Everyone wants to know the best way to learn to code Python nowadays. It’s a great language, as I’ve written about before, with great career prospects and tons of useful features.
For as many reasons as there are to learn Python, there is probably an equivalent number of ways to learn Python. You can already tell because this is a listicle and not a tweet, but the best method to learn Python does not have a single answer.
There’s no one best way - there’s only the best way to learn Python that’s good for your specific circumstance. If you’re an experienced coder, the best way for you to learn Python will be vastly different from the best way to learn Python for beginners.
This list does not try to answer the end-all, be-all best way to learn Python. Instead, I address 7 specific circumstances you might find yourself in, and explain the best way to learn Python for you.
The Best Way to Learn Python Interactively 🔗
While you’re looking through this list and seeing a lot of challenging options that include self-driven work, reading textbooks, watching lectures, and wondering, “What is the best way to learn Python programming that doesn’t require me to read a textbook?”, you’re probably the kind of person who benefits from interactive teaching. I think this is the most efficient way to learn Python because the knowledge is much stickier.
The best way to Learn Python interactively is by taking the courses here on boot.dev. The Learn Python course helps you learn by doing. You’ll be writing real code into the browser and it’ll interactively guide you through the lessons.
The cool thing about this course is that it’s designed to help you get a job. That means it’s not just going to teach you flashy tricks, but guide you through the principles underlying how python works that might trip you up in a potential job interview. It also focuses on tasty job skills to open you up to more career choices, especially in machine learning if that’s your jam.
The Best Way to Learn Python For Free 🔗
You can find free/freemium options to learn Python just about anywhere online, but I love Exercism, freeCodeCamp, and boot.dev as the best ways to learn Python for free. Why? Because each offers a unique way of teaching that suits each unique circumstance.
Boot.dev offers all its courses and tracks for free. These aren’t just any free courses though if you’ll remember these are interactive courses that believe in learning by doing. There is a paid-for Pro option that offers extra features, but taking and completing the courses is completely free. You can always switch to Pro later on, but the chance to experience the platform first before investing is always a win in my book.
There are also ways to learn Python for free that are charitable.
Exercism and freeCodeCamp are respectively not-for-profit and nonprofit online coding havens. As a nonprofit, freeCodeCamp is required to use its money to benefit the public, so you can learn and help the world (ish) all at the same time.
With over 7,000 tutorials ranging from beginner to advanced, you can start learning Python and mastering the language today, but don’t take it from me, take it from the 40,000 students this website has helped get jobs in tech.
The other charitable option for learning Python for free is Exercism. They are a not-for-profit devoted to helping literally anyone learn to code, so they’re free and they always will be free. Every dime they earn goes right back into giving you the open-source access you deserve to learning code.
Relying on volunteers, Exercism helps people from all different kinds of backgrounds to develop their programming skills. They have exercises for 50 different languages with both automated and human mentoring.
It’s not great for total beginners, although that is on their roadmap. Exercism is still one of the best ways to learn Python for free if you already have some programming experience.
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The Best Way to Learn Python on Your Own 🔗
Maybe you hate paying for things and you don’t want interactive courses. Sometimes you just have to go your own way, and learning Python is no excuse. If that’s the case, the best way to learn Python on your own is by relying on YouTube tutorials and lectures.
Youtube isn’t just for influencers and conspiracy theorists, it’s actually an excellent resource for accessing video lectures from a multitude of professional programmers who were once just like you trying to learn the language.
There are so many amazing, talented, kind-hearted individuals who have posted unbelievable amounts of content for free on YouTube. The hard part of course is digging it all up, watching in the right order, and motivating yourself to actually try out some of the things you see.
However, there’s no better way to learn Python on your own. If you want to go your own way, make your own curriculum, learn your own lessons, on your own timeline, the best way to learn Python is by creating your own lesson list by curating YouTube tutorials and lectures.
Here’s an hour-long lecture I really enjoyed by a YouTuber called Programming with Mosh. Also, freeCodeCamp has most, if not all, of their tutorials integrated with Youtube, so there’s no short supply of information.
The Best Way to Learn Python Fast 🔗
If you want to learn Python quickly, you’re in for a tough ride. The truth is that learning any programming language is hard as I have reason to know. I’ve learned 3 over the years: R, Python, and SQL.
Every time I tried to learn them, I found that books didn’t help me, courses didn’t motivate me, and instructors didn’t teach me the way I needed to be taught. I could have slogged through and eventually learned these languages but you know what taught me Python fast? It was having my own project.
I did it by accident - it’s not like I asked myself, “Hm, Zulie, how best to learn Python?” Instead I had a driving need to know whether asking questions in my Instagram captions meant more engagement on my cat pictures. R is not great at scraping and Python is, so I needed to learn Python.
If you want to learn Python fast, the best way is to find a project that you really care about and that will drive you batty unless you solve it. Position yourself so that the only obstacle standing between you and the answers you crave is your knowledge of Python. That’s how I picked up Python basics extremely quickly.
Read more: 17 Python projects for beginners we recommend.
