Unsure about your French table manners? Click Here to download > > How to avoid these 10 food etiquette mistakes !

logo on offbeatfrance
logo on offbeatfrance
logo on offbeatfrance
logo on offbeatfrance

Follow me on

  1. Home
  2. Destinations
  3. Paris
  4. Best Paris Catacombs Tours

5 Best Paris Catacombs tours to give you Goosebumps

Updated 8 March 2024 by Leyla Alyanak — Parisian by birth, Lyonnaise by adoption, historian by passion

Make sure you get your tickets ahead of time for your Paris Catacombs tours – I did this last time and I admit I enjoyed not having to wait...

Descend into the enigmatic depths of Paris and into the hidden world below, where more than 350km (220mi) of underground passages house the remains of six million souls.

You are entering the Paris Catacombs.

NOTE: Pages on this site may contain affiliate links, which bring in a small commission at no cost to you.

Catacombs square


 💀 Choose this Paris Catacombs Semi-Private Tour with VIP Access! It gets you to the front of the line and into special hidden areas not open to everyone.

In the 18th century, overcrowded cemeteries led to a daring decision: millions of bones would be transported to a nearby underground quarry. It would take 12 years to complete the task.

Today, you can quietly wander through the subterranean chambers of the Paris Catacombs, past walls of stacked bones and somewhat macabre compositions where history and darkness intertwine.

Visiting the Catacombs was one of my own personal Paris highlights and if you want to avoid the long lines to get into what is often called "The Empire of Death", choose one of the tours below or, at the very least, get a skip-the-line ticket.

5 Best Paris Catacombs tours and tickets

Standing outside on a meltingly hot day, with my tour tickets in hand, I was able to whip right past the crowds and believe me, that felt great!

Many attractions can be visited on your own, including the Paris Catacombs, but because only 200 people are allowed in at a time, the lines can be long.

To get the most out of your visit, here are the 5 top-rated Catacombs tours in Paris, packed with history and excitement.

1. Catacombs of Paris Semi-Private VIP Restricted Access Tour

Hallway in Paris catacombs

This is a small group tour and provides the best of the best, from excellent guides to private viewings the average visitor won't get to see.

This is ideal if you're looking for a more intimate experience, and want to be in a position to ask a few questions without having to fight through the crowds.

The fact that the tickets are skip-the-line saves you time, because the lines here can be extremely long – it seems everyone wants to visit the Catacombs (with reason, I'd say!)

⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 2 hours   

✔︎ Fast-track skip-the-line entrance
✔︎ Learn the stories behind the Catacombs
✔︎ Explore the underground's history with an expert English-speaking guide
✔︎ Small group limited to 6 people


The Catacombs are an experience, but one thing that makes a visit more memorable is the storytelling that goes with it.

Have you ever heard of the man who wandered down into the Catacombs a couple of centuries ago... and never came back?

He'll be at the heart of some of the "ghost stories" you'll hear on this tour. You'll also learn about illegal parties and raves, and the Catacombs more recent history during World War II.

⭐️ Rating: 5 / 5 ⭐️

This is a really cool experience especially with the extra access that comes with a guided tour. —David_B

Overall --- A++ —Ricardo_A

Leo was wonderful. Her knowledge of the catacombs was vast and had as true sense of passion. I would book again with her in a second! —Elizabeth_B

This tour was a highlight of our trip! —Susan_B  

See more reviews here

catacombs tour 4 button
tour icon

2. VIP Skip-the-Line Restricted Access Tour

Sign down in the Paris Catacombs

This VIP tour is sold by a different operator but is basically the same as #1. Choose either one and you can't go wrong.

Here, too, you'll be in a small group with an expert guide, and you'll have access to secret corners of the Catacombs not available to normal ticket-holders.

On both tours, you'll learn plenty of history, especially dating back to the French Revolution (victims of the guillotine are buried here) and World War II, when the tunnels were used both by the Resistance and the Nazis.

⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 2 hours   

✔︎ Fast-track entry into the Catacombs
✔︎ Explanatory visit with an expert, English-speaking guide
✔︎ Access to behind-the-scenes areas
✔︎ Small VIP group with a maximum of 6 people


Part of the special feeling of being on a small group tour is watching as a guard unlocks a gate to let you through and closes them behind you – hence the VIP label.

Only a tiny portion of the Catacombs are open to the public, about 0.5%, so most of the tunnels are beyond reach. On this small group tour, you'll get a sneak peek at a some of the hidden portions.

