While there’s never any shortage of things to do in Paris, many students also want to take advantage of being in such a central part of Europe to visit other cities throughout France as well as other countries.
There are also many towns and cities within a couple hours of Paris that can easily be just a day trip, the weekend is a great time to take advantage of low-cost flights or trains to neighboring countries and get a taste of local life in yet another culture.
1. Other cities and regions of France
The common romantic perception of Paris is arguably justifiable — it's truly a splendid city. However, it would be a disservice to your time in France to assume that there's nothing else to see in the country!
If you’re still digging urban life, check out France’s third largest city, Lyon. Stunning cathedrals, ornate architecture, extensive cultural events, and unique shopping make for an excellent weekend escape. History buffs might also want to check out the medieval villages of Pérouges and Vienne just south of the city, where Roman ruins and ancient cobblestone streets will transport you back in time.
Foodies gravitate to Strasbourg, the capital of the German-influenced Alsace province. Sample the unique Alsatian dishes, beers, and wines; admire the historic architecture; or cozy up in a traditional tavern, known as a winstub.
If you’re in need of some sun therapy, just head south to the famed French Riviera, or Côte d'Azur. While the area has become a busy tourist haven, the sunny, warm climate is hard to beat. Try going in September, when the massive crowds have died down but the weather is still pleasant.
From wine country to cosmopolitan hubs, the travel options within France are nearly endless!
2. Brussels, Belgium
Just a hop, skip, and a jump across the nearby Belgian/French border, Brussels offers a change of pace from the bustle of Paris. Indulge in classic Belgian treats like frites, waffles, chocolate, and locally brewed beer. Visit some of the city’s museums, or just spend an afternoon admiring the canals and cozying up in a local café.
3. London, England
Granted, London is far too enormous to be seen in just one weekend, but it does make for a fun couple of days with plenty to do! Go as touristy or as relaxed as you like: Get your must-have photos at Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, and other classic sights, or just spend the afternoon soaking in London’s pub culture. London is a world unto itself, and just a short train ride away.
4. Amsterdam, the Netherlands
A must-see for many students studying in Europe, Amsterdam offers a very different vibe from the arrondissements of Paris. Rent a bike and explore the city’s winding streets and canals; visit the famous coffee shops; and indulge in the happening local nightlife scene. For a historical perspective, check out world-famous museums like the Rijksmuseum or the Anne Frank House.
5. Berlin, Germany
A sprawling city with something for just about everyone, Berlin is full of contrasts between the old and the new. For history fanatics, historical landmarks like Checkpoint Charlie, the Brandenburg Gate, and the Jewish Museum are sure to fascinate. For contemporary art connoisseurs, Berlin’s many galleries show off its free artistic spirit. Finally, and perhaps most famously, Berlin’s rocking alternative nightlife scene caters to electronic and house music fans, with parties often raging into the daylight hours.
6. Rome, Italy
While Rome might not be the first destination that comes to mind when it comes to quick trips from Paris, the advent of low-cost European airlines has made it possible. While you won’t get to see the whole city (or even close to it) in one weekend, you can certainly catch some highlights that will leave you in complete awe — and possibly a food coma.
Choose from ancient sights like the Colosseum, the Vatican, and the Pantheon, which will leave you blown away solely based on their age. Rethink your entire understanding of authentic pizza and pasta by eating at local restaurants, and of course don’t forget dessert (and an afternoon snack) at an Italian gelateria. Nightlife options range from wild dance clubs to pub crawls to laidback wine bars, so take your pick.
7. Many more places in Europe!
As mentioned previously, thanks to the prevalence of low-cost airlines and high-speed trains, it’s possible to hop across the continent in just a couple of hours without blowing your budget. While these airlines also typically have tight restrictions on luggage and limited onboard services, the tradeoff is often worth it if you want to find a balance between getting there faster and paying less. Besides, if you’re just going for the weekend, it should make it a lot easier for you to travel light!