pass: It includes a trip to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower!
Comparing the Costs
Let’s check out the pricing for both passes.
The Paris Pass
|Passes||Adult Price (ages 18+)||Teen Price (ages 12-17)||Child Price (ages 4-11)|
|2 Day Paris Pass||€132||€75||€40|
|3 Day Paris Pass||€166||€95||€55|
|4 Day Paris Pass||€206||€115||€65|
|6 Day Paris Pass||€246||€146||€88|
|*Current as of March 28, 2020|
The Paris Explorer Pass
|Passes||Adult Price||Child (3-15) Price|
|*Current as of March 11, 2020|
Right away, it’s clear the Paris Pass is more expensive than the Paris Explorer Pass. The cheapest Paris Pass is €1 more than the most expensive Paris Explorer Pass.
Let’s think about that for a second.
You could do 7 attractions for €129 with the Paris Explorer Pass, or you could do 2 days of unlimited sightseeing for €130 with the Paris Pass.
First of all, is it even possible to fit seven attractions into two days? I believe you could, although you’d be pushing it.
Would the value of those 7 attractions exceed €130? That depends on your choices. Many of the museums cost less than €20, so you would have to include a couple of pricey selections like the hop-on hop-off bus tour and Les Caves de Louvre Wine Tasting.
But don’t forget, the 2-day Paris Pass includes unlimited public transportation in central Paris, which would cost €19.50 on its own.
If you want to go hard for two days and especially if you plan to take public transportation, the Paris Pass might be a better deal. But remember, the Eiffel Tower isn’t included.
Of course, the 2-day pass offers the least value of all the Paris Passes. The 6-day pass is the best deal, giving you unlimited sightseeing and public transit for just €40.83 a day. However, not everyone wants to visit 3 attractions a day for 6 days in a row.
The 3 or 4-day passes are more balanced options. With the 3-day Paris Pass, you’re paying €55 a day, but you need to schedule all your museum visits for 2 days because you only get a 2-day museum pass. The 4-day pass comes in at €51.25 a day, and you can visit the museums whenever you like.
What Are the Maximum Savings?
If you’re a money nerd like me, you probably want to know the best possible value you can get from each pass.
Figuring that out for the Paris Explorer Pass is pretty easy. The 7-attraction pass is the best bang for your buck. There are only 19 attractions to choose from, so to get the best value, you’d have to choose the 7 most expensive. If you did that, the total regular admission cost would be €218.
The 7-attraction Paris Explorer Pass costs €129, so €218 – €129 = €89 in savings. That’s 41%.
At first, it seems like figuring this out for the Paris Pass would be more work – there are over 60 attractions included and the website doesn’t let you sort by price. But, it’s actually even easier because the Paris Pass is subject to a purse value.
A purse value puts a cap on the value you can get from the pass. Once the regular admission cost of the attractions you visit reaches a certain point, the pass expires. Purse values grind my gears on principle, but I digress.
The 6-day Paris Pass is the best deal. It costs €245 and has a purse value of €350. That means you can visit up to €350 worth of attractions, so you can save up to €105. But wait, there’s more.
Don’t forget, you also get unlimited public transportation within central Paris. If purchased on its own, that would cost €50.35 (a 1-day pass and a 5-day pass).
The true maximum value of the 6-day Paris Pass is €350 + €50.35 = €400.35. It costs €245, yielding €155.35 in savings – 39%.
Conclusion? The maximum value of each pass is very close.
Who Should Get the Paris Pass?
First-Time Visitors – Most people visiting Paris for the first time want to see a bunch of the major tourist attractions. The max with the Paris Explorer Pass is 7 attractions, which might not be enough. Plus, too many major attractions are missing to satisfy someone visiting for the first time. The Paris Pass offers all-inclusive access to over 60 sites, includes fast-track entry, and offers better value to people who plan to visit at least 3 attractions per day.
Power Sightseers – Only people who want to take in a ton of sightseeing will get their money’s worth from the Paris Pass. That means visiting at least three attractions a day for the duration of the pass. Some people live for that sort of thing, while others find it exhausting. If you fit the first description, the Paris Pass is definitely for you.
Visitors Who Want Museums and More – The Paris Pass is great for the museum lover, but not if all you want to do is museums and monuments (if that’s the case, you’re better off with the city’s museum card). If you want museums, monuments, tours, wine tasting, and more, the Paris Pass has tons of selection. It also includes unlimited public transit in central Paris, making it almost comprehensive (omission of a few major attractions prevents me from going that far). The Paris Explorer Pass, by contrast, lacks many of the museums and monuments and doesn’t include a transit card.
Who Should get the Paris Explorer Pass?
Sightseers Who Prefer a Relaxed Pace – The big benefit of the Paris Explorer Pass is its flexibility. You can take in the sites at your own pace. Your pass is valid for 30 days, so unlike with the Paris Pass, you don’t need to try to cram as much as you can into each day. This is a good pass for those who are staying for longer periods of time.
Travelers Who Want Access to the Eiffel Tower and a Handful of Other Sites – The Eiffel Tower is on every traveler’s Parisian bucket list, but not everybody needs to go up it. However, if you want to visit the second level, it’s €45 on its own. So, if you’re interested in 4 of the other sites, buying the 5-attraction pass for €109 is a good deal.
Visitors Who Are Only Interested in a Few Attractions – The Paris Pass is great for travelers looking to see as much as humanly possible, but if you’re only interested in hitting a few big tourist attractions, the Paris Explorer Pass offers better value. This often applies to repeat visitors.
The Paris Pass and the Paris Explorer Pass are two very different options that suit two different types of travelers.
The Paris Pass clearly offers superior selection but does not include the Eiffel Tower. Inclusion of Paris’ major museums and monuments and unlimited public transportation make it a more comprehensive choice for visitors who plan to embark upon a sightseeing mission. This often applies to first-timers.
To get your money’s worth from the Paris Pass, though, you have to visit at least three attractions per day for the life of your pass. Consider that carefully before splurging.
The Paris Explorer Pass includes visiting the second level of the iconic Eiffel Tower, which is a big draw, but it doesn’t include the city’s major museums like the Louvre and the Orsay. It also doesn’t include public transportation.
Unlike the Paris Pass, the Paris Explorer Pass is suitable for visitors who prefer a more relaxed pace. Because it’s valid for 30 days, there’s no need to schedule multiple attractions a day for consecutive days. For many travelers, this means it’s easier to get their money’s worth. The tradeoff? The 19 attractions included on the Paris Explorer Pass could leave museum lovers wanting more.
If the Paris Pass feels like overkill but you (understandably) refuse to visit Paris without seeing the major museums and monuments, you might consider the Paris Explorer Pass and a two-day Paris Museum Pass (€48).
I hope this comparison helped you decide which Paris sightseeing pass is right for you. Until next time, happy traveling!
Do you have experience with either pass? Do you plan to use one on an upcoming trip? We’d love to hear about it!