updated August 2020
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Who doesn’t dream of visiting Paris at least once in their life? Paris is often an ultimate bucket list destination for many people, but the cost of visiting the capital of France can be off-putting. If you’re looking for 5-star luxury and no expense spared, then this article isn’t for you, but if you’re wondering how to see Paris in 2 days and you’re looking for ways to see Paris on the cheap, then this guide to 48 hours in Paris on a budget is for you!
Seeing Paris in two days is obviously just a short time and you can’t see everything, but 48 hours in the city is plenty to see the sights, enjoy a weekend in Paris and make sure you can keep your Paris trip budget friendly!
I’ve been to Paris twice, both trips are always full of activity but low on cost.
For more Paris ideas, check out this 72 hour Paris guide.
The total amount I spent on this weekend trip was under £170 per person, including transport and accommodation. Here’s how:
Getting to Paris on a Budget
BUS. Seriously, take the bus, this is the best way to travel to Paris cheaply. If you’re in Europe already, there are countless options for taking buses between cities - Flixbus, OuiBus, Omio, Euroline. And the great thing about buses is that you can take overnight ones and right there you’ve covered your transport and accommodation costs in one go.
I did a weekend in Paris and took this Flixbus Service from London Victoria Coach Station:
Friday - 23.30 London Victoria Coach Station —> 09.30 Paris Bercy Seine Bus Station
Sunday - 15.00 Paris Bercy Seine Bus Station —> 21.55 London Victoria Coach Station
The great thing about buses is that all your luggage is included in that price, you can take a case for the hold and a carry on item, you can sleep on the bus (if you’re one of those people) and I know an overnight bus is long it but it’s overnight so you’re just travelling in dead time anyway!
Cost of return ticket: £85
Budget accommodation in Paris
After spending our “first night” on the bus and being super busy from the moment we arrived at 9am, we made sure to have cheap, convenient and clean accommodation booked for our second night in Paris as we knew we’d be so tired! I used booking.com to look up accommodation in Paris - you can use their filters to find the right accommodation for you and sort by price.
We stayed in Oops Hotel/Hostel which is a little out of the centre so it’s cheaper but in a neighbourhood, I’d researched and found a lot of amazing restaurants in. They have private rooms and also hostel dorms so this is a great option for solo and group travellers. We got a double private room which cost £52, so £26 per person, with ensuite, a balcony and this was our view.
Cost per person, per night: £26
What to see in Paris in 2 days
Honestly, it was the first thing we did after getting off the bus! Look for any fresh local bakery (there are so many) and make sure you try one of those mouthwatering croissants or pain au chocolat. We ate so many as snacks the whole weekend because they really do taste better than any at home and they’re cheap, especially if you look for the local, more authentic patisseries.
Cost: £1.50 x 4
Don’t pay to go up the Eiffel Tower
Okay now the real stuff. You can’t go to Paris without visiting the Eiffel Tower herself! I climbed the tower on my first visit but decided not to on my second, honestly I didn’t think it was worth the cost or the hours spent queuing - especially if you’re short on time it really isn’t a friendly option for 48 hours in Paris on a budget!
Plus when you’re up there you can’t get any cityscape shots with the iconic landmark in since you’re standing on it! And the railings and crowds make it difficult to see much at all. If you’re in that area, I’d suggest getting a picnic and enjoying some downtime in the Champ de Mars gardens around the Eiffel Tower. Below I have listed my favourite alternative spots for Eiffel Tower photos.
Arc de Triomphe
This is one of my favourite places in Paris for several reasons. The roundabout around the monument is the maddest thing I’ve ever seen, watching 12 lanes of traffic on a roundabout with 11 entrances/exits is exhilarating and terrifying to watch!
The view from the top is wonderful with so many perspectives of Paris and great shots down the Champs Èlysées. This is often less busy than the Eiffel Tower and there is also a museum at the top. The entrance fee is 13 euro but if you’re 18-25 and from an EU country you can get free admission - this is an offer which many Paris attractions offer so make sure to check!!
Cost: £0 - free for 18-25 year olds or 13 euro normally
This is another place which if you have time and would really like to see the view from the top then you can, but with queues and pricey tickets I chose to explore the beautiful architecture from outside as we were short on time.
Make sure to walk the whole way around, there are gorgeous views of this iconic building from the back and across the Seine too.
Or visit the Crypt and have a walking tour of the Notre Dame - Book here.
This area of the city really is beautiful but it’s a bit further out so I’d recommend taking transport - metro is definitely the easiest. It’s a great place to wander around and soak in if you have time with loads of cute streets and eateries, plus so many crêpes to sample…
If you’d like to go into the Sacre-Cœur, entrance to the church is free but it’s 5 euros to climb the dome. Also bear in mind there are over 300 steps to get up to the church itself or you can pay for a funicular to take you up - the funicular is included if you have bought a Paris travel pass for the transport system - these can be bought for 1, 2, 3 or 5 consecutive days.
