A day trip to Paris from London is the perfect addition to a trip to England! Thanks to the fast and efficient Eurostar train, it’s never been easier to visit Paris for a day.
Honestly, one day isn’t enough for Paris — ideally, you should spend as much time there as you can. But not everyone has lots of extra time to spend. So is it worth it if you only have one day to spare?
Absolutely — taking the train from London to Paris is always worth it. Even if all you have is one day, you can still make it the best day ever. But if you’re only visiting Paris for one day, it’s best to plan your trip carefully so that you get as much out of it as you can.
This post was updated in December 2019.
What’s the best way to get from London to Paris?
The best way to get from London to Paris is by train. It goes from St. Pancras Station in London to Gare du Nord in Paris and takes about two hours and 20 minutes.
What should you wear on a day trip from London to Paris?
No matter what the weather is, you should dress neatly and wear shoes with good arch support. I usually wear jeans, black flats, a faux leather jacket, and a scarf.
Do you need your passport to go from London to Paris?
Yes, you need your passport to go from London to Paris or vice versa. You will go through immigration and they won’t let you through without your passport (or government-issued ID if you’re an EU citizen).
What should you do with one day in Paris?
The perfect one-day itinerary in Paris includes exploring Notre-Dame and the Marais, having my favorite crepes and galettes in the world for lunch, visiting a gorgeous art museum, and seeing the Eiffel Tower up close.
The train is far and away the best way to visit Paris for a day. Eurostar trains depart from London’s St. Pancras station, arrive at Paris’s Gare du Nord, and take about two hours and 20 minutes each way. This is the Chunnel train to Paris that goes underwater, beneath the English Channel. You go from the center of London to the center of Paris, plus the train journey is exceedingly pleasant.
The bus from London to Paris, by comparison, takes more than seven hours. Not worth it. Driving takes just under six hours if you don’t hit traffic.
You could fly from London to Paris, but I wouldn’t recommend it for a day trip. The flight only takes about one hour and 10 minutes, but you have to factor in getting to the airport 90 minutes before your flight, plus nearly all of the London airports and all Paris airports are located significantly outside the city and take a long time to get there.
(If you insist on flying to Paris for the day, I recommend either flying from London City Airport, which is centrally located though often very expensive, or flying from Heathrow and taking Heathrow Express from Paddington Station, which takes just 15 minutes.)
You need your passport when going from London to Paris, whether it’s by train, plane, or any other method. (The only exception is a government-issued ID if you’re an EU citizen.)
One day is not enough for Paris, nor is it enough for everything you will personally want to see on a day trip to Paris from London. You can’t see the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay and go to the Eiffel Tower and climb the towers at Notre-Dame and walk around Montmartre and see the show at the Moulin Rouge. In fact, I wouldn’t advise visiting more than one museum on a day trip to Paris.
I encourage you to choose one or two activities that are absolute musts and to plan your day around them. Supplement your day with activities that are close to your main priorities.
For example, if seeing Notre-Dame is a priority, you can easily fit in nearby destinations like Saint-Chappelle, Île Saint-Louis, Shakespeare and Company bookstore, and the Marais.
If you want to spend part of your day in Montmartre, visit the Sacré Coeur, take a long walk down Rue Lepic, see Amélie’s Café des Deux Moulins, and walk down to the Opéra before checking out the rooftop terrace at Galeries-Lafayette.
And if you absolutely must visit the Louvre on your Paris day trip, take time to wander the Tuileries Gardens, visit the Palais Royal, and grab a hot chocolate at Angelina before window-shopping at the jewelry shops of Place Vendôme.
It’s easy to spend a Paris day trip going from attraction to attraction, but I think the magic of Paris is found in the in-between moments. Sitting in a cafe with a coffee or a glass of red wine. Wandering cheese and pastry shops. Crossing the Seine over and over again with no destination in mind.
It doesn’t take a lot of effort to get of the beaten path — just go to a new neighborhood and wander in whatever destination pleases you. I wrote a whole post about it.
I always tell people to travel to the destination that makes their pulse race. And that goes for Paris, too. Prioritize the things that make you excited — the things that are most important to you personally, not the things that you think you should do. If you’re not into art, you don’t have to go to any museums! You can have a day trip to Paris from London without seeing the Mona Lisa.
If your favorite movie in high school was Moulin Rouge! or Amélie, spend time walking around Montmartre.