Boot.dev itself also employs a number of smaller projects throughout its courses as a part of its interactive focus on learning. So if you want a more structured environment, but still want the engagement of projects, then boot.dev is also a great choice for learning this way.
A simple path to your career in back-end development
- Daniel Gerep from Cassia, Brasil
The Best Way to Learn Python the Fun Way 🔗
After a long day of work, the last thing I want to do is spend my time listening to dull lectures as my eyes begin to blur letters and numbers together. In fact, what I like to do is curl up on the couch and play some games.
Codewars has created one of the most innovative ways to learn and practice coding, in my opinion. Supporting dozens of languages, you’ll train your mind and sharpen your skills by completing “Kata’s”, which are real-time competitions between you and other coders all over the world.
Code your way through the ranks while you accrue honor, insight into optimized coding techniques, and gain collaborative wisdom from the bustling community currently surrounding the game.
It does require you to prove an understanding of the language you’ll be training with and this will determine what level you’ll start competing at. It’s not a practical option for those new to coding, but for programmers looking to skill up, this is without a doubt one of the coolest ways to learn Python, as well as train the other languages you know.
The Best Way to Learn Python the Hard Way 🔗
Maybe you think all of these lectures and free options are just a little too good to be true. In a way they are: Any content that promises to teach you Python easily is probably lying. The easiest way to learn Python is to hire someone to walk you through it step by step, and anything else that calls itself “easy” probably isn’t.
That’s why I’m throwing learncodethehardway.org into the mix. According to their website, “Learn Code the Hard Way courses are the most effective system for learning the basics of computer programming.”
It’s not interactive, it’s just an online book. Learn Python the Hard Way promises to teach you comprehensive Python in a way that’s going to stick. It also includes video lectures.
I checked out the free sample of the Python book and honestly, it does look hard. But if you can get yourself through it you will probably know Python by the end. It costs $30.
However, sometimes an online book still isn’t hard enough.
If you really want to toughen things up, then try learning the old-school way with nothing else but a book and a cheat sheet. This method may take longer, but nothing feels better than palming through the pages and having the source of knowledge in your hands.
Two books I can’t avoid mentioning are Python Crash Course by Eric Matthews and Automate the Boring Stuff: Second Edition by Al Sweigart.
As the name suggests, Python Crash Course aims to teach beginners the necessary fundamentals. Split into two parts, the first half of the book covers basics like lists, loops, and dictionaries – what you need to know to write concise, efficient code – and then the second half challenges you with three different projects.
On top of a quick introduction to the language, the book also covers crucial Python libraries like Django, Pygame, Matplotlib, and others that you’ll undoubtedly need to know in the real world. It costs around $20, but you can find it cheaper if you’re willing to buy it second-hand.
The other book, Automate the Boring Stuff, is briefly packed into just 500 pages and is an internationally best-selling book. The authors' manifesto is all about learning how to make Python do the boring stuff, so you’re not wasting your precious time paper pushing and number crunching.
This book will take complete beginners to confident coders. At the end of each chapter you are encouraged to apply what you’ve learned in a project, and you’ll learn new tricks in Google sheets and automating Gmail. Keep yourself motivated, and this book will have Python working alongside you in no time. Same as above, it costs around $20 but is even cheaper if you’re willing to buy it pre-loved.
The Best Way to Learn Python to Get a Certificate 🔗
If you complete a Python course and you don’t get a certificate, did it even happen? If you’re the kind of person who wants or needs proof of your python expertise, whether for personal satisfaction or as a job requirement, your best bet is to get a certificate.
Sites like Coursera offer courses run by actual institutions. For example, the most popular Python course is offered by the University of Michigan. These courses take time: for example, the University of Michigan course expects that it’ll take you approximately 8 months to complete, working at 3 hours per week, so it’s not a quick option. You can enroll for free for 7 days and after that, you’ll be paying $49 per month for that particular course.
If you don’t have that kind of time, then boot.dev also offers certificates along with their courses. And similarly to Coursera’s specializations, where institutions will create multi-course programs covering a variety of topics, boot.dev has “tracks” where you’ll cover beginner to advanced subjects of Python suited for coders of all skill levels.
Learn back-end development the right way
Computer science skills will get you interviews. A portfolio of projects will get you hired.
The Best Way to Learn Python for You 🔗
The best way to learn Python depends on different factors:
- How much time do you have?
- How much money do you have?
- How motivated are you to learn on your own or do you want a more interactive guide?
- Are you a beginner programmer or are you experienced and looking to add Python to your belt?
You can’t learn Python the right way. Instead, this article should guide you into choosing the better way to learn Python for you. The good news is that Python is a fantastic language with incredible career prospects, growing functionality, and straightforward learning paths.
What is the best way to learn Python? There isn’t one. No matter which way you find is the best way to learn Python, you’ll discover it’s an awesome language with an awesome community. Find your path and get stuck in.
Take action and learn Python
If you’re looking to learn Python, we built our Learn Python course to take anyone from a beginner to having all the Python skills to pursue your dream Python programming job, such as in data science.