Things to Do in Paris in 1 Day

You may be worried that a single day is too little for a city with so much to enjoy, but don't worry, it is possible to organize a 24-hour itinerary to get an overview of the city and enjoy the basics.

Katherine Betances

Katherine Betances

9 min read

Things to Do in Paris in 1 Day

View of Paris | ©Dimitri Iakymuk

Paris has it all! Having a full day to enjoy what the French capital has to offer is a great opportunity and in this guide I take you through a hectic itinerary that aims to help you cross off your list of things to see and do in Paris as much as possible in a short period of time.

Enjoy the gothic architecture of Paris: Notre Dame and Sainte-Chapelle

Notre Dame| ©Adrienn
Notre Dame| ©Adrienn

The city of Paris is divided in half by the waters of the Seine River. This is why it is common to find references to the left bank or right bank of Paris. The left bank refers to the lower part, while the right bank refers to the upper part.

In the middle of the Seine you will find two islands: Île de la Cité and Île Saint Louis. I recommend starting your one-day itinerary by visiting Île de la Cité, where you will find Notre-Dame and Sainte-Chapelle.

Notre-Dame Cathedral

Considered, along with the Eiffel Tower, a Parisian icon, it is a must-see destination on your day trip to Paris. The construction of this famous cathedral began in the 10th century and took nearly 200 years to complete its impressive structure.

In April 2019 a devastating fire caused significant damage to the cathedral's structure: both the wooden roof and the spire collapsed during the event, so Notre Dame remains closed until further notice, although that doesn't mean you can't visit Notre-Dame on the outside, as the public is allowed to enter the Plaza area while the restructuring plan continues. Also, if you book a tour of the exterior of Notre-Dame you will be able to enter and explore the crypt at your own pace.

Book a tour of the exterior of Notre-Dame


Take advantage of your quick visit to Notre Dame to see another imposing work of Gothic architecture. Sainte-Chapelle is a cathedral famous for its collection of stained glass windows, titled as the most extensive collection of 13th century stained glass windows in the world.

Book tickets to Paris' Sainte Chapelle and discover its two chapels:

  • The Upper Chapel, which was created for the royal family and nobility to do their preaching.
  • The Lower Chapel, which was intended for the employees of the palace.

Book tickets for Sainte Chapelle de Paris

Immerse yourself in art and history at the Louvre Museum

Facade of the Musée du Louvre at night| ©Lonni Besançon
Facade of the Musée du Louvre at night| ©Lonni Besançon

No visit to Paris would be complete without a stop at the city's most famous museum: Musée du Louvre. Originally built as a palace by Philip II, this iconic building was long the official home of French royalty; until 1682 when Louis XIV decided to relocate the royal household to the Palace of Versailles, just outside Paris.

From Sainte-Chapelle to get to the Musée du Louvre you will have a short 12-minute walk along the boulevard Georges Pompidou on the banks of the Seine.

I recommend you to buy the skip-the-line tickets for the Louvre Museum in advance to avoid long queues, both at the ticket office and for access, and optimize the most of your one-day stay in Paris.

Book a guided tour

And if you are passionate about art, you may prefer to book one of the guided tours of the Louvre. It is one of the best investments you can make to save time and effort when visiting the Louvre. The reason? It is a large museum and this way you will make the most of the minimum time required for a visit to the Louvre.

You will have too much to see and too little time to do it, so a guided tour of 2 and a half hours can take you directly to see the best works of the Louvre as they are:

  • The Venus de Milo sculpture
  • The Mona Lisa
  • The sculpture of the Greek goddess Artemis
  • Botticelli's frescoes
  • The French crown jewels

Buy tickets for the Louvre museum

Take a walking tour of the Jardin des Tuileries

Tuileries Garden| ©Roland Turner
Tuileries Garden| ©Roland Turner

The Tuileries Gardens were originally designed for the exclusive use of the royal family and court. However, the gardens, which extend over approximately 55 acres, have been completely open to the public since 1667 and free of charge.

