This Paris travel guide covers the must-see things to do in Paris, France along with some travel tips to help you get started with the essentials for an amazing Paris vacation.
With a city so charming, but also a bit overwhelming, I know it can be hard to decide how to plan for Paris. I hope this list of the top things to see in Paris helps you whether you’re planning for two days in Paris or more. These are the must- see sites to add to your travel plan.
Paris Travel Guide: The Must-Do's!
Climb the Eiffel Tower
Every list of things to do in Paris will include the Eiffel Tower (or Tour Eiffel) and for good reason. It’s worth two visits really, once during daytime and once at night so you can see it lit up in the sky.
How to skip the line at the Eiffel Tower
My Eiffel Tower travel tip is to take the stairs! Get in the security line on Avenue Gustave Eiffel. This is the side opposite from the carousel. Technically you can't skip the line, however, by opting to take the stairs the line will be MUCH shorter. It was barely a few minutes wait for us in the security line. And after security we were able to grab our tickets and immediately take the stairs.
There are a total of 3 floors on the tower. You are only able to take the stairs to the first two, however, the views on the first and second floor are amazing and I don’t think you miss out by skipping the top, top floor. Plus, the lines for taking the elevator up are crazy long. You’ll save loads of time taking the stairs even if you go slowly. You are also able to take the elevator down so you don’t have to kill your knees walking down that many flights of stairs.
Visit Notre Dame Cathedral
Paris has so many stunning cathedrals and the Notre Dame did not disappoint. The architecture is just stunning! While the cathedral is not currently open to tour due to the fire in 2019, you can still admire Notre Dame from outside. It is expected to reopen to visitors inside in December 2024.
Explore the Paris Catacombs
The Catacombs may not be on the average Paris travel list, but I personally loved exploring them. The secret is to get skip-the-line tickets. They only pass out so many for the tour companies in the city so you’ll need to order them as soon as you can leading up to your trip. There are lots of stairs down and then up again so wear the comfortable shoes.
Our tickets were for right at opening time and we waited maybe 3 minutes before getting inside. The other line, however, was wrapped around the corner. With our tickets, we used an audio guide which allowed us to go at our own pace while learning the history of the Catacombs.
Read Next: Guide to Exploring the Paris Catacombs
Paris Travel Guide: Tour the Louvre
Get here early! We ordered tickets beforehand, but had to pick them up the day of along with our self-guided audio kits. Here’s more information about the self-guided tour we used.
It truly is a gorgeous museum with so much to see that you could visit every time you’re in Paris and find something new. If you can’t make it here before opening, I would recommend arriving ~90 minutes before closing when the crowds and lines will be shorter.
Relax in the Luxembourg Gardens
When in Paris, do as the Parisians do and spend an afternoon enjoying the gardens. Luxembourg Gardens were incredibly stunning during our visit since fall was just beginning and the leaves were turning. There are plenty of chairs and green grass to sit and relax in and enjoy the people watching.
See the Views from Montparnasse Tower
The Montparnasse Tower offers one of the best views of the city. We stopped here on our first day and it really helped us situate ourselves in the city. You can get a view of EVERYTHING. Check out my guide to getting the best views in Paris.
Paris Travel Guide: Enjoy the Sacre Coeur
Sacre Coeur is beautiful and the walk to get there, whatever route you take, wanders through small streets and past local businesses and shops. If you haven’t noticed there is theme which continues here: lots of stairs and steps! You can take the funicular located at the left at the bottom of the hill. The cost will be one regular metro ticket but can save your feet some pain.
Walk along Champs Elysée
If you’re ready to shop then head down Champs Elysée. While we were there the street was blocked off for Paris Fashion Week, but the sidewalks were still open. It was nice to walk through without street traffic. The Arc de Triomphe, also located right here, offers another amazing view of the Eiffel Tower and the city.
Get Outside of Paris
One of the best things about Paris is how easy it is to explore other cities in France using the high-speed trains from Paris or the short, affordable flights. So, I highly suggest tacking on an extra city to your Paris trip.
A few places to consider:
There are many things to do in Marseille including exploring the breathtaking Historic Le Vieux Port. At just around 3 hours away via train from Paris, I'd recommend staying over in Marseille to explore all day long, then enjoy dinner and the nightlife before retiring to your hotel for the night.
Château de Versailles
For a quick day trip, head to Versailles. It's just over an hour away via train on the RER. The chateau and gardens cover almost 2,000 acres meaning you need to wear comfortable shoes. You'll be taking in opulence with every step. It is after all, the former home of Marie Antionette. And no trip to Versailles is complete without seeing the Hall of Mirrors to have your breath taken away.
Monet (yes, the artist) lived here and painted here from 1883 to 1926 when he passed. You can visit the stunning gardens that inspired Monet at his home which is open to the public. And take some scenic walks through the rest of the city to explore other local attractions.
Paris Trip Planning FAQs
How many days for Paris is enough?
At minimum, you want to spend at least 4 days in Paris. There is so much to see and explore from different museums, to the many arrondissements that it's just impossible to get through in a day or two. An ideal length is 5-7 days in Paris with trips outside of the city too.
What are the best months to go to Paris?
I believe Paris is a year-round destination. There is so much to see every month of the year, however, depending on your preferences there may be a more ideal time of year to visit.
If you hate crowds, then avoid visiting during the peak summer months starting in Mid-May through August.
If you enjoy cooler weather, then take the shoulder season during Spring and Fall.
This is my ideal time to visit, however, you may experience some gloomy, rainy weather. One of the best perks during the shoulder season though is the better pricing on boutique hotels in Paris.
For fewer crowds and lower prices, visit during the winter months. You may experience some crowds right around the winter holidays like Christmas, but otherwise, the city will be quieter and lodging will be less expensive. It's easy to bundle up in the weather, but you'll also have to deal with less sunlight each day and the lack of blooms and greenery in parks. I would recommend a winter trip for a second or third visit to Paris versus a first visit.
This post is all about the best things to do in Paris!
Casey is the founder of Casey La Vie & has been running this travel and lifestyle blog since 2016. She’s on a mission to balance her career as a social media manager with exploring her home of New York City and seeing more of the world.