Home » France Travel Advice » Day Trips

Day Trips to France

A day trip to France is a great excuse to take a mini break across the Channel for a lot less than standard tickets. Whether you’re taking a ferry or going by rail, read on to discover your options for taking a short trip from the UK.

Skip to: Trips from Dover | Trips from Portsmouth | Trips from London

Cafe in France during day trip

Day Trips to Calais & Dunkirk

P&O Ferries Logo

Book a day trip from Dover to Calais from £43


Book a day trip to Dunkirk or Calais from £39

Irish Ferries Logo

Book a same-day return to Calais from £38

With a distance of just over 30 miles (and journey time of 90 minutes), the Dover-Calais route is the shortest ferry crossing between the UK and France. The route is well served by three different operators (P&O, DFDS and Irish Ferries), who collectively operate up to 35 daily sailings each way. This makes it perfect for a day trip as you’ve got multiple sailing times to choose from.

All ferry operators on the route generally offer some flexibility if you arrive late to the port, meaning you can hop on a later ferry (subject to availability) at no extra charge. After leaving the white cliffs of Dover you’ve got the option to explore Calais itself and its diverse range of restaurants, bistros and cafés, or venture further afield. Lots of day trippers do tend to stay around Calais to stock up on duty free at the outlets, as well as see some of the local sights such as the Town Hall, which was made a historic monument by the French state in 2005.

Don’t fancy Calais? DFDS offer day trips on the ferry crossing between Dover and Dunkirk. The journey time is slightly longer at 2 hours, however it’s often a better route if you’re planning to drive into Belgium as part of your mini adventure. You’ll find plenty of sailings during peak times, with departures usually every couple of hours from both ports.

If you suffer badly from sea sickness you can still take a short break to France from Dover by taking advantage of the super quick 35 minute crossing on Le Shuttle (AKA Eurotunnel). It is more expensive than taking the ferry with prices usually starting at around £59 each way, but is a great alternative to flying.

France Day Trips from Portsmouth

Brittany Ferries Logo

Day Trips to Paris from London

Eurostar Logo

For a day trip to the French capital the quickest way is by Eurostar. The journey from London St Pancras takes just 2 hours 16 minutes and the train will take you to the heart of Paris.

With the first service usually departing London around 6am and the last service leaving Paris just after 9pm, you’ll have around 12 hours to explore the city. That should be plenty of time to see key sites including the Louvre and Eiffel Tower, take a stroll along the River Seine and tuck into some classic French cuisine.

Common questions on day trips to France

How much is a day trip to France?

The cheapest same-day return tickets to France are just over £40 on a ferry between Dover and Calais. This includes a vehicle and you’ll often benefit from free wine included in the price.

What is the shortest crossing to France?

Le Shuttle has a journey time of just 35 minutes between the UK and France (by rail). The shortest crossing by ferry is around 90 minutes.

Do you need a passport for a day trip to France?

Yes – just like for longer holidays all passengers are required to take a passport when entering France (and when entering the UK on your return).

How much duty-free can I bring back to the UK?

Each passenger over the age of 18 is entitled to bring back around 24 bottles of wine and 200 cigarettes. You can find a full breakdown in our guide to duty free allowances.

When is the cheapest time to visit France?

You’ll often find the cheapest fares during the winter months (December, January and February). Most operators run day trip offers throughout the year, particularly during spring and autumn.



  • 35+ sailings daily from Dover to Calais
  • 1.5 hour journey time

*Price for day trip from Dover to Calais