September 18, 2020

How to do London and Paris on a shoestring in six days

Below is a 6-day London and Paris budget itinerary brought to you by DetourOn. You obviously do not have to follow it exactly, but think of it as a rough outline. Log into the DetourOn Planner to make your own itinerary. Before we begin, check out our tips for saving money while visiting London and Paris on a budget. In short, plan ahead, buy your entry passes in advance, walk wherever you can, and lower your hotel room standards.

DetourOn travel tips for London and Paris on a budget

train station in Paris
Gare du Nord, Paris – Photo by Moiz K. Malik on Unsplash
  • Book a round-trip flight that lands in London early in the morning and takes off late at night. These flights are usually cheaper. Not to mention that it will allow you to increase your budget for your visit of London and Paris.
  • Book a round-trip Eurostar ride from London to Paris. You’ll find the best deals for the first and last departures of the day. In addition, paying in advance should save you money.
  • Book your hotel rooms in advance online. Find the cheapest hotel, close to major attractions. Be open-minded when you finally get to see your hotel room in person. After all, you are on a budget! Be happy that your reservation actually exists and is accepted, no matter what state the room is in. Disclaimer: Reservations.com only shows rooms that have been verified, so there’s no doubt that your reservation exists! Just remember that quality is directly correlated with price.
  • Book your entrance tickets to tours and attractions in advance online. Many places often offer separate Skip the Lines fast lanes for prepaid ticket holders. Similarly, you should find great deals for paying in advance. This will allow you to visit London and Paris on a budget.
  • Use your feet and public transportation to get you where you want to go. It is the best way to experience the local culture and see its normal architecture. If you are a chatty person, you can take a cab or Uber. Otherwise, stay away! You’ll only miss experiences by trying to hold a conversation with your driver.

Our 6-day London and Paris budget itinerary

Day 1 – Arrive in London

Upon arrival in London, take the Tube to your cheap hotel that you’ll undoubtedly regret booking. Remember, you’ve booked it on a budget! No, you will not regret a higher priced hotel. However, you will have less stories to tell your friends following your trip.

Store your luggage at the front desk, then head out immediately on foot. Start by walking from Notting Hill to Kensington and Hyde Park. Take a nap on one of the park benches if necessary. When ready, continue on foot to Green Park and Buckingham Palace. Walk quickly because this is not the best part of London. Also, you will arrive just in time to catch the mid-day Changing of the Guards. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a quick afternoon tea with the Queen before continuing to Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. Note that there are two lines (queues) to enter the Abbey – one for tour groups and one for individuals. Check which line moves faster and join it. Finish the day with the best Fish and Chips in London at the Laughing Halibut. You’ll gain back all the calories you lost from walking.

Big Ben clocktower at sunset in London
Big Ben at sunset – Photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash

Day 2 – Eurostar to Paris

Take the first Eurostar from London St Pancras Station to Paris Gare du Nord. On the two-hour ride you will have to use your imagination to enjoy the view. After all, you will be in a long tunnel. Upon arrival, take the Metro to your “5-star” hotel where the receptionist refuses to speak English. The bathroom may be missing a light bulb, toilet paper and possibly a wall. Hey, don’t blame us, you opted for the shoestring version!

Leave your luggage and step out to explore the city. Begin at Notre Dame and walk along the river to Pont Neuf, followed by the Luxembourg Gardens. Take a quick and much needed nap on a park bench and pay to use the dirty public toilets. Note that visiting inside Notre Dame is currently impossible due to a large unfortunate fire in 2019. When ready, continue to the Pantheon and the Latin Quarter. Find a restaurant that serves escargots for dinner, such as Au Doux Raisins or La Maison de Verlaine. When night falls, take a stroll at Champs de Mars to see the Eiffel Tower in the dark.

Day 3 – Paris must-see attractions

Remember, you bought this ticket in advance. Get up in time to catch the first elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower. That means you’ll be up there before all the crowds. Take as many unobstructed pictures as you’d like. The view is nice, but most importantly, you have to prove to people that you paid to go up there. Descend by the same elevator (sorry, there is no time to bungee jump). Spend the rest of the day walking between Arc de Triumphe, les Champs Elysees, l’Obelisk and Tuileties Gardens.

Eiffel Tower, Paris
Eiffel Tower, Paris
Ger here early in the morning so you can avoid these crowds
Photo by Adrien xplr on Unsplash

Day 4 – Le Louvre

Take as much time as you need. Most sources recommend taking at least a month to see the entire Louvre collection. Inversely, we’ve allotted only one day for this museum. If you are only there to say that you’ve been there, you can do it in five hours. Purchase the independent audio guided tour in advance. Afterward get out and eat something. A baguette at Baguett’s Café is a good option. Finish the afternoon is Montmartre and the Basilique du Sacré Coeur. It’s a great place to buy a crepe, sit on the grass and enjoy the view that unfolds to the south.

Day 5 – walk like a Parisian

If your trip back to London is later in the day, get up and act like a Parisian. Start your day with a cafe and croissant, then head to the nearest park with a book. Make your way back to London and your lovely hotel. The management will be so happy to see you again that they will upgrade your room to one that actually has flowing water. It might even have an unused soap bar this time. Take advantage of the situation.

Day 6 – London must-see attractions

London Bridge
London Bridge – Photo by Charles Postiaux on Unsplash

Do the things you missed on your first day. Choose between the British Museum or the Tate Modern. Admission to the Tate is free. This makes it one of the most interesting attractions in London for the budget traveler. If you bought cheap tickets in advance, check out the London Eye and the Tower of London. In the afternoon, take a TFL boat to the Royal Observatory Greenwich. It is not the most interesting place, but at least you can say you’ve been to GMT-0 and floated on the River Thames. Finish with Piccadilly Circus with a dinner at Mother Mash. This is a great place to drown in the crowds for that authentic London experience before leaving.

Have a nice and safe trip!

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