How to Spend 48 Hours in Paris on a Budget
Dreaming of a trip to the City of Lights? Spending 48 hours in Paris doesn’t have to cost a small fortune. There are countless incredible things to do, see and eat in Paris that are actually super budget-friendly. Get some of the best city views for free, eat like a king for cheap and make your Parisian adventure a couple of days to remember.
Being such an enormous city sprawling with arrondissements to explore, your 2 days in Paris can be as busy or as laid-back as you’d like. This is our tried and tested 48 hour Paris itinerary, fitting in all our favourite Parisian sights while still making time to chill out beneath the Eiffel Tower.
When planning a trip for two days in the French capital, use our itinerary to help…
Watch our Youtube video to see this 48 Hour Paris itinerary in action
Kick off day 1 by making your way to the highest point in Paris, the top of butte Montmartre where you’ll find the Sacre Coeur. Being the second most visited spot in Paris, getting there first thing in the morning is a pretty good idea. This way you’ll avoid the giant crowds (though you’ll never find it deserted) and, more importantly, you’ll avoid the scammers that try to trick you for your money.
Being the highest point in Paris (aside from if you’re at the top of the Eiffel Tower), this spot in Paris has always been one of the most important places of worship in the city as there was the idea of being closer to God. This was actually how it was well before the Sacre Coeur was even constructed, so you can imagine what a big deal it was when the basilica was brought to life.
Top of the Arc de Triomphe
You can pay to get to the top of the Eiffel Tower or the dome of the Sacre Coeur, but we think the best views are the ones you get for free. If you’re aged 18 to 25 and are an EU citizen, taking in views from the top of the Arc de Triomphe won’t cost you a thing!
See the Eiffel Tower in all its glory, the tree-lined Champs-Elysee and the magic of Paris for as far as the eye can see. It’s a steep and windy route to the top and you may need to queue for a bit before you start the upwards journey, but it’s completely worth it for unreal Parisian views. There’s even a small museum of the arc’s story just before you reach the rooftop.
From the Arc de Triomphe, take the metro over to Trocadero for a classic view of the Eiffel Tower. Then just follow the signs out of the station to the Eiffel Tower, turn the corner et voila! If it’s your first trip to the city, you might be surprised at just how big the structure really is.
Champ de Mars
You may think it’s silly to do two Eiffel Tower spots in a row, but take the metro to Bir Hakeim from Trocadero which goes over the river Seine and you’ll see why it’s worth it.
The walk from the metro station to a good spot on the Champ de Mars takes a few minutes, so stop at a boulangerie on the way to pick up a baguette to indulge in when you get there. The Champ de Mars is the long, grassy park area where people take the most incredible photos of the Eiffel Tower. Chill out here for a while and enjoy a tasty French baguette before you move along.
Jardin des Tuileries
The Jardin des Tuileries are by far one of the prettiest gardens in the heart of Paris. Stroll down from the top of the gardens at the Musee de l’Orangerie and if the sun’s shining sit beside the fountain and soak up some rays. In the spring the flowerbeds will be in full bloom, but the Jardin des Tuileries are beautiful all throughout the year.
As you come out the other end of the gardens, you’ll see the huge glass pyramids that make up the world famous art gallery and Parisian landmark, Le Louvre. Home to the Mona Lisa, if you’re a fan of art that dates all the way back to prehistory up until the century we’re in today, looking around inside is a must. But if art isn’t your thing, simply taking in the museum’s exterior itself is a bucket list entry!
Just around the corner, stop at Palais Royal for a quick drink and then stop for photos at Les Deux Plateaux. The group of black and white columns from the 1980s stand at different heights in front of the 1630s palace, creating an interesting mix of old and new. We love this spot for a few cool photos, but we recommend you arrive either in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the photobombers.
Dinner at Chartier
The city is full of all sorts of cuisines, but when in Paris, eating out at a quintessentially French restaurant is a must. Head back to the hostel for a lie down and a freshen up before you pop out again and get the bus to one of our all time favourite Paris eateries, Chartier.
Chartier is a popular place, so while you can expect a delicious French dinner for a great price, definitely expect to queue for it! The queue here literally goes around the corner, but they offer sangria for €1 as you wait. Once inside, the place is enormous. The waiters are dressed in traditional black suits, chandeliers hang from the ceiling and the decor just feels French. You wouldn’t expect the prices to be SO affordable. We recommend the escargot (snails) to begin and the duck confit as a main - the meat is so juicy, tender and full of flavour, and it’s only around €10!
