17 Unmissable Things To Do In Eilat, Israel

17 Unmissable Things To Do In Eilat, Israel

With so many things to do in Eilat, it’s easy to see why it is a favorite of Israelis and why it has become a popular tourist destinations.

Affectionately called Eilat Vegas, Eilat is located on Israel’s only access to the Red Sea and right between Egypt and Jordan. Despite being a small town compared to many others in the country, Eilat has a lot to offer to its visitors who can count on beautiful beaches, a fabulous marine life, easy access to the desert and incredible desert hikes and a fabulous array of restaurants and bars.

In this post, I highlight all the nicest things to do in Eilat, with a few recommendations on things you should avoid, and I will share some practical information to help you plan your trip there.

Timna Park

Exploring Timna Park is a must when in Eilat

17 Great Things To Do In Eilat

Explore Timna Park

Timna Park is located at about 25 km from Eilat. It is a fantastic archeological site, home of the world’s earliest copper mine and of some intricate geological formations, such as the Natural Arch, the Mushroom, and Solomon’s Pillar.

You can hike and even bike in Timna Park – the Israeli Trail actually goes through it – but keep in mind there is very little shade so it can get terribly hot. If this is what you want to do, make sure to carry plenty of water, food and wear a hat and sunblock.

Alternatively, you can opt for a guided tour such as this one.

Hike the Red Canyon

You wouldn’t really imagine this, but close to Eilat there are several incredible hiking trails – among the best in the country. Needless to say, among the things to do in Eilat there’s hiking and the Red Canyon is one of the best places to do that. Its beautiful rock formations are of a deep red color; there are narrow trails and it overall gives the impression of an amusement park.

The Jerusalem Post explains how to make the most of a hike in the Red Canyon in this article.

Eilat Mountains

Eilat Mountains offer incredible sea views

Visit Eilat Mountains

Visiting Eilat Mountains is a must when in this part of the country. You will get incredible desert and even sea views from there and there are several good hiking trails. If the weather is too hot for hiking, if you don’t feel you have sufficient time for that of if you just one to do something fun, I recommend going on a buggy ride – though I should warn you, it tends to get very dusty. You can book your buggy tour of Eilat Mountains here.

Birdwatching

Eilat is a great birdwatching destination, with a birding park that was established in 1990 by the International Birdwatching and Research Center of Eilat (IBRCE) foundation with the purpose of monitoring and researching bird migrations. The park is open every day for people who are interested in guided birdwatching tours.

Hit the beach

One of the best things to do in Eilat is obviously going to the beach. These are spread along 13 km of coast and provide incredible views of Edom Mountains. Some are supervised by lifeguards and easily accessible by families with children; some cater to religious people; and one – Dolphin Reef – is home to a cat sanctuary, so you’ll find cats casually bathing in the sun along with people.

what to do in Eilat

Having fun in Eilat Mountains

Get an adrenaline rush fun-tubing

The first time I ever went fun-tubing was in Eilat and it was 100% fun. Together with your friends, you get to sit on a large inflatable that gets pulled by a speed boat. This moves so fast and turns around so much and so intensely that you have to hold on to the handles or you may fly into the water. Either way, it is a lot of fun and a massive adrenaline rush.

Go diving 

Eilat is Israel’s only access point to the Red Sea, and there is little doubt that one of the best things to do there is admiring its marine life and the coral reef. Various diving schools in Eilat offer diving expeditions for a chance to admire one of the most lively seas in the world.

Practice other water sports

Eilat is actually very windy, so it is a perfect place to try water sports such as wind surfing or kite surfing – both of them are very popular among the locals.

Visit the Underwater Observatory

Eilat Underwater Observatory is a fantastic place to learn more about marine life in the Red Sea and elsewhere in the world. A guide will take you around to explain about the activities at the Observatory, their conservation work and the various species you will be admiring.

There is a shark pool which is the largest in the Middle East and last but definitely not least the views from the Observatory Tower are absolutely stunning.

You can get your Underwater Observatory tickets here.

Fly over the Red Sea

Since Eilat is right between Jordan and Egypt, one of the most thrilling and fun things to do is catching a small plane to fly over the Red Sea. Planes carry up to 4 persons (including the pilot) – they are tiny. During the flight, which lasts around 30 minutes, the pilot points out various landmarks in the area.

You’ll have views that span all the way to Saudi Arabia, and it’s absolutely interesting to notice how two countries that are so different one from the other are in reality so close.

Attend a music festival

Eilat is home to a variety of music festivals. The Jazz festival takes place twice a year – once in the winter and once in the summer – at various venues in town. Eilat Beer Festival sees live performances by Israelis and international artists. The Oriental Dance Festival is more oriented towards middle eastern music.

Attend the Musical Fountain Show

One of the most fun things to do in Eilat (despite being one of the most touristy) is attending the Musical Fountain Show. This takes place twice every night, and lasts about 15 to 20 minutes during which all sorts of fun music is played while the fountain splashes and get illuminated to follow the rhythm.

Go shopping

Eilat is a free port, so there’s no VAT added on prices. This means that in a country that is terribly expensive, shopping is a bit cheaper here. And since there are all sorts of boutiques and shopping mall, it would be a pity to miss on this opportunity.

things to do in Eilat

The food scene in Eilat is simply fabulous

Eat at one of the fabulous restaurants

Food in Israel is generally good – whether you eat at an upscale restaurant or at a budget eatery or even just street food. Eilat certainly obliges to this reputation, and has an incredible array of excellent restaurants.

I recommend Pastory if you care to have delicious Italian food (yes, an Italian can recommend Italian restaurants overseas when they are that good!).

Colonia serves delicious fresh salads and seafood; and the Fish Market serves tasty seafood and fish in a very easygoing environment.

Enjoy the amazing nightlife

One of the top things to do in Eilat is embracing the amazing nightlife. Small as it is, this city has an incredible array of bars, pubs and clubs where you can get a drink, listen to live music and dance the night away.

For incredible, absolutely beautiful looking cocktails, make sure to go to Fifth Avenue. I promise you that your drink will be just as good as it looks. Three Monkeys and Paddy’s are two nice pubs that often have live music and where tourists easily mingle with the locals.

Go to Petra

Eilat is an easy access point to Petra, the gorgeous archeological site in Jordan, and you can easily go there on a day trip or even for a couple of days. Several tours depart from town. I have selected the best ones:

Be a responsible traveler

A lot of people who visit Eilat go diving with dolphins or ride camels. I encourage you not to, or to at least do some careful considerations before you do.

When it comes to the dolphins in Eilat, they are free to roam in the sea, which may give you the impression that the activity is 100% ethical. However, they are often attracted with food so that tourists can admire them, and this has an adverse impact on their migration cycles and their reproduction. The beach from where they can be seen is pretty, and there is a large cat colony there – so you may still want to go. But don’t swim with them!

The camel ride is trickier one, and I admit I fell for it. To be honest, I am still not sure whether camel rides should be included in the list of activities to avoid. On the one hand, camels have been used as working animals for centuries. But on the other hand, they do have to go through a training in order to carry weight.

There is no actual evidence that riding camels equate to cruelty – but organizations such as PETA encourage tourists not to get involved in any activity that sees the use of animals, and this include camel rides. Other organizations don’t go so far to suggest not riding camels.

If riding a camel is one of the things to do in Eilat that you really do not want to skip, make sure to do so with a company that treats the animals well, that gives them plenty of food and care about their welfare, that allows them to move around freely and exhibit natural behavior and that makes sure they don’t live in fear and distress.

Make sure to read my postThe Complete Guide To Becoming A More Responsible Traveler.”

sunset in Eilat

Sunset as seen from the rooms at King Solomon Hotel

Practical Information To Organize Your Trip To Eilat, Israel

Where to stay in Eilat

Eilat is packed with excellent accommodation options, though much like with the rest of Israel, it tends to be on the expensive side. A new Abraham Hostel is bound to open soon, so if you are traveling on a budget you may want to wait a bit before venturing there. Otherwise, these are the best places to stay in Eilat:

How to get to Eilat

Eilat is well connected to the rest of Israel via public transportation, with several buses departing every day from both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Keep in mind that public transport doesn’t work in Israel during Shabbat (from sunset on Fridays until sunset on Saturdays) so if you are planning to travel there for the weekend, you may want to opt for a car rental. Check out the prices of car rental here.

How to move around Eilat

There is a good web of buses that go around Eilat, but if you want to reach some of the beaches or go outside of town ie to Timna Park, your best bet is to use a cab (especially as it is fairly hot for most of the year), or better, a rental car. Check out the prices of car rental here.

Alternatively, you can opt for guided tours that take you to the best attractions.

When to visit Eilat

Eilat is blessed with sunny days year round, and the average temperature during winter is 21 degrees Celsius. I visited in March and the temperature was just perfect to enjoy a day at the beach. You may want to avoid it in the summer, when it gets hot beyond belief.

Other useful information 

As for any other trip, I recommend getting a good travel insurance for your trip to Israel. Get yours here.

Check out my post Why You Need A Good Travel Insurance.”

Further readings about Israel

For more information about Israel and the West Bank and to better plan your trip, make sure to read the following posts:

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Tel Aviv Vegan Food Guide – The Best Vegan Restaurants In Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv Vegan Food Guide – The Best Vegan Restaurants In Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv vegan restaurants are many, and the food they serve is so flavorful and inviting that you’ll want to eat vegan even if you are not.

I am not vegan myself, but I must admit that whenever I visit I end up mostly eating vegan, because it is just so easy to do so, and it requires zero effort (for those of you who don’t know yet, I am probably the laziest person when it comes to cooking).

Israel is a fabulous food destination, with a very large number of chefs that have made it a mission to deliver excellent, innovative dishes prepared with the strictly the best, freshest ingredients.

Curios to learn  more about Israeli food? Make sure to read my post “A Complete Guide To Israeli Food.”

Vegan food is a massive component of the culinary scene in Tel Aviv: with a whopping 200000 vegans living in Tel Aviv, making it almost half of the entire city population, you can figure out why so many restaurants offer vegan food options or only focus on vegan food.

