For beginner coders and those just diving into WordPress development, PHP is one of the best places you can start. It’s a super simple and straightforward language, making it one of the best programming language to learn, so it’s fairly easy to get into, and it makes up the backbone of online development. Plus, if you want to work in the WordPress backend, you’ll definitely need to learn it.

But what if you don’t want to spend months or years in expensive college courses? Instead, you could take the first step into web development today. There are hundreds of free and paid PHP tutorials that can help you dive right into it, and we’ve collected over 20 of the best ones for you.

There’s a little something for everyone here, from old-fashioned do-it-yourself documentation to guided tutorials to interactive courses with games and exercises to help you hone your skills. Whatever your method of learning, you’ll find an appropriate course.

It takes a lot of work to learn PHP, but with a little online guidance, you can practice your skills and start writing your own code in no time.

Why Learn PHP?

PHP is a server-side scripting language that is primarily used to create dynamic web pages. You’ll see PHP doing things like generating interactive content, collecting form data, sending information to visitors, and authenticating users. It’s also the backbone of WordPress and its plugins, which add all sorts of unique functions to the CMS. You can do pretty much anything with PHP.

It’s also generally very easy to learn and a good starter language for new devs. If you do have a background in programming, you should tear right through it. But even total beginners won’t struggle too much navigating the ins and outs of PHP.

And if you’re diving into WordPress development, PHP is a must. It’s required to modify WordPress or write themes and plugins, and it’s the core of the whole CMS. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are also languages to look into, but none are as integral to WordPress as PHP.

The last reason to learn PHP: much like other programming languages, it has a huge community and a ton of free resources. That means you have plenty of places to turn to ask for help, exchange ideas, and download free software or find helpful guides.

On that note, let’s dive into these PHP tutorials you can find online.

Top 15 Free PHP Tutorials for Beginners

If you can’t afford paid courses or just want to try out PHP to see how you like it, free PHP tutorials are a great place to start. Free doesn’t always mean lower quality, there are plenty of free tutorials out there that are just as good (or even better) than some paid lessons. Many developers say that the free online resources are so good that you might not even need to purchase premium courses!

Each of these websites offers a unique way of learning PHP. Start here, and if you need more guidance, you can move on to the paid PHP tutorials below.

1. Official PHP Manual

Best PHP tutorials - official php manual
Official PHP Manual

Where better to start than the official documentation from the creators of PHP? This guide walks you through everything, from an introduction to PHP to how to install PHP and grasp the basic syntax. It’s a wonderful first read, especially if you’re used to programming documentation already.

The one issue with this is that, while it does cover some advanced features, it can only take you so far. It’s also quite straightforward and to the point, which is great for some, but total beginners might benefit more from a guided tutorial.

Check out the documentation and read through a few sections. See how it works for you. For many, a reference manual and a lot of self-guided practice is the best way to learn.

2. W3Schools PHP Tutorial

Best PHP tutorials - w3Schools PHP
W3Schools PHP tutorial

W3Schools is a great resource for beginner web developers of any age. Its guides are very simple and easy to follow, plus there are lots of references and examples to look at and plenty of exercises and quizzes to help you memorize PHP. You can even get W3Schools online certification.

If you ever want to learn a new programming language and are looking for tutorials that are fun and simple to work with, check W3Schools’ documentation.

3. PHP: The Right Way

Best PHP tutorials - PHP the right way
PHP the right way

Like every programming language, PHP has best practices you should follow. Fail to do so and your code will be slow and clunky, and perhaps even break entirely. PHP: The Right Way tells you all the programming standards that might not be obvious to new developers.

It’s not a beginners’ tutorial that will walk you through everything step by step, but it’s still worth a read-through so you can create quality code.

4. FreeCodeCamp’s Free PHP tutorial

Best PHP tutorials - PHP video tutorial

If you love watching video tutorials, this huge five-hour session is perfect for you. The full course covers all the basics of PHP in depth, showing you everything you’ll need to know from scratch.

Dedicate an afternoon to this, and you’ll come out of it a beginner PHP programmer. If you’ve already studied a little PHP and want to skip ahead, you can jump to any section by clicking the timestamps in the description.

5. Learn PHP with Codeacademy

Best PHP tutorials - codeacademy php

Do you learn best by diving right into programming? Codeacademy is a totally free resource that teaches through code rather than with just video or text tutorials. Though it’s primarily made up of interactive lessons, there are also quizzes, articles, and freeform projects. It’s just like a self-guided college course and all you need to do is make an account.