Cost: £0 if you’re happy to walk!
Optional: Book a Monmartre Walking Tour.
One of the best museums in Paris, the world-famous Louvre museum is another place which is free if you are 18-25 and a resident in the EU, so if you’ve always dreamed of seeing the Mona Lisa, now is your chance!! The museum is huge and again, I had visited before so chose to just admire its famous architecture from the outside to keep my Paris trip budget friendly.
If you do choose to go inside, I would suggest looking at the Louvre website to plan in advance what areas you would like to see as the museum is hugely and you could easily spend a few days there!
Cost: £0 free for 18-25 year olds
Or get skip the line tickets here.
Other things to do in Paris in two days
Paris is full of the cutest book stores and shops, I always make it my aim to visit at least one new bookshop on every trip. My two favourites were very near the Notre Dame - Shakespeare and Company Bookshop and The Abbey Bookshop.
Stroll along the Seine. So much can be seen from the river as it runs through the heart of the city, with key landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Notre Dame right on the river, you can easily incorporate it into your weekend.
Alternative: Paris mini walking tour and Musee d'Orsay entry.
The Paris Catacombs
This wasn’t quite free but I’m going to say this was my favourite thing I did during my 48 hours in Paris on a budget. As much as I wanted to see the tourist spots in Paris, I also like to see a place or two that are less visited and less touristy, I know a lot of people wouldn’t enjoy this but as someone who loves horror, true crime, scary movies and learning about history, the catacombs have it all.
We headed there straight away on the Saturday morning and the queue was already big so I would recommend allowing that time into your schedule or visiting on a weekday morning if possible. Because I’d already visited a lot of the other attractions listed above, I was happy to queue. However if it’s your first time to Paris, one of the attractions above might suit better!
Cost: 12 euros - discounted for 18-26 years
Other views of the Eiffel Tower
Paris is full of amazingly picturesque street views and we’ve all seen them with the Eiffel Tower in the background, so these are my favourite street views in Paris:
View of the Eiffel Tower from the Bridge Pont de Bir-Hakeim
View of the Eiffel Tower from Le Recrutement Cafe on the corner of Rue Saint-Dominique
View of the Eiffel Tower from Jardins de Trocadéro across the river
Gros-Caillou area next to the Eiffel Tower which towers over the surrounding buildings
The carousels around the Eiffel Tower are there all year round and make for some beautifully colourful shots.
This is a ‘hidden gem’ for your 2 day Paris itinerary that I discovered on this budget weekend in Paris trip, although it’s becoming increasingly popular.
Luxembourg Gardens are a beautiful oasis of gravel paths, lush gardens and bright flowers with a stunning 17th Century house in the centre. There is lots of seating and grassy areas where tourists and locals come to hang out or get some quiet time. There is also this beautiful section of the gardens which I couldn’t resist snapping few photos of.
Tour the Latin Quarter and find plenty of photo spots.
Cheap Eats in Paris
Paris is expensive, and apart from eating an unhealthy amount of pastries and crepes throughout the two days, we only splurged on one main meal at a beautifully authentic French restaurant near our hotel called Chez Gladines. They don’t take reservations but they are extremely popular with locals so we waited outside for about 20 minutes before we could go in.
Cost: 25 euro per person
We also took our own snacks and food on the Flixbus on the way and bought some from a supermarket for the journey back.
TOTAL COST FOR THIS TRIP: £163
And there you have it, 48 hours in Paris on a budget, for under £170 per person! Have you done a short break on a budget? What are your number one tips and tricks?
p.s. if you’ve got longer in Paris, check out these day trips from Paris by train.
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Flights: I use Expedia to find great flights and the best deals all over the world, they have regular sales and offers so I always check their website. I also check CheapOair to find cheap deals on round trip flights.
Car Rental: I love the customer service I've always gotten and the variety of options with Rental Cars. But for short notice rentals, I've been using Expedia for the last year, they always seem to have great one-day rates or last-minute rates from the main rental companies.
Accommodation: I prefer the flexibility of booking accommodation with Booking.com so I can cancel or change my reservation without a fee or only pay on arrival for most properties. For longer or more unique stays I prefer AirBnB because you can get the long stay discount, you can also find more unique properties and book experiences with talented locals and businesses. For my budget trips, I always stay in hostels and book through Hostelworld because they have great guarantees if anything does go wrong. If you arrive and your booking is not at the property, they refund the full deposit AND give you $50 extra credit.
Tours and organised trips Although I don’t use tours that often, I do like to book local experiences or day trips once I reach my destination. For that I use GetYourGuide because it has the biggest selection and variety of tour and experience options.
Travel Insurance: I currently use SafetyWing Nomad Insurance. Which allows me to pay a rolling monthly fee to cover my long term travels.
My camera gear and equipment: I use a Canon 77D with an 18-135mm lens or a 50mm lens. And a DJI Mavic Mini Drone. For all my gear including laptops, tripods and more camera accessories read my travel photography gear guide.