What’s certain is that you shouldn’t skip vegan food when in Tel Aviv. I recommend going on a vegan food tour to get a better understanding of Tel Aviv vegan food culture. One that I did and truly enjoyed was Tel Aviv vegan culinary tour: it goes to the best vegan restaurants in town, and the guide does an excellent job in explaining the whys and hows of Tel Aviv vegan food scene. You can book it here.

In this post, I will highlight the best vegan restaurants in Tel Aviv – strictly the ones that I have tried and thus wholeheartedly recommend. Before I do so, however, I will share some background information on Tel Aviv vegan culture.

Tel Aviv vegan food

Commonly found across the Middle East, falafel are deliciously vegan

Some Background Information On Tel Aviv Vegan Food Culture

Many Israeli dishes are naturally vegan – think of hummus and falafel, for example. Literally all restaurants serve vegan options, and there are many vegetarian vegan restaurants in Tel Aviv and other cities – making Israel one of the most vegan friendly countries in the world.

In case you have doubts, you should know that in recent years Israel has become the center of veganism. This happened for many reasons. First of all, Israelis love animals and becoming vegan is their way to express concern against the cruelty animals in intensive farms face. They also claim that veganism is better for the environment, since large animal farms are known for having a heavy impact for their extensive use of pesticides and thus being highly polluting.

Where veganism is often seen as a trend, Tel Aviv, as a very young city, is quite fast at picking up anything that it’s new – including new culinary habits – and in making it its own.

Last, but not least, you should keep in mind that as Israeli is mostly a Jewish country lots of people follow a kosher diet, and that going vegan makes their life much easier in this sense.

Continue reading to discover the nicest vegan restaurants in Tel Aviv.

vegan restaurants in Tel Aviv

A perfect mesabaha as served at Zakaim

13 Tel Aviv Vegan Restaurants You Can’t Miss – Even If You Aren’t Vegan

Zakaim

I visited this restaurant during a recent vegan food tour and I was truly impressed. Located on a side street of Allenby, so extremely central, Zakaim features an open kitchen, with ingredients pleasantly on display, and is incredibly cozy in its retrò way (I personally love the piano sitting at the back).

When it comes to the food, it is pure perfection. Using seasonal ingredients, Zakaim creates fabulous dishes that are as pleasant to the eye as they are to the palate. I tried the re-fried potatoes (potatoes that are baked, then frozen and then fried) with a bunch of dips; a soya-cream cheese spread that I couldn’t stop eating; and mesabaha – a variation of the most popular hummus, made with fuhl (fava beans) and topped with lightly seared mushrooms.

LOCATION: 20 Simtat Beit HaSho’eva Street

OPENING TIMES: Sundays to Thursdays from 12:00 pm to 11:00 pm; Fridays 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm; Saturdays from 9:00 pm to 12:00 am.

vegan food in Tel Aviv

Vegan Waldorf Skordalia as served at Citizen Garden

Citizen Garden

The minute you’ll walk in this small café (with a cozy backyard) you’ll be captured by the welcoming, lively yet relaxing atmosphere. This lovely place is usually not mentioned in Tel Aviv vegan food guides, as it also serves vegetarian food. But the vegan food options are the majority, and the place is so wonderful that I wouldn’t do it justice if I didn’t include it.

At Citizen Garden you’ll find out of this world toasts – I tried the Waldorf Skordalia, with a spread blanched almonds, topped with crunchy green apples, walnuts, pineapple, celery and olive oil. But the Avocado Toast that the guys sitting at the table next to mine were having looked just as yummy.

The Salmani’s Bowl is another great find, with a base of zoodles (zucchini noodles) and baked sweet potato, kale, broccoli, edamame, hazelnut and fabulous tahini.

Last but not least Citizen Garden is also pet friendly.

LOCATION: 15 Montefiori Street

OPENING TIMES: Sundays to Thursdays from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.

Tel Aviv vegan desserts

The fabulous drunken pear served at Meshek Barzilay

Meshek Barzilay

Located in Neve Tzedek, one of the most charming neighborhood in central Tel Aviv, this beautiful bistro summarizes everything that Israel has to offer in terms of food – but in the vegan version. Breakfast options include a vegan version of boureka – a phyllo pastry stuffed with spinach and cheese (in this case vegan cheese).

If you happen to go there for lunch, opt for the fabulous mushroom risotto – they use venere rice, one of the hardest ones to cook (and here they make it just perfect) but also the tastiest one.

Meshek Barzilay also prepares what are considered the best vegan desserts in Tel Aviv. I tried the drunken pear – a dessert of pears poached in wine in a shortcrust pastry and served with a wild berries and a lemon cream. I honestly wished I had ordered two.

LOCATION: 6 Ahad Ha’Am Street

OPENING TIMES: Mondays to Thursdays from 11:30 am to 11:00 pm; Fridays from 8:00 am to 12:00 am; Saturdays from 9:00 am to 11:00 pm.

Goodness

Allegedly the best (vegan) burgers in Tel Aviv. I must say that even though I am not vegan I was very happy to try this vegan version of one my favorite comfort food. Accompany the burger with some fries and a vegan beer for pure perfection. If you happen to go there for breakfast, make sure to try the vegan shakshuka. For Tel Avian standards, it’s also quite budget friendly.

LOCATION: 41 King George Street

OPENING TIMES: Sundays to Fridays 11:00 am to 11:00 pm; Saturdays 12:00 pm to 11:00 pm.

416

When a friend told me that there is a place in Tel Aviv that serves vegan steak, I asked what he meant exactly and how can a steak be vegan. He took me there to try it so that I’d believe what he said. Yes, vegan steaks are a thing and if you didn’t know that what you are eating has no animal elements in it at all, you wouldn’t be able to make the difference. Eat it with the mouthwatering polenta fries and it’ll be perfection.

But there’s more. 416 makes excellent comfort food such as tacos, shawarma, nutritious salads and fabulous cocktails.

LOCATION: 16 HaArba’a Street

OPENING TIMES: Mondays to Sundays from 12:00 pm to 11:00 pm.

The Green Cat

As an Italian, the thought of vegan pizza would normally a shiver down my spine. Except, pizza at The Green Cat is so good that you forget it’s vegan. Don’t expect Italian style pizza though – this is more New York style. You can order a slice or create your own whole pizza (which is more than enough for two persons). They use cashew cheese instead of mozzarella.

LOCATION: 7 Levontin Street, right next to a very busy underground bar with live music.

OPENING TIMES: Mondays to Wednesdays from  6:00 pm to 12:00 am; Thursdays from 6:00 pm to 1:00 am, Saturdays from 6:00 pm to 1:00 am; Sundays from 6:00 pm to 12:00 am. Closed on Fridays.

Ethiopian food in Tel Aviv

Tanat serves excellent Ethiopian vegan food

Tenat

Reflecting the presence of a large community of Ethiopian Jews living in Tel Aviv, one of the best vegan restaurants in Tel Aviv is indeed Ethiopian. This is the kind of place where you can stuff your face with injera, the sourdough, spongy flatbread thought to be a super food and used to eat stews such as shiro, a spicy mix of peas and hummus. Make sure to try Ethiopian tahini for a change!

LOCATION: 27 Chlenov Street

OPENING TIMES: Sundays to Thursdays from 12:00 pm to 11:00 pm; Fridays from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Hummus in Tel Aviv

Hummus perfection at Abu Hassan

Abu Hassan

One of the best finds in Old Town Jaffa, Abu Hassan is a favorite of Tel Avivians. It serves the creamiest, smoothest, tastiest hummus you can hope for, and crispy yet moist falafel. It’s a very easygoing place, so you may end up at a table next to someone you don’t know – but it’s worth it for the sake of hummus.

As hummus is a breakfast dish in Middle Eastern tradition, Abu Hassan opens early and closes in the very early afternoon hours. Make sure to go no later than 1:00 pm for your chance to try its food – and be prepared to stand in line for some time, especially on Fridays.

LOCATION: 14 Shivtei Israel Street

OPENING TIMES: Sundays to Fridays from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm; closed on Saturdays.

Anastasia

With a strong focus on healthy vegan food, Anastasia is a lovely, cozy yet spacious café in the heart of Tel Aviv. You’ll find plenty of salads, fruits shakes, delicious toasts and sandwiches, excellent breakfast options. The blue tahini – prepared using spirulina – is a must try. The bonus? It’s also pet friendly.

LOCATION: 54 Frischman Street

OPENING TIMES: Sundays to Thursdays 8:00 am to 11:30 pm; Fridays 8:00 am to 5:00 pm; Saturdays 9:00 am to 11:00 pm.

best vegan restaurants in Tel Aviv

Mushroom Venere risotto as served at Meshek Barzilay

Herzog

If you are in the mood for a tapas kind of dinner, trying small portions of a plethora of dishes – but in vegan style – to to Herzog, which takes its name from famous chef Roey Hertzog. The menu changes daily.

LOCATION: 48 Ibn Gvirol Street

OPENING TIMES: Sundays to Thursdays from 12:30 pm to 11:00 pm; Fridays from 12:30 pm to 3:30 pm; Saturdays from 8:00 pm to 11:00 pm.

Rainbow Burgers

Owned by the same person who owns The Green Cat, and located where Buddha Burger used to be, near Rabin Square, Rainbow Burgers makes some of the best burgers in Tel Aviv and they are vegan. You’ll find soy and mushroom burgers, seitan shawarma and fabulous kebab. Want more? It’s even budget friendly.

LOCATION: 88 Ibn Gvirol Street

OPENING TIMES: Saturdays to Thursdays 12:00 pm to 11:00 pm; Fridays 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm.

Dosa Bar

Go to Dosa if you need a quick fix for Indian street food. The chef of Dosa Bar spent two years living in Southern India to learn to master the flavors, so if you decide to eat here you know you’ll be in for the real thing. It specializes in – guess what – dosas – sort of pancakes filled with potatoes and other vegetables. Each is served with a soup and a side salad, as well as a delicious chutney.