The gardens are located directly across the street from the Louvre Museum, so the best time to visit them is after you have finished your tour of the museum grounds.

Why visit the Jardin des Tuileries?

Enjoy a leisurely stroll through the Jardin des Tuileries to soak up the peace and tranquility of the heart of the City of Light. You don't have to have a set itinerary, just walk wherever your feet take you and enjoy the late morning sun.

In its beginnings the area was nothing more than a swamp bathed by the waters of the Seine, and where tiles were produced for Parisian houses and businesses. The works for the construction of the Garden were initiated in 1564 by orders of Catherine de Medici. When the garden was opened for public enjoyment in 1667, it earned the title of the first garden in Paris to be completely open to the world.

Book a guided tour of Paris

Soak up the history of Paris at Le Place de la Concorde

Place de la Concorde| ©Rutger van der Maar
Place de la Concorde| ©Rutger van der Maar

Find yourself at Place de la Concorde, the mythical Parisian site where King Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette were executed during the French Revolution.

At the other end of the Jardin des Tuileries you will find La Place de la Concorde. The walk to get to the square will take you between 10 to 20 minutes walking in the Gardens.

Why visit La Concorde?

Designed by Ange-Jacques Gabriel and covering an area of approximately 7.6 acres, it is the largest square in Paris. It was originally built with the intention of glorifying King Louis XV, but during the time of the revolution several members of royalty, including the then King Louis XVI, were executed there. Every year in this square is built a tribune from which French dignitaries observe the military parade for Bastille Day.

In the center stands the prestigious obelisk of Louxor and at the ends two important works of art that you should observe, the monumental fountains of La Concorde.

  • Fontaine des Mers (Fountain of the Seas)
  • Fontaine des Fleuves (Fountain of the Rivers)

Book a bike tour in Paris

Enjoy a Parisian lunch

An afternoon snack at Café Mollien.| ©Bharat Vohra
An afternoon snack at Café Mollien.| ©Bharat Vohra

Paris is full of fabulous offers to enjoy a great meal around the Louvre Museum. Some places to enjoy a good meal depending on your preferences and itinerary are as follows:

  • If you are looking for authentic Parisian food you can visit Café Blanc.
  • If you are looking for French food with an exotic touch I recommend Le Fumoir.
  • If you are looking for a quick snack my favorite options are Bo & Mie, Pret-a-manger: or Franprix Supermarket.

But if you are really in love with gastronomy and want to dedicate part of your day to learn the secrets of traditional French dishes my suggestion is to reserve an hour for a gastronomic tour of Paris. You will not be disappointed.

Book a gastronomic tour in Paris

Take a tour of the Champs Elysées avenue

Champs Elysées Avenue.| ©Josh Hallett
Champs Elysées Avenue.| ©Josh Hallett

The Place de La Concorde is the monument that marks the end point of the most beautiful and famous avenue in Paris: Le Champs-Élysées. My suggestion is that, once you refuel, you walk the path from the Obelisk of Louxor to the end of the Avenue. It is a 1.9 kilometers long walk that invites you to know the best of the best in Paris: with prestigious stores and cafes wherever you look.

Points of interest

Although there is a lot to see on Champs Elysees Avenue, I list below some places that might be of interest depending on your tastes.

  • Cafes and restaurants: Café Di Roma, Fouquet's, Ladurée, Léon.
  • Stores and boutiques: Boutique Lancôme, Sephora Paris, L'Occitane, Petit Bateau, Zara, DIOR Paris, Louis Vuitton and BOSS Store.
  • Other points of interest: Cinéma Pathé, L'Atelier Renault and Galeries Lafayette Champs-Elysées.

Book a guided tour of Paris

Get to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris

Arc de Triomphe in Paris| ©Alex Azabache
Arc de Triomphe in Paris| ©Alex Azabache

It's time to get to know one of the most iconic monuments of the City of Light. Visiting this emblematic destination can be as simple as strolling under its enormous arches and contemplating the beautiful avenue you have just traveled; you also have the option of climbing to the viewpoint located at the top of the structure.