If you love Monet, Van Gogh, and Degas, go to the Musée d’Orsay for the best collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings in the world.
If you’re a die-hard Doors fan, go see Jim Morrison’s grave at Père Lachaise Cemetery.
Beyond that, I think how you should explore Paris depends on your travel experience level. If you’re an experienced traveler, you can handle exploring by metro on your own. If you’d like something a bit easier, or if you or your companion have limited mobility, I recommend a hop-on-hop-off Paris bus tour. It takes you from attraction to attraction and lets Paris unfold in front of you.
Bonus: if you book this day trip from London to Paris by train, they include a hop-on hop-off bus tour for free.
Book an early train from London to Paris and a late train back to London.
You have two options:
1) You can book London to Paris train tickets here.
2) You can book a day tour that includes train tickets and a hop-on-hop-off bus tour here.
OR you can book a day tour that includes train tickets and a hop-on-hop-off bus tour here.
Morning: Notre-Dame and vicinity. Arrive at Gare du Nord and transfer to the metro line 4 toward Mairie de Montrouge. Get off at Saint Michel Notre-Dame. Stop for a quick coffee if you’d like and head up to Notre-Dame. Visit the towers if you’d like for photos of the gargoyles. Next, walk east to Île Saint-Louis and wander the streets. If you’re feeling really indulgent, get an ice cream at Berthillon!
Head north toward the Hotel de Ville and explore the streets of the Marais, heading further upward. Stop by Pierre Hermé for macarons — they’re the best in the city. Just be sure to eat them the same day.
12:00 PM: Lunch at Breizh Cafe in the Marais. This restaurant is home to outstanding Brittany-style buckwheat galettes and sumptuous crepes. I usually get a galette with egg, cheese, and artichoke followed by a salted caramel crepe for dessert, along with their delicious cider. Make a reservation in advance if possible (it helps massively if you speak French); if you’re uncomfortable doing that, try showing up when they open at 12:00 PM.
Alternative lunch: walk up to Rue des Roisiers and wait in line at L’As du Falafel, one of the best cheap lunches in Paris. Order your falafel and walk a few streets away to Place des Vosges, where you can enjoy your falafel “sur l’herbe” or sitting on a bench.
Afternoon: Art and the Tower. Visit one of Paris’s world-class museums in the afternoon. Since you’re visiting Paris on a day trip and have limited time, I urge you to buy skip-the-line tickets in advance, and be sure to double-check which museums are open that day.
The Centre Pompidou (Beaubourg) is close by; if you’re a fan of modern art and architecture, this is a great choice. There’s a fabulous view of the Eiffel Tower from the top, too. Buy Centre Pompidou priority access tickets here. Another option? Head to the Louvre and see the Mona Lisa (La Joconde) for yourself! The Louvre can be overwhelming; I recommend limiting yourself to two or three sections of the museum (I happen to love the golden Gallerie d’Appolon). Buy skip-the-line tickets at the Louvre here. My favorite Paris museum is the Musée d’Orsay, which is home to incredible Impressionist paintings in a fantastic old train station. Buy skip-the-line tickets to the Musée d’Orsay here.
Finally: see the Eiffel Tower up close. How you see it depends on how much time you have. You can take a hop-on-hop-off Seine River cruise if you have time; I recommend taking the Metro Line 9 to Trocadéro for the most stunning surprise view of the tower when you turn the corner. From there you can take all the photos you want.
I do not recommend actually climbing the Eiffel Tower. Why? Because you won’t be able to see it in your photos! But if you insist, once again I recommend buying skip-the-line tickets due to your limited time. Make sure it includes the summit.
Instead, I recommend getting a good view from the nearby Arc de Triomphe. It’s a 20-minute metro ride on the 6 from Bir-Hakeim/Champs de Mars Tour Eiffel to Charles de Gaulle Étoile, five-minute cab ride, or 30-minute walk. Climb the Arc (once again…yep, skip-the-line tickets are best here) and enjoy views of the Eiffel Tower as well as down the Champs-Elysées to Place de la Concorde.
A cheaper alternative is to go to the rooftop of the Galeries Lafayette department store in the 9th. It’s not quite as close as the Arc, but it’s free to visit with a fabulous view.
One hour before your train: arrive at Gare du Nord, preferably by metro. You have to go through immigration here, so it’s wise to arrive one hour before your departure.
Enjoy that train ride back to London, awash in your Paris memories. Now would be an excellent time to dive into those macarons you procured earlier.