LOCATION: 188 Ben Yehuda Street

OPENING TIMES: Sundays to Thursdays 12:00 pm to 11:00 pm; Fridays 11:00 am to 4:30 pm; closed on Saturdays.

24 Rupees

This lovely vegetarian and vegan restaurant in the center of Tel Aviv focuses on thali, a typical Indian dish where in on the same plate you get various tastes of several Indian staples, such as dahl (a lentils stew), rice, chapatti or other kinds of bread and other vegetable dishes. Customers are required to leave their shoes at the entrance.

LOCATION: 16 Schocken Street

OPENING TIMES: Saturdays to Thursdays from 12:00 pm to 12:00 am; Fridays from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

vegan food in Tel Aviv

Zakaim even bakes its own bread

Other Useful Information

For updated information about vegan restaurants in Tel Aviv – and anywhere else in the world – make sure to download Happy Cow – an app that contains reviews of the restaurants as well as information on their opening times. It’ll also tell you whether a place has changed name, location or if it’s been closed for good.

Further readings about Israel

For more readings about Israel, head over to one of the following:

Further readings about international cuisine

If food pushes you to travel, make sure you read the following posts:

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Discover the best vegan restaurants in Tel Aviv - via @clautavani

Learn about Tel Aviv vegan food scene and discover where to eat vegan food in Tel Aviv - via @clautavani

A Complete Guide To Israeli Food

A Complete Guide To Israeli Food

Israeli food is absolutely delicious and reason enough to visit the country in and of itself. I only know too well – during a recent trip I literally spent my time eating all the best dishes Israeli cuisine has to offer (and not only).

If there is something I can guarantee you is that there is no such thing as going hungry in Israel. You will find plenty of excellent restaurants; small street food spots; markets where you can try fresh ingredients and all sorts of snacks.

There’s something for any taste, budget and diet – vegans will be pleased to know that this is an extremely vegan friendly country.

And if you are concerned about your weight and your health, worry not: Israelis are too, and they take pride in pointing out the local diet is one of the healthiest in the world, with a heavy focus on vegetables and pulses. Even a quick grab can be healthy: there are oh so many places where you can get fantastic smoothies packed with vitamins, fibers and flavor.

In case you have doubts, let me me reassure you: Israel is an up and coming food destination, with fantastic restaurants where chefs combine a passion for excellent quality ingredients with innovation; and where locals take pride in showing people what food in Israel is all about.

But if you think that food in Israel is all about the Middle East, think again. Obviously, Palestinian and Middle Eastern influences are predominant in Israeli cuisine. But it goes well beyond that: for as small as it is, this country is a melting pot of cultures and peoples, and this is very well reflected in its food which gracefully borrows its flavors from those of Morocco, Poland, Hungary, Russia, Yemen and much more.

In this post, I will highlight the best Israeli food and all the dishes and nibbles you should try while in the country. First of all, however, let me share some tips that will help you make the most of this incredible country’s food culture.

Israeli food

A food tour is a great idea to get a proper idea of food in Israel

7 Tips To Fully Enjoy Israeli Food

Join a food tour

One of the best ways to quickly learn about food in a country you are not familiar with, and try the staples of local cuisine, is doing a food tour. Whether you are in Tel Aviv or in Jerusalem, you are bound to find a multitude of excellent food tours to suite your taste, needs and even the way you travel, with tours that are guided and some that are self-guided. And if you want a more hands on approach, you can even book a cooking class like this one.

I have done a fair share of tours in Israel, and selected the ones that I recommend in both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Best food tours in Tel Aviv

These are the best food tours in Tel Aviv:

  • Tel Aviv food tour – by far the most budget friendly option. This is a guided tour of HaCarmel market, with several food tastings.
  • Tel Aviv vegan culinary tour – a great tour that explains a lot about Israeli vegan food culture and includes tastings in some of Tel Aviv’s best vegan restaurants.
  • Tel Aviv classic food tour – it goes to all the nicest neighborhoods and in each of them you get to try some excellent Israeli food.
  • The ultimate dinner – a 10 course dinner with wine pairing that in one night goes to four of the best restaurants in Tel Aviv.
  • Carmel Market tour with Beit Hair museum visit – a very budget friendly food tour with an optional visit to Beit Hair museum. The tour will allow you to taste local specialties, including za’atar – a fantastic mix of herbs that can be spread on bread or even labneh cheese.
  • Tel Aviv self guided food tour – an excellent option if you’d rather go around at your own pace. It goes to Carmel Market and the neighboring areas.
  • Tel Aviv street food tour – a guided food tour to the best street food stands in Tel Aviv, during which you get to try some of the staples of Israeli street food including falafel and bourekas.
  • Levinsky Market and Florentine food tour – a nice tour that goes to some very interesting parts of town.

Best food tours in Jerusalem

These are the best food tours in Jerusalem:

markets in Israel

Markets are great places to get a taste of local food

Go to the local market

Israelis love shopping for groceries at the market, so that’s where you’ll get the idea of what they eat on a regular basis and what they buy for more important occasions such as a Shabbat dinner. I have visited countless markets in Israel – from the most famous Mahane Yehuda in Jerusalem and HaCarmel in Tel Aviv, to the market of lesser visited Netanya – and each time it’s a great cultural experience (not to mention, I always find great fresh fruits and vegetables).

Some of the tours mentioned in the previous section are market tours that include food tastings, but I strongly encourage you to even explore the market on your own.

TIP: If you intend to shop at Carmel Market, make sure you practice your market skills first. It’s well known that vendors try to scam customers!

Learn about the staple ingredients of Israeli cuisine

Israeli food has some ingredients that are recurrent among most of its traditional dishes, and if you want to fully appreciate it you may as well get a basic idea of what they are. Among locals’ favorites you’ll find:

Tahini (or tahina, as locals call it) – always present at Israeli tables. It is a creamy, nutty sauce (though it honestly is much more than a sauce) that can be eaten either plain or mixed with other ingredients such as beetroot. It’s used as a condiment for salad, as a dip and even eaten on its own. It’s one of the ingredients of hummus, baba ganouj and even halva. I admit I have developed a slight addiction to it.

Labneh – a very mild fresh white cheese that almost tastes like Greek yogurt. It’s often eaten for breakfast, with olive oil and za’atar.

Za’atar – a mix of dried herbs and other seeds which includes oregano, thyme, sesame seed, marjoram, cumin and salt. Mixed with oil, you’ll often find it spread on top of grilled pita. Accompanied with labneh is the ultimate breakfast dish. You can buy it in bags at the market and take home – I shall warn you though, it’s addictive.

Lemon – used to prepare hummus, mixed in the tahini, poured abundantly on salads. Lemon is ever present in Israeli cuisine.

Parsley – if you think parsley is a staple of Italian food, wait until you go to Israel. My friends actually eat it as salad, mixed with mint, olive oil and lots of lemon.

Olive oil – much like in the rest of the Mediterranean, food in Israel is usually cooked in olive oil, which here is of excellent quality.

Chickpeas – these can be used to prepare hummus or falafel, two of the most popular dishes of Israeli cuisine, as well as a variety of soups; they are often added in salads or used to prepare small side dishes.

Try a home cooked meal

One thing I love about Israeli food culture is that a massive part of it is not just about the food, but about who you eat it with. Much like Italians, Israelis enjoy eating as a social custom, and any occasion is good to enjoy a meal with family and friends.

Shabbat dinner – the meal that marks the beginning of Shabbat on Friday evenings – is a proper ritual, and something that not even Israelis who aren’t religious dare to skip. Similar to that, there’s Shabbat breakfast on Saturday mornings (though many Israelis now opt for brunch instead).

There is no better way to enjoy Israeli food than a proper, home cooked meal. If you don’t have friends in Israel that will graciously invite you for dinner – on Shabbat or any other day of the week – you can count on Betzavta, a small Israeli company that for the last few years has been putting in touch tourists with local families all over the country with the short term goal of allowing visitors to get inside an Israeli home and get a taste of a home cooked meal and the long term aim of creating new, lasting friendships.

I have tried Betzavta myself during my last trip to Israel and not only I was impressed with the food (be ready for an 8 course meal!) but I ended up becoming good friend with my host. It was an absolutely memorable night.

Although Betzavta allows you to book local dinners for any day of the week, I wholeheartedly recommend booking a Shabbat dinner. Depending on your interests, you may get to experience a Shabbat prayer too.

vegan food in Israel

You’ll find plenty of vegan options in Israel

Go vegan

A huge part of Israeli food is naturally vegan, and this is probably the most vegan friendly country you will come across, with each and every restaurant offering an abundance of vegan options and some of the best restaurants in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and other main cities solely focusing on vegan cuisine.

Israel has become the center of veganism for a variety of reasons. On the one hand, there is a motivation to stay healthy; then there’s Israelis love for animals and their willingness to stop animal cruelty, as well as their concern for the environment (though honestly I find this to be a bit contradictory in a country where the use of disposable, single use plastic – including plastic bags – is still very common, and where proper garbage recycling policies have yet to be implemented).

Another reason for veganism being so popular is the fact that Israel is a relatively young country, often adopting new trends – including culinary ones – and making them its own.

With many Israelis trying to keep a kosher diet, going vegan also makes sense.

Vegan food is such an important part of Israeli food that you shouldn’t miss out on that. Opt for a vegan food tour such as Tel Aviv vegan culinary tour to try the best of vegan food in town. And stay tuned as I will be writing a post on the best vegan restaurants in Tel Aviv.

Have a proper Israeli breakfast

Did you know Israeli breakfast is all about salad? If you think this is weird, just sit down at a local café and look at what locals are having for breakfast. I bet you’ll want to order the same, because it looks tasty, filling and healthy.

Granted, this may not be an every day thing, but a proper Israeli breakfast with a fresh pressed juice, eggs (preferably shakshuka – of which I’ll talk in a bit), a mixed salad (can be anything, but locals love cucumber and tomatoes), tahini, olives, various white cheeses and pita bread is a great way to start your day.