At the end of the tour along the Champs Elysées avenue you will find, at the west end, the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, a must-see on a day trip.

Why visit the Arc de Triomphe?

It really is much more than a monument. The Arc de Triomphe de Paris, in addition to being an essential stop on guided tours of Paris, is also a museum whose upper terrace offers breathtaking views of Paris and at whose base is installed The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Its construction was ordered by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1806 and completed in 1836; unfortunately the French emperor never saw its completion.

If your intention is to see inside, my advice is to buy tickets for the Arc de Triomphe in advance to avoid queues and wasted time.

If you don't go inside, by all means take a moment to appreciate the four large sculptures that make up the exterior walls. These are:

  • Le Triomphe de 1810 - (The Triumph).
  • La Résistance from 1814 - (The Resistance)
  • La Paix from 1815 - (Peace)
  • Le Départ of 1792 - (The Departure)

Buy tickets for the Arc de Triomphe

Walk around the Trocadero Square and Gardens

Trocadero Gardens.| ©MrT HK
Trocadero Gardens.| ©MrT HK

Next on the list of must-sees on a visit to Paris is to take a moment to enjoy the view at the Place du Trocadero and then the Jardins du Trocadero.

To get from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place du Trocadero you will have to take the Avenue Kléber in a 30-minute walk. It is another beautiful avenue in Paris where you can enjoy a spectacular view.

Why visit the Trocadero Square?

From there you have one of the most impressive view of the Eiffel Tower. Most photos of this iconic Parisian landmark that you will find on the internet, books and postcards are taken from Trocadero Square, so don't forget your camera as spectacular pictures are practically guaranteed!

Why visit the Trocaderos Gardens?

Mainly to admire the Warsaw Fountain. It is a rectangular water fountain, centered around 12 huge fountains, each of which is capable of projecting columns of water up to 33 feet. The spectacular design is complemented by 24 smaller fountains and 10 water arches.

During the quieter times of the day, the mirror effect of the Warsaw Fountain can be beautifully dramatic; making for splendid shots. But don't linger too long - you need to get to your next stop before sunset!

Book your place on the Big Bus in Paris

Enjoy the sunset at the Eiffel Tower

Amazing Eiffel Tower| ©Pedro Szekely
Amazing Eiffel Tower| ©Pedro Szekely

Although our tour of Paris is almost over, it is impossible to leave the city without first admiring its most iconic monument.

Leave behind your location at les Jardins du Trocadero, cross Av. de New York to reach the Pont d'Iéna, one of the classic Parisian bridges linking the two banks of the Seine, and you'll be in the Eiffel Tower Gardens.

The Eiffel Tower at sunset

This is one of the best places in the city to watch the sunset. The views from the Eiffel Tower will allow you to see all of Paris and enjoy the last rays of sun that fall on this beautiful city. The Seine River with its boulevards, the beautiful Parisian streets, its buildings and manicured gardens, all bathed in an orange sky will make you fall in love; making you want to come back very soon to enjoy new experiences.

Keeping in mind that your time in Paris is limited, buy your ticket to the Eiffel Tower in advance so you don't miss a second of your itinerary. Also, remember that the Eiffel Tower is illuminated at night and has a light show every hour on the hour.

Book tickets for the Eiffel Tower

Say goodbye to Paris with a cruise on the Seine River

Seine River Cruise with the Eiffel Tower in the background| ©Heather (Gruber) Williams
Seine River Cruise with the Eiffel Tower in the background| ©Heather (Gruber) Williams

As a farewell to Paris, take an evening Seine cruise that includes dinner on board and sometimes live music.

This type of excursion includes a cruise on the canals of Paris and nearby rivers, including the Marne River and the Saint-Martin Canal.

Why take a cruise on the Seine?

The scenery, the food and the excellent service are totally worth it. Paris at nightfall offers exceptional scenery, you can experience architectural wonders such as the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower's nightly light show and many more.

Book a Seine River Cruise