6. PHP Apprentice

php apprentice
PHP Apprentice

Beginner or experienced, PHP Apprentice has good advice for you. The free online book is a work in progress, currently with twenty-two bite-sized pages mostly filled with examples of PHP in action. It’s a little like typical programming documentation, but a lot simpler and easier to grasp.

7. GeeksforGeeks PHP Tutorials

Best PHP tutorials - geeksforgeeks php

A lot of these free resources cover the basics and not much else. This gigantic set of tutorials goes over absolutely everything, covering all the functions and libraries PHP has to offer.

This reads less like a guide and more like documentation, so if you liked the official PHP manual but want something a little more substantial, try out this site.

8. TutorialsPoint PHP Tutorial

tutorialspoint php

This is another absolutely huge resource of PHP learning, but rather than very straightforward, documentation-style pages, it’s structured more like a series of tutorials. There’s quite a lot here, from the basics to more advanced topics, plus examples of using PHP for logins, forms, and with AJAX.

9. PHP Basics Playlist

php basics

If you’re still grasping at the basics and prefer video walkthroughs, these PHP tutorials have exactly what you need. The 35 videos are relatively short, ranging from 5 to 20 minutes and covering a lot of different topics. You can watch the whole series for free in about five hours.

10. Learn PHP in Y Minutes

learn php in y minutes
Learn X in Y Minutes

Want to learn PHP, fast? This document goes over everything briefly and with no frills, just code. There’s no hand-holding or lengthy explanations, it manages to condense PHP into a single page. Great if you like your tutorials to the point.

11. Free Interactive PHP Tutorial

Best PHP tutorials - learn PHP interactive tutorial free interactive PHP tutorial

The unique thing about this PHP tutorial is that it’s a set of interactive exercises that encourage you to try out coding and see if you can get the expected output. If you fail, it’ll let you know where you went wrong, just like a real code compiler. Try this out if you want to test out your syntax in real-time with a guided lesson.

12. The Net Ninja’s PHP Tutorial for Beginners Playlist

The Net Ninja's free PHP tutorial
The Net Ninja’s free PHP tutorial

If you want to build your own website from scratch, here is the perfect video playlist. Using PHP and MySQL together, you can build a fully functional website with a database and learn how to code all sorts of functions like forms and data validation. These videos are excellent and you’re sure to learn a lot from them.

13. PHP5 Tutorial

php5 tutorial
PHP5 tutorial

This documentation walks you through PHP and MySQL with plenty of helpful images and easy-to-follow guidance. The one downside is that it’s focused on PHP 5, which has already reached its end of life. PHP 5.6 is still widely used across the web, but it’s probably best to work with PHP 7 if you can. This website still covers the basics of PHP fairly well, so it may still be worth reading.

14. Traversy Media’s PHP Front To Back Playlist

php front to back
Traversy Media’s PHP tutorial

Check out this playlist: it’ll teach you everything there is to know about PHP in a series of 22 video tutorials. This goes over the basics like installation and PHP syntax, then goes on to cover advanced implementation like MySQLi integration and setting cookies with PHP.

15. SoloLearn PHP Tutorial

Best PHP tutorials - sololearn php

SoloLearn made their series of lessons to be fun and engaging. Quizzes help you remember what you studied, while achievements and interactive content keeps you interested. All you need to do is create an account and you can even take the course on your phone as well as online. With over one million students, a lot of developers have gotten their start here.

12 Paid PHP Tutorials for Serious Developers

These paid PHP courses offer an advanced look at PHP. Many of them are well worth the money, offering multiple methods of study: videos, text tutorials, and interactive learning exercises. They may also give some insight into PHP that free tutorials don’t cover.

If you learn best in an online college-like environment, these paid courses might just be for you.

1. Udemy PHP Tutorials

Best PHP tutorials - udemy php courses
PHP Tutorials on Udemy

Udemy is a wildly popular online platform for all sorts of courses from a variety of topics. Three and a half million students are learning PHP on the platform alone. There are hundreds of PHP courses covering the language in every possible angle, so there’s something for everyone here.

The one downside: the courses can be quite expensive, running at usually $50-$200. But these often contain hours or even days of video as well as interactive lessons and downloadable resources, so it can be a good investment.

2. PHP for Beginners

Best PHP tutorials - php for beginners
PHP for Beginners

If you want a course that takes you from zero to PHP expertise, try this out. It teaches you how to integrate PHP with CMSes like WordPress, work with MySQL databases, and create interactive content. Besides all that, you’ll be taught the basics of programming and debugging your own code. There’s an absolute ton of content here, so get ready for a long course.

3. Lynda PHP Tutorials

lynda php
PHP Tutorials on Lynda

Lynda contains 55 PHP courses and nearly 2000 video tutorials, which are usually several hours long. Like Udemy, these are made by many different people and cover a variety of PHP-related topics. You can sort the results by skill level, subject, and even PHP version.