⭐️ Rating: 4.9 / 5 ⭐️

"It was excellent having a small guided tour with 6 people, it made it more intimate."  —Rebecca, Australia

"We were able to go in lots of areas the general public couldn’t. Our guide was amazing." —Laurel, USA

"Awesome tour. Unique, interesting history, and a little macabre. Such a great guide as well!" —Nate, USA

"Was a brilliant tour with a brilliant guide!" —Caroline, UK

See more reviews here

catacombs tour 3 button
tour icon

What do you do with your "stuff" as you're walking around taking pictures of the Catacombs? I use this wonderful infinity scarf for my keys, ID and cards – no bag to carry, no backpack to hoist. Absolutely perfect for when you travel light.

tour icon

3. Skip-the-Line Special Access Tour

Barrel bone sculpture in Paris Catacombs

While the two above tours are small (6 people or less), this is a medium-sized tour that can reach 19 up to 19 people. If you don't mind a larger group and would like to pay less than you would on a smaller tour, this one is for you.

It has many of  the same benefits. You get an English-speaking guide who knows the Catacombs intimately, and you'll have a skip-the-line ticket and avoid the long waits at the entrance.

You'll hear all about the stories and legends of the Catacombs, and about what it took to engineer their move from city cemeteries to these underground tunnels, a move that took 12 years to complete.

⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 2 hours   

✔︎ Fast-track entry into the Catacombs
✔︎ Access to areas off-limits to the general public
✔︎ Local guide to answer your questions and provide context


And yes, you'll also have access to "hidden" areas not open to the general public.

As you enter areas that aren't normally accessible, you'll visit secret sculptures and even a hidden chapel, and receive personal explanations of how they came to be. Some of these are almost too incredible to be real!

The only significant difference between this tour and #1 and #2 is the size of the tour (this one is a bit more crowded) and the price (this one is cheaper).

⭐️ Rating: 4.8 / 5 ⭐️

"A wealth of information with the right amount of humor. We loved it!!!" —Justin, USA

"If you go on your own without a tour guide you will miss out on the stories and the secret locked spaces that will only be shown on a private tour." —USA

"Definitely a MUST if you are visiting the Catacombs for the first time. Informative and Line Bypass is priceless." —Ron, Canada

See more reviews here

catacombs tour 1 button
tour icon

4. The Paris Underbelly Walking Tour


Dark passageway in the Paris Catacombs

This tour, on the other hand, is quite different because it is private.

You get your own guide, and no one else tags along, only your group of up to 10 people. It's up to you: do it alone, or with your family or friends.

The advantage of this more "personal" approach is that you don't feel constrained by asking too many questions, as you might in a group full of strangers. You can ask away, and no question is too silly or repetitive.

Of course this tour includes everything the others do, from a skip-the-line ticket to access to "behind the scenes" portions of the Catacombs, and if you'd like it as an add-on, Addie (the guide) is happy to take you to some delectable pastry shops afterwards!

⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 2.5 hours   

✔︎ The spookiest of tours
✔︎ The most ghost-centric
✔︎ With peeks at Notre-Dame from the outside


Did you know that the population of the dead whose bones are under the city of Paris is twice the population of the living residents in Paris?

This is just one of the many unusual facts you'll learn about Paris and the Catacombs as you make your way through the underground tunnels.

What I love most about having a dedicated guide is that it allows you to delve more deeply into the history and legends of a place. If something strikes your fancy, you can explore it more in depth and ask plenty of specific questions to intensify your knowledge.

⭐️ Rating: 5 / 5 ⭐️

"Addie is the best your guide you can hope for." —Rachel C, USA

"Addie was extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the catacombs. A great tour." —Harold S, USA

"She knew so many details of the catacombs!" —Joseph C, USA

"Our tour was a family group ranging in ages from 13 to 81 and she made it interesting for each of us." —Julie O, USA

See more reviews here

catacombs tour 5 button
tour icon

5. Skip-the-Line Ticket and Audio Guide

Bones stacked in Paris Catacombs

This is the simplest of my five recommendations: a skip-the-line ticket and an audioguide.

The Catacombs are incredibly popular and during the high season, it could take several hours to reach the ticket counter. Unless you want to spend your holiday standing in line, a skip-the-line ticket is the sensible way to go.

Having an audioguide (available in English) allows you stop where you want to and repeat the commentary if you feel you've missed something – perfect if you're an independent-minded traveler who prefers to do things on their own terms.

⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 1 hour   

✔︎ Pre-booked skip-the-line ticket
✔︎ Guided tour with an audioguide
✔︎ Explore at your own pace


The audioguide will tell you all about the "Empire of Death" and how (and why) the Catacombs were originally created from ancient quarries.

As you walk along, the recording will point out such landmarks as the "Barrel" and signs related to streets above where significant events took place.

Whenever you feel like silence, you'll be able to switch off the audioguide and get a sense of the eternal stillness of the six million souls that have been buried here for centuries.

⭐️ Rating: 4.5 / 5 ⭐️

"Lots of historical information about Paris via the audio guide. Very impressive."
Alexandra, Germany

"Great self tour!" —Charlene, USA

"Amazing experience not to be missed!!!!" —Tim, USA

"Quite difficult to get into, so grab your tickets as soon as you can!" —David, Australia

See more reviews here

catacombs tour 2 button
tour icon

What you should know before visiting the Catacombs

Here are a few practical considerations you should consider when visiting the Catacombs.

  • Only 200 people are allowed in at a time, but it can still get a bit crowded if everyone is interested in the same "room".
  • The tunnels are quite cool and humid all year, around 14°C/57°F, so please dress accordingly. Bring a sweater, and wear good shoes with a bit of tread, because it can get a bit slippery.
  • The toilets are only accessible on your way out so make sure you don't need them on your way in.
  • No large bags are allowed, only small purses.
  • The Catacombs are not recommended for anyone who suffers from claustrophobia. The tunnels aren't particularly narrow but they are tunnels nonetheless, with no daylight.
  • Nor are they suitable for people with mobility issues. The Catacombs have 130 steps, which you have to descend on arrival and go up on the way back. There is no elevator access.
  • This is one of the most popular attractions in Paris and tickets will sell out quickly, especially at the height of the spring and summer seasons, so make these a priority for advance purchase when you're doing your planning.

Paris Catacombs tour: FAQ

Is the Paris Catacombs tour worth it?

Yes it is. The wealth of stories and legends around the Catacombs is best discovered with the help of a seasoned, expert guide who can answer your questions.

How long is the wait for Paris Catacombs?

It depends on the season, the time of day, and pure luck. It can be as quick as five minutes but can also last several hours.

Can you tour the Catacombs on your own?

Yes, you can. You can buy a ticket, enter and wander around, or get an audioguide for a bit more structure.

How much of the Paris Catacombs are open to the public?

Only a tiny portion is open to the public, about 0.5% of the total.

What are the visiting rules of Catacombs tours Paris?

They're common-sense rules for tight places: no large bags, and wear decent shoes. Otherwise, the Catacombs are not advisable for visibly pregnant women, people with claustrophobia, anxiety or mobility issues.

Do I have to take a tour to visit the Catacombs?

No. While a tour will allow you to see much more than you would on your own, at the very least you should get a skip-the-line ticket and you'll waltz right past the 199 people standing in line waiting for their time slot.

Are the Catacombs haunted?

Many people think so, and they're often referred to as the haunted Catacombs. Remember, the remains of more than six million people are buried there.



🚎 If you're in a city, use the excellent public transportation systems.
🚊 Between regions or cities, you can take the train. 
I reserve through Trainline.
🚙 In rural areas, train stations can be rare. I compare car rental prices with


You can use your roaming plan in France. Otherwise, you can: 
📲 You can order a SIM card before you get to France.
🤳 You can buy a SIM card from a shop in France.
⚡️ You can buy an e-SIM. 
I use Airalo when I travel.


🆘 Quite safe. But if you need it, the emergency number in France is 112.


Here are a few essentials:
👟 Comfortable walking shoes. You'll be on your feet a lot, and... cobblestones.
🔌 An adapter for your charger. Plugs are different in France.
👜 An anti-theft purse (this is the bag I use).
🧣 An infinity scarf, for evenings when you don't want to carry a purse. 


I use booking.com when I travel around France, which for me has the most complete listing and best cancellation policies.
For apartments or a studio, I look at both booking.com and 

Did you enjoy this article? I'd love if you shared it!

leyla round chateau

Bonjour! I’m Leyla, born in Paris, I now live in the bucolic mountain foothills of Eastern France. My days are spent exploring my country. 

As a journalist and former diplomat, I spent years living abroad and now, it’s time to rediscover my own back yard.

Passionate about history and culture, I’ve created Offbeat France to seek out my country’s mysteries and legends, less-traveled destinations, with plenty of food stops and many castles – I am French, after all! 
Read more here.