When you stay at St Christopher’s and book direct you’ll get given a free continental breakfast every morning of your stay. At St Christopher’s in Paris, there’s cereals, juices, ham, cheese, chocolate spread and, of course, French baguettes!
Over on the outer edge of Paris, Belleville (Beautiful Town in English) is a great place to visit to see a different side of the city. Explore the cool graffiti plastered around town, sit down for a coffee in one of the many cool cafes or a beer in Aux Folies, and get some great views from the pretty Belleville Park. There’s also a market selling local produce that sets up every Tuesday and Thursday so you can pick up some cheese to take home!
The quaint, historic district of Le Marais is one of our favourite parts of Paris to explore. With narrow, cobbled lanes and wider streets brimming with stunning boutiques, you could easily spend a day eating, drinking and shopping. The former Jewish Quarter still shows signs of its roots, with plenty of architectural styles and kosher shops that give it away. As well as a large Jewish community, it’s also home to a large LGBT community and many Chinese expats. You could stare at the pretty, fairytale-esc buildings and colourful streets all day long.
Lunch at L’As Du Fallafel
Falafels in Paris are a thing, especially in the heart of Le Maria where L’As Du Fallafel is famous. Stop to try their falafel wrap - a HUGE wrap packed with coleslaw, aubergine, creamy sauce, spicy sauce and the tastiest falafels we’ve ever tried. At about €8 it’s not the cheapest lunch option in the city, however, it's absolutely worth it for both the taste and the size!
Tip: there are actually 2 L’As Du Fallafel branches on the same street in Le Marais, one is more of a hole in the wall, the other bigger with more space to sit down. Make sure you’re not in the longer queue for one while the other is pretty much empty!
Said by many to be Paris’ coolest neighbourhood, exploring the Latin Quarter can’t be missed. Explore the cobbled streets, weaving in and out of nooks and crannies, see the famous, fairytale like Shakespeare and Company bookshop, the Grand Mosque of Paris, the Jardin des Plantes and way more. The Latin Quarter is like stepping back in time to olden day Paris, so take an hour or two to get lost amongst it all and enjoy.
In the heart of the Latin Quarter, the Pantheon is a majestic structure that was erected with the purpose of being a church. Now, the building is a mausoleum containing old, religious artwork, Foucalt’s pendulum which was first installed in 1851 to demonstrate the Earth’s rotation, and a crypt beneath it containing the bodies of important French nationals who helped shaped the country.
For EU citizens aged 18 to 25, this is another attraction you can explore for free, so when in the Latin Quarter definitely make the most of it.
Just an easy bus journey away from The Pantheon, Rue Cremieux is a more offbeat stop we highly recommend. The narrow, cobbled street is one of the most colourful in Europe, lined with houses of all colours of the rainbow and an insanely satisfying place to take your camera. You’ll probably find others there trying to get the perfect Insta shot, but wait your turn as it’s completely worth it!
Dinner at Terminus Nord
Right opposite Gare du Nord you’ll see an old-school French restaurant that looks a little bit fancy, it’s called Terminus Nord. The brasserie has been welcoming hungry punters for nearly 100 years and their style hasn’t changed a bit. When you sit down, ask your waiter for their set menu which lets you get a delicious 2-course meal for only €22.50 - for the quality of the food and presentation, this price is unbelievable! If the Butcher’s cut steak frites is on the set menu when you’re there, we highly recommend.
St Christopher’s Inns Gare du Nord
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Paris that’s affordable, clean, cosy and convenient, St Christopher’s Inns Gare du Nord is an ideal base for your trip. Just a 3 minute walk from Gare du Nord station with multiple bus links and metro lines, getting anywhere in Paris from this hostel couldn’t be easier.
Plus, the rooms are roomy, you’ll get a tasty free breakfast when you book direct and there’s a Belushi’s bar downstairs with insane Happy Hours and discounts for hostel guests.
We do have another hostel in Paris which is just a half an hour walk from Gare du Nord called St Christopher’s Inns Canal which boasts river views to die for.
Article by Darcy King
Photos by Ellie Roberts