Plus, a few videos are usually available for free from each course so you can see if it’s the right fit for you. After that, you’ll need to purchase a subscription to see the rest of the lessons.

4. Coursera PHP Courses

Best PHP tutorials - coursera php
PHP Courses on Coursera

Want to learn from universities without having to actually go to college? These Coursera lessons are the way to go. Some are free, but many do have a fee you’ll need to pay to enroll.

Financial aid is available, so this can be an affordable option. You actually enroll in a scheduled course, work alongside peers, get graded, and earn certification.

5. Learn Object-Oriented PHP By Building a Complete Website

Object-Oriented PHP course

Want to build your own website from nothing? This course teaches you everything about object-oriented programming and how to learn it when working with PHP. You’ll have the chance to learn the basics, and by the end, you’ll have made your own functional website. Studying for months isn’t much fun, so try this course if you want to start creating something right now.

6. Make a Spotify Clone from Scratch: JavaScript PHP and MySQL

spotify clone php
How to make a Spotify clone tutorial

Making a clone is one of the best ways to practice a skill. It can teach you to copy how the experts do it while giving you room to add your own touches and experiment. This course teaches you not just PHP but JavaScript and MySQL, all from absolutely nothing. You’ll make a Spotify clone using your new skills as it walks you through every step of the journey.

7. Laracasts Journey: PHP

Best PHP tutorials - laracasts journey

Laracasts is a massive source of screencasts or video tutorials that record the screen and show you everything the teacher is doing. There are hundreds of PHP lessons here and the entire beginner course is free. For $15/month you can access all the premium lessons.

8. Treehouse PHP Courses

Treehouse php

Treehouse offers thousands of courses on its site for a monthly fee, with over thirty PHP courses to study. Along with video, there’s quizzes and objectives on each lesson to help you practice what you learned. Some courses only a few minutes long, while others have hours of video content. And if you want to try out other web languages, a Treehouse subscription gets you access to those as well.

9. The Complete PHP MYSQL Professional Course with 5 Projects

php mysql course
PHP MYSQL Professional Course on Udemy

PHP and MySQL often go hand in hand. If backend development is your goal, this course has five projects to help you progress in your career. With 148 lectures and 20 hours of video, this one is going to keep you busy for a long time!

10. Pluralsight PHP Courses

Best PHP tutorials - pluralsight php

Pluralsight is a source of premium computer science and technology lessons. For a monthly fee, you get access to video courses as well as learning paths that can build you up to certain career roles, or even get you certified.

Using this platform, you can measure your skills in certain areas to determine how well you’d do at various tech jobs. The primary goal here is to help you gain the skills you need to become a professional developer and get you into the business.

11. Getting Started with Laravel

getting started with laravel
Getting started with Laravel course

This course from Pluralsight will teach you PHP’s most popular framework: Laravel. Laravel helps you create web applications that are fast, powerful, and expressive. It’s like an addon to PHP that lets you build better things a lot easier. If you want to expand your PHP knowledge, learning Laravel is the best place to start. Learn more about the best PHP frameworks.

12. PHP for Beginners: How to Build an E-Commerce Store

php for beginners course
PHP for Beginners on Udemy

Looking to build your own ecommerce store using PHP? PHP is integral to an online store, as it often handles many of the requests and authentication you need to perform.

This course isn’t for beginners; you’ll need to know HTML and PHP syntax before you jump in. It’s more focused on teaching you how to build applications and handle the frontend and backend of an ecommerce store.


Every developer needs to start somewhere. Choose a PHP tutorial that suits your learning style, and you can tackle PHP without having to pay for expensive college courses at all.

One of the hardest parts of web development is learning the multiple languages required to build a website. PHP is an easy language to grasp, and it’s a great start before you dive into more complex web languages like HTML,CSS, SQL, and JavaScript.

If you’re learning WordPress too, keep an eye on what people are using with it. JavaScript and React are becoming more and more important tools for WordPress developers and adding those to your skill set could be a good next step once you’ve got some PHP experience under your belt.

Just remember that the learning doesn’t stop once you finish the course or read all the documentation. The web is ever-evolving and there’s always more to learn.  Knowing the programming trends can keep you relevant and help you create groundbreaking apps or find work in new areas. PHP is just the beginning.

Do you have any PHP tutorials, cheat sheets, or resources of your own to share with new devs? Share the PHP resources you’ve found most helpful in the comments!

Brenda Barron

Brenda Barron is a journalist and copywriter from California. She contributes to sites like WPMU DEV, Envato, and Torque.