What does a trip to Europe cost? Obviously, it depends on many factors including where you're going, where you're coming from, how long you'll stay, and what you do when you get there.
And of course, you know that. But it helps to have an idea, right?
In this article, I'm sharing our actual expenses from my family's trip to Paris and London to help you get an idea of what a 2-week trip to Europe costs for a family of four.
Keep reading to get an overview of our trip, what we actually spent, and my top tips for saving money on this trip.
Overview of London
We traveled with our two children (ages 14 and 11) from Denver, Colorado to Paris, France in early June 2018. We drove from our home near Salt Lake City to Denver because it saved us $1500+ on airfare. For Europe, it was worth it!
Including travel time, our trip was 14 days. We spent 2 nights at a hotel near Denver International Airport and paid to park our car at the hotel during the trip.
We flew into Orly Airport in Paris and then took public transportation to Gare du Nord where we took the Eurostar train to London. This worked well, but be sure to schedule several hours between your flight's arrival and your train's departure.
Our hotel was the Travelodge London – Covent Garden, which was a budget hotel within walking distance of many of our activities. We spent 5 nights in London.
Our itinerary included:
- Big Bus Tour
- The Tower of London
- St. Paul's Cathedral
- Westminster Abbey
- Churchill War Rooms
- Hampton Court Palace
- Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross Station
- The British Museum
- Hamilton tickets
- Wicked tickets
- Les Miserables tickets
Click on any of the links above to read more tips for that destination. They're all wonderful. We loved London!
Overview of Paris
We took Eurostar back to Paris in an afternoon. Then we took a taxi to the 2-bedroom apartment we booked through Airbnb.com. After sharing a small hotel room for 5 nights, it was nice to have bedrooms, a full kitchen, and a washing machine for 6 nights in Paris. The apartment we booked is no longer available.
Since our Paris apartment was not as conveniently located as our London hotel, we used the Paris Metro often. We bought the Paris Visite travel pass, which allowed us unlimited use of public transportation for 5 days. In hindsight, the 5-day, 5-Zone Paris Visite pass was not our least expensive option, but it was the easiest option. Overall, the Paris Metro worked well for our family.
Our itinerary included:
- Eiffel Tower
- Notre Dame Cathedral
- Palace of Versailles
- Louvre Museum
- Arc du Triomphe
- Disneyland Paris
- Tuileries Garden
- Luxembourg Gardens
Click on any of the links above to get our tips for visiting these exceptional destinations. Paris was everything we hoped it would be.
What We Spent
Here are our actual expenses for our trip to Paris and London. These are the amounts that were charged to our credit cards in U.S. dollars.
As a travel writer, I received some complimentary activity passes that saved us money. I disclose those savings and what we actually would have spent with the entry. But mostly, we paid our own way.
- $1,940 – Airfare from Denver to Paris for four
- $350 – Airport hotel (2 nights) and parking
- $365 – Eurostar
- $233 – Paris Visite travel passes
- $123 – Taxis/Uber
- $98 – Fuel between Salt Lake City and Denver
- $57 – Train from Orly to Eurostar
- $51 – Train to Hampton Court Palace
- $3,167 TOTAL
- $969 – Travelodge London Covent Garden, 5 nights
- $1,130 – Airbnb Paris apartment, 6 nights
- $2,099 TOTAL
- $464 – 2-Day London Pass (our London Passes were complimentary, for travel media)
- $325 – Disneyland Paris (we received 2 complimentary media tickets, so our actual expenses were $162)
- $241 – Les Miserables tickets
- $210 – Hamilton tickets
- $110 – Wicked tickets
- $81 – Eiffel Tower
- $66 – Hampton Court Palace
- $59 – Louvre and other Paris museums (with discounts from Eurostar and Paris Visite tickets)
- $47 – Palace of Versailles
- $24 – Notre Dame Cathedral bell tower access
- $1,627 TOTAL
- $207 – In Transit
- $331 – London
- $568 – Paris
- $1,106 TOTAL
- $155 – RoamRight travel insurance
- $600 – Cash in pounds and euros (spent on activities, food, and souvenirs)
- I did not track souvenirs, but we didn't buy much because there was so little space in our suitcases.
- $755 TOTAL
Grand Total: $8,804
Our budget was $10,000 for this dream trip and I was thrilled that we came in $1,200 under budget! We splurged on the experiences that were important to us and pinched our pennies for things that were less meaningful.
How we saved money
Airfare was our largest single expense, and finding fares under $500 per person made this trip possible. We searched fares for alternate airports and found that it was much less expensive to fly from Denver than Salt Lake City. We adjusted the dates of our trip to match the lowest possible fares.
Finding a top-rated budget hotel within walking distance of many activities saved us money on transportation in London. We didn't use the Underground at all – and used taxis and trains strategically.
Eurostar tickets cost less when you buy early. We bought our tickets five months before our trip – within a few days of booking our airfare.
Buying a multi-ride pass in Paris was less expensive and more convenient than buying fares individually. Public transportation is usually the least expensive option in cities. However, taxis/Uber can be competitive when a family or group can fill all the seats.
We used two different strategies for lodging in London and Paris. In London, we chose location over comfort and saved money with a no-frills budget hotel.
In Paris, we chose comfort over location with an affordable apartment in the less-touristy 13th Arrondissement – about 2 miles from our top attractions. We liked staying in “real Paris” but had to spend more money on transportation than in London.
Activities were our priority, and we were willing to spend money here. However, kids under age 18 get in free to many top museums in London and Paris, including the Louvre and Palace of Versailles. The British Museum is free for everyone.
The London Pass or The Paris Pass can be a significant expense, but if you use it well, it will save you money on the city's top attractions. Buy the pass online in advance and build your itinerary around it.
Our Eurostar and Paris Visite travel passes gave us discounted admission to select museums in Paris, and we used those 2-for-1 discounts. Since our kids got in free, we just paid for one adult.
Tickets to world-class theatre cost much less in London than in the United States. We went to three shows. The discounted last-minute tickets we bought to Les Miserables were our most expensive seats. Buy early for the best selection and prices.
Our average cost for food was around $25 per person per day. Considering that our better restaurant meals on this trip cost $80-$100 for our family of four and that we often treated ourselves to gelato, crepes and other snacks, you can see that food is a category where we saved big.
Breakfast was included in the cost of our London hotel. We ate simple breakfasts in our apartment in Paris. Lunches were often picnics from a grocery store – but it was so fun to buy baguettes and ham and cheese from for picnics in Paris! Both cities are filled with lovely parks and squares where you can enjoy an inexpensive al fresco meal.
- Tips for Saving Money on Your Next Flight
- Tips for Getting the Most for Your Money with The London Pass
- Why We Loved the Tesco Meal Deal in London
Now that we know that we can successfully visit Europe on a budget, we are excited to do it again before too long!
I hope that this information helps your family plan a great trip.