Since breakfast is a serious thing in Israel, breakfast places are found all over the country. If you happen to be in Tel Aviv, make sure to go to Café Sheleg, a small quaint café on Ge’ula street. And if you want breakfast all day, go to Benedict, which is open 24 hours. There are various locations in Tel Aviv, Herzliya and even in Kfar Saba. In Jerusalem, Kalo is the perfect breakfast spot.

Ethiopian food

There is a large Ethiopian community in Israel, so you have to try their food!

Open up to the other cultures and cuisines

In the last couple of decades, Israel has been experiencing a growing influx of people coming from African countries. Many of them come from Ethiopia, where there is a large Jewish community, and as Jews their status is different from that of other African immigrants or asylum seekers such as those coming from Eritrea or South Sudan.

As these communities established themselves in the Neve Shaanan neighborhood of Tel Aviv, this part of town has become more and more multicultural and small restaurants serving Sudanese, Eritrean and Ethiopian food have sprouted and have been completing the international food scene of Israel (where Asian food is usually a favorite).

Make sure to visit this part of town and get a taste of this other Tel Aviv – you won’t regret it. If you are not confident exploring on your own, join a guided tour. The other Tel Aviv food, culture and people is the best one around. You can book it here.

Now, without any further ado, let me tell you what food in Israel you absolutely have to try.

Israeli bread

You’ll find a great variety of bread

The Best Israeli Food – Everything You Must Try

Breads and snacks

Bread is an integral part of the Israeli diet, and not a meal goes by without having at least a bite of it. As a bread lover (call me dough girl if you like), I am pleased to say that bread in Israel is not only very good, but also extremely varied. You can really get anything from sourdough bread rolls to crispy ciabatta bread. But if you are looking for something more local, try one of the following.

Beigeleh (in Hebrew) or Ka’akh (in Arabic)

These large loops of bread are similar to world known bagels (though they actually look quite similar to pretzels). They are coated in sesame seeds – which gives it that extra crunchiness that makes it all the more yummy – and they are often served with hummus. You’ll easily find this kind of bread at the market, especially at the Old City Market in Jerusalem.

Boureka

Found across countries that were under Ottoman rule, boureka is a phyllo pastry stuffed with cheese and / or other ingredients. It’s perfect for breakfast on the go. You’ll find it at any bakery.

Challah

Probably the most famous Jewish bread, challah is often eaten during Shabbat dinner. It has a very thick, dry-ish dough and a thick crust (though it’s nowhere near crispy), it’s on the sweet side. In the United States, leftovers or challah are thought to be the best bread to prepare french toasts.

Lepeshka

A round, crispy and fluffy bread that was brought to Israel by Central Asia Jews. You’ll find it in Jerusalem, in bakeries around the Bukharan Market (Shuk ha-Bukharim).

Matzah

Don’t even dream of finding bread in Israel during Passover. The only thing you’ll be able to find is matzah, a sort of unleavened crackers, very crispy but somehow lacking any sort of flavor. But you know, when in Rome…

Pita

Similar to other kinds of unleavened bread you’ll mostly find in the area of Jerusalem, pita comes in different varieties – white, wholemeal etc – and it’s the best accompaniment to hummus and falafel. A warmed up pita stuffed with meat and vegetables and with a spoon of tahini is just about the perfect meal.

Bamba

In Italian, bamba is another word for marijuana. In Israel, it’s the most popular snack on the market and it has nothing to do with drugs, other than the fact it is addictive. This peanut flavored snack is the perfect thing to have with friends, possibly sipping a cold beer. It’s also through Bamba that British pediatricians established that giving small quantities of peanuts to children may prevent them from developing peanut allergies. As if you needed more excuses to try it.

Hummus in Israel

In Israel, you’re going to taste the best hummus you can think of

Proper meals

Baba ghanooj

This delicious dip is made with grilled eggplants which are pureed and an abundant dose of olive oil, garlic and tahini. It’s perfect with pita.

Falafel

One of the staples of Israeli food is falafel. Found ubiquitously around the country, they are actually typical of the Middle East. They are small balls of chickpea meal mixed with garlic, parsley, and other herbs and spices which are then fried in oil. They can be eaten alone (best dipped in tahini), stuffed in pita with salad and the ever present tahini, with hummus and pickles.

You can find falafel and falafel sandwiches at street food stalls in any market, ie at HaCarmel in Tel Aviv or at Mahane Yehuda in Jerusalem. They are usually a very good budget option for a filling meal.

Hummus

Though there is no certainty as to who invented hummus, once thing for sure is that this is a staple Israeli food. Found across the Middle East, this blend of chickpeas with tahini, garlic, lemon, salt and abundant olive oil is usually consumed for breakfast. Good, fresh hummus goes bad and sour within hours of having been made so stay away from the cheap tubs you find at supermarkets across the world.

Some of the best hummus is made with fava beans (foul).

The best places for hummus in Israel are Abu Hassan in Jaffa; Abu Shruk and Lina in Jerusalem; and Ouzi in Netanya. The latter is a truly local spot where foreigners are the target of the jokes of the owner. It’s a fun experience to eat there.

Israeli salads

Israelis love their vegetables and no meal is complete without a vast array of salads. Appetizers are often in mezze style and consist of a variety of salads. A local favorite is a salad of finely chopped cucumber, tomatoes and onions which is topped with lemon juice and abundant tahini. Tabbouleh, which is made with chopped parsley, tomatoes, onion and olive oil, is another common salad.

Jachnun

This pancake kind of dish made of layers of phyllo dough rolled in a tube and baked in the oven was brought to Israel from Yemenite Jews. It’s usually served with a dip of pureed tomatoes and fenugreek.

Khachapuri

Khachapuri was brought to Israel from the Gruzinim, the Jews of Georgia. It’s a bread that is baked with three types of cheese, and towards the end of the baking process an egg is placed on top of it. It’s a fantastic mixture of bread, sandwich and pizza that is rich in flavor and nutrients and thus deserves to be considered more than a snack!

Israeli breakfast

Shakshuka is a staple of Israeli breakfast

Maqlouba

Known as the Palestinian national dish, you’ll find maqlouba, a mouthwatering casserole of lamb, eggplant and rice in East Jerusalem.

Me’orav Yerushalmi

Remember what I said about Israeli food being very vegan friendly? The mixed grill called mo’orav yerushalmi is the exception to the rule. This dish is made of chicken hearts, spleens and livers mixed with lamb, cooked on the grilled with onion, garlic, pepper, cumin, turmeric, coriander and abundant olive oil before being stuffed in a pita. It’s noe exactly for the faint of heart.

Musakhan

Another dish made of chicken, this time roasted with onion and pine nuts and served with flatbread. It’s mostly found in East Jerusalem, as this actually is an Arab Israeli dish.

Red kubeh soup

If you are a lover of soup as much as I am, you will love red kubeh, a soup of dumplings made with bulgur and semolina and stuffed with meat, served in a tangy broth made of roots vegetables and beets. It’s actually a Kurdish dish that is typically eaten in the winter.

Sabich

One of the best dishes of Israeli cuisine is this mixture of grilled eggplant, boiled potatoes, poached eggs with tahini and amba (spicy mango sauce). It’s usually stuffed in pita, but it can be eaten on its own in upscale restaurants where it is often served as an appetizer.

Sambusak

Very similar to samosas, the word is actually Persian and the dish is very similar to the samosas you can get anywhere in India. In this case, they are filled with mashed chickpeas but there is also a version with meat and potatoes. It’s a common street food you can find at markets such as Mahane Yehuda in Jerusalem.

Schnitzel

The debate over who invented schniztel is still ongoing. As an Italian, I’ll say schnitzel is an imitation of our beloved cotoletta alla milanese. Without wanting to get into the details of which came first, I will simply say that schnitzel is delicious and though it is not Israeli food proper, it’s often found on an Israeli table. Here, it generally consists of breaded chicken breast which is fried in abundant oil and served hot, preferably with thick cut fries.

Shawarma

Much like falafel, shawarma is often stuffed in pita. It consists of stack of thin slices of either beef or lamb, slowly roasted until moist and delicious.

Shakshuka

The most famous Israli breakfast dish is actually found all over Middle East. Tomatoes are cooked in olive oil with some chopped onions, parsley, pepper and other spices, and eggs are poached on top of it. It’s often served with a small salad of parsley and mint, as well as some cheese such as labneh and za’atar.

Israeli coffee

Mud coffee is commonly found in Israel

Sweets and desserts

Baklava

This sweet commonly found in Israel can actually be seen in all countries that at some point in history were under Ottoman rule. It is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of phyllo filled with all sorts of nuts (the best are with pistachio) and soaked in a thick sugar syrup or in honey. You’ll find heaps of it at the market.

Halva

Commonly found across the Middle East, Northern Africa and the Balkans, halva is a sweet made with tahini, various kinds of nuts and heaps of sugar. It’s crumbly and dry. You’ll find it at any local market, including HaCarmel and Mahane Yehuda.

Knafeh

Not exactly light, this sweet consist of a thin phyllo pastry layered with cheese, baked and then soaked in a thick sugar syrup. You’ll find it anywhere in the country.

Ruggalah

This sweet is actually European, but it reaches perfection in Israel. You’ll easily find it at bakeries and even at markets. It almost looks like a small croissant, but if anything it’s more similar to pain au chocolat since there’s lots and lots of chocolate in it. If you feel like you want a Parisian style breakfast, grab one or two and eat them while sipping coffee.

Israeli drinks

Coffee

I am not a massive fan of Israeli coffee. I love mud coffee in general, but here it is prepared with cardamom, so it has a spicy flavor which takes a bit to get accustomed to. You can try it in a traditional coffee shop (there are various at the Old City market in Jerusalem).

Limonana

A delicious lemonade to which mint is added – it’s perfect on a hot day.

