One Day In Paris: How To See Paris On A Budget In Just One Day

How to spend one day in Paris, France without missing out on anything!

As a typical college student with limited time and funds, I often find myself embarking on short trips that allow me to travel Europe without detracting from schoolwork or my job.

I usually leave at least two full days to explore a new city. But I set a new personal record for a short vacation by spending only one day in Paris.

My cousin and I were visiting Spain for about two weeks. Instead of flying from London right to Madrid, we decided to head to Paris first for a one day layover on the way.

We figured one day in Paris is better than no days in Paris, right?

Prior to the trip, I was worried that I would feel overwhelmed by having such a short time to experience one of the world’s most famous cities.

But I think I made the most of my time in France’s stunning cosmopolitan capital!

Read next: Travel Hacks For Europe: Packing and Planning Tips

one day in paris france
One day in Paris is better than nothing!

How To Spend One Day In Paris

I’ll outline exactly how I planned one day in Paris (on a budget of course!).

We first planned our transport, then our accommodation. Then we made a rough outline of the best Paris attractions and how we were going to see them in one day!

Overnight Bus From London To Paris

We took an overnight bus to Paris to save money and time.

The ride is about 8-9 hours, so you can save the cost of a night’s accommodation and just sleep on the bus!

We found a super cheap bus ticket from London to Paris with Ouibus.

The bus was comfortable and dark. I feel like I blinked and we were in Paris!

Other popular companies include GetByBus and FlixBus. Prices range from about 40 Euros to 80 Euros.

paris streets

Where To Stay For One Night In Paris

The key to enjoying one day in Paris is finding accommodation that is centrally located.

Then you can easily make it to and from the airport and stay close to all the Paris attractions.

As a budget traveler, I wanted to find an affordable hostel in the city center. We were only there to rest our heads for one night anyway, so we didn’t need luxury.

We stayed at BVJ Opera-Montmarte and it was perfect. It cost 35 Euros a night for a dorm bed, which isn’t that cheap but it’s standard for Paris.

Check out this hostel and other Paris hostels on Hostelworld!

After we checked into our hostel and ate the delicious free breakfast, we set out to see as much of the city as possible.

To save money and time, we stashed baguettes and apples from the hostel breakfast in our bags in order to sustain ourselves for the day.

An important thing to know as a traveler on a budget: TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FREE FOOD!

One Day In Paris: Best Attractions and Things To Do

Here are the Paris highlights that we were determined to see before the end of the day.

These are all within walking distance of each other, so we didn’t need to take public transport or worry too much about navigation.

This was a quick and easy one-day sightseeing tour of Paris, and it was awesome.

Here are the Paris attractions that we went to in order.

1. The Louvre Museum

Tempted to go inside the famous and gigantic Louvre Museum, we didn’t want to sacrifice too much time waiting in the super long line. (We should have bought a skip-the-line ticket in advance!

But admiring the Louvre Palace from the outside was breathtaking enough.

We also had way too much fun taking stereotypical tourist pictures with the Louvre Pyramids.

Book your skip-the-line Lourve ticket in advance to save time!

2. Tuileries Garden

Right next to the Lourve is the beautiful Tuileries Garden.

This lush green space with the iconic Ferris Wheel often has street artists and street music to observe.

We just strolled through here on our way to the Seine River.

3. The Love Lock Bridge and the Seine River

No matter where you go while visiting Paris, you are sure to see the Seine River. It winds through the city center and has many scenic bridges and walking paths next to it.

The Love Lock Bridge is just a bridge over the Seine River smothered in colorful padlocks.

But it’s a cute photo spot, especially on a sunny day in Paris.

4. Notre Dame Cathedral

Again, the desire to save time stopped us from waiting in the absurdly long line to venture inside the famous cathedral.

But the outside of Notre Dame Cathedral was stunning.

The booming ring of the Notre Dame Cathedral’s many bells also chased away any traces of tiredness that we may have still had, so that’s a plus.

5. Luxembourg Palace and Gardens

During our one day in Paris, the enormous and regal Luxembourg Palace was a great place to stop.

We strolled through the Luxembourg Gardens and relaxed in the grass.

It’s centrally located, and you can stay as long as you want here!

luxembourg palace and gardens

6. Eiffel Tower

As an image that I’ve seen countless times in pictures, this famous structure surpassed all of my expectations.

The sheer size of the Eiffel Tower and the detail of the wrought iron bars left me in awe.

We didn’t wait in line to visit the top, yet again. But we ate some baguettes in the park in front of the Eiffel Tower and it was amazing.

7. Arc De Triomphe

Unlike the Eiffel Tower, this landmark appeared exactly how I had imagined based on pictures I’ve seen.

Arc De Triomphe is an impressive archway in the middle of a busy traffic circle.

If you have one day in Paris and you’re going on a walking tour, you might as well pass the famous Arc De Triomphe on your way to Avenue des Champs-Élysées. They are right next to each other!

8. Avenue des Champs-Élysées

The famous Avenue des Champs-Élysées is a must-see on any walking tour of Paris. The boulevard is lined with gorgeous lights and chic window displays. There is so much to see!

This area definitely helped ‘The City of Lights’ live up to its name.

Visit any cafes, do some window shopping, and just soak in that Parisian atmosphere.

9. Eiffel Tower At Night

Venturing back to the famous landmark, we were lucky enough to capture the magic of the Eiffel Tower at night.

Speaking of ‘The City of Lights’, the golden structure represented the king of all the lights as it towered over the city and cut through the darkness of the night sky.

Seeing the Eiffel Tower sparkle was a highlight of our one day in Paris.

Other Tips For One Day In Paris

  • Try not to rush too much. Half the beauty of Paris lies in the quiet streets, not the major landmarks. Sit in a cafe for a bit and just observe your surroundings and people-watch. Or take detours down the less busy streets in between sightseeing.
  • We didn’t actually devote much time to eating, but we did make it a priority to try croissants and macarons to see if they were better in France than in the USA. Which they were obviously, so I highly recommend you do the same! Just stop into any little local cafe for some French treats.
  • One day in Paris is short, but it’s better than zero days! Just soak in as much as you can and try to fit Paris into your future travels again one day!

Travel Tips For France

  • An incredible way to experience France is a work exchange! Save money by working for accommodation and live and work with locals to experience the culture. Read my Guide To Work Exchange for more info.
  • If you’re thinking of traveling to France, visit to see if you need a visa!
  • Check out my article about travel insurance in case you need some advice on how to get insured for your travels. Or just head to Squaremouth Insurance to get coverage, which is my favorite travel insurance company.

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For more budget travel articles around Europe, check out:

10 Reasons To Visit Porto, Portugal

How I Lived in Portugal for One Month and Only Spent 200 Euros

10 Incredible Things To Do In Interlaken, Switzerland

6 Things To Do In Berlin, Germany On A Budget

12 Best Things To See In Barcelona, Spain

10 Reasons To Visit Cologne, Germany


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