Israeli beer

The production of craft beer in Israel is growing, and you can find it at small pubs in or around the market. The best place if you want to try a few kinds is Beer Bazar, at Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem.

Israeli wine

With just about the perfect climate, Israel makes some excellent wine and you should make sure to try some before you leave the country. You may want to opt for a wine tour to do some wine tasting (book it here) or, more simply, sit at any good restaurant and order a bottle.

Israeli salads

Israeli salads or mezze are small nibbles served at the beginning of the meal

Other Useful Information

Fantastic Israeli food cookbooks

If you’d like to have a try at preparing Israeli food at home, you can count on a few good cookbooks. These are the best ones available:

Further readings about Israel

For more information about Israel, make sure to read the following posts:

Further readings about international cuisine

Do you travel for food? Then don’t miss these posts!

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Read about the tastiest food in Israel - via @clautavani

Seven Smart Ways To Get Versailles Tickets And Skip The Line

Seven Smart Ways To Get Versailles Tickets And Skip The Line

Getting Versailles tickets is a must, and even more so you need timed entrance ones or else you will be stuck in line for hours.

When it comes to palaces and castles, it’s hard to imagine anything more grand than Versailles. This is one of the most beautiful palaces in the world. Within easy reach from Paris, most people go to Versailles on a day trip. I did that myself, and truly enjoyed it.

Versailles is a fantastic mixture of history and art, incredible architecture, perfectly designed gardens. Adults love it for its intricate, unique history. Children love it because – well – it is a castle, where kings, queens and princesses lived.

This is all great news, right? Well, I have some bad news as well, unfortunately.

Versailles gets crowded. Terribly so. Around 10 million people visit Versailles each year – that makes it more than 27000 per day. Consider that the palace is closed on Mondays, and this means that the average number of visitors during opening days is more in the range of 30000.

The lines to get tickets at Versailles are so long that I honestly wouldn’t blame anybody for giving up. The lines to get in if you don’t have a timed entrance are almost just as long – I was very glad I picked a specific time for my visit, so that I could used the dedicated entrance.

I know I got you worried, but let me reassure you: there are ways of getting Versailles tickets that will allow you to skip the line. And I have decided to sum them up here, so that all you have to do is make the bookings, show up at the palace, and enjoy your time there.

In this post, I sum up the best ways to get tickets to Palace of Versailles and share some information and tips that will help you plan your visit and make the most of it.

Before I do so, however, let me share a bit of information about Versailles Palace.

A statue of Louis XIV in Versailles

A statue of Louis XIV in Versailles

Some Background Information About Versailles Palace

At about 16 km southwest of Paris, Versailles Palace was the royal residence, court residence and seat of the French government for over a century, from 1682 to 1789. The palace was built around a hunting lodge that King Louis XIII used as a private retreat. It was under his rule that construction of a castle was initiated, in 1624 – this version of the palace is visible in the Marble Court and the facade that overlooks it.

The rest of Versailles Palace took shape under the reign of Louis XIV, who wanted it to be a glorification of his figure. He was the one who demanded the construction of beautiful, symmetrical gardens adorned by gorgeous, intricate fountains.

King Louis XIV was also the one who decided to move his residence to Versailles – until then the royal family had been living in the Louvre Palace. Along with the royal family, Louis XIV took his court and the government. As he feared plotting against the monarchy and himself by aristocrat families, moving the entire court to Versailles was a way of keeping them all under this control.

Back then Versailles was no more than a tiny village, which eventually expanded to host the many people who every day worked in the Palace. It is said that between 3000 and 10000 people could be at the palace at once. 3000 were the high ranking aristocracy, who lived at the palace; while the rest were those who went in and out for various work purposes.

The palace became infamous during the reign of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. The king, queen and the aristocracy were accused of living a lavish lifestyle while the vast majority of French people lived in poverty. After they were forced to leave Versailles Palace in 1789, this ceased to be a royal residence.

In 1837, King Louis-Philippe decided that this would become the Museum of the History of France.

Versailles Palace became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

Why is Versailles always packed?

The number of visitors at Versailles keeps increasing, and it’s easy to see why: this castle is simply magnificent!

Studies of the kingdom of Louis XIV and of the beginning of the French Revolution, books, movies such as Marie Antoinette, the TV series Versailles, and even cartoon series such as The Rose of Versailles (a Japanese anime whose original title was Berusaiyu no Bara which in Italy became insanely famous as Lady Oscar and that literally all children would watch in the 1980s) all contributed to make this a world famous attraction.

I grew up with the cartoon series and I couldn’t wait to see the rooms where Queen Marie Antoinette lived and met his (supposedly) Swedish lover Hans Axel von Fersen; and the luxury in which she and the rest of the royal family lived – and like me, many others apparently.

In fact, the palace is simply a masterpiece of art, architecture and an immense, incredibly well kept landscaped park where to get lost. And it would honestly be a pity to miss it when visiting Paris.

Since Versailles is always crowded and the lines to get Versailles tickets are massive, you are better off planning your visit carefully and getting tickets in advance.

IN SHORT: These are the best skip the line tickets to Versailles:

PLEASE NOTE: No matter your ticket, you will have to go through a security checks in order to get into Versailles. Unless you don’t have a timed entrance, this line is usually very short and quick.

TIP: Bulky bags, excessive amounts of food and drinks and obviously weapons (including pocket knives) are not allowed. Make sure not to carry such items so as to speed the security checks and – most importantly – so that you can avoid using the luggage storage facilities (and their lines). More about storage facilities at Versailles at the end of this post.

Continue reading for more information and tips to make the most of your day at Versailles Palace on how to skip the lines!

tickets to the palace of Versailles

The stunning interiors of the palace

Visiting the Palace of Versailles more in depth

Versailles palace and the gardens are massive. It takes at least a day to explore it properly, and that’s if you walk fast and never get lost.

Once you are in, there are some rooms and places inside the estate that should not be missed.

The Hall of Mirrors is the most famous one at Versailles. This 70 meters long hall has 17 arcade mirrors located directly opposite 17 windows overlooking the gardens, a series of fabulous glass chandeliers, statues, and a beautifully painted ceiling. It’s honestly quite crowded most of the time, but you’ll still manage to get an idea of its grandeur.

At the ends of the Hall of Mirrors, the Salon of Peace and the Salon of War are also a must see, as well as Louis XIV rooms and the Queen’s private apartments.

Not nearly as crowded as the rest of the palace, on the ground floor the apartments of the daughters of Louis XV are nice to visit. You’ll be handed an audioguide (which is free of charge) as soon as you get in, and between that and the fact that there are way less people than in the rest of the castle, it is actually very enjoyable.

The Royal Chapel and the Stables are two more places to add to your visit.

The gardens and the fountains are splendid. Unless you are on a guided tour of the gardens, a map is absolutely necessary or else you’ll get lost and end up missing the nicest bits (I really liked the Colonnade Grove). Throughout the gardens, a stereo system plays subtle, beautiful classic music that will accompany your visit, making it all the more special.

If you are a fan of fountains and happen to visit Versailles on a Saturday or Sunday (between April and October) or on a Tuesday (from the end of May to the end of June) make sure not to skip the Musical Fountains show. You can get tickets for that here or here.

Needless to say, I recommend getting a live guide (or at a minimum an audioguide) for your visit of Versailles. As a minimum, make sure to have one for the main palace and then continue exploring the gardens by yourself.

These are the best guided tours that include Versailles tickets that will allow you to skip the lines:

TIP: If you’d rather have an audioguide than a live guide, you may want to save even more time and download the Palace of Versailles app. It’s free, it can guide you through the palace, and you won’t have to wait in line to get it.

Versailles tickets

The Trianon Estates is a great addition to a visit to Versailles

Visiting the Grand and Petit Trianon Estates

The Trianon Estates – with the Petit Trianon and the Grand Trianon palaces – are among the nicest places that you can visit when in Versailles. You can visit them without having to go to Versailles Palace. But obviously most people include them in their visit of Versailles.

The Trianons are two smaller palaces compared to Versailles. The Petit Trianon was built in 1758 under orders of Louis XV and it was donated by Louis XVI to his wife Marie Antoinette. She loved spending time there, as she’d be able to escape the strict etiquette of Versailles Palace and she could host meetings or spend time relaxing.

The Grand Trianon was the residence of Napoleon Bonaparte, where he lived with his second wife Marie Louise.

Both palaces have absolutely stunning interiors and beautifully kept gardens.

You can get tickets to Trianon Estate directly at the desk for €12 and there usually is very little line. You can also get them online here for the exact same price. Alternatively, you can opt for the Passport ticket sold on the website of Versailles Palace (make sure to get the timed one to skip the lines), for a Versailles and Trianon full day tour or for this self guided tour of Versailles which also include the Trianon.

Continue reading to discover how to get Versailles tickets and skip the lines.

Louis XIV

Louis XIV built Versailles palace as a celebration of his glory

7 Absolutely Clever Ways To Get Versailles Tickets And Skip The Lines

There are a few clever ways to get Versailles tickets and skip the lines. Below, I will mention the various ones, pointing out their main characteristics and suggesting for which kind of traveler and budget they are most suitable.

In general, skip-the-line timed tickets to the palace of Versailles bought online are the only way to avoid standing in line at the ticket counter and then at the security line (the line is much longer for those who don’t have timed tickets). You will find various kinds of skip the line tickets. Some are basic and include just the admission ticket, others include an audioguide or a live guided tour and allow you to explore the entire grounds.

Of all the ways to get Versailles tickets, my recommended one is the guided tour – the longer and more inclusive, the better. It is the most expensive one – but it’s also the best way to fully appreciate the beauty of Versailles.

Finally, without any further ado, here are all the best ways to get Versailles tickets.

Way N. 1: Buy your Versailles tickets on the official website

Perfect for: no frills travelers.

Advantages: It is very budget friendly.

Disadvantages: It’s basic, and you get at most an audio-guide. You need to register an account in order to buy the tickets.

This is the official website to get tickets to the Palace of Versailles.

You will see that there are several options: tickets to the palace are sold for €18; tickets to the Estate of Trianon cost €12. You then have various “passport ticket” options – these are the combined tickets that give you access to the entire place. They cost €20 for the one-day pass and €25 for the two-day pass.

PLEASE NOTE: There are two different one-day passport options. One has a timed entry, and one doesn’t.

TIP: You may be tempted to get the one that doesn’t have the timed entry, so that if you are arriving from Paris you have more room to make your way to Versailles. Honestly, don’t! The passport option with no timed entry is not a skip-the-line ticket and you may end up stuck in the longest line to get through security and to finally get in.

TIP: Tickets to Versailles bought on the official website come with an audioguide. Instead, I recommend downloading the Palace of Versailles app to avoid having to wait in line to get your device.

Way N. 2: Buy Versailles tickets via a third party site

Perfect for: Ease

Advantages: There are many third party sites where you can buy your tickets and if you look well enough you will find something, even at the last minute.

Disadvantages: Tickets may be more expensive than on the official site (this is not always the case).

Using a third party site is the easiest way to get tickets to Versailles. There are many sites to pick from, all sorts of ticket options, and none of the complications you may find on the official website. The bonus? Pretty much all tickets come with an audioguide.

These are the best skip the line Versailles tickets that you can buy on third party sites:

Continue reading to discover other tickets to the palace of Versailles that allow you to skip the line but which also include a live guide.

Hall of Mirrors

The Hall of Mirrors is the most famous room in Versailles

Way N. 3: Take a tour with a live guide

Perfect for: Learning a bit more about the Versailles

Advantages: You have a guide that shares interesting facts about the history of Versailles and takes you around the palace.

Disadvantages: You will be in a group of up to 20 visitors, so it can feel crowded.

Many companies run guided tours of Versailles which include skip the line tickets. Tours are easy to book – just select a date and time, and the company will make the rest of the arrangements. Someone will even print the tickets for you – you just need to get the mobile voucher and show up at the suggested time at the meeting point.

Tours last between 1.5 and 3 hours and they are a great introduction to Versailles. Once the tour is over, you can continue exploring the grounds at your own place.

Guides are usually quite knowledgeable about Versailles; they are perfectly trained to answer your questions and to move around the palace swiftly even when there are crowds of tourists. I took this tour and was truly impressed by my guide’s skills!

These are the best guided tours that include Versailles tickets:

Way N. 4: Take a full day guided tour

Perfect for: An in depth – yet effortless – visit of Versailles

Advantages: A full day tour where you get plenty of information, and a guide that takes you around the park as well.

Disadvantages: It’s more expensive than other options.

Versailles is huge – between the palace, the gardens and Trianon Estate it is easy to get lost. I won’t deny that as I desperately tried to find my way to the nicest and most hidden fountains, I wishes I had a guide with me to take me there.

If you are the kind of person that enjoyed being taken around without having to worry about timing, about looking at the map, and that enjoys learning more about the place you are visiting, consider getting a full day tour.

Full day tours include a guided visit of the palace of Versailles, of the gardens and of the Grand and Petit Trianon.

These are the best full day tours of Versailles:

Marie Antoinette portrait

A portrait of Queen Marie Antoinette with her children

Way N. 5: Go on an organized day trip from Paris

Perfect for: Those that don’t want to worry about anything

Advantages: You don’t even have to worry about how to get to Versailles.

Disadvantages: Tours may be a bit rushed.

If you are too lazy to find out how to get from Paris to Versailles, you can consider a full day tour that even includes transportation by either train or bus from Paris. In some cases, you will have a guide that will escort you to your chosen transportation and all the way to Versailles, where she or he will take you to your suggested entrance and then around the Palace. In others, you will have an audioguide only – which means you can go around at your own pace. You can decide to go by bus or train.

These are the best tours of Versailles that include transportation from Paris:

Way N. 6: Get the Paris Pass

Perfect for: Those planning to visit more attractions in Paris

Advantages: You get skip the line tickets to many other attractions.

Disadvantages: You have to book entrances to each attraction separately. You don’t really save much money.

If you are considering visiting a bunch of attractions in Paris, you may want to invest in the Paris Pass – this will allow you to get skip the line Versailles tickets, as well as tickets to other museums, including the Louvre and Musee d’Orsay.

TIP: Make sure to book a specific day and time for your visit!

PLEASE NOTE: The only pass that also includes the Eiffel Tower is the Paris PassLib. The pass doesn’t give you access to the Musical Fountains show and the Musical Gardens – you’d have to get separate tickets for that.

You can get your Paris Pass here.

Way N. 7: Make breakfast, lunch or teatime reservations at Ore

Perfect for: Those planning to see more attractions in Paris

Advantages: You enjoy a lovely meal and then get direct access to Versailles.

Disadvantages: It’s not clear what the meal includes.

I found this cool way of getting Versailles tickets after literally browsing every bit of the official website, and it honestly isn’t really advertised. Yet, I find that it’s a really cool way of experiencing the palace.

You can make breakfast, lunch and teatime reservations and you can pick up your tickets – which will be passport tickets allowing you to access all areas of the estate – at the restaurant. From the restaurant, which is located in Dufour Pavilion which is accessible via the Courtyard of Honnour, you can directly access the palace. From this page you will get directed through the booking experience.

Versailles fountains

Probably the most beautiful fountain in Versailles

Other Useful Information For Visiting Versailles

Book in advance

I can’t say this enough. Versailles is an extremely popular attraction. Not only I recommend to buy Versailles tickets in advance – make sure to get timed entry ones, or else you will have to go through the longest line anyways.

In this post I have given you plenty of suggestions for where to look for tickets to the palace of Versailles – the direct website, third party retailers, etc. You really should be able to find something for your preferred day, with so many sites to pick from. With so many sites selling tours, if you go through all of them and still can’t find anything it’s probable that the tickets are actually sold out – sorry!

Get a guide

Going on a guided tour – whether a short one or a full day one – is the best possible way of seeing Versailles. Guides are knowledgeable about the history of the place and know how to move around the palace and the gardens, and they will make your visit pleasant.

Opening times

During high season, between April and October, the Palace of Versailles is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 9:00 am to 6:30 pm. The Trianon Estate is open from 12:00 to 6:30 pm during high season.

Opening times during low season (November to March included) are from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm, Tuesdays to Sundays. The Trianon Estate is open from 12:00 to 5:30 pm during low season.

Please keep in mind that the Palace of Versailles and the Estate of Trianon are closed on Mondays and on 25 December and 1 January.

Prices of tickets to Versailles

The official price of Versailles tickets is €18. These tickets include access to the palace and the gardens, but not to Trianon Estate. A separate ticket for Trianon Estate costs €12.

The Passport ticket which includes access to the gardens and to Trianon Estate costs €20. The price is exactly the same for the Passport ticket with timed entrance, so make sure to opt for that as the lines are much shorter. If you want to include the Musical Fountains show, the ticket costs €27. A 2-day passport ticket (which allows you to spend two full day at Versailles and Trianon) costs €25 – keep in mind this is not a timed entrance.

A separate ticket for the Musical Fountains show costs €8.50.

Reduced Versailles tickets, costing €13, and reduced Trianon tickets costing €6 are available for a few categories – but usually tourists don’t qualify for them.

Free Versailles tickets

Free tickets to the Palace of Versailles and to the Estate of Trianon are available for anybody under the age of 18; for EU citizens and residents under the age of 26, disabled persons and the person accompanying them.

Versailles is free every first Sunday of the month between November and March.

Versailles tickets

This is the first peak of the palace you get upon walking in through the main gate

How to get to Versailles

Getting to Versailles from Paris is very easy. Keep in mind that there are three train stations in Versailles, from where it will take you between 10 and 20 minutes to get to the entrance of the palace.

If you want to travel to Versailles Château Rive Gauche, which is the closest one to the palace, opt to take RER C from either Sant-Michel or Champ de Mars station. Keep in mind that there are no RER C trains from Invalides and a bunch of other stations at the moment – something I (and a number of other tourists) only found out once we actually got to Invalides.

You can also take the Transilien train from Montparnasse to Versailles Chantiers station; or from Saint-Lazare and La Défense stations to Versailles Rive Droite.

TIP: Make sure to buy two tickets at the train station in Paris. One for traveling to Versailles, and one for the return journey. This will save you a massive hassle at Versailles train station, where there will be endless and slow lines to get train tickets.

Alternatively, you can opt for a guided tour of Versailles which include transportation from Paris (usually bus, but some also go by train). I have talked about it above.

How to move inside Versailles estate

Versailles estate is massive. I love walking, so I walked everywhere with no issue (except it started raining at some point). If walking is not your thing, you can opt for other means of transportation.

E-car

You can rent an electric car at the Water Parterre South Terrace or near the bike hire point in Little Venice. Cars can fit in up to 4 passengers and they cost €34 per hour, with a cost of €8.50 for 15 minutes. The cool thing about them is that they include an audio-guide.

Keep in mind that e-cars need to be booked in advance.

By train on wheels

The train on wheel costs €8 for a round trip, or €4.30 for a single ride. There is no free audioguide included but you can get one for an extra €4. The train stops at Palace North Terrace, Petit Trianon, Grand Trianon, and at the top of Grand Canal (near Little Venice).

By bike

One of the most fun ways to explore Versailles is by bike. You can rent it at Little Venice, which is right by the Grand Canal. It costs €20 for the whole day; €18 for half day; €8.50 for one hour; €6.50 for half-hour; and €2 for an additional 15 minutes.

Versailles park

Versailles estate is massive!

Security checks

All visitors have to go through security checks in order to enter Versailles Palace. Make sure to leave things such as bulky items, excessive amounts of food, umbrellas, pushchairs, walking sticks and pocket knives at your accommodation to avoid any delay in the security checks. Alternatively, you will be required to leave them in storage.

Luggage storage at Versailles

Luggage storage facilities are available at Versailles to store any item you can’t or don’t want to bring in. Keep in mind that there may be a line to deposit your stuff, so try as much as you can to leave any items that may have to be deposited in your room.

Toilets at the Palace of Versailles

Toilets (all of them with disabled access) are available across the estate and at Versailles and Trianon palaces. At Versailles Palace, they are located in the basement of the Dufour Pavilion (Entrance A) or in the basement of the Gabriel Pavilion (Entrance B).

Accessibility of Versailles Palace

Versailles has a wheelchair accessible gate – that’s the Royal Gate entrance A.

Once inside, Versailles Palace, the Gardens and Trianon Estate are wheelchair and disabled accessible. There are ramps and elevators inside Versailles Palace for people with limited mobility and wheelchair users.

Guide dogs are allowed at Versailles, but you will have to show documentation.

Eating at Versailles

You will find a few places to have a quick bite or even a proper sit down meal in Versailles or alternatively you can have a picnic in the park. Angelina, Angelina at Petit Trianon, La Flotille and La Petite Venise and Ore are proper restaurants. La Flotille and La Petite Venise also have a take-away section where you can grab a sandwich or an ice-cream.

When to visit Versailles

Some friends told me that when they visited Versailles, the site was virtually empty. It was February, so not exactly high season. Needless to say, Versailles is much more crowded in the spring and summer months. If you plan to visit during high season, make sure to head there nice and early (between 9:00 and 10:00 am) to avoid the largest crowds.

Avoid going to Versailles on Tuesdays – many museums in Paris are closed then and many tourists opt to go to Versailles. I’d recommend avoiding weekends to. I went on a Sunday and it was as crowded as it gets – I know, I should have known!!

Length of visit

You need at least 8 hours to visit Versailles Palace, the gardens and Trianon Estate – and that’s if you are quick. In fact, this is such a massive place that it’d probably require 2 full days to be properly visited. Make sure to be at the gate as soon as it opens, take your guided tour first and then continue exploring the gardens and the palace, relax by the fountains and in one of the nice cafés and enjoy the beautiful park.

Columnade

Probably my favorite spot in Versailles park

Final tips for visiting Versailles Palace

Get the mobile app

Using Palace of Versailles mobile app is a cool way to get information about the palace and to guide you through what you will be seeing – without the hassle of having to physically pick it up and line for that!

Visit Trianon Estate too

As I have explained above, this is an excellent addition to your visit to Versailles.

Look for special exhibits

Before visiting Versailles check out the official website to see if there are any special exhibits. These don’t generally require any additional booking, but they definitely add to the visit.

Bring your camera

Versailles Palace, the gardens and Trianon Estate are worthy of more than a photo! Make sure to bring your camera, turn your flash off inside, and capture as many photos as you like.

Take some extra cash

You will need it for small things such as food, drinks and even to pay for things such as the train on wheels.

Wear layers and comfortable shoes

Versailles was built in an area that was once covered with windmills – that means, wind blows quite often there. Make sure to wear layers that you can easily take off or put on as needed (you will spend the day going in and out of buildings), to wear comfortable clothes and most importantly comfortable shoes as you will be walking a lot!

Beware of pickpockets

A place as crowded with tourists as Versailles is the ideal playground for pickpockets, so beware of your belongings.

Further readings about Paris and France

Are you planning a trip to Paris and France? Make sure to read my other posts:

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Eight Smart Ways To Get Musee D’Orsay Tickets And Skip The Lines

Eight Smart Ways To Get Musee D’Orsay Tickets And Skip The Lines

Getting Musee d’Orsay tickets before your visit is the best way to avoid standing in line at the door and to make the most of your time in Paris.

You have finally made it to Paris. You love art so much that you can’t wait to visit all its museums and art galleries. You have heard wonderful things about Musee d’Orsay – many say they even prefer it to the Louvre (I personally don’t, but this is a different story and a matter of pure personal taste).

This is one of the top 10 museums in the world, with a fantastic collection of impressionist art such as paintings of Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet and Auguste Renoir. And let me not mention the regular special exhibits – I happened to visit during Degas At The Opera, and it just so happens that Degas is one of the painters I appreciate the most.

This is just about where the good news end. Musee d’Orsay gets more and more visitors each year. In 2018, more than 3.2 million people decided to explore this fantastic art gallery. This means that the museum is inevitably crowded, and that unless you have a thing for lines, you should absolutely get Musee d’Orsay tickets before your visit.

But worry not! Getting tickets for Musee d’Orsay is easier than you may think, and if you get skip the line ones you’ll be able to get in swiftly so all you have to do is open your eyes to admire the incredible art (oh, and the beautiful building too).

Since I have recently been to Paris and I have visited this gallery, I have done a good deal of research to discover all the ways of easily get in (I will tell you which one my favorite is a bit later). In this post, I sum up the best ways to get Musee d’Orsay tickets and share some information and tips that will help you make the most of your time there.

But first, let me share some background information on Orsay Museum.

Musee d'Orsay tickets

Musee d’Orsay is a fantastic building

Why You Must Visit Musee D’Orsay When In Paris

What a fantastic city Paris is! I kept postponing a trip there and eventually made up my mind and visited recently. I soon realized that I had been missing out for a long time and vowed to got again and again. This is a place where all kind of travelers are bound to find something they enjoy – incredible architecture; art; wine; food and even shopping.

As it offers so much, Paris is inevitably crowded with tourists. I have photos of the longest lines at the Eiffel Tower and at Versailles Palace – I took them because I could hardly believe my eyes.

Musee d’Orsay is another place that gets lots of visitors. I must admit that I had to elbow my way through Degas’ Exhibit and that I caught myself wishing for all those visitors to be gone so that I could enjoy one of my favorite painters in peace.

But I don’t blame tourists for wanting to visit. After all, this is where they find paintings such as Cézanne‘s The Cardplayers, or Monet‘s Houses of Parliament. You’ll be able to see pieces by Vincent Van Gogh, who lived in Paris’ Montmartre from 1886 until his death. You will find paintings by Gaugin, Manet and Pisarro. And this is just to name a few!

Going to Paris without paying a visit to Musee d’Orsay would be a real pity – so make sure you go! And don’t worry too much about the crowds: if you follow my tips, you will be able to skip the lines to get in, and to really make the most of it.

Some background information about Musee d’Orsay

Musee d’Orsay not only houses the most extensive Impressionist art collection in the world (with pieces dating between 1848 and 1914), but is in and of itself a work of art. The building that houses the museum is the former Gare d’Orsay, a train station that was built for the 1900 Universal Exhibition in the Beaux Arts style in the area where the derelict Palais d’Orsay used to be located, very close to the Louvre.

Gare d’Orsay served as the main station for trains directed to southwestern France between 1900 and 1939. After that, it was used to serve only Paris’ suburbs as by then its platforms were too short for modern trains.

After 1939 Gare d’Orsay was used as a mailing center for packages that were sent to prisoners of war during WWII and it became the set of various movies.

Talks to turn the station into a museum started in 1975, and at the end of 1977 it was finally decided to build the Musee d’Orsay in it – the building was classified as a Historical Monument in 1978 and the museum was finally inaugurated on 1 December 1986.

The building underwent major renovation in 2011, and in fact inside it is at the same time incredibly modern and very classic. The ground floor has a main hall and side ones with smaller exhibition rooms.

Though the paintings are the main attraction at Orsay Museum, while visiting make sure not to skip other departments such as photography, sculpture and decorative arts. In fact, I strongly advise you to spend some time admiring the building. I walked all the way to the top floor where all there is is just a balcony to view the center hall and the beautiful watch at the center of it. It gives you an idea of how big the museum is, and of how many visitors it gets at once!

Why is the Musee d’Orsay always so crowded?

The number of visitors to Musee d’Orsay constantly keep increasing, and – as previously said – in 2018 more than 3 million people went there to admire the extraordinary works of art.

Adding to the permanent exhibit there also are some temporary ones that end up attracting even more people.

But what’s the big deal?

Well, if you are a fan of Impressionism this really is the place to go. You get to see the very best of 19th and early 20th century art all in one place.

The fact that the Musee d’Orsay is always so crowded means that you should plan your visit carefully. It’s better that you buy your Musee d’Orsay tickets in advance so that you can skip the lines at the desk.

IN SHORT: These are the best Musee d’Orsay tickets that are also skip the line:

PLEASE NOTE: Regardless of the kind of ticket you bought, you will have to go through security checks and have your bags scanned before entering Musee d’Orsay. These lines are shorter and faster than those for getting tickets.

TIP: Remember that as per Musee d’Orsay regulations, only bags that are no larger than 60 x 40 cm are allowed. That’s the size of a carry on suitcase, so honestly don’t take that and leave at home any thing such as weapons (yes, even a pocket knife) or flammable items to make your life easier.

Continue reading for more tips on how to fully enjoy the Musee d’Orsay and on how to skip the lines!

Visiting Musee d’Orsay more in depth

The basic Musee d’Orsay tickets allow you to stay at the museum for however long you want. I asked a person working there how long a visit normally takes and all she said was “a day is not enough.”

I admit I made the mistake of not getting a guide or an audio-guide when I visited Musee d’Orsay, and all I have to say is that I regret it. Ok, the info on the panels next to some paintings provided some information. But first of all, for most of the pieces all you get in the plaque is the name of the piece, the author and the year. It really is not enough.

My recommendation is to at least get an audioguide – you can take one directly at the museum, you don’t even have to reserve it in advance, and it only costs €5.

Having said so, I am not a fan of audioguides and much prefer live ones. A guide will take you swiftly through the security checks; she or he will point you to the most important pieces. A guide knows how to move around the museum so you don’t have to fiddle with the map to find what you are looking for. And though a tour won’t last more than two hours, after that you will have the chance to stay at the museum for as long as you like.

If you are thinking of getting a guided tour to the Musee d’Orsay, these are some good ones

Continue reading to discover how to get Musee d’Orsay tickets and skip the lines.

Musee d'Orsay tickets central hall

The central hall at Musee d’Orsay

8 Clever Ways To Get Musee D’Orsay Tickets And Skip The Line

Keep in mind that you can’t buy tickets to the Musee d’Orsay on the official website. If you try to do that, you will be redirected to FNAC – of which I will talk about below.

Way N. 1: Buy Musee d’Orsay tickets via a third party site

Perfect for: Ease of mind

Advantages: There many third party sites buy tickets and you won’t have troubles finding the perfect one for you.

Disadvantages: Tickets can be slightly more expensive than those on the official tickets.

The best way to get skip the line Musee d’Orsay tickets is via third party websites. These have the largest offer and they are very easy to use. You don’t even have to print the ticket – as long as you download the app of the company that sold you the ticket, you will have a bar code and that will be enough to get you in.

These are the best tickets for Musee d’Orsay which include skip the line access:

TIP: If you go for the very basic option, make sure to pick at least an audioguide once you get to the museum! It only costs €5.

Continue reading to discover other Musee d’Orsay tickets that allow you to skip the line but which also include a guided visit.

Way N. 2: Take a group guided tour

Perfect for: Learning more about Musee d’Orsay

Advantages: You have a guide showing you around the museum and its most important pieces.

Disadvantages: Groups can be quite large.

There are many many companies that offer guided tours of Musee d’Orsay that include skip the line tickets. Tours are easy to book – pick a date; pick a time; show up at the meeting point. The guide will take the printed ticket for you so you really have to worry about nothing.

Group tours usually last about two hours and go over the highlights of the museum. After the tour, you can stay in the museum for as long as you want (well, at least until closing time!).

These are the best guided group tours that include Musee d’Orsay tickets:

Way N. 3: Take a private guided tour

Perfect for: Families with children

Advantages: You have the guide all to yourself (or your small group).

Disadvantages: Unless you can share with a larger group, it ends up being quite expensive.

If you want a guided tour but have children or don’t like large groups, you may want to opt for a private or semi-private group tour. It works the exact same way as a regular group tour, but it will be more expensive. The good news is that the price shown is generally per group so if there is a good number of people it may end up being actually quite convenient!

These are the best guided private tours that include Musee d’Orsay tickets:

Degas at the Opera

Degas is one of the artists you can admire at Musee d’Orsay

Way N. 4: Get a combo ticket to Musee d’Orsay and another museum

Perfect for: Seeing the best of the city

Advantages: You get to visit two museums with one booking, or even cruise the Seine for fabulous views of the city.

Disadvantages: The price of combo tickets may be higher than the combined prices of tickets to Musee d’Orsay and other attractions.

This option is available for combo tickets to Musee d’Orsay and the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay and Orangerie (a fantastic gallery of Impressionist art located in the Jardin de Tuileries), Musee d’Orsay and Musee Rodin (a great collection of sculptures) and even for Musee d’Orsay and a Seine River cruise. It’s a great idea if you intend to visit a couple of museums while in Paris, and most of the time you don’t even have to visit both on the same day.

These are the best combo tickets for Musee d’Orsay and other museums:

TIP: If you don’t want to buy your tickets online for Orangerie and Rodin, just go to the museum, get the combined ticket at the door (there will be a line, but much much shorter), and visit that museum and then go to Orsay.

Way N. 5: Get the Paris Pass

Perfect for: Those planning to see more attractions in Paris

Advantages: You get skip the line tickets to many attractions.

Disadvantages: You have to book entrances to the each attraction separately. It’s hardly a money.saver.

The Paris Pass is an efficient way to get skip the line tickets to many museums in Paris, including Musee d’Orsay. The only one that will also give you access to the Eiffel Tower is the Paris PassLib which costs €109 for the 2-day pass and €159 for the 5-day one. You can get it here.

These are other Paris Pass options that include Musee d’Orsay tickets:

the watch at Musee d'Orsay

A view from one of the balconies

Way N. 6: Buy Musee d’Orsay tickets on FNAC website

Perfect for: A no frills option

Advantages: You can pick up your physical ticket at one of the many locations in Paris.

Disadvantages: FNAC website isn’t easy to navigate, and the English version is not as complete as the French one.

FNAC is a massive online retail store that sells just about anything, or so it seems – including tickets to events and attractions. I don’t like the website: it’s not easy to navigate, and if you buy tickets through it you have to actually get them delivered at your address or go pick them up at one of their locations (there are some all over Paris so you will surely find one near you).

Unfortunately the official website of Musee doesn’t directly sell tickets but directs you to FNAC for sales.

To be fair, the website tends to be confusing, and it is not very user friendly. Upon navigating you will see that only the main page is in English, but you can ask Google to translate the other pages. Anyways, if this is a good option for you, the website is this or this and adult tickets start at €15.50 for skip-the-line access.

Way N. 7: Visit Musee d’Orsay on Thursday evening

Perfect for: Night owls

Advantages: You buy your ticket directly at the museum.

Disadvantages: Others may have your same idea (but I honestly don’t foresee this).

The Musee d’Orsay is open until 9:45 pm on Thursdays, with last admission at 9:00 pm. This is probably your best option to visit, because you can buy tickets directly at the museum (they cost €14) and the museum will be significantly less crowded in the late evening, when most people will be done with their sightseeing and already sitting for dinner and drinks.

Way N. 8: Get your Musee d’Orsay tickets at Paris Visitor Bureau locations 

Perfect for: Another easy, no frills and last minute option

Advantages: You can purchase tickets at one of the many Paris Visitor Bureau locations, including at Charles de Gaulle and Paris Orly airports.

Disadvantages: Tickets may be sold out for the day you want them.

This is written very small, at the very end of the page of the official website of Musee d’Orsay, but tickets can actually be bought in person at Tourist Information Points in Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris-Orly airport, and even Versailles Tourist Office. If you land in Paris and haven’t made reservations yet, you may want to give it a try. The website contains no information on the price of tickets sold at these locations, but I suppose they are just the official ones – €14.

Claudia - Musee d'Orsay tickets

Exhausted after a day at the museum

Other Useful Information For Visiting Musee D’Orsay

Book in advance

I recommend making advanced reservations for Musee d’Orsay. Especially if you have limited time in the city and this is a museum you want to visit, don’t take any chances. This post has provided ample information on all the options you have so that you don’t get stuck without tickets!

How to get to Musee d’Orsay

All people that have pre-booked tickets can get in from Entrance C.

The museum is located on 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur. Getting there is fairly easy and you have several options.

By metro

The easiest way to get to Musee d’Orsay is by Metro. Take line 12 and get off at Solferino.

By bus

Alternatively, you can get to Musee d’Orsay by bus. The buses that stop nearby are numbers 63, 68, 69, 73, 83, 84, 87, and 94.

By hop on hop of bus

If you are interested in doing a tourist round of Paris, you can get to Musee d’Orsay by hop on hop off bus. You can get your hop on hop off bus ticket here.

By Batobus

The Batobus is a hop on hop off boat service – quite similar to a hop on hop off bus, except there is no commentary but just an announcement of the various stops. You can buy a one day or a two-day pass and it stops at various key locations, including Musee d’Orsay. You can buy your Batobus ticket here.

Opening times

Musee d’Orsay is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm, except on Thursdays when it is open until 9:45 pm.

The museum is closed on 1 May and 25 December.

Prices of Musee d’Orsay tickets

The official price for Musee d’Orsay tickets is €14 for tickets bought directly at the museum, and €15.50 for tickets bought via the FNAC site.

A reduced fare of €11 is available for EU citizens accompanying a child under the age of 18.

Free tickets to Musee d’Orsay

Musee d’Orsay is free every first Sunday of the month. Visitors under 18 years of age can get in for free, as well as visitors who are between 18 and 25 and are EU citizens or long term residents. Disabled visitors and their chaperon as well as unemployed visitors can also get in for free.

There is no need to make reservations for free tickets.

Security checks

All visitors, regardless of what Musee d’Orsay tickets they may have purchased, will have to go through security checks. Be prepared to get your bags scanned and leave any bulky item in your room. Also avoid taking things such as inflammable items or pocket knives as they are considered weapons.

The website of the museum makes no mention of dogs such as guide dogs. In doubt, call in advance to ask whether you can take your service dog with you.

Length of visit

When I asked a person working at Musee d’Orsay how long the visit normally takes, she said that a day is not enough. I think she was right! I spent a few hours there and I think I have seen a portion of the exhibit.

Toilets at Musee d’Orsay

Toilets can be found on level -1 and on the ground floor of the museum.

Musee d'Orsay tickets

Degas at the Opera – a special exhibit at Musee d’Orsay

Accessibility of Musee d’Orsay

Disabled visitors can access the museum through Entrance C. There are ramps and elevators for wheelchair users.

Eating at Musee d’Orsay

There are three different places to eat at Musee d’Orsay. Two are nice cafés where you can sit down for a drink, a snack or a quick meal. One is a proper restaurant.

The best time of day to visit Musee d’Orsay

If you want to avoid the largest crowds at Musee d’Orsay make sure to go early in the morning or, if you are visiting on a Thursday, after 6:00 pm!

Final tips for visiting Musee d’Orsay

Look for special exhibits

Before visiting Musee d’Orsay check out if they have any special exhibits. There usually is no extra charge to enter, but you may want to schedule your visit depending on when the exhibit starts or ends.

Bring your camera

Musee d’Orsay is an incredible building, and there are many pieces of arts that call for a photo. Bring your camera and make sure to turn off the flash.

Wear layers and comfortable shoes

There is no dress code for visiting Musee d’Orsay, but keep in mind that it’s cold inside when it’s hot out, and viceversa, the heating is on when it is cold outside. Wear layers and comfortable shoes as you’ll be standing a lot!

Beware of pickpockets

Musee d’Orsay is so packed that pickpockets have an easy life there. Make sure to keep your valuables safe – zip your bag and wear it across your shoulder; wear your backpack in the front.

Further readings about Paris and France

Are you planning a trip to Paris and France? Make sure to read my other posts:

Pin It For Later!

Find out how to get Musee d'Orsay tickets and skip the line - via @clautavani